Instead of That

Rather than bore you with the details of me coming face to face with the realities of The Fall 

of how I spent part of my afternoon yesterday visiting a dear friend just diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and part of my evening hugging a friend who had just lost her husband

of how afterwards I sent David to pick up Chinese (comfort food) and how in the middle of dinner I could no longer keep putting sweet and sour pork in my mouth

of how then I broke down and sobbed a bit

of how Savannah put down her fork and rubbed my back

of how the children were gentle with me the rest of the night, patting me lightly on the shoulder whenever we met in the hall

and, of how this morning after everyone was off I got back in bed and had another good crying jag,

rather than all that, I am sending in a substitute.

If this were a normal week, I would tell you how I finished my center medallion for this year's round robin project.  And how I was only 26 days late finishing it, but who's counting.

I would tell you how I had a long overdue conversation (the truth is I've been avoiding it) with Berni about our summer vacation to British Columbia and how perfect the beach was and how we ate hotdogs over beach campfires and rode our bikes in search of sand dollars.  I'd ask her how she thought kid's quilt retreat went and if she had any plans for the fall.  And then I'd carefully broach the tender subject of her recent separation from O'Dell and see if she was any closer to forgiving me.

And I'd tell you about round robin itself and how it's just about the most exciting thing in the world to get a quilt in the mail, that's made with bits of fabric from your aunts and cousins and sister-in-law and how I'm lucky enough to know these women and have their art in my home.

And I'm sure I'd point out how I went way out of my color comfort zone and picked the exact same colors for my quilt this year as I have for the last four years.  I'm wild like that.

And knowing me, I'm sure I'd note how I didn't lose a single point on my Corn and Beans blocks and how I really am a wonder and a domestic goddess and more amazing than even you had imagined. 

And how I wish that this was, in fact, a normal week.  And how a week ago, none of my friends' lives had changed.  And how when The Fall seems too hard to endure, a little creation, a little order out of chaos, a little rebellion against entropy, is just the thing to make you feel a little better.

The Road Again

David and I both dreamed of Christmas last night.

He thought it was because it was so hot, we both were unconsciously wishing for the cold.  I thought it was because our summer holiday is almost over and we are already unconsciously pining for the next one.

Regardless, it was strange to dream about the same thing.  Made me wonder what kind of conversations our two brains have while we're sleeping.  Silly ones, I imagine.  Racy ones, I have no doubt.

David kissed me thoroughly this morning on his way to work, because I am off again.  This time I am taking my two girls and their two dolls and my two sewing machines and heading to Utah for our annual "Kids Quilt Retreat." 

I got my laundry done just in time.  And managed to scrub my kitchen floor and clean out the fridge,  (keeping the health department at bay, see?)  just in time to leave again. 

The last adventure of summer.

I am tired of roadtripping.  Last night David and I went for a Jamba juice alone.  I was grumpy about it.  Which confused him.  And me too, frankly.  Sigh.  But the thought of more gas-station restrooms, and views from my car window, and beds that aren't mine had me a bit out of sorts.

David reminded me of why I was going.

And I thought, "Oh, yeah."

Sometimes it is very helpful to be married to someone who is very nearly always right.

If, At First

Olivia in the throes of ecstasy over the last piece of lemon pie.  It was so delicious she nearly lost consciousness.

I am try, try, againing.

I ate a slice of lemon cake for breakfast this morning.  And was almost immediately sick.  I had forgotten that my blood sugar was bargain-basement low and the shock of all that lemon-sugary goodness nearly sent me into a coma.

I tried to breathe through the sugar high.  And as the world went spinning I firmly reminded myself (again) that I need protein first thing in the morning.  Lemon cake has surprisingly little protein content.

Clearly, I'm a slow learner. 

Do you remember this argument about the quilt I am working on.

CIM won.  (Big surprise.)  Almost as soon as I finished the post, actually. 

Which is a real shame, since I think my life has taken a steady decline since then.  And I should know better.

I am madly working on what, I think, is the fourth version of this quilt.  (I've lost track.)  I keep telling myself that this is the fourth and final try, but (let's be honest) that is probably just wishful thinking.

But wait, you say (full of genuine concern), isn't this supposed to be done this week?

I nod my head tremulously.

But then I rally, remembering that this is how I do everything.  Pull the rabbit out of the hat.  And then kiss my husband fervently for enduring another week of crazy.   (Apparently, I'm a very good kisser.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some sewing to do before that cake wears off.



Quilt retreat is over and I am lonely.

Melancholy is setting in.

I think this makes David crazy.  (Add it to the list.)  But I can't help myself.  It will be another year before I am surrounded by women who are so kind they will leave their own projects to gather around me, pick up a needle and thread, and help me sew a hundred leaves onto a tree, just because I bit off more than I can chew.  Three hundred and sixty-one days before I will be in a room with women who understand my delusions of grandeur (because they have their own) and empathize with my over-full plate.  Their love humbles and quiets me.

