KAYAK – YEAH!

Last weekend, we took the plunge and bought kayaks.  We had actually had the plan to buy some in 2014, but I talked my husband out of it.  When he ended that year with hurting his back, I was glad we hadn’t spent the money.  He spent that next year doing physical therapy, acupuncture, injections and finally, in the spring of 2016, he couldn’t take the pain anymore.  He had a lower lumbar fusion.  Since then, he has been testing the waters, so to speak;  trying bicycling, swimming, jogging and finally golfing.  He’s found ways to adjust the way he used to do those things, adapting to his new back’s lack of mobility and flexibility and his tendency to get “stiff.”  Now he can add kayaking to his list of things he can still do.

Mike in his new kayak

My oldest son, Drew, and his wife, Bethany, came for the weekend.  Drew announced that he and Bethany were going to buy a couple kayaks.  They, too, had intended on buying some a couple of years ago, but then Bethany became ill.  She’s had a rough couple years with a failed surgery, loss of hearing in one ear, lots of pain, and a final diagnosis of Lupus, but she’s finally got some good meds and seems to manage much better.

So as we were sitting on the patio Saturday morning, Mike and Drew said they were going to go look at kayaks.  Bethany and I quickly announced that we were going, too.

Long story short, we purchased four kayaks, ran back to the house to pack a cooler and snacks, changed clothes and headed to the river.

Drew on his maiden voyage

I’ve only kayaked a couple of times, but it seems like a natural state of being for me.  I’m not saying I’m “good” at it.  I’ve still got some learning to do.  But as we floated and paddled, I totally felt I was in my element.  I told my mom I love it as much as quilting and writing.  But just in different ways.

My view from under a low hanging tree – so peaceful!

Bethany loved it, as well, but at the end of our two and a half hour trip, she was hurting.  Even so, she’s determined to go again.

Bethany just getting started

I’m thinking I need a large “dry bag” to carry quilts in, so I can do a quilt photo shoot in the middle of the river!

 

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Quilt In a Day

I’ve always wanted to make a quilt in a day.  I told my husband I’d love to have a day that I just got up and started sewing and continued for the whole day.
He laughed, and said, “Oh, really?  Well, maybe I’d like to do that with my bicycling…..just get up and ride the whole day.”
I told him that he pretty much does that….but not the whole day, because he isn’t physically capable of that, but if he was, he would!
Sunday he got up and left on his bicycle, stating that he wouldn’t be back for about five hours.  I took my mom to church, then we stopped at the grocery (which seems to be the normal thing to do, because everyone from church was there!) The strawberries were on sale, so we both stocked up.
When I got home and put everything away, I was just heading to my quilting studio when my husband pulled up on his bike.  As much as I love him, I was disappointed.  I wanted to sew!  He came in, and I said, “Wow, you weren’t gone as long as you thought you were going to be.”
He told me he rode 60 miles.
I said he must have really rode fast!
He agreed.
I told him I was wanting to sew, and he told me, very matter-of-factly, “Well, go ahead.”
I didn’t really need his permission.  He understands my passion for quilting, as I understand his for cycling.  Yet knowing he was fine with it did free me up to fulfill that desire.
I didn’t spend the entire day in my studio.  I took a break to eat lunch with my hubby and make some Amish strawberry shortcake.  I got the recipe from Pinterest.  I made a strawberry sauce to put on it and cut up the rest of the strawberries to put on top.  It was amazing!
Amish Strawberry Shortcake
Amish Strawberry Shortcake with Blueberries
My day in my studio ended with a completed quilt top.  That’s a first for me!  I’d always wanted to make a quilt in a day.  I had purchased a pattern from Suzy at Suzy Quilts blog Suzy Quilts – Modern Handmade Quilts .  It’s called the Maypole Quilt.  Maypole Quilt Pattern (Download) – Suzy Quilts
I think I saw it first on Suzy’s Instagram account, and my brother, Jim, and I both thought it was awesome.  I had cut it out on Saturday, but come Sunday, I messed up the first step, so had to do some re-cutting.  I also decided to change a couple of the colors that I had originally chosen, AND I had not labeled the pieces, so I quickly did that.  It made putting it together so much easier!
img_2426
Maypole Quilt
Jim has done a few quilt-in-a-day quilts.  He lives in San Francisco and has a very busy life.  So when he comes back for a visit, he will set up a sewing machine on my mom’s kitchen table and sew a million miles an hour. Nothing too elaborate or detailed, but always beautiful products in the end.
There’s something pretty satisfying about starting and finishing a quilt top in one day.  I’d love to do a retreat where that is the focus – just sewing.  No dishes.  No dog to let out.  No laundry calling my name.  But I have a bread ‘n’ butter job during the day, and my vacation time is spent going to see my daughter, who had the nerve to move to Arizona.

