The officially stated theme for the 2016 Camden Writers Anthology #2.
Starting in January, I pulled about four pieces from my stash of vignettes relevant to the 2016 anthology theme – some started but unfinished, others already firmly written and in need of my critique group’s keen insights and suggestions, still others with germinal ideas and notes-to-self on how to proceed.
I discovered early on during critique presentations that even the one piece I thought was 99.9% ready to go, wasn’t. And that really was fine with me. I decided I’d use the submission deadline as the catalyst for getting those pieces and ideas in shape for publication.
Meanwhile I was deeply ensconced in a regular routine spent on the practice stool prepping in anticipation of upcoming recording sessions for my Swimming with Swans: the music project.
Progress towards both project milestones were rolling along smoothly. However, I didn’t factor in the possibility of Dad entering into hospice care in April.
please, enjoy the music while you read the following, I promise it is related to the main thrust of this blog post…and since there are several guitar solos, well, you don’t really need to watch the lyrics up on the screen
Okay, so I’ve been starting and stopping in the writing of several blog posts.
I need to feed the blog, yes, but I gotta say my focus has been a bit wonky since returning from my five weeks visiting Dad. I started to write about that in a post entitled “Spider Webs, Jacob’s Ladder and Losing the Strand” but could only get so far when I’d lose the strand…(to befinished and posted at a later date).
Then on to a relatively easy Shoutout about the great Maestro Ricardo (and my friend) receiving a prestigious award at the annual GFA Convention in Denver, held just one week after I left. I wanted to attend, but those plans got trumped (don’t know if I like that term anymore…) with the Dad-card. No regrets at all, but it does leave the “Shoutout: In Honor of the Maestro Ricardo” in the queue to be sent sometime whenever I can do a final edit on it…again, the focus thing is the limiting factor here. It may never get finished and sent out since it’s more (out)dated news.
I discovered early on that I didn’t have the energy required to return to my current Swimming with Swans projects. This of course lead to frustration because I needed something to do in the realm of creating while navigating this new pattern of four weeks here and two weeks there; along with the emotional stuff that goes along with end-of-life and long distance elder care.
So I picked up the needle…that phrase is loaded, eh? I first mentioned this phrase in my post “The Rusty Quilter” that describes my history and re-introduction to quilting and fiber art.
Whole-cloth quilt top basted and ready for straight stitch machine-quilting
That said, I began in earnest my new ‘now’ project totally unrelated to anything other than as a pleasurable creative outlet: the whole-cloth quilted throw; which will be discussed in greater depth in yet another WIP blog post, as yet unnamed.
During today’s immersion in some straight line machine quilting, I listened to an Amazon Prime Classic Rock Song List.
When ZZ Tops’ tune, The Sharped Dressed Man came on full blast in my earphones and into my brain, I remembered my Jo-Jo and his new obsession with dressing snappy for work.
Joe Lilly is the Sharp Dressed Man
Here’s Joe in his Tuesday morning duds, posing in the dining room of my folks’ house, with the telltale cleaning supplies and messiness in the background. One of the fantastic things I got to do while visiting Dad was to make dinner for our kids. Some of Ma’s cooking stuff is still in the kitchen and so I was able to throw together some makeshift family favorites.
Since Joe still lives in the Denver area, he purposely carved out time to stop by after work and/or pick me up for doing fun stuff together during ‘down times’.
One such outing was going to his gig at the Oriental Theatre. Actually, my sorella-amica Lisa and I went to see our sons* at this wonderful venue. Like most musicians, he’s in several bands/ensembles. This one, Heavy Medicine**, added a horn section recently, of which Joe is their main sax-guy.
The Sharp Dressed Man with his Heavy Medicine Bandmates playing the Oriental Theatre, Denver, CO 6/2016
Me and my son – the sharp dressed man
Lots more of this mother-son stuff is in the future with each trip back to visit Dad.
Oh and on the marquee behind us is the name Leon Russell, significant in that another blog post in the queue needing to be finished is called, “The Buena Vista Social Club, Leon Russell and Dad”.
This lady speaks candidly and with more courage than I ever could during our own between homesjourney. Her journey-details differ from our own, but the pattern is rote: no job – no home. The experiences and feelings felt are similar if not the same in some instances.
