Tag Archives: weather

Bound by Nature

A quilt back amid the wind; I snapped this on Friday as a few drops fell, but that was all we got until Sunday.

A quilt back amid the wind; I snapped this on Friday as a few drops fell, but that was all we got until Sunday.

We finally received rain this past weekend, a lovely storm providing Silicon Valley with much needed precipitation.  Other parts of the Bay Area were pounded, but I was happy for our soggy Sunday, as my cold abated, hand-sewing keeping me busy.  I didn’t get much writing done, half a chapter that morning, but two other projects are coming along nicely.

The above quilt back goes with this little comforter, a birthday present for someone born in December.

The above quilt back goes with this little comforter, a birthday present for someone born in December.

I’m undergoing a rethink of this last section of The Hawk, both in plot and scope.  The first few chapters I wrote tried to move the story along more rapidly than how it had been meandering, and while I’m not going to change those, I’ve come to realize that this last part is going to be whatever it is meant to be.  It’s like the weather, over which we have no control.  Professionals can forecast to the best of their abilities.  However, the big rain that was supposed to hit us on Friday scooted right over the valley, dumping on the Santa Cruz Mountains.  We got our half an inch or so on Sunday, and now we wait for the next storm.

Gusty winds....

How does that relate to my writing?  I have this last part planned out, give or take a few rumbles of thunder.  And to my pleasant surprise, not only did I come up with an answer to the chocolate cake recipe, but a fine manner in which to explain why Wilma Gordon shares that closely guarded secret.  However, in doing so, more words will be necessary and….  And for as much as I wanted to keep this last section concise, that’s not gonna happen.

For all the rain that didn’t fall our way, it’s coming down as prose in buckets within my novel.

On Sunday morning, the words streamed forth until snot overwhelmed my authorial efforts.  But it was the first writing in several days, and I was happy with it.  Yesterday was the same, minus the mucous, as well as accepting that just as I have been doing for the last three years, I will write and let the rest sort itself out later.  I can’t do anything else and feel comfortable with this story.

It's not a Christmas Quilt, but it is for Christmas nearly halfway hand-quilted.

It’s not a Christmas Quilt, but it is for Christmas nearly halfway hand-quilted.

Whew, I feel better making that confession.  For me, the only answer is to follow one’s heart within the art, regardless of good intentions.  The creative spark is as fickle as rain, no way to harness it.  My husband bought a thirty-gallon trash can to use as a rain barrel, so while I was sewing on Sunday, he popped outside every so often, hauling out a bucket of water, then dousing plants just beyond where rain landed.  My writing is like that, how many paragraphs and scenes waiting to be allocated to either remaining within the manuscript, or destined for another home, ahem.  They won’t do our geraniums any good, but if nothing else, I won’t feel frustrated trying to hold them back.

Nearly snapped this back without any breeze.

Nearly snapped this back without any breeze.

Part of successful writing is striving to improve one’s ability with language through practice.  But another part is less tangible, much like the changing weather.  Writers need to be mindful of the muse which brings them to this craft, fully aware edits can and will sort the wheat from the chaff.  But first, allow those unwieldy elements to blow through, much like Friday’s useless cloudy day.  For on Sunday, water fell from the heavens, filling not only my husband’s makeshift rain barrel, but replenishing dry ground.  I can’t control my writing anymore than I can order the offshore flow.  But when the words are ready, I can be like my hubby, prepared to catch as many of them as fall.  He chooses what to water, while later I can hammer this draft into shape.  Now, if there was just some way to equate all I write into rainfall totals.  But that’s a dream for another day….

Quilting (and other) Ironies

Yesterday might have been the last of the warm days.  It probably was, but let’s hedge it in a more ambiguous manner.  It might have been the last of the warm days.

Summer in much of California lasts nearly forever.  Winter is a blip, autumn and spring slightly longer.  I grew up without summer rain, so I assumed it never rained anywhere in June and July, August and September….  Living for a few years in Colorado was a pleasant surprise, for summer rain was abundant, as were summer hailstorms.  Then there was England and….  And now I’m back to where it doesn’t rain but every once in a while it pours.  Ironic that for eleven years I ached to see blue skies.  Now I’m itching for precipitation.

For a few months I’ve been hand-quilting the Big Bright Quilt.  But over the last two weeks, as cooler temperatures descended, I got busy with it, and last night, on an evening in no need of any sort of comforter, I sewed the final stitches of proper quilting.  Much remains, like fashioning the binding, like even cutting the strips for said binding.  I’m in the process of hand-sewing the perimeter, as the thought of running the edges in my machine makes me a tad dizzy.  I’ll attach the binding that way, but this is a big quilt and the less I have to maneuver it through my Janome the better.

As I made those final stitches, then inspected the quilt, confirming that yes, I’ve done all the necessary quilting, memories of making this piece were rife.  They intersect with the last sections of The Hawk, which is still a day-to-day process in itself, although not this day.  Today I’m trying to complete the quilt top that isn’t a Christmas Quilt but a Christmas Gift.  Too many irons in the fire perhaps, in a place where fires are everywhere and still we pray for rain.

One of the reasons hand-quilting took so long was that I used different colours of thread.  But I like how it looks.

One of the reasons hand-quilting took so long was that I used different colours of thread. But I like how it looks.

But irony isn’t bad, it’s just a different perspective.  Ironic that for three years while I have worked on The Hawk, the words have flown (ha ha) from my fingers with alarming speed, and now that I’m on the last part, it’s like pulling teeth.  Ironic that having lived in a place where weather permeates not only the landscape but conscious thought now I’m back where there is scant alterations in seasons.  Ironic that quilting has come into my life now that I’m a grandmother.  No, wait, that’s typical, except that I’m not making the sorts of quilts typically associated with abuelas.

