Monday, April 26, 2010


pedro4To say adios is not to say goodby, but to say I am passing with no time to chat, yet will return another day, my friend.
Adios Mazatlan, adios friends. I am only passing, soon to return.
The threads of your people and your culture have woven their way throughout my my heart, mi corazon, my soul, mi alma.
Neighbors of all ages with friendly greetings to welcome us with our white skin and angular speech.
Music heard at every corner, arias and concertos coming from the apertures of the plazuela, young ballerinas chatting in groups outside their studio door, and competing musicians entertaining their local audiences on the benches.
Of course the events: Carnaval, Moto Week, Semana Santa, Navidad. There is always something to entertain, to enjoy, to feed the soul and help to shadow the daily sorrows and pains of life.
The fiestas! The birthday party at the Senior Center was our highlight this winter, with a spunky attendant helping her 90-something wards shimmy and shake their way across the floor to take a swing at the pinata. Be it a baptism or a street party, the elements are always, family, friends, food and music. What else matters?
My daily walks on the oceanfront or up to the lighthouse with neighbor Chayito not only conditioned my body but strengthened our bonds of friendship.
Of course our travels: Morelia with its history and natural beauty, Akumal with is white sand beaches, and Copper Canyon with its depths of landscape and indigenous peoples. Mexico, you are so rich, so amazing, so unique.
And my local friends - be it in yoga or bridge or fabric related - women sharing experiences of life and love and joining together in friendship. Thay are vibrant and alive and an important part of my life.
I can't forget the sewing ladies - they are a bright light to my Mexican experience. If they only knew how much they have given to me with their friendship. Along with cherished partners Bev and Toy, we push them along the path of empowerment. They are so strong!
My 84 year old neighbor took my hand yesterday and with a fortune teller's gaze, she predicted "much love, much health, but not much money - just enough for food!" - and then laughed and hugged me. Here in Mexico, that's what it's all about!
Adios, Mazatlan, adios friends. I am only passing, soon to return.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


We're on the short list with two more sleeps before departing north. Not only are we tying up loose ends here, but I want to put closure on a few of my blog posts from this winter. The three amigas above are myself and Val and Edwige, cohorts in the shirt and chenille shawl projects. On this day we were divvying up our rayon, both black and white (for dyeing), when we decided to get good and silly! We each produced some beautiful shirts (sadly no pic) and the chenille project had mixed results. Another friend, Karen, also wanted to get involved, but we were a bit short of fabric to each have five layers. Karen remembered she had some black rayon in her stash so we then were able to stretch our resources 4 ways. We each dyed up four colorful layers and with the black as the backing, we each set off to sewing straight lines across these layers to later slice for chenille. I think I put about four hours into the line-sewing and was only half way done. At one point my bobbin thread ran out so I was punching holes, like perforations, in my fabrics, and later the black began to tear. This was a bad sign, and I suspected I needed to change my needle. (I have to admit I am not the best at changing needles.) I reported this to the group, and they agreed that it must have been the needle. I received an email from Karen one night with the info that she had finished BUT after slicing, she put it in the wash and it came out in split strips...the black had totally disintegrated and left nothing but the sliced colorfule chenille strips. It wasn't my needle but rotten black rayon! So we all pondered on how to proceed. Val finished sewing hers, but flipped it over and included the black in her slicing. I never got to see it but a friend reported it was lovely. Mine sits half finished on a shelf, and Edwige has hers only basted together. Some projects are best to just chalk up to experience! Karen is now incorporating her strips into a vest.
lolita 001ladies and run through 001

These two cute cousins came to model the shirts I made for them for Christmas. Aren't these girls adorable?
shrimp dinner
My invitation to the dinner club inspired this piece. Alistair's grilled shrimp with green curry was not only delicious but beautiful too and I couldn't help but put it to fabric. I love these dinner plate pieces....I know I'll be doing more. For background stitching on the placemat, I go to and look up a simple and relevant recipe and proceed to stitching it on, weaving the ingredients and process in and out of the scene. It's lots of fun!
mqAnd finally, on to my mystery quilt. I've been conscientious about producing the squares each month when Heather from Quadra's guild sends out the instructions. In March we received instructions for putting them all together and basically it was a "how you like it" option. Two nights ago I put them together on my design board, moving them here and there until I got it just right. This is the last pic I took and isn't exactly as I'll piece it, but pretty darn close. Initially the task was a bit of a headache, but after a while I really got into it. Thank goodness for design boards! My pieces and mini sewing kit are set aside so I can have them handy in the car to help me while away the miles. I have a sketch of the layout in my notebook and I'm good to go.
Now to clean out the fridge!

