Category Archives: Life


DiscoverImage courtesy of Faber-Castell Design

A few years ago I noticed some of my favorite quilting blogs were choosing a word for the year. I like that idea. It is not a resolution, but an intent. A focus. A promise.

My word for 2016 is “discover.”

We are never really complete or finished. There is so much “new” out there. Life flies by and I don’t want any regrets. I want to explore and discover new things – new places, new talents, new crafts. The list is endless.

I invite you on the journey!


SpringPlanting.042010-06-06care. nourish. develop. cultivate. consider. minister. treasure. foster.sustain. value.

Have you seen all the posts lately about choosing a word for the New Year? I’ve been thinking about the word I’d like to live by in 2015.


I’m a physical therapist, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt. I nurture others all the time. It is who I am, who I will always be. But this year, the word nurture is going to mean something a little different to me. Sure, I’ll keep on nurturing others (because that is what I do), but I am also going to spend some time nurturing myself.

What will this look like?

DSC_1136My Marriage…Spending time with just me and my wonderful husband, Kip

  • Road Trips
  • Sitting by a fire with a good glass of wine
  • Date nights
  • Candlelight Dinners
  • Long Walks
  • Bike Rides

PoppyQuiltwithPillows.LARGE photo0001My Creative Side…Spending time alone with my fabric and my imagination

  • Making what I want to make (as opposed to what others expect me to make)
  • Advancing my skills – going outside the box
  • Taking time to browse through Pinterest, Quilt Magazines, Craft Books – letting my imagination take my inspiration to new places
  • Just playing with no set goals

DSCN0350 (800x600)My Health…Taking care of myself

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Riding my bike and getting in shape for that century ride I want to do
  • Saying “no” when I am already maxed out
  • Eating more organics, leaner meat and less sugar

GirlsSewing03.14.2014.Conni.Cathie0001My Relationships with Others…Making time for my friends and family

  • Sewing with friends
  • Phone calls to those far away (instead of email and Facebook)
  • Sharing funny stories and things I am grateful for – inviting the people I love into my joy

NATURE.LARGEphoto0001The Earth…Spending time in nature

  • Grow a garden
  • Pick wildflowers
  • Take a hike
  • Enjoy the views wherever they may be
  • Watch a sunset
  • Get up for sunrise

Nurturing myself will enable me to nurture others – I will be happier, healthier, more patient, less anxious. I know this to be true.

What about you? Do you have a word for 2015?

The Creative Life

Creative Journal.010001

What brings you joy? Fulfillment? A sense of well being? A feeling of satisfaction?

For me – it is the simple act of creating.

Creativity comes from deep within ourselves and has roots in our dreams, desires, the way we see ourselves in the world, our connection to others.

Do you write? Or quilt? Or paint? Or make music? Do you love to plant a garden? Or arrange flowers? Or decorate your favorite room?

All of these things are creative pursuits. They feed our souls. Bring us happiness. Make our worlds more beautiful.

Today, I committed to a year of creativity. I bought a sturdy book from the art store, some colorful pens, and a glue stick and started a creative journal. A place to jot down ideas, ruminate about color and design, and capture my creative thoughts. I started with a collage – photos and words ripped from magazines, randomly pulling out images that I liked or were inspired by…and then seeing what they told me about color and shape, mood and design sense.

Creative Journal.020001

I learned I love the warm colors – the reds and oranges and bold colors that are vibrant.

I learned that whimsy and courage and positivity draw me in.

I found I liked curves and flower shapes, that modern retro delighted me.

How about you? Do you understand your creative roots?

quilting happinessI found inspiration for my journal in a book I recently purchased: Quilting Happiness by Christina Lane and Diane Gilleland. There are wonderful quilt projects in this book, but what I love the most about it, are the creative exercise towards self-expression. I’ll be talking more about this book in 2014, you can be sure! Until then – I hope you find time today to do something creative, to feed your soul, to bring more beauty into the world.

Merry Christmas!

It is sunny and cold here in Northern California! I hope you are enjoying beautiful weather on this wonderful Christmas day. Merry Christmas to all of you!Decorations010001






Beyond the Shadow of War: The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden

This is a piece I wrote which was first published on The Piker Press in 2005. I thought it would be nice to share it with my blog readers on this Memorial Day weekend. All photos in this post are clickable to enjoy a larger view.



Situated in the high desert of Northern California, in the shade of Mt. Shasta, there lies a sculpture garden dedicated to all veterans. The USDA Forest Service offered this land for the creation of a memorial. Bronze artist Dennis Smith served his country as a Marine and brings to life a personal and intimate portrayal of our history. His philosophy of art (“…to uplift, edify and educate”) is apparent throughout the garden and labyrinth.