Sedona
My darling daughter, Abigail, in Arizona
So taking a vacation day or days to attend a retreat is not in the time allowed or the budget.  I have solved this in a small way a couple of times by just announcing to my husband (and son – before he moved out) that I was going on a sewing “retreat,” adding, “Just pretend I’m gone.”  I’d go to my studio and make myself pretend I was away from my house and all other distractions.  I need to do that again.
So, do you like to do retreats?  Or do you find a way to “retreat” without leaving?  What’s your favorite time to create?  And lastly, have you ever done a quilt in a day?  I’d love to hear about your creative process.

Change and Acceptance

Sometimes I wonder what drives people to do what they do.  Things like spend more money than they have, dress inappropriately, have affairs….You get the point.  I know that everyone is searching for happiness and love, and I have compassion for them, but have felt that I am happily past that part of life.

 

This past weekend, I was so in the mood to do something new.  Tear up old carpet, paint the basement floor in the laundry room and make it an appealing space, make a new sewing table, remodel the kitchen, buy a new vehicle.  All of those came to mind, and all came quickly to a halt.

 

If I wanted to tear up the carpet, I would need to move all the furniture. I may be mighty, but I’m a little fragile in my aging body.  I would need help.  So….I move on.  Ugly carpet will have to stay – even though I know there is oak hardwood underneath it.  I haven’t completely given up on this dream; I just need to wait till a day when I am full of energy.

The basement floor/laundry room is pretty much the same story.  There’s a lot of stuff just being stored in there, and it belongs to my husband (precious fishing gear.)  Not to mention moving the washer and dryer, etc. And the floor needs power washed first (my son informed me that our power washer is too powerful for me and I will hurt myself.)  Lastly, the paint needs purchased.  I tell myself, Oh, well. Who cares?  It’s in the basement.  No one ever sees it.

My husband has a “plan” for my sewing table.  He is a carpenter/contractor, and he wants to make it “nice.”  I’d settle for a usable table with a hole for my machine to sit down in to make the sewing surface level with the table.  It is so frustrating when I am trying to quilt, and the weight of the quilt pulls down and causes short stitches or just pulls my muscles, as I try to keep it from dragging.  Anyway, it is frustrating waiting for him to get in the mood or have the time or have the money. In the meantime, I pay a longarm quilter or hand quilt my work.  I do enjoy quilting by hand.

The kitchen comes down to money and time for my husband to do the work.  My son is working on the house he bought.  We spent the fall and winter getting the inside livable, and now the outside is getting done.  First things first.  My remodeling will have to wait.  We will be helping him get his house done before winter.  I’m excited for him.  I love a transformation!

And lastly, the car.  I really still love my car, but buying a new car is always exciting – for a little while.  At least I realize that buying a new car is just a quick fix.  I’m going to enjoy not having a car payment instead!

This all sounds a little whiny.  But it was something that just came over me.  This feeling of dissatisfaction, of being put last, of not having my desires met, not being supported, having my hands tied.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I fought with my husband about it.  In summary, I told him I was tired of being told no.  No, we can’t do that right now.  No, I don’t want to help you do that.  No, we don’t have the money for that.  It just felt a lot like every time I opened my mouth I was being shut down.  I told him that there’s many times I wish he was like Jim Carey in Yes Man, and he couldn’t say anything but YES!

You have to know my husband to realize my frustration even better.  He buys what he wants, does what he wants to do when he wants to do it, and pretty much just lives his life for himself.  He makes his dreams come true.  This all is very commendable, really.  I mean, that’s what all the signs and shares on Facebook tell you to do.  Make your life the way you want it to be, right?  (I just wish there was a little more “us” in his dreams….but, he is who he is.)

