Making Sense of It All

Last night, with my hubby’s assistance, I got the over the bedroom closet door wall hanging hung.  It’s been finished for probably a week, but time is a precious commodity, or maybe we’re just old and lazy.  I’ll note the former, and give thanks that project is finally where it’s supposed to be.

He took pictures, in his somewhat imaginative, wonky style, while I laid on the bed, admiring that improv piece.  I was tired last night, having spent much of my day with Little Miss and her mum, then enjoying a long Skype chat with The Burrito and his mother.  While gazing at the primary-hued quilt on the wall, I considered how blessed is my life, an abundance of riches, from family to fabrics.  And, of course, words.

The Hawk is moving right along; the first three days back, I felt sluggish, creeping along with 2,500 word chapters, which is nothing to be sneezed at, yet certainly a little slow out of the gate.  On Wednesday, ideas were bubbling, and I managed 3,800 words.  Yesterday was an off day; I don’t write every day, finding in the last few years that I am more creative if I go three or four days on, a day (or sometimes two) off.  I’ll write this morning, probably as soon as I wrap up this post.  And when I wrap up this post, I’ll also step away from the blog, for a while.

I’m not sure how long, maybe a month, a week, a couple of years.  So much has happened this year, jeez!  Or maybe a lot happens all the time, but sometimes it feels like more.  Or perhaps aging makes me less competent to handle the big moments.  Two grandchildren were born, my father died, I started piecing fabric however I pleased.  And again, I’m plugging away on a story that is bigger than the word count, which isn’t small at all.  The Hawk is about art and grace, love and war, life and death, clarity and madness.  It’s also the sort of book that is leading me to places unknown, like the forest in which Marek finds escape, or the skies where Eric falls to Earth, or the pies Lynne bakes as if her eyes were closed.  The writing of this novel has become a journey unto itself, and I’m so thankful to again be on this road.

This road is call the new normal, and it encompasses new faces, while one has been left behind.  I feel I’ve blogged about all I can on family and fabrics and fiction.  Right now, a curtain needs to be drawn, while I step behind the veil, allowing the mystery some room.

Shake, Write, Repeat

A completed wall hanging finally having been hung!

A completed wall hanging finally having been hung!

Two days into the return to writing; it’s a different sort of task.  The biggest change was yesterday, when I was nearly finished, then my youngest Skyped; The Burrito was especially charming, but I wasn’t quite done!  My husband took over the conversation, yet I could hear them, even with the door closed.

Nothing like trying to concentrate on plot when the most adorable little chap is babbling.  When I felt the scene was complete, I rushed to where that trio was chatting, catching a bright smile, that could and did take me away from the words.

A coaster in which I decided to quilt like there was no tomorrow.  However, halfway through, I thought to capture the process....

A coaster in which I decided to quilt like there was no tomorrow. However, halfway through, I thought to capture the process….

That’s going to be a new concept within my life as an author.  Grandkids seem to take precedence.

The finished quilting, with which I am very pleased....

The finished quilting, with which I am very pleased….

They certainly do with the quilting, but that’s easy to pick up, then set aside.  But now as I’m back to the early 1960s, within a realm filled with hawks, art, and grace, I’ll have to learn to balance paragraphs with descendants.  But some sort of tightrope walking will be achieved, because two days of writing have felt like coming home.  Yet a new element has been introduced, that of how this novel has broken itself into manageable chunks.  And in beginning yet another, I have to wonder if the next 60,000 (or so) words will handily mete themselves into yet another part.  Part Six, as yes, I’m counting, but maybe Part Six will be shorter, or lengthier, than the previous parts.

This is the extra block from another wall hanging; I'm going to hang it in the loo at my youngest daughter's house.

This is the extra block from another wall hanging; I’m going to display it in the loo at my youngest daughter’s house.

That of course remains to be seen.  For now, I’m ever so pleased to be back in the authorial saddle, as it were.  In fact, I wish I could excerpt a little of yesterday’s work, but to do so would present a spoiler, and that wouldn’t be fair to those who await Part Three.  But I will say that the flow seems unhindered, if not a wee bit truncated; chapters are averaging around 2500 words.  But that’s fine, no need to rush into some 5K behemoths right off the bat.  It’s enough to juggle grandkids within the work.

