Here we are again….

It’s funny how long a baseball season is, days that feel like weeks, weeks that seem like months, months that linger like…. Like taking the World Series all the way to Game 7.  Game 7, really?  Um, yes, really.  I will admit that I only watched the first three innings of Game 6; I love my team, but am not a masochist.  And as for yesterday’s contest….

During most of yesterday’s contest I was cleaning.  Also decorating; we’re having a party on Saturday, plenty for me to do while attempting to avoid Game 7.  Once I absorbed Game 7 was necessary, okay, sure, fine, WHATEVER.  Maybe it was for Tim Hudson, one more chance for that man to make a difference.  Maybe it was for me to thoroughly clean out my microwave, which right now is spotless.  Maybe it was for TV ratings or radio personalities or….

But no.  It was for one young man, nearly the same age as my eldest, to make history.  And for one team to denote that no matter how many challenges are presented in that LONG LONG season, sometimes miracles occur.

Just ask any Giants fan who endured the 2014 season; we were hot, we were not.  We barely scraped our way into the playoffs, and then….

Then it was time for a team effort, led by a pitcher who was bolstered by twenty-four other men who played gritty, gusty, and sometimes as sketchily as in June and July.  But ultimately they would not be denied.  Kansas City was a formidable foe, buy hey, together we are Giant.

To celebrate, I bought newspapers this morning, right after seeing my husband, clad in his SF Giants t-shirt, out the door.  I had papers from 2010 and 2012, and this win demanded similar treatment.  My local grocery store had the San Jose Mercury-News, which was all I could get my hands on two years ago, but I wanted the San Francisco Chronicle, what I purchased back in 2010.  I bought the SJ Mercury News, and some apples for later, then proceeded to drive around my neck of the Silicon Valley woods, finally stopping at a Safeway, where Chronicles remained.  I picked up a few, I couldn’t resist, then giddily returned home, pleased with my booty.  This is a moment to be treasured, even if yesterday’s game is one for the books.  And tomorrow, I’ll watch the parade from home, probably with a vacuum in my hand, thrilled for the Giants organization and the thousands of fans who will brave the forecasted rain to fete those men who once again brought a championship back to the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.

They play at AT&T Park, but they belong to all who call the Bay Area their home.

I’ve known this feeling before, in the 1980s when the 49ers won their trophies; it’s a fantastic rush, but the Super Bowl is one game.  The World Series is seven, bless those Giants’ hearts, and was nearly too much for me to take.  As Bumgarner threw those final pitches, my chest muscle was pounding, then nearly popping from my rib cage as Blanco and Perez bobbled Gordon’s hit.  But San Francisco wouldn’t be denied, as another Perez popped up to Sandoval; the ball was caught, the game was over.  Finally, FINALLY this series had ended, and oh my goodness I was so glad it was done.

I don’t know why I am so affected by sport; it’s only a pastime, but for some reason, this pastime clutches at my soul, wringing it until all I can do is holler UNCLE.  It’s the drama obviously, also the thrill of victory.  With baseball, it’s this long slog of days from town to town, team to team, as injuries and life battle to take the wind from players’ sails.  And that is exactly what happened to the Giants this year.  But San Francisco has a knack for bringing in relief mid-season; Cody Ross in 2010, Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro in 2012, and rookies Joe Panik, Andrew Susac, Matt Duffy, and Hunter Strickland in 2014.  Suddenly a team has new life upon which to draw well into the post-season.  Panik made an outstanding grab last night, probably what shifted the momentum for the Giants.  Then in came Bumgarner, and….

No more truly needs to be said, other than I’m very pleased for the team, and for the fans.  I’m grateful to be at the end of this season, not sure how much more I could have taken.  The thrill will be savored for a good number of days, then considered again when some other improbable event occurs.  This win was improbable, if looked at from a usual view.  But if you asked any of the Giants, I’m sure their answers would be different.

This was why they play the game, this was their goal.  Now achieved, I wish for them, their families, and all those within the organization, one heck of a good time.  And many thanks for all the heart-stopping but immensely satisfying treats during the 2014 season.

