Tag Archives: family

200,000 plus….

Returning home from a week with my grandson, 200K popped up on my car’s odometer, sort of a parallel to my current life.  I certainly felt like I had over two hundred thousand miles on me, considering all that had happened in the previous six days.  My nieto is an active chap from as soon as he says good morning right up until it’s time for bed.  This abuela needs not only some physical down time, but mental recharging.  I’m just not as young as I used to be.

But beautiful memories lessen the distance that helped to accrue those 200K miles on my vehicle; The Burrito and I traveled into space, courtesy of his imagination and my (limited) knowledge of the solar system.  We fought fires, had puppet shows, drew snowmen, and battled the Fan Monster, which consisted of a box fan behind my bedroom door.  We called for Superman’s help, colored various Christmas-themed pictures, put away decorations, and read mountains of books.  Puddles were conquered, stained glass art created, mac and cheese cooked, and the sting was taken from nap and bed times, instead becoming an opportunity for him to ‘grow’.  When he woke, I asked if he’d grown, and he happily said oh yes, showing off his strong muscles.

Exploring puddles in the neighborhood, which includes a handy stick.

Of course, his nap on my last day was preceded by tears; saying goodbye isn’t easy.  Driving home, I considered our visit, also watching the miles tick away on the odometer.  Suddenly  200,000 appeared, my goodness!  I’ve had this car since we moved back, nearly eleven years, jeez….  It had just a little over 18K when we purchased it, and other than a failed cruise control, still runs very well.  It’s taken me on countless road trips, and God willing has another 100K left in the engine.  Goodness knows I hope many miles remain for me to traverse.

Many configurations of train tracks were laid, sparking more adventures…..

Coming home, I also pondered how much I like driving, the California girl in me, I suppose.  It’s strange to think we’ve been back in my home state nearly as long as we lived in England, good grief!  I’ll turn around one day and my eldest grandkids will be preteens, lol.  Time shifts so swiftly now, it’s as if eleven years is maybe one, 200,000 miles like a trek to visit my grandson.  It’s the middle of January already, Miss Em a month old!  The Burrito will be three in February, another consideration as I sped along freeways.  I traveled the same roads in 2015, right before his arrival, when my father was still living.  Dad’s been gone now going on those three years, but those of us remaining keep right on trucking.

Suffice to say, last week was full of deep truths as well as jovial play times.  Upon my return home, I was definitely knackered, also exceedingly grateful to have been a part of The Burrito’s life for several days.  Now at home, I can mull over those life lessons, made sweeter by memories that aren’t merely mine, but my grandson’s too.  What he’ll recall of these days is unknown, but maybe he’ll remember the feeling of love shared.  To me, that’s the best recollection of all….

Another Wedding Quilt

Wrapping up one last project before I go, and it’s a beauty.  This quilt was originally meant for those who had lost their homes in the North Bay fires last autumn, but I sent two other quilts instead.  Then I learned a member of our church is getting married, so….  The low volume prints hearken to a wedding, and the plus signs signify all the positive vibes that matrimony brings to a relationship.  The biggest question with this project was whether or not I could get it done before I left to watch my grandson, painful hands in the fray.

My last post ended with me wondering how I would fill the rest of that day; turns out I spent much of it hand-quilting this comforter.  As I sewed, I listened to Kate Bush’s Aerial, which we have on LP; it was good to get up every few songs to flip the record, shaking out my hands as well.

I kept telling myself, “Next week you will do no other sewing.”  Not that keeping an eye on The Burrito is simple, ha ha, but it won’t involve anything remotely related to fabrics.  With each section finished, my giddiness rose, the sense of completion rising within me.  Kind of like how I feel when a novel is nearly done, a long-held breath aching to be released.

And then suddenly it’s over, the last square stitched through.  Well, it’s practically done, as there remains sewing around the perimeter, attaching the binding, then hand-sewing it to the back.  But those steps are brief in comparison to hand-quilting, although just when you think you are done….

Why double-checking is so important; how I forgot to complete that beige square escapes me, but I’m sure glad I inspected it thoroughly.

You’re not quite there.

Fully stitched and ready to go…..

But a few stitches and voila, it really was ready for the final touches.  And now it’s in my washing machine, truly one of the last steps.  Tomorrow I’ll give it to a young woman who will soon become a married lady, then I’ll drive north for a week of fun with my nearly three-year-old grandson.   My hands will covet the break, and while I’ll miss my better half, this is part of being a mother and grandmother.  And without my hubby, I wouldn’t be either of those, lol.

Three-week-old Miss Em from last night, photo courtesy of my husband….

