200,000 plus….

Returning home from a week with my grandson, 200K popped up on my car’s odometer, sort of a parallel to my current life.  I certainly felt like I had over two hundred thousand miles on me, considering all that had happened in the previous six days.  My nieto is an active chap from as soon as he says good morning right up until it’s time for bed.  This abuela needs not only some physical down time, but mental recharging.  I’m just not as young as I used to be.

But beautiful memories lessen the distance that helped to accrue those 200K miles on my vehicle; The Burrito and I traveled into space, courtesy of his imagination and my (limited) knowledge of the solar system.  We fought fires, had puppet shows, drew snowmen, and battled the Fan Monster, which consisted of a box fan behind my bedroom door.  We called for Superman’s help, colored various Christmas-themed pictures, put away decorations, and read mountains of books.  Puddles were conquered, stained glass art created, mac and cheese cooked, and the sting was taken from nap and bed times, instead becoming an opportunity for him to ‘grow’.  When he woke, I asked if he’d grown, and he happily said oh yes, showing off his strong muscles.

Exploring puddles in the neighborhood, which includes a handy stick.

Of course, his nap on my last day was preceded by tears; saying goodbye isn’t easy.  Driving home, I considered our visit, also watching the miles tick away on the odometer.  Suddenly  200,000 appeared, my goodness!  I’ve had this car since we moved back, nearly eleven years, jeez….  It had just a little over 18K when we purchased it, and other than a failed cruise control, still runs very well.  It’s taken me on countless road trips, and God willing has another 100K left in the engine.  Goodness knows I hope many miles remain for me to traverse.

Many configurations of train tracks were laid, sparking more adventures…..

Coming home, I also pondered how much I like driving, the California girl in me, I suppose.  It’s strange to think we’ve been back in my home state nearly as long as we lived in England, good grief!  I’ll turn around one day and my eldest grandkids will be preteens, lol.  Time shifts so swiftly now, it’s as if eleven years is maybe one, 200,000 miles like a trek to visit my grandson.  It’s the middle of January already, Miss Em a month old!  The Burrito will be three in February, another consideration as I sped along freeways.  I traveled the same roads in 2015, right before his arrival, when my father was still living.  Dad’s been gone now going on those three years, but those of us remaining keep right on trucking.

Suffice to say, last week was full of deep truths as well as jovial play times.  Upon my return home, I was definitely knackered, also exceedingly grateful to have been a part of The Burrito’s life for several days.  Now at home, I can mull over those life lessons, made sweeter by memories that aren’t merely mine, but my grandson’s too.  What he’ll recall of these days is unknown, but maybe he’ll remember the feeling of love shared.  To me, that’s the best recollection of all….

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Another Wedding Quilt

Wrapping up one last project before I go, and it’s a beauty.  This quilt was originally meant for those who had lost their homes in the North Bay fires last autumn, but I sent two other quilts instead.  Then I learned a member of our church is getting married, so….  The low volume prints hearken to a wedding, and the plus signs signify all the positive vibes that matrimony brings to a relationship.  The biggest question with this project was whether or not I could get it done before I left to watch my grandson, painful hands in the fray.

My last post ended with me wondering how I would fill the rest of that day; turns out I spent much of it hand-quilting this comforter.  As I sewed, I listened to Kate Bush’s Aerial, which we have on LP; it was good to get up every few songs to flip the record, shaking out my hands as well.

I kept telling myself, “Next week you will do no other sewing.”  Not that keeping an eye on The Burrito is simple, ha ha, but it won’t involve anything remotely related to fabrics.  With each section finished, my giddiness rose, the sense of completion rising within me.  Kind of like how I feel when a novel is nearly done, a long-held breath aching to be released.

And then suddenly it’s over, the last square stitched through.  Well, it’s practically done, as there remains sewing around the perimeter, attaching the binding, then hand-sewing it to the back.  But those steps are brief in comparison to hand-quilting, although just when you think you are done….

