Tag Archives: blessings

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!

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….

Christmastime Joys

Lots to note this morning, from a new baby to a new quilt, lol!  How about the quilt first, then grandmotherly holiday musings from a most blessed heart.

This quilt is for a young woman who is like another daughter to me; who knew I’d end up with so many kids, ha ha!  I machine sewed this blanket on an early Christmas present, hee hee, which I’ll expound upon in the coming year once I truly have a feel for it.  Suffice to say it’s a wonder of a gift as well as perfect for a project that needed to come together quickly, and I’ll be giving it to that lovely lady sometime today.

It’s backed with a large piece I bought last year, as well as holiday fabrics I’ve had on hand; that’s another entry for future days, in that I’m pondering quite a resolution when it comes to purchasing fabric.  Again, I’ll get to that later.

I bound it in some Kona cotton, the exact names of which are long gone from my brain.  This past month has whizzed by, and I’m so grateful to have managed to complete this present.  With leftover squares, I sneaked in some Christmas placemats and coasters for my hubby and I to use, and I wonder if when I bring them out next year will I be reminded of how extraordinary was this month, waiting on Miss Em’s arrival.  This December has felt like something out a dream at times, what with balmy temps for much of it, and the incredible longing for a precious newcomer to join our family.  In a way this quilt is part of that process, binding another within our clan, in which there is always room for more.

Yours truly and Miss Em, two days old in this shot.

Now, let me just wax lyrically for a bit about Miss Em, Little Miss, and my time spent with them yesterday; my eldest wanted to do her holiday baking, and I was happy to offer assistance, which mostly meant running errands with Little Miss in the morning, then cuddling my newest granddaughter for much of the rest of the day.  She’s rather fantastic, if I do say so myself, and hardly fusses.  As my daughter and son-in-law began the baking process, I sat in the nearby dining room, admiring and giving tremendous thanks for their great joy, a healthy and snoozing baby, as well as a sleeping toddler who seems to have aged significantly in the past week.  Little Miss’ vocabulary has exploded, or is it merely in contrasting a tiny infant with a two and a half year old?

Regardless, many changes, all of them awesome, have provided me much food for thought, and as it’s nearly Christmas, the meanings are even sweeter, also quite profound.  Holiday tunes wafted from a chocolate-scented kitchen as well-loved treats were again recreated, newer recipes emerging too.  I reveled in being part of a new generation’s memories, even if right now those recollections are mostly mine.  Yet my eldest and her hubby own these thoughts too, and Little Miss and Miss Em will possess them vicariously through photos and our recounting this particular Christmas when a baby joined our family.

Miss Em and her besotted grandpa….

I mentioned to both my daughter and husband how a newborn does seem to alter Christmas a little, bringing home the event which sparks this celebration.  While newborns require lots of snuggles, those of us older need to give those cuddles not merely for an infant, but to share the purpose of Christ’s arrival; wrapping our arms around all we encounter, offering the physical manifestation of God’s love.  As babies grow, the embraces take different forms, as Little Miss helped with holiday baking.  While she constantly said ‘Me do it’, she was happy to allow some assistance, needing to be a part of her parents’ festive routine.  Some cookies were partaken of last night, but the bulk will be gifted to friends and neighbors, and I look forward to tales of Little Miss handing over goodie plates, wondering if she’ll mention her efforts.

Little Miss helps her daddy with the shortbread.

Christmas traditions vary widely, and soon enough celebrating Miss Em’s birthday will become part of our family’s staple.  I hope that over the years I am cognizant of some scrap from yesterday, but more I want to recall the immense joy of being near my beloveds at a most memorable time of year, which can be as simple as permitting the greatest love into our hearts, soft and vulnerable, and so needy.  God emerged into our world as a most helpless creature, aching for our assistance.  We love him in words of praise and prayers of thankfulness, but more in how we reach out to our brothers and sisters.  Sometimes it’s beyond easy, like snuggling a granddaughter.  Other times it’s in forgiving great wrongs, which might seem impossible.  Yet a baby was born to die to erase the sins of all the world; how massive was that cost to the heart of our Father in heaven?

