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Following The Butterfly

I just finished making 24 Christmas cards! 

When I started...I had NO idea that they would become cards - but that's what happened.

I read or hear about artists - I even know a few (go look at Hollis Chatelain's website) (she dreams her quilts) (her work is extraordinary) - who have a picture in their mind of what the finished product will look like - for the most part - when they start making art. 

That's incredible to me!!!

Even more amazing than that...is that they have a plan to GET to where they see their art going.

Not I.

Unless I'm making a quilt from a picture I've taken - like this one of Puerto Colombia...

or in the case of 'The Kiss' - I used a picture of a painting by Gustav Klimt.

Even then I impose silly rules on myself...like I can ONLY use scraps that are in this or that particular container. Or they can only be scraps that are under 4 inches. (Like I did with my version of 'The Kiss' above). And I don't pick them out in advance. I tend to just grab the next thing that'll work.

And so on and so forth.

I know...weird.

Sometimes it makes me feel like I'm not a "real" artist.

You know...that lack of a vision and plan.

I usually just get started and "follow the butterfly".

I've done that all my life. In pretty much every area of my life. But that's a subject for another day.

Anywho...I kinda sorta think I like these cards. 

I have a stash of paper you wouldn't be-lieve. It's huge because I keep adding to it and I really don't work with paper very often. 

At least - it doesn't play a starring role in my art.

When I was making Sophia's invitations last month, I made little card size quilties and then went looking in aforementioned stash for card stock to sew them on to. (You can see them in an older blog if you want to take a look-see).

Well...as organized as I am...and I AM, my paper stuff hasn't gotten that kind of attention yet. 

So while I was emptying drawers...I followed the butterfly - and organized according to weight, size, store bought, hand made, saved wrapping paper, paper towels I've painted, paper bags I've painted, etc., etc., etc.

I now KNOW where everything in my paper stash is located - well except for two drawers - and that's another few hours work - for another day.

I decided when I did all this marvelous organizing that the next thing I made...would be with paper. 

It's ridiculous to have the amount of paper I have.




So...I went in the playroom one night last week and procrastinated by mending a few items.

Did you hear what I just said?!?

I MENDED because I didn't want to - or know how to - or what to do with the paper stuff!!!

Mending yuk.

After fixing two items, I decided to fearlessly plunge in.

To a book that is.

Now...I used to spend hours looking at art and craft books wishing, hoping and dreaming that I could make something beautiful.

Then I decided - after a couple years of that - to Just DO It.

But I found myself in this book the other night...

And told myself that the first thing I came to that I liked, I would make.

Otherwise I knew I'd spend a couple hours looking for the "perfect" project.

And then art wouldn't happen.

Not as fast at least.

So...here's what I found less than 30 seconds later...

They're tags...for presents. 

I know...mine don't look anything like them. :)

First they instruct you to make a stamp (Christmas tree shape triangle) and then a stencil (trunk with branches). 

So I made mine and stamped and stenciled and cut shapes using the first paper that I came to (which I thought would work) - from one of those two drawers that still needs organizing. Then I glued my shapes onto heavier pieces of paper.

BTW - when they tell you to use stencil material to make a stencil...unless you want it to fall apart - like mine did (I used heavy cardboard)...you might want to follow directions.

I have a problem with that. 

Following directions that is.


FYI - the glue that I used is 2-3 years old which may be the reason it was sooo messy - but I don't think I'll be trying 2 Way Glue again unless somebody tells me how wonderful it is. It really took a LOT of the fun out of my play time.

The next day when I went to do the next thing, the glue still wasn't dry but that may be because Barranquilla is humid most of the time.

I fixed that by sprinkling glitter where ever there was a sticky spot.

Which meant my little shapes - stars, hearts, etc now look like blobs of glitter.

Oh well.

Nevertheless, I did have fun...but mine came out a little bigger than theirs which meant I ended up with really big tags.