Maybe that’s my frustration.  I want to do things, but my limitations stop me.  I don’t think they are really “self” limiting.  Most are not about insecurities or lack of confidence.  I think they are just facts. If the money isn’t there, it isn’t there.  If I’m not physically capable, then I can’t just pop into a phone booth and come out Super Woman.  Even if I could, I’d be hard pressed to find a phone booth.

Where does that leave me?  Sadly, feeling depressed and hopeless.

This morning I was looking at a Facebook page of someone who I used to know.  I saw her pictures and realized that my life looks pretty good compared to hers.  I realized that I have a pretty good life.  I need to be grateful.  Things may not be “picture” perfect.  I may not have everything I want, or I may not get to do everything I dream of, but I have so much to be grateful for.

Today my husband got up, and while I was getting ready for work, he emptied the dishwasher and made me an egg.  Some husbands don’t do anything around the house.  Some do more.  (But we’re not supposed to compare, right?  Comparison is the thief of happiness.  I have to keep telling myself that.)

Time to focus on gratitude.  Change the perspective.  Change the things I can change and accept the things I cannot.  I’m not giving up on my dreams or projects.  I’m just not going to let them defeat me.

Sometimes, I guess I have to sink to the bottom of the murky water to realize just how great the air and light are when I surface once more.   I have hope once more!

Good-byes Suck

Good-byes suck.  My mom hates the word “sucks,” but I’m sorry, that word just sums it up.  Maybe I should improve my vocabulary.
My daughter, Abigail, img_2126-3came for a one week visit – Wednesday to Wednesday.  She lives in Arizona.  1,845 miles away according to MapQuest.
I took four vacation days and had the weekend in there, so only worked one of the days she was home.  Abigail used that day to clean out her armoire that still sits in our unused family room.  It was full of all her artwork, art supplies, mementos, receipts and bank statements from her college years.  I can only imagine how it must have taken her back.  When she shared what she had found, I was transported back to those days – the wonderful days when she only lived sixty miles away!
Abigail found this photograph among that artwork and after I admired it, she gave it to me to hang in my bathroom.  I love it!img_2291-1
She also went that day to see a friend who had just had a baby.

I didn’t get to do a lot of quilting while she was here, but we took a road trip to Lake Michigan for a “water” fix.  img_2123-2

I took along this WIP and sewed on the binding, so my daughter could take it to her friend for her new baby.img_2282img_2282-1This is a picture of Audrey, Abigail’s friend, and the quilt made for Baby Etheria.

Although I miss my daughter already, I’m happy that she was happy to go back to her hubby (minus the 105+ degree temps there.)  I’m happy to have my comfortable routine back, although having her here brought an extra sparkle to my life.  Abigail always reminds me that I need that sparkle, even if I have to find it within myself.

I’m going to get back to my Genny and Ruth quilt.  I’ve almost got the top completed.  img_2312
Of course, there’s many other projects I have swirling around in my brain.  Guess I’d better get sparkling!