Why double-checking is so important; how I forgot to complete that beige square escapes me, but I’m sure glad I inspected it thoroughly.

You’re not quite there.

Fully stitched and ready to go…..

But a few stitches and voila, it really was ready for the final touches.  And now it’s in my washing machine, truly one of the last steps.  Tomorrow I’ll give it to a young woman who will soon become a married lady, then I’ll drive north for a week of fun with my nearly three-year-old grandson.   My hands will covet the break, and while I’ll miss my better half, this is part of being a mother and grandmother.  And without my hubby, I wouldn’t be either of those, lol.

Three-week-old Miss Em from last night, photo courtesy of my husband….

Maybe that’s another reason making a wedding quilt is so awesome; regardless of any progeny resulting from a marriage, the sense of togetherness is reinforced day after day.  Families are made in all kinds of manners, from the largest to the smallest.  Inaugurating a life-long commitment to love and fidelity deserves a special quilt; thanks be to God for such blessings.

Wondering where this year will take me….

Hello 2018!  Yesterday we received rain after the driest December in thirty years, so January is starting off well.  I’ll be heading north at the end of the week, spending time with my grandson and his pop.  Tomorrow I’ll visit Little Miss and her sister, my eldest daughter and son-in-law too.  Oh and Buttercup, who is adjusting to life with another person in her household.  Familial ties will most likely be the theme of the next twelve months, although there’s no keeping a writer’s imagination stilled.

Off for a walk before raindrops intruded….  Little Miss makes sure that Miss Em has a pacifier handy at all times, ha ha ha….

Nor a quilter’s hands idle, although my right thumb has been achy as of late, making me wonder how much hand-quilting I’ll accomplish in 2018.  Then there’s an orphan binding which I uncovered a few days ago, with no clue for what it was meant to complete.  I sort of recall making it, I think….  Not often do I employ brown in my sewing, but here’s an espresso binding, waiting for a quilt to encase.  Is this a harbinger of other unfinished projects, dangling in the wind….

What in the world am I going to do with this?

Ahem, I certainly hope not, but honestly, The Hawk flits in and out of my mind, as has another tale with a complimentary playlist from ages ago.  I’ve been listening to those tunes while I hand-quilt, pondering a plot that while I won’t say seems destined to be written, definitely takes up space in my gray matter.  I’m not overly concerned; 2017 taught me to embrace the NOW, leaving LATER to sort itself out at a more appropriate time.

Yet, achy hands remind me that time is a precarious notion; I’m not getting younger, you know.  As my grandchildren age, so do I, ha ha, um, yeah.  Forgetting about a chocolate coloured binding doesn’t worry me, although now I feel slightly compelled to fashion a complimentary quilt top, or a set of placemats/mug rugs to give that binding a home.  Knowing that I’m leaving in a matter of days keeps me from embarking upon more than updating new calendars, sending off New Year’s cards instead of Christmas cards because we didn’t order them in time to arrive before the end of December, as well as adding to my packing list for a week away from home.  To put it bluntly, I’m in limbo right now, both mentally as well as projectarily, and it’s a funny state of mind to inhabit.

Yet, it’s also a beautiful place to be, sort of like where my youngest daughter is in the SoCal desert.  She might never be in that location again, but for the next ten days it’s home, living out of a tent, barely getting phone reception (but we’re very grateful that she does!), hiking around examining rocks.  This is part of her graduation requirement, plus she loves this kind of exploration.  I joke that I love not camping, but this girl adores it, plus rocks to study?  Dude, that’s her kind of heaven.  She’ll return full of stories and details, then prepare for another term of school.  Maybe January starts off the year, but perhaps it takes until February until 2018 truly dawns.

