Tag Archives: motherhood

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

Still here….

To say I’ve been busy lately would be an understatement.  Writing has fallen by the wayside, although I am still poking at The Hawk, chapters being revised when I get a moment.  Sewing too has dropped off, but I do have a new quilt wall upon which to design.

A project for my husband, who likes to sleep with a little extra something over his shoulders. One of my fave pieces, and I get to see it every day.

I don’t think I’ve been so set apart from writing since I began this adventure over ten years ago.  Well, maybe this is the perfect time to denote the alterations.  Ten years ago this month my family moved back to America after nearly eleven years spent in North Yorkshire, England.

I didn’t make this tree skirt, but finished it up for my eldest daughter; I should have used flannel for the batting, but it will be comfy for Buttercup come December, until presents obscure it, ha ha.

Right now my eldest and her family are moving house, while my youngest pines for her beloved, who is on an internship back east until June.  My middle child, who moved out last summer, is swimming right along, for which my husband and I are grateful.  Enough upheaval with that chap’s two sisters for the time being.

New quilt wall! In what used to be our son’s room is now where I can plot out big projects.

But if I take a minute to reflect on all that was happening a decade ago, perhaps that is the last time I felt swept up in massive change.  Not even when The Burrito was born two years ago compares, or that my father died right afterwards.  And if that sounds strange, all I can say is the activities which overtook me then weren’t as physically taxing as what my life has been like lately.  More emotionally draining, yes, however in getting older, maybe I weather the heart storms better than before.  Bustling action feels more wearying.

This particular quilt is a remake of one I did in 2014; I had many of the florals, cutting new solids.

If nothing else, the last few weeks are more comparable to what occurred as we left Great Britain, or maybe the notion of moving makes it seem so.  Living vicariously just a little through my kids, I recall how that relocation acted like a demarcation, although I had no clue how clearly the lines would fall.

Nearly completed….

A homeschooling ex-pat mum was about to become a writer, just like how two years ago I went from a writer to grandma.  Whoa, dude….

It mostly looks like this; after visits by Little Miss, The Burrito, and Buttercup, some squares ended up on the floor, then were put back relatively as in this photo.

And now a quilter, when time permits, although family always comes first.  Before I was an author or quilter, I was a mother.  And for me, motherhood trumps most everything else.

A visit in February to Trinidad Head in Humboldt County; after days of rain, glorious sun shone!

But unlike how my daughters are hip-deep in toddlers, now motherhood beckons more in waves.  Often the tide is low, but when it rises, whoo boy!  Hold onto your hats and let the thrills carry you along.

More from Trinidad Head….

If I look back at the last ten years, pastimes have come and gone; no longer do I get to Capitola once a month to admire the beach, nor do I pound out first drafts like nobody’s business.  I drive more now maybe, although as soon as my eldest is settled, I’ll be visiting her via public transport.  And that too is good; I am getting older, and why use my car if it’s not necessary?

Maybe I don’t get to Capitola much now, but the ocean still calls to me; the Pacific from Trinidad Head.

How blessed is that scenario, alongside the fact that even if The Hawk isn’t done, I’m still plodding away at that manuscript.  Ten years ago I hadn’t finished my first book, wasn’t sure if I would.  Then we landed in Silicon Valley, and while in temporary housing, the words returned, words that I know will tumble when the time is right.

And lastly, the quilt from this morning; rows on the left have been sewn together, those on the top right are sewn, but not attached to each other, while the remaining squares need all of my attention. One of these days, I promise!

Quilts will be completed in a similar manner.  Thankfully the fabric WIP has a safe place to rest while I’m otherwise engaged.  In the meantime, time continues to tick, another ten years in America waiting to unfold….

Afternoon Tea, Bookmarks, and the WIP…

I don’t drink tea the way I used to; part of it is directly related to recently finding I’m fairly lactose intolerant.  Part of it stems from the beginning of the year, when I gave up caffeine.  But since 1997, tea has been such an ingrained part of who I am that to suddenly note to family and friends that I just don’t imbibe as previously is hard to explain.  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around!  And I do miss those endless cups of black tea, with generous splashes of milk; nothing is as calming to this writing quilter as a hot milky cuppa.

My teapot, decaf Ceylon, with a little pitcher of almond milk right behind my cup.