Lashing the Whip

“They say sitting is the new smoking,” she parroted.  Quite truthfully, every time I hear that, I want to say, “No, it’s not.”  I have a sit down job.  It’s enough pressure to just have to GO to work, let alone thinking that going to work is going to kill me!
“I jogged for an hour this morning in the pool with a jogging suit on,” the same woman spouted.
I know I was just staring at her as she spoke.  I have to be careful what my face looks like when I’m thinking.  I’ve been cursed with that RBF (resting bitch face.)  In my mind, I was imagining her in some strange get up, running in the water, like the Bionic Man, all slo-mo with twangy weird sound effects in the background.  Image result for bionic man runningBut my face probably looked like, “You are lying, Bitch.”
I don’t know this woman.  I was just getting some steps in on my break, and she was passing me going the other direction and busted me on it.  “Getting some steps in?”
Was it that obvious?  Was I counting out loud or walking deliberately?  Did I look like I had no destination?
Ever since I got my Smart Phone with the step counter, I have become so aware of my footfalls. Every step I take, I am conscious of the registering of that step in my phone.  If I step away from my desk without my phone, I hurry back and stuff it in my pocket – don’t want to miss a step!  My pants are always falling down, the weight of my iPhone 6 Plus weighing them down.  I’ve resorted to wearing belts.
The other night I was walking down the hall in my underwear and t-shirt.  I was all ready for bed and realized I’d forgotten my glass of water, so just hopped out of bed and headed to the kitchen.  That’s one of the perks of the empty nest.  No one to say, “Gross, Mom!  Get some clothes on!”
Anyway, as I felt the Berber carpet on the bottoms of my bare feet, so foreign since I’m always in shoes or sandals or slippers, I heard this little voice in my head reminding me to walk harder to make sure my phone registered the steps.  And in the same instance, I thought, I don’t even have my phone on me!  What does it matter how I am walking?  A small bit of panic set in – have I forgotten how to walk naturally?  How obsessed with “steps” have I become?
One day, I walked on the treadmill after work, which I quite often do and have done for years.  I stopped at two miles, then checked my phone, which said I’d only walked 1.8 miles!  I was ripped off of two tenths of a mile!  I posted this on Facebook, to which my adult daughter commented, “What did you do before you had a phone?”
It was a simple comment, tongue in cheek on her part, but it really made me aware that I wasn’t letting life just be life.  Everything is a measurement.  Everything a competition.  I had to wonder, how many times have I missed something really important, because I was thinking more about “how many steps” I was getting in?
I used to take walks, and during those walks, I was noticing the trees, feeling the breeze and letting my mind be one with nature.  Lots of epiphanies came to me during these meditative outings – poems, solutions to problems, peaceful feelings, creative ideas – all now replaced with 1-2-3-4 – step harder, go faster, go further, etc.  You get the point.
Don’t get me wrong.  I like the new fitness craze.  I like that people are becoming more aware and getting out and moving.  I’ve always exercised.  When my kids were little, I memorized Jane Fonda’s Workout, so I could workout behind the couch while my kids watched their favorite video.  Later I did the Fat to Firm video, while my youngest son played on the floor beside me – and got stepped on a couple times. My adult children still remember the funky moves and will sometimes mimic them in reminiscing.
I remember when the powers that be came out and said that twenty minutes of aerobic activity three times a week was enough. Then they increased that to thirty minutes. Then they said it was five times a week.  Now it’s 10,000 steps a day.  I feel like the old nag on Gone with the Wind, hooked to a wagon, and Scarlett, so desperate to get home (or make me get 10,000 steps a day) is lashing me with the whip!
A common question in my house is, “How many steps did you get in today?”  It then becomes the competition to see who got the most.  Who is competing? What’s the prize for the winner?  I picture my husband jumping up and down with his physically demanding day job, “I win, I win! I get to live longer!”
I’m not sure what my answer is.  I guess I can commend myself for caring, for trying, for being aware of my trying and for what I am losing in the process.  I’m pretty hard on myself, as a rule, so I think the key is to ease up.  Keep doing my best, but like all those texters out there who have to be staring at their phones when you are talking to them, or when they are driving, I need to just put my phone down.  Do what I can do and stop measuring it.  Enjoy life!
“Comparison is the thief of happiness.” Right?

