Tag Archives: Buttercup

Quilting here and there….

So I can finally share these new creations, as I gave them to my daughter and son-in-law over the weekend.  It’s been hard keeping mum about these quilts, but a zipped lip provides for surprises.  And the recipients were ever so pleased…

The baby quilt is half batiks, which my daughter loves, coupled with some tone on tone pieces, plus a few random extras.  I found the cream flowery print at Eddie’s Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale, which acted as the anchor.  Then I chose the red/coral shade, which brightens up the whole teal/purple scheme.  I want to get back to Eddie’s, picking up another half yard or so of that flower print; I just love it!

It’s backed with a lively tye-dye sort of flannel, stitched in the ditch for maximum softness.  I used a gray/brown flowery piece for the binding, wanting to incorporate as much femininity as possible for the granddaughter-in-question.  I chose to make a more modern-looking quilt over nursery fabrics mostly because it was hard finding teal baby fabric.  But for the nursery quilt, I had more leeway….

Making a quilt just for the nursery is merely an excuse to make another quilt, hee hee.  I did this for the burrito, who is growing by leaps and bounds and will make his new cousin appear even more dainty when she arrives next month.  This quilt combines some of the Babar fabrics that the burrito’s comforter possesses with extra purple and pink.  And some batiks, for good measure.

It has a pieced backing; purple for my daughter, flowers for me, and coral as it matches and extends the length.  It’s also stitched in the ditch, for extra snuggly goodness, with a scrappy binding.

We visited that family yesterday, and the nursery is coming right along.  I can’t believe how quickly 2015 is passing, not sure what that means in the wider sense, although I clearly recall my dad telling me years ago that time passed fast for him when he was my age, and now it zooms along even more rapidly.

Dad must have shared that at least ten, maybe fifteen years ago.  And he was right, because here I am, about to become an abuela yet again!  And while I wish he was here to cuddle this great-grandchild, I know he’s keeping an eye on all of us.

And in Dad’s place, Buttercup does the watching.  Or rather the napping.  My daughter noted that until the rug arrived, along with the crib, Buttercup could have cared less about hanging out in the nursery.  Now it’s her place, and she looks very happy.

Quilts for the baby, a rug for Buttercup.  All is well in the world….

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…


With the husband away, I’ve been keeping busy, mainly with sewing, although a few other tasks have come to hand.  Tonight I did some reading of The Hawk; usually I read first thing in the morning, but then usually I don’t write a blog entry this late in the day.

The current state of the quilt wall, a harbinger of the season to come…

Usually by now the husband is home, dinner has been partaken, and I’m content to ramble with the man I love.  But this week isn’t like most weeks I know.

Now, I could say that about much of 2014; usually my loved ones don’t undergo chemotherapy.  Usually I don’t fashion quilts.  Usually I’m writing…  Writing, hmph!  Not much of that this year, but perhaps that’s foreshadowing the way my life is looking to evolve.  Less words, more fabric, hehehe.  Um, hey, fabric, pretty colourful fabric…

No, no, this post is about writing, or the lack of it, but sometimes in order to write correctly one must look back at what was written, or think about what is going to (eventually one of these days) be written.  Because one of my favourite parts of writing is foreshadowing.  It’s like being able to see into the future, gleefully taking stock of all that is still to come.

Now, I have no idea what’s happening tomorrow.  I mean, I can assume what will or won’t occur, but within the confines of fiction, I’m aces with the realizations!  Okay, I’m pretty good at it, and The Hawk is a perfect example of how sometimes I’m even smarter than I know.  Of course, it would takes ages for me to give the background on this or that plot line to fully illustrate just how clever I am, although clever isn’t truly the correct word; damned lucky are the best words to describe how I fall into writing.  I am gosh darned blessed to put this scene here, that twist there, and only in reading over the whole bleeping enchilada do I get to savour that, well, blessedness.  Not luck at all, merely the awareness of writing something that is more like a gift than a chore.

That’s what writing is for me, when I manage some.  It’s the biggest treasure in the world.

