Time Marches On….

Changes have occurred, not as large as last year, but still on a scale to rock a few hills.  Our son moved out, so for the first time in six years, it’s simply the husband, me, quilts, sports, tunes….  Okay, it’s not a silent, empty residence, but it’s altered, in part that now the rooms shake with melodic reverberations from early in the morning.  There’s no one I need to be still for, once my hubby is out the door.  There’s no one here but me.

I haven’t been a stay at home mom for a long time; that ended when our youngest left for college.  But a year later, she and our son came home, and for five years that middle child lived with us, often in his own world, but sometimes engaged with ours.  He has Asperger’s, and while he’s on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum, it’s taken a while for him to stretch those wings and fly on his own.

Now that he has….  Jeez, it’s like he sat down with us for dinner every night, like he plopped onto the sofa for whatever game was televised, like he chatted with me from morning till night.  He did none of those things, yet we saw him every day.  Every day he was here, in our lives, not in a manner we imagined when he was little, but in a way as unique as he is.

And now he’s living hours away.  My goodness, that’s hard to believe.  It’s like accepting my grandkids aren’t babies anymore; Little Miss just turned one, and like her cousin, she’s fast on her feet, not waiting for the world to catch up with her.  She has a soft voice, unlike The Burrito, well, most of the time.  Sometimes she gives it up for a crowd, but at just twelve months, there’s much for her to learn.

The Burrito and Little Miss at her party; LM's other gran Mimi made that gorgeous dress, and this photo is also courtesy of Mimi.

The Burrito and Little Miss at her party; LM’s paternal gran Mimi made that gorgeous dress, and this photo is also courtesy of Mimi.

My husband and I never compared our kids when they were little; they were three very different souls, and while they still are, they’re no longer our babies.  I’m now the family facilitator, what I said at Little Miss’s party when the question was asked of how I spent my time.  A writer, quilter, familial organizer, which prompted a laugh, but thankfully I didn’t have to explain what being the mom of an adult autistic son entailed.  Or what it brought out of me over the years, whereas now the stillness around me parallels the quiet that roared over the last five years, but for one notion.

I truly am alone.

Not that I’m complaining, please don’t misconstrue.  I am so blessed to have these hours, utilized in a variety of manners, from keeping house to plying my passion for prose to sewing.  Grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel when I consider my….  It’s a job, unpaid but well compensated, and not merely in the books, blankets, and time spent with grandkids, or the hours I had with my dad.  It’s about embracing the life I have been given, sometimes with rough edges, knowing they are smoothed out by grace.  Occasionally my husband joked that our son was going along with us wherever we retired.  But no, he has another path to follow.  And mine, for now, remains here in Silicon Valley within a new domicile, although we haven’t had to up sticks.

A big wall waiting for my imagination, well, that and some spare batting from which to display fabrics....

A big wall waiting for my imagination, well, that and some spare batting from which to display fabrics….

But his room will undergo a few changes; we’ll paint, and I’m thinking light blue.  A second quilt wall will decorate the west wall, probably after the painting, or maybe not, hehehe.  While I could have used that large of a wall for my Big Bright Quilt, other projects will benefit from the elbow room, as well as the afternoon light.  My writing/sewing grotto will remain right where I’m sitting in it now, but having a little more design space is a delight.  And a good way to use that room when visitors (mainly grandbabies) aren’t visiting.

They are still babies, even if both are nimble on their toes.  And while our son tried giving us back his house key, we refused.  It’s still your home, we said, totally unaware of how strongly his absence would affect us.  As we drove away, having made sure he was fairly settled in his new digs, we both kept feeling he was at home, like he always…was.  He used to live here, but now he doesn’t.  I don’t need to leave a note, don’t have to buy pretzels or pizza ingredients or the occasional bag of gummy worms.  Well, I did buy one bag, as we’re off to see him this weekend, taking with us what didn’t fit in my car when he moved.  But grocery lists are altered, as well as my heart.  And my occupation.  I’m not a stay at home mom anymore.  I’m a writer, quilter, and a….

Hmmm….  I guess I need to let the dust settle and ponder that some.  Because not even family facilitator works.  All my kids are managing their own routines.  In the interim, I’ll get back to the projects at hand; mulling over Part Eleven of The Hawk (which I hope to be begin writing in a couple of weeks) and producing some potholders for one of my other kids.  As those come to fruition, maybe too will emerge a sense of who I am now, what with it just me, (novels) myself, (quilts) and I to amuse….