An ever-evolving life…

Aside from the Hollie Cook show, which still tumbles through my brain in songs that I cannot shake, I’ve been indulging in some vintage 1970s melodies, especially “Black Water” by The Doobie Brothers.  Somehow that song evokes the autumn which attempts to make its point here in California.  The evenings are cooler, as are the mornings.  Darkness pervades my waking hours, sunshine casting long shadows, trees finally dropping their leaves.  The end of the World Series is nigh (Oh please let it be tonight!), Halloween is days away, November knocking on the door.  Listening to The Doobie Brothers reminds me of the past, which at this time of year is still tied to National Novel Writing Month, although I won’t be participating for the second straight year.  NaNoWriMo came into my life just as we were saying goodbye to England, but as leaving Yorkshire taught me, not everything last forever.

But the writing continues; daily I’ve been reading a couple of chapters of The Hawk, enjoying it immensely.  My husband asked if I read for pleasure, or with a critical eye.  I laughed; I always read my own stuff in a discerning manner, but the revisions aren’t heavy, mostly because these relatively early chapters have been read a number of times.  Yet even as I read, and occasionally alter, the prose, I’m reminded of how much I enjoy this story, which makes me ache to get back to the writing, even if my time is squeezed beyond belief.

Which some might say is all the reason needed to jump into the NaNo pond to pound out another 50,000 (or more) words, regardless of all that looms.  But no longer am I that sort of writer, which is a lot to admit.  But it’s not 1974 anymore, it’s (gasp) forty years later.  Jeez!!  Four decades since “Black Water” was a hit, and now I’m a fan of tropical pop.  “Milk and Honey”, by Ms. Cook, has been making me sway around the kitchen, or tapping my feet as I iron fabrics.  I’m cutting what will be my goddaughter’s Christmas present, but not in reds and greens.  Perhaps hues more for an island, in warm blues, aquas, and a tad of periwinkle.  Not colours I often use, but I sure like them, and they blend well with my latest fascination with reggae.

Life is a journey, taking us to new and exciting places, with intriguing songs and fabric shades that don’t remain static.  About the only thing right now I’d like to remain the same is the Giants’ hold on the even-numbered years’ World Series victories.  We’re one game away from continuing in that vein, which to my liking could stay as a constant, although I’m sure other baseball fans wouldn’t agree.

Not sure what Buttercup thinks; if it meant more belly rubs for her, she’d be all over San Francisco taking tonight’s game.  In Buttercup’s world, there is little room for evolution, but my realm isn’t that of a beagle/basset.  It’s words and music and cotton, baseball and family and whatever lies ahead.  Revisiting the past is unavoidable, in music and memories, hopes and dreams.  But some pieces were only for that time, those moments.  I’d *LOVE* to dwell on the 49ers’ glory years, and seeing shots of Joe Montana at AT&T Park was a pleasure.  However, it’s 2014, ages away from the 1980s, and even a good stretch from when I began writing.  Now I quilt, whoa!  And my heart is firmly stolen by a different Bay Area sports team, whether I want it to be or not.  I can’t help rooting for the Giants, what I do right here and right now.

As I age, I need to keep moving forward.  I don’t know if abundant technology assists in that endeavor, or tropical pop.  And I wonder if my long-passed away relatives felt so inclined.  Is my generation better equipped to seize the future?  I’d love to ask those grandparents, aunts and uncles, but that’s impossible.  I should have done it years ago, but years ago I didn’t consider these queries.  I was too busy being young.

I’m not so young anymore, although not as old as Ms. Buttercup, who at somewhat over seven is a tad older than me.  But again, she doesn’t care what happens, as long as there is food and water in her bowls, walks when her folks get home, and much attention paid to her exposed belly.  But then Buttercup doesn’t know the joy of tropical pop, she can’t reminisce about “Black Water”, and she certainly won’t experience the thrill of one’s team winning the World Series (Oh please let the Giants win tonight!).  She’s content to lie on her rug as people croon her name, snapping pictures of her, then scratching her belly.  No time for writing, quilting or any other such nonsense in her world, thank you very much.