As a writer, I straddle the line between plot and characters that think out of the box alongside cliches; stereotypes are such simply because in this life, they happen to often be what we see.  But it’s ironic that for how vibrant is the front of this quilt, the back is fairly staid.  And accepting, embracing even, these varying parts of the spectrum is acknowledging that sometimes the familiar reigns.  But sometimes it doesn’t.

Like rain; allegedly we’re supposed to receive some this weekend.  If we do, maybe I’ll feel inclined to sit under a quilt, either finished or in progress.  I’ll be very pleased for rain, but if none falls, that’s all right too.  It’s like how words emerge (or they don’t), how rows fall into line, how every day holds promise and mystery.  I don’t mind a bit of irony, reminding myself it takes all aspects to keep this planet on its axis.  Although I’ll tell you, if damp weather finds its way to Silicon Valley, I’ll be wondering if Earth’s axis took a left turn at Albuquerque….

It’s a Big Wide World Indeed, The Prequel

After nearly two weeks away, it’s so good to be home!  I enjoyed time with family and friends, hanging out at the lake or visiting the nation’s capital.  Did some stitching and sewing and plenty of good eating, but this initial post-holiday piece focuses on my flight home yesterday.  The skies need to be noted before I get into what happened on the ground.

And to be honest, this post probably wouldn’t have emerged if not for what I saw on the last leg of my cross-country journey; I started Monday in Baltimore, heading for Silicon Valley.  Two stops, one in Minnesota, the other in Los Angeles, but schedules were smooth, and I kept myself busy with music and reading over what I’d just added to The Hawk.  My layover at Minneapolis/St. Paul was brief, but I managed a bowl of cereal with soy milk, charging up my phone for the haul across the southwest.  Back in Maryland, my hosts asked if heading to LA would be difficult what with the fires.  I said I didn’t think so, and sure enough, we landed safely at LAX with a minor two-minute walk to my next gate, providing me time to chat with my husband, who couldn’t wait to see me.

One of the best parts of coming home is being appreciated.

We discussed dinner; he had a watermelon in the fridge, which suited me perfectly.  We were thankful my flight was on time; he was leaving straight from work to collect me.  We noted that traveling becomes more wearisome as age steals some of our energy, but truthfully neither of us could complain outright, for his trip home had been fine, and mine seemed the same.  It makes for a long day, but after a couple of nights’ rest, life returns to relative normal, once the routines are reestablished.

Goodness knows I’m a creature of habit, but getting out of California is good for me, experiencing intriguing vistas only found far away.  Or up high in a plane where the scenery makes me snap shots that otherwise I’d never see.  As we left Los Angeles, I photographed the ocean, the remnants of fires in the background.

The haze grew worse as we ventured north.  Then suddenly amid the clouds appeared a large puff of smoke.  I kept snapping, wondering which fire this was, mesmerized from my vantage point.  The scene was unreal, yet all too authentic.  Clouds have always fascinated me, but this was wholly different.

As we flew past, the scope of that moment stayed with me; I’d just spent nearly two weeks in locales where summer rain is common, also plentiful.  As my flight passed from Nebraska into Colorado, the landscape began to alter, and by the time we flew over Denver, another America greeted me, that of mountains and high deserts, of rock and dryness and fire.  These two sides of The United States possess many opposing elements, but from green to grey to startling brown, the differences couldn’t be more stark.

On Sunday I’d stood in the rain at the National Mall, very near the Korean War Memorial.  Not even the trees could shelter me and a friend from that downpour, yet no rain falls in California in the summertime.  I shared that notion with my hosts as we drove back in a pounding storm; I grew up to the idea it never rained at all in summer.  Yet I spent much of Sunday in a muggy dampness that refreshed, also startled.  A day later, that notion was but a fleeting memory.   Yes I was home and glad to be so, but if only a little of that precipitation could have followed me.

As we reached the Bay Area, skies cleared some, but those images from minutes before remained within me.  When we landed, I was so excited to see my husband and be back in my element, which always seems more lovely when time has elapsed.  I mentioned what I’d seen, but in the exhilaration of being near my beloved, that cloud of smoke dissipated.  My hubby and I had been apart for nearly four days, and it wasn’t until later that I again considered the havoc, also the majestic but haunting beauty of that image.  Then I thought about this post.

This post-vacation entry was originally going to be packed with shots from the lake, some from the National Mall, with musings concerning how nice it was to get away.  Today’s title was what I’d come up with days ago, jotted down so I’d not forget it.  Hopefully I’ll find a minute to share those notions, although upon returning, there are revisions to complete, read-overs to do, place mats to make, some Christmas quilts to start, my goodness!  But in all those blessed and busy moments, first came this somewhat scattered but vital point; our planet is enormous and so volatile.  Floods destroy as easily as fire; Ellicott City in Maryland was recently devastated by saturating rains.  When I step out of my comfort zone, not only am I breathing in the goodness of those I love, I’m absorbing other vistas which broaden my outlook, increasing my empathy.  I’m no longer a world traveler, but America is vast enough to offer the opposing ends of the spectrum from one coast to the other.  Now back in dry California, I consider standing under that grove of trees as water dripped from leafy branches until our one dry spot was gone.  We stepped from that shelter onto the sidewalk across from a refreshments stand, watching as clouds passed over the Lincoln Memorial, the rain heading elsewhere.  If only it could find its way westward, I prayed….

Yours truly at the National Mall once the rain had stopped….