Tag Archives: life

Wondering where this year will take me….

Hello 2018!  Yesterday we received rain after the driest December in thirty years, so January is starting off well.  I’ll be heading north at the end of the week, spending time with my grandson and his pop.  Tomorrow I’ll visit Little Miss and her sister, my eldest daughter and son-in-law too.  Oh and Buttercup, who is adjusting to life with another person in her household.  Familial ties will most likely be the theme of the next twelve months, although there’s no keeping a writer’s imagination stilled.

Off for a walk before raindrops intruded….  Little Miss makes sure that Miss Em has a pacifier handy at all times, ha ha ha….

Nor a quilter’s hands idle, although my right thumb has been achy as of late, making me wonder how much hand-quilting I’ll accomplish in 2018.  Then there’s an orphan binding which I uncovered a few days ago, with no clue for what it was meant to complete.  I sort of recall making it, I think….  Not often do I employ brown in my sewing, but here’s an espresso binding, waiting for a quilt to encase.  Is this a harbinger of other unfinished projects, dangling in the wind….

What in the world am I going to do with this?

Ahem, I certainly hope not, but honestly, The Hawk flits in and out of my mind, as has another tale with a complimentary playlist from ages ago.  I’ve been listening to those tunes while I hand-quilt, pondering a plot that while I won’t say seems destined to be written, definitely takes up space in my gray matter.  I’m not overly concerned; 2017 taught me to embrace the NOW, leaving LATER to sort itself out at a more appropriate time.

Yet, achy hands remind me that time is a precarious notion; I’m not getting younger, you know.  As my grandchildren age, so do I, ha ha, um, yeah.  Forgetting about a chocolate coloured binding doesn’t worry me, although now I feel slightly compelled to fashion a complimentary quilt top, or a set of placemats/mug rugs to give that binding a home.  Knowing that I’m leaving in a matter of days keeps me from embarking upon more than updating new calendars, sending off New Year’s cards instead of Christmas cards because we didn’t order them in time to arrive before the end of December, as well as adding to my packing list for a week away from home.  To put it bluntly, I’m in limbo right now, both mentally as well as projectarily, and it’s a funny state of mind to inhabit.

Yet, it’s also a beautiful place to be, sort of like where my youngest daughter is in the SoCal desert.  She might never be in that location again, but for the next ten days it’s home, living out of a tent, barely getting phone reception (but we’re very grateful that she does!), hiking around examining rocks.  This is part of her graduation requirement, plus she loves this kind of exploration.  I joke that I love not camping, but this girl adores it, plus rocks to study?  Dude, that’s her kind of heaven.  She’ll return full of stories and details, then prepare for another term of school.  Maybe January starts off the year, but perhaps it takes until February until 2018 truly dawns.

And speaking of daybreak, my youngest sent the above photo yesterday during the brief window while she had access to data.  Maybe I don’t want to live out of a tent, but this kind of morning is a priceless sort, and I’m putting it here for others to enjoy.  Also as a reminder that pleasure and purpose can be as exhilarating, also fleeting, as a sunrise.  I’m not going to squander time wondering if this book or that idea will come to fruition, nor why I crafted a dark brown quilt binding.  Instead I’ll complete this post, then make my next move, probably toward the kitchen for some breakfast, more coffee, then updating wall calendars.  After that, it’s anyone’s guess.  But uncertainty doesn’t need to be scary, it’s actually liberating.  I have enough tasks in my future already set in stone.  Today’s agenda is merely to inhale the peace, then share it however I’m able.  May that calm be yours too.

Time Marches On….

Changes have occurred, not as large as last year, but still on a scale to rock a few hills.  Our son moved out, so for the first time in six years, it’s simply the husband, me, quilts, sports, tunes….  Okay, it’s not a silent, empty residence, but it’s altered, in part that now the rooms shake with melodic reverberations from early in the morning.  There’s no one I need to be still for, once my hubby is out the door.  There’s no one here but me.

I haven’t been a stay at home mom for a long time; that ended when our youngest left for college.  But a year later, she and our son came home, and for five years that middle child lived with us, often in his own world, but sometimes engaged with ours.  He has Asperger’s, and while he’s on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum, it’s taken a while for him to stretch those wings and fly on his own.

Now that he has….  Jeez, it’s like he sat down with us for dinner every night, like he plopped onto the sofa for whatever game was televised, like he chatted with me from morning till night.  He did none of those things, yet we saw him every day.  Every day he was here, in our lives, not in a manner we imagined when he was little, but in a way as unique as he is.