I didn't like them very much...

until Hillary came over one afternoon and ooohed and aaaahhhed over them.

It surprised me enough to take a second look and get back in the play room and...well... 


So I stamped over my stamping and stenciling with stamps from my very extensive rubber stamp collection, added buttons and scraps of string and trim and glued them onto card stock.

And then stamped a little more.

I now have 24 Christmas cards that I totally don't need because I've been collecting them at yard sales for years and probably have enough to send for the rest of my life.

And since I live in Colombia - where the cost of mailing anything is prohibitive (and you thought the United States PO was bad) I probably won't use a fraction of them.

But I will use the ones I made first.

If you don't get a card from me it's because I'm really good at collecting them

and really bad at sending them.

Either way...I'll be thinking of you and missing you this Christmas

like crazy.


Christmas, Traffic and Burros in Barranquilla

Remember I told you how beautiful Buena Vista Mall is?

Well here's a picture I took when we first arrived in May. 

It's located in the North part of Barranquilla. 

This shot was taken in Buena Vista II - the newer section and is even more beautiful now because they've decorated for Christmas.

Barranquillans really get into the Christmas Spirit early. Decorations and holiday paraphenalia have been out in the stores since October but I guess that's the way it is in the States too...right?!?

I've been seeing - for the past two weeks - lots and lots of houses with Christmas lights and decorations too. 

Me...I usually decorate the week OF.

I don't mean to be Scrooge - I just like my orderly house and Christmas decorations mean things get moved around and...and...and...I don't know - messed up.

Actually, once I get everything out and put in it's place - I rather love the effect.

I'll remember to take and post pictures as I see them of Christmas in Barranquilla.

Ah...here's one I took last week and didn't even realize there were Christmas decorations involved...

Horses and donkeys or mules or burros as they call them here in Colombia - are a big part of the delivery system. 

They're the politest part of traffic in this city. 

Well...besides Jerry that is.

The fella a few pix above (the burro that is) was patiently waiting for his cart to be loaded (No. That cart isn't loaded yet) with threadbare tires to take off to who knows where. I'm sure that where ever they go - they'll be used in a creative way.

Whenever I get close to one of these critters - and that happens almost daily - I always wish I had a sugar cube or carrot in my pocket. 

They always look so tired and worn out and sad. And patient. And resigned.

I want to pet them. The only time I did begin to pet one - which was stopped outside my house at the time - the owner shook his hand at me to leave it alone. 

Maybe it didn't like Gringos.

Next time I get a chance, I'm gonna be brave.

I always have carrots in the fridge. And let me tell you. Barranquilla has the sweetest carrots I've ever tasted. They're wonderful!

But I digress.

Here's a shot I took at the highly decorated German School (where the ceremony was held) (yep - there's a German school here) just before Sophia's school's graduation ceremony last weekend...

She attends - and loves - Jardín Infantil Caperucita Roja en Barranquilla.

More about the program later. I'm trying to stay focused on Christmas in Barranquilla.

Except I'd love to show you this one other shot...

She had SO much fun dancing! And we had SO much fun watching. It was a wonderfully awesome program!

Here we go...

I haven't been in this store yet but it's display was beautiful - much better in person. I took this shot just as we were pulling away from the stop light. If you don't move WHEN the light turns green - you're gonna get blasted by every horn behind you for blocks.

See - you can see the front end of our Land Rover - which we have begun driving - in the reflection of the store window. :)

Speaking of driving...


Here's a shot of a horse in traffic pulling...something...to...somewhere. I think I took this shot while crossing Calle 76 which is always a busy, busy street.

Traffic in Colombia - well in Barranquilla, Cartagena and Bogota - which are the three cities I've been to so far - is wild. 

Very often, you'll see four lanes of traffic on a two lane street. 
You really have to be on the look out AT ALL times while in traffic. Front, left, right, rear, under and sometimes...over. The motorcycles zip in and out and around like crazy and are there and gone in the blink of an eye. 

