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Hello All

RJS | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

My name is ReAnn Scott and many of you might remember that I was the co-owner of STITCHES, Great Fiber Getaways. For almost 25 years, my partner Carol Neuman and I offered ‘sewing vacations’ and hands-ons workshops thoughout the world – and US to fiber-holics.

We my husband of 30 years passed away in 1997, I pack-up and moved to NC. I settled on a mountaintop in Penland, an hour’s drive from Asheville AND home of the famous Penland School of Craft. What an amazing place to live – surrounded by some of the most famous craftsmen and women in all the US. Pottery, jewelry, weaving, textiles, iron, wood – it was amazing. I went there to find peace and resolution to a 30-year marriage that wasn’t suppose to end the way it did. But after a year of ‘screaming at God’ from my deck overlooking 100’s of miles of mountains and forests, I came to realize that life can and must continue.

Carol and I had also owned and operated a very successful meeting and event planning business in Minneapolis for over 15 years. Our most successful event was an “Artist/Designer Studio Tour.” When I realized that I was literally surrounded by artists I decided to start a business that would promote the work of my neighbors and ART SAFARI was born. For 3 years I offered guided studio tours of the artists who lived and worked in the mountain commuties surrounding Penland. At the request of the Asheville CVB, I expanded into the Asheville area and could then bring large convention & meeting groups to the artist studios located in the metro area. It was so much fun and I met so many wonderful people from all over the world.

But….I was lonely. The 4 years of living alone gave me an opportunity who I really was – not just the wife, mother and business owner, but who “I” was. I also sewed what and when I liked – day and night – without worrying about disturbing someone else. My sewing also changed. No longer did I need to wear ‘corporate clothes.’ I cleaned my stash of suite fabrics and really loved sewing designs by The Sewing Workshop, Diane Ericson, Sandra Betzina and Loes Hines. Comfortable clothing with a great twist.

But then, my best friend from my hometown of Danville, IL emailed me that because our HS reunion was fast approaching, I needed to go to Classmates.com and register. Of course, once you are there you just have to scroll through the list to see who else has registered, where they were and what they were up to. I found a name I hadn’t thought of in almost 40 years – Dave Hutton. We had dated – for fun – but I had been madly in love with his best friend. I took a chance and dropped him an email.

To make a long story short, we ‘found’ each other. After hours of emails, long distance phone calls, long-distance dating, David retired (he much older than me – 2 years!) and moved from Chicago to Atlanta, where he lived on a houseboat on Lake Lanier for 2 years. We got ‘engaged to have fun together for the rest of our lives’ on Christmas day of last year. One cold, snowy day on the mountain, he then read an article in the Feb 04 issue of AARP about retiring to Mexico. The next thing I knew we were on a plane to Guadalajara and a little town called Ajijic located on the largest Mexican inland lake, Chapala. And we both fell in love. David came back and put his boat on the market. I came back and thought. I had a beautiful home I loved, a thriving business I also loved and wasn’t due to get window’s social security for another 2 years. So he decided to move and I would visit as often as I could for the next 2 years.

But once back at work I realized that life is full of surpises, some good, some bad, but we just never know what tomorrow will bring. I went for an extended visit in August and September and we found a house we couldn’t live without. Overlooking the lake with great mountain views (we’re at 5,500 ft.) and a great area to add a pool and casita (guest house.). We snapped it up and I ran home to put my house on the market and sell the business. I packed up and we drove down on November 15th in my new little Jeep which is perfect for the tiny cobblestone streets that make up the ‘centro’ of our village. Now when I say village, think a small US town that has an influx of over 50,000 North Americanos each winter – many of whom then realize they can’t leave paradise and retire here full-time, as well.

The local market offers ribbons and some thread, but the ‘quilters group’ was nice enought to let me tag along last week for a fabric shopping trip to Guadalajara – only 25 miles away. WOW! Mexican women love to sew, or have their own seamstress, and the choice in fabrics are just as good as NYC. Of couse, the prices are a little higher, but the quality and quanity is the same. One street has over 20 fabric stores. I’m in heaven. What they lack in woolens (we really don’t need them as the average year-round temp is 72) they make up for in magnificent silks, linens and cottons. Though I had an enormous stash in NC that I just had to down-size before I moved, I sold mostly my woolens. What they don’t have is a good selection of notions and good quality thread. But I just learned I can order off EBay without paying duty. I’m all set.

So the guest bedroom now has a large corner dedicated to my sewing. I bought yards of colorful manta (heavy cotten) to make shirts and pants and curtains for the caista. Life is good –

I was lucky enough to find a man who not only loves me, but who shares my entire youthful memories. His son, my two boys, and his 84 year old mother all came for our first Christmas in our new home. They all thought that playing golf in short sleeved shirts and shorts was great, the food delicious and the Mexican people kind, generous and friendly. A perfect place to viist during the harsh winters in Minneapolis,, Denver & St. Louis

Well, I would that that’s a long enough introduction, wouldn’t you. I look forward to catching up on the latest sewing news and techiques. I have my Threads send here – though it normally a month late in arriving. And I hope to hear from those of you I have met over the years and lost touch with. A group here is already planning a trip to the Houston Quilt Show and I’ve been invited to go along…who knows, I might even try making a quilt instead of pants the next time I sit down at my machine.

Hasta Luego….

[email protected]


  1. user-474140 | | #1

    I lived in Mexico for years (about 20 years ago), and lived in Canada for a year.  Pollution is an issue in all three countries and no, I would not describe Mexico as "piggy."  Actually, when I was living there in the late 1970s, the Mexicans though the Americans ought to pay a bit more attention to personal hygiene -- they though the hippy types who visited looked unwashed.   

