Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Little WooWoo?

I was able to get home a little early tonight and was doing some sewing in my new sewing room when I looked outside and noticed how weird the light was, it was around 6:30 or 7 PM and the sun was really bright in the West but in the East, the direction I was looking into the backyard, there were dark clouds, so the sun was shining on the trees against this dark background, so cool.

 So I got my camera and ran outside to take these photos.  All of a sudden, a cold wind started to pick up and I felt some raindrops.

I started to walk inside when I notice, oh.my.gosh.

 The most amazing end to end rainbow.  I couldn't get far enough away to take a whole photo but I went running inside screaming at my husband to come outside, poor guy, probably thought there was a REAL emergency.  "What?  What?"  LOOK AT THE SKY.  Him:  "Oh yeah.  Like in Cuba."


(My husband is from Cuba, FYI)

I swear to you, five minutes later the rainbow was gone.  The sky was full of clouds and it was raining.  I felt like I was the ONLY one who saw that rainbow.  Besides my husband.

Monday, April 25, 2011


View from the balcony of our 'casa' in Baracoa, Cuba, early morning, 2003

Bear with me on an introspective post.

For the past 4-6 months, the project I've been on at work has been over the top stressful.  The project is almost 3 years behind schedule, the client is extremely frustrated and the new management (originally mismanaged, the project management has been replaced several times) is pushing the team very very hard to try to deliver to the customer.   The project has had some pretty high turnover and just when we thought we had a good solid team, lack of funds meant layoffs and 15 people were laid off in the past few months.  Add to that the state of the economy and my husband losing his job so I am the only one working, and you can maybe see why I'm having a bit of a stress issue right now.

We all know that "all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy" but I think our culture has taken that to a new level.  In the past few months, I have pushed myself so hard to get everything done that I have made myself physically ill several times.  I think women more than men, have the ability to multi-task and get many things done at once and most of us feel a pride in that.   And that's fine as long as you can balance it all.   But when the balance starts to tip one way, watch out.

I hesitatingly agreed to spend Easter weekend at my parents home, they live an hour and a half from us up in a beautiful canyon in Colorado.  The hesitation in going is that they won't allow us to bring our dog and she is part of the family and the kennel was full and we had to leave her alone and make all the arrangements for someone to come and check on her, etc., etc.  Also, any interruption in my schedule right now just sets me off.

I took Friday off, Good Friday, and used it to get some things done.  I woke up feeling stressed and everything I did that day made me feel more stress, I just feel like I can never catch up and get everything done in my personal life much less take time to relax and do things I WANT to do.  I scheduled a job interview at 8 AM by phone, a vet appt at 9:30 and had a contractor coming at 11 AM to estimate refinishing the wood floors in the house.   Then I had to do laundry and get things ready for the weekend.  My neighbor came by to chat with her baby boy and she wanted me to come over later and chat and I couldn't even imagine.  What?  Take an hour or more from my busy day of getting things done to just chat?  Then, Saturday morning I got up, started packing for the one night away, which I think is almost harder than packing for a week's trip.  I noticed the floors in the kitchen and bath were so dirty and even sticky so I had to stop everything and clean them.  In the middle of moving things out to clean the kitchen floor I literally had a breakdown.  I just started sobbing, it was like I was trying to run in a marathon and there was nothing left to keep me going only this was not physical but emotional and/or spiritual.

Easter Sunrise

The photo above was taken Easter morning.  My parents left the house very early to sing in the early service at church, my husband was still sleeping, my mother had fresh coffee for me, I was alone and this was the view I had.  It was slightly snowing, just tapering off, everything was silent.  Inside the house, outside the house.  No sounds.  I had one of those moments, I want to just break down and cry from the beauty and because it was the first time maybe in an entire year that I had actually felt a tiny bit peaceful and calm.  Mostly what it did though was make me realize that I HAVE TO CHANGE MY LIFE SOMEHOW.

How will I do it?  I have no idea.  Just putting it out there.  I will also say, my mother had a devotion book on the table and I sat down and turned the page to April 24.  The reading for that day was a suggestion to stop making so many plans and just sit and listen to God, to wait on God.  Then I really did start crying.  When you life is going at top speed, you don't listen to anyone.   And God doesn't shout.

A peaceful me, Havana, Cuba, 2003

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Emerging from the fog....

And I finally finished "Brenda's Quilt" oddly timed, for her birthday which was yesterday! It will arrive, stuffed tightly into a large flat rate box, today and she has no idea that I was even working on it for her. She picked out the fabrics back in October. Eight months later....

Meanwhile I just finished 8 months on a grueling stressful project at work that suddenly let up last week (thus the blog title) and now I'm in that "what just happened" mode, trying to right myself after being on the merry-go-round too long and hoping that it stays calm for awhile. As I hope this, I am starting two new quilt projects, YAY.