And certainly not a free moment for such introspection.  But occasionally a free moment should be turned just a wee bit inward, if only to acknowledge the change, be it in the weather, the writing, the quilting fabrics.  Life never stops changing, and it’s good to grasp those alterations, especially when they are pleasant.  Sometimes they’re not so warm and fuzzy, but we can’t look from those either.  Before tonight’s baseball I need to clean (ugg), perhaps cut more aqua fabric, definitely get to the store.  No writing, maybe some sewing, then loads of hand-wringing as my beloved Giants go to bat.  I’m sure some Hollie Cook will waft from speakers, either at my PC or in the living room from the turntable.  It’s just another day, 28 October, 2014.  It’s also the only 28 October 2014 any of us will ever see.  May this day bring plenty of joy your way (unless, of course, you’re a Kansas City fan).

Tropical Pop Quilt

I confess; the name for this quilt is pinched from the genre of music made by English singer Hollie Cook, of whom I had the very good fortune to see live on Thursday night in Oakland, at Leo’s.  Ms. Cook’s music could also be termed reggae pop, or reggae, but names aside, she RAWKED the intimate venue, in her lovely British manner, and I highly recommend her two albums, Hollie Cook and Twice.  And if you like dub, pick up Prince Fatty’s Hollie Cook In Dub.  All three records are fantastic, and we were lucky enough to actually purchase the vinyl of Ms. Cook’s music.  Maybe the next time we see her, and I’m sure there will be a next time, we’ll get the Prince Fatty LP.

But back to quilts; it’s for my sister, this blanket the mate for the Brother-In-Law quilt.  He’s doing very well, post-surgery, and she’s been too busy to ask about her quilt, so I’ll get to surprise her with this offering.  Not a sort of peace pie appeasement, merely a gift, and hopefully completed well before the holidays.  The bulk of the prints are Hawaiian shirts (she LOVES the Islands), with a few random squares of camo thrown in for good measure.  (Like her hubby, Sis likes to hunt.)  The solid fabric is Kona Ash, which I used for the Bestie Far Away quilt sashes; I adore this hue, it goes with anything!  Especially vibrant prints, which dominate both of these quilts.  But the Tropical Pop quilt seemed easier to sort, making every other square a solid.  Not so hard on the eyes, you know.

The binding will be scrappy; some of the prints mixed with solid Kona blues.  And the backing is a charcoal flannel sheet.  I’m curious to see how soft this quilt comes out, as the shirts were well weathered, but the Kona ash is not.  Still, the flannel sheet has been through the wash more than a few times, so odds are it will be a very snuggly quilt from the get-go.

Currently it's in the washer, but I had to make sure it was suitable for snuggling.  Indeed, it's perfect!

Currently it’s in the washer, but I had to make sure it was suitable for snuggling. Indeed, it’s perfect!

And after I spent last night under the Bestie Far Away blanket, flannel-backed quilts are definitely my faves.  I was testing the snuggle-factor, and that comforter passed with flying colours.  Wish my Giants were riding that high; tonight’s game will be definitive.  Either they’ll be tied two all with Kansas City, or on the brink of elimination.  An intriguing kettle of fish I’ll say, but then, so is the Tropical Pop quilt.  Can’t wait to get those rows under the presser foot!

Peace Pie and other musings…

So the World Series is tied one all, fitting to send it to San Francisco.  I won’t lie; I’d LOVE the Giants to take it at home, which they have not done in their previous two wins.  However, I don’t want to appear greedy, so as long as they win…

Ha, well, nothing greedy about that.  I will note that this contest has brought out the small sports fan in my eldest, or maybe it’s Buttercup who appreciates the Giants, although last night’s game was hard to watch, once Jake Peavy allowed two Royals on base.  But now these teams have gotten a rout from each of their systems, so perhaps the following contests will be closer.  (Albeit with a San Francisco victory sealed at the end…)

But what does that have to do with peace pie?  Not that much, nor does peace pie correlate with the recent news that Radium 223 is not currently being manufactured, in Norway by the only company that makes it.  I accompanied my folks to Sacramento yesterday, where we learned that no radium treatments are being offered anywhere in the world.  The doctor’s assistant wasn’t sure why, but we discussed other options, like Xtandi and Ketoconizol, which is an anti-fungal that just happens to work well for prostate and bone cancer patients.  Dad will make an appointment with his oncologist to map out the next step, however I’m hoping that Bayer can sort out the Norwegians in a timely manner.  Radium 223 would truly best serve my father at this time, and time is a most precious commodity.