On a perfect late spring day, my husband Kip and I drive away from Redding, north on highway 5. We exit in Central Weed and head north on highway 97 toward the stark beauty of the high desert. To our southeast, Mt. Shasta rises into a clear blue sky, her snow covered peaks shining in the sun. We find the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden one mile north of County Road A-12, in the heart of Siskiyou County and are greeted at the entrance by The Peaceful Warrior sculpture. With one bronzed arm raised to the towering pines, the figure appears triumphant. As our car enters the parking area, my eyes are drawn to the Hot LZ Memorial Wall, which on this day (only a week after Memorial Day), it is covered with the red, white and blue of small American flags and the rich colors of dozens of bouquets of wildflowers. Names of veterans, living and dead, are etched in the wall’s granite surface. Glinting in the sun atop the wall are two bronzed sculptures of helicopters. Mt. Shasta’s snow covered slopes soar behind them and I can imagine the helicopters, blades whirring, lifting into the Spring sky.

MtShast&FlagWe drive away from the parking area and down a dusty road where junipers and pines blow in a gentle breeze. Purple Penstemons, Northern Buckwheat and Hawks Beard are just a few of the dozens of species of wildflower which cover the ground. Dennis Smith’s sculptures catch the sun’s rays, throwing light toward the rocky outcroppings on the northern end of the park.

Kip and I climb out of the car. The breeze blows away the heat of the sun and wild thyme and sage flavors the air. We walk out to the POW-MIA sculpture. A soldier lies in a cage, ankles bound, hands curled limply at his side. People have placed wreaths, bracelets, flags and notes in front of him. An American flag, sun bleached and tattered, flutters. My throat tightens and tears blur my vision. The silence here is broken only by the occasional rumble of a truck making its way along highway 97; and the sweet trill of a single bird.

TheWhyGroupKip and I take our time wandering among the sculptures. We wait for awhile at the site of The Flute Player, symbolic of peace and tranquility. It is said when the wind blows just right, the sound of a flute comes forth. But not today.

We walk out to The Nurses memorial. An injured soldier rests on a stretcher carried by two men; a nurse, hand outstretched as if giving a blessing, leans over him. Someone has tucked a tiny bouquet of blood red Desert Paintbrush inside the injured man’s hand. I imagine the thump-thump of a helicopter’s rotors, the thud of distant bombs, and the soothing voice of a nurse in the chaos. I imagine a soldier in pain who looks into the eyes of another and is comforted.

Kip and I move on. We feel the despair at the Korean War Veteran Monument; and hope as we gaze at the outstretched arms of the central figure in The Why Group.

ForPapa01The minutes tick by. I am filled with a peace that is hard to define. This site is dedicated to war veterans and one might think the violence of war would find a place among the monuments. But Dennis Smith, who believes that “through art we have the means to peacefully consider violence,” has created a remembrance that fills the observer with reverence and tranquility. On this day, Kip and I are alone among the bronze and dwarfed by a mountain. We stumble upon other tributes left where once only wildflowers grew. “To Papa,” says one; “To my brother,” says another. Crude bunches of flowers, small flags, piles of rock nest in the desert grasses, almost hidden; and their presence touches us, makes us feel this place is special.

When finally we climb back into our car, our words have been silenced. I roll down my window, allow the wind to blow past my face. Dust sifts and billows beneath the car’s tires. We leave the parking lot and turn south onto highway 97 toward home. I glance back once more to see the Peaceful Warrior standing guard.

Ten Years…


It has been ten wonderful years of marriage … hard to believe how fast the time has gone by. I feel so incredibly lucky to have this wonderful man in my life!

Today he arrived home with these:


I love you, Honey!!!!

Reflection in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Yesterday I was glued to the news unfolding out of Boston. The streets I had once called home were in lockdown, eerily quiet except where thousands of police officers, lights flashing, searched for a young man who had brought terror to the city. It was surreal, almost unbelievable. If felt like a set of a movie. But it was not.

When the final suspect was captured alive, I felt giddy with relief.

Today the news is full of the stories of two men who came to America to escape the violence in their own country and then unleashed their own brand of terror. It speculates on why. Friends of these men are being interviewed. It is all about the perpetrators. Understandable? Yes.