My cousin, Sarah, is burying her baby today.

The tiny casket will be draped with a beautiful and simple quilt that we made together.  Nine patches and snowball blocks in soft blue and white.  Stitching out our thoughts and prayers, to comfort her in her grief, to add our tears to hers, to let her know that she is not alone.

My cousin, Amy, will play her harp, and my aunts and their daughters will wrap their arms around Sarah, and as far around her grief as they can get. 

They are angels.  Doing what they can to ease the staggering pains of earth life.

There are no words for the love I have for these women.  These who share my burdens and listen to my sorrows and regrets, and help me create a better, sweeter life for my family.  My burdens do not compare with Sarah's, and yet I felt just as comforted and cared for in my own simpler struggles, as she will surely feel today. 

On Thursday, we stood in a room full of quiet sewing machines and still scissors and wet cheeks, and listened as my Aunt Jill described the short and perfect life of her grandbaby, and Sarah's amazing courage and testimony. 

In a roomful of this many women there is not a life experience that someone else cannot understand. 

We have lost houses, and children, and husbands.  We have been sick and afflicted and close to death.  We have had babies who won't sleep, or nurse, or keep anything down.  We have had children with disabilities, and cancer, and addictions.  We have miscarried, and birthed, and adopted.  We have shared experiences, and prayers, and kidneys.  We have husbands who have lost their hair, and their jobs, and their faith.  We have built houses, and remodeled, and made do.  We have sent children to kindergarten, to college, and on missions.  We have been robbed, and raped, and defrauded.  We've held each other's babies, each other's secrets, and each other's hair as we've thrown up through the first weeks of pregnancy and well into the thirty-seventh week for some.  We have waited for the telephone, for test results, and for miracles.  We have buried our grievances, our dreams, and our loved ones.  We have built, and feathered, and emptied our nests.  Our children have broken their bones, and their curfews, and our hearts.  We have cried at weddings, and graduations, and reunions.  We have ironed, and scrubbed, and washed, and woken up to do it all over again.  Our wombs have felt kicks and contractions and more than one heartbeat.  We have been acquainted with death, and infertility, and the first moments of life.  In this one room there is a world of grief, and joy, and understanding. 

There is not a safer, sweeter, more sacred place to be.

And whether you are overwhelmed by your to-do list or your aching grief, these women come to your aid.  It is no wonder to me that it was the women in the Savior's life that were the last ones at the cross and the first ones at the tomb.  They understand.  And they reach out to help.

David always wonders why I cut up all my fabric into a million little pieces only to sew it back together again.  To make something beautiful, I say.  When it really comes down to it, my life is just scraps.  Nothing of worth to anyone outside of it looking in.  And yet, through my careful work, it may turn into something beautiful.  And all of these women--my sisters, my mother, my cousins, my aunts, my grandmother--will have contributed to that creation, just like my quilts.  They encourage me, they stitch with me, and perhaps most importantly, they even unpick and sew-it-back-together-again with me.  My life, and my quilts.

Quilt retreat is over, but I feel its magic around me.  I feel dressed and bandaged.  Healed and lifted.  I am hoping that Sarah feels the same today.   

Adieu, To You and You and You

You deserve better than this.

You deserve a long and lovely post featuring a picture of my new hair.

Maybe a post "by the numbers" where I talk about the 6 inches I cut off my hair and, by so doing, found myself again.

Or maybe the one I wrote in my head where O'Dell and Bernina laughed their heads off at me as I unpicked my latest quilt for the third time.

Or even one of the many conversations between CIM and RIM as I ran my kids between t-ball and orchestra and softball, all on the same night.  They've both had just about enough, and are making their disapproval known.

But it's late.

And I've been sewing for days. 

Tonight I packed up Bernina and searched madly through the fabric piles in my sewing room for my good dressmaker shears and walking foot.  Tomorrow I am off to quilt retreat.

There will be a new post here on Monday.

I'm sure it will be worth the wait.

Word of the First Three Months: Harbinger

These "word of the week" posts used to come weekly.  (Was I ever that together?)  Actually, if you'll remember, I did do a harbinger post here, but just never got around to making it official and posting it on my sidebar.  So there.  And anyway, it turns out that the universe had a reason for me not getting it together earlier.  You can read about that here.

I'll bet you had no idea I was that important in the universe.

You stand corrected.