And now he’s living hours away.  My goodness, that’s hard to believe.  It’s like accepting my grandkids aren’t babies anymore; Little Miss just turned one, and like her cousin, she’s fast on her feet, not waiting for the world to catch up with her.  She has a soft voice, unlike The Burrito, well, most of the time.  Sometimes she gives it up for a crowd, but at just twelve months, there’s much for her to learn.

The Burrito and Little Miss at her party; LM's other gran Mimi made that gorgeous dress, and this photo is also courtesy of Mimi.

The Burrito and Little Miss at her party; LM’s paternal gran Mimi made that gorgeous dress, and this photo is also courtesy of Mimi.

My husband and I never compared our kids when they were little; they were three very different souls, and while they still are, they’re no longer our babies.  I’m now the family facilitator, what I said at Little Miss’s party when the question was asked of how I spent my time.  A writer, quilter, familial organizer, which prompted a laugh, but thankfully I didn’t have to explain what being the mom of an adult autistic son entailed.  Or what it brought out of me over the years, whereas now the stillness around me parallels the quiet that roared over the last five years, but for one notion.

I truly am alone.

Not that I’m complaining, please don’t misconstrue.  I am so blessed to have these hours, utilized in a variety of manners, from keeping house to plying my passion for prose to sewing.  Grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel when I consider my….  It’s a job, unpaid but well compensated, and not merely in the books, blankets, and time spent with grandkids, or the hours I had with my dad.  It’s about embracing the life I have been given, sometimes with rough edges, knowing they are smoothed out by grace.  Occasionally my husband joked that our son was going along with us wherever we retired.  But no, he has another path to follow.  And mine, for now, remains here in Silicon Valley within a new domicile, although we haven’t had to up sticks.

A big wall waiting for my imagination, well, that and some spare batting from which to display fabrics....

A big wall waiting for my imagination, well, that and some spare batting from which to display fabrics….

But his room will undergo a few changes; we’ll paint, and I’m thinking light blue.  A second quilt wall will decorate the west wall, probably after the painting, or maybe not, hehehe.  While I could have used that large of a wall for my Big Bright Quilt, other projects will benefit from the elbow room, as well as the afternoon light.  My writing/sewing grotto will remain right where I’m sitting in it now, but having a little more design space is a delight.  And a good way to use that room when visitors (mainly grandbabies) aren’t visiting.

They are still babies, even if both are nimble on their toes.  And while our son tried giving us back his house key, we refused.  It’s still your home, we said, totally unaware of how strongly his absence would affect us.  As we drove away, having made sure he was fairly settled in his new digs, we both kept feeling he was at home, like he always…was.  He used to live here, but now he doesn’t.  I don’t need to leave a note, don’t have to buy pretzels or pizza ingredients or the occasional bag of gummy worms.  Well, I did buy one bag, as we’re off to see him this weekend, taking with us what didn’t fit in my car when he moved.  But grocery lists are altered, as well as my heart.  And my occupation.  I’m not a stay at home mom anymore.  I’m a writer, quilter, and a….

Hmmm….  I guess I need to let the dust settle and ponder that some.  Because not even family facilitator works.  All my kids are managing their own routines.  In the interim, I’ll get back to the projects at hand; mulling over Part Eleven of The Hawk (which I hope to be begin writing in a couple of weeks) and producing some potholders for one of my other kids.  As those come to fruition, maybe too will emerge a sense of who I am now, what with it just me, (novels) myself, (quilts) and I to amuse….

Some of Life’s Mysteries

Batik fat quarter in sage.

Batik fat quarter in sage.

Over the last few days I have begun a project, which I have been waiting to start for months.  This quilt is for a young woman dear to my heart, these fabrics collected since late spring.  Now it’s early autumn, time for this blanket to come together.

Another batik, this time in beige.

Another batik, this time in beige.

Some projects are like that, eagerly anticipated yet made to wait.  Others hit like a truck, but not always do I know why I feel flattened in the middle of the road.

And sometimes, there isn’t an answer, for as I pulled these fabrics from the closet, salivating over them, I learned some initially distressing news; the family for whom I had a pile of quilts was gone.  I don’t know to where, or how to reach them.  I spent part of a day ruminating over this information, wondering if I had sewn more quickly or not made quilts for the parents…  But at the end of the day, I accepted that perhaps this was a blessing I hadn’t considered all those days of cutting, piecing, and quilting.  Maybe all my thoughts for them were prayers of a sort, taking them to a better place of residence where a bevy of quilts wasn’t altogether necessary.