But as the sun rose this morning I reflected on the past week, a week when innocence and joy was shattered on a clear Boston day and fear surged in the hearts of Americans. I ache to find something good. I want to turn away from the evil that hides behind the innocent-looking face of a curly haired nineteen year old. I want to remember that good is more powerful than evil. That when bombs exploded, people rushed to help. Doctors, nurses and aides dropped everything and raced to hospitals which had been turned into triage units. Police officers, paramedics, and bystanders pressed bare hands to bleeding bodies. Ordinary people opened their hearts and homes to complete strangers.

When evil swept its ugly hand across the face of a city, good rose from the dust.

I don’t want to forget that.

In the weeks and months ahead, the injured will still be struggling to recover. The families of those killed will still be grieving. The first responders will still be waking from nightmares. And there will still be people whose first thought is to help when tragedy strikes. It is that knowledge that strengthens our hearts, gives us reason to hope, allows us to face a new day again.

I don’t want to forget that.

Google Reader Going Away – But, I Hope You’ll Stay


Like half the blog-o-sphere, I gaped in disbelief when I read that Google is planning to discontinue its feed reader service beginning July 1st. After denial, there was, predictably, anger. I’ve been subscribing to blogs through Google Reader ever since I started blogging and the last thing I wanted to do was spend hours looking for a replacement RSS feeder.

But, alas, change keeps on coming despite me digging in my heels and hoping everything will stay the same.

FrustrationI’ve spent the last couple of days researching new feed readers and have pretty much decided that the best thing to do is to re-activate my subscription to Feedly. It is not the perfect system (I hate being forced to open each article separately in order to read the post), but it seems to be the easiest one to transition to for now. Feedly promises its users that the transition from Google Reader to Feedly will be “seamless” on July 1st. And it is very simple to copy your current subscriptions to the Feedly home page (it even remembers your folders – yay!). I figure that I can go this route for now and always change to another system down the road if I want to do so.

I currently have 455 subscribers to my blog through Google Reader and it scares me just a little that come July 1st all those subscribers will disappear because it is too time consuming or confusing to re-subscribe through another feed reader. I hope you’ll stick around and find a service that works for you rather than stop reading my blog! If you are like me – completely overwhelmed – then I would suggest simply opening an account with Feedly. Google Reader and Feedly are currently “connected”…meaning that if you decide you want to continue with Google Reader right up until the last minute, no problems – everything you do on Google Reader neatly syncs over to Feedly and vice versa.

You can also check out other options here.

Today I went through all my subscriptions and deleted those which had not posted anything in the last 3 months…and also those who only show an abbreviated feed. The ruthless culling will probably continue in the coming months. But for now – I’m exhausted.

Oh, by the way, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Visiting Italy: Real and Imagined

gondolaitalySeven years ago, three years into our marriage, my husband and I started talking about taking a trip to Italy. We decided we would visit this amazing country in the year we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, and promised each other to start saving money towards that end. We started a “travel” savings account and shifted money there whenever we had a few dollars to do so. We saved, and dreamed, and envisioned sun-drenched vineyards, crumbling Roman ruins, aqua seas, and moonlit gondola rides. This year we celebrate ten years of marriage on May 4th…and we have raided our savings and booked a trip to Italy in October.

I am so excited I cannot seem to think of much else.

The last few days I have been rummaging through my unread stacks of books and pulling out tomes with Italy at their center. Here are the treasures I have found in my piles:


Glassblower PassionofArtemisia TwoFriends critiqueofcriminalreason

The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland

Two Friends by Alberto Moravia

Critique of Criminal Reason by Michael Gregorio

Non Fiction

i-loved-i-lost PassionOnTheVine YearintheWorld ThousandDays MediterraneanSummer TravelersTalesItaly

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci

Passion on the Vine by Sergio Esposito

A Year in the World by Frances Mayes

A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi

Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France’s Cote d’Azur and Italy’s Costa Bella by David Shalleck with Erol Munuz

Travelers’ Tales Italy Edited by Anne Calcagno

I doubt I will read ALL these books before our trip, but I am planning to read at least some of them. And I would LOVE if you have any FICTION recommendations that are set in Italy. I am most interested in reading about the places and history where we will be visiting.


We will be spending time in Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento (and the Amalfi coast), Isle of Capri, Orvieto, Assisi, Perugia, Sienna, Florence, Bologna, Venice (including Murano and Burano), Ravenna, Chianciano Terme, and Montepulciano (one of Tuscany’s highest hill towns)…and all the points in between.

Have you been to Italy? What did you love the most? Are there any books that I should read before I go? Any sights I just should not miss? Inquiring minds want to know!