Category Archives: life

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….

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.

Onto the next project….

Fabrics for a Christmas quilt….

My family and I enjoyed a wonderful holiday together, and we’re still waiting on Lil’ Sis’ arrival.  In the meantime, I’ve slapped another quilt top on the wall, and will attempt to sew it into a cohesive whole over the next few days.  These fabrics have been waiting for me, good thing inanimate objects are patient, lol.

I like the darker shades too; while I’m not overly keen on red, these are balanced by blues and browns.

Over the last several days I’ve had time to consider blessings, of which there are many.  I’ve pondered how being a grandmother is truly the main focus of my present existence, yet other passions remain; I managed to read through three chapters of The Hawk Part 12 this morning, with the intent to possibly release that section before the end of the year.  Writing might not be doable, but I will always be an author, hehehe.

Snowflakes run diagonally from left to right, while trees go right to left.

Then there is the sewing….  Leftover squares from the current cotton WIP will turn into placemats for my husband and I to admire and use as Advent approaches.  I need to fashion a binding for a baby quilt, then attach said binding and get that comforter and burp cloths into the post.  I’d like to make a Christmas placemat for Lil’ Sis, not that she’ll be using it anytime soon, but extras of the same prints employed for the rest of her family are sitting behind my monitor, and I should do something constructive with them before they are buried under other projects.  I had to do some serious clearing of my computer table when The Burrito visited, this room where he slept at night.  The holidays seem to be a good time for housecleaning, all sorts of tangible treasures discovered.

Yet a few intangible treats were unearthed, peace for my crafty soul to lie low while beloveds require my attentions.  Yes, I have plenty to run under my sewing machine, chapters awaiting revisions, but these elements are no longer where I place the emphasis, especially at this time of year, even if the fabric WIP is a Christmas gift.  Thanksgiving leads to Advent, a time of waiting and exercising patience, a most necessary lesson for yours truly.  And maybe I’ve finally found some equilibrium in all the recent changes, many of them invisible to others, but rushing forcefully inside me.  Perhaps the next project isn’t a quilt or novel, but merely another layer of myself emerging.  Yes, my family is waiting for another to join us, but this abuela has also been reborn.

Over halfway done, but a shot of the complete design will be in the next post….

What a concept, my goodness!  But I suppose with toddlers on the verge of becoming three-year-olds, grandmotherhood is truly upon me.  Yet, as motherhood took on various forms, so will this role evolve, and I’m grateful for how I am being stretched.  As Advent approaches, I will embrace the waiting, quietly going about those tasks placed in my hands.  For as great is my imagination, in practical matters I work best when given clear direction.  As the dust settles, I’m happy to follow where I am being led, cotton fibres and stray sentences in my wake.

Major Changes Afoot

So just as I’m grappling with the novel WIP, a roadblock occurred this morning, setting everything connected to the story askance; I’ve just sent Kendall and his family to California for the beginning of the Major League Soccer season, forgetting completely about training camp that takes place in Arizona….

Evolution of an improv quilt; those six-inch squares were quickly surrounded.

Okay, what does this mean for the plot?  I have no idea.  What it means for my current idea of writing is very clear; this novel will be shelved, because I simply don’t have the time or energy to work around a big lapse in research.  But I’m not daunted; today’s inspirational quote, which I read prior to realizing this error is: Some grin and bear it.  Others smile and do it.

More pieces added, including some triangles, although I am very geometrically challenged…

As soon as this issue arose, I saved the paragraph I’d written, closing up that manuscript.  Then I glanced at my sewing table, where scraps have accumulated over the last few days.  I started up the music, then went to work, embracing this sudden detour, considering how to fill what was going to be weeks worth of scattered writing as my eldest counts down the last days of her pregnancy, as the holidays approach, as The Burrito and his mum are slated to arrive at the end of the week, Dad on his way next week, as well as my own better half currently away on business. My goodness, the whole family is as askew as my latest novel!

A bright stripe of red completes a third of the project!

Or are they….  Not really, hehehe.  Everyone and thing are right where they are supposed to be on this day, even if means my plans for a sequel are on permanent hold.  While stability is necessary, so is adaptability.  I’ll work on this improv sleeping bag insert today, as I’d love to get the top sewn before guests arrive on Friday, at which time my sewing table will be sent to the garage so my grandson has a place to sleep.  I’ll pull out The Hawk Part 12 to revise when my authorial muscles require a workout and….  Let the rest of life go as it will.

This morning’s work; I wanted a long stretch of the birds, but some smaller pieces as well. Improvisational sewing has been incredibly liberating, even if the writing has tanked; all gifts in their own good time….