Friday, April 23, 2010


escuela 011
Monday was my last day of the season to work with our wonderful Sewing Ladies. My awesome co-hort, Bev, and I are both heading north in a few days, so the ladies had a celebration for us, a day of food and friendship and more food and more friendship. These are the moments I live for. We took this opportunity to hand out diplomas for the different programs we have been teaching this winter. (The ladies giggled with delight at being honored for their efforts.) Bev taught English each week to this fine group of twelve. They interact each week with tourists at different market venues and English skills are invaluable to them.  Fantastic job, Bev! Fantastic job, ladies!
My role this winterladies and run through 020 has been my usual attempts to help them enhance their sewing work with artistic expressions and personal touches. This year I wanted to teach them paper piecing which I was pretty sure they had little or no experience. (I was inspired by Pippa Moore, a fellow quilter from Vancouver Island who has done a similar program with women in Africa. I attended her slide show just before coming to Mexico in October.) Each Monday I brought a new pattern, demonstrated it , and sent them home with the homework of finishing it.  We started with simple stripes and finished off with a more complicated sailboat. All twelve gave it a try, some liking it and others struggling through the process. Here's Sylvia with one of her boats...she was one who really took to this activity and I'll be sure to bring her more patterns next year. Then on to silk painting. This was a project we started last year. I had seen an article on Dharma's website about a silk painting project in Haiti, so of course I wanted to try it here too. I think I brought 50 scarves last year and each woman painted 4 or 5. This year they requested more, so I brought another 80 down and we set up shop each Friday at their community center with our pvc frames, silk blanks and colorful silk paints. Ivan, the art teacher at the center was instrumental in helping with painting skills (hey's a great watercolorist!) and design. In the end, the 8o blanks turned into beautiful scarves that are now for sale at their venues. How they loved using salt in this process. I'm wondering if they'll be continuing this next year. Sales will tell and I'll await an email in September with their "wish list".
ladies and run through 015
I was gifted an extra three weeks here as our plans for leaving changed, so with a bit of time at hand, I taught them the ladder stitch I so often use to applique shapes to fabric. It was a quick one hour class, and they loved it. For the next two weeks, they brought in items they had made using this stitch. They are so proud of their new skills and I am incredibly proud of them too. My summer will be spent thinking about what to teach next year. Any ideas?
identity theft 006
Take a look at the feast that Bev and I were treated to that a way of saying thanks to us for our classes and friendship. These truly are the moments I live for!
escuela 012

Thursday, April 22, 2010


It's Earth Day, and my computer greeted me with the question, "What are you doing for Earth Day?".
Maybe Earth Day has now become as important as Easter and New Years and Christmas and Valentine's Day and any other holiday that is taken on by the marketers. I hope so. At least it has risen above Groundhog's Day and Secretaries' Day (sorry secretaries, I don't mean to belittle your job!) I'm waiting for the day when its an international holiday, celebrated world-wide with celebrations to raise our environmental consciousness.
Along with packing up my belongings for our upcoming trip back north,  joining some friends for lunch, and sharing dinner at our sweet 84 year old Mexican neighbor's house, I don't have many Earth Day activities planned. Perhaps the finishing of a recent collage is appropriate.
 collage hear my plea
I recently gathered a group of women for a collage class. It was a fun day of "intentional" dyeing, another day of design, and a final day of free motion quilting. My creation was of an earth angel, which turned out not exactly as I envisioned, but my message of our need for angelic help is there. Yes, we need help, and lots of it. Our poor Mother Earth can't get a quick face lift; she's stuck with what we dish out to her. And stress, being the killer that it is, is taking its toll on Mother Earth.
close up
While I'm at it, I really want to congratulate my three students on their awesome creations! Dragonflies, bassett hounds and beach scenes (and earth angels) filled our days. The colors and compositions are fantastic. And Nancy, you have now set me off on a cheesecloth is an amazing and versatile dyeing tool.
collage class 006collage class 002

