Tag Archives: grandchildren

A New Wall Quilt with Healing Purpose



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This week I plan to complete a new Laurel Burch wall panel to put up in the master bedroom where I now have my very first quilt hanging. My goal is to get the new quilt completed and UP on the wall in about a week.

My husband Lenny is suddenly facing delicate eye surgery, scheduled for later this month.  Not a fun thing!  This will be done in Cuenca – we have a great surgeon.  It will occupy quite a bit of energy and some luck for a good outcome and to have an excellent recovery.  I am throwing my energy into getting the wall hanging completed, adding a healing image to our bedroom.


I have slowly been making the master bedroom in our casa more to our liking.  I had help from Gina at Artex Decor (located on Moreno Mora just off Solano about 1/2 block from Ital Deli –  they do GREAT work!). I took in photos and she made a chocolate-colored upholstered headboard with the antique silver rivets marching around the high arch.  It made the room warmer.

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Also Artex/Gina made a lovely bench for the end of the bed where Len and I can sit to chat or put shoes on. (at the bottom)

I painted the room a delicate blue which contrasts nicely with the dark woodwork and the dark brown headboard and bench.  Added a new light fixture.

We took down the old accordian-looking vertical blinds and put up a cream colored lightweight blind that lets daylight pour into the room while keeping our privacy intact. I will make drapes later.

quilt in progress for master bed

The quilt that will top the king size bed will be my next BIG project to complete.  This began, as I have reported before, as a “quilt block a month” 5 years ago.  A relative in my family was injured and I dropped out to help with care.  However, I had all the material and directions, which has proven to be much more complicated to do by myself in Ecuador.  I have about 8 blocks done, using shades of blue, eggplant, rust and cream. Making it a king quilt, large enough to cover like an entire bedspread, is a huge undertaking. It seems like I run out of one color I need.  Then I make a different block and run out of another color.

Massive amounts of fabric are needed for the backing as well as the quilt top itself.  I keep working on this quilt top and then putting it aside for months at a time.  But I hope to complete the top, machine quilt it and bind it by next summer.

Did I say I am a slow quilter?  I get sidetracked by other projects, a grandchild needs a quilt, other projects like preserving lemons I got from a neighbor crowd in for my attention. Moroccan and Lebanese food to make with preserved lemons.


I am calling smaller wall hanging at the top the Healing Goddess. It is full of rich color and movement. It will spread beautiful light and energy around the room where Len will recuperate. A positive attitude makes a huge impact on surgery outcome so I’m being proactive.

Two 1 yr old rescue cats keep me company.

Curry, left, and Butch (Saffron) also help keep us happy.  They are on the old “bedspread” quilt I made 4 yrs ago.

I was just taking some photos of the bedroom, trying to show the bench.
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The cats are fascinated by the bench.  We have to keep it covered to protect it from claws.
They think it is a) a cat bed for two
b) a springboard for waking the parents up
c) a scratching post, even though there are several others nearby
d)a place to hide before leaping on the other cat
e) all of the above
you KNOW the correct answer

Have a terrific week!!!


my heart lives in two places – more

my heart lives in two places – more

I wrote a few weeks ago about the interesting split I feel after choosing to leave my country of birth (the USA) for an exciting, new experience in my retirement years in Cuenca, Ecuador.  Well, I have a few more thoughts to share. My husband and I launched ourselves on an incredible cultural journey about 3 years ago. We live permanently in Cuenca, Ecuador.  We visit the US every 6 – 12 months to see family and friends.  We also stock up on a few things important to us that are not available in Ecuador.  What, you ask?  Things like all cotton quilting fabric, gluten-free products, new hi tech products, good socks, yeah, just little stuff important in our daily lives.

I continue to feel strongly supportive of the US, although I am very disillusioned to the point of desperation about the intractable problems with things like:  how to get the elected officials to work together as adults instead of viscious bickering . There need to be real answers for the BIG issues: homeless children who go to sleep hungry every night, not enough jobs, rebuilding infrastructure to keep the country “running” properly, stop the favors to medical drug companies and encourage real healing among the population in a way that does not create drug-dependency.

Let me be clear: I love the beliefs of the US that I grew up with, ideas like:  you can be anything you want to be if you work hard, for example.  The US is one place people used to get ahead without stomping on others as you “climb up” to be solidly middle class.

