Stepping back into time….

Or am I?  Home from a week spent with my youngest daughter and her family, I’m battling a head cold, but am feeling strangely refreshed in a manner that will take me some time to reckon.  How much time?  Ah, here’s the distinction; not to get too metaphysical, but if instead of coming home I found myself eighty to one hundred years in the past, would time’s passage carry the same weight as what I experienced in the last seven days?

Dude, that’s a bit abstract for a hello I’m home post, but time is short (or is it?), and the sniffles have rendered me useless for much beyond sitting in front of my computer.  Thank goodness I didn’t feel this debilitated while hanging out with The Burrito; he would have ran circles around my sorry behind.

Hexie alert! The Burrito found these quite a delight, especially with the inclusion of fabric he chose….

Actually, I gave him plenty to ponder, introducing hexies to his world.  His world is one relatively free from time’s rules, perhaps his approach to time influenced my perception.  Or I was simply too busy to ponder a corporeal acceptance of hours, minutes, and seconds.  That certainly is true, but here I am back in Silicon Valley, and instead of feeling the usual displacement, readjustment seems wholly altered.

My grandson was over the moon with this superhero gorilla print. I took some home for a future quilt.

I was here, I left, I’ve come back, the resonance of time missed totally absent.  There was no pining to come home, I was completely rooted right where I was, living as if the next day wasn’t a consideration.  Occasionally I have noticed this sensation, but never has it been so pervasive.  And now, not quite an entire day back, I am still wrapped in a bubble of being here right NOW.  It’s a funny feeling to note, somewhat tied into writing; plotting a book set in another galaxy requires a fair knowledge of how that planet works (or more rightly how it contrasts from ours).  What if past, present, and future wasn’t a part of the lexicon, what if….

What if I had fallen back into 1918 instead of 2018, my smart phone not worth more than a paperweight, notifications only a black screen.  I could still quilt and write, but other than an old school calendar, how would I measure time?  Sunrises and sunsets would matter, but to-do lists could fall by the wayside.  Not that I was around back then, but I imagine folks were kept busy enough, sort of how I felt with a three-year-old under my watch, ha ha.  Did people in those days feel that time was squeezed, was there the sense we now seem to have of not enough time?

Maybe I was heavily influenced by my grandson’s grasp of time; falling under that spell, I surrendered to a childlike state which stripped away the usual boundaries.  While my activities are usually framed by a Spirit-led awareness, equally I am often hampered by a ticking clock.  Yet, if that caveat was eliminated, and granted, it’s an enormous stipulation, how much more might I accomplish?  I don’t merely mean items crossed off a list, books written, or quilts sewn.  Where the ethereal and corporeal zones meet seems to lessen time’s importance, or how strongly I am drawn to heed that ticking.  Not that I want to be forgetful or lazy, but I wish to embrace as fully as I can where I am RIGHT NOW.

Some morning artwork; the little pencils were just his size.

As a fairly organized person, I reveled not only in my grandson’s joys, but in how uncomplicated were those thrills.  While fully embracing my responsibilities, I wish to root myself deeply in the here and now, which currently means trying to wrap up this post so it makes sense.  Maybe I’m blowing a lot of hot air, but I can’t dismiss what I felt over the last several days, how I want to incorporate that into this day, as well as into a novel.  I certainly didn’t feel this way five years ago when pondering Haunted, perhaps that’s why it had to wait for now.  If nothing else, I’ve taken several key steps in a journey that continues to surprise as well as delight.  Last week I’ve might have closed this entry by saying, “And I can’t wait to see what happens next!”  Today I’m content with inhaling deeply, resting in the quiet bliss that comes merely by taking another blessed breath.

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Not so haunted….

Several weeks ago I was perusing this blog, for what reason I can’t recall today.  But I stumbled upon a post written over five years ago concerning the inner editor and a novel I wanted to write.  Then my husband played for me “Pay My Debts” by Sharon Van Etten.  As if those two elements were fated in the stars, I’ve been giving serious consideration to an idea that never went further than a blog entry, yet somehow was waiting for one rather ponderous hawk to move out of the road.

A table runner’s underside; I added ivory sashing to make it a wee bit wider.

