Quilt Ripening

A good friend of mine uses ripening to describe herself, and other things, that need time to percolate.  I thought that word was perfect to illustrate how the Tropical Pop quilt has finally been completed.

(Actually I washed it Monday, then set it on the top of the sofa, so technically it’s been done all week now….)

So, this morning, I had some decisions to make, about quilts and novels and cranberry sauce.  The sauce will be made today, then frozen, until next week, when the hubby and I venture north to spend Thanksgiving with my folks.  The novel, well, of course I mean The Hawk, the novel is still being read through, but now I have a plan for it, somewhat fiendish, if authors can be thusly termed, and at times we can, for how we torture our characters, as well as ourselves, in the process.  As for the quilt….

A scrappy binding, mostly blue, as my sister loves that shade.

A scrappy binding, mostly blue, as my sister loves that shade.

I gazed at the Tropical Pop quilt, which I had yet to photograph.  Once it’s been photographed, it’s truly in the proverbial can.  But this week I’ve been so busy, and it actually rained here yesterday, precluding me from hanging it on the line.  But today, well, today my husband comes home, today ends the week, and today I have more than a few inklings about what to do with that novel, with cranberry sauce, and yes, with a quilt.  I also had a few items that could be cleaned, so I threw them, and the quilt, into the washer.  Tropical Pop was getting a second laundering, whether it needed it or not.

A few additional squares muscled their way into this quilt, camo from the BIL quilt, some batiks as well.

A few additional squares muscled their way into this quilt, camo from the BIL quilt, some batiks as well.

When faith drives a person, regardless of its origin, life moves at a pace that often times is unexpected.  It also moves in a manner that leaves the person a little out of the loop, until clear guidance is proffered.  It doesn’t matter if it’s about quilts or books or cranberry sauce.  Ripening of all these things occurs at varying rates, but can all fall on the same day.  And that includes me too; I’m ripening from day to day, husband here or gone, rain or shine.  Part of my changes are wrapped up in quilts, novels, and cooking.  But those items evolve as well, and now that the quilt is out of the dryer and photographed, it’s ready to be delivered to my sister.  As for the novel, I’ll get to that soon enough.  Same for the cranberry sauce; I had to buy clementines, and will cook that up this afternoon, with some toasted walnuts added for crunchy good measure.  Then it will sit in the freezer, ripening for a few days, before I serve it next Thursday.

Stitched in the ditch, it was backed with an old flannel sheet, making for a very malleable quilt   right from the get-go.

Stitched in the ditch, it was backed with an old flannel sheet, making for a very malleable quilt right from the get-go.

Everything needs a little ripening now and again.

And that includes my godchild’s quilt top, which I finished yesterday, the binding too.  Now that top adorns the quilt wall, well, it’s concealing the Christmas place mats, which are also ripening.  I took this shot, because I liked how the shadow of the mini blinds projected onto the wall.

The binding is on the left...

The binding is on the left…

Are they foreshadowing something?  I don’t know.  But they make for a nice photograph, which is about all I can ask for, when shooting a quilt top.  Not sure if that has any purpose in the ripening, other than aesthetically.  Which is all the Tropical Pop quilt was doing this week on my sofa, ripening aesthetically so I could wash it again today, then write this somewhat silly post.

That too I take on faith.  What other reason is there for all this tropical popping, cranberry saucing, novel blah blah blah nonsense?  Not much, if you look at it rationally.

But, if you dare to read between the lines, ahhh….  What might be discerned from quilts and novels and cranberry sauce?  I’ll leave that, for it’s ripening right before our eyes.


With the husband away, I’ve been keeping busy, mainly with sewing, although a few other tasks have come to hand.  Tonight I did some reading of The Hawk; usually I read first thing in the morning, but then usually I don’t write a blog entry this late in the day.

The current state of the quilt wall, a harbinger of the season to come…

Usually by now the husband is home, dinner has been partaken, and I’m content to ramble with the man I love.  But this week isn’t like most weeks I know.

Now, I could say that about much of 2014; usually my loved ones don’t undergo chemotherapy.  Usually I don’t fashion quilts.  Usually I’m writing…  Writing, hmph!  Not much of that this year, but perhaps that’s foreshadowing the way my life is looking to evolve.  Less words, more fabric, hehehe.  Um, hey, fabric, pretty colourful fabric…

No, no, this post is about writing, or the lack of it, but sometimes in order to write correctly one must look back at what was written, or think about what is going to (eventually one of these days) be written.  Because one of my favourite parts of writing is foreshadowing.  It’s like being able to see into the future, gleefully taking stock of all that is still to come.

