Tag Archives: healing

So Temporary

While entries have been few, I’ve been sewing up a storm; English paper piecing has become my go-to fave, while hand-quilting remains the evening distraction.  Paper piecing truly lends itself to recent travels, and I find it’s a great way to start the morning, what with no words being written.  Just today I started this block; it might sit on the kitchen table a few more days, then I’ll tuck it away with another made solely from scraps.  I’d like to fashion an entire quilt of these from leftovers, a long-term project with no concrete date of completion.

Mandolin block in progress; thanks to Jodi from Tales of Cloth.

I felt that way about The Hawk, then found The End earlier this year.  But shortly after that novel wrapped up, Mom got sick and….  Suddenly everything felt half-baked, like my life was prematurely tossed in the can alongside my mother’s.  Or more rightly how I saw my life; maybe I had become complacent, not in that I’d finally finished a very long story, or that grandkids had become my focus, or any sort of reason or mantra that now seems trite.  Trite isn’t the correct word, but that’s apropos as well; I feel like a scattered jigsaw missing several key pieces.  And what I’m discovering is that those pieces aren’t magically going to turn up under the sofa or behind a bookcase.  They are gone for good and the puzzle that is my life will eventually adjust to their permanent absence.

When I sent this photo to my eldest, Little Miss wanted to know why the block was broken, lol.

I’ve lost loved ones before; my brother, my dad, a dear friend when I was quite young.  I can’t put my finger on why Mom’s passing has so rattled me, or there are too many notions for one to be outstanding.  We are so temporary, just fleeting blips along a timeline, like single stitches within a quilt or solitary sentences inside a novel.  Or maybe a speck of water, bumping into another, forming raindrops that I would love to see fall from the sky.  It’s autumn, and while a deluge is drenching the East Coast, California would love a little precipitation.  Yet even our endless summers don’t last forever; everything changes, including the most stalwart people and ideas.  We are here for brief moments, some no more lasting than the blink of an eye.

Then I sent this shot, nearly finished; urchin block courtesy of Tales of Cloth.

Then you blink again and the beginning of one season heralds another, and quilt tops go from patchwork to paper piecing and novels sit in hard drives while ideas for others linger in my mind.  And Mom sits there too, that’s where she now dwells.  Photos are reminders, but I can’t speak to her or receive emails or letters.  It’s weird how our brains retain certain facts, but our hearts ache for other manners of reciprocation.  Yet there’s nothing doing; can’t find those puzzle pieces, can’t go backwards.  We can only go forward, even if it’s so damned temporary.

Done! Now to figure out what to do with it….

Losing Mom has been like losing my right leg, and now I’m facing an uphill battle to reclaim my footing.  I’m not sure when I’ll post again, because there’s only so many grieving entries I feel capable of writing.  But good awaits on the horizon; a little brother for The Burrito, more quilts certainly, maybe another novel, ha ha.  Previous sabbaticals always brought me back to blogging, so until then wrap your arms tightly around those you love.  And if one is missing, blow them a kiss and keep on walking.  The smooth plain might appear far away, but is often closer than it seems.

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A rebooting of sorts….

We’re home from holiday; my youngest daughter married her partner whilst on vacation, so I have a new son-in-law.  The wedding was small, a larger affair scheduled for next spring.  This alteration isn’t due to Mom’s death, but better news; The Burrito will get a little brother before the end of this year and his folks decided to adjust their nuptials accordingly.  Which means a wedding quilt is now in the works, which I officially started this morning.

Not exactly hexies, but definitely paper piecing….

Well, I began glue-basting honeycombs a couple of days ago, but now a block’s worth of paper pieces are waiting to be sewn together.  Not sure if that will commence today, but at least I managed to arrange these shapes into something eye-pleasing.