Anyway, here is a quick post about one of my favorite words.

harbinger  /n./  a person or thing that comes before to announce or give an indication of what follows.  herald.  anything regarded as a token of what is to follow.  a foretaste of what is to come.  augury.  precursor.  forerunner.  omen.  portent.

harbinger /n./  1.  Last night Olivia had her first softball game ever.  David has been pushing me to sign her up for years.  He finally wore me down and I reluctantly signed her up.  We all sat on the bench last night and cheered her on and watched her get two base hits, an RBI, and make an inning-ending play with a nice throw from second base.  As I watched her glowing from the infield, I had the thought that this night was only a harbinger of hundreds of others I will likely spend under the lights, sitting on an aluminum bench, cheering her on.  David just grinned at me all night.  It must be taxing to always be right.

And now, for her, and her grandparents, here is her first hit during her first at-bat: 


Another harbinger, I suspect.

harbinger /n./  2.  As I was cheering for Olivia, I was working on some applique for a quilt we are auctioning off at the Spring Tea hospital benefit in May. 

The lady behind me asked me what I was working on.  When I explained it was the beginning of a tree and that I still need to add leaves and flowers, she shook her head and said, "Wow.  That's going to take a while."

I smiled and agreed.

And then my smile promptly faded as I remembered that it's supposed to be done in two weeks and that I'm running out of time.  And fast.  About the same time I remembered the invitations for the event (that I was supposed to seal and stamp and send) were still sitting in the back of my car (unsealed, unstamped, and unsent).  I prayed desperately that neither of these were harbingers for the success (or failure) of the actual event itself. 

harbinger  /n./  3.  Next week my kids all have standardized testing.  And the harbingers of stress and anxiety have already started in earnest.  The AIMS tests have made their way into the children's prayers, and every day I get another note home saying how important it is that my children get plenty of rest, have a good breakfast, are well-groomed (what?), and are propped up with positive encouragement.  A couple of days ago I told the kids that I would be gone for part of the week for quilt retreat.  They nearly came undone, certain that this disruption in their schedule was a harbinger for disaster on their tests.  And I am wondering how keeping our teachers and schools "accountable" has resulted in creating inordinate amounts of stress for my children.  Good grief.

harbinger /n./  4.  We spent part of our spring break in Santa Barbara last week visiting some very good friends.  I keep meaning to post all about our hours of freedom together, and maybe even make a movie, but haven't found the time amidst the demands of regular life.  Perhaps this is the real harbinger that our break is really and truly over.

O'Dell Feeds Berni's Martyr Complex

Quilt Retreat is only nine days away.  (Can I get a hallelujah?)  Not that I'm counting.  Or crossing days off on the calendar.  Or gleefully removing links from my paper chain.

And that means that O'Dell and Bernina have been spending lots of time together again.  The gossip has been flying over egg salad sandwiches and fresh lemonade.  Between sewing seams and proofing invitations for the hospital benefit, they're busy swapping plans for new curtains in the family room and recipes for chicken pot pie and figuring out the Easter dinner menu.

This morning O'Dell told Berni that she looked tired.

"I was up late last night.  It's like this every year.  A mad dash of sewing before quilt retreat."

O'Dell harrumphs loudly.  "Well girl, don't wear yourself out.  You've got quilt retreat next week.  You've got to get some rest before then."

Berni just shakes her head and sighs dramatically,  "I just have to survive the next couple of weeks and then she'll ignore me for the rest of the year."  Berni loves to play the martyr.  Overworked or ignored, it's impossible to make her happy.

We all survived our first day back to life.  Last night we ate dinner out on the porch and listed our grievances:  Fractions and decimals and the upcoming standardized testing were all vociferously maligned.  This morning I planned out our day like we were going into battle, coordinating troop movements and checking supply lines.  It turns out that today is the busiest day of the year (I had no idea), but we all have plans to meet back here around eight and share O'Dell's fried chicken and dumplings together.  I may even whip up a lemon pie just to celebrate our getting through the day.

Spring break already feels like a very long time ago.

Word of the Week: Passel

passel  /n./  an indeterminately great amount or number. a lot. multiplicity. a great deal. abundance. profusion. jillion. ream. heap. peck.

passel  /n./  1.  I have a passel of posts in my head.  I told David that I might as well just give up.  He told me it's only been four days since my last post, that I can't be that far behind.  He has (luckily) never been inside my mind.  He'd be shocked at how much my brain can produce in four days time.  And most of it crazy.

passel  /n./  2.  This week I had my one year blogiversary.  (I meant to do a whole post on it, but I had a peck of things to catch-up on after returning from Houston and Halloween stole the rest of the week.)  There are so many things I love about this milestone, not the least of which is the passel of daily, seemingly ordinary moments that make up my life, now real and recorded, forever.  Because of this blog I have more photos, I am more introspective, I am more kind (even to myself), I am more aware of my present, and I have fewer regrets.  That's a passel of reasons to keep going.