And speaking of daybreak, my youngest sent the above photo yesterday during the brief window while she had access to data.  Maybe I don’t want to live out of a tent, but this kind of morning is a priceless sort, and I’m putting it here for others to enjoy.  Also as a reminder that pleasure and purpose can be as exhilarating, also fleeting, as a sunrise.  I’m not going to squander time wondering if this book or that idea will come to fruition, nor why I crafted a dark brown quilt binding.  Instead I’ll complete this post, then make my next move, probably toward the kitchen for some breakfast, more coffee, then updating wall calendars.  After that, it’s anyone’s guess.  But uncertainty doesn’t need to be scary, it’s actually liberating.  I have enough tasks in my future already set in stone.  Today’s agenda is merely to inhale the peace, then share it however I’m able.  May that calm be yours too.

Considerations for 2018

Taken in summer, The Burrito and Little Miss explore a water table.

As this year fades away, January promises many adventures, the immediate being a week spent with The Burrito and his pop while my youngest is on a field camp expedition for school.  I’m looking forward to hanging with another limb on our family’s tree, then perhaps I’ll return filled with novelistic notions.  If nothing else, I’ll come back to sewing, although the exact nature of just what I’m making remains elusive.  But with a new machine and more gorgeous thread than sense, a quilt is probably calling my name.

These were a gift from a dear friend; what beauty could they create? I can’t wait to find out!

However, I am going to attempt a moratorium on buying fabric.  What???  But yes, this will be the year of using my stash, only purchasing the most essential items.  Thread certainly won’t be one of them, hehehe, and with six yards of batting tucked in a closet, I might get far into 2108 before pulling that trigger.  Other than gifts that come my way, I will try to eschew willy-nilly fabric purchases, God help me.  And believe me, I’ll need all the assistance I can muster.

Why make this choice?  A couple of reasons; one is that a few years back I tried a similar experiment with note cards and success was found.  Clearing a backlog of stationary felt good, then of course opened up the opportunity to choose new cards, but that’s not the only purpose behind this decision.  A couple of months ago I was inventorying my stash and took out what I’d bought on sale, but truly had no use for; it went to our church’s junk sale, making me reassess why I’d chosen it in the first place.  (It was kind of cute, as well as discounted, hmm….)

Since then, I’ve been pondering this proposition, and am at least willing to give it a go.  Not that I have projects lined up, other than a sleeping bag insert for my grandson.  Yet quilt ideas emerge at the drop of a hat.  This year, that hat’s going to be slapped with a use what you have label, and hopefully by next December my fabric collection will be greatly depleted.

Miss Em doesn’t require more than receiving blankets at this point….

In the meantime, I’m still hand-quilting this project, ruminating about what will happen for Eric, Lynne, and all those in Roseburg, as well as eager to see how another nieta shakes up our familia.  Mostly I’m grateful for a multitude of blessings, more than I can list here.  May the coming year bring you joy and peace.  See you in 2018!

Boxing Day Colours

An ivory tower flanks a variegated peony garden….

Ten years since we celebrated this holiday in the UK, it’s still Boxing Day within my immediate clan.  However, the visiting with relatives element has faded; now it’s about the hubby and myself enjoying some down time, as we spent yesterday with Miss Em and her crew.  Last night’s Christmas Doctor Who saw us off to bed, as if we still dwelled in Yorkshire, but truly those days feel like a different life, as if who I am now is another incarnation of a Gallifreyan, lol.  If nothing else, spools of gorgeous threads are a testament to how I have changed, if being an abuela wasn’t enough.  I also received pens, hearkening back to my writerly self, but sewing notions seem to rule the day.

Pastels a’plenty!

Yet, noveling thoughts brew in the background; nothing to do with The Hawk, alas, but those ideas keep the authorial flame alive.  Occasionally I wonder if plotlines pondered will amount to more than bits filling my head, but the fullness of these days won’t last forever.  I spent a lovely chunk of yesterday afternoon with Miss Em asleep on my chest, aware of how blessed were those minutes, also fleeting; she’s examining her world, not that she sees much, but it’s a thrill to marvel at her open eyes, wondering to what colour her rather dark irises will lighten.  These elements are the immediate parameters of my universe, as if in England I was a Fifth Doctor and am now The Tenth (I suppose David Tennant is my fave Doc).  Regeneration is a funny process, even for us humans.