Maybe that’s another reason making a wedding quilt is so awesome; regardless of any progeny resulting from a marriage, the sense of togetherness is reinforced day after day.  Families are made in all kinds of manners, from the largest to the smallest.  Inaugurating a life-long commitment to love and fidelity deserves a special quilt; thanks be to God for such 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!

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.

Always a mom….

With every bit of writing that occurs, what becomes more clear to me is how this decade of my life isn’t about writing.  That’s been quite a fact to acclimate myself to, but it’s not merely due to the grandkids.  Once again I’m reminded that once a mother, always a mother.

When I began exploring prose, my youngest was still in high school, the elder two off to college.  Maybe my husband and I still had a child at home, but honestly, how much parenting happens when kids are teens, not as much as one desires.  As drafts emerged, that daughter graduated, then joined her siblings, and I had all the time I could wish for, time I used well in crafting a multitude of tales, then beginning my foray into independent publishing.  Even when my dad’s battle with cancer heated up, writing was a mainstay, keeping my mind focused.

The Burrito was a fireman this year for Halloween; I spent many moments with him during our last visit fighting pretend fires all over the yard.

But eventually Dad’s fight waned, and my daughters were expecting their own bambinos.  I was in the early stages of The Hawk by then, learning to quilt as well.  The Burrito arrived, Dad passed, Little Miss entered the fray, and writing dwindled, although not the spark.  Plots continued to emerge as babies don’t require more than a solid grip, ears accustomed to tears, and a burp cloth over one’s shoulder.

Little Miss and her grandpa attend to weeds this past weekend. She used a toy screwdriver The Burrito left on a previous visit.

However as infants turn to toddlers, a grandmother’s assistance becomes more vital, and I find myself going between the roles of mum and abuela.  Little Miss calls me Ma-ma-ma, a shortened version of Momma’s Mama (Grandpa is Momma’s Dada, funny what she decided for our names), and with Lil’ Sis due in less than a month, I’m truly feeling like someone’s mother in helping out my very pregnant daughter.  Youngest daughter often tells her son that I was her mother first, ha ha ha!  It’s great being needed by others, old and young.  I just wish I had time to….

From yesterday; Grandmaster Z making his own stained glass window with clear contact paper and tissue paper. He loved it!

I know, I know, these days won’t last forever.  Before I know it all those nietos will be clamoring for their own phones, Grandmaster Z included.  He’s almost three, talks in full sentences, yet wasn’t he just a wee one, weren’t all of them babies, and what about my own kids?  Didn’t my eldest just twist my arm to do NaNoWriMo when she was a senior in high school?  She’s pushing thirty now, good grief!  Where has the time gone?

What I have to remember is how fluid is time, and only becoming more brief.  It’s November, for instance, and while I wanted to complete The Hawk by the end of this year, more important tasks have muscled that novel out of the way.  Yet, I am writing, it’s not gone completely.  It’s simply a different method now, as how life is always evolving.  But the constant is the husband I adore, our children, and their children too.  Motherhood came long before the word count, and will probably outlast it; for as much as I love creating new existences, the ones I made with my beloved matter most.  This seems to be a rather difficult element for me to learn, but sometimes the best lessons require a fair bit of angst, or at least substantial rumination.  Goodness knows I put my characters through the wringer, guess now it’s my turn.

Today’s word count: 1,752

Getting closer all the time….

The top half, keeping the spare bed warm….

I’m going away for a few days, and while I wanted to get the fabric WIP put together, it didn’t happen.  I did get my shower cleaned, so I’m not entirely displeased about the unfinished quilt top.  More I’m aware that all things occur at their proper time.  That quilt isn’t going anywhere, and by the end of May, I’ll have that project basted, maybe even under my hand-quilting needle.

The Hawk languishes in a similar sort of space; I won’t say that by the month’s end I’ll be writing, but maybe I’ll have returned to revising; my goodness I miss working on that book.  I miss expressing myself via prose, I miss being deeply involved in a completely different sort of existence.  I miss who I used to be a couple of years ago, but that woman has moved on.

Becoming an abuela has been a process somewhat like turning into a quilter or taking on novels.  Baby steps, ha ha, come first, then suddenly Little Miss is nearly two and not having toddlers in my life seems strange.  But then, not writing is weird; separate spheres are trying to slot themselves into proper positions and as the toddlers show their turbulent sides, I’m having to wrestle the desire to create alongside nurturing my beautiful family.

The bottom sections, which will hang out on the quilt wall a little longer…..

