Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Years!

Its here! The new year. Time for a fresh start and new adventures. It really is like any other day - or is it?  January 1 has a new feeling to me and it also has a color, even some sparkle. It's like you just cleaned the spots off the window and the view is all new.  So what are we going to do with this new start?
Over the  holiday we where at a Christmas/engagement party and in walks a couple that Joe and I had a falling out with years ago.  They went to our church, in fact it was the pastor and his wife.  The wife did nothing to lead to the trouble, it was more between me and the pastor.  A difference of opinion and I just happened to be a woman. It tore our life up for years.  I worked so hard on how to forgive his cockiness and pride.  Joe was even more hurt than me and the 2 of us worked for at least 5 years on forgiving and that is not an easy job when your world comes crashing down around you.

So we go to this party and who walks in but the pastor and his lovely wife.  I instantly saw that he looked distressed and weaker than I had remembered him.  My heart softened and I knew I had forgiveness in my heart. Wow! So, I decided after some time to say hello and merry Christmas.   Surely he also had been working on the same forgiveness towards me -  he's a pastor.  The room was also full of our friends that also had been very affected by this fall out.

So I walked over as they where talking to my good friend and I said Merry Christmas and put my arm gently around him for a compassionate hug which he responded to by jerking his hip to dislodge me.   I turned to his wife who looked very uncomfortable but was gracious.  My friend smiled and was happy to see me say hello. I asked the pastor's wife about their new grandchildren and congratulated them on the additions to their family.  She stumbled for words and then someone grabbed my arm saying Mindy!  How are you? and I was thankfully whisked away.   I was so surprised but felt so proud of myself for taking the first step.  While I have forgiven,  he, unfortunately,  is still the same. Other party-goers who new the situation were also watching and I hope it was a big healing for them, too.  It was the period at the end of the book for me and Joe.  Now I see him as he is and he did hurt me and our family but God has healed us and blessed us and I can forgive and move on.

Life is an amazing journey.   Last year does affect the next year and so on but being unforgiving stops you in your tracks.  No growth can take place until you walk through the hurt to get to forgiveness.  I am often asked how I was able to reach for my dreams and it seems to me, when I look back,  it was the painful, difficult and hard places in my life that I had to go through that helped me grow.  I went through them, not around them. When I have gone around them I have had to go back and do it again.  By battling the hurts and pains of life, you work on moving forward to success in whatever your goals are.  There is no way I could stand up in front of hundreds of people and make a complete fool of myself  if I had not gone through the strengthening of life's hurts and battles.

I have new issues to deal with in the upcoming year but I can put this one to bed.  It may have taken 6 years but I have moved one step ahead.  Thank you God for listening and answering my prayers.  I pray for you as I pray for my family and myself that forgiveness will rule our lives this next year.  That doesn't mean you forget or always look the other way -  it means you open your heart so you can move forward.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yes, It's Christmas

It's coming faster than I can keep up with.  Yes, it’s Christmas and I am not ready for it in any way.  I got the tree up last week just in time for Matt's arrival home for the holidays.   The lights on the house went up and the storm blew them down the next day.   This is the first year I had help from Joe putting up the lights .  Not that he wouldn't help me in years past, but he has always had the daunting Christmas chore of figuring out how Christmas was going to happen financially, and there were a few years there that I still don't know how we did it.  Joe has worked a lot of overtime over the years - like every Christmas but this year.   That's 28 if you are counting.  With his new position he now has been working from home for the last year which has given us a new dance to learn.  He is here all day long, morning to night, in my way, asking for food and other things we will not speak about.  My carefully choreographed routine has been disrupted this last year.   This routine consists of getting up, having breakfast and maybe going for a walk then getting to the studio and immersing myself in work. Then, about 3:30pm, I would quickly clean up the house, get out of my sweats, take a shower, do my hair and makeup and get all dolled up for my man.  4:30 - 5:00 he'd walk in and say how pretty I looked, having no idea how I spent my day.  I think he thought I was like this all day.  It was so sweet.  In this new routine  he soon started noticing the reality.  He asked me the other day if I was going to take a shower any time today.  I say yes, when my boyfriend comes home from work about 5:00.  So now he is home all day and my routine is changing but  it did come in really handy when putting up the lights. I didn't have to get on the ladder once.  He even ran to the store for me and got more extension cords (which we are always short of).

So the lights are up and the neighborhood looks very festive in the evening.  Even the Pakistani family has put up a very large snow globe on their front lawn.  Now they are true Americans. Our neighborhood is very multicultural for this part of California.  Except for the Russians,  I mean Ukrainians, who still are having trouble with all the holiday cheer and can't understand why we have dogs.

