Tag Archives: love

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.

Advent Joys (also a post about Buttercup….)

Advent started later than usual this year, due to Christmas being on a Monday; it was strange not lighting candles right after Thanksgiving, but now that it’s already the 8th, candles flicker on our coffee table each evening, and I relish their gentle glow, as well as pondering the day’s Advent reading.  Our house isn’t overly decorated; I’ve given the majority of baubles to my daughters, through which their little ones are learning our family’s traditions.  And then there is one member who has claimed various quilts as her own….

Buttercup is probably around eleven years old; she is a rescue dog my eldest and her hubby adopted right after they married in 2012.  A basset-beagle mix, she was christened the grand-basset upon her entry into our family, and while actual nietos have arrived, she still earns her fair share of attention.  Last year when I quilted the tree skirt my eldest had sewn, we joked that it would belong to Buttercup once it found its proper place under the tree.  And sure enough, as soon as it was set out, BC claimed it as her own.

However, she’s still very fond of the sofa….

Now attired in her traditional Christmas sweater….

This Advent season has a reinforced message for my clan, what with waiting for a baby as well as the birth of Christ; Little Miss was eleven days late, and while Lil’ Sis isn’t officially due until this weekend, this weekend is practically upon us, dude!  If nothing else, an infant will join us before we celebrate Christmas, and I wonder if in looking back at this special season, will I recall the eagerness to snuggle a newborn alongside more weighty notions?  Babies at Christmastime seem extra special, or maybe I can say that being a grandmother, ha ha.  I’m trying to get much accomplished now, because very soon the days will be greatly altered, although we have no idea exactly when that change will happen.  And Advent is much the same, preparing our hearts for an immense gift that occurred over two thousand years ago, and is still happening right this minute, even if Buttercup sleeps through it.

I made the Christmas quilt a couple of years ago, I think? And the one on the sofa is the Mijos Quilt, one of the first I ever fashioned.

There is a quilt to finish, placemats and coasters too, presents to wrap, and still to purchase, ahem.  But more there is the peace to be found regardless of tasks and stresses, a peace that might seem slightly shaken by a newborn’s cries, a peace sometimes rattled by current events, but a perfect peace that overcomes all distractions.  That peace lies within our hearts, no way to keep it out, if we just look for it.  Buttercup is a good example of that peace, plopping herself on whatever quilt is handy, and at my daughter’s house, there’s a good number of them.

Or she finds what remains of a lap in which to snuggle.  And this is our call during Advent, to claim as our own the best gift of all; Christ’s peace abounds in unfathomable mercy, complete joy, immeasurable love.  Every evening as I light candles, I’m reminded not of what I didn’t accomplish that day, but of how each day I am blessed by that fantastic grace which goes so far over my head I can’t truly contemplate it, but still I try, for it matters so much.  In all the things I need to remember concerning this holiday, Christ’s peace tops the list.  Amid all the holiday bustle, may that peace be yours this Advent season.

All in a day’s work….

The Pacific Ocean north of Trinidad, California; “New Young” by Josh Rouse.

Spent a few days last week in Humboldt County with my hubby, Little Miss, and her mum, and the weather was glorious!  Sunny days and cool, starry nights made that brief holiday quite spectacular, not to mention sharing that beautiful area with family.  It was good to get home, for I have projects in need of attention.  There’s The Hawk, some quilts, and just the business of life.  I saw my doc this morning for a physical, and now that I’m in my fifties, it’s time for lipid tests and various other blood work that will follow (but not dog) my steps for the next couple of decades until I’m too old to be bothered.

Recently I joked about this with my neighbor, who is about ten years my senior.  There’s this window from fifty to seventy-five where we undergo pokes and prods, then it truly won’t matter.  My doctor nodded at my observations with mild eye rolling; this is his profession after all.  But it’s the truth, and for most of it I’ll gladly acquiesce, starting tonight by fasting until morning.  There’s so much I want to accomplish, best to be as fit of a fiddle as can be.

Another quilt on the wall; “Dove sei” by Neffa.