Another decoration for the loo; I quilted this one in straight vertical lines, leaving about two-thirds inch between the rows.

Another decoration for the loo; I quilted this one in straight vertical lines, leaving about two-thirds inch of space between the rows.

But the work has commenced, and thanks be to God for that!  Plus the Giants swept the Diamondbacks, hehehe.  Now if we can just take the series with San Diego, and maybe those Dodgers lose a couple, this writer would be over the moon.  In the meantime, there is a wall hanging to bind, laundry on the line, and more plot over which to ruminate.  Ah plot; just shake, write, repeat.  There’s truly not much more to it than that, when the timing is appropriate.  Again thank the lord it’s finally time….

A Song I Have to Sing

Yesterday at the post office I saw the Maya Angelou stamp sign, and while the quote isn’t from the poet, it rang so true for me.  Especially I can apply it to writing, and it’s most applicable with the WIP.  Six chapters remain to revise of The Hawk, and then….  Then I will dive back into telling this tale, one word at a time.

But not because what I’m creating is the answer to the world’s problems.  At the end of the day, it’s simply a story, regardless of scope or themes.  But it’s a yarn I feel compelled to spin, if for no other reason than I have been enabled with the gift to put one sentence down followed by others, crafting paragraphs into scenes into said chapters.  And in about two days’ time, I’ll add another, stepping back into a creative realm invisible to the naked eye.

Writing is nothing like quilting in that aspect.  I could pepper this post with shot after shot of the wall hanging of the moment, but one suffices; yesterday I sewed this monster into one long strip, chose fabrics for the back, sewed those together, cut batting, basted the whole thing, even started quilting diagonally with some rather loud yellow thread.  Much more quilting remains, but it’s now held tight not by pins but polyester string.  The binding is prepared, and within a few days this project will be on my bedroom wall over the closet, case closed.

Yet The Hawk has no set timeline for completion, thanks be to God that I’m nearly back to writing it even!  Over lunch with a friend, I extolled my excitement for the commencement of that activity, because while revisions are necessary, if only to reacquaint myself with all I had added to this tale, editing doesn’t hold a candle to the thrill of indeed enlarging that fictional universe.  How much bigger it’s going to get is unknown, and I don’t even want to ponder that aspect.

It will be as lengthy as is required.  Ultimately, the requirement is for me to sing this song as best as I can.  And that is what I need to embrace, the simple singing of the song.  For how many years did I want to write, oh jeez!  Decades, to be honest.  And for most of this past decade, I’ve been writing, again thanks to God.  How often do we get to realize our dreams, and accept those blessings without strings attached, no one grading our efforts, but merely the moment to sing whatever song stirs within our hearts and souls?

I like to sing, maybe that’s why the quote hit me, there in an innocuous post office, not the sort of place where deep truths are known to land.  But I was there sending books to my nieces; books are wondrous gifts, and The Hawk is the same, if only to me.  Maybe dreams aren’t realized because we dreamers don’t understand how important is the follow-through.  All the rough drafts I’ve tucked away are just as meaningful as the saga I’m currently sorting, for they have led me to this spot in the writing.  These quirky wall hangings are practice for future projects, every step along the way building to the ultimate culmination of….

A song to be sung.  La la la, humming along for no other reason than to hum.  But that sound resonates further than what I can hear.  Closing my eyes, I give away that tune, that tale, those pieces of fabric, and allow the magic to continue.  The magic of life is a most precarious and precious work.  Who I am to presume more than the blessings within my hands, but if those treasures aren’t released….

La la la, here they are!  Now back to the singing, sewing, um, and the laundry….

A Tale of a Mid-Summer’s Quilt Top (or two….)

Actually, this is the story of one completed wall hanging and another wall hanging quilt top nearly finished.  But it is the fifteenth of July, mid-summer in full swing.  And I’ve been a busy sewing bee the last few days, finally feeling to have taken control of one unwieldy project while putting the final touches on a piece that has captivated me since the beginning.

