Never Say No to Part 13

Okay, so after all that ballyhooing about working on the last section of The Hawk, today I finished Part Twelve, without writing The End.  I’m not disappointed, nor overly shocked; if I’ve learned anything while writing novels, it’s that I’m never in charge as much I want to be.

This quilt will be five blocks wide, six blocks long, all trimmed to 11 1/2 inches.

That said, major changes to the story line aren’t on the horizon, although that too could be in error.  It’s just that the last few chapters have been leading up to some sort of shift, and suddenly this morning, whoop there it was.  Part Twelve is done, Part Thirteen looming in the future.

The current state of my sewing table….

The timing couldn’t be better; we’re going away on holiday soon.  And I’m still planning to complete this novel before the end of the year, with the added impetus that Little Miss will be getting a baby sister in December and if I don’t wrap up this story by then, no telling when I’ll get time to do so before la nieta numero dos is two herself.  Exciting times for our family in the months ahead, and I am so hoping one of those joys will be that this grandma can say The Hawk is finito!

Blocks waiting to be sewn, as well as The Burrito’s handiwork at the bottom of the wall….

In other ongoing sagas….  I’m making a wedding quilt for friends of youngest daughter, and wanted to use this pattern I found on Wombat Quilts.  It was fun cutting the fabrics, but I’m hoping to find more low volume prints in colours other than white on vacation.  I have twelve (hmm, there’s that number again….) blocks completed, three more on the wall, but I’d love to mix it up for the remaining fifteen.  This is definitely a project I’ll do again, so unused squares can be set aside for future needs.  I’m still handsewing the gingham blue quilt, more irons in the fire than I can sort.  A baby quilt for nieta #2 however isn’t one of them.  I have a blanket already waiting for that girl, as well as burp cloths made just for her.  She’ll have plenty of hand-me-downs from her big sister, but special keepsakes are necessary, even if only for wiping baby spit.  Looking forward to that joy once again, all the more reason to get The Hawk in the can.  Part Thirteen will commence upon my return, as will quilting and blogging.  In the meantime, enjoy August, and stay cool….

Pondering the slippage of time….

Little Miss shows me the finer points of digging in the dirt.

It’s been a busy time, but then perhaps that’s just how my life currently is; between grandkids, words, fabrics, etc, blogging has fallen to the wayside.  I’ve considered writing a post, then my attention is focused elsewhere.  Not that I’m complaining, merely noting that August is around the corner, 2017 halfway over.

There’s much on my mind, and truthfully nothing takes precedence over another topic.  When writing, I’m fully immersed in The Hawk.  While sewing I’m pondering the next project.  When entertaining grandchildren, I’m reminded at how fleeting are these days; The Burrito and Little Miss are quite a pair of two-year-olds, but weren’t they just babies?  Yes and no, which is basically how life actually is.  We think a particular moment will last forever, but suddenly another presents itself, and what felt so permanent is merely a memory.  I wonder if in ages past, did people feel time slip so quickly, or did the lack of manners of documentation free those folks to revel right where they were, permitting them to fully grasp all that was within their scope.  Granted, much of that was hard work, physical labor that many nowadays partake of as a hobby, which is a huge luxury.  Still, I’m curious, able to free up my time with appliances I probably take for granted that my great-grandmothers and their grandmothers would have killed for.

In the old days, who had time to blog?  Sewing wasn’t for personal pleasure, but to make sure no one went indecent or froze to death.  Looking after wee ones was part of raising a family, as families weren’t spread out as they are now.  And writing fiction?  Only for dreamers or those with wealth, or a patron or two.  But time does pass with speed, blurring the lines of what was and what is and 1950 is now nearly seventy years ago, what?  Recently my husband acquired some CDs of Hank Snow and the Louvin Brothers, those recordings all from the fifties.  Yes, the tunes do sound dated, but when my hubby and I were little, that decade had merely just come and gone.  But we’re not young anymore, ahem, and neither are those songs, the men who sung them all now dead.  Would they have blogged about their careers, could they have imagined social media even?