Use just what you need

replace yourself and then stop – the world population is staggering

I raised my children with these goals as well: reuse, recycle, replace


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do NOT just think of yourself!

look for the best in each person you meet

treasure the earth

quilt in progress for master bed

The US financial “down spiral” of the past few years left many who had been solidly middle class in a terrible fix – loss of home, loss of job, horrendous stresses on family as their hold on a common lifestyle slipped out of their grasp, causing health problems, battered self-confidence, hopelessness, etc.

My heart aches for solutions to be found.

My current country of residence, Ecuador, has a high rate of poverty, a definite class division, “favors” may be paid (bribery) to get things done but this is no longer the preferred way. Ecuador stands with a foot in the “old ways” of priviledge, wealth and class difference, but with the other foot in a new place.  The second foot rests, teetering among growing equality, increasing minimum wage, social security benefits for working citizens, attempts to ban money laundering, and successful exports of bananas (if you are eating a banana, it probably was grown in Ecudor!), among a few other successful exports.

There has been a disappointingly low national effort in Ecuador to preserve endangered species and protect the environment… and some dawning awareness of what it might take to move the country into an improved global vision.

I love the tenative steps Ecuador is taking toward parity for all citizens, a growing attempt to create a livable wage for people, which is still a way off but at least it is on the agenda. Also the focus on improving roads and services within the country, taking a tough stance on drug smugglers who bring drugs into Ecuador from Columbia and Peru across shared borders and by sea. These illegal drugs are on their way to the US.  Because of demand in the US.   Stop the demand for cocaine, for example, by US users and Columbia’s drug business would be severely wounded.

So every nation has problems.


Where is my heart, really?  Both places!  I love visits back to magestic Oregon, rustic Idaho and fast-paced California. Holding a young grandchild or talking with the two older grandchildren is priceless.  I catch up.  My heart nestles, creating memories.  The relationship with each of the 4 grandchildren blossoms and stretches.  But at the same time, I am ripped apart because I leave soon.  So soon.

And yet… when I return to Ecuador, I know I am “home”.  My heart lives with my children and grandchildren in Oregon and California.  I think of each of my loved ones, friends and family members, every day.  But my husband Lenny and I are happy to have joined a small community of like-minded people in Cuenca and reside in their midst. We cherish this opportunity to learn about a very different culture.  The few Cuencano friends we have made are cherished. They share time, interests, family with us and seem pleased that we love the city of Cuenca and Ecuadorians in general.

My cats and Spanish studies, the quilts and exercise are all ongoing, absorbing activities.  Lenny pursues interests he never had enough time to improve, such as Spanish, duplicate bridge and photography. Our plans to explore other parts or South America shimmer on the horizon.

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Yes, my heart lives in more than one place, never to be completely grounded in just one country again. And it is really ok.  One’s heart expands to accomodate the demand and opportunities life lays in our path.

What is your journey?  Enjoy where you are today.


The title of this blog is guilT, as in feeling guilty

Layered and ready to quilt!

Layered and ready to quilt!

Hello quilters and those interested in quilters, fabric and creativity:

Hey, I want to correct a  misconception about my blog.  Apparently there is some confusion.  The name of my blog is Cuenca Quilt GuilT.  Not guilD.  I know nothing about a quilt guild… but I know a lot about guilT.  Specifically the guilt one feels after over-spending on fabric for a new project or the guilt one feels after seeking out  a fabric store to create a new project, even though one has many MANY quilt projects already needing attention.  Or, another example, the guilt one feels when one enjoys quilting more than 70% of the social obligations that pop up.

I have a few blocks completed but many still to do.

I have a few blocks completed but many still to do.

A new resident of Cuenca, Lorraine A., may want to start a guilD.  She has experience and interest in this type of thing. She worked in a fabric shop, she found a guilD to be a very helpful, supportive group. Lorraine recently gave away/sold tons of fabric in order to move to Cuenca with 7 suitcases.

Two 1 yr old rescue cats keep me company.

Two 1 yr old rescue cats keep me company.

