Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Flashbacks to June 1986

I am no psychiatrist but this much I know from my own experiences - Sometimes it takes new but just the same event of the past to trigger an old memory. 

I have always been sensitive to sudden loud noises. I also believe it has amplified as the years have gone by. There has to be a reason that makes me startle. I am sure it must be a normal reaction across the board. Sudden noises aren't fun.

But this morning what happened took me back to 1986. Yes, I know, we are talking about ancient times.

My husband and I had just moved into our new apartment in Ithaca, NY. I had joined him after one year of our marriage. I could have come with him soon after the wedding (visa situation was quite different then) but I had to finish my last year of Applied Arts back home.

The apartment we lived in was backed up to lush green hillside and a beautiful Ithaca falls was just a walking distance away. My friend Laurie Buck knows how much I still love that place.

One fine afternoon, I was making an Indian meal because that was the only thing I knew how to cook. The kitchen was furnished with electric stove which was new to me. I had never worked in a kitchen without a window, or on an electric stove. 

It was 32 years ago! All I remember, I wanted to make Chapatti - Indian flat bread.  Back home I used a gas stove and used to roast freshly rolled chapatti straight on the flame. Rolled chapatti rises like a ball, the house smells so good, it makes me hungry just thinking about it right now. If you have ever tried it, you know what I am talking about.

Here is the link to my IG post about it. You will be amused, I promise!

Well, back in 1986 in Ithaca, I did not have that little cake cooling rack you see there. I thought (or didn't think at all) it would be okay to roast it straight on the coil.

You have to imagine what happened next. My perfectly rolled chapatti burnt into nothing and the smoke alarm went off. This is the first time ever in my life I heard that loud screeching noise of an alarm. I didn't know what it was and where it was coming from. Honestly, I didn't care, all I knew, I wanted to be as far as possible from it. I turned off the stove and ran outside as fast as possible. 

Everything else about that day has faded away. I do not remember how long I stayed outside. There  were no phone calls to be made. I wasn't going to run back in the apartment to call my husband. No cell pones. Hard to imagine that today. 

32 years have gone by since then. I am a pro now! I have managed to trigger the alarm a few times.  I still panic when I am in a windowless kitchen. Back home, kitchens always have a window, and it is always open.

When we moved to San Francisco in 2015, initially we stayed in a beautiful but small apartment. I did not want to cook there at all for the same reason, fear of alarms. It took me a while before I got comfortable to cook there.  One day when I wasn't cooking the smoke alarm went off. Aaaarg! Here we go again, I thought. I ran outside the apartment as I was supposed to. Came back once it was cleared.. And then it went on and on again for next few times. I was told I could stay in the apartment because it was the maintenance day for the smoke alarms for the complex and it will go on for most of the day. Can you imagine that?

So let's fast forward to this morning!

I am in our apartment in San Diego for couple of weeks. The light is beautiful here and I don't have so much of white, blank space in my house in the bay area. So I decided to take advantage of it all and take pictures of few quilts cascading from the door.

As soon as I took one picture, the alarm went off. Ha Ha!

My quilts are too hot for this place!

Quilts too hot that turned on the smoke alarm 2018

I was still in my pajamas but decent enough to not worry about it all, I grabbed my phone, keys and wallet.. You never know how long it would take for everything to be normal. As I was walking down, I realized, this is it! This is why I get startled with loud sudden noises.

After all I am a girl from India, where noises are common. Those of you who have been there, you know this. I am quite used to daily sounds - The honking of automobiles, people talking loud, all kinds of processions on the streets, wedding and religious, even marches and protests of all kinds. Nothing new there. If fact, when I came back after every visit, the quiet here was unbearable. But the smoke alarm is a different kind of beast. I have never gotten used to it.

But I understand, I have changed. It has been 32 years. It would be strange if I hadn't.

Got to love the apartment life!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


I am almost done with that other quilt I shared in previous post. I am going to have to wait to bind it until I get home again.

I basted two quilts before leaving for San Diego. Small quilts don't really take that long to quilt, especially when you have lot of time on your hands.

I am really glad these are small quilts too. After moving to California, I have missed seeing my quilts on the walls. This door in our apartment has become quite the feature lately. I have taken pictures of different quilts. You may have seen a couple of them on instagram. The light is always perfect here!
I will have to bring this quilt back here in the apartment once it is bound and labeled.

Once I started quilting, it progressed organically. It started to look like steam rising on a hot day.

Then I decided to change it up a bit and stitched with red thread. Quilts made with used clothing are so soft, the needle runs through it like butter.

You never know what tomorrow might bring.  I may add few more stitches to it to I will start on the second quilt.

This second quilt is made of an old shirt, a dress and few scraps of my husband's shirt.

Both these quilts were made at the same time. I can call them twins. Funny how they got basted at the same time and on the same backing too!

When I have smaller quilts, I layer them together. It makes it easier to quilt on the edges without having to use larger piece of batting or backing.

Do you ever do that?

Thursday, July 19, 2018


UFO - A word widely used in quilting community but I checked, I have not. Not that I am aware of.

It's not that I have stuck with all my projects from start to finish but they do get finished one way or the other. At times I have used a quilt top as a back and considered it finished :)

So why am I thinking of UFOs today?

I have been invited to be a featured artist at two local guilds in 2019. It will be really nice to be able to see some of my old favorites hanging with my current quilts.

Usually when I am presenting or teaching, I am there to explain my journey as a quilter. When the show goes on for three days; I want my quilts to speak for themselves, guide the viewers from the beginning to end and so it is important to have those tops finished into quilts.

I began quilting this old quilt just a few days ago. Organic piecing lines blending with slow and steady organic hand stitches are making quite a splash in not so perfect way.

I have also decided to enter these three quilts in an upcoming quilt show in Pacific Northwest. We will have to see what the judges think of them.

Speaking of shows, if you haven't read my dear friend Judy Martin's post today, you must check it out. Her work and words both inspire me so much. 

With that I am going to get back to my stitching to add my day to this quilt.

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Baby Shah

Meet our Grandson, Kai Gautam Shah. 

 He is perfect!

So in love

Our lives have changed



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