There are future family vacations, watching the nietos enter school, attending graduations, perhaps even weddings, and possibly cuddling a great-grandbaby.  There are heaps of fabrics waiting to be sliced then sewed into myriad comforters.  And there is the notion of noveling, which is how I began this day, editing the first two chapters of The Hawk: Part Thirteen.  I’d mulled over actually writing, but I had to be at the doc at half past nine, so instead I pulled fabrics from the stash for another plus quilt.

When I returned home, I put on the tunes (Neffa, Josephine, Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Josh Rouse, Hollie Cook, Belle & Sebastian, Jose Gonzalez, Luna, and Kurt Vile, whose song “All in a Daze Work” is the inspiration for today’s title) and began to inspect low volume and navy prints.  I didn’t get around to lunch until nearly one p.m., then went right back to sorting fabrics.  Fifteen blocks are now arranged on the little quilt wall, pluses set aside for another fifteen, with a stack of fabrics still to be cut into large and small squares.  I’ve finished the first plus quilt, just need to gift wrap it.  I so enjoyed this pattern and look forward to making it over and over as the years pass.

A post about this quilt is forthcoming; “Teardrop” by Jose Gonzalez.

In order to do that, I need to manage my health with as much attention as I give the crafts. Fortunately I have no problems, assuming blood tests come back clear.  My husband finds this process somewhat invasive, and while I agree that it’s more micromanaged than maybe it has to be, we still have our right to say NO to this or that procedure.  Sometimes I think if I can just finish The Hawk, I’ll die happy, hehehe.  But while listening to various tunes, I didn’t feel aged, rather youthful actually.  Music makes the years slip away; I’m not as young as the grandkids, but there’s no way I’m someone’s abuela.

My daughter, granddaughter and hubby along the North Coast in Humboldt County; “Moments of Pleasure” by Kate Bush.

Well, you get what I mean.  Or I hope the vigor of life rings through this post, in that age is merely a number.  I may not be so sprightly when Little Miss and The Burrito collect their high school diplomas, but I sure better be able to applaud their efforts.  And if that’s not the case, at least I’ll have done all I can to make each day count, be it through book chapters, quilt blocks, blog posts, doctor appointments, and the most meaningful manner of sharing love with all whom I encounter.  I heartily encourage you to check out the tunes associated with each of the photos; I’ve included those by Kate Bush, Neffa, as well as “Last Minute” by Josephine.  These are the joys that make up my life; time has no bearing when love (and melodies) is involved.

 

The evolution of a wedding quilt

Amid book revisions, I’ve been working on a quilt top that today sits on my big table, basted and waiting to be moved to the sofa where I do the hand-quilting.  It’s a plus pattern from Wombat Quilts which I found ages ago, recently rediscovered when whittling down sites bookmarked when I first started sewing in 2014.  Something about this project seemed perfect for nuptials, the plus signs emitting positive vibes, the low volume fabrics reminiscent to a wedding gown, so I decided to give it a try.

The sewing process begins….

It meant shopping for fabrics of which I have little, both in the low volume and navy prints.  It meant waiting to begin until I had enough of those fabrics, as Cath’s quilt is the product of bee blocks, and I really liked the variety within her quilt.  It also meant a lot of cutting, then procuring more fabrics after the sewing started, finding I didn’t have quite the variety I needed.

Matching up seams as best I could.

Honestly, making this quilt was a lot out of my comfort zone, so I have been snapping pics along the way, sharing them with my daughters.  Today I’m plopping them on the blog, in a manner of debriefing.  Also to say how much I loved making this quilt, and look forward to starting another very soon….

Lots of pressing involved. Fortunately I don’t mind, it’s actually very calming.

What did I like about it?  Shopping for fabric is never a chore, ha ha, although it took time, because I possessed a dearth of low volume prints.  Cutting them was pretty routine, and I’m still not certain whether fat quarters, quarter yard, or third yard cuts are best.  I am not the sort to get to an exact science which lengths of fabric are ideal for what kind of project, although I prefer smaller cuts.

After designing a dozen blocks, I knew more fabrics were necessary.  Thankfully we went on holiday, where I chose several more, then returned home, cutting those and making another ten or so blocks; thirty are needed for a 56 X 68 inch quilt top.  Once I had those fabrics prepared, I tried to sew about five a day, but this past Monday I was in the mood, and completed the last nine, placing them on the big wall.  I hadn’t trimmed any of them, although Cath trimmed all hers to 11.5 inches square.