Still, I hear you rumbling, “What in the hey does that have to do with peace pie?  Is it some autumnal thing, baseball related, or Buttercup’s favourite dessert?”  Actually, it’s what happens when I have too many fireflies flitting in my brain (thank you Laura!).  My brother visited with the folks last weekend, then asked me what we were all bringing for Thanksgiving, which was his way of saying, “Hey sis, start a thread, will ya?”  I complied, noting that we would bring Grandma’s fruit salad, homemade cranberry sauce, and peace pie, with perhaps some vanilla ice cream for said peach pie.  Note the error?  I didn’t, but my beloved little brother did, answering what in the heck was peace pie (ya hippie!)?  I countered that I would also make some deviled eggs, they had to have an attitude, to which my sister replied how much she loved our family, big smiley face icon included.  And I answered that yes, at lease we are entertaining.

Then Mom asked why we had a lease?  And on it goes…

I said that’s what happens when I’m not writing, my spelling goes right down the loo.  Which is somewhat true, in that WordPress and my email provider, as well as Word, note the misspellings, but not the erroneous miscues.  Peace pie, at lease, the list is endless.  Similar to Radium 223; we assumed that was the next step, but maybe not.  Assuming is a tricky deal, not always for the best.  Maybe it’s best to be like Buttercup, hording the remote, ready to change the channel if the Giants get wonky.  And at least (not lease) Buttercup doesn’t care how I spell peach pie or at least.  She just wants to eat the pie, peaceful or not.

Dad wants pie too, and while ice cream is tasting good again, he prefers Cool Whip.  I also know he’d prefer radium over other treatments, just as he and I and Mom and my hubby and probably even Buttercup would prefer SF to win the Series at home.  But what we prefer is at times irrelevant.  All we can do is wait and see.

And eat the peach and peace pie with great big spoons.  And cheer on the Giants to perhaps another World Series championship!

Manageable Chunks

That old adage about the best way to eat an elephant is true with most things; one bite at a time.  This morning I read Chapter 21 of The Hawk, bringing me up to page one hundred four.  That well over three hundred pages remain isn’t daunting, not in this read-through.  I’m just taking this part of the creative process one bite at a time.  But the last time I read through this novel, I had noted that the end of Chapter 21 might be a good place to break up the tale, if I later so chose to divvy up this story into more easily digestible pieces.

I have no idea in what form I will eventually present this novel, but at least if manageable chunks is my goal, page one hundred four is a good place to start.

Last night I returned to the Bestie Far Away quilt, eager to start hand-sewing the binding.  However, the last time I poked at this blanket, I had simply completed attaching the binding to the front.  That was last Thursday, the night the Giants clinched their place in the World Series, which begins this evening.  I’ve been preoccupied in the meantime, but eventually one returns to their normal tasks.  For me, that’s some form of writing, even if I’m not actually writing.  There’s also quilting, and watching sport.  But other issues have pulled me from my usual orbit, and while I’m happy to assist, when I return to my sphere, I have to do so in bits and pieces, otherwise find myself overwhelmed with all I want to do.

Stories and quilts and sport (amid laundry and cleaning and unpacking) call my name with the lure of a siren beseeching the sailor toward a dangerous shore. Thank goodness writing and sewing aren’t perilous vices, and my love for the Giants is fairly tame.   But I do feel pulled in more than a few directions, like if I had another three or four hands, not to mention more gray matter, so much more would be accomplished.  The quilt would already be bound, I’d be up to page two hundred ninety-six, and San Francisco would be up three games to one against Kansas City, eager take the Series at home.  All three of those notions would involve time travel, or some form of futuristic manipulation, for which I am very unpracticed.  All I can do is read one chapter at a time, sew the binding one side at a time, and watch baseball one inning after another (hoping Madison Bumgarner will continue to display his magic at stadiums far from home).