Our vacation was fraught with airline mishaps, but those were set aside amid the wonder of Miss Em learning to pull herself to standing, as well as three-year-olds having a fabulous time on boat rides.  In the flurry of wedding prep I was able to forget what happened in June, enjoying a brief window of life as it ever was.  Coming home, I immediately went north to help pack up Mom’s house.  However my siblings did a bang-up job, so instead I assisted in a new bride going through her closets and The Burrito’s wardrobe.  Not only did I bring home mementos of my mother, but bags of 2 and 3T sized clothes waiting for another little one in which to romp and roam.

Cousins awaiting the big event; my sister-in-law turned these into gorgeous bouquets and boutonnieres with blooms to spare.

Some items left for me didn’t make it to Silicon Valley; I gave my father’s quilt to my youngest, as when I made it she lamented the aged fleece blanket used for the back.  Upon inspection, my hand-sewing has stood the test of the last four and a half years, making me long to again hand-sew a quilt top.  Right now more comforters than I can count await my machine, one of which is for an impending grandson.  Fortunately that blanket won’t be more than some whole cloth quilting that I will probably do on my machine to save time.

I designed this today, adding some hastily cut up batiks to round out the necessary large squares. I’m happy with it, and we’ll see when I get around to sewing it together.

Saving time…. That’s a funny concept as August is already half gone, this summer still feeling like I’m dwelling in an alternate universe.  Glue-basting honeycombs and 1″ squares was also a part of it; what has happened to all my lovely routines?  Everything’s different, and yes I know that’s a part of life but, but, but….  In checking out Dad’s quilt, I was sent back to when both of my parents were alive, no grandkids were present, The Hawk just a shell of itself.  Dad’s quilt remains, my novel turned behemoth is done, a fourth nieto is on the way, and now I paper piece.  My, my, my; that’s a lot of changes.

Up close with my dad’s quilt; no obvious weak seams, yay!

Right after Mom died, I thought about what I was grateful for, because even during a storm taking stock of the blessings matters.  Goodness knows I have heaps of treasures, and I am cognizant of them.  But recently I shared with some of Mom’s sisters that I feel like everything, little and large, looks as though a veil has been removed.  I then expounded upon that with my youngest sister that the accompanying glare is pretty damn bright and boy I’m tired of squinting.  I’m weary of all this newness, wondering for how long will the sensation last, or is this just how the rest of my life will be, constantly staring out finding yet another long-held tenet is askew.  I don’t know, nor will I find that answer immediately.  I suppose if I live to be an old lady, squinting won’t seem odd mostly because my eyesight will be shot.  And if I do live a long time, with most of my wits about me, will I still miss my parents or might this enormous sense of loss remain?

My first quilt, now in a new home. What tales could this comforter tell….

Plenty of queries, maybe as many as the quilts waiting to be fashioned.  I can’t fathom when I might write again, but it’s not like I’m aching for distractions; I’m most grateful for fabrics and thread and my ironing board.  And exceedingly thankful for my family, their patience overflowing.  One more is on the way, due the day before Mom’s birthday, and I’m very appreciative of that too.  Maybe that’s the biggest lesson of all, saying Thank You while I still can.

The Hawk, Part Thirteen

Usually when another piece of this saga has been published, an accompanying entry is brief; it’s up and you can find it here.  But while I plan to release this tale in a formal manner, more needs to be acknowledged.  Making the conclusion available closes a large circle that I couldn’t have dreamed when first starting this book over four years ago.

I wasn’t a grandmother then, my familial role that of supporting my parents while Dad battled cancer, occasionally helping out my offspring when the need arose.  This tale started humbly, but quickly I sensed a wider scope emerging.  At the same time, my father underwent chemotherapy while quilts knocked on my door.  Writing fell by the wayside; it was difficult concentrating and sewing required less brain power.  Then my youngest became pregnant, followed by her elder sister and….

Suddenly my existence as an author seemed to have vanished on a stiff wind.  Now I wonder if not for The Hawk, might I have eschewed writing altogether?  Yet there was a story to tell, at times bigger than I thought I could tackle.  In bits and chunks I wrote, then decided to simultaneously publish what had accumulated.  That too kept me writing, although the more I fashioned, the longer this tale grew.