    General cost of living is lower, but anything imported from the US or Europe actually costs a bit more, since the peso is worth less than the dollar or Euro.   Guadalajara is a very nice modern city (I was there last a couple of years ago, and will be going back next December) and next time I go I have promised myself I will get to Ajijic.  There are some knitters there too.  I also am fantasizing about retiring to Mexico, but my retirement is, at best, some 15 years off!  I did find some gorgeous decorating weight fabric in a store in the little market town of Tlaquepaque, which used to be on the outskirts of Guadalajara (the city has sort of grown around it).  I found both the Mexicans and the Canadians to be friendly people.

    As for feeling unsafe as an American in a foreign country, I am originally from New York.  New Yorkers now know they are no safer in the US than they are elsewhere.


  2. HeartFire | | #2

    You sound very very happy, I'm glad for you. I too recently (3 yrs) married) and have been able to retire from a 30 yr career as a nurse practitioner. I'm now in fashion design school and having a lot more fun sewing. Interestingly, my husband and I are going to Asheville in May to look for a place to retire to. I'd love to hear more about Asheville and the surrounding area (you can e-mail me privatly if you don't want to post it to this list), and, I currently live in Houston, so I go to quilt fest every year! I'd love to meet you when you get here

    1. GinnaS | | #3

      Judy - If I'm not being too personal why are you considering retiring to NC instead of staying in TX?  I'm in the Dallas area now but most of my and my husband's family are on the east coast so we may consider moving east when we retire.  Thanks.


      1. HeartFire | | #4

        I'm from NYC and my husband is from Boston. Don't ask what we're doing here in Texas. I've been here about 20 yrs and my husband a little longer. and like you , our families are mostly on the east coast - NY, NJ, Maryland, Florida etc. (my son is in Denton though at UNT). I miss the mountains, and seasons, NC seems like a good sort of half way point among family. We havnet made any specific plans yet, it will be a few more years before we leave here.

        1. Kiley | | #5

          Well, I live a few miles for the Mexican border on the USA side..sort of the best of both worlds. :)

        2. GinnaS | | #6


           I'm also from the NY metro area (LI and Bergen County, NJ) with family in Boston, NJ, PA, VA, and FLA.  My sons are at UTD - one a junior and the other a grad student - both living at home.  They want to stay in Texas so I'm torn.  Both my husband (he's from NC and VA) and I miss the mountains and the more intense change of seasons,  although I don't miss the extreme cold.  We're also a couple of years away from a move.

          I know when my parents retired to FLA they checked out state taxes and inheritance laws.  We also need to check out medical care since my husband and I both have medical problems.


          1. RJS | | #7

            I'm sorry if I said that Mexico was more expensive to live in than the States - WRONG. It cost about 1/2 of what it does to live here than where I moved from - the mountain of NC. Food, medical care (absolutely excellent and we have access to the Mexican medicare program) housing - though that is going up quickly because of the huge number of gringos moving into the area. But two can live as cheaply as one - easily. We added a huge pool and casita (guest house) for what it would have cost us to build a tiny hot tub back home and the workmanship is fantastic. Don't believe anything you hear about 'lazy Mexicans' they work much longer hours and much harder than anyone I have ran across Stateside in a long time. The weather here is perfect year round. Average temp is 72 and sunny. We are at 5500 feet, surrounded by mountains on Lake Chapala. I'm sitting on my veranda gazing at the mountains with the sun turning them all shades of pinks and purples and the lake shimmering behind me. Ah...what a life.For Judy, who is thinking about moving to NC - you'll love it. I moved there from 23 years in MN and Chicago and wanted someplace on top of a mountain with a fabulous view and just a touch of winter - I really like 4 seasons and cool summers. We got light snow in the a.m. and it was melted by the p.m. In 4 years I got 'stuck' on the moutain only 1 day. My beautiful, hand-crafted home with 59 windows (the view is to die for), cherrywood floors, counter tops, door and window frames, 2 fireplaces, 2 huge decks, hand-thrown pottery sinks and tiles by local artists, 2+ bedrooms & baths plus a family room and stuido is still for sale (hint). I'll be more than happy to send you the realtor info if you'll email me directly at [email protected]. Its located in Penland - and retirees are coming in fast and furious - espeically from Flordia. A good time to buy.Well, I have the lead in the local theater's musical and they gave me a ton of fabric today to make a formal gown - so I'm off to my sewing machine.Re

  3. marijke | | #8

    By the way, they have gorgeous fabrics in Ethiopia.  I really like the beautiful borders they weave in the fabrics for the traditional, white cotton dresses and shawls (the borders are usually geometric designs, some one color, some many colors, occassionally with gold thread woven in as well).   And, yes, I bought fabric!  (I am planning on a skirt for summer, using the border along the bottom edge of a slightly below the knee skirt, gathered to a yoke, like some of the skirts I've seen pictured in fashion magazines.)


    1. lindamaries | | #9

      My dream was always to live and work and learn over in France or Italy. I always thought that after the kids were gone, I'd go over and get a job at a tailor's or a couture house and really learn from what I consider the pros. But I would come back before I died and be buried on US soil. I guess I'm kind of patriotic.

      1. marijke | | #10

        France and Italy are destinatons where you would be as safe as in the US.  Besides, you will find that if you go there to learn the tricks of their trade, that the seamstresses there will love to teach you.   Around the world, if you are curious about the people you visit, or about learning their skills, you'll find that the people you encounter are eager to share their culture and customs, and to teach you the skills of their trade.

        As a precaution, just in case, you can always register with the US Embassy in the country you are visiting (the State Dept website recommends doing this if you are going to be in a place for more than one month). 



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