Primary hues….

Currently I have no sewing projects on the docket, other than hand-quilting a wedding comforter.  I could review the most recently published section of The Hawk, but more pressing is cleaning my shower.  Some things never change, ahem, but many aspects of life are constantly evolving.  I am, even if it’s in a far slower manner than my grandkids, the pace of which is fine by me.  There’s more to consider, and to be thankful for, than time actually allows.  But in these paragraphs, I wish to capture just a sliver of the beauty, not merely in shades of cotton thread, but of how magical is simply realizing these gifts.  Loved ones and hobbies and years accrued all bound by grace, my goodness.  How magnificent are these days!

Miss Em, taking a pre-Christmas nap.

Best enjoyed while admiring a newborn, might I say….

Christmastime Joys

Lots to note this morning, from a new baby to a new quilt, lol!  How about the quilt first, then grandmotherly holiday musings from a most blessed heart.

This quilt is for a young woman who is like another daughter to me; who knew I’d end up with so many kids, ha ha!  I machine sewed this blanket on an early Christmas present, hee hee, which I’ll expound upon in the coming year once I truly have a feel for it.  Suffice to say it’s a wonder of a gift as well as perfect for a project that needed to come together quickly, and I’ll be giving it to that lovely lady sometime today.

It’s backed with a large piece I bought last year, as well as holiday fabrics I’ve had on hand; that’s another entry for future days, in that I’m pondering quite a resolution when it comes to purchasing fabric.  Again, I’ll get to that later.

I bound it in some Kona cotton, the exact names of which are long gone from my brain.  This past month has whizzed by, and I’m so grateful to have managed to complete this present.  With leftover squares, I sneaked in some Christmas placemats and coasters for my hubby and I to use, and I wonder if when I bring them out next year will I be reminded of how extraordinary was this month, waiting on Miss Em’s arrival.  This December has felt like something out a dream at times, what with balmy temps for much of it, and the incredible longing for a precious newcomer to join our family.  In a way this quilt is part of that process, binding another within our clan, in which there is always room for more.

Yours truly and Miss Em, two days old in this shot.

Now, let me just wax lyrically for a bit about Miss Em, Little Miss, and my time spent with them yesterday; my eldest wanted to do her holiday baking, and I was happy to offer assistance, which mostly meant running errands with Little Miss in the morning, then cuddling my newest granddaughter for much of the rest of the day.  She’s rather fantastic, if I do say so myself, and hardly fusses.  As my daughter and son-in-law began the baking process, I sat in the nearby dining room, admiring and giving tremendous thanks for their great joy, a healthy and snoozing baby, as well as a sleeping toddler who seems to have aged significantly in the past week.  Little Miss’ vocabulary has exploded, or is it merely in contrasting a tiny infant with a two and a half year old?

Regardless, many changes, all of them awesome, have provided me much food for thought, and as it’s nearly Christmas, the meanings are even sweeter, also quite profound.  Holiday tunes wafted from a chocolate-scented kitchen as well-loved treats were again recreated, newer recipes emerging too.  I reveled in being part of a new generation’s memories, even if right now those recollections are mostly mine.  Yet my eldest and her hubby own these thoughts too, and Little Miss and Miss Em will possess them vicariously through photos and our recounting this particular Christmas when a baby joined our family.

Miss Em and her besotted grandpa….

I mentioned to both my daughter and husband how a newborn does seem to alter Christmas a little, bringing home the event which sparks this celebration.  While newborns require lots of snuggles, those of us older need to give those cuddles not merely for an infant, but to share the purpose of Christ’s arrival; wrapping our arms around all we encounter, offering the physical manifestation of God’s love.  As babies grow, the embraces take different forms, as Little Miss helped with holiday baking.  While she constantly said ‘Me do it’, she was happy to allow some assistance, needing to be a part of her parents’ festive routine.  Some cookies were partaken of last night, but the bulk will be gifted to friends and neighbors, and I look forward to tales of Little Miss handing over goodie plates, wondering if she’ll mention her efforts.

