Tag Archives: retirement

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!!!

Starting a new quilt as a summer project

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When I visited the US recently, I had the joy of buying new fabric to bring back to Ecuador where there are virtually no 100% quilting cottons.

This week, I feel ready to start a new project.  I have plenty of quilts partly sewn.  But it is more fun to start something new right now.

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The fabric colors I’m using are salmon, bright white, taupe/gray/brown with other colors added for contrast.

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In the middle of the photo above, you can see the pattern and a photo of a quilt in similar colors. The pattern is a new one to me: Jumping Jacks.  I’m making a lap size 55 x 63 or so. You can download the pdf at connectingthreads.com   if you wish to buy the pattern.

Getting new patterns this way is wonderful for me since I live in Ecuador where it is challenging to get things shipped to you.  So anything that can be done on the computer with a good printer is a great thing.  My friend Judi printed out the pattern in color.  Much easier to work from than the black and white my printer does.

Speaking of Judi, a wonderful closed group developed here in Cuenca among some ex-pats who quilt.  We started a small group – not to sew together – too hard to move machines and no space easily available.  But to talk about quilting, share patterns, look for resources together, etc.  It is wonderful to see this group developing its own personality.  There are not many active quilters here so I really appreciate this development.

OK, its time to go cut more fabric.  This pattern uses about 2 million 3 1/2″ squares.  All for now!

Best place to hide for a nap!

Best place to hide for a nap!

 

 

Marvelous days for quilting, Cuenca, Ecuador

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Marvelous days for quilting, Cuenca, Ecuador

Cups Cups Cups!Queen size quilt topLast week was a wonderful week for me!  I invited people I know to an open house to see the quilts I have made recently.  My friend, Teresa D., hung them with me.  We worked HARD getting this ready.  We put up 11 quilts .

Since several people are not quilters, I also created several steps demonstrating how a quilt is made, using projects that are “in the works” laid out on different small tables. Over two afternoons, about 45 people came by to take a look and offer opinions and encouragement.  Voted most popular quilt was “Crazy Cats”, a whimsical paper-pieced wall hanging I completed summer of 2013.

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The house looks wonderful with these creations warming the walls. Teresa is also the friend who loaned me her machine when my Pfaff broke.  I continue to borrow her machine until May, when I am taking the Pfaff to the US to be cleaned and repaired. I have not found a trained technician here to work on a Pfaff.  Living in Cuenca has a couple of downsides.  A trained Pfaff technician is a hard thing to find in Ecuador!

Here are some photos of the quilts hanging in the home I share with my wonderful husband, Lenny. Life is good!

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Thanks for reading my blog!

Happy quilting!

My Heart Lives in Many Places

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“Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart. ”   Washington Irving

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I often think about what impact it has when people move away from family and community, especially because I have done so many times. I now live permanently in Cuenca, Ecuador after living in the United States for 62 years.  The reasons are not important today. That is to ponder another time. But the impact continues to unfold.

A huge effect is that my grandchildren are growing up a half a world away.  That, for me, is the hardest thing about living in another country, roughly 4500 miles from my children’s families.  If I am brutally honest, we saw the two precious children who live in San Diego about two times a year before leaving the US.  The grandson who lived 90 minutes from us – well we saw him more often but not every month.  People have busy lives, other committments and priorities of their own. 

 

I grew up with parents who had left Nebraska with two babies, a new tractor and two cows, to farm in Idaho, leaving their mid-West family and friends for the adventure of their lives.  Two of my uncles and one aunt left Nebraska as young adults to perform as muscians on Broadway in New York.  They continued to live there for some years, swinging from “nearly starving” to great joyous times when they had work.  These people were among my role models. Staying within 30 miles of my childhood home was not ever on my menu.

I always wanted to live in a Latin culture, to learn Spanish from native speakers, to be a minority after being part of the privileged baby boomers in the US coming of age in the 1960’s. So here I am with a wonderful, huge retirement adventure I share with my husband, Lenny.  Learning Spanish is much more difficult than I had imagined but I keep plugging along slowly.  Eventually…I will do better if I keep working at it.  I am proud of how well I do at markets and in taxis and restaurants but have so much to learn.

It can be challenging to keep a friendship vibrant from a long distance. But today contact is accessorized by Skype calls and e-cards and frequent emails, making connection much easier than earlier times.  Imagine for a moment the US pioneers who bravely travelled West in covered wagons.  If a letter was ever sent back by the pioneer woman, she would not know if it reached her loved ones.  She could not see the computer pixel version of her father’s face or chat with a girlhood pal. We have it easy, comparatively.