Now, treasures come in a variety of guises; some are amazing, like the extra chocolates left over from the party favours I made this afternoon.  Some are trickier to discern, like my father’s chemotherapy.  Fatigue and nausea continue to plague him, and Radium 223 is still a no-go.  But he’s here, five and a half years after cancer was diagnosed, so I can’t complain, and neither does he, which means I really can’t gripe.  And as for writing, or the lack of it, well, I’m placated when I read a few chapters of a VERY LONG BOOK, finding that what I set into motion in chapter 22 plays out very well in chapter 71.  How cool is that?  And now in chapter 72, I’ve planted the seeds for what’s going to occur in chapter….  Well, I don’t know the number yet, but one of these days I will.

(I’m sure of that.)

Ahem, and when I do, I’ll smile, thinking to when I foreshadowed the fact that The Hawk got that far.  Not sure I’ll post about it, maybe I’ll be too tied up in sewing.  Right now, Christmas place mats adorn the quilt wall, my godchild’s quilt sewn into rows, which need to be sewn into a quilt top.  But the finished party favours are taking space on the work table, why I’m not pinning rows together, but blogging instead.  And if that wasn’t enough….

Master Z has made his appearance!  I’m a de facto grandmother as of late last night, to an eight-pound, nine-ounce bundle of joy.  It’s an odd sensation, I’ve never been a grandmother before, but now his photo graces my phone’s lock screen, and I’ve been considering that little miracle on and off all day.  The party favours aren’t for him, but they are baby shower-related, which I’ll wax more about soon enough.

Let’s just say that for now, Buttercup is still the grand-basset.  But in a few months, she’ll assume the moniker of grandma-dog.  She’s a grand old lady, if nothing else, worthy of all the loves given to her.  There aren’t any bassets in The Hawk, but one of these days, a story will come along, with her name written all over it.  And in the meantime, I’ll be thinking about the WIP, which is The Hawk, whether I’m writing it or not.  Foreshadowing counts, that’s all I’m saying.

Quilting By Stealth

So, even though I haven’t said much lately, I have been busy.  My most recent project was a surprise for someone who frequently reads this blog, tying my hands to blurt much about it here.  However, it has been gifted to that recipient, my eldest daughter for her upcoming birthday.  So now I can blab all about it.

On the left is the blue-gray vine print that is shared with the Bestie Far Away quilt. On the upper right is the tree branch fabric that brought all the blues together.

Which is good; I was aching to wax about this quilt, which doesn’t have a formal moniker attached.  It’s my girl’s birthday pressie, tied into the Bestie Far Away comforter by one fabric and those young women’s shared date of birth.  Now both can use their quilts, a few weeks early even.  And I can share that second blanket with you readers.

As I explained last night to my daughter, her husband, my hubby, and of course Buttercup, this quilt was fairly easy to put together, once I had the correct fabrics.  I had purchased some, then changed my mind, requiring a few more.  (My husband was shaking his head as I spoke those words.)  The key for this quilt was the dark brown tree branches against cream, with small blue leaves dangling from the branches.  Once I saw that blue, the rest fell into place.

My girl is partial to browns, of which there are a few within this scheme.  The creams were easier, and as for the blues….  I love blue, so it was only a matter of winnowing down the best shades.  I had considered brown for the binding, but I liked the dotted tan fabric.  It’s backed with marbled blue flannel, stitched in the ditch, and at sixty by seventy-two inches, it fits their bed, or can be stretched over the sofa.  She said it kept her cozy on their drive home last night, then sent shots of it on their bed.

And of course, Buttercup gave her ultimate approval, although she was slightly peeved.  Her bone wasn’t permitted on the quilt, which I’m sure Buttercup thinks was made solely for her.  Sorry puppy; no icky bones on this pretty quilt.


It’s for the birthday girl.  She might be nearly twenty-six, but she’ll always be my baby.