Funny how something with innocuous beginnings can pluck the heartstrings.  This white, tone on tone yellow and teal project will rest on the wall in our computer/Janome area of the house, where I can divert my attention to how well this all came together.

Quilted in white on the diagonal, I’m not sure if it’s the hues with which I’m most pleased or the overall aesthetic appearance, but something calls to me in this little project.  Maybe it’s the size, or how summer will always be reflected, although summer in California already feels like a never-ending season.

But summer hearkens to honeysuckle, a vine of my childhood which now grows in my backyard.  Honeysuckle reminds me of my father, who a year ago was looking forward to his big party.  I will cherish the memories of that day as long as I live.

However, sometimes life takes left turns in Albuquerque.  The piece, or shall I say pieces, affixed to the quilt wall have been more of a headache than I dreamed.  I’d wanted to turn these colours into floating squares, but the more I worked with them, the less I liked them.

Fortunately I took a Burrito time-out.  Returning to the grotto, I played around with some scraps, my youngest daughter in need of coasters.  I decided to use a few red, yellow, and blue pieces, but they were too small.  So I hacked off some from the squares on the quilt wall, because by then a drastic step was necessary.

It was the best thing I could have done, although I have no clue as to how this block will be employed.  Far too big for a coaster or even a rug-mug, too small for a place mat, and I’m basically out of scraps to enlarge it.  I’ll stare at it for a bit, and see what evolves.

Next is sewing the new wall hanging-in-process together, then going through the whole quilting rigmarole.  Other fabrics are piling, not to mention chapters in need of attention.  Ten remain for The Hawk, then I can begin writing, oh dear lord!  I’ve been pining for that day, but in the meantime two wall hangings had to be sorted.  And now, basically, they have been, with a bonus square thrown in for good measure.  Measure by measure is how this life is lived.  “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6.38 is the above verse in entirety.  Quilts tops and books, all in their own good time….

A life I never imagined….

The Burrito is back home, and happy to be there.  His mama is pleased as well, so are Grandpa and myself.  We elder two slept so well last night, I’ll assume the former two did the same.  It’s Monday, 13 July, and after I write this post and take a shower, I’ll edit three chapters of The Hawk.  Yup, life is totally back to normal….

Lol….  The new normal, of course.  My father would have been seventy-one this past weekend, and being in my hometown stirred a host of feelings that previously I have never experienced.  I’ve never lost a parent, never been a grandparent before either, hmmm….  This time last year my mom, siblings and I were planning a big bash to celebrate Dad turning seventy.  He’d finished his last round of chemo, or had one more to go; I should recall this fact, but my youngest was pregnant and I was caring for her as well as Dad as well as sorting shindig details and….  Now a year later, the Burrito sits alone.  His sense of balance is quite impressive, although he doesn’t get into that position by himself.  Still, he manages to not fall over, well not immediately.  He stays on his cloth-diapered bum, grasping for whatever is close; Duplo hippos and cacti, or his feet.  I think the cloth diapers give him more stability, or at least more to sit upon.  If nothing else, he’s mastered this achievement, and looks pretty cute in having done so.

What struck me most this weekend was how this new normal has enveloped me so thoroughly; Dad has only been gone for three months, but oddly it seems like longer.  What does that imply?  Perhaps the grandbabies enhance the sense of alarming change, as well as soothing the gaping hole left by my dad’s death.  Or were Dad’s assorted illnesses so overwhelming that it’s easier for me to accept his passing, knowing fully well he’s in such a better place?  I’m not sure what it is, but it’s something.  This new normal isn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it was going to be.

Well, it’s not so bad for me.  My mom still aches, but she too keeps busy.  Yet, I didn’t live with my dad, he wasn’t my best friend.  He was my father, living in immense pain, and now he’s free.  Sure I wish he was here to enjoy the great-grandkids, but that wasn’t meant to be.