I wondered about writing earlier today, not feeling drawn to do it, but I’m at home this morning, words needing to be added to….  To a story that may or may not be completed one day, but I have to believe if that story is meant to reach The End, it will.  Most important right now is the element of trust.  Many concrete parts of my existence have been upended, but being wrenched from routine isn’t comfortable, requiring blind faith.  A sewing machine will tether me along that path, as well caring for little ones, as will a tale that has been the backbone of my writerly life for over four years.  I do want to finish The Hawk, maybe I merely needed a little break.  All I know for certain is that this morning, post-blog, I’ll sew with a bright smile on my face.  Sometimes life is as simple at that, thank the lord.

So Much Patchwork

While this blog is entitled Indie Novelist and Improv Quilter, the improvisational nature of my sewing has fallen off mightily in the last year.  I realized this months ago, but there simply isn’t time for me to dive headlong into improv quilting at this juncture of my life.  I’m just trying to maintain a semblance of my crafty self as a second generation of my descendants rules.

My grandson became impatient when we told him the tractor wasn’t actually going anywhere.

My husband and I spent this past weekend with The Burrito and his folks; I played firemen with my grandson, employing two outside chairs as our firetruck, then following him around the yard as we put out fires with his toy firehose.  We trekked about a local pumpkin farm where he climbed hay bales, ran through a cornfield maze, admired goats and chickens, chose pumpkins, and provided this abuela a photo op on an old John Deere tractor.  He’s two and a half, speaking in full sentences, potty trained, and rarely still, making me so happy to be his ‘Bama’.

But as grandmotherly joys increase, moments to mull over any sewing other than patchwork no longer exist.  That’s fine, reminding me I really shouldn’t plan for more than this day.  In light of the recent wildfires, perhaps it’s truly best to live each day as the blessing it is.  I took the opportunity to make some little kennel quilts for an animal shelter in Oakland, using spare squares, then extending them another two inches.  It took a couple of days, and while it’s a drop in the bucket, I enjoyed making these little comforters.

These are 12.5 by 18.5 inches, fitting inside small kennels.

Right now a baby blanket awaits time under my machine, my youngest daughter has requested an insert for her sleeping bag, and Christmas fabric is stacked and waiting for space on the quilt walls to open up.  After my father died, I made two patchwork baby quilts for Little Miss, then was ready to say adios to that manner of quilting.  But that doesn’t seem to have been in the plan….

Most of these fabrics were leftover from a quilt I made my goddaughter. The long strips are from a quilt back recently completed.

As the writing has waned, maybe improv quilting will again emerge when nietos are school-age.  I have as many quilt notions as novel plots, but there are only so many hours in one day, and clinging to methods that require more time than I can muster is futile.  I spent this morning reading over the last three chapters of The Hawk, and if I get around to adding more tomorrow, fantastic.  If not….  Herein lies the crux of happiness that I’ve been embracing; what will be will most certainly be.  And what doesn’t happen….  Either it will come back to me later, or was never mine in the first place.  I waited until I was forty to start writing, never believing I would complete a single book.  Hah!  Soon I’ll expound upon that miracle, but today I’m content to honor patchwork.  It’s not flashy, but full of love, and for now the best usage of my talents.  It’s where I started this quilting journey, which hopefully has other avenues yet to explore.

All in a day’s work….

The Pacific Ocean north of Trinidad, California; “New Young” by Josh Rouse.

Spent a few days last week in Humboldt County with my hubby, Little Miss, and her mum, and the weather was glorious!  Sunny days and cool, starry nights made that brief holiday quite spectacular, not to mention sharing that beautiful area with family.  It was good to get home, for I have projects in need of attention.  There’s The Hawk, some quilts, and just the business of life.  I saw my doc this morning for a physical, and now that I’m in my fifties, it’s time for lipid tests and various other blood work that will follow (but not dog) my steps for the next couple of decades until I’m too old to be bothered.

Recently I joked about this with my neighbor, who is about ten years my senior.  There’s this window from fifty to seventy-five where we undergo pokes and prods, then it truly won’t matter.  My doctor nodded at my observations with mild eye rolling; this is his profession after all.  But it’s the truth, and for most of it I’ll gladly acquiesce, starting tonight by fasting until morning.  There’s so much I want to accomplish, best to be as fit of a fiddle as can be.

Another quilt on the wall; “Dove sei” by Neffa.

There are future family vacations, watching the nietos enter school, attending graduations, perhaps even weddings, and possibly cuddling a great-grandbaby.  There are heaps of fabrics waiting to be sliced then sewed into myriad comforters.  And there is the notion of noveling, which is how I began this day, editing the first two chapters of The Hawk: Part Thirteen.  I’d mulled over actually writing, but I had to be at the doc at half past nine, so instead I pulled fabrics from the stash for another plus quilt.