When I have a minute, like I do now, these queries cause me to, well, take a moment to write up an entry.  A little introspection is a good thing, putting into perspective all the blessings of my life and how that life is shaped by what happens today, memories accumulating at a rate that at times makes me tremble.  The brevity of my corporeal existence, even if I live to be one hundred, is staggering, and no amount of novels written, quilts pieced, or even grandkids loved will lengthen my days.  Well, being happy will probably tack on precious months or years, however what occurs during those days is what lasts in kindnesses shown, other lives benefiting.  Perhaps these musings are the results of my own aging process, but I’m thankful for the awareness of how precious is my life and what I’m able to accomplish within it.  This day is a gift; make yours just as beautiful and significant in your own way.

The Glass Is Half Full

So I have come to the realization that perhaps for the remainder of The Hawk, and maybe the rest of my writing life, a full chapter a day just isn’t gonna happen.  Today’s distraction was tennis, and okay, the fifth set between Rafael Nadal and Gilles Muller was one to relish, regardless of which man you wanted to progress at Wimbledon.  But I was bothered well before those chaps reached that fifth set, continuing to look away from the manuscript to check how Johanna Konta was doing against Caroline Garcia, Andy Murray vs. Benoit Paire, and other great Manic Monday contests.  Finally around ten thirty this morning, Pacific Daylight Time, I gave up on the written work, settling on the sofa with an early lunch, wondering if Nadal was going to fight his way out of an initial two-sets down to love hole.  The next couple of hours were well worth my time, although I’m sure Nadal wishes the result was different.  Muller goes on to face Marin Cilic while I admit a small defeat of sorts, with a greater victory looming.  Half a chapter produced today is better than no words at all.

Over halfway done is this quilt top, a buffalo check pattern that seems more like gingham.

Returning to writing has been a challenge, but instead of throwing up my hands and stalking off the court, I’m going to dig deep into what might be a longer five-setter than the Isner/Mahut match back in 2010 at the All England Club.  It’s a matter of mind over matter, in that four years ago when I started this book I was still in my forties, wasn’t yet an abuela, ’nuff said.  I can’t qualify how aging has affected my skills other than to say the inner stamina seems to be lacking, and it’s not merely tennis upon which to place blame.  It simply is, and whining about it won’t make me write more.  Acceptance is better than moping.

For today’s work, I had to scroll through the MS to clarify some facts; in skimming through paragraphs I couldn’t help but recall how easily those previous chapters had fallen from my brain onto the document, and briefly I felt the tiniest bit…displeased.  Yet, after tennis was over for the day, I returned to my PC, read over what I had managed, added a bit more, and called it done, for now.  Tomorrow (hopefully) I’ll tack on another scene, then see what happens on Thursday, as I’ll be visiting with Little Miss and her mama on Wednesday.  Other delights have crowded out noveling, but life never stays still.  Roger Federer has reached his 50th Grand Slam quarterfinal by beating Grigor Dimitrov, while Venus Williams will play Jelena Ostapenko, who was three years old when Venus won her first Ladies’ Singles Championship.  And here I am, still scribbling away on The Hawk, although I think I’ll finish it before Little Miss is Venus’ age.

Notice how much width is lost once the sewing commences; it’s still going to be a good-sized comforter, but not too big.

I’ve learned many things while writing this novel, some personal, some professional.  Perhaps now I’m grasping the most necessary lesson, that of patience.  I can’t rush this story, but I can and should be grateful for the words that do emerge.  Every day I write is like another tennis match completed, some for wins, some of losses, but all with purpose.  Of course, the defeats are difficult to face, but each experience is meaningful, sort of like the current WIP on my quilt wall.  I had high expectations for it, and while I do like it, I’m not certain I’d try this style again.  More on that soon enough, as for now sewing awaits as well as mulling over how today’s chapter will end tomorrow.

The glass is half full, up to me to choose the rest of the contents.

Slow Progress (But better than none at all…)

I finally finished sewing this one, and have since basted it. Currently it lives on the back of our couch, where every few nights I hand-quilt a diagonal row or two….

