A Duvet Cover Done and Dusted

Last week I finished Little Miss’ duvet cover, but proper photos never came about.  Her mum loved fabric from Heather Givans’ Literary collection, of which I have several fat quarters stashed just for my eldest.  In the meantime, both sides of the cover are edged in Classics, providing a little break from the superhero theme.

Draped in Marvel comics with a hint of library cards; Little Miss is quite pleased for her new bed cover.

I wasn’t certain what to start next sewing-wise, and as for the writing, I’m currently rereading what was recently published, checking for stray typos.  However, I’ll be leaving to help care for my mom, who hasn’t been well since April.  I might take some hexies with me, as they are portable, but more on my mind is family requiring love and assistance.

Of course my thoughts go back to when The Burrito was new and my dad was ailing.  This with Mom is different, yet parallels remain, the biggest being no longer am I of the younger generation.  A grandma now for three years, my role is that of a matriarch within my immediate family.  As an eldest daughter, I work in conjunction with siblings to facilitate the best care and treatment for our mum, but it’s not like when Dad was sick, because Mom was in charge then, and we were following her example.  While that experience prepped me for the future, often the future emerges with different rules.

Making a duvet cover was challenging, and while I wasn’t always enthralled with the task (and am not certain I would ever sew another), new processes were learned, increasing my sewing skills.  Mom will appreciate that metaphor, as she’s a seamstress from way back.  We can discuss fabrics and patterns in the coming days, or whatever she feels like chatting about; I recall my dad dictating our conversations, he loved to talk.  But I don’t feel like somebody’s little girl anymore, maybe the death of a parent ends that notion.  Now I’m someone else, an abuela yes, also….  Taking a deep breath, I await what comes next.  The best way to meet these changes is with open arms, a willing heart, and the awareness of grace at my back.  Of those three, the latter is most important, and upon that I will gratefully rely.

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The Hawk, Part Thirteen

Usually when another piece of this saga has been published, an accompanying entry is brief; it’s up and you can find it here.  But while I plan to release this tale in a formal manner, more needs to be acknowledged.  Making the conclusion available closes a large circle that I couldn’t have dreamed when first starting this book over four years ago.

I wasn’t a grandmother then, my familial role that of supporting my parents while Dad battled cancer, occasionally helping out my offspring when the need arose.  This tale started humbly, but quickly I sensed a wider scope emerging.  At the same time, my father underwent chemotherapy while quilts knocked on my door.  Writing fell by the wayside; it was difficult concentrating and sewing required less brain power.  Then my youngest became pregnant, followed by her elder sister and….

Suddenly my existence as an author seemed to have vanished on a stiff wind.  Now I wonder if not for The Hawk, might I have eschewed writing altogether?  Yet there was a story to tell, at times bigger than I thought I could tackle.  In bits and chunks I wrote, then decided to simultaneously publish what had accumulated.  That too kept me writing, although the more I fashioned, the longer this tale grew.

In the interim, babies were born, my dad passed.  Eric, Lynne, and the rest became an extension of my own clan; when not writing, I wondered when I might return to their realm, and when I was working, I pondered how blessed was my life with The Burrito, Little Miss, and Miss Em.  My father would find their antics amusing, perhaps how he views my foray into fiction.  How I see my novelistic endeavors has altered, and this story stands like a demarcation; closing my eyes, I easily recall my previous life as an author, but in taking a good look, that woman appears half formed.

Maybe that is simply indicative of life’s changes, but how often do we get a guidebook or pamphlet in the middle of such transitions?  For me, that is what The Hawk has become, a Life Echo minus the sound.  Yet melodic memories waft right over my head, laying their healing beauty within my ears as I read Eric’s laments, Lynne’s dreams, Stanford’s hesitations, Laurie’s joy, Sam’s eagerness, Renee’s hopes, Marek’s wisdom, Seth’s fears, Klaudia’s wariness.  My goodness, that’s quite a collection, but The Hawk isn’t a small novel, lol.  It’s many love stories, a few tragedies.  It’s fact and fantasy set in the 1960s and thank the Lord it’s finally finished.  The entire collection is available on Smashwords, and will be released in full on various other online retailers soon.