This short post is simply to point out that this is a personal blog, not a quilt GuilD.  As far as I know, there is no guilD in Cuenca.  Also, interesting fact: there is not a single person with a long arm machine  in Cuenca to my knowledge – so if you are planning to move to Cuenca and you are an experienced long arm quilter with a machine you plan to bring, please hurry up!

People here either do their quilting by hand or on a regular sewing machine.  And a few ex-pats who say they quilt , seem not to be actively working on a quilt.  But, its all good.  The beauty of retirement is doing what you want.

So to those of you readers who are interested, a Cuenca Quilt GuilD may form in 2014 …but I will not be sponsoring it because that is not my thing.

Actually, quilting is what delights me.

Living in Cuenca delights me.

Skyping with my kids delights me, as well as talking with the grandchildren.

Skyping is, of course, not as much as seeing them in person but this “Retirement in Ecuador” life adventure makes that very complicated. More about visiting grandchildren another time.

Have a terrific week.  Enjoy quilting!

some thoughts about Cuenca, Ecuador


I was thinking about who decides to move to a foreign country for a retirement experience.  I cannot generalize but I sense it takes a special set of circumstances for a person or couple to decide to move to a new country to live out their retirement years.  For some people, this is a lifelong dream.  For others, the thought of being far away from the familiar and from children/grandchildren is horrifying.  So I thought I’d share a few thoughts about living in Cuenca, Ecuador:

The Cuencanos (as permanent residents of Cuenca are called):  What a delightful people they are! Generally quite physically attractive,confident, proud of their country and beautiful inside too. They are kind, generous, eager to be helpful.  Many are sort of innocent in that they are not jaded by steeping in too much materialism and a “me-me-me!” entitlement.  They are quick to offer help in finding things here, getting banking and utilities set up, explaining how to blend azucar (sugar) so that it dissolves in recipes more quickly, etc.  Many will open their homes and welcome newcomers into their family celebrations. Len and I have been incredibly fortunate to be, well, sort of adopted by two families where the matriarchs grew up as best friends. It is such an honor to be included.

The ex-pat community is quite helpful also. There are people here from all over the United States and from Canada, as well as other countries in lesser numbers.  There are about 2000 all-year-round ex-pats here and some who go back and forth throughout the year. The estimates of how many ex-pats vary wildly but this is my best guess after 14 months of observation. Ex-pats offer entertainments, answers and friendship to newcomers. And they speak your language and understand a similar sense of humor. Translating humorous things into another language often falls flat.  Idioms seem to be death to humor in a new language. And many understand the adventure, joy and isolation that leaving one’s country of origin presents. Isolation from familiar haunts and neighborhoods, from grandchildren, from familiar foods one cannot find here and from long time friends.  I have known ex-pats to keep track of someone new to be sure she/he is not isolating, to assure the newcomer is invited to things, to offer to shop or assist in locating items.  It is heart warming!

You can have quite an active social life in Cuenca.  For the first time in our lives, my husband Lenny and I have as much social life as we choose . We had very little social life when we were both working full time, caring for 5 pets and living in a suburb of Portland, OR. Our  friends were scattered far and wide around Portland so getting together was complex.  If we went to a friend’s for dinner or had people over, that was usually a 1-time-a-month thing.  Now it can happen weekly and is often spontaneous. Think about it: many ex-pats are retired and most live within 2 miles of each other so getting together or meeting for lunch or dinner is very easily arranged.

Many concerts, dance productions and cultural events are free in Ecuador, subsidized by the government.  Shocking but true.  Culture is supported by the government.  The arts are very valued, respected and cherished. It is a delight to go to a symphony that is free! And wonderful to live where the arts are seen as a treasure.

You can meet a friend for lunch and treat that person for about $5.00 total for 2 lunches.  Almuerzo (lunch) is the main meal for Cuencanos so it is rather large and is offered by lots of restaurants for $2.50 per person.  This includes a watered down tropical juice that is freshly made, the soup of the day,  a main course such as chicken, pork, fish or beef, a huge serving of rice or potatoes and a small salad or vegetables, along with a small postre (dessert) .  At this price, there are no individual choices unless you pay more and no “doggie bags”.  But you get a lot of basic food for an incredibly low price.