We use to have a family from Germany living in the 'hood for about 8 years. They always had great parties with wonderful food.  We where sad when they moved back to Europe.  But Marlis took our tradition of Christmas lights on the house with her.   I guess she was quite the hit in her new neighborhood in Sweden when she decorated the outside of her new home with Christmas lights. I hope they where the blinking ones. Leave it to us tacky Americans to have too much bling for the holidays.
It’s important to decorate because once you get the decorations up, it feels like Christmas. The job I dreaded was just what I needed.  Now I need to work on what’s on TV. We wanted a Christmas show last night, so I went to On Demand and under holiday shows, was RAMBO!?!   When did Rocky become Christmas.
Just shoot me now and get it over with. There wasn’t one good holiday show that didn't involve a murder or sex or some dysfunctional family with sick humor. Why????

So when you can't see it on TV or in the movies,  put some sparkly lights on your house and turn on some Christmas music, really loud so the neighbors know it's here and what is on TV is not what it is about.
Christmas in not about gifts, and who is buying cars for Christmas?  It's not about the decoration and lights but about a baby that was born to save mankind and boy do we need him now.   Well, at least I do!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's In a Name?

Just yesterday I got, in the mail,  my teaching packet for Houston IQA next year, 2011.  Didn't I just get home 2 weeks ago from Houston?  They need my teaching proposal by December 15th.  I think they just want to mess with me. So the last 2 days I have been writing up proposals and designing a new pattern.  I am supposed to be on vacation. They have asked me to teach the Zinnia again. Wow!  I thought I would also add a new flower to my repertoire.
I have been drawing and studying the Texas bluebonnet, which looks a lot like a California lupine. I guess it depends on where you see them blooming.  I first saw the lupine on the rolling hillside of La Selva Beach, north of Monterey. We lived there for 2 years when Matt was a toddler.  Every day, out my window, was this breathtaking view of the ocean all the way to Monterey and then, in the spring it, was the blue and purple lupine covering the hillside that ran down to the ocean.  Yes, it was heaven.  I would spend hours amazed at the wonder of God's beauty that I was so blessed to see every day.
I have a friend, Janice, who sent me pictures of fields in Texas covered in this beautiful bluebonnet flower. One picture was of her grandchildren sitting in the fields of blue.  I now know why she moved to Texas (plus. you can carry a gun in your purse).  She was going through a messy divorce at the time and I bet she wished she could have had a gun, back when she was living in California.  For those of you who do not know how to take a joke, that was one.  I recently had a neighbor read my blog where I stated, "I wanted a gun for Mothers Day, but no one would give me one".  They thought I was serious, so now when I make a joke, I have to put in a disclaimer:  This blog site may not be fit for sad, depressing people, who can't laugh at themself.

I recently was speaking in Canada and made a comment in my lecture about something funny Joe had said about himself.  He was referring to an old picture I took of him. I always liked the picture but he didn’t.  When I got home from this trip, there was an email from someone in the audience that I had offended.  I didn't say a bad word or make fun of the queen, who isn't really there leader anyway.  I didn't make fun of anyone or a race, gender or belief.  But I did quote what my husband had said about himself.   I did apologize to the person and I felt bad that  I hurt her feelings.  But, after some thought, I felt very sorry for her that she can't laugh at the funny things people say in life.   Now I guess I can't quote the funny, goofy things my family says without offending some people.  I also took it out of my lecture.
But recently, while speaking in southern California, just for fun, and because I like to stir things up, I threw out that same remark and this time, like every time prior to Canada, got a big laugh.  Oh, well.
So I am sorry to all that I have offended in the past, but I am just going to be me.  Just know that my heart is in the right place. I am not here to hurt anyone. I just want to make my art that hopefully makes others happy. Soon, I am afraid; I will run out of thing to blog about.  

Hopefully, no one is offended by a California girl doing a Texas bluebonnet, which really looks like a lupine to me. I have been told there is a difference and I am sure it’s called by another name in Europe. To me, it’s just another beautiful flower that has to be captured.

So, if everything goes as planned, and it never does, I might be teaching this new pattern, Texas bluebonnet, next year in Houston along with the Zinnia and the Hibiscus.  I will keep you posted.  And look for my new pattern; it’s a chic designer purse for your small and discrete hand gun that I will be showcasing at spring market. Relax,  it’s a joke!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Looking for Stuart Little

Joe's on the hunt. "I don't like playing God, but its freaking me out having a mouse in the house" he says as he quotes Dr. Seuss. My man!