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So what does all of that have to do with Cuenca or quilting?  Cuenca is a popular retirement destination for many people in the US seeking a way to stretch their retirement dollar and experience a charming new culture.  BUT, it is not for everyone.  It is important to do a lot of research and come with the right mind set – there is an array of other blogs that detail that. Please read those if you are thinking of coming here because about 30% of the people who come, leave for various reasons.

 Here are the top 3 reasons people leave Cuenca, in my unofficial, observant opinion:

1) it is not as cheap to live here as some publications would have you believe;

2) People miss their grandchildren, family, friends or Starbucks – ok the last one is kidding.

 

3)if a couple is moving here, they must be in agreement about this adventure or the relationship will fail – or they will be moving back with a new rift the experience has opened;  

4) health care is easier when you speak the language and understand the procedures that pop up as one ages.  The healthcare here is good but it is not always what people in the US are accustomed to.  In some ways, it is better, more accessible, cheaper.  In other ways, it is an unknown and that can be frightening – just like none of us knows how we will age or what care we will need.

 

So quilting…it does not interest many people in the slightest but for me it is an active meditation.  It is a stable, rewarding task whether I am in Oregon or Ecuador.  That continuity helped me transition in our move to Ecuador.  So much was different.  So much was confusing. And a lot in the move was breath-takingly exciting too!  

Quilting helped me feel productive in early retirement. It makes me feel the excitement of creating a new pattern and the hunt for fabric that would look fabulous in that design. Most people experience some surprises in adjusting to retirement.  It is easier if you have new hobbies or old ones to continue.

My sewing machine broke last week. Yikes! I described this in the last post. Today, I sew with a machine a good friend brought over when my Pfaff decided it needed a serious consult with a professional.  That will not happen until June when I visit the US because it appears there are no Pfaff repair people in Cuenca or Guayaquil. Another of Life’s Lessons on Patience. But for today,  I have time to think about friendship, family and the ways in which we communicate.

Have a terrific week, whatever you choose to do. Notice how you connect with people.  Thank the people who connect with you.  Appreciating other humans is a great place to live.

 

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

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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!

Quilting Alone In Cuenca, Ecuador

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Quilting for me is a solitary sport.  It can be a team sport often, in many locations around the world. But quilting is an  uncommon activity in Cuenca.  Although a number of ex-pats and the rare Cuencana say they quilt, I have not met many who are actively quilting.   This is just a fact.  I am very happy to have time, space and fabric to work on numerous quilts so I don’t mind this solitary sport.  In fact I LOVE being able to set my own hours and pace for quilting.

For several weeks, my main focus I has been a “purple and blues” quilt, above, laid over my king quilt so ignore the tulips and orange peeking through.  The quilt top is done and it is gorgeous.  I’m very proud of it.  My daughter, Tenley, will be 35 in March so I want to have a lap quilt for her in purple and blues, her favorite colors.  However, as I design a quilt, it sometimes grows as I mess around with color combinations and find some I cannot leave out.  So I am plan to make a second quilt for my daughter who wants a  lap quilt. The current  quilt top grew to be 98 ” by 74″ – almost queen size.

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Oops!  But, really, this “mistake” is fine with a great outcome because I became very attached to this quilt as it is evolving. I  will hang it at the top of my stairs or behind the living room sofa – wherever it seems to look best once it is completed.  I hope to have the quilt hung by Christmas. It is typical of any quilt I design that I end up with a larger project than first planned.  I need to learn to downsize!  Because the bigger they are, as all of you know, the harder they are to actually quilt on the machine. But I am determined to get this one up on the wall to enjoy.

There is the added bonus that when we have guests, I could pull the quilt off the wall, wash it and put it on the guest bed.  It’s all winners here.

There are no long arm quilters with a machine in Cuenca.  Note to interested parties: you would have some business, doing quilts for the people in the ex-pat community and no competition. The downside is that you would need to charge less than in the US, most likely, as this locale as a retiree economy cannot sustain current US pricing.  Just my thoughts.  But an argument could be made either way.

For my daughter’s lap size quilt, I have plenty of the same materials so it will be equally gorgeous but the size she wanted.  I have ample time to make her quilt after the new year – I will deliver Tenley’s quilt when we visit the US in June, 2014 so it is all good.

