Category Archives: reflection

Stage 4

When I left last week to give my youngest sister a hand at Mom’s house, I never imagined what has unfolded since Monday; my mother has terminal cancer, metastasized all down her spine.  Severe back pain that started in mid-April has suddenly become more than I can fathom, my siblings and Mom’s four sisters feeling the same.  It’s as if I’m now living in an alternate universe where the sun still shines yellow in a blue sky, leafy-green trees blowing in a stiff breeze, yet my mom will never see another summer.

I’ll not share another Easter with her, or Thanksgiving.  Not Christmas or her birthday or Mother’s Day….  That was the last time I saw her before last week.  She looked tired and thin, but back pain will sap the energy right out of a person.  Cancer does that too.  Most likely she’s had it for months, but only in the past two was it noticeable.  And, and, and….  The writer in me sits in stupefied silence attempting to fathom this awful truth.  Dad’s only been gone for three years and now Mom’s right behind him.

I’m grateful for my faith, but this remains difficult because my eyes view that which is corporeal.  Yellow sun.  Blue sky.  Green trees rushing about in the wind….  When I headed home yesterday, all I saw seemed like new vistas.  My whole family is gearing up for a huge adjustment day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.  I’ve been mulling over the moments since last Sunday night when my sister and I realized there was more to Mom’s poor health than a wrenched back and achy hips.

Driving away from Mom’s house last Sunday night, her final evening spent at home.

When Dad died, I consoled myself that Mom was in fairly good health, also six years his junior.  Time seemed a plentiful notion, but time is as slight as the fleeting breeze, as brief as the sunset, as ethereal as the last five days since we took Mom to the emergency room where the ER doc gave us the news, then confirmed by another physician who used those words: stage four.  Now that term seems almost quaint after how many MRIs and CT scans and biopsies.  We wanted to know why she hurt, and yes, information is better than ignorance, but this cuts so deeply.  How she can be so peaceful is a mystery; I told my brother either we’ve been graced by an angel or she’s the best con artist alive.

While I know it’s the former, my heart throbs pondering memories and times that won’t come to pass.  Again I turn to my faith, for which I am so grateful, a belief Mom shares.  Usually I’m a calm sort, my hopes set upon an unseen future.  Yet currently my feet are mired in clay that clings as if another day shall never dawn.  With much effort I pry one foot loose, setting it on dry ground, straddling two worlds.  Mom seems to be doing that with ease.  I, however, am struggling.

In the interim, I’ll be making road trips, spending as much time with Mom as possible.  Maybe I’ll sew hexies with her, I know we’ll enjoy some lovely chats.  But mostly I will cherish these upcoming days and weeks, tucking them away in my heart.  When our hearts are breaking, I like to think they are growing, and once healed, more love can enter.  I pray that happens again, and when Mom is gone, ample space will be waiting inside my chest muscle.  We are here to love and laugh, and to move forward.   I don’t know how it might happen, but by grace I’m sure it will.

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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.

Stepping Back in Time

New Year’s Eve 2013 at The Hook in Capitola, California…..

At first I titled this post Like Stepping Back in Time, then I backspaced the Like; today I totally felt as if years had melted away, in writing an entire chapter of The Hawk.  But beyond the word count, another sensation loomed, that of authorial joy, wordy pleasure, novelistic thrill.  These elements used to be commonplace when I sat at my computer.  Lately they have seemed mostly absent.

The moon in November, 2013….

But yesterday I noticed a giddy fictional exuberance that was wholly real, and it continued today, much to my blissful surprise.  It was as if I dwelled in 2015, 2014, or 2013 when I first began writing this book.  It’s turned into several sections, but started innocently enough.  At times over the last two years I had to wonder if I might ever complete it.  And while The End still eludes, my sense of purpose has returned.  Talk about one happy grandma!

Another shot of the moon, November 2013….

Ha ha, a grandma, really?  Um yeah, dude….  When I became an abuela is when the amount of  prose started to not suffer, but slightly decline.  In today’s work, I needed to fact-check some previous sections, and while perusing those paragraphs, I recalled how easily those scenes had emerged.  It was a different season in my life, one I recall fondly, but time is fleeting, this very day already well into the afternoon.  Each moment is meant for this or that, like working on quilts or housecleaning, what I did yesterday.  Occasionally it’s hard not to compare now with the past; better to embrace what is, and after today’s chapter, I am over the moon in celebrating the present.