Now, I have no idea what’s happening tomorrow.  I mean, I can assume what will or won’t occur, but within the confines of fiction, I’m aces with the realizations!  Okay, I’m pretty good at it, and The Hawk is a perfect example of how sometimes I’m even smarter than I know.  Of course, it would takes ages for me to give the background on this or that plot line to fully illustrate just how clever I am, although clever isn’t truly the correct word; damned lucky are the best words to describe how I fall into writing.  I am gosh darned blessed to put this scene here, that twist there, and only in reading over the whole bleeping enchilada do I get to savour that, well, blessedness.  Not luck at all, merely the awareness of writing something that is more like a gift than a chore.

That’s what writing is for me, when I manage some.  It’s the biggest treasure in the world.

Now, treasures come in a variety of guises; some are amazing, like the extra chocolates left over from the party favours I made this afternoon.  Some are trickier to discern, like my father’s chemotherapy.  Fatigue and nausea continue to plague him, and Radium 223 is still a no-go.  But he’s here, five and a half years after cancer was diagnosed, so I can’t complain, and neither does he, which means I really can’t gripe.  And as for writing, or the lack of it, well, I’m placated when I read a few chapters of a VERY LONG BOOK, finding that what I set into motion in chapter 22 plays out very well in chapter 71.  How cool is that?  And now in chapter 72, I’ve planted the seeds for what’s going to occur in chapter….  Well, I don’t know the number yet, but one of these days I will.

(I’m sure of that.)

Ahem, and when I do, I’ll smile, thinking to when I foreshadowed the fact that The Hawk got that far.  Not sure I’ll post about it, maybe I’ll be too tied up in sewing.  Right now, Christmas place mats adorn the quilt wall, my godchild’s quilt sewn into rows, which need to be sewn into a quilt top.  But the finished party favours are taking space on the work table, why I’m not pinning rows together, but blogging instead.  And if that wasn’t enough….

Master Z has made his appearance!  I’m a de facto grandmother as of late last night, to an eight-pound, nine-ounce bundle of joy.  It’s an odd sensation, I’ve never been a grandmother before, but now his photo graces my phone’s lock screen, and I’ve been considering that little miracle on and off all day.  The party favours aren’t for him, but they are baby shower-related, which I’ll wax more about soon enough.

Let’s just say that for now, Buttercup is still the grand-basset.  But in a few months, she’ll assume the moniker of grandma-dog.  She’s a grand old lady, if nothing else, worthy of all the loves given to her.  There aren’t any bassets in The Hawk, but one of these days, a story will come along, with her name written all over it.  And in the meantime, I’ll be thinking about the WIP, which is The Hawk, whether I’m writing it or not.  Foreshadowing counts, that’s all I’m saying.

So much to sew…

And to wash; the Tropical Pop Quilt is done, simply needs to be laundered.  I completed the binding last night while watching the Golden State Warriors trounce the LA Lakers (but not watching New England beat Indianapolis in football…).  I’ll get that comforter in the washer today, then reveal the finished quilt.

But in the meantime….  There’s a Christmas gift for my godchild waiting on the quilt wall, Christmas place mats for which much of the fabric has been cut.  I went on an OLFA spree recently, slicing fabrics as if the end of the world was nigh.  Maybe the end of the year was my inspiration.  Whatever it was, I have piles of squares waiting to be pieced together, making my fingers itch.  My godchild’s quilt will be the last big project of 2014, several smaller items eagerly calling my name.  Place mats are a cinch; three by four squares, like little doll blankets.  Oh, I’m also making my godchild a matching doll comforter, but that will take about as much effort as the place mats.  After nearly a year full of mostly big quilts, these smaller projects will feel like a treat.

Not that I’m quilted-out.  I’m just ready for a change.  Large projects are sort of like writing The Hawk; you wonder when it will end.  Now, the blessing with quilts is that relatively much less work is involved.  Well, relatively or not, it takes far less time to make a quilt than to write a book.  But when all the quilts have been lap-sized or larger, sewing starts to feel a little tedious.  It’s like watching baseball, then watching basketball.  Basketball is up and down the court, while baseball loiters on the field.  Baseball is good for lazy summer days, while basketball keeps one warm, what with all that running and such.

Sorry, even in a sewing post, sport muscles its way in.

Shot the husband took, waiting to depart this morning.