These were bought at Eddie's Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale; I think these two are some of my very favourite fabrics.

These were bought at Eddie’s Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale; I think these two are some of my very favourite fabrics.

A bevy of quilts; sounds better than a flock.  And of that bevy, all have been granted new homes, which lifts my heart.  The sister quilts were the hardest to place, but they will go to our church in December, landing under the giving tree for two girls who need a bright splash of warm colour.  No quilt goes unclaimed on my watch.

Add a splash of green from Beverly's in Campbell, and now we're cooking with gas.

Add a splash of green from Beverly’s in Campbell, and now we’re cooking with gas.

But back to this beloved project, which will be called a Bestie Far Away.  Not my bestie, but a bestie to someone close to my heart, which means a bestie to me, in a way.  These fabrics, many batiks, were part of the birthday pressie collection, plus a few I picked up along the way.  But as soon as I received them I knew for whom they were destined.  Yet, other quilts loitered in the queue ahead of this one, a fall quilt, autumnal in nature.  And now, the first day of October, it’s time.

Thank you lord, it’s finally time!

The completed stack; some those on top will also be incorporated into another project, hehehe....

The completed stack; some those on top will also be incorporated into another project, hehehe….

There was A LOT of fabric to cut, two hundred fifty-five squares worth, plus more for good measure.  And that doesn’t include the sashes, which will make this comforter seventeen by nineteen four-inch blocks, or sixty-eight by seventy-six inches.  That’s no small quilt, let me say, especially after my foray into baby blankets.  But fifteen by seventeen fits on my quilt wall (just), and that’s what matters.

If it fits on the quilt, bring on the piecing!

And now the hard part; which square goes where...

And now the hard part; which square goes where…

Lately I’ve been doing the actual quilting on my smaller table, where my sewing machine most often resides.  I’m thinking for this baby, sashes included, it’s going to be quilted on my big table, here in the grotto.  How shall it be quilted remains to be seen.  I’d *like* to try something different; I’ve stitched in the ditch myself nearly to tears.  But that’s a few weeks away, for today is a road trip for Dad’s next step in the battle against cancer, not a fight he can win, but more of a scrap to see who outlasts the other.  Either Dad will tire of the tussle, or cancer will concede to let nature take its course, which might sound erroneous, but sometimes life surprises us.

That family of quilts wasn’t for one particular clan after all.  Who knows where Dad’s journey on this path will take him?

About halfway; I was sending these to my eldest, getting her opinion.  She was pretty pleased.

About halfway; I was sending these to my eldest, getting her opinion. She was pretty pleased.

But this I do know; once pieced, then rows sewn, then sashed, then sandwiched, then quilted, this project will land in the arms of a lady so beautiful and amazing, it gives me profound pleasure even thinking about her and this quilt.  It hearkens back to when I was finishing Dad’s blanket, my very first quilt, and how happy I was to give him something necessary in his chemo adventure, also a gift from my own hands.  That is a large part of why I love quilting, writing too.  It comes from my hands, head, and heart.  In this rather modern world, it’s a precious blessing to pass along.

The finished quilt, which will now decorate (and keep watch over) the grotto in my absence.

The finished quilt, which will now decorate (and keep watch over) the grotto in my absence.

Nothing virtual about a quilt, I’ll say.  It’s about as tactile as one’s soul gets, and even better when it rests in another’s grasp.  Another mystery, best left unsolved.

And just in case they try to escape, those tucked in the far right corner have been documented.  Sorry kids, but you're not going anywhere but under my sewing machine...

And just in case they try to escape, those tucked in the far right corner have been documented. Sorry kids, but you’re not going anywhere but under my sewing machine…

What Makes Me Feel Alive…

I was thinking about this during the weekend, as I cut fabrics, once I’d read Laura Bruno Lilly’s post from 16 May, which was a pretty fine day in my neck of the woods.  But one day leads to another, and now it’s Monday, the 19th.  I have a doctor’s appointment, to see if my new hypertension meds are doing the job.  I also have errands to run, but no quilting; I finished a quilt top last week, on Thursday, and it now lives on the quilt wall, until I get some flannel for the back.