My life can be noted by decades; in my twenties I became a mother.  My thirties were spent raising kids, teaching them too.  By my forties they were teens, and I was learning how to write fiction.  Now they are all in their twenties, dude!  My fifties seems to be the Grandma decade, and I’m grateful to be close to my daughters emotionally and geographically.  Yet this alteration isn’t without some growing pains, more for the wee ones than myself, and even when I’m feeling a little wonky, I can view more than what tomorrow might bring.  And that too is a fantastic blessing; perhaps my sixties will be another wordy jumble of years, stories that percolate in my brain finally landing on virtual documents.  In ten years, The Burrito and Little Miss will be preteens, jeez!  A grandmother’s presence won’t be as necessary for them or their folks; I’ll probably be the one needing a daily nap, hehehe.

As I absorb this latest life lesson, I’m mindful of how brief these days are, this interruption in writing and sewing really no more than a hiccup.  I’m also trying to impart these notions to my daughters; as they want to make their children’s lives smooth, I do too.  Becoming a grandmother isn’t as earth-shattering as turning into someone’s mom, but it has required moments for reflection.  And it’s nice to know new discoveries wait on the horizon.  Toddlers aren’t the only ones learning, but thankfully my curve isn’t as steep as theirs.  I’d fall right off the edge, let me tell you.  Plenty of quilts will soften all our landings, or maybe we’ll just snuggle under them, letting love be the best teacher.

It’s a Big Wide World, Midwest Version

The first leg of our trip was to see my husband’s family in the Midwest.  My sister and brother-in-law live on the shore of a lake, and for over twenty years it has been a fave holiday destination, that stretch of water similar to an ocean, although smaller, and with more distinct alterations.  While the tide doesn’t change, the water goes from calm to choppy, at times silent, often with a roar similar to waves breaking along the California coastline.  The best part of the lake is how easily accessible it is, just another part of the backyard.

Perhaps to focus only on one small section of water seems incongruous with today’s title, yet for this West Coast gal, upping sticks to the center of the country, even if for only a few days, is a major trek.  Then my world is widened by the embraces of relatives, their camaraderie and kindnesses further expanding my heart.  My sister-in-law saved little plastic animals we sent to her daughter, and now those toys are in my living room, waiting for another generation to claim their delights.  The Burrito loved playing with them, and I expect Little Miss and Grandmaster Z to find them just as fantastic.

I did no work while on holiday there, although I picked my brother-in-law’s brain for my next novel; he’s a builder and offered plenty of advice for the basis of the next tale.  I didn’t think much about The Hawk either, spending my time chasing after my grandson, walking the neighborhood with my other sister-in-law, or reveling in the peace offered by such a grand spectacle, be it dawn,


or late at night.

A good friend of my daughter’s drove from Indiana to visit; I’ve known that young lady since our days in the UK.  I chatted with my nephew, who I hadn’t seen in ages, and I observed my husband and his two sisters, how much they are alike, and their differences.  My youngest, her partner, and The Burrito were also in attendance, how blessed to have several generations together at once!  My husband’s mom turned 90 earlier this year, and it was great to see her with her great-grandson.

The Burrito also found the chickens a thrill; this place was like a wonderland for him, much as it has been for my children since they were his age.  And that’s another part of the expanse, memories being added as new family members are introduced to this magical land.  Sitting on the back deck, listening to water lapping along the shore, I found myself transported back to my first visit here in 1992; I was pregnant with my youngest, had never been west of Colorado.  Every time I return, it’s a mix of the past and present entwined, which increases the sense of how big is that moment, like my entire life has been spent near the healing waves or peaceful stillness.

Packing for the next leg of my journey, I recalled highlights; admiring stars in the night sky, taking my grandson for walks around the park, fantastic conversations with those I love.  While travel expands my sense of planetary scope, it’s time spent with my nearest and dearest to affect me the deepest.  And when these two notions are aligned, it’s as if time has no meaning, nor age, which I am finding a bit distracting, harrumph.  Crawling around the sleeping loft of the garage house, where my husband and I stayed, will be something for our children and their partners for next year.  And again my world is altered, as aging allows other traditions to emerge.

I might recapture the sense of being in my mid-twenties, but truthfully that was half my life ago.  And accepting one’s age is part of evolution too.  Years accrued elongate the horizon; perhaps age is a bigger element than I’ve ever previously noticed.  But it’s not overtly troublesome, other than making sure I don’t bump my head on a low ceiling first thing in the day.  For at night I can peer through trees, watching the sunset’s glory, the gentle hum of familiar voices announcing a perfect close to the day.

Summer holiday doesn’t get much better than that.