And speaking of getting out of the way….  I’m heading off to help out at The Burrito’s house, where I hope to further consider a future WIP in addition to enjoying my nieto and his family.  I’ve completed the table runner for my eldest daughter, which came about as suddenly as how a five-year-old novelistic notion seems to have embedded itself firmly in my gray matter.  I’ve solved the issue of how to handle my squeamishness; just throw in some social issues, lol!

Working on hexies early this morning while my hubby slept in, wrangling a nasty cold. I took this shot long after I’d been basting, too dark to get a good photograph.

Now to figure out backstory, and not only for the main characters.  I’m going to set this tale in another galaxy, haven’t written sci-fi in ages.  (Magical Realism doesn’t count in my book, ha ha, and no, this doesn’t have to do with those Dorlinians.)  This will be a cross of the murder mystery/love story I had originally envisioned enhanced by topical commentary.  Those contemporary musings will override the more gory details, but I need to fill in the blanks only my imagination can solve.

Meanwhile, a completed table runner.  I machine quilted it yesterday, added the binding, then hand-sewed it last night while listening to the Warriors beat the Pelicans.

There’s a distinct pleasure in resurrecting an idea, especially when a surprise lifts the whole thing from half-baked haziness to something I can actually contemplate, sort of like the table runner that now only needs a good washing.  Placemats still linger on a quilt wall, but for whatever reason, this decorative item is finished.  Why do some projects hover on the sidelines while others burst forth as if fashioned by about eight other hands?  I was thinking about this over the last couple of days while this table runner went from a stack of scraps to rows on the quilt wall, then onto my ironing board, seams being pressed as flat as I could make them.  Will this new novel, currently entitled Haunted, come about just as easily?

Stepping out to do some pre-travel laundry, I was pleasantly met by a rush of fragrant roses and lilacs. They might not be so plentiful when I return, so I snapped this shot. If only I could capture the scents as well as the beauty….

I won’t know until at least July, no time to write, barely time to sew.  But I am clearing off my little quilt wall, those Southwestern shades dwindling in number.  As projects fall under the presser foot, fictional facts accumulate in my head, very much as how fabric adheres to batting, then gets switched around.  Post-it notes work well too, but I’m nowhere near ready to do more than mentally swap out the whys and wherefores.

The smallest amount of precipitation fell this morning, like powdered sugar dusting a delicious cookie. And the smell, oh my goodness. The memory will suffice when this rose is long gone.

Yet a necessary sense of direction now exists; I have a plan, as Little Miss likes to say.  And not only direction, but purpose, which previously this idea was lacking.  I like my melodrama with more than a touch of reality, magical or no.  Allegories are good for the soul, and when placed in outer space, any number of situations can be employed.  The less gory they are the better, in my opinion.  I wanted to write a bloodless thriller, okay.  Bring on Haunted; I’m not scared at all.

Hexies, a nieta, and superheroes

The Hulk vs scrap triangles….

Little Miss spent the weekend with her abuelo and me, days full of new discoveries.  At nearly three years old, my eldest grandgirl loves to play with stuffed animals, listen to stories, dig in the garden, and design with triangle scraps on the big quilt wall.  A trip to the park elicited plenty of discussion about squirrels that make Buttercup bark, plus we checked out fabric that will become a cover for her big girl blanket.

And the superheroes win….

Thankfully I remembered to prewash those prints, and will attempt to complete that project before her birthday at the end of the month.  And since she’s gone, so are the triangles that she happily laid over the wall.  She loves The Hulk, calls him the Big Green Guy.  Her duvet cover will be a mix of Marvel fabrics, with some princesses thrown in for good measure.

For good measure was sort of the theme of the weekend, as our usually quiet household became the domicile of a little girl.  She’s not a toddler anymore, inquisitive and imaginative with her own preferences, like for superheroes.  She even appreciates basketball, cheering when a bucket is made.  I’m looking forward to surprising her with this t-shirt on her birthday; it’s way too big, but could double as a nightgown until she grows into it.

Hexies are still popular in her little girl world.  Only this morning did I wonder how might unwashed fabric shrink on a prewashed t-shirt.  I’ll know soon enough, ahem.