This quilt top was made from birthday fabrics, and I call it The Birthday Quilt, or The Little House on an Island Quilt, which is explained here.  It’s also very autumnal in appearance, hence why I haven’t rushed out for fabric to back it with.  Plus as I was completing it, temps here in Silicon Valley were HOT!  Not even a birthday quilt is appealing when it’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

But this week it’s much nicer, in the low 70s, very quilt-accommodating.  However, flannel fabric goes on sale at Joanns this weekend, and I have other tasks calling, so that birthday present will be quilted together next week.  And after that, I have a roomie quilt on tap, for my daughter’s soon to be former roommate.  They’re not separating due to a quarrel, only that it’s the end of the semester, and lives move in different directions.  But quilts are always welcome, brooking the distances, regardless of the weather.

Front stacks are for the roomie quilt, the back stack is for the rag quilt…

However, as often happens, I’m digressing.  Or maybe it’s totally apropos to be discussing quilts and feeling fulfilled.  For the last three months, I’ve found this pastime immensely satisfying, in a way never imagined.  I’ve been cutting fabrics the last few days, for the Former Roomie Quilt, also for a rag quilt that I want to make, once I have enough six-inch squares accumulated.  While slicing through cottons, I’ve listened to many tunes, always a soul-pleaser.  And I’ve contemplated Laura’s post, which I strongly recommend.  Especially touching to me were the quotes from others translated through Laura and her beloveds.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do: John Wooden via Bobby, Laura’s dear friend’s son.

Throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference, accepting that you may not understand how or why: Conductor Benjamin Zander via Laura.

But the one that really made me think was this…

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go and do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive: Walt Whitman via Laura.

So, while I cut fabrics, I considered how sewing and quilting have changed my little neck of the woods, but not just in an ironing board and stash of cottons sort of way, although that has been quite an alteration.  Because, as I’ve been quilting myself happy, I’ve been apart from something that until just recently, like say when I first bought fabrics back in February, was my comfort zone.

Writing used to be like quilting to me.

I could have titled this post I Used To Write Like I Quilt, but instead I’m trying to focus on the positive, wanting to keep my blood pressure as low as possible.  I’ll take a break in a few, to get over to the doc, but in the meantime, I wanted to start this post, so I wouldn’t lose this train of thought.  And I don’t want to lose the writing either.  For as I’ve been reading over the novel WIP, I’m finding myself slowly drawn back into that realm, far from fabrics and pins and rotary cutters.

Writing a novel is like living another life, like the quilt binding that I’ve already made for the Birthday Quilt, beautiful and colourful and…  Not quite time for it yet.  Although, it’s there, ready and waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting and waiting and…

Aching to be put to good use...

Aching to be put to good use…

Well, I’m back from the doc; blood pressure a fine 123/80, with a reminder to make an appointment for September, to make sure all remains well.  By September, how many quilts will have been fashioned?  By September, how many words might have been written…

Ahem.  Well, some, I hope.  I haven’t written in over two months, which for me is ages.  I wrote books like I now put together quilts, ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom!  But The Hawk sputtered out just as I truly got into the Chemo quilt, and other than reading over a chapter first thing after I wake, then another right before I fall asleep…

Nada, nyet, nunca, zip, zilch, nothing doing baby.  Instead, I’ve been piecing quilt tops.  And basting them to battings and backings and attaching bindings and…  You get the picture.  I’ve been dabbling in a craft that has tickled my fancy, making me feel alive in ways writing does not.  Or did not.  But will hopefully again stir my soul.

I still am a writer, but I’m also a quilter.  Maybe the quilting has helped with my blood pressure, who knows?  It sure has given me distinct pleasure in a very hands-on manner.  But my brain is screaming for its moment in the sun.  Okay, hands, sure.  Nice and busy.  Alive, oh most definitely.  Yet my heart beats for more than quilting, of course.  It adores loved ones, baseball, walks, the beach and…

Writing.

There’s no photo to post for that, so instead I’ll share the latest picture of Buttercup. She makes me smile, not as how writing or quilting does.  But she certainly makes me feel alive, which at the end of the day (and the end of this post) is what matters most.  I have to take it on faith that the sabbatical from writing is not the end of the world, just another bend in the path.  Which seems as convoluted as that binding on my table.  However, it’s not important that I understand why or how, but to just smile, take a deep, low blood pressure breath, and say Ta love…

She always sits so lady-like.

She always sits so lady-like (but is eagerly awaiting belly rubs).