Usually I am content with my output, be it of words, stitches, full laundry baskets.  Maybe autumn stirs my heart to do do do…  It’s finally cooling off in Silicon Valley, and I want to start a crock pot of chili, as well as mop my kitchen, throw the sheets in the washer, write this post, read Chapter 22 of The Hawk, cut fabric for the next quilt, and about fifteen other items on my mental To Do list; I tend not to write all of those, because I am a firm believer in what needs to be accomplished will be accomplished.  But that doesn’t mean those things don’t whirl in my brain.  And I do scribble short lists, like groceries to buy (spuds and olives for potato salad, as well as bananas and almond milk), notes for The Hawk, quilt math.  Post-it notes are scattered throughout the house with information for upcoming comforters, but then I change my mind about how big to make said quilt, which makes that post-it note obsolete.  And sometimes I even recall I turned a fickle eye to those measurements.

Sometimes I forget.

This morning, when I finished Chapter 21, I wondered if I had yet reached that proposed breaking point; glancing at a post-it note to my left, why yes I had!  I had written this information the last time I read through this novel, during summer, right before I started working on it again in August.  I smile now, because I had noted pages 1-104, 104-204, 204-301…  Now it’s up to 473, hmmmm.  I guess as I continue reading (with no firm date set upon when I will next add to the story), I’ll find where the next appropriate break belongs, somewhere in the upper 300’s, maybe low 400’s, who knows?  And even when I find the right stopping point, might it be a moot point if when (not if if) I finish this tome, deciding to publish the sucker uninterrupted?

Questions for later dates, thank the lord!  But still I ponder these ideas, for these are the ideas that don’t go on a written list.  These queries linger in my subconscious like purchased fabrics attached to no firm quilt idea, bought mostly because the prints caught my eye, tugging on my heart.  It’s like living in the present while keeping one foot within an ethereal orbit, not quite like hoping for this or that, but maybe merely keeping an open mind.  Which might at times be like leaving the barn door open, letting the animals escape.  Or maybe it provides those without a home some shelter.  Yes, I like that notion much better.

In the meantime, I need to throw in a load of clothes, get to the store (potato salad isn’t going to fix itself), iron that binding.  That was what tripped me up last night; I iron the binding flush with the front of the quilt, which makes it easier to pull it around to the back for the hand-sewing.  More tasks than I can shake a stick at, but in manageable chunks, all will get sorted.  And as for the Giants…

All I can do there is sit on my sofa at five p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, with the thought of what will be will be.  And if it’s that Madison Bumgarner records several more scoreless innings, excellent!  I’ll stitch to strikes thrown, groundouts accumulated, perhaps a run or three coming from our sluggers.  It’s coming on late October, autumn has arrived.  Let the game, and everything else, begin!

Pins and Needles

Last night, as the Giants battled, then beat, the St. Louis Cardinals, I basted a quilt.  It was too nerve-wracking to actually watch San Francisco play, so instead I hunkered (or more rightly hid) in the grotto, securing the sandwich with safety and straight pins.  A little unconventional, but just how the Giants went about taking game four from the National League Central champs.  It very well could be a World Series of wild cards, what with Kansas City sweeping Baltimore yesterday.  Tonight, with our ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound, we SF fans will await if our place in baseball’s ultimate contest shall be cemented.

And meanwhile, I have a quilt to sew together.

I’m glad I have this project to occupy my time, or I would otherwise be fretting about baseball.  I’m not sure why I used both straight and safety pins, other than the straight pins make the safety pins go further, and they are easier to put in, although stabbing occurs.  I sported a bandage on my left index finger for much of the process, but no hobby is safe from injury, just ask Yadier Molina.

Finishing this quilt top a few days ago, amid the playoff races, was a huge thrill, for I had hoped the sashes would highlight the batiks.  I was very pleased with the result, much like I’m ever so chuffed with how the Giants have been playing; nothing overtly flashy, unless one appreciates the smaller aspects of baseball.  With few homers to their name, the Giants exemplify small ball, which the Royals used to defeat the mighty bats of Baltimore.  This quilt is colourful, perhaps that is its secret weapon.  Or maybe basting with straight and safety pins will prove useful when the actual quilting begins.

I’m not a superstitious seamstress, nor am I an irrational baseball fan.  I will endeavor to watch as much of tonight’s contest as possible, for it *could* be San Francisco’s final home game of 2014.  Nothing is a sure bet in sport; any given Sunday a football team can be beaten.  And as SF showed in 2012, a team down 3-1 could achieve the nearly impossible, taking the final three games.  That they did it against St. Louis looms large in all minds; retribution in the hearts of the Cardinals, hope for yet another trip to the World Series for the Giants.  I’m glad my pastimes are of a simpler sort, just sit at the machine and sew.  Sort of like sitting at the computer and writing, but with even less stress; I’ll employ a straight stitch, in the ditch, tacking these layers together.