Big Bright Quilt Top

Sewing this project has been a lot like writing The Hawk; both have required faith and perseverance, while the sense of fulfillment waits for when each is finished.  Today I completed this quilt top, and while much remains for it to turn into a quilt, I had to write a bit about why it means so much.  And that as behind the scenes a novel is produced, how similar these processes are.

When sewing, it’s a matter of making sure pieces fit together.  Yesterday I fashioned the bottom row, big squares of fabrics used in this quilt, then edged with a sash of Kona Sprout.  I attached that section this afternoon, then photographed most of it after getting laundry off the clothesline.  About a foot of the quilt hangs out of sight; it’s a large piece, measuring about 80″ long, 76″ across at this stage.

I’d been toying with the notion of adding sashes along the perimeter, sort of tying up the whole kit’n’kaboodle.  A little math led me to believe I had enough fabric left to do just that, so I spent the rest of the afternoon cutting strips, sewing them together, ironing flat the seams, then pinning those long pieces to the sides, top, and bottom.  Lots of minutes were spent at my ironing board, during which time I listened to a most apropos band, called Quilt.

My fave tune currently is “Cowboys in the Void”.  This is from their 2011 album, also called Quilt.  My husband introduced me to this Boston band, and along with some Mozart, I had plenty of good music to keep me in the mood.

By a quarter after five, I pressed the last seams, then started some dinner for my hubby.  After we ate, he and our son held up the quilt top in the backyard so I could snap some pictures.  I hung it back on the line, then draped it over the sofa, while my husband watched the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder.  Now I’ll take a few days to ponder this quilt, The Hawk, and various other matters.  Next week I’ll make the back, then we’ll see how and where I baste this sucker.

It’s now a vast 85″ X 81″, and I’ll spend the summer hand-quilting it.  I wanted a blanket that I could wrap around myself, maybe one that the nietos will make forts with, or snuggle with me under its vibrant quilty goodness.

And best of all, its story is only beginning.  Once it’s perched over the back of the sofa, then the tales truly begin.

For now it’s folded on my sewing table, much like The Hawk is percolating in my gray matter.  About two parts remain for me to write, just a matter of knowing when the time is correct that the words will return.

For now, have a listen to “Cowboys in the Void” while I head into the living room, basketball and baseball on tap….

An easy-peasy little quilt top….

While I’m nearly done with the very big quilt top, I spent today fashioning a small one, in part that the big one was too large for the quilt wall, and I had to fold it, then put it elsewhere.  This morning the blank quilt wall looked bereft, so I pulled out some four-inch squares, cut a few more, and assembled what will be for a little boy, due soon.

Not within my family, let me say; it’s for a mum connected to my youngest, who has two daughters and is expecting a son.  I’ve already made quilts for those girls, and just needed a blank wall to design one for their impending little brother.  And what I found was just how rapidly patchwork lends itself to coming together.

This quilt top is nothing like the behemoth I’m still trying to complete, which of course parallels The Hawk, which hangs around my writing as if I’m never going to write The End.  Both of those e-nor-mo projects will one of these days go in the can, but in the meantime….

I needed something a little different.  Something easy, if you know what I mean.  And not having worked with squares for a year, boy, they are pretty mindless, once you get them on the wall.

But halfway through, I was struck by that element, how I didn’t have to think very hard to simply sew squares together, then attach those rows into a cohesive whole.   Not that I was bored, but….  I felt eased by the repetitive nature of it, also thankful it was just ten squares per row, ten rows in total.  After working improvisationally for a year, I couldn’t go back to merely doing patchwork.  But it was nice for a change.

Perhaps amid basketball playoffs and the Giants in Arizona tonight I’ll whip through what remains to be done; iron the flannel backing fabric, cut out some batting, baste it into a little quilt sandwich.  Or I’ll veg in front of the TV, hmmmm….  I’d like to hand-quilt this, but we’ll see how time permits.  I just feel very accomplished, maybe due to the more complicated projects that are too big for their britches.  Or quilt walls, whatever.