Over these past three years of Thanksgivings, a tradition of sorts has evolved. It seems our son Joe’s holiday of choice is Thanksgiving. Each Thanksgiving since landing here in South Carolina after our between homes journey, he has flown in to join us at the family feasting table. This fourth year was no different. He spent 10 days with us, kind of a combination re-group after his 2.5 month vacay in the DR and holiday time with the fam. This year we three took our walk in the Swamp the Saturday after Thanksgiving as usual only at a new-to-us spot: Woods Hole. To date, that is hands down our fav Swamp-place. But this post is about last year’s Swamp walk…
The Saturday after Thanksgiving 2014, I took a walk in the swamp with my son.
My Jo-Jo at the Lynches River Swamp, SC (2014)
Turns out, he has become more of a walker since his youthful accident a few years back which requires him to keep his ankle supple and stretched. Because my hubby was in the throes of knee problems, we took our walk without him. It made for a long-overdue Mother-Son time together. Yes, we communicate via texting, phoning and e-mailing, but there’s nothing like actually spending physical time with those you are in relationship with. There may not be much spoken, but just the living, breathing and, in this case, walking presence of another produces a deep communication that can only be transmitted in such a manner.
Me finding a prime stump at the Lynches River Swamp (2014)
Getting into each other’s head and space, without pretense is very freeing. It also helps me to sort through stuff.
That November, I was blessed to be able to focus on my Musical Non-fiction project, via my Nano Rebellion. It progressed nicely and I was pleased with my output as well as organization of said output. It also served to re-connect me with myself. A self that has by circumstances of ‘place’ not been easily allowed to come out and play.
South Carolina Swamp Cypress Trees
The Monday following our Swamp walk I took Joe with me to be a part of my regular Wounded Warrior Horse Therapy volunteer time. I was excited to show him off to the gang as most of those there have family nearby 24/7 – warriors, therapists and volunteers alike. He got along with most everyone as he always seems to do wherever he goes, especially with Jason. Funny, that, since they remind me of each other. Joe’s interest in the horses wasn’t all that much, but he did like seeing his Ma doing her horse thing anyway.
What happened there was something I didn’t expect. Doing what he always does, talk music with me comparing notes on gigging and crazy audiences; drawing others into our conversation cuz you know, everyone loves music. Between talking up his own bands and the Denver music scene, somehow it came out about my being a working musician, my dad being a pro-jazzman and that that was how he was brought up – surrounded by rehearsing musicians, learning to help set up gear for Ma’s gigs/concerts… No one there knew of my status as a musician prior to moving to South Carolina. I was just one of the horse handlers. Mostly due to the fact it wasn’t something relevant to horse handling chores or in bonding with the warriors. And also due in part to my own healing process related to the last months of our between homes experience…But that day, that ordinary Monday during horse handling chores and bonding with the warriors around the picnic table after therapy sessions, my son bridged the real me with the current me.
One day, years ago, Amy-next-door came to call. She often came to visit with her two little girls in tow to play with my youngest two kiddos as they were all around the same age. This time, she stood holding two paper grocery bags.
“Look what I found!” Amy said as she thrust the two bags into my arms.
Feeling light as a feather for all their fullness, I immediately knew they were filled to the brim with fabrics.
“I found these at a garage sale for $0.75 and I thought you might like to use them.”
More than just neighbors, Amy-next-door and I were enablers…always on the look-out for each other’s vices: she and her buttons, I and my fabrics.
As I began rummaging through the brown paper bags, I noticed they contained more than just scraps or random cuts of material. There was a huge piece of white cotton flannel, a stack of pre-cut 10 ½ x 10 ½ flannel squares, a handful of 3 ½ x 3 ½ ones and miles of uncut flannel fabrics of varying designs and colors.
Of course, by interpolation, 2013 was my year for entering into the Nines.
Joe and Michelle with Dad/GranPa (9/14)
Dad turned 90 in April 2013 and I turned X9 last October 2013. We got to share life in the Nines for an entire year. As well, I’m blessed to have visited Dadland for a goodly portion of these past 12 months.
My times in the Nines have tended to be fraught with trepidation. Starting with the one where I joined Jack Benny in declaring to be eternally 39, my journey through the Nines can be a bit rocky.
Okay so it’s not like Dad where he’ll be in his version of the Nines till he reaches his 100th b-day. But still…
Count the layers on my decade cake*!
Once flipped over to the other side and into a new decade, I usually find it’s not such a bad age progression. Ah, but those Nines…both entering and exiting…are a perilous roller coaster of highs and lows; ohs and nos.
