Showing posts with label cats and quilts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cats and quilts. Show all posts

Friday, July 29, 2022

The Summer Day

Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? 

This grasshopper, I mean— the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. 

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. 

Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

American Poet

I need a shadier hat!
Ahhh, that's better!

Ah, the blue one is really relaxing me!

Is it's too hot for cameras, it's way too hot for cats. 

It's cool cat time!

What about us???

The protest begins!

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, from my heart and with my hands

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Quilts and Quilting: In History, the News, Superstitions and On Our Beds

If you have a cat then you most likely know that cats love quilts! And sure they love fuzzy blankets, boxes, baskets and other surfaces. Science has even shown that if you use tape applied to a floor in a square, cats will still climb inside! Crazy right!?!
But even crazier is the saying "Shake the cat." Shaking is not literal it just means something closer to shake down. Removing something you want out of something else. And if your cat is on your favorite quilt, or one that might be for someone else (someone who might have cat allergies for example) then removing cats from quilts is a whole 'nother thing! And good luck to you!
But there are also traditions and superstitions that the old phrase "shake the cat" came from. And what about other superstitions-especially ones having to do with quilts and quilting?


At long-ago quilting bees, "shaking the cat" meant that a cat was placed on a quilt and usually four girls would grasp the edges and shake the quilt. When the cat jumped off, the girl closest to the cat would marry next!

(Seriously?  They shook a cat?  Oh my! Poor cat!)

2. Some quilters believe that if you sleep under a new quilt, your dreams will come true.

(I certainly hope this doesn't include bad dreams! I sleep under 2 quilts in the summer but five quilts in the winter!)

3. Some quilters believe that if a thread broke while quilting, it would bring bad luck.

(Well now, that explains a lot of things as well as accidental Amish --which traditionally included one imperfect block--quilts!) Stay humble quilters and hide your vanity quilts!

4. Quilt lore suggests that the center squares of log cabin quilts were usually red, to signify the heart and hearth of the home.

(Indeed!  And my heart and a little quilted heart are always part of my quilts signature elements!)

5. Hawaiian quilt lore says that those who make "Ulu" their first quilt will always have abundance.

(The`ulu (breadfruit) quilt was often the first quilt made to insure plentiful food and prosperity to the maker.

 6. The earliest recorded example of quilting can be found on a garment worn by a carved ivory statue from Egypt in 3400 B.C.

Awesome and very interesting! I never knew some statues wear quilts though I've seen a few  wearing face masks in the news lately! And then there's that rapper at the 2021 Met Gala. 

Wrapped in a very puffy quilt that a fashion designer embroidered his first name on claiming design rights. Guess what?  

She had dozens and dozens and dozens of inherited quilts so she donated the this puffy quilt to a thrift shop.  And that designer had purchased it and claimed design rights. Leading us to wonder if he made the quilt and then turned it into a garmet. Answer is neither.

By giving the quilt to someone else turn it into an evening "wrap".  Interesting--what!? 
The oldest actual quilt still in existence is also from Egypt, from 980 B.C.. This quilt, held in a museum in Cairo is made from colored gazelle leather.

(Poor gazelle! And the cats thought they had it bad! No wonder gazelles run so fast!)

7. Piecing together a quilt as a memorial for departed loved ones has a long history.

(Indeed but not as great or long as our own memories of them! Love memory quilts!)

In 1987, a group of activists formed the NAMES Project Foundation, and began gathering quilt panels stitched together by people who had lost loved ones to AIDS.

The Aids Memorial  Quilt continues to grow, and new panels are received every week. The quilt is now way too large to be displayed in its entirety.

In October of 1996, it covered the entire National Mall in Washington, D.C., and weighed approximately 50 tons!

(A major effort and beautiful example of loving and accepting others as we do our own loved ones and honoring all health struggles that lead to loss.)

8. Early schoolteachers used thimbles as  "must-have quilting tools" to enforce strict discipline. The teacher would knock disobedient students on the top of the head with a thimbled finger.  

(Oh dear! Poor thimbles!)

The term “thimble knocking” was used by "ladies of the evening'  around the same time period.  They used a thimble on their finger to knock on the window glass to attract the attention of males walking by.