The Hawk, Part Eight

Last week I abruptly came to the end of writing another section of this saga, which means time to release yet another piece of this novel.  The way this tale is evolving is like no other I’ve written, which keeps me on my toes as well as providing necessary breaks in the work.  But the end is finally in sight, which also feels good.  One of these days I will complete this behemoth!

In the meantime, enjoy the latest slice of the pie, ha ha.  Plenty of references to that delicacy in The Hawk: Part Eight, which is available in all formats on Smashwords.

Being Thankful

It’s early May and spring is in full flush; roses in our front yard emit a beautiful fragrance while honeysuckle in the back reminds me of my youth.  I’m training one bush along the chain link on the eastern side of the house, while a lone sunflower heads northward.  I planted more than one seed there, but at least one survived.

Nine more struggle on the west side of the house, snails are eating them, poor babies.  Grass is still green, although we won’t water it, just sparing enough agua for the fruit trees, roses, and flowering bushes.  Oh, and for the apple tree my husband planted in our front yard a couple of years ago.  It sports tiny apples, sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb, but it makes him happy, so who am I to complain?

Truly, I can’t gripe about anything, and that is made more profound by the spate of misfortunes suffered by those in our circle.  Two cases of cancer, the death of good friends’ adult child, lingering injuries to another from a car accident which occurred last year; these aren’t just coming in threes, but en masse, and I’ve been offering prayers of condolence and healing through the roof.  As I sat at my desk, staring at story notes, the simplicity felt like a slap; paper clips and flash drives, stationary and post-it notes clutter a somewhat organized work space.  But for those in turmoil, nothing appears normal.

I recall those days from last year, when Dad was sick and my youngest was a new mom and my eldest was awaiting her baby.  Little Miss is coming on a year old, while The Burrito is almost fifteen months.  I was graced to soothe the loss of my father with those wee ones, but no such luxuries exist for those who are now enduring hardship, which makes my prayers important.  Peace is often the most essential element required.

Two little ones for whom I am exceedingly thankful!

Two little ones for whom I am so thankful!

As my faith moves along its own little road, I grasp more and more to it, for life’s storms don’t pay attention to weather forecasts, but rush in as they please, rocking foundations that might just be newly laid.  A good year past Dad’s death, I’m in a fairly productive groove, continuing with The Hawk, sewing here and there, even finding time to nurture some ragged looking sunflowers.  All of that seems a very long ways from this time in 2015 when I was trying to find my footing in a post-Dad world, the New Normal as my sister put it.  But as I wrote to the mom of the daughter still struggling to regain her physical health after being in a head-on collision, their lives haven’t merely hit a hurdle or detour.  A new roadway has been formed, and all of them are taking steps along that altered horizon.  Those sorts of paths are never anticipated, and the changes can be utterly disconcerting.

Which brings me back to being thankful, also peaceful, not easy tasks, I will admit.  But there is so much in this life to rattle our peace of mind, calamities notwithstanding, that peace of mind is vital to our own health, physical, mental, and emotional.  Having turned fifty, ahem, aches and pains seem to have increased as if my body knew that milestone had been reached.  Well fine, I say to myself, I’ll drink those eight glasses of water each day, lay off the donuts, increase the steps on the pedometer.  But just as important are the less tangible efforts to maintaining serenity, passing it along where I can, and lately I feel that occurs on a daily basis.  Yet that too is something for which to be thankful, that in the minor frets of my life, like snails chomping on hapless sunflower plants, I can stay grounded in the goodness that is 99% of the rest of my day, backaches aside.  For even in the darkest moments, good purposes remain.  The darkness reminds me how bright are the sunny days, and when they return, how blessed I am for them.

Which then enables me to rejoice with those who rejoice and more vitally, to mourn with and console those in dire need.  That ability is not of my own making, but grace freely given, and gladly accepted.  It’s a circle, which becomes stronger through the sorrows and the joys.  It’s being thankful for all things, regardless how they appear, even snails, ugg.  Yes, snails need their due.  Not sure why, but I won’t ponder that.  My hubby can sort them out, for which I am also exceedingly thankful.

Building a Big Quilt

This shot was taken by my husband, the rest by yours truly....

This shot was taken by my husband, the rest by yours truly….

I suppose this is like writing The Hawk, but much less time is necessary.  I’ve been working on this since February, taking several breaks throughout March.  Now I feel it’s time to get moving, not that I’m planning on using this for months, although it’s been cool lately, small storms blowing through.