Anyway, I have loads to keep myself busy, while my husband is away on business, while the Warriors are off all week, while I could care less about the Pittsburg/Tennessee game tonight.  I’ve read through what could be the third delineated part of The Hawk, should I choose to break it into parts.  I need to wash one quilt, start another, plot out place mats, and complete some cloth diaper wipes.  Those are mindless, what I will probably work on this evening, when I’m not watching any kind of sport, but likely listening to albums.  Maybe some of that tropically popping Hollie Cook, to celebrate finishing the Tropical Pop quilt!  Not sure if I’ll cut any more fabric; sometimes I get in a groove, be it writing or reading or all that goes along with sewing.  It’s not just slapping squares on the quilt wall; first those squares have to come into being, from cuts of fabrics shoved in the grotto’s closet.  Those selections are ironed, folded, placed onto the cutting mat, then….  Then I have stacks of squares from which to work.  I don’t think there is a writing equivalent of that part of it.  Cutting fabric sort of stands on its own.

Or maybe that’s part of the plotting process, or maybe I’m just trying to while away time, what with my husband not within shouting distance.  This week I’ll keep busy, certainly not a shortage of things for me to accomplish.  By the time he gets home, well, something will have been done, maybe a few of them.  Maybe we’ll watch the Warriors game together, once I collect him from the airport.  He’ll have stories to share, I will too.  Goodness only knows what will have emerged from my sewing machine, but all of it will be fashioned in love.

Sunrise from Sunday morning, coming back from having breakfast with the hubby....

Sunrise from Sunday morning, coming back from having breakfast with the hubby….

I sew because there is love to be shared.  I write, when I do write, for that same reason.  I watch sports because….  Well, I don’t know why, other than I started watching the San Francisco 49ers with my dad, whom I love.  Maybe that’s all the reason necessary right there.  Whatever you do today, may love enhance those tasks.  Or at least may love take off the edge….

Tropical popping…

A couple of days ago I finished this quilt top; in the meantime, I’ve quilted it, sewn around the perimeter, and just need to attach the binding.  Sometimes making a quilt is like snapping one’s fingers.  I don’t know why that is, but I am very grateful for it.

Lately life has fallen thusly; wake and get the husband off to work, eat breakfast then shower, then read three chapters of The Hawk.  Then I run errands, returning home in time for lunch, which leads to an afternoon of sewing.  No complaints from me; after months of shuttling around the state, this time of calm is much appreciated.  The last two quilts have seemed extraordinarily quick to complete, and now that I’m halfway through The Hawk, I cringe when it’s time to move onto other tasks.  At times life moves along very rapidly, which I try to grasp as this is accomplished, that is finished.  When I wake, eager to start my day, I know that day is indeed very blessed.

Each quilt, like every novel, is equally precious; this one is for my sister, who loves Hawaiian shirts.  She adores The Islands too, so I hope this reminds her a little of that treasured getaway, until her next sojourn there.  Backed with flannel, it will also keep her warm as cooler temps slowly creep into this part of the world.  I have more errands for this morning, but when I get home, I will relish sewing on a scrappy and mostly blue binding.  Sometimes making a quilt is as effortless as writing a first draft.

Ahem; having said that, I’m still itching to return to writing The Hawk, but am relaxing for now in the reading of that tale.  Part of my tempered joy is noting how easily that book was written, when I was writing it.  I planned out very little, but as chapters are digested, I can’t help but be so pleased for how the pieces fall into place.  It’s like looking at a finished quilt top, a prepared binding, and a flannel sheet that doesn’t need to be prepped to turn into a quilt back.  I did trim off the excess, which I’ve saved for another project.  But how simple was it to lay that sheet across my bed, roll out the batting, trimming that to fit, then smoothing out the quilt top; it all happened within yesterday afternoon, which was followed by the basting, which led to the quilting, which culminated in….

In another quilt nearly under the hammer.  Which leads me to believe that one of these days The Hawk will also be another finished book.  The timetable is different to that of a quilt; it’s probably worth several comforters, but the story’s wide scope covers a gamut of themes.  No way to wrap up so many ideas in one afternoon.

And life doesn’t work that way either; it’s a reason, or a season, or forever.  Granted, The Hawk better not take me forever, good grief!  It will take as long as it needs, which right now might feel like far longer than I would like.  But then, yesterday I didn’t expect to take one completed quilt top and turn it into nearly an entire quilt.  Hmmm, that’s pretty amazing.  But then, life is darn surprising.  We just can’t imagine how it’s going to evolve.