The tricky part was making sure as many seams matched as was possible. Other than a few wonky spots, I’m very pleased.

Okay, so the reason I didn’t trim them as I made them was once they were done, all I wanted was to put them on the wall.  I had fabric spread out all over my cutting mats, no room really even if I’d been so inclined.  Then when faced with thirty blocks in need of tidying, um, no.

Except that I did, after sewing the first two rows.  Basically I evened up the most obvious offenders, maybe taking off an eighth of an inch on either side of a square.  I did NOT trim the tops and bottoms, only the sides.  When I make this again, I’ll do it the same way.

Photographing the completed quilt top is one of the biggest thrills of the whole project. Only pulling the finished quilt from the dryer tops that fantastic notion of oh my goodness what have I accomplished….

Sewing the blocks was very easy, but because I’d chosen not to trim them, I did have reservations about how they would all come together.  I noticed Cath’s blocks didn’t meet at all corners perfectly, which eased my mind, whew!  But I did try to make the big squares match up, and didn’t do too badly.  Because the blocks are so big, assembling the top doesn’t take that long; I started on Tuesday  and by that night had nearly all the rows done.  Yesterday I put together the last two, then spent the afternoon making the back.

Sizing up which piece goes where….

Half-yard cuts of Kona cotton make up the backing.  I pulled out several colours, playing around until I liked what I saw.

Then it was a matter of sewing them up, long swathes of fabric pinned to within an inch of their lives.  By then my husband was home, and he helped hang what I had managed, for it was too big for me to handle alone.  Even then we didn’t get it completely straight, but at least it stuck to the wall so I knew how much remained to be added.

I want to note how much I enjoy all aspects of the process; this isn’t just browsing for beautiful fabrics or finding the perfect pattern.  I get caught up in every step, be it cutting fabrics, designing blocks, choosing hues or slicing binding strips.  Occasionally I was a little bored by walking from where unsewn blocks waited on the little quilt wall, then returning to my sewing machine and putting them together, but US Open tennis has been a distraction, and I do wonder if this time next year I’ll recall this particular project when I turn on that event.

Yes, more ironing required….

Or maybe when I make another of these quilts, I’ll consider four American women in the semi-finals or Juan Martin del Potro’s amazing comeback victory over Dominic Thiem, which led to del Potro beating Roger Federer last night.  By last night I was done with this quilt, doing a little hand sewing on a different project.  But for the next several evenings, a wedding quilt will be my focus; the big event is in early October and there’s no time to waste.

And voila, it’s a quilt back! Lots of colours in contrast to the top….

As I basted this quilt today, I listened to music gathered with a story in mind; either I’m writing books, editing manuscripts, or planning the next novel.  But sewing fills a gap that noveling can’t manage, that of viable results.  Especially since most of what I publish are ebooks, making a quilt feels so old school, lol.  Yet it’s not merely what my hands produce; it’s about sharing a part of myself in which the me disappears as this quilt is adopted into a new home.  As I hand-quilt the entire thing into a cohesive whole, my stitches dissolve into a silent heartbeat that I like to think travels through the fibres, infusing those who wrap themselves within it how much I love them.  Maybe that happens when someone reads one of my books, but quilts offer tangible comfort.

The basting process; I’m thinking light and dark pink threads for the quilting, which will begin tonight as Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens start their match.

And with that, off I go to the living room, settling in for a couple of hours devoted to tennis, New York style.  Maybe that’s what this pattern will hearken too as the years pass, others receiving different versions of a plus quilt.  Thanks to Cath of Wombat Quilts for the idea; it’s greatly appreciated.

Sunday morning musings….

The current state of the big quilt wall….