Sometimes life feels to creep along, or parts of life; while it’s already July, I’m making little headway on The Hawk, although sewing has increased.  Recently I copied photos from my phone onto my PC; five months worth of shots confirmed that yes I’d been a busy woman, just not in producing words.  That assuaged my sense of slight futility regarding writing, reminding me that currently my focus is on family, not fiction.  Or it was this past spring, and as summer speeds along again my kids and grandkids are taking center stage.  Yet, I also have to remember that I have gotten back on the writing train, albeit at a snail’s pace.  And if that pace meanders through autumn, okay.  Just take a deep breath and find another little project to quilt.

This was going to be a mug rug for our coffee table, then The Burrito visited, helping me machine sew the binding. Now it will be for him to use however he best sees fit.

Since I write (when I write) solely in the mornings, afternoons and evenings are free for fabrics, so I’ve been taking advantage of being at home, unlike how I seemed to be anywhere but earlier this year.  Maybe it’s as if all the words I want to write are vicariously translated via stitches; colours are scenes, building into chapters big and little.  The urge to create isn’t occurring at my computer, so I’ve set up shop elsewhere, even doing a little hand-quilting in the backyard.  Today however I started sewing rows for a big quilt, which I’ll detail in a future post.  For now, here’s a little sample of what suffices while The Hawk percolates in my gray matter.

Something for my hubby using leftover squares from the quilt WIP. I love these fabrics, and was so pleased to keep a few to enjoy.

Ah, The Hawk….  The other night I told my husband that a part of me doesn’t mind this drawn-out process, for I will never write this book again, in the initial drafting of a novel manner.  I truly felt that this afternoon as I pressed seams for the quilt WIP, finding joy at my ironing board, also beauty in this nowhere near done project.  I took three shots, just for this post, capturing one small moment in this quilt’s creation, sort of like documenting a paragraph within a book; it will be buffered by earlier scenes and later revelations, but within several sentences might emerge a beauty that later is encompassed within a greater whole.  The rows I sewed today while watching Wimbledon will simply be attached to other rows, then basted, quilted, bound, then given away and I’ll rarely visit that quilt again.  Books are the same; after being published I hardly return to them.  Recently it was brought to my attention how life is this moment right NOW, this post, this phrase.  Then it flows to the next and….

Pressing seams is very therapeutic, allowing me to once again admire fabrics but from a different perspective….

And yet right now is this small gorgeous slice of wonder, of a few words, of snippets of song.  It’s brown rice I just started in the cooker for dinner, it’s summer blue sky and blowy trees I see outside the window, it’s a quick glance to my right where those two sewn rows await another, which sits in a stack beside my machine, perhaps a task I’ll attend to once this post is finished.  It’s blues and low volume fabrics and a red tomato pincushion and by the end of the day this moment will be something else entirely.  Such is the nature of life.

Maybe I like the symmetry, hmmm….

Yet for how fleeting that all sounds, I think it’s beneficial to note the small bits, or the slow writing bits, for all these seemingly inconsequential steps build upon one another, then a quilt or book is done, dinner made, moments accrued into another day of my life.  And even if I didn’t write today, there’s tomorrow, or Saturday, or whenever I next sit at this computer to type out more than a blog entry.  And that is perfectly wonderful!  There’s no rush, what I keep reminding myself, ahem.  Maybe a post like this is merely to reinforce that leisurely notion; there is no rush.  What will be, will be.

I want to inhale that, wrap it around myself, comforting my eager authorial heart.  And in the meantime, pretty projects are tangible signs of my creativity.  What a blessing that is, both in the desire and ability.

Thirty Years


Been waiting to write this post, and now that June is nearly over, it’s time.  Thirty years ago this month I met my husband.

But that’s not the end of the story, hehehe.  Lately he and I have been mentioning this to one another: Hey baby, thirty years.  Three decades.  Happy Anniversary (even if we married in February).  Thirty years is a long time, and in part we’re congratulating each other for sticking it out.  But the here and now isn’t merely what we’re celebrating.  It’s also the way back then, which led us to today.