This will be for autumn when I’m feeling like wrapping around myself a large colourful blanket.  Still not sure if I’ll back it with cotton or flannel, but the top is coming together.

Initially I made small blocks, then added some together to fashion a few large ones.

Initially I made small blocks, then added some together to fashion a few large ones.

What I want to accomplish with this quilt is shade and size.  Depth and lightness.  A quilt encompassing but broken in stages.  I’m thinking a very light pinkish-red for sashing, maybe a couple of different hues to bring all these random blocks together.

This is the biggest single piece, for now...

This is the biggest single piece, for now…

I’m thinking nothing fall-like in shades, I’m thinking how wonderful it will be to drape myself in this decadently vibrant creation.

And I’m thinking of hand-quilting this baby once it gets to that point.  I’ll recline under it in the summer evenings while watching baseball as stitches are weaved through three layers, bringing all this sewing into one cohesive piece.

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Some log cabin blocks have been made; I love sewing these blocks!

I love walking into the sewing/writing grotto and spying this on the quilt wall.  I love peeking at the assembled fabrics that gather on the table to my right, waiting to be made into yet one more block.

Every time I turn around while writing, these collections of colour fill the available space.  To the left I’ll add another row of blocks, one of these days.

Maybe it’s a lot like writing The Hawk, of which Part Ten is underway.  It’s slow-going though, unlike the last few sections which have flown from my brain like no time remains.

Lately that mood has been for the sewing.  I don’t mind; all things in their own good time, be they fabrics or fowl-themed novels.

A Peek at the Beach

All pics taken today at The Hook in Capitola.

All pics taken today at The Hook in Capitola.

Before I started sewing, I went to the beach.  I have more photos of the Pacific from The Hook in Capitola than is good for me.  And again I’ve added to that collection, a few more snapped on a pleasant sunny California day.  I brought along a friend, who is nearing the end of her visit.  We’ve had a lovely week together, capped off by this excursion to the ocean.

As I strolled, peering down at the changing waves, I considered the alterations since I last trekked about this stretch.  It was New Year’s Eve 2013 or New Year’s Day 2014; so much has occurred since that rather brisk end of year/beginning of another as the sun rose, signaling another day, but so much beyond that.  Dad was alive, no sewing going on, The Hawk in its infancy.  No grandkids either might I add, and fifty loomed in the distance.  Now that’s on the cusp as well as nearly a year since my father died; how funny are all the parts that converge as time passes.

But the ocean keeps ebbing and flowing, one of my favourite parts of observing it.  It never stops regardless of what is happening in our lives.  And even better is how it never looks the same.  If all my Capitola photos were compared, no two would be exactly alike.  A wave’s height and breadth can’t be repeated; each visit to Capitola is as unique as every dip and curl of the water.

I try to keep that in mind as these changes seem daunting, or still so odd; can it be that my father has been dead almost an entire year?  Well, it had been over two years since I’d stepped onto the sand; time does not stop.  But my perception of time has been wrenched from how I used to consider days and weeks….  Over the last few months, the minutes and hours have blurred as if I live in two worlds, that of right where I sit and a far less corporeal existence more like the rolling of waves.  Dad’s gone, or is he?  Maybe he’s behind my shoulder as I type or was he at The Hook, walking by my side.  Eternity doesn’t seem so fantastical of an idea as it used to be.

Not that I feel ill, although I do note more aches than previously; I am an abuela, after all.  I’m also keenly aware of how beautiful is this life, how expansive like the Pacific.  These past forty-nine years are but a drop in the bucket, like all the pictures I’ve taken at The Hook, all the words written, quilts sewn.  A vast horizon awaits, draped in mystery and joy.  Sometimes it will look like the ocean, a grandchild’s gorgeous smile, or the warmth of my husband’s strong arms.  But how much is tantalizingly just past my view, but as familiar as these photos as if all my days will be spent at the beach.

What a terrific notion, ha ha.  Maybe Dad is fishing along the Sacramento River, one of his fave spots.  Our time in this realm is mysterious, or maybe it’s as obvious as the earth revealed at low tide.  I love viewing the beach in this manner, like a blanket has been pulled back, proffering a peek at a usually hidden world.  Our lives could be deemed the same, the outer layers like high tide, but underneath, ahhh….

Bring on the continued mystery!  I can’t wait to see what happens next.