(Oh my goodness! Who knew?  Ladies! Be careful when wearing your thimbles NOT to knock on the window to get someone's attention. It might not be the kind of attention you meant! )

During the 1800s, a thimble was used as a spirit measure or alcohol shot glass, helping coin the phrase, “Only a thimbleful.”

(Caution! When experiencing a bad quilting day, look out for repeated thimblefuls!)

9. One old quilt superstition says you must never make human figures on a quilt. It is believed that the figures will walk and visit you at night.

(Darn these Sunbonnet Sue's and Sam's, away! away! No wonder I don't sleep well at night!)

10. Another superstition is that if you make a quilt, be sure to finish it or marriage will l never come to you.

(Lucky my marriage came BEFORE my first unfinished quilt! Because they're stacked up ever since and even more in my pile once 3 kids and  4 grandkids came along!)

11. Tulips in quilt patterns signify love, pineapples indicate hospitality.

(So breadfruit, tulips, and pineapples are all good on quilts so far! Glad i made a tulip pillow at least! Sorry breadfruit and pineapples!)

12. Postage Stamp Quilts are made as the name suggests -- each square is the size of a postage stamp and a quilt may contain many thousands of these tiny pieces of cloth.

(My closest quilt to a postage stamp was one honoring free precut 2" aquarist!  Are those considered  "extra large collectors stamps"? 
But the recipients haven't known the difference at least! But it was pretty clear that this quiltmaker must have been given all those tiny little cut squares as I don't have the patience much less the hand agility anymore to scissor cut thousands of squares!)

13. There are many quilts most of us hope hope to make some day, but many quilter's greatest ambition is a Dear Jane Quilt.

The Jane Stickle quilt was made during the American Civil War. She signed her quilt "In War Time 1863."

(Its take me from now until 2063 and then both the quilt and the still-living quilter would BOTH be miracles!)

Jane created a masterpiece consisting of 169 4.5"square blocks surrounded by fifty-two 8"x5" triangles and four corner triangles.

She pieced and appliquéd her blocks and every block is different!

And I love those amazing quilts and their even more amazing quilters!

But right now I'm worn out from creating my clever to me in my own mind comments.

It's almost winter. Going to climb under my 5 quilts for a bit of a rest with a good book now and oh yes my cat! I used to have three cats all piled in a line on me in bed. Does that make me a square tripled? Thank you very much dear cats. If you were dogs it'd be called a "three dog night!"

Happy Quilting to all of you hopefully Happy Quilters! Dont walk under any ladders carrying your unfinished quilts and step on a black cat! Poor thing is always being tossed about as it is!!!

Sleep well all of you cats allowed on quilts. Dogs too!


And Chickens? Yes my newly hatched chicks had their own quilt placed on their screening roof inside my house at night!

  Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon.

 Currently fluctuating between #32 and #56 . Now #48. Just scroll their site until you find me (look for my pink and wine art quilt logo) and hit subscribe in their feed.  

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Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dementia: Is it Her? Or is it Me?

Willow turned 18 and Willow has feline dementia.

I don't even need to take her to a vet for a diagnosis.

I don't need to give her a 20 question test and see if she can answer any of them, correctly.

I asked my brother, to give my mother that test in 2002 and I wasn't sure of some of the answers, myself!

And my brother, who is a doctor, claimed that my mother was fine, and of course, she is not, but I suspect he was more than a little worried about me!

When I think about feline versus human dementia...all I have to do is watch and track a few of Willow's behaviors for the past year, and mine right along with her, and I know..that one of us is, as Betty White says 'Off Our Rockers.'

I'm the one following the cat all day long with a camera,  and pretty much letting her do almost anything she wants to do!

I mean...I really need to get a life! Willow, obviously has a heck of a good one of her very own!

I still love this old cat, dearly. Even if she has become an incredible amount of work. Like a human, cats with dementia exhibit many, if not all, of the same symptoms.

They wander through the house forgetting what they are doing and what they are looking for.


They suddenly stop in their tracks and zombie out for large periods of time and then suddenly movement - and they're off circling again.

Cats! Well, they are sleeping on a chair one minute,

- and using a near bathroom experience to lose continence on the carpet, the very next!