Sewing the perimeter...

Sewing the perimeter…

Which is the beauty and fun of it all.  Tropical Pop quilts, long novels, and one errand in particular, to the local bakery, to order a peace I mean peach pie.  And them bring home a couple of slices of celebratory cake.  I might not have finished writing The Hawk, but by tonight, a new quilt will only need to be thrown into the washer.  That certainly deserves a worthy dessert, and I think I’m just the quilting author to take up the challenge.

Why do long books need to be so long?

Over a year ago, I started writing my WIP.  Not sure if I can honestly call it a WIP when I’m not actually writing; I’ve been reading it over since October, although the first week of this month was a wash.  But for a few days I’ve been on a roll, making me feel like I’m accomplishing something literary-related.  Lately it’s been fabric fabric fabric, which is fine.  But I’m hungry for words, aching to return back to a world that has captured me for more than a year.  Nothing about The Hawk is usual, compared to my previous writing realm.  But then, my life isn’t the same anymore.

New paths are being forged, altered rhythms have been introduced.  Quilts, oi!  I’ve got quilts coming out my ears, where before it was stories raining from heaven.  Since 2007, I’ve been cranking out first drafts like there was no tomorrow, turning some of them into published novels.  But during the last year my writing life has changed immensely, where not writing has become the norm.  And even when I do write, like in August, it’s more like drops in the bucket, for this particular tale has evolved into a behemoth upon which I know not the end.  Well, I know how it’s going to end.  I have no flippin’ clue as to when.

When I wrote the Alvin’s Farm series, novels emerged with definite endings, if not with cliffhangers attached.  Yet, they didn’t drag on and on.  But my life in 2009 and 2010 wasn’t like it is now in 2014; my goodness, that’s quite a number of years ago!  Perhaps it’s silly of me to be caterwauling like this; maybe I should just be satisfied that I’m still actively engaged in this project, via revisions.  But if you write, then hopefully you will understand some of my heartache; revising is necessary, indeed.  Yet there won’t be anything to edit if new material isn’t being written.

Recently my husband turned fifty.  He’s feeling pretty good about it, except when suddenly he says to me, “Hey, I’m in my fifties now!”  I look at him with a wary eye; “You’re what?” I exclaim, as if he’s suddenly lost his mind.  How in the world did so much time pass; he was in his forties just a few minutes ago, I know he was.  And honestly, weren’t we both just in our thirties, living in England, or what about our twenties, when we dwelled in Silicon Valley before the dot-com bubble was so coined.  What in the world is this man going on about, being in his fifties?

Ahem.  Reality is sometimes a cold slap along the face.  Reality in my writing world has been that cool hand tying mine up in family and fabrics and….  Well, so many things that words have been shoved into a dark, dusty corner.  For the last several weeks I’ve been easing them out, but only those already written.  New words hide in the closet, fully aware I don’t have the proper time of day to share with them.  They won’t be coaxed out for any reason.

Sometimes I wish words were like Buttercup; just rub her belly, and she’s putty in your hands.  But my muse isn’t like that beloved basset.  Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s my temperament, maybe it’s….  It could be anything, but what it is is a lack of time.  I don’t have the adequate uninterrupted time to sit and write.

And unlike years ago, now I require those precious minutes.  No longer can I just write on a dime.

This is my second year away from NaNoWriMo. If you’re thinking I should jump into that fray to alleviate my problem, it’s not that easy.  While I wouldn’t be here today if not for National Novel Writing Month, again, I’m not the same person who participated from 2006-2012.  And this story isn’t conducive to that kind of literary abandon.  This story wants all of my attention, which has been scattered from hell to breakfast, and that is in part due to age.  It’s also due to my dad’s illness, an impending grandchild, and various other issues, like the quilting bug which has bitten me hard since February.  Writers have lives outside the work, and in 2014, my world has seen an invasion not witnessed since we moved back to America in 2007.  In 2007, I finished my first novel, begun for NaNo 2006, then nothing was accumulated until NaNo 2007.  After that I never looked back, writing-wise.  I’ve been pounding a keyboard solid until March of this year, when suddenly….

Life took over, life not to do with fiction.  Fiction was relegated to the back burner, fiction was barely a consideration as reality was about all I could handle.  But the idea of fiction never left, it’s too deeply wound into my core.  Telling this story means too much, writing means too much to ignore it.  Writing means, oh goodness, this post is already too long to explain what writing means.  But this story is special; it’s especially long, ha ha.  It’s starting to take on epic proportions, not only for its size, but it’s unwieldy nature.  Does that make it more unique, how badly I desire its completion, and how ethereal that completion seems to be….