Rejection Will Not Stop Me

This week I had a rather discouraging reminder.  People don’t want to pay what a handcrafted item is worth.  I mean, I guess “worth” is in the eye of the beholder – or the beholder of the pocketbook.  Even so, as an artist and crafter, I put my heart and soul into the things I make, so when someone wants to pay the same price they would pay for something off an assembly line or from some third world country, I am insulted and disappointed in humanity. 
My niece, Allie, is a barista at a local coffee shop.  coffeeI had purchased a few of the empty coffee bean, burlap sacks from the place at the local farmer’s market a few years back and made a bag out of one of them.  I carefully cut the bag, centering the beautiful green logo, so the bag displayed the brand.  I lined it with a matching fabric depicting a somewhat Monet type garden print.  I made sure it had an inner pocket, because we all know how important that is!  Then to set it off, I put authentic leather handles on it.   It turned out very “French Country” looking.  French CountryI took it to a holiday craft show, but it didn’t sell. 
A few months later, I listed the bag in my Etsy shop, and when the app offered to post it to Facebook for me, I let it.   This was a big thing for me.  I don’t know why, but I have trouble sharing things or rather – selling things! 
The bag brought about so much praise and appreciation from all of my FB followers, and I ended up selling it to a local person for $25.  The person who purchased it has expressed a wish for two, but I only had one.  Some of my FB friends, who thought the bag was “so cool,” suggested I sell them at a local artsy shop that sells things for people and keeps a commission.  All of this inspired me to make another bag.  Unfortunately,  I had used the other two coffee bean bags to cover my dogs chair cushions.  I asked my niece to check on more bags at the coffee shop. 
Allie texted one day and told me the coffee bean bag guy was there and told me to come down for my choice of bags.  I went there after work and purchased a few. 
Right away, I got to work making another bag.  This time, I decided I put more into it.  I’d give it more usability.  I zig-zagged the burlap to prevent fraying.  I double-stitched the weight bearing seams.  I gave the lining an inside slip pocket AND an inset, zipper pocket.   Then, as an added bonus, I made an attached lanyard with a lobster clasp to hold keys (great for preventing one from digging in the bottom for one’s keys).  Last, but not least, I installed a magnetic closure.  bag
I listed the bag on Etsy, again posting to FB.  Although it got rave reviews from followers, I got no offers to purchase it.  I set it aside with my other Etsy listings (at the bottom of the haystack.  I think listing on Etsy is like putting your things on the bottom of a haystack.)
One evening when Allie and I were creating together, I showed her the bag.  She suggested she take it to work and see if her boss wanted to sell them in the coffee shop.  I shrugged and said, “Sure!”
Long story short (wait, this is already long, so longer story shorter?)  After a week or so, the manager of the store texted me and wanted to know how much I needed for the bag.  She then suggested $10-$15.  I assured her that the bag had more in materials and hardware than that price.  She wanted to know if I could just make some basic ones without all the hardware to sell at that lower price.  (I wanted $30 for my bag.)  I replied that I would throw some together if I got time. 
So, keeping it real, I was actually pretty upset.  It would have been different if she hadn’t had the well constructed, designed and thought out bag right in front of her, but to think it would even be worth my time to bother sitting down at my sewing machine – after work, in my fun sewing time – to spend at least an hour to make a bag to let them sell for $10-$15!   And that would include the price of my materials!  The manager had even consulted with the wealthy owner of the coffee shop on this! 
People don’t know what goes into making things.  They haven’t priced a yard of fabric or know how much time it takes to make things.  I get that.  I’ve tried to sell quilts before, and it is rather insulting what people want to pay.  I guess we can thank Wal-Mart and other stores who sell “faux” quilts for the price of a few yards of fabric. (I call the faux quilts, because they are really just mass produced flat comforters.)
I don’t create for a living.  I guess I can be grateful for that.  No starving artist here, but this all sure explains why artists starve!  I sew because I love it.  I love creating!  I love sharing my craft! 

I guess when you get into selling your creations, the rejection factor jumps in there.  I mean, if you are an artist, sewist, whatever, you know what I mean.  People are always willing to give praise, but it’s when you ask them to get out their wallet that you realize the real appreciation isn’t there.

As an artist and creative person, I remind myself that I create, because that’s what I do!  If someone else likes it, then that’s just icing.  If someone is willing to pay money for it?  Then that’s a great bonus (more money to buy more fabric!)  But rejection will not stop me from creating.  Creating keeps me sane!

Teaching and Sharing

My mother-in-law is back from a month long trip to Florida and ready to get her QAYG quilt done.  She’s doing some straight line quilting to attach the back to the batting and front and give it a little more depth and texture.  It can be quite frustrating for her, because she doesn’t see as well, and she has arthritis.  It’s so tempting to jump in and just do it for her, but she wants this to be her own work, and I don’t blame her.  And teachers teach, right?  They don’t do!img_1176

Last night my niece, who has been busy with college and work, was able to come and work on her wall hanging.  After a quick, early supper of salads with all the fixin’s, we headed to the studio.  She’s decided she’d rather go with a prayer flag, inspired by an article on prayer flags that I had sent her a while back.

Allie is using the same Mary image as I found in this image on this website:  Michigoose’s Gander at Life and Quilts. 

Her center flag is the image of the Virgin Mary.  We took the pre-printed block and ironed on some fusible.  Then she carefully cut out just the Mary image and ironed it on a black print background.  She used a gold satin to border the black, which really set it off.

She left with the block, embroidery floss and more fusible, so she could embellish her Mary block with embroidery and prepare other images for the other flags.  I can’t wait to see where she goes with it!  I’ll share pictures once she gets a little further.  This girl has so much creativity and is quite the artist.

I love teaching and sharing my creative passion!  It’s just about as great as creating myself!