An early Christmas present in 2013; these books were a part of my childhood, and now live at my grandson’s house. The nietos weren’t even a consideration then, but how life changes…..

Speaking of the moon, today’s photos are from autumn of 2013, when The Hawk burst into my brain, then onto a virtual document.  While my husband still treks about his fave park, I rarely drive to Capitola, too busy with grandkids, sewing, and thankfully still writing.  Ah writing, yes, such a blessing to again type with impunity.  Tomorrow I’ll be hanging out with my grandgirls, but come Thursday, perhaps this wave of paragraphical happiness will rush over me.  In the meantime, there’s a baby blanket in need of attention.  I’ll ponder Eric, Stanford, Lynne, and Laurie as I rock the needle, quilting style….

Considerations for 2018

Taken in summer, The Burrito and Little Miss explore a water table.

As this year fades away, January promises many adventures, the immediate being a week spent with The Burrito and his pop while my youngest is on a field camp expedition for school.  I’m looking forward to hanging with another limb on our family’s tree, then perhaps I’ll return filled with novelistic notions.  If nothing else, I’ll come back to sewing, although the exact nature of just what I’m making remains elusive.  But with a new machine and more gorgeous thread than sense, a quilt is probably calling my name.

These were a gift from a dear friend; what beauty could they create? I can’t wait to find out!

However, I am going to attempt a moratorium on buying fabric.  What???  But yes, this will be the year of using my stash, only purchasing the most essential items.  Thread certainly won’t be one of them, hehehe, and with six yards of batting tucked in a closet, I might get far into 2108 before pulling that trigger.  Other than gifts that come my way, I will try to eschew willy-nilly fabric purchases, God help me.  And believe me, I’ll need all the assistance I can muster.

Why make this choice?  A couple of reasons; one is that a few years back I tried a similar experiment with note cards and success was found.  Clearing a backlog of stationary felt good, then of course opened up the opportunity to choose new cards, but that’s not the only purpose behind this decision.  A couple of months ago I was inventorying my stash and took out what I’d bought on sale, but truly had no use for; it went to our church’s junk sale, making me reassess why I’d chosen it in the first place.  (It was kind of cute, as well as discounted, hmm….)

Since then, I’ve been pondering this proposition, and am at least willing to give it a go.  Not that I have projects lined up, other than a sleeping bag insert for my grandson.  Yet quilt ideas emerge at the drop of a hat.  This year, that hat’s going to be slapped with a use what you have label, and hopefully by next December my fabric collection will be greatly depleted.

Miss Em doesn’t require more than receiving blankets at this point….

In the meantime, I’m still hand-quilting this project, ruminating about what will happen for Eric, Lynne, and all those in Roseburg, as well as eager to see how another nieta shakes up our familia.  Mostly I’m grateful for a multitude of blessings, more than I can list here.  May the coming year bring you joy and peace.  See you in 2018!

So what’s this book about anyways?

This morning’s hand-quilting; I started with this block, then decided to snap a few others already finished….

After yesterday’s caterwauling, I spent some time considering exactly what this new novel is trying to say.  I’m already 10K into it, and while some of it’s not bad, too much meandering about was starting to drive me nuts.  Afternoon rain fell in the valley, but I managed a walk later on, and during that break, staring into blue sky streaked with cloud, I realized the crux of the story.  And as often happens while writing, fiction merges with truth, albeit well after the fact.

So many lovely low volume fabrics, and in working by hand I get to enjoy them further.

While my dad died of heart failure, he had battled prostate cancer the last five years of his life.  I know a lot about that condition, and it was always in the back of my mind to use that knowledge within a novel, this book actually, if I ever got around to writing it.  And while I’ve developed the plot around that issue, it’s one thing to make notes or even vaguely consider it, wholly different to finally start fleshing out those memories.  I’m not sure that has been entirely what has held me back, but it’s certainly been a roadblock.  This novel isn’t merely about a soccer player trying to recapture his past.  It’s about the cancer which led to the end of my dad’s life, and how those of us who loved him let him go.

Owls, birds, and a bunny decorate these prints, as well as a batik for good measure.

Okay, that’s a mouthful, but I don’t write anything but what’s in my heart.  Four years ago Dad was advised to start chemotherapy, and from that point, cancer truly became our enemy.  How the elements of that fight will figure into Kendall’s story remains to be seen, but now I have a clearer view of the fictional horizon.  And believe me, that helps enormously.  Rare are the times I don’t know what I’m trying to say in a book, although I might take a while to get there.  But when it’s so personal, how to separate my brain from my heart?  Kendall and his family are about to leave Tennessee for California, and while a bit of melodrama will distract them, soon enough the shite is going to hit the fan, ahem.  By then I should be comfortable in parceling out my memories amid the prose, while Kendall is again faced with more angst than desired.

