Tag Archives: Advent season

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.

Christmas Place Mats (Also known as the lull before the calm…)

I spent much of Saturday completing the place mats, while watching American football.  Hand-sewing is very complementary to viewing footie, especially when I’m not overly intrigued by the teams, just listening to the play-by-play.  Stitch by stitch those bindings were attached to the back of the mats, and suddenly the last one was finished.  They have been washed, and are waiting to be taken to my eldest daughter’s house on Christmas Eve.

So first a little about these mats; they are fashioned with four and a half inch squares, then quilted with a stitch in the ditch, followed by more quilting in the middle of the squares, then again in the middle of those sections.  My initial place mats weren’t even dreamed up as such; they were merely to explore quilting a blanket in more than my usual not-that-quilted manner.  But they worked so well as place mats, that’s what they are used for.  And as Christmas approached, I wanted to make some for my daughter, for our annual Christmas Eve dinner at her place.

My foray into quilting isn’t the only new tradition.  As children age and start their own families, customs evolve too.  These place mats will serve us well over the years, and will be added to as more family arrives.

Now, about this lull before the calm…  Basically, I am ready for Christmas.  Other than getting veg on Christmas Eve, the rest of it sits wrapped under the tree, chilling in the fridge, or hiding in my closet.  A few errands need to be run today, but laundry is in the washer and dryer, my kitchen floor has been mopped, cards have been sent, goodies have been baked and nearly all distributed.  We’ll drop off a plate at the garage my husband uses when the cars get persnickety, but just about all the loose ends have been knotted together.  Christmas is just a few days away, but I’m feeling good about things (especially since the place mats are done, whew!).  All I want to do now is relax, letting the meaning of this holiday wash over me.

Yes, there remains the candy cane ice cream to make, stockings to stuff (even big kids like Christmas stockings), red potatoes and cream to buy for the ubiquitous garlic spuds that grace every Christmas dinner (Easter too).  Oh, and broccoli.  I always serve broccoli, along with my grandmother’s marshmallow fruit salad.  Our Christmas meal isn’t elaborate, I don’t want to fuss over it.  In my realm, Christmas is about as much peace and joy as one can get.

It’s the fourth week of Advent, the wait is nearly ended.  We lit all four candles last night, and I’ll light them again this evening; I love candles, especially these that signify such tremendous anticipation and fantastic expectation.  Some years I read Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, but this year I’ve pondered the meaning within my heart, and through my daily Advent readings.  And now, three days away, I’m pleased that all the prepping for the holiday is nearly complete.  The prepping of my heart is an ongoing process.

Still, this time of year is special, bringing out decorations and Christmas dishes, preparing surprises for those I love.  Just between us, my dad is getting a bright orange Giants hat, Mom some extremely orange Giants slippers.  These are things they would never buy for themselves, but their love for San Francisco’s baseball team permeates much of their spring, summer, and when we are lucky, the autumn too.  Plus, what does one buy their parents?  Christmas is a time for deep considerations; a saviour was born into our world, to save us because he loves us.  But tangible gifts delight hearts young and old.  It’s a time for sharing love, and sometimes a loud orange SF hat translates love just as well as hug.

I’m not always at Dad’s side, but he can wear that hat anytime he wishes.

The place mats are a similar corporeal display of affection, plus they are darn pretty too.  The backing fabric is the same on all seven, a sugar cookie recipe, but it’s not an especially durable piece of cotton.  My eldest said it frayed badly when she employed it in her tree skirt, and was happy for me to use it up.  I managed to get all seven mats backed with it, so this year’s mats will have that thread (ha ha) of continuity.  More will be made next year, for additions in the works.  But these for 2014 are set, and I am pleased with them.  Every year when they are put on the table, my family will think back to 2014, some times being difficult, most of them beautiful.  Hard not to think good thoughts at this time of year.

Wishing you all a most happy Christmas!  Let the true meaning of this season bring you great calm.

Where has December gone?

I know that’s an often-heard phrase at the end of the year, but seriously, where has this month disappeared to?

Oh, the tasks I could list, ones accomplished, others screaming for attention.  I have sewing to do, shopping to sort, baking to begin…. Advent is a blessed season; it’s also very busy.

I was going to title this post: It’s Only A Tall Tale.  But that was hours ago, when I was thinking about writing, or the lack of it.  Since this morning I have shopped, not all for Christmas, for we still need to eat.  I’ve finished that Christmas lap quilt top, but also decided I have to set it aside.  The place mats are more important to complete, and prioritizing is the key for this Advent season.

Awaiting backing fabric, then I can baste them.

Only so much time exists; I need to make the most of mine.

Never has December felt so squeezed.  I’ve written books in December, for goodness sake!  Not this year, although The Hawk teases.  January, I muse, because writing still means much to me, even if in our Christmas letter to friends and family quilting made the most noise.  But I continue to consider that novel, and what I most pondered this morning was that no matter how big it has become, at the end of the day, it’s merely a story.  Characters weave in and out, plot lines twist and turn, nuances niggle, but it’s simply a tale borne of a dream.  Yes, it’s meaningful, yes I love it.  But it’s not going to fall apart if I forget to write something here or there in the first dang draft!