Back to the team versus individual sport of quilting. I am on record here saying I MISS my old familiar quilt store and my favorite quilt teacher, Victoria, very much.  The old store is gone now, a newer smaller one replaced it with much less to offer.  The old store had plenty of relatively clean floor space where one could lay out a quilt.  There were huge tables where one could layer a quilt.  And there were always kind, generous people who would put their own projects aside to help a person smooth out the layers of “the sandwich” of backing, batting and quilt top.

That is right where I am now in the process.  I have a great cutting table ( 72″ long x 45″ deep) where I am layering the quilt but I really miss having extra hands to make this sandwich thing come out right, without wrinkles.  That is my focus tomorrow.  I am layering a small section at a time on the cutting table.  I can hand baste about 3 feet of length at a time so that 95″ length will take me a bit.

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One challenge is that the young cats who live here, Butch and Curry, love to play wild games all over the house at a drop of the hat.  Last night, when I was away for a little bit, they had a wild wrestle on the loose parts of the quilt sandwich that are hanging down and gently folded onto the floor. Any thing that looks different gets a cat’s curiosity juiced up so…I came home from dinner and found a bit of chaos on the landing where the cutting table lives.  But it was all repairable and I”m retired so…there is time to do all things that hold my interest.

Kale crop continues into 6th month

Kale crop continues into 6th month

When I am not quilting or doing things away from mi casa, I garden, cook gluten free meals and hang out with my precious loving husband.

Spinach Frittata

Spinach Frittata

My friends think up lots of interesting things for us to do around Cuenca.  Here is Taylor by the only phone booth I’ve noticed in Cuenca.

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Thoughts about a new country and quilting in a foreign land

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Happy September!

Image About 30 months ago, my husband and I set out on an incredible journey – to move from the US to live in Ecuador.  We wanted an adventure in our retirement.  We wanted to live in a new culture: to learn Spanish from native speakers; to explore bits of geography of South America; to be “the minority” after living with the golden advantages of being among “the majority” for 60 years; to delve into the incredible story of human lives over centuries in the magical Andes Mountains.

We knew we would be foreigners, strangers to many people here who had not been around many folks from North America.  We worried about the unknown, we expected big bumps in our new journey.  And we thirsted for new experiences.

Overlooking Solano Ave from Turi in Cueca, EC

Overlooking Solano Ave from Turi in Cueca, EC

So here we are, almost 2.5 years into our adventure. I can say that it has turned out far better than we had hoped.  People in Cuenca are hard-working, loyal, family loving and kind.  They are quick to be helpful, curious about those extrajaneros (foreigners) who move here, eager to ask questions about our experiences in life and content to listen to the occasional story about a grandchildren and haunts we left behind.  Unexpectedly, I was asked to sell every quilt I had completed.  More about that later.

In this blog, of course, I speak specifically about my experience.  Yours may be very different. Moving to a new culture where you do not know the language or common practices is not for everyone.  I recommend only moving here if you have a thirst to be “the stranger” in a new land.  If you have longed to see what it is like to live where YOU are the one struggling to understand rather than expecting a different country to accommodate your every wish.

Believe it or not, some people come here expecting everyone to wait on them, with no plan to learn the culture or speak the native language or practice social customs.  What a sad waste of a beautiful opportunity!  But enough of that for now.

I marvel frequently at the life my esposo and I have built in a short time.  Lenny, my husband of 20 years, has found new activities and made friends everywhere he goes.  He helps people with IPad issues, plays bridge after a 35 year lapse, walks 3+ miles every day, and speaks to everyone he encounters – a great way to practice Spanish.

I enjoy every day of retirement.  I have lovely long hours to quilt and a great studio to help that hobby. I have time to play with the two young cats we rescued, and time to study Spanish if I can make myself work on my own.  I have tried having an instructor come to the house.  This worked well for awhile but the instructor got to know me and began to talk more about her family and less about teaching Spanish.  Next, I tried a conversational class at a local school but the level of class was more advanced than my skills.  I have two programs on the computer which are helpful but I have to MAKE myself open the program and study- duh!   And so…next week, I go back to basics with a beginning class in El Centro to begin anew.

I have noticed some things about myself: although I was once a great student who worked hard to be near the top of every class, I now have less motivation for that and want to enjoy life each day.  Spanish classes need to be my first priority to get those brain cells firing so that new words stick in my 64 year old brain.  Studying is still important but I learn most from practice speaking with other Spanish-speakers.