In the interim, babies were born, my dad passed.  Eric, Lynne, and the rest became an extension of my own clan; when not writing, I wondered when I might return to their realm, and when I was working, I pondered how blessed was my life with The Burrito, Little Miss, and Miss Em.  My father would find their antics amusing, perhaps how he views my foray into fiction.  How I see my novelistic endeavors has altered, and this story stands like a demarcation; closing my eyes, I easily recall my previous life as an author, but in taking a good look, that woman appears half formed.

Maybe that is simply indicative of life’s changes, but how often do we get a guidebook or pamphlet in the middle of such transitions?  For me, that is what The Hawk has become, a Life Echo minus the sound.  Yet melodic memories waft right over my head, laying their healing beauty within my ears as I read Eric’s laments, Lynne’s dreams, Stanford’s hesitations, Laurie’s joy, Sam’s eagerness, Renee’s hopes, Marek’s wisdom, Seth’s fears, Klaudia’s wariness.  My goodness, that’s quite a collection, but The Hawk isn’t a small novel, lol.  It’s many love stories, a few tragedies.  It’s fact and fantasy set in the 1960s and thank the Lord it’s finally finished.  The entire collection is available on Smashwords, and will be released in full on various other online retailers soon.

All Sorts of Sounds

A recent shot of chatty sisters, rattling toys nearby.

Recently Little Miss celebrated her third birthday.  A party was held, plenty of festive notions, and now she stands alongside her older cousin, far away from Miss Em who at five and a half months is a happy, grabby, drooly infant.  I have been in full grandma-mode lately, but even while cuddling nietos and enjoying family, ponderings of an audible nature have continued.

I wonder if my grandson heard the water, birds, or leaves rustling in the breeze.

A couple of weeks ago I learned about Life Echo, a project that connects sounds to memory.  I don’t mean songs, but everyday noises which hearken to moments within our lives; from chirping birds to rollicking waves to clanking vehicles, sounds are harnessed to map out a person’s past.  Clients fill out questionnaires and those at Life Echo interpret the data, fashioning a memory soundtrack.  Investigating the website, I felt as if entering a new world, in part that when I think of sound, music emerges as the main element.  But there was also a newfound appreciation for the audible world surrounding me; from planes flying overhead and children’s laughter to basketball announcers and my fingers on a keyboard.  Our lives are bordered and buffered by sound, and how much of it do we tune out as irritating or unnecessary?

I recall the buzz of my sewing machine as well as the clunk of the presser foot lifted and released many times over during the quilting of this coaster.

Yet what if our existences were stripped of noise?  I’ve been mulling over how that element could figure into my next novel.  I’ve also paid closer attention to the ticking clock here in my writing room, considered how the floor creaks near the big quilt wall.  I’m cognizant of the dishwasher’s faint hum, how the light rail’s doors open as if in a vacuum.  Being aware of background sounds has become a new hobby, not that I need more to do; this is so easy, maybe a little distracting, but in a good way.  It’s a renewed manner of observation, and I am so grateful for the reminder.  Our memories aren’t merely that of faces and events, but an auditory sense that isn’t music.  Another kind of melody wafts through our days, adhering to the gray matter, then poking us when again those sounds are realized.  Sometimes the pricks are gentle, sometimes a bit sharp.  Life Echo brings to the forefront those which lift the heart, heal a wound, rouse a smile.  Thanks to Justin for sharing this amazing project!

Of what are we so afraid?

This isn’t an entry about gun control or our country’s leadership.  This is a post about us.

For it is to us human beings that this tragedy has befallen, all of us.  It directly affects those injured and the families of those slain, yet we are interconnected regardless of how distant some wish us to be.  Spirits who long for discord and chaos revel in the catastrophe in Parkland, Florida, also delighting in the sorrow of every other mass killing, be it with weapons or war or any other form of violence.  The threat of bodily harm stirs urges toward self-defense, the sensation of fear increases the adrenaline.  Yet, of whom (or who) are we terrified?

Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews, the Hutu government slaughtered upwards of one million fellow Tutsi Rwandans, Jim Jones led nearly a thousand followers to take their lives in the Guyana jungle.  Fear and hatred brought together form a powerful sword and we wave that blade even at the most innocuous moments; on the freeway when a driver cuts us off, at the suspicious looking stranger pushing an overfilled shopping cart, within our hearts due to this wrong perpetrated or that perceived slight.  Spirits who stir our animosity become they, and we wish to further ourselves from them.  The further we step away, the poorer become our souls, because they are us.

We are not a planet populated with alternate beings, we are all humans, imperfect and aching.  Love is what binds our wounds, but love, compassion, kindness, and understanding are being squeezed out of the equation, for it is so much easier to condemn, then turn away from, what seems loveless.  When we look upon our neighbor with fear, how simple is it to ratchet that to loathing, then reach for our sword, striking down that enemy.  This is exactly the position we must resist, gathering all our courage to instead embrace what is frightening, what seems insurmountable.  We must step toward another, leaving our weapons of destruction behind us.

From last Easter; The Burrito helps Little Miss navigate the shrubbery.

Those weapons aren’t merely guns; they are thoughts and words steeped in fear, heightened by callousness.  Our hearts turn cold, our tolerance wanes.  Apathy becomes hostility, and they turn into a group less than human, deserving no pity.  Today I pray for those in Parkland, but I also pray for myself to love more, be less afraid, and to embrace despite differences.  Only in these manners can peace and healing truly be achieved.

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

Creativity amid catastrophe

Medicine Lake where my youngest recently went camping with her family. Such serenity….

Quilting on the Wedding Comforter is going well; I’ve come up with a nice design that looks great on the back, and is easy for me to keep track of while sewing.  I like improv hand-quilting too, but that takes more forethought, and sometimes it’s nice to meander along with a firm plan in mind.

As for The Hawk, I have six chapters left to edit of Part 12, then writing awaits.  That’s thrilling, also a bit overwhelming, but even if I don’t finish it before the next nieta arrives, eventually this saga will find its completion.

However, contemplating such WIPs almost feels a little wrong; hurricanes and earthquakes have wreaked havoc in America, Mexico, and Guatemala, so where do my small accomplishments fit in?  I mentioned the idea for this post to my husband as we headed to church on Sunday, and our pastor’s sermon carried a similar notion.  He claimed that he’d happily watch the LA Dodgers in the World Series if calamities worldwide could be tamed.  I’m not sure I can be that altruistic, yet I was relieved by his words.  We chatted after the service about this idea; I wondered if Americans felt at all this way during World War II, so much devastation occurring in Europe but other than Pearl Harbor, the United States saw no destruction.  Sitting in my writing/sewing room, I have no worries about floods, high winds, or ruin. An earthquake could strike, this is California, but today all is fine in my neighborhood.

Maybe the answer to my musings lies in referencing a conflict that touched nearly all the Earth; the wreckage of WWII was vast not merely in the damage inflicted upon nations, but for the loss of lives, those of soldiers, The Holocaust, and civilians.  Yet to speak of that conflict sounds slightly antiquated, for it was over seventy-five years in the past.  However, one day 2017 will be seventy-five years ago; life doesn’t stop for any disaster, natural or man-made.

In the tangle of wreckage, beauty still exists, spots of quiet stillness a balm.

It’s important to recognize calamity in one’s midst, to offer help, to pray for restoration.  There will always be chaos somewhere on this planet, but healing occurs over time.  The small gifts I manage via prose and fabric shouldn’t be diminished due to greater losses, but celebrated for the joys they extend, for if joy is forgotten, then hope is extinguished and catastrophe emerges victorious.  I’m working out this notion as I type, which is one of the reasons I write; to better understand the world around me.  But another purpose for my creative endeavors is to translate the beauty that has been placed into my soul.  To hide that away would be like dousing a flame, and that’s not what I am directed to do.  Especially now, when life seems rather bleak, all the better to shine my light, small as it is.  It’s proof that hope endures, goodness triumphs.  I pray for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the Chiapas earthquake.  My work today is dedicated to them.