Little Miss helps her daddy with the shortbread.

Christmas traditions vary widely, and soon enough celebrating Miss Em’s birthday will become part of our family’s staple.  I hope that over the years I am cognizant of some scrap from yesterday, but more I want to recall the immense joy of being near my beloveds at a most memorable time of year, which can be as simple as permitting the greatest love into our hearts, soft and vulnerable, and so needy.  God emerged into our world as a most helpless creature, aching for our assistance.  We love him in words of praise and prayers of thankfulness, but more in how we reach out to our brothers and sisters.  Sometimes it’s beyond easy, like snuggling a granddaughter.  Other times it’s in forgiving great wrongs, which might seem impossible.  Yet a baby was born to die to erase the sins of all the world; how massive was that cost to the heart of our Father in heaven?

Captured last night by her grandpa, Miss Em examines her world.

Amid the glow of a new baby is the realization of weightier considerations, stitched together by steadfast cords of unfathomable love.  Quilts and cookie plates are ways in which to show affection, cuddles are good too.  But best of all is allowing healing love into our hearts, followed by boundless mercy and infinite compassion.  These are the gifts our Saviour brings to us this Advent season, culminated in perfect peace on Christmas Day.  Our family might know some fussing, but ultimately Miss Em’s brief outbursts are merely to remind that she needs care, as do we all.  We are here to care and love one another; may your Christmas be full of joy, calm, and copious moments of TLC.

Welcome to Miss Em

Hello baby!

I have a new granddaughter!  Formerly known as Lil’ Sis, Miss Em arrived on Thursday, much to her parents’ delight, as well as the rest of us.  My daughter had been experiencing vision issues, and while an induction had been planned for this weekend, docs decided there was no need to wait.  I was hanging out with Little Miss while her mum was being checked out for the vision problem, then suddenly our clan was looking at a new member’s imminent arrival!  It’s one thing to sort of being prepared for a new baby, but when an induction is considered, adults assume that infant will land on our schedules.

Miss Em was in need of a little warming, but was soon swaddled and cuddled within grandparental arms.

Ha ha ha!  Miss Em has shown what happens when one’s assumes….

At home with Little Miss; precious girls….

However, she’s a relatively placid girl, beloved by all, especially her big sister, who is quite taken with her.  My youngest drove down with her family, and The Burrito found his new cousin very intriguing.  I’m reveling in the pleasures of a newborn, her safe and healthy landing two large blessings.  I’ve also pondered how different it is this time around; Miss Em is benefiting from our acquired expertise, as well as this abuela’s perspective, having been a grandma now for more than a few years.  My older nietos are their own persons, and while Miss Em is too, she’s also a blank slate if you will.  I can’t wait to observe how she develops, which will be influenced not only by parents and grandparents, but her sister and cousin.

Settled comfortably while her mum gets a bit of breakfast; can’t wait to see them later today.

Amid the happy busyness, I’ve been struck at how families develop; my son-in-law’s parents have been part of crew since our two kids said ‘I do’, those bonds woven more tightly due to years and grandkids.  Friends from far away have played meaningful roles by their love and interest, so many beautiful folks I am blessed to call my beloveds.  Miss Em is joining an expansive collective of which her role is currently low maintenance, but once she’s toddling about, her distinctiveness will enhance our group immeasurably.  Not to draw similarities to the Borg, but families are best established with a well-rounded array of members.  As Miss Em makes her small marks, her footprints will increase and flavour our own.  Resistance might be futile, but it’s not at all displeasing; I welcome my new granddaughter with open arms, copious snuggles, and bountiful hopes of what her future could hold, my own life enriched by her marvelous presence.  Hats off to Miss Em; glad to have you with us, sweetheart.