It's enough to make you want to throw up your hands with frustration.

Here's another one of a horse pulling his share...

The pedestrian does NOT have the right of way down here so when you come to visit...DON'T assume a car will slow down or stop for you. Sidewalks were made for those on foot and they're expected to stay on them. It's a little hairy.

See that guy on the corner. He ran across just before the light turned. No messing around here.

Here's that same truck further down the street. 

His fruit looks so good - as does all of it - everywhere you go. Plentiful, affordable and always fresh. Usually on most street corners. 

Several vendors come by the house daily with fruit. It's so cool!

I'll be sure to take more pictures as I see them.

Or we can always go out back and pick guanabana.

Or el tomate...

Ok - I've been on the computer chair WAY too long and this program doesn't seem to want to load any more pictures and that tomato made me want a sandwich.

So...have a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend and tell someone you love how thankful you are for them.

Hillary...I'm really thankful for you honey.


Sergeant Bear!!!

What a great life I have.

I feel so happy and then I turned on the computer to find out my son was promoted to Sergeant!

That's MY boy! 

I am a really, really, really proud momma right now!

Congratulations Bear! You deserve it honey.

I would LOVE to have a current picture of him in his uniform but the one above will have to do for now.

Is he handsome or what?!?

And...he's smart, funny and really sweet when he wants to be. :) 

What a time to be in Iraq - so far away from the hugs and celebration that I know Winge is aching to give him. 

Congratulations to you too Winge!

You're the perfect Army wife and the woman that I prayed for all of Bear's life.




Today is Sophia's 3rd Birthday!!!

Happy Birthday Sophia! 

Here's my first picture of her...

She was born on Thanksgiving Day in 2k7 (my brother Jeff nicknamed her Butterball but thankfully it didn't stick) - which is also the day Bear graduated from Boot Camp at Fort Knox. 

As we were saying bye-bye to Hillary, I begged her not to go into labor until we returned 

but as we were arriving at Fort Knox at 6am on Thanksgiving Day (the following morning) we received "the call" - and missed her birth. But, I'm happy to say, I've been with her ever since.

Physically and emotionally. 

She's my main happy place. :)

She's also why I live in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Here she is earlier today at the Food Court at Buena Vista Mall waiting for her Burger King Chicken Fingers. (One of the few foods she'll eat).

Buena Vista Mall is beautiful. Many of the stores are designer wear which is really big here in Barranquilla. And the mall is HUGE. It's located in two separate buildings and has four floors in each! 

Here's one side of the mall - taken from a rooftop restaurant - The Coco Beach Club - to the west of Buena Vista. It's the long red brick building on the other side of those two red brick high rises.

We spent LOTS of time there when we were waiting for our belongings. It has good food, comfy places to sit and more importantly in those days...air conditioning.

Our house isn't air conditioned which is typical of homes in Barranquilla.

Unless you're filthy rich.

Which we aren't.


But I digress.

After lunch we drove down the street to the playground where she spent an hour in glorious sunshine.

Grumpy and Sophia were the only two kids there but they still had lots of fun. :)

My grandmother had my mom when she was 26 years old. My mom had me when she was 26 years old. I had Hillary when I was 26 years old.

So...we had mentioned several times that Hillary would have to continue the family tradition and have a little girl when she was 26 years old. Of course we wanted her married first. 

I know...it's old fashioned.

When Pedro and Hillary came home for Christmas, three months before Hillary's 26th birthday, they were already thinking about getting married.


They wanted to wait until they were both through their graduate work before gettin hitched and especially before having babies.

So Hillary gave us a little speech that Christmas of 2k6 about having to break the family tradition and we talked about how cool it had been and sorry mom, but it ain't gonna happen with me.

I've learned to NEVER say never.

A few days before Hillary's 26th birthday I picked up the phone to...