Guess what my husband is doing today?  We have an unwanted visitor. Yesterday he set out mouse bait in traps around the outside of the house and this morning he went in with the big guns. The mouse trap with peanut butter. Creamy, not crunchy - it does make a difference, he says.  He admits, "Everything I learned about hunting for mice I picked up from Tom and Jerry cartoons. Do we have any Swiss cheese with the really big holes in it?"  "No", I said, " just peanut butter".
Speaking of Jerry,  I  found out yesterday that my husband told me a wrong name for one of our neighbors.  I have, for the last 6 years, been calling him Jerry when his name, I come to find out, is BOB!  I asked Joe why he did that and he said because he LOOKED like a Jerry.   I had to apologize to Bob.  I hope that Ryan and Amber next door are, in fact, Ryan and Amber.
Now back to the mouse hunt. Joe said that a few nights ago he was reading in the bedroom when he thought he saw something running past him. He thought it may have been a mouse, but was unsure as there was no tiny car involved like in Stuart Little.  We live next to rolling hills and lots of fields so you get, from time to time, mice. The last time we had one in the house was years ago and I woke up to the sound of Joe chasing him with a broom.  Joe was trying to apply a practical comic strip approach to the problem and was disappointed with the result as the broom head broke off and, believe it or not, he was unable to whack the mouse with the broom stick.

That was not a good idea so this morning he is researching how to set the traps and go in after it. Last night as we are trying to sleep, the mouse is chewing through the makeshift wall Joe put over the hole we had to cut to access some plumbing. His chewing was so loud that we had to sleep in another room.  This morning we looked at the chewed hole and Joe said "I think we're going to need a bigger boat" (apologies to any Jaws fans).

Of course, we couldn't find a flash light that worker - we have 6 flashlights and 0 batteries.  So I used the flash on my camera. I thought that was pretty ingenious. and I also got some pictures of the hunt.
So as I am writing this blog and talking to my big game hunter, Joe,  when we hear a SNAP!  I look at him and he says,  "I will look at him later - maybe tomorrow".  That's my hero.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Working on my NEW Zinnia pattern!

My new Zinnia pattern that I will be  teaching in Houston in a couple of weeks.  But I can't leave well enough alone. So I have been trying it out in other colors. Size 25" x 28".

How about purple red and orange? size 45" X 45".   Trying out these colors, before I hand dye fabric packs, for my students.

Zinnia's come in every color. I think this will be perfect.

 I am using the pattern just like my students will. And of course, because it me, I found a few type Os's.  

 How about a little turquoise for the leaves?

Just chunks of color, made up mostly of my hand dye's, with some Hoffman batik thrown in for good measure. Now the Thread!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quilter's Home Comes to Visit!

I am on a wild ride. It seems that my little world has sped up and I am running to keep up with it. We leave soon for the Hawaiian cruise that I will be teaching on.  I am getting all the patterns ready, not to mention trying to find shorts,  in my size, in September.
Maybe being a stay-at-home mom all those years has slowed me down but right now everything I have ever prayed for or dreamed about is happening, all at the same time. Like right now! This very minute.  I have been getting ready for this wonderful Hawaiian cruise and have been invited to teach in Toronto, Canada when I get home.  Next year, I'll be teaching in Dublin, Ireland. Wow!    

Two weeks ago I got a phone call from my friend, Jake Finch, who is the editor of Quilter’s Home magazine. They would like to do a photo shoot of my house, not just the studio, but the whole house, on September 18.  Jake said, with a little giggle, "if you need to get new drapes, this would be the time, and don’t forget to dust."  Great!
I barely have time wash my husband’s shorts, much less make drapes.  But that is what I am doing right now.  Making drapes for my bedroom, not doing the laundry. We have been hanging light fixtures, finishing up unfinished projects and cleaning up the yard.   They are going to show the outside of the Yellow House and share the story of this house I love.  The famous Gregory Case is arriving this Saturday and will be here for 7 -10 hours, he said, shooting our home.