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


identity theft 002
I received a call from an old friend in Alaska a few months ago. He was wondering if I had heard about the problem with the public employees’ AND teachers’ retirement systems from the state. “No, tell me more”, I replied with a bit of trepidation in my voice. Apparently the administrator of these two systems (and I belong to BOTH) had lost data of 77,000 employees and had failed to report it immediately. Somewhere, out there in ether-land, was a lot of personal info, maybe mine, floating around doing who knows what.  My friend referred me to the local newspaper for further details. I was to receive a letter from the state if I was involved, but for me, living in Mexico, receiving regular mail is not an option. I did find out that the administrating firm was offering every involved person 2 free years of identity theft coverage, and that the deadline for signing up for this was May 3rd. A few weeks ago I tackled this issue. I first called the state to see if I was involved. The answer was yes. I had the info for identity theft coverage, but I needed a special promotion code. The state worker also gave me this. From there I applied online for a program to protect my identity. (Doesn't that sound re-assuring??!!)
The process was relatively easy, but once again it was a situation to create a username and password. I opened my little notebook where I keep track of them , and upon looking at my way too lengthy list, it just hit me…how crazy it is, how our lives sometimes feel to be reduced to a password, and by golly, you better get that password right or else! And be ready to change it at moment’s notice! My grandparents and even my parents must be rolling over in their graves thinking about what a crazy world we live in. My husband was kind enough to let me vent for a day or two.
We also are still dealing with my husband’s inability to enter Canada. (See my post "Locked out of Life".) Last year he returned on a 6 month permit, but this year he has to re-apply all over again. Last year he had a criminal background check from the U.S. FBI which took 3 weeks at most to process, but this year they are backlogged and the wait will be 13 weeks. So that’s another piece of bureaucratic BULLSH** we are challenged by. And I know that we aren’t the only ones involved in the junk of life. Ours is just a blip on the screen, a hiccup in life, but my heart goes out to those who truly are trapped in the system.
The bottom line is to enjoy and cherish every HUMAN, face-to-face connection. Don’t let the cyber life rule. Except, that is, Cyberfibres...Online quilting is VERY IMPORTANT!
The story behind this piece is more important than the construction….fabric, bleach, thread, buttons! Put it out there! Vent on fabric!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


dinner 005
 One of the many great volunteer organizations here in Mazatlan is PAC, or Projecto Animales de la Calle. Jan McDonald and her many devoted helpers (Susan, Danny, Judith, Tracey, etc. etc.) work to help the dogs and cats of the street - those forgotten creatures that are quite abundant here. They use a program known as TNR (trap, neuter,return) and have helped to stabilize the population here in the Centro district of Mazatlan. Their main fundraiser is the annual Bow-Wow Meow Mixer, a fun buffet/cocktail party and auction, which generates the majority of revenue for the group. I always try to make a little something with a dog/cat theme, and this year I was stumped on what to make. A wonderful blogger, Jude Hill of Spiritcloth, shared info about an Anchorage surface design project headed by Diane Melms (the Alaskan glue!) of students creating primitive and bright animals on fabric. My inspiration had arrived! I got out my scraps and got to cutting. The pillows were a hit and raised a nice sum for the group. I even got a commission for more pooch pillows, as seen below. Doobie and Lolita's mom and dad love them!
lolita 006

Thursday, April 8, 2010


green fuse final
Last summer I found an old classic at Cortes Island’s Free Store: The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julie Cameron. This was added to my stash of Mexico-bound goods, and once here, I devoted an hour each morning to working through this book. I found it valuable in many ways, mainly digging deep inside to the heart and soul of my own creativity.  This quote was introduced early in the book, with reference to higher powers, life forces, etc..  It really struck a cord with me and I have been wanting to put it to fabric ever since. Many times, I feel, that I am driven to create just as the flower is driven to grow. So this is my current quilt journal entry for GROWTH, representing the growth we experience in so many ways in the creative process.
I wanted to try something simple, without a machine, so initially wrote the quote on with bleach pen, leaving room for a simple flower. For hand quilting, I tried to put in stitch lines that hinted at upward, flowing movement. The last touch, referencing Dylan Thomas was of course added with machine.
Some of you have expressed interest in trying your hand at bleaching. You can try brushing a bleach gel product (Vim with bleach, Soft Scrub with bleach, or Clorox bleach pen) onto a foam stamp and stamping directly onto the fabric. Or you can use it with a paint brush. I typically put the product into a small, fine-tipped bottle for application….I can write with it and fill in shapes, or even create dotted or striped fabric. I order the bottle from Dharma in California, but Maiwa in Vancouver also has them. Someone told me that they may be available in places that sell cake decorating supplies. Once in the bottle, I cover it with fabric or foil as light breaks down the bleach. I usually let the bleach set on the fabric for a few hours before rinsing away the residue, but it can even be rinsed after 10 minutes. So that should be enough info to at least get started in playing with thickened bleach.
Happy spring to all….may GROWTH be with you!