"MOM - I'm Pregnant"!!!

All I could do was laugh with delight. 

And of course I knew it would be a girl.

And of course she is.

A real girly girl at that.

She loves having her hair braided - wearing earrings - putting on lipstick - getting her nails done - wearing pretty dresses and just...being a girl. 

Which is just way cool because Hillary and I never were. 

Well we're girls, just not real girly.

Pedro and Hillary had a huge birthday party for her yesterday and I think half the city came! 

Sophia was a very good hostess and until they ran out, made sure that everyone had a cone - which is what she was calling them at first. 

I told her they were cone shaped party hats and from then on she ran to get a 'sombrero' for everyone that walked through the door.

Her Godfather, Alcides, was one of the first to arrive.

Hey...where's his cone?!?

Pretty soon, there was a full house and Sophia had a blast. 

She loved every minute of her party.

And then it was time for birthday cake.

And sleepy little girls and daddys.

That's Dala with Salome.

It was a beautiful day and everyone was happy.

Including Mommy and Daddy who made it all happen.

Grumpy and I are headed down the hill now to bring just a couple more presents.

We just can't get enough of the wascly wabbit.

And she has to open presents on the actual birthday...right?!?


What do Welding, Patterns and Showers have in common?


Jerry's downstairs using his welding machine and I'm upstairs to make sure I don't walk by the garage and have it flash and burn my eyes. With no door between the garage and house, it's easy to happen. 

Did you know that if you see someone welding you should LOOK AWAY! It can do some serious damage to your eyes. 

That's why welders use those shields.

Except in Colombia. 

Jerry came home from a walk one day and told me he'd seen a man welding down the street. The fella was fixing an iron fence gate - which is pretty much a requirement here in Barranquilla. 

Having a gate and fence that is.

Anywho, the man didn't have a welding machine - which provides and regulates the power and heat to weld. He had taken regular old wires - attached to the Stinger at one end with clamps on the other. He then clamped them onto the wires coming off the pole to the house at the panel box on the side of the house. He used the iron gate for a ground. 

That was bad enough but he only had on sunglasses to protect his eyes.

The stinger is the part where the hot comes out. 

I guess.

I worried about children and dummies people that don't know these things...like I used to be before Jerry set me straight.

Anyway, every time he welds, the lights in the house flicker and the fan slows down.  

It's really bugging my eyes.

But that's ok.

I came upstairs to take a shower, work on a pillow cover and blog. And not just to save my eyes, although I am. (Kids talked me into one of those flat screens a couple years ago to help prevent eye damage too).

So...I began this pillow...

It's a kit that I bought at a yard sale for 25 cents.

Knowing me, I probably got them both for a quarter.

I haven't used a kit or pattern in ages - until recently - but I used to think I needed them and bought many, many of them and then every time I'd see my sister, she'd give me a couple that she didn't want anymore.

So, in looking to use up some of this stuff that followed me to Colombia - and thinking gifts - and that most people are slightly more traditional than I am - and that I have about 30 pillow forms that I'm not using...I decided to make pillow covers.

The above kits had the fabric already cut with fusible webbing on them. It also had iron on transfers for the face and leaves, so I just had to find a piece of fabric to iron it all down on. The camouflage fabric has been with me since the kids were teenagers. I liked the arrangement on the picture so I didn't change a thing.

I then sprayed some glue onto the back to attach the batting (my favorite way to baste) and while waiting for it to dry I hopped into the shower.

Next, I'll add free motion stitching and some paint.

It's been getting ready to rain here for a couple hours now and I get nervous when I'm in water and it's thundering and lightening outside so I figured I'd better get that done before I lost my opportunity.

I have NEVER seen thunder and lightening like I do here. Not even in SW Florida. We live on top of a hill and we're really close to the clouds and consequently, all that comes with the rain.

That picture is pretty typical when it isn't raining. But as fast as weather moves around Baranquilla, there were probably rain clouds a couple minutes away.