I am staging the house with quilts everywhere, which means covering up the scrapes or imperfections on the walls, some left by Cosmo.  I haven’t really wanted to get rid of them yet, but I guess it’s time.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that I am doing it all with little cash.  We stripped the money tree in the backyard bare months ago with the addition of  new windows and siding so the wind would stop blowing through our living room.
I talk in my lectures about being more creative, which is making something out of nothing.  In my life, that has usually come because of little cash.  I am very experienced in doing great thing with no, and I mean no money.  So I have been digging through the garage, hitting the flea markets and discount stores to make something out of nothing.  Again!  This is called Creativity.  I found this fabric glue that works great to hem drapes and add trim.  I found safety pins work great instead of a zipper.  And if the buttons I got from WalMart, are not the right color, paint them. 
About 6 months ago, I bought a hallway light fixture that no one can figure out how to hang from our very high entry ceiling.  Well, they can figure it out, but I don’t have the cash to pay them.  It's more than the light cost.  So, Joe and I have a new idea.  We will fix up the one that is already there like I did for the dining room chandelier.   
The laundry room is wallpapered in pages out of a botanical flower book.  And I am hiding Joe’s beer making equipment behind the gathered drapes.  No one is allowed to use the room until after next Saturday. Sorry Joe, you may need to go shopping.

I even cleaned behind the washer and dryer. It was yucky!   Next is the frig. God only knows what is growing back there. I know they aren’t going to show behind the refrigerator.   Do you think Martha Stewart cleans behind her own frig before a photo shoot?  I don’t think so.
I wanted to show you some of the tricks I have been using to make my house magazine-ready.  If I only had a magic wand.  Oh, but I do, it’s called CREATIVITY and a glue gun.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Guessing Game

Guess what I have been doing this week?

No, I haven't made Joe great breakfasts.

 or cleaned the house.

 I haven't been quilting or even gardening.

Haven't even done my hair and my fingers are green. 

The laundry is piling up and we are running low on towels.

 If you said making color,
you would be right.
The only problem is I now have a sore shoulder from all the folding and ironing. 
This is going to make some beautiful flowers.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Loving Stitches Award

I recently judged my first quilt show.  I was a little scared to say the least.  I have a lot of experience being judged, but to judge others is quite another thing.  The first thing I did to prepare was to Google how to judge a quilt show.  Then I asked friends who have experience on this subject for guidance.  But still,  it really comes down to me and my artistic opinion and eye.  But how and what am I going to say?
The quilt show was for Tennessee Quilts, in Jonesborough, Tennessee.  This is the oldest town in Tennessee and the storytelling capitol of the world.   So it was appropriate that I was there.   I have been told that I am full of it (stories) before.  Tennessee Quilts is a great quilt shop that has a show and festival every year in July.
The quilt show was held at the University Gallery.  I was dropped off at the gallery full of quilts and had them all to myself, except for a preschool class there for, of course, story time.   Remember, this is the story capitol of the WORLD and they start the children off early.

I took a deep breath and jumped right in.  As I walked up to each quilt, I was reminded about what judges have said about my quilts in the past.   Some critics are very vague.  Others point out the flaws under the guise of where I can improve.   But to me the judging is very subjective.  I always thoughtfully consider their remarks but don't let it stop me.  I have had quilts that were full of mistakes win Best of Show and quilts that were the best  I could do technically come away with nothing as nobody saw all the hard work I had done. So now I just do what thrills me and don't worry about if I win or not.   But, to be on the other side and  judging is a little intimidating.

I could see that each quilt was so different.  There weren't many categories, either.   Just Best of Show, Best Group, Best Machine and Best Hand Workmanship.   It took me about 2 hours to go through 38 quilts.  I found my winners.  There was no going back.  Did I pick the right ones?  I don't know.  I just let my eye and heart guide me.  But that was not the end.   The next night they had a Gallery Talk and Walk.  Guess who was doing the talking?  Right, it was me.  I was supposed to walk around to each quilt and comment on that quilt.   Oh, My God!  I had forgotten that part in my contract.