Way back then I’d just turned twenty-one, he was twenty-two.  Way back then he was trying to figure out a way to graduate college while I had just moved out and was reveling in freedom.  Way back then I possessed a host of issues while he was a rare sort to experience heartache.  Way back then….  We were different people to whom we are now, but under all those differences and layers were a couple of souls meant for one another.  It hasn’t always been easy, but every day it’s worth it.

He is why I write love stories, and family saga, ha ha.  He is my best friend, my lover, my life partner, my buddy.  He’s father to my children, grandpa to the nietos, the Bob Dylan to my Michael Stipe; what???  Of course we diverge on a few paths, I’d not love him if he was my exact doppelganger.  But we finish each other’s sentences, start each other’s dialogues, and I truly hope I don’t outlive him.  While we’re together, I try to make the most of it, aware not everyone gets thirty years.

Thirty years feels like a big hurdle crossed, although I didn’t skin my knees to get over it.  Thirty years stands as a demarcation of great joys, some heartaches, a few peace negotiations, and endless comfort.  It’s also a window to the future; will we get another thirty, twenty, ten even?  It’s like being in the middle of my corporeal life with him, whether we live to eighty or not.  We started in our twenties, and now our fifties is the smack-dab center of who we are.  Reaching grandparenthood is a part of it, but we’re young enough to recall our own toddlers, and if someday we entertain great-grandkids by our mere presence, well then the true end is in sight.

But before I get to whatever remains, I’m happy right were I am, in the here and now and thirty years.  I dedicate this post to my hubby, as I dedicate just about all my books.  Without him I can’t even fathom where I’d be, yet with him I have accomplished outstanding feats.  Blessings abound with this fella in my life, and I give thanks to God for all these years, and those to come.

Squeezing in words (and peace) amid the sunshine….

June 2016 on Father’s Day; my daughters, The Burrito and I accompanied my husband to an East Bay park, where it was very hot (although not quite as warm as the last few days….). All pics from that outing.

A heat wave has hit California, and won’t truly abate until the weekend.  Right now Silicon Valley is enjoying a little lull, if you count the upper 90s as relief, but compared to the 106 F at our house on Sunday, I’ll take it.  Yesterday I meant to write, but a walk required my focus, and by the time I sat at my computer, the heat had sapped all my mental energy.  Today I compromised, pounding out two-thirds of a chapter, then walking for a mile and a half.  Turns out those 1700 words will be a chapter all their own, and I’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Despite the hot temps, I’m firmly engaged with my return to writing, breaks be darned as well as the blistering heat.  The next few months are relatively open for the flow of prose, and my desire to complete this novel will push me through whatever hurdles loiter on the horizon.  Other stories I ache to tell are further fuel, but alongside this journey is another that while running parallel tells a different tale; I am not the writer I used to be.

Sometimes my writing path feels that desolate, and of course indistinguishable….

Of course, some of that is good news; thinking back to ten years ago, when I made the decision to pursue writing, I was such a novice, oh my goodness.  Not only was I mediocre, my grasp of the business side of writing was nil.  That business side has altered radically in the past decade, as have my goals, as well as the quality of my output.  The quantity has changed too; I used to knock off a first draft in thirty days, thanks to National Novel Writing Month.  But when I consider those drafts, their purpose was to start the aching process of learning to produce fiction, or most of them.  I published a few, but the bulk are filed away on my PC and in flash drives.  Just thinking about them reminds me how I have grown as an author.

But as I’ve previously noted here, time has become a precious commodity in regards to the words.  However, what I do write now needs less work than in years past, so that’s a win.  Except that this book seems endless, sigh.  But I will finish it, because I’m nearly there and nothing pressing is scheduled for the immediate future, go me!  Although one can never predict the future, meh.  But in not being able to predict the future, I can boldly go forward assuming The Hawk will find its end, yay!  But you know what happens when you assume something.

(Ass out of you and me….)