PROJECT 1:   Stamps and Money quilt from the Kaffe Fassett book 'Glorious Quilts'.
Chartreusy Greens

I started this quilt last year by asking my Bee-Stitched members to make me one of the blocks. Next I have to finish up by making all these tiny squares into larger blocks and put it together into a 92 x 92 masterpiece.  Check out this one that I saw on Flickr.  I hope mine is that gorgeous.

Stamps and Money Quilt

PROJECT 2:   Birthday Quilt for my Sister (deadline: May 21).
Currently obsessed with above-referenced K. Fassett book, I have selected the Salad Days pattern for this quilt which is a very simple pattern made complex by the way the fabrics are combined. That's what I love about his quilts, the colors, they're like making a painting.
Salad Days quilt pattern

I'm planning on using my Za Za fabrics which I fell in love with after seeing this quilt. I'm surprised this fabric didn't get much attention, I LOVE the rich colors.
Erin Michael's ZaZa

And last but not least, I would like to share some blog love. Inspired by Greta, here are a few blogs that I love to read that maybe you should discover:

My great bee buddy quilty blogger friend Greta:
Because I Sew So

A crafty blog I found through someone else's blog list:
All Buttoned Up

Someone I started following after seeing her amazing house pillows, from Amsterdam:

Leslie, who started me on my Japanese fabric addiction and now has a precious baby boy:

Go share the love, now I have to go to work. Real work, not the fun fabric work.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Quilt Top

Just a little sneak peek of the Small Plates quilt top I'm finishing up for a friend who asked me to make her a quilt with lots of dark blue in it, something that was VERY hard for me as I had NO navy or dark blue in my collection prior to this. This pattern is from Elizabeth Hartman's new book.

Don't Put Quilting in a Box!

My response on the new quilting debate.

I would like to start by saying that a quilt is pieces of fabric sewn together into one piece and made into a blanket adding a back and some padding in the middle. Quilting is what you do to make that. A quilt may not even be pieced come to think about it, I think it just means that there are two pieces of fabric sandwiching an inner layer that makes it warm and sturdy, all sewn together in some way or other. That’s it people. It doesn’t get any more complicated.

In addition, the origins of quilting in the United States (quilting has a rich history before the United States) came from those brave and strong women who traveled across the country, from the settled East coast to the unsettled Western territories, in covered wagons. They didn’t have fabric.com, or even any kind of fabric store, they also didn’t have money. They made quilts to stay alive through the winter. I don’t remember any prairie stories about the Missouri settler criticizing the Minnesota settler who made simple quilts. Seriously, are we having this discussion?

I began quilting, in 1983 or 1984, fabrics were calico, nobody used a long-arm quilter, that I knew, and everyone pieced and quilted by hand, in my circle of quilting friends at least. I learned to sew when I was 10 (1969, and on a machine, BTW) and sewed a lot of my own clothing. When I started quilting, I found it odd that people bought fabric to make quilts. OH how far I have digressed.

I was also trained in Fine Art, I have a degree in Art History with many classes pre and post-graduate in studio painting, drawing, color, design. I studied Art in Italy, I worked in an art gallery. I would not tell someone that they were a beginner painter because they used bright colors and used simple shapes. Art is not what is produced but the process and method and history behind it. If you want to equate quilting with art, there isn’t any judgment about what’s beginner and what’s advanced.

Nobody puts quilting in a box! (references to Dirty Dancing completely unintended!). Quilting is not science, it’s not based on facts and diagrams that must be followed or else. It’s an art and a craft. We’re very lucky that it’s no longer a necessity.

I am 51 years old (gasp!) and stopped quilting in the late 80’s because I didn’t like the traditional look of quilts. Also, I work as a systems analyst for the Dept of Defense. I have to work, I don't stay at home though I WISH I could. I don’t have much free time and believe me, after analyzing systems and dealing with people and software and deadlines and pressure all day long where I MUST follow every rule, there is no way I am following rules doing something I enjoy, like sewing fabric together.

I really feel that a lot of this debate may stem from the fact that quilters who have been quilting a long time are jealous that they aren’t getting the attention of some of “greener” quilters. Well, guess what? It’s not just about quilting. It’s also about gorgeous photos and good writing and modern blog headers and personality. I want to be visually stimulated when I’m reading a blog or looking at fabric or making a quilt. I also like to spend my leisure time on positive things so I don't really need debates in blogs, just fluffy writing about fun colors and design accompanied by equally pretty fabric photos, that does it for me. That's also why I need to have colors and fabrics I love. To me it’s not so much about the design and whether it’s traditional or not. And it doesn't really mean that person is an 'advanced' quilter, it just means they are really good at having a blog, or writing about their craft, or selling fabric.

OR, to summarize my verbose thoughts above, you might just say about this train wreck of a topic 'Come on folks, move along now, nothing to see here.'