Easier to affix than I thought, more in getting it centered correctly.

Not that I foresee myself doing much garment sewing; I don’t like patterns very well, or rather I’m bad at interpreting them.  I prefer winging it, lol, even if it means occasionally forgetting to wash fabrics until right before beginning a project.  I would have kicked myself had I constructed the cover, only then realizing what might have been a big mistake.

She liked sliding at the park.

Fortunately the only loss was a little time spent on ironing those fabrics, small potatoes in the long run.  Little Miss loved examining them after I took them from the dryer, then questioning me as I trimmed the frayed edges.  “Why that look like that Grandma?”  Hard to explain the difference between a selvage and where the fabric is cut, but I think I answered her sufficiently.

If you had asked me five years ago to predict what I’d be doing now, there’s no way I could have dreamed up this past weekend, but then isn’t that the beauty of life?  When I think to all that has occurred in the last half decade, these little slices are just as vital as the major events.  This past weekend is a huge portion of my granddaughter’s life, not that she’ll remember it, but the essence will remain; hexies and The Hulk, fabric and basketball and so many books enjoyed.  I told her that my grandparents had a huge vegetable garden, and at her age I sat amid rows of strawberries, eating to my heart’s content.  She’ll outgrow her pink hexie shirt, but I bet another will have been added to her wardrobe.  Maybe quilts aren’t the only reason I took up sewing.

An abuelo and his nieta keeping each other balanced.

I can list all the blankets I hope to make, or endlessly ponder various novel plots, but surprises proffer a necessary thrill.  I never dreamed The Hawk would be so encompassing, nor did I assume my dad’s quilt would lead to English paper piecing.  And even if I forget to prewash fabrics, the world won’t fall apart.  All part and parcel of the whole, which is far too awesome to shoehorn into my clothes dryer.

Fit for a Starship Captain (in training, of course….)

Washed and ready to be drooled on, the sure mark of a successful comforter.

Besides novels, other WIPs are wrapping up; I completed this baby quilt for Master Tiberius, and will deliver it perhaps today.  I’m very pleased for how well the quilting turned out, a mix of machine and hand sewing that took a little time to sort.

Solids and prints blend well, with a bright scrappy binding.

Occasionally I can eyeball measurements with the best of them; I used an old fashioned ruler to space the machine sewn rows along the top two thirds, then hand-quilted between those diagonal lines.

I don’t have much of this galaxy print left, but boy I had fun hand quilting around the planets.

The galaxy was quilted mostly by hand, although I did run two wavy lines along it with my machine.  If Tibby’s folks aren’t into a space theme, they can use this later on when Master Tiberius gets to crawling.  It’s wider than my usual baby quilts, as I didn’t want to sacrifice that galaxy print, it’s just too adorable.

Because I used the galaxy print’s entire width, I needed to add a long scrap to the side for the backing. Thankfully I had some of the flannel alphabet print in the scrap pile.

Without having to write, I took the time yesterday to sew up some of the remaining Southwestern placemats for my eldest, even managed to get three basted for machine quilting, perhaps a task for later today.  I would love to clear out some of these projects, mostly because others are calling my name.  In that regard, quilting and writing are no different, more plans for both than I have sense.

This quilt will be enjoyed more in autumn and winter due to its size and snuggly nature. And it’s long enough to last for many years, and starship travels, in Tibby’s future.

Yet I don’t lament those dreams, even if some (or many, let’s not kid myself) come to naught.  Maybe I spent four and a half years on one story, but heaps of quilts came to life during that time, not to mention all the grandchildren adventures, or coming to terms with my father’s death.  I still frame my life’s accomplishments along the decades; having kids in my twenties, raising them in my thirties, learning to write in my forties.  My fifties could be coined enjoying grandmotherly spoils, but so much weaves in between those ten-year spans, more of a mosaic than set boundaries can contain.

And one more shot of this rosebush. I am just in awe of how well it has bloomed, hehehe….