Time will tell.  And in the meantime, I have errands to run, precluding me from any more reading today.  Plus a Tropical Pop quilt is clamoring for my attention; dude, keep your shirt on!  More fish to fry than I can shake a skillet at.

Quilting By Stealth

So, even though I haven’t said much lately, I have been busy.  My most recent project was a surprise for someone who frequently reads this blog, tying my hands to blurt much about it here.  However, it has been gifted to that recipient, my eldest daughter for her upcoming birthday.  So now I can blab all about it.

On the left is the blue-gray vine print that is shared with the Bestie Far Away quilt. On the upper right is the tree branch fabric that brought all the blues together.

Which is good; I was aching to wax about this quilt, which doesn’t have a formal moniker attached.  It’s my girl’s birthday pressie, tied into the Bestie Far Away comforter by one fabric and those young women’s shared date of birth.  Now both can use their quilts, a few weeks early even.  And I can share that second blanket with you readers.

As I explained last night to my daughter, her husband, my hubby, and of course Buttercup, this quilt was fairly easy to put together, once I had the correct fabrics.  I had purchased some, then changed my mind, requiring a few more.  (My husband was shaking his head as I spoke those words.)  The key for this quilt was the dark brown tree branches against cream, with small blue leaves dangling from the branches.  Once I saw that blue, the rest fell into place.

My girl is partial to browns, of which there are a few within this scheme.  The creams were easier, and as for the blues….  I love blue, so it was only a matter of winnowing down the best shades.  I had considered brown for the binding, but I liked the dotted tan fabric.  It’s backed with marbled blue flannel, stitched in the ditch, and at sixty by seventy-two inches, it fits their bed, or can be stretched over the sofa.  She said it kept her cozy on their drive home last night, then sent shots of it on their bed.

And of course, Buttercup gave her ultimate approval, although she was slightly peeved.  Her bone wasn’t permitted on the quilt, which I’m sure Buttercup thinks was made solely for her.  Sorry puppy; no icky bones on this pretty quilt.


It’s for the birthday girl.  She might be nearly twenty-six, but she’ll always be my baby.

For a Bestie Far Away

This quilt has already reached its owner, but I finished it a week ago.  I didn’t want to post about it until it was where it belonged, but now I can share it up close on the blog.

And when I say up close, I mean up close.

I don’t take a lot of post-quilting photographs, or at least not anywhere but on the laundry line.  I’m not good at getting those terrifically artsy shots, in part that I’m not an artsy snapper, nor does my house have loads of natural light conducive to highlighting one’s handiwork.  But I wanted to showcase this quilt, in that it’s one of my faves, as is the person to whom it now belongs.  It was also one of my more adventurous designs, which isn’t saying much; I’m not into complicated patterns.  But I like how the sashes frame the vibrant hues, and how the binding doesn’t detract, yet is a little fancy itself.

I included this shot, mostly because it's sort of pretty, not that it displays the quilt in any particular manner.

I included this shot, mostly because it’s sort of pretty, not that it displays the quilt in any particular manner.

I didn’t quilt through the sashes, as I didn’t want to muss them up.  Instead I stitched in the ditch, leaving a four-inch gap around the edges of the quilting, which I then reinforced with some hand-sewing, just to give myself peace of mind that the backstitching wouldn’t come out.

After all that hard work, the last thing I wanted to hear was the stitches had come loose…

I sent it off last Monday, to the Midwest, for that young woman’s birthday, although her special day isn’t for a few weeks.  Still, in the Midwest it’s getting chilly, why I wanted it to arrive sooner rather than later.  Also because I just couldn’t wait anymore; I wanted her to have this comforter.  There are few things in this world better than sharing love, maybe there’s nothing better.  In this quilt was sewn many good feelings, and lots and lots of love.  Why wait to send it?

The particulars are thus; fifteen by seventeen four-inch squares, with a four-inch Kona ash border all around.  It’s backed with soft lilac flannel, bound with a gray print decorated with white vines.  Made up mostly of batiks, with some tone on tone and another viney-looking fabric, it’s all about staving off the winter chill.  And now it’s resting on the owner’s bed, pleasing her immensely.

This is why I quilt.  And now that baseball’s over, there’s more time than before.  Best I get to it, if you know what I mean…


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