The food in Ecuador is bland but good.  The pork and chicken are out of this world delicious, perhaps because they have no hormones or additives.  Most meat is raised in natural settings resulting in a leaner product. A few herbs and seasonings are used and every restaurant has its own version of ahi, a sometimes-hot sauce made of tomato, peppers, onion, garlic and whatever else they decide will represent their place of business.  I cook at home a lot because I eat gluten free (no wheat/barley/rye).  I add herbs and seasonings as needed from a stash I brought with me from the US.  However, I have found many of the usual herbs and seasonings in the markets and grocery stores here. And there are tons of choices for ahi (hot sauce)on the grocery shelves or you can easily make your own.

Cannot pass up mentioning that the fruits are over the top terrific.  Papayas are usually 50 cents each, avocados 3 for $1, mango,  pitajaya (peet-uh-HIGH’-uh), guayaba, and other fruits new to us have become a morning smoothie hobby for my husband, to my delight.   Bananas, pineapple, mango, pears, limon (like key limes), plums and other basic fruits are all here and taste delicious. They have figs but dates are hard to find, as are dried or fresh cranberries. But Cadelaes “the spice store” on Remegio Crespo near Boyaca has nuts and dried fruits as well as a lot of spices and some imported goods, like fish sauce.

Prices seem to be creeping up.  Many of the blogs about life in Ecuador list prices that are outdated. We notice everyday life things are more expensive than stated previously, while still being much less expensive than goods are in the US and many other countries.  An example: a 3 bedroom 2 bath furnished apartment  in a nice neighborhood in a secure building listed for $550 may cost $700/month by the time you add in the condo fee and all utilities, including internet service. One can find less expensive housing and more expensive housing but this is probably closer to average for a furnished apartment.

If you rent an unfurnished apartment in Cuenca, it will come without appliances so you will pay less for the rental but need to provide your own refrigerator, stove, micro, etc. Sometimes “unfurnished” means no mirrors in the bathrooms and no light fixtures – bare hanging bulbs.  But don’t be totally scared off by this because you can find large kitchen appliances at fairly reasonable prices.  Light fixtures also can be found in a wide range of prices.  But do not move here expecting to find a really fantastic furnished rental for $200 in a convenient, quiet neighborhood – those are very rare.  And a recent observation: it seems they have over-built so apartment/rentalss are plentiful.  You will find many choices whereas just 18 mo ago, finding several apartments to chose from was very difficult. If you are interested in buying, there are many more options now than 18 mo ago also.

Cuenca is not for everyone.  Like any foreign country, it requires that you learn a new culture, welcome new experiences with altered expectations, learn or re-learn Espanol, seek creative ways to adapt to living in a new environment for your retirement, if that is a new status as it is for many who come here.

But if these things are on your list of “must dos” before you die, then Cuenca, Ecuador could be a wonderful destination. It is not paradise but it has enough of the qualities I wanted in my retirement to keep me here: tranquility, friendly people, safe streets, moderate weather year round, flowers blooming every month of the year, places to explore and new favorite haunts to discover.

Personally,  I love the weather here – never really too hot, never ice cold. The altitude of 8300 ft does not bother me much.  I delight in the people I’ve met. I know crime can happen anywhere in the world but feel safe here with a few precautions  – like don’t flash a big diamond ring around, don’t pull out your IPad on a bus full of people living below the poverty level, don’t walk along an unlit river path at midnight.  Pretty common sense things.  My husband and I have fallen in love with Cuenca and recommend people check it out if your dream is to retire in a foreign country.

One reason I wrote this post is that people considering moving here are often hungry for information about what it is like to make such a major leap.  It is not a good fit for some people who try it out but for me personally…I love it.  Mi gusta Cuenca!!!

Now about quilting.  Here is my lovely sewing studio half packed and thoroughly messy.

Here is another quilt top I have nearly completed.  Just 3 borders and then its ready to quilt and bind.

The Melon Block Quilt

And the next shot of a quilt top may be the first quilt I sell.  I made it for a baby girl and have the joyful knowledge now that my daughter is expecting a baby boy.  The baby boy quilt will be my next quilt project after I have moved into a lovely rental house with a little larger “sewing studio”.

Baby/toddler quilt

Thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you are having a lovely day and come back to visit this site soon.  You can become a follower – then you will receive an email when I make a new post.  My posts will be more frequent  from today forward.