Happy Mother’s Day!

One thing I learned as a professional caregiver is that it is hard to be a caregiver! For this reason alone, I salute those who are caregivers by any circumstance. Quiet as it is kept and/or largely debated, giving birth is not necessary to being a good caregiver. Nor is adoption. Or surrogate parenting. Or being of one gender, age, race, creed, color and/or religion. Or whatever else is out there. Care giving is a matter of heart.

If you deeply love the person (or people) that is in your care, that is enough.

Focus on the love. Focus on the good things. Focus on the positive memories. This moment is all you have, so make it a positive one. If you are able to say, “I love you” to the caregivers in your life, make sure you do so. My mom wanted dinner at Hamada of Japan in Tinley Park, Illinois, a card and some flowers.

Have a virtual dinner, card and flowers for yourself.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

My Handsome Prince Tribute Quilt!

This grandmother’s flower garden quilt was actually influenced by three of Prince’s songs. Although each song was featured on different CDs during his career, all of the songs carried the theme of spirituality that can be found within his music. The first song was “The Digital Garden” on the Rainbow Children CD. I listened to that CD a lot while making the quilt. It is both an artistic and spiritual song about the blossoming of creativity and the burgeoning of spirituality within lyrical metaphors of a blossoming flower garden. I was inspired to create a pattern of purple roses that blossomed from the inside out with the light, medium and dark colored fabric framing one another. The second song was “When Doves Cry” from the Purple Rain soundtrack. Doves represent spiritual awakening. The border fabric has a purple background featuring white doves with the word “peace.” The third song was “Seven” from The Love Symbol CD. The song was about the symbolism of the number seven within the Bible. Prince was very emotionally connected to his faith, so I used seven rows of grandmother’s flower garden blocks appliquéd to the dove border fabric.

These Are the Times When I Wanted to Play My Contrabass Again Part 2

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17.I attended “It’s Your Move,” a fundraiser for my local rape and domestic violence shelter in May 2016. They had a big band with a contrabass player. I sat there transfixed on that contrabass while they performed, remembering what I had lost.

18.After speaking to some people in PAQA (Professional Art Quilters Alliance), they told me to try to find a community ensemble and try to play contrabass again instead of longing.

19.There is a woman in my textile arts group who plays both piano and violin. Anytime I saw her, I remembered when I played piano and contrabass. And my heart longed for my contrabass. I told her about my abandoned contrabass dream. She told me to not beat myself up because actually things had gone better than I had ever thought. She has acted as a music therapist for me, patiently listening as I detailed my previous experience. She helped me to trouble shoot what went wrong, what went right and what I could do the next time to assure success in playing contrabass again.

20.I lived down the street from an Annie Lee store for years. I remember seeing pictures and statues of “On Q.” I bought a statue of “On Q” at the African Festival in Washington Park when I first started graduate school, as if to reassure my heart to keep hope alive. I kept thinking, “One day, all of what is “required” of me (get an undergraduate degree, get a graduate degree, etc.) will come to an end and I would play my contrabass again.

21.When I was taking writing classes, I cannot tell you how many times I heard about “getting in touch with your true voice.” I thought, “I write, make textiles and play contrabass. That should be easy with me being me.” I HAD to go back to contrabass again. My writing depended on it.

22.Shortly after Prince died, one of my evening shifts ended at work. As I was walking to my car, out of nowhere, I had this agonizing thought: “DO YOU REMEMBER PLAYING CONTRABASS AND LISTENING TO ‘STARFISH AND COFFEE?!?!!?’ I MISS ROSIN!!! I MISS MY BOW!!! I MISS THAT MONSTROCITY OF AN INSTRUMENT!!! I WANT MY CONTRABSS!!! I WANT MY CONTRABSS RIGHT NOW!!!”

23.I saw contrabassist Mimi Jones live at the Currency Exchange Café in Chicago during the summer of 2016. I loved these intimate settings for live performances. I took a list of questions to ask about playing a contrabass and she graciously answered each one. As I have been listening to her sound recordings, I have thought, “I want to play my contrabass again.”

  1. I saw someone at the music store in Chicago called A 440 who talked to me about the best rosins for contrabass. I was so excited that I bought all three: Nyman, Pops and Samuel Kolstein. No one told me this when I first started playing contrabass in high school. I placed one on my bookshelf in the house, one in my purse and one in my cup holder in my car, as if to communicate to the Universe and anyone who was listening that I wanted to play my contrabass again. I was confident I could do this again.
  2. I came across an online community known as Contrabass Conversations. I could have used this in high school. I have been soaking up every word like a sponge since I discovered them and thinking, “I want to play my contrabass again.”
  3. I went to the Music Institute in Evanston to watch the jazz jams all summer. I didn’t ever realize that three hours had passed. I wanted my contrabass. I met a contrabass teacher named Stuart Miller. I told him about my previous contrabass experience. “You walked around with a naked bass?” he asked. “That says you’re determined. This is good. You’re going to need that.” He told me to take the time to look around for a contrabass for myself, get a proper padded carrying case.