An ever-evolving life…

Aside from the Hollie Cook show, which still tumbles through my brain in songs that I cannot shake, I’ve been indulging in some vintage 1970s melodies, especially “Black Water” by The Doobie Brothers.  Somehow that song evokes the autumn which attempts to make its point here in California.  The evenings are cooler, as are the mornings.  Darkness pervades my waking hours, sunshine casting long shadows, trees finally dropping their leaves.  The end of the World Series is nigh (Oh please let it be tonight!), Halloween is days away, November knocking on the door.  Listening to The Doobie Brothers reminds me of the past, which at this time of year is still tied to National Novel Writing Month, although I won’t be participating for the second straight year.  NaNoWriMo came into my life just as we were saying goodbye to England, but as leaving Yorkshire taught me, not everything last forever.

But the writing continues; daily I’ve been reading a couple of chapters of The Hawk, enjoying it immensely.  My husband asked if I read for pleasure, or with a critical eye.  I laughed; I always read my own stuff in a discerning manner, but the revisions aren’t heavy, mostly because these relatively early chapters have been read a number of times.  Yet even as I read, and occasionally alter, the prose, I’m reminded of how much I enjoy this story, which makes me ache to get back to the writing, even if my time is squeezed beyond belief.

Which some might say is all the reason needed to jump into the NaNo pond to pound out another 50,000 (or more) words, regardless of all that looms.  But no longer am I that sort of writer, which is a lot to admit.  But it’s not 1974 anymore, it’s (gasp) forty years later.  Jeez!!  Four decades since “Black Water” was a hit, and now I’m a fan of tropical pop.  “Milk and Honey”, by Ms. Cook, has been making me sway around the kitchen, or tapping my feet as I iron fabrics.  I’m cutting what will be my goddaughter’s Christmas present, but not in reds and greens.  Perhaps hues more for an island, in warm blues, aquas, and a tad of periwinkle.  Not colours I often use, but I sure like them, and they blend well with my latest fascination with reggae.

Life is a journey, taking us to new and exciting places, with intriguing songs and fabric shades that don’t remain static.  About the only thing right now I’d like to remain the same is the Giants’ hold on the even-numbered years’ World Series victories.  We’re one game away from continuing in that vein, which to my liking could stay as a constant, although I’m sure other baseball fans wouldn’t agree.

Not sure what Buttercup thinks; if it meant more belly rubs for her, she’d be all over San Francisco taking tonight’s game.  In Buttercup’s world, there is little room for evolution, but my realm isn’t that of a beagle/basset.  It’s words and music and cotton, baseball and family and whatever lies ahead.  Revisiting the past is unavoidable, in music and memories, hopes and dreams.  But some pieces were only for that time, those moments.  I’d *LOVE* to dwell on the 49ers’ glory years, and seeing shots of Joe Montana at AT&T Park was a pleasure.  However, it’s 2014, ages away from the 1980s, and even a good stretch from when I began writing.  Now I quilt, whoa!  And my heart is firmly stolen by a different Bay Area sports team, whether I want it to be or not.  I can’t help rooting for the Giants, what I do right here and right now.

As I age, I need to keep moving forward.  I don’t know if abundant technology assists in that endeavor, or tropical pop.  And I wonder if my long-passed away relatives felt so inclined.  Is my generation better equipped to seize the future?  I’d love to ask those grandparents, aunts and uncles, but that’s impossible.  I should have done it years ago, but years ago I didn’t consider these queries.  I was too busy being young.

I’m not so young anymore, although not as old as Ms. Buttercup, who at somewhat over seven is a tad older than me.  But again, she doesn’t care what happens, as long as there is food and water in her bowls, walks when her folks get home, and much attention paid to her exposed belly.  But then Buttercup doesn’t know the joy of tropical pop, she can’t reminisce about “Black Water”, and she certainly won’t experience the thrill of one’s team winning the World Series (Oh please let the Giants win tonight!).  She’s content to lie on her rug as people croon her name, snapping pictures of her, then scratching her belly.  No time for writing, quilting or any other such nonsense in her world, thank you very much.

