Category Archives: life

So Temporary

While entries have been few, I’ve been sewing up a storm; English paper piecing has become my go-to fave, while hand-quilting remains the evening distraction.  Paper piecing truly lends itself to recent travels, and I find it’s a great way to start the morning, what with no words being written.  Just today I started this block; it might sit on the kitchen table a few more days, then I’ll tuck it away with another made solely from scraps.  I’d like to fashion an entire quilt of these from leftovers, a long-term project with no concrete date of completion.

Mandolin block in progress; thanks to Jodi from Tales of Cloth.

I felt that way about The Hawk, then found The End earlier this year.  But shortly after that novel wrapped up, Mom got sick and….  Suddenly everything felt half-baked, like my life was prematurely tossed in the can alongside my mother’s.  Or more rightly how I saw my life; maybe I had become complacent, not in that I’d finally finished a very long story, or that grandkids had become my focus, or any sort of reason or mantra that now seems trite.  Trite isn’t the correct word, but that’s apropos as well; I feel like a scattered jigsaw missing several key pieces.  And what I’m discovering is that those pieces aren’t magically going to turn up under the sofa or behind a bookcase.  They are gone for good and the puzzle that is my life will eventually adjust to their permanent absence.

When I sent this photo to my eldest, Little Miss wanted to know why the block was broken, lol.

I’ve lost loved ones before; my brother, my dad, a dear friend when I was quite young.  I can’t put my finger on why Mom’s passing has so rattled me, or there are too many notions for one to be outstanding.  We are so temporary, just fleeting blips along a timeline, like single stitches within a quilt or solitary sentences inside a novel.  Or maybe a speck of water, bumping into another, forming raindrops that I would love to see fall from the sky.  It’s autumn, and while a deluge is drenching the East Coast, California would love a little precipitation.  Yet even our endless summers don’t last forever; everything changes, including the most stalwart people and ideas.  We are here for brief moments, some no more lasting than the blink of an eye.

Then I sent this shot, nearly finished; urchin block courtesy of Tales of Cloth.

Then you blink again and the beginning of one season heralds another, and quilt tops go from patchwork to paper piecing and novels sit in hard drives while ideas for others linger in my mind.  And Mom sits there too, that’s where she now dwells.  Photos are reminders, but I can’t speak to her or receive emails or letters.  It’s weird how our brains retain certain facts, but our hearts ache for other manners of reciprocation.  Yet there’s nothing doing; can’t find those puzzle pieces, can’t go backwards.  We can only go forward, even if it’s so damned temporary.

Done! Now to figure out what to do with it….

Losing Mom has been like losing my right leg, and now I’m facing an uphill battle to reclaim my footing.  I’m not sure when I’ll post again, because there’s only so many grieving entries I feel capable of writing.  But good awaits on the horizon; a little brother for The Burrito, more quilts certainly, maybe another novel, ha ha.  Previous sabbaticals always brought me back to blogging, so until then wrap your arms tightly around those you love.  And if one is missing, blow them a kiss and keep on walking.  The smooth plain might appear far away, but is often closer than it seems.

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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.

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.

Perpetually Young at Heart

Growing up, I was the youngest of cousins on my mother’s side of the family, surrounded by elderly relatives on Dad’s side.  While I’m the eldest of five siblings, I’ve often felt in deference to those with whom I associate, other than my children’s compatriots.  Recently my husband acknowledged that amoung his co-workers, he’s now a senior staff member; he too grew up surrounded by those older than him, but no longer is that the case.  With another grandchild now in our midst, I’ve been pondering that changing of the guard, and how stealthily it has sprung into our lives.  Yes, there are days I feel my age, but in the back of my mind aren’t I still about twenty-four years old?

Hanging out with my granddaughters; Miss Em is already five weeks old!

Um, no, ha ha ha.  Recently I spent a day with my eldest and her family, a good chunk of it tucked between car seats as errands were run.  Fortunately I’m still spry enough that slipping over an infant car seat base wasn’t an issue, plus I got to chatter with both nietas; Miss Em doesn’t mind traveling on freeways, although she fussed somewhat until we got up to speed.  Little Miss had new green boots to discuss, her vocabulary becoming quite extensive.  Around those wee ones I am contentedly in my abuela-element, but here’s where time gets wonky, because I also clearly recall being my daughter’s current age, mothering my own.  That eldest will be thirty this year, jeez Louise!  And next month hubby and I will celebrate three decades of wedding bliss.  Perhaps these milestones are fueling such ponderings; how can it be possible that thirty years of my life has zoomed by for how young I still feel?

Two of my beloveds; where have the last thirty years, and five weeks, gone?

Maybe it’s all the rock ‘n roll I grew up listening to, and still enjoy, lol.  Perhaps my earliest memories of being the youngest of so many truly shaped my perspective, or was it the deference shown ingraining in me such a deep respect of my elders that it’s now hard to accept finally being one of those elders, ahem.  Not that I take myself so seriously, but other than my stepmom, my mother-in-law and my husband’s older siblings, I am the eldest within my sphere, good grief!  All those elderly relations have passed on, I’m a grandma to a few, and….  And yes physically I’m not as young as I used to be, but it’s a strange notion to embrace, this manner of aging.  Just as I seem to get my head around a particular aspect, the game alters.

Such a blessing to be an integral part of Little Miss’s life!

Miss Em’s arrival has been wondrous, also thought-provoking, not merely for the addition of another to our clan.  As a writer, I notice these changes maybe more than I would otherwise; it’s my job to observe human nature, which includes my own evolving humanity.  I’m grateful to possess such a youthful heart, and certainly the nietos are a part of that.  But it’s important for myself as well, and not only as an author; maintaining a humble and cheerful mood is necessary for my soul.  Time might be speeding past, yet a part of me lives in an alternate place where years don’t matter.  I never want to lose that ageless, ethereal sensation, not that I fear growing old, but I never wish to be separated from those who follow in my footsteps.  How many questions did I not ask my elders for worry of reprisal?  That’s just one example, but it certainly comes to mind now, as all those folks are out of my reach.  And remembering Matthew 18: 2-4 is another key; Christ noted a child-like manner is essential.  Good notions to ponder as a year of milestones continues….

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….

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.