27.During the summer of 2016, I went to the music stores recommended by the Music Institute in Evanston and my textile arts group. I saw a laminated contrabass right before the Fourth of July holiday and thought, “It’s beautiful!” This time, I obtained padded case to go with it. I cleared a corner in my bedroom for my contrabass and my music stand. I have been getting up before the start of each shift to play, even before my 16 hour double shifts. I have loved every minute of it. I was asked by a friend if I would give my contrabass a name. I said I am going to name it, “Baby, Baby Baby” after the verse in the song “The Beautiful Ones” by Prince. I tried to not talk to too many people anyone outside of them because I learned over the years, as Julia Cameron has said in The Artist Way to “practice containment.” I didn’t want to be talked out of it. I have been working as a nurse for 15 years. Part of the reason why I took this job, aside from my volunteer work in high school with medically compromised children, was to pay for my artistic pursuits.  I increased my work load not only to pay bills, but also to pay for a contrabass and lessons (which is why I haven’t posted as much as I used to).

28.The Universe began giving me the right people to talk to. I was told by two musical families to check out Guitar Center for contrabass lessons, which I did. I started them at the end of August. I have been delighted ever since!

 

Author Sonali Dev

I am sorry if I have never publically acknowledged this fact, but I will right now. It is through the genre writers, most especially the romance writers, that I have been able to recover my creativity, both as a writer and as a textile artist. I have always read everything: fiction, nonfiction and poetry. I am a part of a number of professional writing organizations, which is essential if you are going to be a writer. One of those professional writing organizations is Romance Writers of America.

 

There are smaller groups that meet on specific days of the week at specific times, such as Windy City RWA and Chicago North RWA. I joined RWA with a story based on my experiences as a nurse that I wanted to develop, but didn’t know how.

 

I have spent most of my time with Windy City RWA in Naperville because their meeting times fit best with my work schedule. This where I met Sonali Dev. She literally took me under her wing, told me what craft instruction classes I needed to take and exactly what I needed to do to benefit from this wonderful organization. I am very grateful! To become a published author is a dream she has harbored for a very long time. I am also happy to see her out here promoting her books.

Sonali 1 Sonali 2

Here Comes The Bride!

Wedding 1 Wedding 2 Wedding 3 Wedding 4 Wedding 5 Wedding 6 Wedding 8 Wedding 9 Wedding 10 Weddings 6No, no silly! Not me! However, that doesn’t mean I do not know someone who is getting married at some point. Actually, this has taken place during the vast majority of my life. There has been media coverage about African Americans not getting married. There is even a book out there called Is Marriage For White People? By Ralph Richard Banks. However, I usually think, “Whoever these people are, they have not been to my house and they have not gone wedding fabric shopping with me.”

If they did, they would find me usually making things for other people to get married. My mother and I have done this for years: veils, purses, etc. People know they can go to David’s Bridal and House of Brides for their special day, but for some reason, people love having something hand made for their special day. We have sewn for a couple who celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. They renewed their vows. The husband was 87. The wife was 84. I felt their union was a blessing. We have also sewn for young, up and coming couples.

Sewing for a wedding usually means a pilgrimage to Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. We have to get the good stuff for a sewing endeavor like this. Most people who work with textiles know this. There are people here from all over. This fabric store has a long history with my family. I still own the quilts my great grandmother pieced together using their remnants. The remnants department is also a good place to find fabric for those wedding quilts, like charm quilts and double wedding ring quilts to give as presents.

Much like any endeavor in life, especially marriage, the process of sewing for a wedding is an exploration into the unknown. What will we find on sale? What will it look like once it is done? Will they like it? Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt the prettiest part of Vogue’s Fabric Store was in the wedding section: rhinestone notions, tiaras, veils, satin, lace, pearl embellishments.

Romances are some of my favorite novels, but books about manifestation have taken over my precious bookshelf space. Although I have used these books to manifest other things in my life, two of my favorite books on manifestation are actually for manifesting a mate: Calling in the One by Kathryn Woodward Thomas and From Your Vision Board to Your Bedroom: Using The Law of Attraction to Find True Love by Sue Vittner.

For me, manifestation and sewing for a wedding are creative processes like any other. And I love creativity. It helped that love songs like “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey and “Let’s Stay Together” by Tina Turner played in the background as we shopped.  Playing love songs during the process of sewing can inspire as well. Beverages like Zhena’s Gypsy Love Tea, eating chocolate, incense, candles and watching romantic comedies are other wonderful ways of getting into the spirit of things. Needless to say, one of my favorite romantic comedies is The Wedding Planner with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez.

Yes, I am a feminist for obvious reasons and a humanist overall. I am divorced. I volunteer at my local domestic violence shelter. I have not dated in nearly 10 years. Still, there is an erroneous assumption that because of this, I might be against the institution of marriage, men and hate life in general. Not so. I believe in love and marriage. I am happy for people who find love and feel that love strongly enough to marry and share in life’s rewards and challenges. I believe that everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and/or religion deserves happily ever after. I also believe that there are decent men out there. But moreover, I also know that divine timing for this type of milestone is everything. In the meantime, though, making my life as whole as it can be is the best gift I can give myself and others. After that, I completely get into sewing for weddings. I love the idea of a big party, a white dress, and flowers.