Like her human counterpoints, Willow can't remember when she ate, what she ate, if she still likes it or not and if she doesn't, when she stopped liking it and when she will suddenly start liking it again. So, she cries a lot. Make that most of the time, for food.

One minute I'm buying kitty kibble for seniors (sensitive stomach, easy on the kidneys) the next I'm giving her my own serving of roast chicken off of my plate because she refused the kibble and hadn't eaten all day long.

I've gotten into co-dependent checking behaviors. I check to see where she is, what she's doing, and if I need to put her in her litter box area, or! I find her, I grab her and rush her outside..and well, she goes back to sleep.

But, I'm trying to get her to live outside during the nice weather, anyway.

It's a lot easier than cleaning up after her if I forget that she has to go to the bathroom!

She's very even tempered and lovie with her dementia, so I think it's just the cutest thing when she takes cat naps in new places all of the time.

And yes, it was a LOT of work with my wildcrafting of plant molded cement lawn art last year. All of those wheelbarrows of cement and sand, adding the water, finding dozens of big leaves, and molding them for 24 hours before peeling saran wrap off of them, but Willow thinks this one was made just for her!

And yes, it's even more work sewing with a cat on your quilts and your sewing supplies and even on the quilt that you're working on!

But then, Willow pretty much sleeps everywhere she wants!

What 's really hard is the not sleeping part of feline dementia. When it really takes over, usually early in the morning when the sun is just rising, or late at night when dusk beckons her.

She has begun to do the sundowning dementia wandering.

The first day she wandered I searched and called for her for 3 hours. I was terribly worried since her eyesight and hearing are both failing and worried she wouldn't find her way home.

By the third day of this, I became not only a crime scene investigator but a missing person's one, as well. Well, more than that. I was the sleazy detective with the camera waiting to catch the loved one in the act.

I followed her as she went out our front door,

down our long driveway,

across our lower field,

through a double barbed wire with two electric wires fence.

Into our neighbor's property, down their long driveway by their horses, down to a scummy pond where she drank contaminated standing water laden with mosquito larvae and other bacterial tidbits.

After happy hour, she sat and stared for over 15 minutes. I swear that cat never blinked.

And did she find her way back home? You bet! And then, I just followed her, so I was fine, too!

They off she went, back the way she came. And yes, she repeated this activity twice more that day.

Our marshy walks got a bit tedious so I started my 'confine and conquer' tactics. I kept her in the house, in a separate room, with her food and kitty litter.

I begin to let her outside out but only with constant, and direct supervision, and after three days of that I gave up.

I was worn out from all of our wanderings and she was just fine, but tired of me following her around like a crazy woman.

All that talking to myself, taking photos, and endlessly saying things like....

"You'd think 15 family members with Alzheimer's or Dementia would be enough! Why do I have to have a cat with it, too????"

But then I listened to myself, talking out loud with no one else around,  and saying the same things over and over.

We're both getting older, we're both worn out and and a bit lounge-y and scrounge-y. We both forget our personal grooming and take more and more 'mental health days off' from being 'at home' too many days in a row.

And, I got to thinking in my limited amount of spare time, when we weren't busy from wandering, I love all of my Alzheimer's and dementia family matter what they all said and did, or say and do, and that's been a heck of a lot worse than Willow's, or mine has been.

So, where does an 18 year old cat sleep,  and what do you allow her to do?

I'm so very sorry to admit this...but after a while - anything - and everywhere, she wants!

And the other head of household? 
He's as bad (or as Willow thinks as good) as I am.

Hope you all had a great Father's Day!

Willow sure did!

My sweet Willow passed away on June 30, 2012.
I barely made in home from my brother's hospitalization in Anchorage, Alaska and and had not yet left for his hospitalization in Seatle, Washington.

I'd like to think that Willow waited for me. It was certainly one of those special days, when only she and I were home.

I gave her a meaning filled passing ritual as I waited her passing away with her. I placed her on a soft bed in the filtered sunlight of our patio sliding door and stayed with her, talking to her, and loving her with my whole heart and soul.  

She did not appear to be in any pain and every once in a while she looked up and connected with me, completely.