Nothing fancy or imaginative, just getting it done.  Like my Giants; I just want them to git ‘er done!

The Writer Within Me

This morning I read two chapters of The Hawk.  While no time looms to manage any writing, reading isn’t difficult, other than reminding me how much I’d like to be writing.  I’d *LOVE* to be furthering this novel down the path, but at the moment, I barely have enough cognitive strength to type this blog entry.  I’m tired, mentally and a little physically too.  Right now, life is somewhat on the draining side.

But the writer inside me doesn’t seem to notice my outward fatigue.  The writer crosses her arms, taps her foot, and glowers.  Well, maybe she’s not glowering, but disappointment colours her entire mood: Why aren’t you writing, you nitwit?  You’re not that tired, I mean, you’re penning this ridiculous post and…

And enough already!  I’m pooped, maybe the last few road trips have caught up with me.  Road trips, quilts, novels, although I haven’t completed a first draft in a while.  I won’t hazard a guess as to when The Hawk will be in the can, too precarious an idea.  I do feel it *will* (at some point or other) be finished.  Yes, I will state that.  One day I will write The End to The Hawk.  But please don’t ask me when that day will be.

(If you asked my inner writer, she’d definitely glower and say, “Like tomorrow, okay?”)

What the inner writer doesn’t realize, bless her, is that while perhaps she’s ageless, I am not.  Today I’m feeling every single one of my forty-eight years, perhaps a few extra having snuck in when I wasn’t looking.  In reading over a couple of chapters, I was pleased for how well the prose flowed, occasionally wondering, as I sometimes do, did I actually write all that?  But it’s still the relative beginning of the book, and I’ve read and re-read those scenes more than a few times, the revisions apparent.  Maybe that is why my inner writer is heady with authorial excitement; she wants to expand on all those polished paragraphs.

(While the writer who does the actual work hedges, fully aware of how middling to lousy the ensuing chapters are at the end…)

Still, it’s encouraging to want to write; now if only I had the time!  Visiting with Dad this past weekend, however, reminds me that sometimes time needs to be made for itself.  Which is my roundabout way of telling my inner writer to be patient, while I recover from a road trip all the while preparing for another.  I’ll be away this weekend too, which will keep me from writing, and quilting.  Usually I don’t get too far from home, and when I do, it’s more of a one-off than the norm.  But 2014 is shaping up to be a year unlike any other, which means damn the torpedoes (and my increasing age), full speed ahead!  Quilts and books be darned, as the open road calls my name, but please let me take a moment to slip into my trainers.  If I drive with Birkenstocks on, my ankles get sore.

This probably makes my inner writer wring her hands as well; “Get on with it!” I’m sure she’s screaming.  Or as Dad would say, “Git ‘er done!”  I’d love to get her done when it comes to The Hawk, but I’m too far into it to just pick it up, scribble a few words, then set it down.  I need a stretch of uninterrupted days to write, which I am not going to get anytime soon.  And I’m also far enough into this book, as well as my writing career (for what that’s worth) not to compromise the story.  Reading over the initial chapters has shown me that yes, it’s a pretty damned fine book (if I might say so myself).  No way in the world do I want to throw it to the winds just to please one whiny inner writer.

Sort of how my daughter had to corral Buttercup this past weekend; she’d had the run of the beach, but my girl got sick and tired of chasing her, so out came the lead, followed by the saddest beagle/basset eyes this side of the Mississippi.  Buttercup looks a lot like my inner writer, two spoiled gals who are used to doing as they please.  But my inner muse needs to cool her jets; I’m not the same writer I was years ago.  I’m not the same woman either, what with quilting in the mix, or my dad who isn’t the same man he used to be.  We’re all changing, and best that we accept these alterations as gracefully as possible.  Getting one’s knickers in a twist is a waste of time, energy, and well, knickers.  I’ll write more of The Hawk when I am darned good and ready to.  And in the meantime, playoff baseball awaits.  Please Giants, don’t lose your NLCS home opener….


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