Trying to stay cool during the West Coast heat wave, I’ve been hand-quilting a baby blanket, which in itself is a little tricky, because while it’s a small project, it’s flannel-backed, not exactly conducive to lowering temperatures.  But I’m thankful for our A/C, that the power hasn’t gone out, and tasks to keep me busy on this Labor Day weekend.  Plenty of sewing to sort, The Hawk to consider, as well as random thoughts flitting in and out of my brain.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about the responsibility of writers, but it’s quite a daunting subject, and fabric and revising keep getting in my way, ha ha.  I’m about to start editing Part Twelve of The Hawk, and once that’s done, I’ll be ready to jump back into the writing.  This morning as I sewed, I thought about a quote I saw on a church’s sign in my neighborhood, and how that relates to Eric’s current dilemma.  Which then brought me to thinking about Marek, who Eric has been avoiding, which in turn puts me here at my computer, hoping to translate that essence with as much grace as I am able.  (Then hopefully I’ll remember to open the manuscript and note this idea, ahem….)  The quote was as such:  There is no fear in submitting to a love that would die for you.  I had hoped to snap a picture of the sign, but the light turned green before I could, so I ran that sentence through my head the rest of my drive home, then wrote it down.  Yesterday I saw it again, and I got it right, which was a relief.  And now again this morning I’m thinking about it, and how it very well might guide what happens in Part Thirteen.

As I ponder the last section of this novel, I’m a little hesitant in how to wrap up all the loose ends.  There’s also the bittersweet notion of saying goodbye to these characters, as well as excitement for what follows. Not only in the noveling, but another granddaughter due in December, hehehe.  But first comes the completion of a very long tale that has evolved into something far more complex than what I initially envisioned.  Faith has been tightly woven through this saga, and while other notions emerge, if pressed I’d have to say that clemency is probably the main theme.  Or at least in this last section, the acceptance of mercy is what I hope to emphasize.  It’s going to be what Eric and Klaudia both have to grapple with, and I pray that I get it right.  Yes, I pray about the noveling, because I require all the guidance I can get, especially when dealing with an extended story.  I want to do right by these characters, by my readers, and by what is being claimed within the words.  That’s part of the great responsibility an author faces, but more about that another day.

For now, I’ll make some notes at the end of the document, then see how those ideas wiggle their way into future chapters.  My plan is to start writing in a couple of weeks, hopefully wrapping things up around Thanksgiving.  By then this heatwave will be a faint memory, but the quote which prompted this post will remain dear to my heart, as well as considered between a pastor and an artist.  May it bring peace to your soul as well.

Thirty Years

 

Been waiting to write this post, and now that June is nearly over, it’s time.  Thirty years ago this month I met my husband.

But that’s not the end of the story, hehehe.  Lately he and I have been mentioning this to one another: Hey baby, thirty years.  Three decades.  Happy Anniversary (even if we married in February).  Thirty years is a long time, and in part we’re congratulating each other for sticking it out.  But the here and now isn’t merely what we’re celebrating.  It’s also the way back then, which led us to today.

Way back then I’d just turned twenty-one, he was twenty-two.  Way back then he was trying to figure out a way to graduate college while I had just moved out and was reveling in freedom.  Way back then I possessed a host of issues while he was a rare sort to experience heartache.  Way back then….  We were different people to whom we are now, but under all those differences and layers were a couple of souls meant for one another.  It hasn’t always been easy, but every day it’s worth it.

He is why I write love stories, and family saga, ha ha.  He is my best friend, my lover, my life partner, my buddy.  He’s father to my children, grandpa to the nietos, the Bob Dylan to my Michael Stipe; what???  Of course we diverge on a few paths, I’d not love him if he was my exact doppelganger.  But we finish each other’s sentences, start each other’s dialogues, and I truly hope I don’t outlive him.  While we’re together, I try to make the most of it, aware not everyone gets thirty years.

Thirty years feels like a big hurdle crossed, although I didn’t skin my knees to get over it.  Thirty years stands as a demarcation of great joys, some heartaches, a few peace negotiations, and endless comfort.  It’s also a window to the future; will we get another thirty, twenty, ten even?  It’s like being in the middle of my corporeal life with him, whether we live to eighty or not.  We started in our twenties, and now our fifties is the smack-dab center of who we are.  Reaching grandparenthood is a part of it, but we’re young enough to recall our own toddlers, and if someday we entertain great-grandkids by our mere presence, well then the true end is in sight.

But before I get to whatever remains, I’m happy right were I am, in the here and now and thirty years.  I dedicate this post to my hubby, as I dedicate just about all my books.  Without him I can’t even fathom where I’d be, yet with him I have accomplished outstanding feats.  Blessings abound with this fella in my life, and I give thanks to God for all these years, and those to come.