Sunbonnet Sue recites Pablo Neruda’s poetry in Chile

Sunbonnet Sue visits Chile and recites Pablo Neruda's poetry

Sunbonnet Sue visits Chile and recites Pablo Neruda’s poetry

So here we are again, this time with Sunny Sue visiting the shores of Chile.  The indigenous groups of Chile include the colorful and interesting Mapuche and Aymara, but the folk culture of Chile is really about Spain, especially the huaso culture that surrounds cattle ranching (think vaqueros in Argentina).  Although Spanish traditions, especially Andalusian (especially in costume, music, and dance) and Castilian, have made the most impact on Chile’s folk culture, it’s important to note that Chile also has a substantial German, Austrian, Italian, Irish, French, British, and other European community, traditions, and influence. As you can see, Sunbonnet Sue’s lovely aproned outfit reflects European folk costume traditions.  She’s a true vision in floral purple and looks ready to dance, except she’s lugging around a mysterious moai statue from Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island.  That’s weighing her down some….

The moai figures, head-and-torso figures carved out of stones, average about 13 feet tall and weigh around 14 tons.  Don’t we wish these statues could talk?  We could ask them why their creators went to the time and (what must have been crazy) effort to transporting these 900 or so giant figures to various locations on Easter Island.  Archaeologists believe the moai were created to honor ancestors or chiefs, but it is truly unknowable as there exists no oral or written history of the island.  Or we could ask how the Rapa Nui Polynesian peoples even ended up on the island —  Easter Island is located 2300 miles west of South America and 1100 miles from the nearest island.  That’s pretty isolated, so we can imagine the tale of arriving there is pretty harrowing in and of itself.  I can only marvel at the ingenuity and determination (and possibly pure luck) of these intrepid Polynesian explorers.

Santiago itself is a wonderful city, where any visitor can enjoy, to an amazing extent, European treasures like British high tea, French casseroles and coffee, German cakes and sausage, and Italian pasta.  These European influences can also be seen in the city’s architecture which shows its Germanic and Spanish influence.  Happily for those who quilt, there is also a wonderful quilt shop in Santiago — check out its website,  The shop imports cottons from Brazil and the U.S.   Actually, it’s quite amazing how difficult it is to find quality quilting cottons outside of the U.S. — for those quilters who remember the 70’s and 80’s in the U.S., the quilting cotton market must have been similar.   It’s truly hard to imagine that in the context of today’s booming quilting industry which abounds with high quality cottons in any print and color you can imagine, and I think it truly takes some extra creativity to make art out of such limited resources.

However, what struck me about my visit to Santiago, Chile, and its whereabouts were the number of houses involving Pablo Neruda.    Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He named himself after Czech poet Jan Neruda.  He wrote erotic love poems, surrealistic poetry, historical epics, and even political writings.  In 1971, Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope.   During his lifetime, Neruda served a stint as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party. When communism was outlawed in Chile in 1948, the government tried to arrest Neruda, but friends hid him in a house basement in Valparaíso, Chile.   Later, Neruda had close ties with Socialist President Salvador Allende.  He died of heart failure and cancer complications three days after the Chilean coup d’etat led by Augustin Pinochet.    Already a legend in life, Neruda’s death reverberated around the world.   Here’s one of Pablo Neruda’s more erotic poems:

Carnal apple, Woman filled, burning moon,
dark smell of seaweed, crush of mud and light,
what secret knowledge is clasped between your pillars?
What primal night does Man touch with his senses?
Ay, Love is a journey through waters and stars,
through suffocating air, sharp tempests of grain:
Love is a war of lightning,
and two bodies ruined by a single sweetness.
Kiss by kiss I cover your tiny infinity,
your margins, your rivers, your diminutive villages,
and a genital fire, transformed by delight,
slips through the narrow channels of blood
to precipitate a nocturnal carnation,
to be, and be nothing but light in the dark.

If you’d like to read or listen to more of Pablo Neruda’s poetry, check out

So folks, I hope that I’ve inspired you to visit Chile, to learn more about Pablo Neruda, to write or read poetry, to explore every city you visit to see if you can find a quilt shop, or simply I hope you find the time and energy to spending some quilting or embroidering.  I leave you with a photo the beautiful purple wisteria growing in my backyard….Purple wisteria in my backyard

Purple wisteria in my backyard





Sunbonnet Sue parties with peacocks in India

Applique Quilt -- Sunbonnet Sue joins the Foreign Service -- visits India (original design by Mona A Kuntz, April 2014, Sari with Peacock) xHey people!  I’m back after a long absence.  Sorry about that, but I have a busy job and once I fall out of the habit of doing something, I truly do fall out.   But I’m back and you have my sincere apologies.

I’m back with Sunny Sue visiting India, wearing a richly colored sari, loaded down with bangles and earrings, and holding the national bird of India, the Indian Peacock.   Although I adore the International Sunbonnet Sue patterns, I did not believe the Indian version of Sunbonnet Sue in the book really captured the Indian woman in my mind.  So I drew my own — the  above photograph is my own version of Sunny Sue visiting India.   I didn’t do it justice, but I really wanted to celebrate the beauty of the saris that I see Indian women wearing.  They are gorgeous, and often made from lovely silks in the brightest of colors, often beaded or with other fancy borders.  The sari is usually a long length of silk or other fine fabric.  It can be up to 9 yards long and 2-4 feet wide, and wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder.   However, Indian women find many ways to drape and pleat the fabric into individual styles — I learned that there are more than 50 recognized sari draping methods.  That’s a lot from one length of fabric.  The draping leaves the midriff bare to one extent or another, and an undergarment or petticoat is found under the bottom half of the sari.  On top, the cropped fitted blouse with short sleeves is known as the choli.   The sari takes a lot of grace and style to wear, in my opinion, and it is widely regarded as a symbol of Indian culture and grace.   I know that if it were me wearing the sari, I’d be a walking disaster.  I can imagine my drapery slipping, the whole shebang sliding down my body at some inopportune moment, or me walking around with it tied in a big bow with a knot somewhere.  I doubt that I could manage to wear a sari, but saris are ingrained in the culture and history of India, and I admire the Indian women who can wear all that fabric and make it look easy.

I’m also a bit fascinated by the Indian peacock, I must say.  Although they are some of the most beautiful birds in the world with their iridescent blue and green body and tail feathers, they are also some pretty testy birds, and I suggest not getting too close to them.   But beautiful they are, indeed.  They use their long graceful train of feathers in their mating rituals and courtship displays, spreading them out into a shimmering fan of feathers that is something fantastic to see.   I’ve read that the peahens choose their mates according to the size, color, and quality of those fans…well, hey, don’t we all go for beauty over substance?  Girls will be girls.   Like many bird species, the peacocks gather a harem to their side — and a group of peafowl are called “parties” or sometimes “musters”.  So the next time you get invited to a peacock party….well, you know what’s in store!!!  Peacocks have been kept as pets for thousands of years, but if you’re planning on keeping a “party” of peafowl, think twice.  They are easily startled, and scream out a loud warning to their fellow peafowl.  But if you’re startled out of your sleep by a scream that sounds like someone being murdered, first check on the peafowl….it might just have been them.

So folk — I’m glad to be back.  I hope you wear a sari sometime or maybe just any old thing that makes you happy and proud as a…ahem…peacock (couldn’t resist!), and I hope you enjoy my own version of the peahen below, in the form of a Nicaraguan pottery chicken that I picked up a few years ago.  It’s much quieter….

Nicaraguan pottery chicken