All Sorts of Sounds

A recent shot of chatty sisters, rattling toys nearby.

Recently Little Miss celebrated her third birthday.  A party was held, plenty of festive notions, and now she stands alongside her older cousin, far away from Miss Em who at five and a half months is a happy, grabby, drooly infant.  I have been in full grandma-mode lately, but even while cuddling nietos and enjoying family, ponderings of an audible nature have continued.

I wonder if my grandson heard the water, birds, or leaves rustling in the breeze.

A couple of weeks ago I learned about Life Echo, a project that connects sounds to memory.  I don’t mean songs, but everyday noises which hearken to moments within our lives; from chirping birds to rollicking waves to clanking vehicles, sounds are harnessed to map out a person’s past.  Clients fill out questionnaires and those at Life Echo interpret the data, fashioning a memory soundtrack.  Investigating the website, I felt as if entering a new world, in part that when I think of sound, music emerges as the main element.  But there was also a newfound appreciation for the audible world surrounding me; from planes flying overhead and children’s laughter to basketball announcers and my fingers on a keyboard.  Our lives are bordered and buffered by sound, and how much of it do we tune out as irritating or unnecessary?

I recall the buzz of my sewing machine as well as the clunk of the presser foot lifted and released many times over during the quilting of this coaster.

Yet what if our existences were stripped of noise?  I’ve been mulling over how that element could figure into my next novel.  I’ve also paid closer attention to the ticking clock here in my writing room, considered how the floor creaks near the big quilt wall.  I’m cognizant of the dishwasher’s faint hum, how the light rail’s doors open as if in a vacuum.  Being aware of background sounds has become a new hobby, not that I need more to do; this is so easy, maybe a little distracting, but in a good way.  It’s a renewed manner of observation, and I am so grateful for the reminder.  Our memories aren’t merely that of faces and events, but an auditory sense that isn’t music.  Another kind of melody wafts through our days, adhering to the gray matter, then poking us when again those sounds are realized.  Sometimes the pricks are gentle, sometimes a bit sharp.  Life Echo brings to the forefront those which lift the heart, heal a wound, rouse a smile.  Thanks to Justin for sharing this amazing project!

The Last of the (Mohican) Placemats

One, two, three…. Soon they will reside on my daughter’s dining table.

I can’t recall when I started these, would have to look on the blog for that information, but I feel like these placemats have been loitering on the quilt wall for, well, a good while.  And to be honest, I hadn’t planned to wrap up this project until autumn, in that other pieces are waiting, and these hues are more fall-themed.

Each has a different shade for the binding, the remnants of which I’ll sew together for another project.

But as I completed them, my daughter was ever so pleased.  Then suddenly I found myself busying with them….

And now the final three are finished, the table runner too.  I worked on that before visiting my grandson, then came home to find it draped over my sofa.  Dude!  Again, time has a funny way of arranging one’s schedule, as in where in heck did I find the time to put that together?

This one troubles me a bit; why did I use a large brown square right under a small one of the same colour? It was the first I made, then I left it for the very end…. Some questions will never have a proper answer, I suppose.

When I used to embroider, several pieces were going at once, but in sewing, I tend to stick to one quilt, yet lately I’m back to hither and yon; maybe it’s due to a small feeling of mastery?

Table runner alongside; making these satisfied my desire to use Southwestern shades, as well as fabrics I had on hand.

I basically know what I’m on about in this quilting gig, or perhaps the scattered nature of my life is bleeding into my hobbies.  Regardless, at least this project is in the can, leaving room for others clamoring for my attention.

Even the backs are constructed from what I had in my stash, although my batting scraps are now quite depleted. More quilting will refill that bag, lol.

Something else has been needling my brain lately, about which I’ll expound upon soon enough.  For now, here’s a point to ponder; what does sewing sound like?  Or writing, hehehe.  Recently Life Echo was introduced into my sphere, offering food for thought on various levels.  I’ll leave you with that intriguing notion, as revisions and quilts both call my name.

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.

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.