Ironically, the number 9 itself has been loads of fun for me. Perhaps I should focus on that…number 9, number 9, number 9…anything’s easier to tolerate when George, John, Paul and Ringo (my personal order of preference) sing about it.
Here’s what greeted hubby and I when we stepped out through the front door to go to work this morning.
Well actually, what first caught my eye was this potted mum placed strategically next to my planter of waning herbs.
Notice the concealed grocery bag filled with jugs of water? That’s the kind of day we had yesterday…
Let me explain.
Getting ready for company is fun for me. It’s part of my heritage. Not that I don’t get stressed, but I truly enjoy prepping for ‘parties.’ Yesterday morning began the final leg into that realm. Already having fielded a week of impromptu clearing out of the laundry closet space that we’d been using as extra storage in our little rental house in readiness for its intended use, I was ready to focus on the task at hand. That being: the routine of last minute fixes and major cooking for a greatly anticipated time of dining and gabbing with our guests for that evening.
Things went along like clockwork:
Get dough ready for rising-check
Wash salad greens and place in crisper-check
Put leaf in table-check
Tidy up living room and hide extra storage stuff from emptied laundry closet-check
Take shower before lunch-check
Start sauce to simmer-check
It wasn’t until close to the end of the prep that I noticed something strange. Continue reading →
Roaming about the unpacked boxes in my studio space, I came across this unfinished, but not forgotten WIP. Carefully set aside to be finished at a later date, this Mother-Daughter Quilt Project was started when my middle daughter was in High School. We worked on it through her first two years of college getting the entire quilt top center finished, with only the borders and binding left to sew. It got put on hold as our business of over 17 years was going through bankruptcy and major changes were shaping the course of our lives. Once we packed up stuff to go into storage a few years later, it was definitely a WIP that I figured would never get done.
Borders, Backing & Thread: Ready to Go!
What’s so cool is that in its recent re-discovery, I know that now is the time to finish it.
Moreover, packed alongside the rolled-up quilt top were the materials needed to complete the project; all cut and ready to go.
My Michelle’s favorite color is no longer pink. She has grown up, become a confident, professional woman and married a fine young man. But our Mother-Daughter Quilt still speaks of the ties that bind: times past, present and future; the good times and the bad; what it means to love and be loved; forever and always…Amen.
Thought I’d spice this up a bit with some of my good ole Italian…besides, a picture is worth a thousand words, so if there’s any question of what that title means, just take a gander at this:
Partial view of quilt back with label signed and dated
Yep, Coffee Beans Means Love to Me is no longer a WIP, but a completed project.
Last seen on the table ready to be basted a few posts ago, I experimented with using large quilter safety pins. In general, I liked the way they held the 3-layered sandwich together while I machine quilted. However, the holes they left in the fabric after being removed left me wondering why I didn’t just do it the way I’ve always done it.
Basting together pieces of (he)art*
Live and learn.
Perfectionist that I am, I feared I’d wrecked the whole thing. Then I remembered: part of our between homes experience was embracing the ‘strange life path’ He had for us. So what’s a few microscopic pin pricks?
Still living. Still learning.
Finishing Coffee Beans has been freeing. A sort-of final transition stage where our between homes past has been pieced together into something beautiful to be seen in the ‘now’ as a reminder while we proceed into the ‘next’…
The road between homes has ended for now, but the creative journey has not.
*creative confluence: Coffee Beans Means Love to Me (2014), my NaNo Novel, ‘The Woman Who Didn’t Belong’ (2013), my hand scored original arrangement of ‘Mo Giolla Mear’ written while I was ‘Swimming with Swans’ in IN (2010), favorite guitar strings and an old photo of me with an anonymous horse in Montana during Spring Break (circa 1977).
Note: the title of this post refers to the name of my current quilt WIP
As mentioned in a prior post, I’m a quilter from way back when. For the most part, I prefer to work with what is at hand, supplementing materials as needed during each individual project. As a result, my projects display differing degrees of scrappiness appropriate to their ultimate use. Whether utilitarian or artistic, literal quilt blankets or wall hangings, craft or fiber art projects, the underlying theme is always one of creating pieces from what I have on hand. Very much in keeping with the fundamental value of making do with what one has, then augmenting as the need arises.
While living on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, NM, I worked retail at the JoAnnFabrics in town. Just being in the store each working day was creative eye candy to my soul. I couldn’t make quilts due to our living circumstances, but those creative juices had free roaming privileges within my mind. Continue reading →