When I returned home, I put on the tunes (Neffa, Josephine, Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Josh Rouse, Hollie Cook, Belle & Sebastian, Jose Gonzalez, Luna, and Kurt Vile, whose song “All in a Daze Work” is the inspiration for today’s title) and began to inspect low volume and navy prints.  I didn’t get around to lunch until nearly one p.m., then went right back to sorting fabrics.  Fifteen blocks are now arranged on the little quilt wall, pluses set aside for another fifteen, with a stack of fabrics still to be cut into large and small squares.  I’ve finished the first plus quilt, just need to gift wrap it.  I so enjoyed this pattern and look forward to making it over and over as the years pass.

A post about this quilt is forthcoming; “Teardrop” by Jose Gonzalez.

In order to do that, I need to manage my health with as much attention as I give the crafts. Fortunately I have no problems, assuming blood tests come back clear.  My husband finds this process somewhat invasive, and while I agree that it’s more micromanaged than maybe it has to be, we still have our right to say NO to this or that procedure.  Sometimes I think if I can just finish The Hawk, I’ll die happy, hehehe.  But while listening to various tunes, I didn’t feel aged, rather youthful actually.  Music makes the years slip away; I’m not as young as the grandkids, but there’s no way I’m someone’s abuela.

My daughter, granddaughter and hubby along the North Coast in Humboldt County; “Moments of Pleasure” by Kate Bush.

Well, you get what I mean.  Or I hope the vigor of life rings through this post, in that age is merely a number.  I may not be so sprightly when Little Miss and The Burrito collect their high school diplomas, but I sure better be able to applaud their efforts.  And if that’s not the case, at least I’ll have done all I can to make each day count, be it through book chapters, quilt blocks, blog posts, doctor appointments, and the most meaningful manner of sharing love with all whom I encounter.  I heartily encourage you to check out the tunes associated with each of the photos; I’ve included those by Kate Bush, Neffa, as well as “Last Minute” by Josephine.  These are the joys that make up my life; time has no bearing when love (and melodies) is involved.


Pondering the slippage of time….

Little Miss shows me the finer points of digging in the dirt.

It’s been a busy time, but then perhaps that’s just how my life currently is; between grandkids, words, fabrics, etc, blogging has fallen to the wayside.  I’ve considered writing a post, then my attention is focused elsewhere.  Not that I’m complaining, merely noting that August is around the corner, 2017 halfway over.

There’s much on my mind, and truthfully nothing takes precedence over another topic.  When writing, I’m fully immersed in The Hawk.  While sewing I’m pondering the next project.  When entertaining grandchildren, I’m reminded at how fleeting are these days; The Burrito and Little Miss are quite a pair of two-year-olds, but weren’t they just babies?  Yes and no, which is basically how life actually is.  We think a particular moment will last forever, but suddenly another presents itself, and what felt so permanent is merely a memory.  I wonder if in ages past, did people feel time slip so quickly, or did the lack of manners of documentation free those folks to revel right where they were, permitting them to fully grasp all that was within their scope.  Granted, much of that was hard work, physical labor that many nowadays partake of as a hobby, which is a huge luxury.  Still, I’m curious, able to free up my time with appliances I probably take for granted that my great-grandmothers and their grandmothers would have killed for.

In the old days, who had time to blog?  Sewing wasn’t for personal pleasure, but to make sure no one went indecent or froze to death.  Looking after wee ones was part of raising a family, as families weren’t spread out as they are now.  And writing fiction?  Only for dreamers or those with wealth, or a patron or two.  But time does pass with speed, blurring the lines of what was and what is and 1950 is now nearly seventy years ago, what?  Recently my husband acquired some CDs of Hank Snow and the Louvin Brothers, those recordings all from the fifties.  Yes, the tunes do sound dated, but when my hubby and I were little, that decade had merely just come and gone.  But we’re not young anymore, ahem, and neither are those songs, the men who sung them all now dead.  Would they have blogged about their careers, could they have imagined social media even?

When I have a minute, like I do now, these queries cause me to, well, take a moment to write up an entry.  A little introspection is a good thing, putting into perspective all the blessings of my life and how that life is shaped by what happens today, memories accumulating at a rate that at times makes me tremble.  The brevity of my corporeal existence, even if I live to be one hundred, is staggering, and no amount of novels written, quilts pieced, or even grandkids loved will lengthen my days.  Well, being happy will probably tack on precious months or years, however what occurs during those days is what lasts in kindnesses shown, other lives benefiting.  Perhaps these musings are the results of my own aging process, but I’m thankful for the awareness of how precious is my life and what I’m able to accomplish within it.  This day is a gift; make yours just as beautiful and significant in your own way.