We walked into the gallery and it was packed.  What are all these people doing here?  What am I going to say and is it a hostile crowd?   They looked nice, but who knows,  I have never been to Tennessee.
I introduced myself and started right in.  I walked to the first quilt.  They followed me.   For a split second I thought What if I ran out the door right now, would they run after me?  Then, as if by magic, I remembered all that I had written down about the quilts.  How I thought the colors sparkled, the complication of the design, how perfect the points where.  I saw the crowd's faces soften as I spoke.  They had no idea who this crazy woman from California was judging their quilts.   But I am an encourager.  I was born that way and I feel that you make a better impact with praise rather than harsh words.  I save my harsh words for the politicians.
I knew what went into each quilt.   The time they spent, the thoughts they worked out while working on the piece and the love.  It was touching.  As the gallery group followed me from quilt to quilt, I came to a quilt I will never forget.  It’s hard to describe.  It wasn't as well executed as the others, far from it.  But I knew the love that went into this quilt.   Its sashing was quilted and full of wrinkles.  She had used puffy batting.  The blocks where made up of the back of Sunbonnet Sam, in his overalls.   She had lovingly made each little sunbonnet boy out of clothing from her son’s baby clothes.  There were overalls made with Bob the Builder, Oshkosh B'Gosh overalls, a John Deere tractor t-shirt, even a Wiggles t-shirt.  As I was talking about this quilt I looked up and there in front of me was the mother and her son, about 7 years old.   I knew it was the quilt maker and the son right away as they had made there way to the front of the crowd.  I got a lump in my throat because I knew that this quilt was made with love for someone very special.  The boy looked lovingly up at his mom.  As I stated that fact I thought of my son, now in the Marines. Soon he will be off to Afghanistan.  How much that quilt will mean one day when that small boy becomes a man, I told the group before me.  To me this was the most important quilt there.  Because I also made a quilt for my son that was made with love and no skill.  Puffy batting, very big stitches and more than one wrinkle in the sashing. But it is the best quilt I have ever made because my little boy, like hers, napped with it, cried on it, and was warmed by it.   I knew what this mom felt.  I saw the pride in her eyes when her boy looked up at her with love.    How many mothers have made quilts out of love, not skill, just love to say I love you son and will always be there for you.
So, for all of you who have made that same quilt, I give you, now that I am a real judge, The Loving Stitches Award.   It’s a priceless award, worth its weight in gold.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Of Russians and Rain Drops

It's been over a month and our home is still in the process of getting a much needed face-lift.  I said the house, not me.  She got new windows and new siding to replace the dry rot.  It so air tight that the air conditioning actually turns off on a 103 degree day.
She is still the yellow beauty she was meant to be.  The interesting thing is the siding manufacturer calls this yellow color Cream.  The same color we got in trouble for with the color Nazis back in 2002.  You can read about that episode here.

Yes, Yuri and his Russian crew are still here fixing her up. How things in the world have changed just in my lifetime.  They are a group of really nice guys that understand more English than they let on.  After a month I have adopted them all.  I just call them my boys.  If Joe's dad was still alive he would have a field day with this.  Russians in our yard working on our house.   For all the years I knew him he pretended he was Italian.   I have been researching Joe's family genealogy and on his fathers side, I come to find out, is a grandfather and grandmother who were Russian and Polish.  So when I hear my boys talking,  I think of how it was when Joe's grandfather, who emigrated here in 1911, didn't speak English and had to work and fit in right away.   Just like my boys. Would I be able to do that?  And most important, why did Joe's dad always say he was Italian? Interesting, isn't it?

So while my boys have been hammering away I have been making this quilt and thinking. 
I took the original picture after we had a big rain storm.  I love the rain drops running down the petals.  I'm not sure what the name of the flower is, but it's a vine that grows like crazy in my back yard.   I have looked at this photo for about a year waiting for the right time to make it.   I always like to challenge myself and wanted to see if I could do a flower covered in rain drops.  I was asked to participate in this year's International Quilt Festival in Houston silent action and this will be my contribution, which is kind of ironic because I missed the entry date for the show for the 2 quilts I have been working on since last year.  I can't believe I missed the cut off date, but I did. So I will be there just teaching a new pattern I designed just for Houston.  But let's just say, that if it wasn't for all these big shows, giving me the venue to show my art,  I wouldn't have all these great teaching jobs and be traveling the world.  Without the big shows I would have had plenty of time and an open calender to get my quilts in to Houston on time.   So it is very bittersweet, and funny, that I missed the cut off date. 

The first year I went to the Houston Show, I was so blown away.  My friend, Dawn, took me that year to expose me to the quilting world.  We walked through the silent action where Dawn bid on a stunning Diane Gaudynski whole cloth quilt.  No bigger than 12" square.   She has it hanging in her beautiful home and I know it cost $$$.  So when I was asked to participate in  this years auction I stopped everything and made the quilt shown here, Rain Drops.  I encrusted it in thread and the back is as pretty as the front, so, if you are going to the IQA Houston show, start the bidding.

That there are even a places for me to show my art  is so amazing.  I am truly grateful. To think that I can now financially help out my husband, after all these years of being a stay at home mom/artist.  To have a funny group of Russians putting badly needed siding on my notorious Yellow House is awesome.  It wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the quilting world.  THANK YOU!