My teapot, decaf Ceylon, with a little pitcher of almond milk right behind my cup.

Or was as calming; lately jasmine tea has become my substitute, for I still need a cup of something warm to get myself going each day.  But on Mother’s Day I was sent back to the past, my British tenure to be precise.  My eldest daughter had arranged a special treat for us, a surprise booked way back in February, when my caffeinated-less life was just becoming cemented, but before the dairy issue raised its head.  Over the last month, since excising milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream from my diet, it’s become a slightly stressful curiosity, for I know my daughter, and she certainly knows me.

And as Mother’s Day approached, her enthusiasm bubbled while my thoughts swirled; just what was in store for us on Sunday, 11 May?

In the meantime, I cut fabrics, birthday fabrics to be precise.  Sometimes I save the selvages, for a writerly purpose.  On Saturday, the tenth, I collected my fave selvages, putting them on the Janome, which still needed to be cleaned out after the Whale Quilt.  I was expecting a lot of blue fuzz, and believe me, I wasn’t disappointed.

Waiting for me to clean out all the blue micro fleece fuzz...

Waiting for me to clean out all the blue micro fleece fuzz…

Mother’s Day 2014 will be one of those dates I’ll not forget; part was taking Bart with my daughter, not a usual occurrence.  She came down our way, and I met her in Fremont, currently the most southerly Bart station.  She doesn’t drive, and I don’t like driving in San Francisco, our destination.  That was all I knew for certain; we were spending the afternoon in the city.

My daughter's teapot; Yorkshire Gold for her, hehehe...

My daughter’s teapot; Yorkshire Gold for her, hehehe…

It’s different, being feted as a mum by grown children.  The hands-on mothering has (mostly) ended, but advice and admonitions are plentiful, from both sides.  That eldest daughter was the quilting instigator (she also twisted my arm about the writing).  And now, even though public transport was our mode of heading north, I was being taken out by this girl, who really isn’t a girl anymore.  Married for nearly two years, a masters degree in tow, plus Buttercup to sort, keeps my daughter on her toes, as well as a job in Oakland that requires her on Bart every weekday.  She said it was nice traveling with someone on the train, and I was most appreciative of her knowledge, and her Bart app, keeping us abreast of the next stop before it was called out by the driver.

She had warned that once we exited the train, our steps would need to be fast; we had to be at our destination at eleven.  What she didn’t know was a hill awaited, testing my mettle.  I walk every day (thereabouts), but on the flat sidewalks of our neighborhood.  However, we trudged as quickly as possible up the hill, turned left onto Church Street, finding ourselves in a charming residential area of SF.  My daughter checked her phone, then smiled, noting we were very close.  And within eyeshot, I smiled; Lovejoy’s Tea Room loomed ahead.

I didn't think to snap it before we dug into it, but it still looks pretty intact.

I didn’t think to snap it before we dug into it, but it still looks pretty intact.

It’s been over seven years since I’ve had afternoon tea.  Not that we were that extravagant often in the UK; most of the time I was happy with a pot of tea and a Fat Rascal at Bettys’ cafes scattered throughout North Yorkshire.  But there is something elegant about afternoon tea, tiny sandwiches and dainty cups which lead to sip after delicious sip of hot, perfect, healing tea.  However, now there was a caveat; no dairy for me.

I’ve been having almond milk every morning, in my cereal.  I have even tried it in tea, but it wasn’t the same, so since mid-April, I had basically given up black tea, decaf of course.  But I wasn’t in the frame of mind to drink something jasmine-like.  Maybe tea with soy milk would be okay, or maybe…

Maybe I would give tea with almond milk another go.  Perhaps it was all in the teacup employed.

I have to say I had two pots of tea, almond milk just fine.  I also had one of the most enjoyable afternoons of recent days, my daughter and I at what was as close to an English tea experience as the West Coast could proffer.  The food was delicious, the tea plentiful, and the scones were… Supreme!  I let my daughter have the Devon cream, while I tasted the lemon curd, then smeared a healthy dollop of raspberry jam on mine.   We weren’t rushed, and we chatted about years past, and how different it was sharing afternoon tea what with her no longer a teen and me, well, not in my thirties.

Nothing beats scones and jam, and cream for those able.  Oh my goodness, these were le bombs!