Whew!  That frees up some of my creative juices.  That also lets me breathe easier, in that come January, when I have a modicum of free time, I can sit at this very computer, pull up that document, and once again add to that novel.  Never has one book taken so much of my time, but sometimes projects linger far longer than we wish.

Like my eldest daughter’s tree skirt; she bought this fabric in 2013, started sewing it in summer of 2014, and will “finish” it in 2015.  Those quotation marks are in regards to the quilted aspect of the skirt.  Right now it’s fully functional, just ask Buttercup.  She thinks it’s groovy.

Well, she likes the tree too.  She likes Christmas, because her people are home more, plus guests.  I want to complete the place mats to take to Buttercup’s house for Christmas Eve next week.  Not that Buttercup will get a place mat, but she’ll wag her tail, ever so pleased that folks are at her domain, to lavish all their affections upon her.

Buttercup could care less about Advent, my WIP, or place mats.  To her, it’s the people who matter, people speaking to her in a sweet voice, or rubbing her belly.  Christmas can get hectic, frantic even.  But I don’t wish to be overwhelmed by hustle and bustle and lists.  I want to revel in what this season means to me, faith-and-family-wise.  Sometimes that’s difficult, I won’t lie.  But it just takes a little cognitive prowess to place items in the right order.  A lap quilt falls to the bottom of the list, just above a novel.  Place mats are high on the list, along with gifts for my husband.  I can shop with him for other things, like ice cream and ham and perhaps even trekking to the mall.  But it’s all about getting done what truly needs to be accomplished.  And letting the rest fall away.

Even in December, not everything manages to reach finality.  Actually, December is the first month of the church year, the beginning of something so new and beautiful, that to think we can get it all done in one month is silly.  The Hawk will move along as its supposed to, that quilt will find completion one of these days.  Christmas is about new and precious moments.  I want to enjoy each as they are presented, not worrying about too much else at all.

And now for Advent…

When we lived in Britain, where Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated, Christmas was suddenly flung onto the landscape, as days grew short and dark.  While we Yanks were contemplating turkey and mash and our own brand of footie, the English were gearing up for December.

Now, on the first of that month, the first Sunday in Advent has come and gone.  One blue candle was lit last night, prayers were said, readings digested.  I have plenty of which to be thankful, but Advent is different than Thanksgiving, and while Silicon Valley isn’t as cold and dark as Yorkshire, England, Advent is still Advent, regardless of the continent or time zone.

I spent last weekend with family; Dad is so-so, but was well enough to carve the turkey, with my late grandmother’s ancient electric carving knife of all things.  I wasn’t sure if he’d manage that task, but as Mom scooped stuffing from the bird, Dad waited patiently.  Of course my parents stuff their turkey; Dad likes the old ways.  It will probably take him on his death bed to let anyone carve the bird he’d been roasting since the crack of dawn.

Buttercup is still Buttercup; I took her on a few walks, and we chatted with a ninety-one-year-old World War II vet, who thought both Buttercup and I were cute girls.  I asked him where he’d served, for my husband’s dad had been stationed in Germany.  This chap, whose name I didn’t get, was in India and Burma.  He was thankful for Harry Truman, who was not a college graduate, he noted.  Truman dropped the bombs, ending the conflict.  This man said the worst two words a soldier can hear were Fix bayonets.  He teared up as he spoke, which made me thankful he could speak of this at all; he would have been sent to mainland Japan if not for Truman, and he didn’t need to tell me what that meant.  No idea why I ran into him, other than to hear his experience, which will add in some manner to The Hawk.  And for Buttercup to be admired, of course.

Golden trees not far from where that chap and I conversed.

Golden trees not far from where that chap and I conversed.

Now all those moments are memories, which is what will happen to the fabric I cut later today; I’m making a Christmas lap quilt for a chap not as old as that WWII vet, but indeed an older fellow who my husband and I see many Sundays at our fave breakfast spot.  This man is moving east, to live near his son, and my husband mentioned to me that he might need a lap quilt.  Somehow I’ll squeeze in one more quilt before 2015 rolls around.  Plus it gave me an excuse to hit the weekend sales.

Sunset on Thanksgiving, outside my parents' front door.

Sunset on Thanksgiving, outside my parents’ front door.

But all of this has little bearing on Advent, other than making up the world in which Christ came to save.  Now turkeys and golden leaves are sent to the back burner, while a different season emerges.  But Advent isn’t a time of shopping or baking or wrapping presents.  It’s about considering a gift more precious than any we can conjure.  I don’t know how it fits in with what Truman did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Dad’s cancer battle, Buttercup, or that vet, who didn’t know why he was telling me all these things, but still he spoke, that he didn’t want to kill Japanese men, women, and children with a bayonet.  He never feared for his life, only for what soldiers were to do to others.

Then we chatted about how his German father landed in San Francisco; in 1914, the man’s German ship was refused coal at a coaling station in Hawaii.  The US was a neutral nation in the First World War, so that man used $28 to take a different ship to America, landing in San Fran with fifty cents in his pocket.  He wandered around, until he found a hofbrau, where he met that WWII’s vet’s mum.  And one hundred years later their son of ninety-one years stood talking to me, on the eve of Advent 2014, while Buttercup sniffed the road, getting me tangled in her long purple lead.

Advent is about celebrating life.  Living from day to day with joy and gratitude is the same.  May this Advent season bring you an eased heart.  Now, time to cut fabrics…