passel  /n./  3.  I had a great time at Quilt Market with my aunt and my mom and felt (above all) extremely useful, which is, occasionally, a really nice feeling to have.  I came home with a passel of new projects and ideas and handmade Christmas gift ideas.  Now I just need a passel of free hours to get to them.    

passel  /n./  4.  My favorite moment of the Halloween festivities this week came on Wednesday when Ethan and I went hunting for four perfect pumpkins among the passels of them at our local farmer's market.  We had a little carving party on Thursday night.  My parents came for dinner, and as payment we required them help one of the kids clean out and carve their pumpkin.  Divide and conquer, as it were.  My mom wondered out loud how she did it with nine of us.  I always wonder that.  No matter the subject.  We had pumpkin pie for dessert (Ethan's idea) which turned out to be the perfect ending.

passel /n./  5.  My children celebrated Halloween this week (a separate post altogether), and I celebrated it being over.  Now I just have a passel of candy that I need to discretely get rid of.  Usually I just let my kids eat themselves sick for two days and have done with it, but this year they got so much, we've still got a giant bowl full.  I'm already tired of the wrappers, the smashed-in goo, and the chocolate fingerprints around my house.  Really, I just don't get the point of it at all.  Boo.

passel  /n./  6.  David and I have been sick for the last couple of days.  Nothing serious.  Just complete fatigue, sore throats, headaches.  But feeling bad enough to require a passel of naps.  I was in and out of consciousness all afternoon yesterday.  During these naps I had a passel of disconcertingly bad dreams, one yesterday that is still haunting me and may have been the worst I've ever had, and one today which was all about the word "ascribed."  (Yes, really.)  I'm finally feeling a bit better, (David thinks this is all due to the medicine he force fed me) but I'm now filled with dread and that slightly panicky feeling that I've lost more hours than I'll ever be able to make up. 

Quilt Market: Sewing Up the Loose Ends

I'm home. Worn out, but happy and satisfied with our work in Houston.

And then there was catch-up and clean-up and all that. But before I go to bed, I want to just wrap-up the rest of our trip. Halloween is coming and I need to get a few of these thoughts off my mind before the holiday festivities begin in earnest. (Incidentally, I consider Halloween a *minor* holiday, for those of you keeping track.)

So what first?

First of all, the appli-glue sold like mad. Jill ended up with four distributors and sold 2000 bottles, with possibilities of more distribution in Korea and Italy. It was incredible. On top of all that she got picked up to design a fabric line (it's darling, of course) and some quilts for a few magazines. It seemed like every possible good thing happened for her. We definitely felt the hand of heaven in Houston.

This is just a quick picture of a sample of the applique we demonstrated the glue with. 

Okay, now a few pictures and commentary. These are just images in my camera that I had to capture and share, in no particular order.

The International Quilt Market is huge. I mean really huge. There were over 2200 exhibitors. I spent an hour one morning trying to see the rest of the booths. I started and 100 and made it to 400 before I ran out of time and money. There was just so much to see (and buy). We were in a perfect booth, at the corner of isle 1200 and the main walkway. Another heaven-sent blessing, I think.

The first night, after set-up, we went upstairs for "Sample Spree," which is mostly a preview of the new fabric lines and other samples from market, and is just packed with crazy women elbowing for fabric. We got there late, long after Moda had sold out of all their fabric, but I found some great fabric by Lecien that makes me giddy when I look at it. I wanted to buy a box of these just because they were so gorgeous, but I took a picture instead. I hope David is delighted by this.

International Quilt Market is full of *quilting stars* and here is one of them...Mark Lipinski. He was signing autographs and I asked him for a picture instead. He happily obliged. He is (happily) the most irreverent quilter you will meet.

There was a Japanese company with an amazing booth, and here is one of their displays...all of it made from felt. I know. I spent a bit of money here, even though the patterns are written in Japanese. I couldn't help myself. Plus, I know a couple of girls who know Japanese. If all goes as planned, you will see these beauties again in December...I have delicious plans for a few homemade Christmas gifts.


One night we were walking back to the car and saw this Moda crate.  It was just one of those things I thought was so cool to see.

Okay, now just a few pictures of things *on my list*: things I just really wanted to make sure I saw while I was there. This is the evidence:

The Alexander Henry booth.

The Moda booth was so big I didn't know what to take a picture of, so I ended up with this.  Enough said.


The Amy Butler booth.

The Gammill booth...I got four of them in one shot.

Quilt Market ended on Monday afternoon at 4 and then we had the job of taking everything down.  Incidentally, the floor was easier to lay than it was to pull up, but eventually we had everything packed up, ready to head for home.  We had a fit of laughter when we saw these piled up in the hotel lobby.  Of course, we were sleep deprived, but still.  It was hilarious.

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.