Captured last night by her grandpa, Miss Em examines her world.

Amid the glow of a new baby is the realization of weightier considerations, stitched together by steadfast cords of unfathomable love.  Quilts and cookie plates are ways in which to show affection, cuddles are good too.  But best of all is allowing healing love into our hearts, followed by boundless mercy and infinite compassion.  These are the gifts our Saviour brings to us this Advent season, culminated in perfect peace on Christmas Day.  Our family might know some fussing, but ultimately Miss Em’s brief outbursts are merely to remind that she needs care, as do we all.  We are here to care and love one another; may your Christmas be full of joy, calm, and copious moments of TLC.

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.

Ten Years of Writing

I suppose I could have penned this last year, but I rarely consider my final months in Yorkshire in connection with noveling.  That decade-plus figures heavily into my becoming a writer, but the actual work truly blossomed after we returned to California.

It’s funny, pondering the last ten years of my life; authorial dreams had hovered forever, but motherhood left little time to do more than write grocery lists and scattered poems, although….  After my brother died in 1997, I used the written word to make some sense of what at the time seemed utterly baseless.  I suppose that effort is what caught my eldest daughter’s attention, then nearly a decade later she pestered me into participating in National Novel Writing Month.  But again, that initial foray into fiction was just dipping my toes in the water.  2007 is when this whole gig began….

Yesterday at Lil’ Miss’s house; Buttercup observed while I enjoyed another craft associated with this time of year.

When a long-held dream becomes reality, often the thrill isn’t contemplated until the dust settles, which in my case probably didn’t occur until I started publishing independently.  What else was I suppose to do with all these stories which had suddenly spilled as though my hands had been released from behind my back.  In retrospect, a few novels should have remained in my hard drive, ahem, but every book has a reason for being, and I don’t regret releasing them.  While I don’t want this post to focus on the publishing aspect, if not for the rise of indie ebooks, I don’t know where I’d be now.  Suffice to say, I’m extremely grateful to Smashwords in that aspect; thanks Mark Coker and your entire team.

But getting to that point takes an inordinate amount of time spent at one’s computer, also in mulling over plot lines, character qualities, various themes, then somehow coalescing all those elements into cohesive stories.  Which means practice, practice, practice….  Writing requires discipline, as well as an artistic flair, and I am fortunate that meshing those two was fairly uncomplicated.  As kids left for college, I had time to experiment; writing fiction was nothing like poetry or to do lists, but all my pent-up desires exploded and I could easily whip out a rough draft in thirty days.  Now I smile at all those efforts, knowing the harder side of noveling, but I can still remember how a few books ended, some like the Alvin’s Farm series turning from what I’d assumed to be a short story into a six-book saga (shades of The Hawk already in place), to how I wept in my husband’s arms after completing a draft I’ll never publish, reliving my own life in the guise of fictional characters.  That’s occurred more than once, and often I don’t see it until much later.  For me, writing has been a voyage of self-discovery, with love and melodrama on the side.

In 2013, my dad’s battle with cancer went into overdrive, but it coincided with short stories taking my attention.  Then came The Hawk; like I said, Alvin’s Farm prepped me for lengthy tales, but not even my brother’s suicide prepared me for the swing between life and death that followed in 2014 and 2015.  As Dad endured chemotherapy, both of my daughters became pregnant, and this author was either taking road trips to offer assistance or learning how to quilt.  I didn’t abandon the writing, but I certainly couldn’t start anything new, and The Hawk kept expanding, sort of like my family.  The Burrito arrived, Dad passed on, then Lil’ Miss eased that sorrow.  All the while I still found time at my computer, wondering if I was ever going to finish the WIP.  I’m still curious about that, ha ha, but in stepping away from that saga, I feel a new chapter of my writing life is also being inaugurated.  I won’t begin to ponder that, because if you’d told me ten years ago that I’d write over one hundred fifty thousand words for three different stories in thirty days, I’d have called you crazy.