Then back to the original quartet, fully quilted. Very soothing as my day gets started….

But this time, he will get closure.  At the end of the day, that matters.  I let my father go completely aware he was heading to a better place, and had lived a full life here.  But sometimes loss needs to be given one last hurrah, in sharing it with others.  This book is for my dad, and those struggling to say goodbye.  No wonder it’s been such a beast for me to relinquish….

Today’s word count: 1,467

A little improv quilting to share….

My youngest daughter has requested a sleeping bag insert, so I aim to please.  A few fabrics arrived in the post yesterday, so last night I ironed them, pulling some scraps from my solids container.  This project will measure 76″ long by 26″ wide, not too much to mull over, but enough to satisfy my longing for something beyond patchwork squares, although that’s what I started with last night.  She’ll need it in January, but I want to have it finished before then.  Once a new baby arrives, no telling how time will slip away.

These two patterns caught my eye. Going to use lots of solid scraps amid the prints.

After writing yesterday’s post, I chatted with my husband about how the writing has fallen from grace; he didn’t have much to offer in response, but it felt good to talk about it.  He’s one of the few to fully grasp how intrinsic writing has been since we moved back from England, goodness knows he’s been a great sport when I’ve been obsessed with this or that novel.  But I haven’t been obsessed with writing for a while now, merely going through the motions.  I certainly felt that way this morning, adding to the word count yet wondering if I was wasting my time.  Then I finally hit on a vital point, but today’s prose might be deleted when I read it over tomorrow morning.

I *love* this print! My daughter is studying geology, and while I didn’t find any good rock fabrics, this one seemed apropos.

Usually i’m not such a navel-gazer, but lately introspection has seemed necessary.  Maybe it’s the change of seasons, rainy weather signaling an end to summer, ha ha.  Perhaps it’s my husband’s recent birthday; he turned fifty-three, so I suppose that means were truly not that young anymore, or relatively youthful.

I’ll add some novelty prints for fun, integrating the camping theme. The tiny pebbles are rock-oriented, then another print as above in peachy-pink. I just adore that design!

Or maybe losing the desire to write bothers me more than I’ve consciously acknowledged.  Um, yeah.  I’m slightly troubled by the vague meandering that has replaced meaningful storytelling.  I had hoped by switching projects I could conjure the old magic.  Or was today simply an off-morning, and tomorrow will be better?  I surely hope so….

I guess this isn’t quite as much about quilting as it is about moaning I mean writing, sigh.  But sometimes writing is tricky and occasionally it’s very difficult.  And hopefully one of these days it will be as satisfying as in days of old.

And here’s the first block; I don’t have any kind of plan for this, other than to have fun. Wonder how I incorporate that notion into the prose, hmmmm…..

And if not, there are always fabrics to ponder.  Or more rightly a healthy dose of faith to lean on in these somewhat questionable novelistic times…..

Today’s word count: 2,530

A Different Style of Writing

Got these blocks sewn over the last few days; I didn’t want Little Miss to pull them off the big quilt wall in what will be her room….

So much for chapters akin to those of previous.  After reading over yesterday’s output, it seems Chapter One didn’t need anything added to it.  And now, a couple thousand words later, Chapter Two is in the can.  Perhaps I need to face that the way I used to write has permanently changed.  It’s not merely breaking a chapter into two or three days’ worth of writing, but shorter chapters, and more of them.

This is the bottom half, which I’ll sew to the top next week, freeing up space on the big wall just in time to design a Christmas quilt, hehehe….

That’s quite an altered method, and I wonder if it will persist, or once I get past the first part of this story, I’ll turn back into my verbose self and….  I won’t know until that time arrives, and in the interim, chores await; Little Miss will be here in time for her afternoon nap, so this abuela needs to prepare the guest room, run to the store, clean the shower, ahem….  I won’t write until next Monday, but that’s fine, because even if these initial chapters are brief, they are written, whew!  Maybe in this book’s Liner Notes I’ll mention how these two stories differ, the one written five years ago as though I had all the time in the world.  Now there’s more filling those hours, but thankfully the writing is adapting, for which I am most grateful.

Today’s word count: 2,236