I have a full agenda for today; after some revising, I need to mop my kitchen, ha ha.  I plan to do a little fabric shopping, then get to the store for groceries.  The quilt I basted nearly two weeks ago is waiting to be finished, and the one on the wall….  Oi.  I’ll think about that after I quilt the WIP.  But amid all those tasks remains the lingering persona of a man who had been with me all of my life, but no longer loiters actively in this realm.  A few days ago Mom asked me how I was doing, and I said that the grandchildren have been an enormous blessing.  And that is one piece of a larger truth that for the most part I have a hard time expressing.  My father’s death is another step on my journey of life.  And while it’s not one of the more enjoyable bits, it is fashioning me into whoever I am still to become.  None of this is of my own strength, let me add.  It’s grace, pure and simple.  And by God’s grace I will muddle on ahead, giving thanks for sitting Burritos and a smiling Little Miss.

She’s making her own noise, six weeks old and happy to be there.  Soon enough she and her cousin will be fighting over Duplo hippos; thank goodness their Lego-loving auntie has plenty to go round.

Living on Burrito time….

Tummy time for my grandson; he finds the quilt entertaining as a stuffed toy....

Tummy time for my grandson; he finds the quilt as entertaining as a stuffed toy….

Over the last several days my husband and I have had the immense pleasure of hosting our youngest daughter and eldest grandchild.  Now the Burrito is ours for the week, and I have to note how differently time moves when caring for a baby.

Actually, time flows in two ways; slowly when the baby is awake, quickly while he sleeps.  He’s napping now, why I have time to write this post, listening to Wimbledon tennis in the background.  He was fascinated by the Andy Murray/Ivo Karlovic match, and I’m sure my grandson was as pleased as I was that Murray won.  I’m a little sad that the Burrito will miss some, but probably not all, of the Roger Federer/Roberto Bautista Agut match.  My grandchildren won’t recall Federer in his prime, but players come and go, just like moments of the day.

I’m grateful for my relative youth; it makes looking after an infant easier.  Of course, there’s little issue when sitting with him while he takes a bottle.  In those minutes, time seems to have stopped as all I focus upon is an adorable baby who lays in my arms, sometimes wiggling, usually placid.  There’s no rush as we rest on the sofa, chatting about nothing in particular, other than how cute he is, how beloved.  Then I sing the burp song; Burp burp, burp burp burp.  Burp burp, burpy burp-burp, burp burp burp burp.  And sometimes it even works!

In the process of rolling from back to tummy!

In the process of rolling from back to tummy!

However, time moves like lightning when he’s asleep.  So much to accomplish, like blogging, ahem.  Or unloading the dishwasher, or even ironing some fabric, ha ha.  I had forgotten how babies usurp one’s day, and have been humbled by all my daughters tackle on a daily basis with their children.

And there he goes!  Success....

And there he goes! Success….

But the other nugget about time is that for as fast or slow as it goes for me, for the Burrito these are days that he’ll never recall, only noting the changes within photos and movie clips.  This morning I caught him turning from his back to his tummy; we knew he could do it, having found him on his belly after a nap, yet none of us had witnessed it.  Today I did, and now the world’s his oyster.  He scoots on his belly, traveling over various quilts.  Soon he’ll be rolling around the room, creeping on his knees, crawling….

Oh my goodness, wasn’t he just the Burrito, swaddled and tiny?  That was months ago.  Nearly five months have passed since his birth, five weeks since Little Miss arrived.  Where has that time gone, well, I don’t know, but it’s slipped away in fits and starts, as if time needs certain pressure points upon which to flow.  I appreciate those slower moments, watching him suck back formula, then I scuttle about while he snoozes, or more rightly I’m sitting on my backside, noting those changes.  Maybe one day he’ll peruse this blog, finding a part of his babyhood chronicled amid the rest of my musings.  If he or Little Miss do that, I most want them to know how loved they are, how blessed I am to have shared in this part of their lives.  I might be telling stories or sewing quilts, but I’m always thinking of them, praying for them.  Being a grandmother is a unique treasure, and I’m happy to be young enough to fully engage with these charmers.

Sharing tennis, quilts, and books is a small part of the puzzle.  Love is the binding key.