And while she died of natural causes and being 18 years old, and at home surrounded with love, it was as natural meaningful as it could possibly have been.  

It all took about 3 hours, and I used every bit of it to be one with her and the love she had given to each and every one of us in her life time. When it was time, she gave a last sigh and was gone.

The rituals and the meaning of both and death are all part of the circle oftl life. I love now that I can read this post and laugh with delight at even the last month of her life. That I can still cry at this postscript is simply a testament to love fully shared.

Love you and miss you, dear Willow.!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Little Cuties and Good Luck Patooties

According to the urban dictionary, a 'patootie' is a bit of tough luck.

Now, like most of you...I've just always said 'cutie patooties' for little darling my cats and chickens and a simple donation quilt.. and thought maybe a patootie had to do with slang originating from potato.

Well, when I think about it, I bet patootie did come from potato and if you know anything about the Irish potato blight and the enormous famine that devastated an entire nature...patooties would definitely be potato tough luck..big time!!!

I'm one of those people who sees signs and symbols and images in everything and I once had a potato that looked exactly like the Easter bunny. I even sent its photo into our local newspaper. Now it wasn't a potato chip or a pretzel but it really did look like the Easter bunny. But did they help me make the news and get my potato into a bidding war on Ebay?

Nope...potato patooties for me!

But now, here are my little darlings, including Kermit testing the edges of a quick donation quilt to turn in to my local quilt guild on Wednesday. Thanks so much to SewCalGal who sent me a priority box of her scraps and the leftover blocks and sashing strips shown here. All I had to do was add a few more pieced edges to make the sashing go all the way around, add some borders, and a backing..and I had a quilt to bring to guild with me this week!

Lots of cutie patooties and one easy quilt.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

I Have Become an Unruly Humbug

I have officially become a humbug. A humbug as in 'bah humbug!'

A humbug is a liberated quilter who seeks to use her free piecing abilities in the creation of bahs, humbugs, and !'s.

As Tonya proclaimed in her blog "The Unruly Quilter" today, she needs free pieced letter blocks with the words "Bah Humbug!" that we will contribute a group challenge quilt. She even made a special UnRuly Quilting blog, just for us humbuggers, and I signed up.

I thought, well maybe I could make a bah, or perhaps a humbug....but then she wrote...

"You can make the font fabulous and intricate, or simple and straightforward.One option: incorporate insect fabric into the letters. I can easily see a bug peering out of the middle of the letter a or the point on the exclamation point....Challenge yourself. You can make the words buggy. What would a "bug" font look like? Would it be made of antennae and creepy legs, maybe a wing or two? ......Have you seen the alphabets done using people forming each letter? you know, they hold up their arms up and out a bit and you have a Y. What would it look like with humbugs forming the letters? Can you piece the word HUM so that it looks like a bug?"

I knew then that I was in trouble. Deep, deep, bah humbug! kind of trouble.

Piece letters that look like bugs playing YMCA across a quilt block?
I don't think so!

Piece words into blocks that are less than banner sized and you can see still see them clearly?
I don't think so!

Piece bah, piece humbug, piece the...
oh heck.

I made the !

I know, even Willow thinks it is shooting out fireworks. And if I it doesn't play nicely with bah or humbug, I can use it for a sparkler.

In fact, if I turn it upside down, I can use in a ceremony and sing 'light a little candle.'

Yep, its got a bit of a jolly .and a hint of the holly. and it's expressive, and it keeps Willow happy.

Bah Humbug? I'll just settle for putting the ! into my season for now.

Thanks for letting me into the secret Bah Humbug! Society, Tonya.
I guess I'm a bigger Scrooge than I thought!

grumble, mumble, bumble, fumble, grumble...

This is my assistant...signal flagging for help....

Ok humbuggers!
I've set the's nowhere but up from here!

I'll be really, really liberated and try a #$% next ;)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Under the Pines

The sewing nook has been pedal to the medal all week. The sounds and sights of so many quilts in progress all at one time, has turned 16 year old Willow into a kitten again. She cannot keep off of my quilts, no matter where I hide them.