And certainly not a free moment for such introspection.  But occasionally a free moment should be turned just a wee bit inward, if only to acknowledge the change, be it in the weather, the writing, the quilting fabrics.  Life never stops changing, and it’s good to grasp those alterations, especially when they are pleasant.  Sometimes they’re not so warm and fuzzy, but we can’t look from those either.  Before tonight’s baseball I need to clean (ugg), perhaps cut more aqua fabric, definitely get to the store.  No writing, maybe some sewing, then loads of hand-wringing as my beloved Giants go to bat.  I’m sure some Hollie Cook will waft from speakers, either at my PC or in the living room from the turntable.  It’s just another day, 28 October, 2014.  It’s also the only 28 October 2014 any of us will ever see.  May this day bring plenty of joy your way (unless, of course, you’re a Kansas City fan).

Peace Pie and other musings…

So the World Series is tied one all, fitting to send it to San Francisco.  I won’t lie; I’d LOVE the Giants to take it at home, which they have not done in their previous two wins.  However, I don’t want to appear greedy, so as long as they win…

Ha, well, nothing greedy about that.  I will note that this contest has brought out the small sports fan in my eldest, or maybe it’s Buttercup who appreciates the Giants, although last night’s game was hard to watch, once Jake Peavy allowed two Royals on base.  But now these teams have gotten a rout from each of their systems, so perhaps the following contests will be closer.  (Albeit with a San Francisco victory sealed at the end…)

But what does that have to do with peace pie?  Not that much, nor does peace pie correlate with the recent news that Radium 223 is not currently being manufactured, in Norway by the only company that makes it.  I accompanied my folks to Sacramento yesterday, where we learned that no radium treatments are being offered anywhere in the world.  The doctor’s assistant wasn’t sure why, but we discussed other options, like Xtandi and Ketoconizol, which is an anti-fungal that just happens to work well for prostate and bone cancer patients.  Dad will make an appointment with his oncologist to map out the next step, however I’m hoping that Bayer can sort out the Norwegians in a timely manner.  Radium 223 would truly best serve my father at this time, and time is a most precious commodity.

Still, I hear you rumbling, “What in the hey does that have to do with peace pie?  Is it some autumnal thing, baseball related, or Buttercup’s favourite dessert?”  Actually, it’s what happens when I have too many fireflies flitting in my brain (thank you Laura!).  My brother visited with the folks last weekend, then asked me what we were all bringing for Thanksgiving, which was his way of saying, “Hey sis, start a thread, will ya?”  I complied, noting that we would bring Grandma’s fruit salad, homemade cranberry sauce, and peace pie, with perhaps some vanilla ice cream for said peach pie.  Note the error?  I didn’t, but my beloved little brother did, answering what in the heck was peace pie (ya hippie!)?  I countered that I would also make some deviled eggs, they had to have an attitude, to which my sister replied how much she loved our family, big smiley face icon included.  And I answered that yes, at lease we are entertaining.

Then Mom asked why we had a lease?  And on it goes…

I said that’s what happens when I’m not writing, my spelling goes right down the loo.  Which is somewhat true, in that WordPress and my email provider, as well as Word, note the misspellings, but not the erroneous miscues.  Peace pie, at lease, the list is endless.  Similar to Radium 223; we assumed that was the next step, but maybe not.  Assuming is a tricky deal, not always for the best.  Maybe it’s best to be like Buttercup, hording the remote, ready to change the channel if the Giants get wonky.  And at least (not lease) Buttercup doesn’t care how I spell peach pie or at least.  She just wants to eat the pie, peaceful or not.

Dad wants pie too, and while ice cream is tasting good again, he prefers Cool Whip.  I also know he’d prefer radium over other treatments, just as he and I and Mom and my hubby and probably even Buttercup would prefer SF to win the Series at home.  But what we prefer is at times irrelevant.  All we can do is wait and see.

And eat the peach and peace pie with great big spoons.  And cheer on the Giants to perhaps another World Series championship!