However it goes, a few things are certain, or relatively so; novelistic notions wind alongside yards of fabric, creating a vibrant template that satisfies my crafting nature.  As for the nietos?  Who knew I would be so blessed while still young enough to crawl around on the floor with them, ha ha!  I hope to share my creative energies as the years pass, then watch as they incorporate those passions into their lives.  Little Miss loves her hexies, and who knows?  There could be an author among them too.  Time will tell, and here it is, the beginning of May!  I want to make the most of each moment, appreciating all aspects of whatever this decade has in store.

Living in a post-Hawk world….

Well, a post-writing The Hawk life; the last few mornings I have enjoyed that after a novel is done mood, which I have not known in ages.  It’s a liberated sense, in that nothing sits on my shoulders prosaically.  Of course, there is still laundry, grocery shopping, a shower to clean, ahem….  But the writer within me is taking a nap and doesn’t wish to be stirred until perhaps July.

The editor, however, has put on her hat, sharp pencils in her back pocket, an eager grin waiting to get busy.  And I will embrace the revising life, chapters read each day until again I locate The End.  But this work is less intense, in that the foundation is solid, if not in need of sweeping.  So many elements in writing a book.

And my husband was correct, in that another idea is screaming to be set across the virtual page; my overactive imagination is a blessing, but man it keeps me hopping.  Yet I’ve learned a few things from The Hawk, one being that I will never again publish a novel until I have actually finished it.  I mentioned that to my hubby, and he smiled, noting he would call me on it.  I said, “Yes please,” because there is a responsibility to the reader which cannot be ignored.  To me, beta releases are great, but only if a conclusion has been reached and not merely within this author’s gray matter.  Perhaps releasing The Hawk in sections as I finished them kept me going, but that was also a lot of inner pressure.  Definitely a major lesson learned.

The other takeaway is a far more gradual message I’m still wrapping my head around; I don’t write like I used to, which of course is good in that one strives to improve upon the craft.  However, when the words no longer fall like rain, a creeping sense of futility emerges, which if not qualified by how one’s life is altering might appear as writer’s block.  While I’m grateful to have started this gig once my kids were teens, now a little over a decade later, grandkids have wrested away some of my fictional thunder.  Okay, so has sewing, but for the foreseeable future, I’m an abuela before I’m an author.  In the battle of The Hawk vs The Burrito and Little Miss, a novel got its butt kicked all over the last four and a half years of my life.  But not all battles turn on one tide….

How could any tale top those smiles?

Nor do wee ones remain that way forever.  And that perhaps is the key issue I am grasping, yet not only in relation to adorable toddlers.  From 2007-2012 I churned out drafts, blithely expecting that would always be the case.  But life has a funny way of derailing assumptions, new paths waiting to be explored.  Grandkids and quilts will enhance my second decade of writing, seasoned by a hawk full of grace.  This isn’t merely a mantra to appease when time seems squeezed, but the honest truth.  Our existences aren’t static, we have to be brave when facing new challenges.  I have to believe, as I have said here before, that I will be given the necessary abilities, as well as the time, to master whatever task comes my way.  It’s up to me to humbly accept what gifts are set into my hands, as well as the moments in which to enjoy them.

And so comes The End….

In the front yard is my lilac bush, surrounded by roses. A fragrant spot, especially in spring.

At 3.38 p.m. PDT, I closed up my WIP, then saved it on the flash drive that sits on a desk next to the table upon which my computer lives.  The Hawk was finished in a manner much like it began, sort of innocuous, as if from a dream.

I just had to photograph this rose again; it has bloomed so beautifully. Sending love to Miss Cindy; these shots are for you my friend.

Actually, the idea for this book came to me during slumber, and within the novel it ends that way too, Lynne and Eric and….  I won’t spoil the conclusion; let me just say it’s a happy one, emerging over the last few days as though it was always meant to wrap up at the end of a month.  Six months and four years in the making, ahem, but who’s counting?

The back side of that plant, totally awesome….

Not me, not anymore.  Word counts and numbering chapters are over.  The Hawk is finito, oh my goodness!  Amid several baskets of laundry, grocery shopping, and my usual faffing about, I wrote a chapter, number 266 to be precise, a little over 3K in length.  This book started with Eric and Lynne, ends that way too.  Maybe that’s a spoiler, but I don’t care.

I’ve finished this novel, and yup, I’m over the moon.