So, I've decided to "hang them high" and in that process, I discovered it actually super helped to get out the wrinkles that form between each layer of the quilt sandwich. No matter how I taped them or pinned them flat on the floor, something is always wrinkled... somewhere I'm not looking and can't see into.

By hanging them freely, I can pull the layers loose from each side of the batt and readjust them, then re-pin once again. It worked so well on some of my problem quilts!

So, by being a little cat pest, Willow taught this old dog a new trick!

Quilt #3, Finnally Finished: "Under the Pines" in browns, golds and greens with some pine cones symbolizing the seeds of growth and change that will blow in the wind, and then plant, and grow once again.

And another Prayer Quilt, long lap or cot sized for nursing home or hospice. And check out the back I got from my sewing quild donation table...little sheep! It was a sheet, and a bit tricky to hand sew through, but so cute, and free fabric.....that I didn't mind one bit.

I am thinking of all of our Veterans, today on November 11th and while I do not have a Patriotic Quilt in process right now, someone should truly sleep gently under this quilt....and he may end up being a veteran....and that makes me very happy.

Another quilt finished and ready to give away!

Quilt #3: Under the Pines
In honor of Veteran's Day, however:Free Patriotic Quilt Patterns

Finn's New Year's Eve Small Projects Challenge:
Small Project #14: Mulled Wine Mug Mat

Finn's New Year's Eve Quilt Challenge:
Quilt #11: Twilight Dreams
Quilt #10:Far, Far, Away
Quilt #9:Green and Scrappy Love
Quilt #7 and #8: Follow Your Heart 1 and 2
Quilt #6: Stringing Along
Quilt #5: Within the Depths
Quilt #4: Irish Eyes
Quilt #3: Under the Pines
Quilt #2: Hope and Remembrance
Quilt #1 Hop to It!

Finn's New Year's Eve Small Projects Challenge:
Small Project #14: Mulled Wine Mug Mat
Small Project #11-13: Two pillowcases and a senior bib
Small Project #10:Follow Your Heart Potholder
Small Projects #2-9: sr bib, potholders and a bag
Small Project #1: Get Well Postcard

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Journey: Across the Rainbow Bridge

In memory of my precious Keira and her new journey
(June 29, 2001-February 20, 2009)

The Journey:
Across the Rainbow Bridge
There is a place, the Rainbow Bridge, with colors of all hue…
It stretches through all space and time, to connect my heart to you

You were, you are, forever more, a part of all held near...
My inner child, my joy, my love, my little one so dear

My heartstrings stretch across the planes, to all my eyes can see…
To that inner world where all is felt, that keeps you close to me

When loved ones leave on journeys, across that Bridge of Light…
And hearts connect through love that’s shared, the beautiful and the bright

Through darkest clouds of pain and loss, to journeys that cross all time….
We fly on wings not of our own, our hearts, our spirits shine

We feel the sun's rays through us, we breathe in time, and space…
The hardness softens gently, the heaviness abates.

One moment measured out in time, one chord of celestial song…
Across that bridge, where magic waits, one heart light moves along

I feel you near, you comfort still, a sweet presence, not far apart…
The angels gather ‘round us both, in the gardens of our heart.
© Michele M. Bilyeu 2009

For my precious Keira,
I’m grateful for the 7 years you held your sweet face so very close to mine.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Should I Be Worried?

After writing the post about Oscar the Cat and his uncanny ability to predict the state of being or non-being of nursing home residents prior to their passing, I began to think about my own three cats.

I have always said that at least one of our cats in each generation is what I call 'a healing cat'. That cat possesses the unique ability of sensing pain and very carefully places themself upon the spot which hurts and stays there for a very long time. It is extremely comforting and gives one the feeling of being understood and com-passioned.

Because of this, I refer to this ability and to this sharing act as a feline form of therapeutic energy healing and I find it personally precious and delightful to feel this sense of caring from a sweet animal.

However, that being said, after posting about Oscar the Cat and his nursing home duty in Providence (of all places) Rhode Island....and viewing this older photo of my own three cats...should I be worried?

In order to properly assess the gravity of this situation, and not just my supine position on the should know this. Two of these cats are sisters, the other is the alpha female, and none of them ordinarily get along nor do they enjoy being in close proximity to one another....