The ex-pat community is made up of all sorts of people but most are retired and therefore also eager to find ways to recreate in common.  There is a fly fishing group, there is a raw food group, weaving classes, activities where one can sew with others or visit villages to shop or see the countryside…all without ever speaking a word of Spanish.  So one has to push to practice that new Spanish with each other but also with Ecuadorians, Colombians and Cubans – any Spanish speakers in this rich culture.

I have had the pleasure of meeting another quilter here who is a Cuencana.  Quilting is not common here like it is in the US.  However, there are many ex-pats who know how to quilt.  Some have chosen not to quilt at this time in their lives.  Some quilt quietly and do not want to commune with other quilters.  However, I am hearing from larger numbers of quilters moving here that they would like a guild or some sort of regular contact.  This is something to pursue further in the next months, so that perhaps by January, 2014 a quilt guild could emerge.

When I first moved here, I met a couple of women who were very interested in buying my quilts.  I had been quilting 3 years at the time.  In the US, I am a moderately talented quilter.  Here, in Cuenca, I seem to be the quilting queen! So I made and sold 7 quilts.  This was thrilling – a rush and an ego boost to have other people show tremendous interest in my creations.

However, then I realized I have lived in our home a year and only have one of my quilts on the wall.  I want the beautiful walls to be covered with my quilts.  I have many quilt kits planned on my “queue” to make.  So I am now busy completing several projects to decorate different spots in our home.

I have such fond memories of running around the last months I lived in the US, buying just the right fabrics for various quilt projects.  My dear friend, Cindy, was my guide and support as I put together those kits. I now keep them in storage here in my lovely sewing studio, ready to be made when the time is right.  Currently, I have the joy of unboxing one at a time to be made and hung in just the right spot.  My current projects are:

A) to complete layering and quilt/bind the Crazy Cats quilt to hang on a yellow wall by my sewing machine;

B) to make the 27 block queen size caramel-cream-burgundy “flower baskets” quilt to hang in the lovely stairwell – it is just begging for this quilt to be warming the walls there.  I have 9 blocks finished so  there are still plenty more to piece together in this traditional quilt. See photo of the first blocks at the top of this page.

I know that I am a fairly slow, deliberate quilter but I am in a life stage where rushing is not necessary.  I know that I am generally good with color and contrast but I always learn more from each new project.  I LOVE learning in its many forms – it keeps life interesting and one’s brain stimulated.

The BRIGHT king size quilt is cheerful any time of day

The BRIGHT king size quilt is cheerful any time of day

People ask:  do you buy your fabric in Ecuador.  My personal answer is no, not in general.  There is no 100% pure cotton fabric here and I prefer working with cotton.  So every trip back to the US to see family includes fully loaded bags on the return to Ecuador carrying all the cotton fabric I can squeeze in within the weight limits.  Crazy?  Maybe…but it has become a challenge of its own – to find ways to bring in the fabric I long for.  More about that another time.

So in 2 years and 4 months, I can say that I have adjusted to life here quite well.  I love practicing my basic spanish on the people I encounter in taxis, shops, at restaurants.  I spend a lot of time with new friends, most of whom are ex-pats with some common interests – this is both wonderful, to have attentive new friends,  – and difficult because it makes speaking only English all too easy.  One goal I have for this next year is to speak Spanish in social times with my US and Canadian friends. First I need more confidence, a lot more verbs and nouns plus some courage to achieve this.  I’ll let you know how this goal progresses.

Children in Cuenca

Another post will talk about gardening which I had given up in the US due to fibromyalgia pain being too much to garden.  The great difference for me in living at this high altitude (8,300 feet!) and having time to exercise is that I can garden again with a few limitations.  Yahoo!!!  That will be a different post with photos to show my succulent collection.

How do you prioritize your life?  Do you have hobbies you’d love to have time for that are waiting for retirement?  My suggestion would be to develop your hobbies so you can pursue them with gusto once you are retired. Try some new things. Give it time. Having a happy retirement hinges on having some things you want to pursue and interests you love.  The responsibility for finding this list is yours.  Take a risk and try something new this week.  Stretch your mind to think outside the box – you may find something wonderful and challenging to love.

Have a terrific week in this new month of September, 2013!

Thank you for reading my blog!