Nothing beats scones and jam, and cream for those able. Oh my goodness, these were le bombs!

Yes, things change.  Now I sew, while she’s a working gal, paired with her better half, oh, and Buttercup.  Yet, in drinking cup after cup of tea, I could have closed my eyes and been back in Yorkshire, it was that spot-on.

Blocks are sewn, awaiting me to start the sashes...

Blocks are sewn, awaiting me to start the sashes…

She came back to our abode, where I shared with her the quilt WIP.  Barbecue was partaken, as the SF Giants won a thrilling game, sealing the Mother’s Day joy.  Then my husband and I ran her home.  Her hubby had spent the day with his folks, and it was in her backyard I took the cover shots for A Quilt For Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It couldn’t have been a more spectacular Mum’s Day, which morphed into a week of sewing the quilt WIP, reading over the novelistic WIP, and making bookmarks.

I'm so glad my daughter likes paperbacks; I can only use so many of these.

I’m so glad my daughter likes paperbacks; I can only use so many of these.

I need to send my daughter one of those bookmarks, as a thanks for such a beautiful afternoon, and because she prefers print books over digital files.  She’s a child of her generation when it comes to her finesse with smart phones, but her heart is drawn back to ancient days when a cuppa soothed the world’s ills, complimented by a quilt to keep out the chill.

The perfect balance, methinks, as I peruse fabric and prose WIPs, feeling a little torn in two.  (More on that soon…)

The last days of November

It really looks like autumn now; my husband’s grapevine is a spindly vine crawling along our white back fence, a few golden leaves still clinging.  The apricot trees are mostly branches, bright yellow leaves in clumps on the green grass.  Sky is gray, air is heavy, but because this is California, oranges on our trees are nearly ripe.  It’s a strange combination as my seventh NaNoWriMo chugs into the station, a month-long experiment winds down; just how many words can fall onto a document (or two) amid birthdays, Thanksgiving, and the tightening National Football League picture.

Yes, November is a busy month, and has been since 1988; my husband had been celebrating his birthday long before that year, but our eldest was just days old on Thanksgiving ’88, and I didn’t have to lift a finger, other than to hoist her in my arms.  Eighteen years later, she mentioned a writing competition.  In 2006, another activity was thrown into the November maelstrom, and my life was never the same.

It was far cooler, and definitely more blustery, in Yorkshire for my first NaNo.  But today looks similar to those past moments, also to the day we took our firstborn home from hospital.  We were living in California at the time, where I grew up, where summers are scorching, winters colder than Silicon Valley, but not frigid like Britain.  At twenty-two, I was diving into motherhood with youth’s enthusiasm and energy.  At forty, when I was tackling my first NaNo, I was still flush with heady excitement; here I was, writing a novel, no way dude!

Six years, and six NaNo’s later, I’m a little weary.  I didn’t sleep so well last night, and woke to my youngest sick.  She’s twenty, but might as well be six, something she ate last night not settling well.  I’ve had two wordy days with the novel, wasn’t sure what today would bring.  I will finish it tomorrow, come heck or high water.  But instead of jumping right into it first thing this morning, I was pouring apple juice (don’t forget the bendy straw), making sure my little girl wasn’t dehydrated.  I think she’s asleep, no retching coming from her room, or texts asking for more juice.  (The magic of technology; she doesn’t even need to holler, just send an electronic message to mum.)  Things have changed drastically from 1988 to 2006 to 2012, but some haven’t altered one iota; I’m still someone’s mother.  Back in 1988, I probably wasn’t thinking about writing books, but I did want to write.  In 2006, with teenagers, my time was slowly becoming more my own, and novels started falling like English rain.  Now I’m in a funny place, California in autumn, where precipitation seems like a gift.  Where novels continue to percolate, but their purpose has moved into another gear.  I spent my twenties having kids, my thirties raising them.  My forties have been about books, motherhood a transitory job that gets dusted off for the big moments like weddings and puke-fests.  This morning, handing my sick child her juice, I was again Mommy, as if today wasn’t 2012, not quite 1988 either; maybe 1993, 1996, 1999.  Or maybe it is today, 29 November  2012, what the calendar on my monitor says, as well as the one hanging in the kitchen.  Some things change, some never do.

How many more Novembers will heave with birthdays, football, holidays, and National Novel Writing Month?  All of them, God willing.