In my first American National Novel Writing Month I went overboard, but within those four weeks, I reveled in what every would-be writer dreams, to finally be spinning yarns.  There was no sense of how those tales might evolve, only the blissful thrill that finally they were being told.  And now, even with books published, that joy still resonates; all day yesterday I was mentally plotting what I’ll start writing this week, from monikers to when Kendall learns the truth about Coach Schlatter….  This novel, Heaven Lies Where the Heart Is, isn’t merely a sequel, but an opportunity to again explore the giddy exuberance that drives this author, liberating my active imagination.  Why I have more plots than sense is a mystery, but no longer are all those lives trapped inside my head.

And that’s a big relief, let me just say.  I’m not one of those who writes every day, or I’m not like that anymore.  But when the mood strikes, I’m ready to get my butt into the chair and see where the prose takes me.  That is where it has to start; setting aside the fear and diving into the unknown.  And I need to remember this too, on the cusp of yet another novel.  It won’t be like what I’ve been struggling with, although it might not be simple.  Yet it is my calling, and I can’t ignore it, even if it feels slightly terrifying.  Ten years ago ignorance was on my side, but now wisdom, and some talent, ease me in front of the monitor, fingers placed upon the keyboard, lives itching to be freed.  I have many tasks up my sleeve, but writing remains, and I hope it always does.  As a new tale unfolds, I will appreciate this gift; while it requires hard work, it is also not of my own doing.  Call it the muse, or for me, more rightly the Spirit, but at the end of the day, these tales are blessings from above.  I’m just the lucky gal who gets to tell them.

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.

Never Say No to Part 13

Okay, so after all that ballyhooing about working on the last section of The Hawk, today I finished Part Twelve, without writing The End.  I’m not disappointed, nor overly shocked; if I’ve learned anything while writing novels, it’s that I’m never in charge as much I want to be.

This quilt will be five blocks wide, six blocks long, all trimmed to 11 1/2 inches.

That said, major changes to the story line aren’t on the horizon, although that too could be in error.  It’s just that the last few chapters have been leading up to some sort of shift, and suddenly this morning, whoop there it was.  Part Twelve is done, Part Thirteen looming in the future.

The current state of my sewing table….

The timing couldn’t be better; we’re going away on holiday soon.  And I’m still planning to complete this novel before the end of the year, with the added impetus that Little Miss will be getting a baby sister in December and if I don’t wrap up this story by then, no telling when I’ll get time to do so before la nieta numero dos is two herself.  Exciting times for our family in the months ahead, and I am so hoping one of those joys will be that this grandma can say The Hawk is finito!

Blocks waiting to be sewn, as well as The Burrito’s handiwork at the bottom of the wall….

In other ongoing sagas….  I’m making a wedding quilt for friends of youngest daughter, and wanted to use this pattern I found on Wombat Quilts.  It was fun cutting the fabrics, but I’m hoping to find more low volume prints in colours other than white on vacation.  I have twelve (hmm, there’s that number again….) blocks completed, three more on the wall, but I’d love to mix it up for the remaining fifteen.  This is definitely a project I’ll do again, so unused squares can be set aside for future needs.  I’m still handsewing the gingham blue quilt, more irons in the fire than I can sort.  A baby quilt for nieta #2 however isn’t one of them.  I have a blanket already waiting for that girl, as well as burp cloths made just for her.  She’ll have plenty of hand-me-downs from her big sister, but special keepsakes are necessary, even if only for wiping baby spit.  Looking forward to that joy once again, all the more reason to get The Hawk in the can.  Part Thirteen will commence upon my return, as will quilting and blogging.  In the meantime, enjoy August, and stay cool….