Quickly I need to thank a few folks; Julie K. Rose has been in my proverbial writing corner for a helluva long time.  Honey, you are amazing, and I love you so!  Laura Bruno Lilly is a writing buddy, also a fellow quilter and (he)artist who connected with me through NANOWRIMO; giterdoneatlastpeace my friend.  There’s my awesome and growing family, to whom I am indebted and blessed by their love and support.  Friends from the ages have proffered their cheerleading ways, thanks more than I can say.  My husband is a saint, literally, ha ha.  He’s also my soulmate who makes this writing gig feasible, not to mention keeping me grounded.  And then there’s….

We call this rose Gracie; flanked by the peach tree to the left, a blueberry bush on the right, with a tall peach-coloured rose behind it, Gracie has to work hard to be noticed. She’s a beauty….

In this story, Christian faith starts out in the shadows, but as it has been within my life, so it builds within the fiction.  I am blessed beyond any amount of words by a Love that exceeds all levels I could dream, grace that soothes, peace that heals.  And divine inspiration that has allowed for this novel’s completion; believe me, there’s no way I could have done this on my own.  I was forty-seven when this story began, have gained, and lost, loved ones.  I’ve turned fifty, then fifty-one, and actually just celebrated another birthday, jeez Louise!  But now it’s all water under one heck of a Hawk-like bridge.

Last but not least are geraniums along the western side of the house. We have more in front, but these are worthy of a shout-out.

Before posting this entry, I want to say that regardless of how insurmountable a challenge may seem, if you feel called to it don’t despair.  As I’ve mentioned, there have been plenty of moments when I wanted to abandon this book, yet I KNEW eventually the impetus to continue would emerge.  Maybe that’s what I’ve learned from this experience, both in how long it has taken to write it, and how lengthy of a yarn I’ve spun.  There is no turning back from that to which we are called to do, merely the simple action of daily performing our duty, be it as a writer, a wife, a quilter, a mother, even an abuela.  Tomorrow I will celebrate my fifty-second year with the hubby, our daughters, the grandkids, and others so beloved.  And no small attention will be given to a novel that is now in the can.  A birthday and book party methinks, hehehe.  Oh yes, definitely time to celebrate.

Feeling a little numb….

Taken on Monday, this rose has a gorgeous fragrance. And plenty of buds just waiting to be enjoyed….

My lovely friend Laura Bruno Lilly tagged me in a challenge to provide three quotes in three days.  I have been trying to feel inspired, but just can’t find an appropriate quote.  However, writing has been a wily distraction; unbelievably, I may be as close to the end as is possible.  Perhaps on Friday I will actually complete The Hawk.

No scent on this bush, but I’m not bothered. I do like me some roses….

In the meantime, hehehe….  But really, that novel’s conclusion has sneaked up on me; recently I’ve written two chapters just like in the old days, although now it takes more than merely the morning to finish my thoughts.  Still, it’s a fantastic feeling, or rather, a numbing sensation; is this real or am I kidding myself?  The End, oh sure, uh-huh, right….  Good things come to those who wait rattled around in my brain, but when I looked it up, that phrase is attributed to a ketchup commercial, so I’m not actually going to employ it as my quote.  But dangit, truer words are rarely spoken.

Our apricot tree has a plethora of fruits, some of which I really should thin out, but I’ve been busy writing….

There have been numerous occasions during the construction of this saga where I have nearly given up, yet far within me lies a door behind which the stories dwell, and for whatever reason I’ve just kept knocking at it, unable to tear myself away.  Now it’s as though I am ready to step over that threshold, and the tangle of emotions are indeed overwhelming.  And if I feel this way with a chapter remaining, how the heck am I gonna be when it’s finished?

On Tuesday some of the buds had opened, akin to how quickly my novel’s conclusion has emerged. Maybe by the weekend this plant will be bursting with blooms!

Dude….  Instead I’m posting pictures of my garden, and in a couple of days we’ll see what happens.  If nothing else, I am almost done, which honestly seems unreal.  When it becomes the truth, I’ll post a note.  For now, enjoy however spring appears in your neck of the woods.  Good things do comes to those who persevere, lol.