PS (Those clouds touch the tower across the street and down the block from the house). We're way up here.

We also lose the water almost every day. Sometimes it's out for 5 minutes - other days 8-12 hours. We never know.

So you'd better wash dishes, clothes and stinky you know whats when you have the chance.

We heard on the news that if you take cold showers you'll live longer. 

Here in Barranquilla, most of the houses don't have hot water heaters. So...we take cold showers every day. Sometimes two or three depending on what we're doing and where we've been.

After six months of living here, I'm still not used to it.

But now that I know I'm going to live longer as a result...I kind of like them.

The night that our belongings arrived we had no water. 

The 40 foot container holding our stuff, pulled up (helped by a tractor trailer) at about 2am and we - eight of us - unloaded until 6am. 

I served up all the water in the fridge, then the soda but when I got out the pitcher of green tea - no one wanted any. 

They said they'd rather be thirsty.

The tiendas were closed because it was the middle of the night so we couldn't buy any water either. 

At any rate, you really don't want to drink from the tap here. 

I would have been better equipped to handle it if they'd shown up at noon the previous day like they'd said.

We still didn't have water by 7am so Jerry and I dropped into bed really needing showers.

When we got up at around 10am, you guessed it - nada agua.

But...we do have this little alleyway that runs down the south side of the house. On one side is the house; the other a 10 or 12 foot concrete wall. 

At the end of the alley is a drain which dumps all of the rain off of the house onto the concrete floor and then out to the street.

Thankfully, it rained that day. After sitting miserably dirty for a couple hours, we decided to get under that stream of water and take a shower.

In dirty house rain water.

It's the only time Jerry has picked up the camera in...oh...about five years.

Way back when I was sending out group emails, I'd included this picture and NOT ONE person asked me about it. 

I thought is was pretty funny that nobody wanted to touch on that subject.

Thankfully, we haven't had to do that again.

So...here I sit blogging.

Because I just HAD to show you the pictures of Sophia's birthday owls.

They were slightly traumatized after I finished them because they had their eyes on through most of the process so I sat them on the ironing board in front of my big eye art - which I totally adore. Figured they'd get some sympathy. The puppy and kitten have both been through much worse.

Always, when I make anything with eyes, I put them on last. But I was following a pattern.

Yep - they're made with a pattern which is from a lady I met last year (was it ONLY a year ago?!?) in Houston at International Quilt Festival at the Superior Threads booth. (I got to teach my bohemiannie! bags there).

Her name is Annette Unrein but she goes by Annie. I liked her right away. :)

Her pattern is called Hoot 'n' Annie Owl Softies and I just couldn't resist it. Sometime soon I'll tell you how I texturized the fabric but you can look on her website if you want to know now. 


Here they are downstairs sitting on my little work table - a TV tray which used to belong to my parents.

They were exploring that day and ended up on my new used shelf which I hung over the computer and is now full of family pictures.

PS (I just went to pee and we have no water). 

I know...too much information. 

In case you're worried about my keyboard, I did clean my hands with some of that antibacterial stuff and a damp wash cloth - which I always have one of hanging around. 

But I digress.

They (I'm going to let Sophia name them) also visited the bedroom and sat on the new used chair that goes with the precious little vanity we bought last week.

Is that a cute chair or what?!? You ought to see the vanity.


OK - one last picture and I'm back to the play room - where - BTW - Madonna is playing on my new CD player. Argentina.

When I was in the states, my brother, Jeff and my daughter-in-law, Winge both downloaded lots of their music for me so while I've been typing and looking at pictures, I've also listened to Kanya West, JayZ, Kid Cudi, Pharrell, Mr. Hudson and then Jim Croce. 

I L-O-V-E love having music. My CD collection was getting old and worn out and the radio here in Barranquilla doesn't play much in English.

Oh yeah... the picture.

Now if only the lights would quit flickering.