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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Retiring to the Frontier: Part 1

Our friends back in Southern California have said they couldn't see themselves moving out of state to someplace completely new and at first I couldn't, either.  I'd spent all but my first five years in suburban Orange County, California, a childhood, adolescence and young adulthood filled with trips to the beach, to shopping centers (and later malls), a five to fifteen minute drive to whatever I wanted or needed. Orange groves dotted the landscape between postwar housing tracts, and that was all we needed.

Moving to rural inland SoCal in our mid twenties for T's first teaching job took some adjusting. Farther from the beach, from stores and from our friends, it was now a 37 mile drive to college, where I was finishing my degree and teaching credential. but getting to Orange County was a smooth 30 minutes on a good day, not that big a deal. We liked living in our little yellow house on the hill, looking out over the citrus groves, red tailed hawks circling overhead, the manic sounds of coyotes howling and yipping into the evening darkness. We were spoiled for country living.

By the time we were ready to retire, our country life had been spoiled. Horsethief Canyon Ranch and Sycamore Creek housing developments moved in where citrus groves had been. I missed the scent of orange and lemon blossoms on my drive to work, and my 12 minute drive to work became 30 minutes, then 40 minutes, until finally I planned for an hour just in case the freeway had a problem. It took forever just to go grocery shopping, fighting the traffic, finding a parking space, waiting in long lines. Errands took hours. Cars clogged the roads. We were living in the fastest growing area in the country.  Where it had always been hot in inland SoCal, now it was also humid since the new homes had grassy lawns with automatic sprinklers watering nonstop. And I don't do hot and humid very well.

 So we knew it was time to move,  looked around, and found we could afford to live in New Mexico, a place we had visited so often it felt like home. It helped a lot to have Southern California Edison purchase our little home for a project that has never been completed.

Our new 'hood is census designated as "frontier, " which means we're far from hospitals, food sources and jobs, with around three persons per square mile.

This is the first of three posts introducing our frontier and how we adjusted to a different culture, found new people and became much more self reliant.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Quilty Pleasures: Our Lady of Guadalupita

I taught a class at ThreadBear a while back on improvisational medallion quilts. The three session class was designed to give everyone a start on the process, so I haven't seen their finished products.  Nonetheless, it was fun sewing along with the students so they could watch the process and get some ideas, with a few instructional stops along the way.

You may have seen the Lady of Guadalupe quilt I made after taking an epic class on Liberated Quilting hosted by quilting buddies Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran. (Click on the link above to get that story.)

Anyway, I still had some Our Lady panels in my stash (and have started another quilt that I hope to finish this winter), so that's where I started. Since this quilt was improvised, there was no clue what the finished product would look like, just starting in the center, working border by border.

Here's a look at the quilt. I built around the center, got bored with that and decided to add details at the top and the bottom.

Here's a close up of the different layers I added around the center panel. Because I wanted this quilt to be finished quickly, I made strategic use of interesting fabric rather than piecing each border. Freddy Moran, whose quilts have a plethora of fabric and color, likes black and white borders in a busy quilt so our eyes can stop and rest. For reference, the half square triangles are 1.5 inches finished. I'm not sure about the orange and rose fabric touching each other, but it's done and a small matter. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Look at the quilting Michael at ThreadBear did, the rose and leaf quilting pattern echoing both the roses in the red border and and the general flower motif I repeated throughout the quilt. Oops! Don't look at that stray white thread. Oh, you looked, didn't you?

Towards the top of the quilt is an arch of Gwen Marston's Liberated Stars. I made the stars first and worried they would get lost in the bold colors, but by placing them at the top,  they become a focus motif. Liberated stars are free pieced, no measuring the stars' points, so each one is different.

At the quilt's bottom, I used Gwen's Liberated Basket technique to make flower pots, the flowers from an old Kaffe Fasset fabric. Gwen has used these same pots in one of the Lady of Guadalupe quilts Freddy and Gwen made for their book Collaborative Quilting.

An aside: If you haven't seen Quiltfolk magazine, please do. This issue is about the Michigan quilt community and features an article about Gwen, my quilting hero and a national treasure.

The backing fabric is Alma y Corazon by Alexander Henry. Love his fabrics and am grateful for Ann at ThreadBear, who made a bee line to this exact fabric, knowing it would be perfect.

 As I was making the quilt, I thought about a student I taught in Corona whose mother had gifted me years ago with a beautiful white crocheted sweater and later, after I had retired to the mountains, sent me a cozy hat and scarf to ward off the cold. I've always been so grateful for these gifts because, well, it was a parent who wanted to show me I was valued, and her son Juan went on to become a teacher, too, which is even better. So I sent her the quilt, now named Our Lady of Guadalupita. The name? Guadalupita, NM is the closest village to our place so it makes perfect sense since that's where I made it.

It looks like Mrs. Rosa Salgado likes Our Lady of Guadalupita, so I am glad to have been able to make her just as happy as I was receiving her gifts of love.