Okay, okay, enough internal bickering.  I’m starting to sound like my grandson, who had a philosophical argument with his mum this morning, or what a two and a half year old can muster: Trash?  Yes, trash.  Trash??  Yes sweetheart, trash.  Trash???  OMG yes, put that in the trash!  Trash????  Mum then points to the garbage while The Burrito hollers about trash and hammers and so it goes.  I’ve put a lot of writing into the metaphorical rubbish bin, but what remains tells me that yes, I am a writer, I will always be a writer, but right now writing has to step down, or I need to step away, maybe find a hammer, then pound at imaginary nails alongside wee ones who need me more than I need fiction.  Dude, seriously?  Um, yeah.  Trash, Grandma (or Bama, as my nieto calls me as he has a hard time with the letter G).  Finish this book Bama, then find something else to do.

Then to my joyful relief, a trail appears!

But it’s not easy prying my mind from this tasking; my hands are much easier to fill, either with grandkids or fabrics or laundry baskets.  Yet my heart beats in spinning yarns; I listen to old playlists connected to plots and I want to write that novel.  I’ll read something and mentally fashion my own take on it.  A picture appears on my screensaver and I want to tell that tale.  What keeps me from losing my cool, especially in this sweltering heat?  It’s an inner voice, asking me to trust.  Trust that time will provide for The End’s.  Trust that chapters will be the perfect length.  Trust that if and when other books are to be written they most certainly shall be started, and finished!  Trust that in letting go of my assumptions, no one will feel awkward or let down, least of all myself.  Perhaps I should be more worked-up about all this, but in becoming a little anxious, I’m enabled to once again search for peace within my soul; for me that means taking deep breaths, giving thanks for being able to write even this post, realizing how far I’ve been graced to go in the last ten years on this authorial roadway.  I’ve been writing for over ten years, been indie publishing for nearly six, and truthfully there is no end in sight, other than The End for the WIP.  Yeah, one of these days (please God let it be sometime this year) The Hawk will find its way into the Done pile.

Welcome trees and shade make the heat seem not so brutal, how I feel after much needed prayer.

In the meantime, I’ll keep cool both inside my house as well as within my heart.  Not in my own strength certainly, but due to Love.  May that calm be with you today.

161 Medium Blue Squares

I’m in the middle of cutting fabric for a quilt, also back to writing The Hawk.  The last two days I’ve tackled those tasks, better for the fabrics this evening, while the writing has been…  Let’s just say it’s been, although today was somewhat easier.  I’m very happy, also relieved, to again be working on that novel beyond revising.  But right now I’m battling the creaky, painful re-introductory session that won’t last more than is necessary.  No timetable set, let me just say, other than however long it takes my brain, hands, and imagination to coalesce.

Blues, low volumes, and some assorted navy fabrics waiting for me to finish the cutting….

But I wanted to note that sometimes projects take their own sweet time, ahem.  A couple of mornings ago, I sat under the Big Bright Quilt, admiring my handiwork.  I was suddenly struck by how similar writing The Hawk is to making that comforter; both sprung somewhat unexpectedly, grew to larger than I initially considered proportions, and at least for the quilt, was completed to my satisfaction.  I recalled squeezing blocks on my quilt wall, then laying out swathes of fabric for the back, sewing those together, basting the whole thing, then hand-quilting; jeez Louise!   It took the better part of a year to finish it, and while writing takes longer, I have to believe the completion aspect will eventually apply to my novel.

By hook or by crook and by a whole lotta chocolate, one day The Hawk will be done.

In the meantime…  Sweets aside, I’ll get back to the writing next week, off to see The Burrito and his folks for the weekend.  And to be perfectly honest, I need the break, which might sound odd, what with only getting two days under my belt.  Yet, I’m not as young as I used to be, and writing takes more from me, or at least jumping back into it needs to be approached calmly.  No use getting one’s knickers in a twist; my computer, the manuscript, and fabrics will be waiting for me when I return, and now, having made the leap, the only true break will be when I type The End.

That day is coming, no way for me to stop it.  And thank goodness for that, ha ha ha….