Moving on, yet again

Maybe you’ve noticed or maybe you haven’t, but the daughter and I have moved around a lot these last few years.  It’s happening again; our fifth move in three years and I’m terribly conflicted.

Part of my really really really wants to go back to Portland, to the city I know and love with restaurants I enjoy, cheap movie theaters, the big ol’ downtown library, friends who have made me feel loved and my son, yes, I’ll be near my son again. {Really near, in fact, like living under the same roof again.}

People joke about how your kids will grow up, move out and then move back in again when they realize they can’t afford to live on their own. Ours just happens to be the opposite situation where Mom realized she can’t afford to live on her own.

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Wait, that’s not where this was supposed to go… So I am glad to be going home to the Pacific Northwest, full of clean air and forests and rivers.  My lungs will be happy, too. They are the reason I finally said Yes, I’ll go back. I’ll give up the job I enjoy at a wonderful company. I’ll give up the sunshine and warm air if I can just breathe again without hurting. If my daughter and I can go a whole month without either of us being sick, I’ll take the rain. I will. 

You see, it’s been months of breathing problems and I’m not willing to let it become years. The daughter has missed weeks of school with all the illnesses, all of them validated by my own eyes. The girl has been sicker than I’ve ever seen her; both of us have been bedridden for days with coughs, fevers, vomiting and, the ever-popular, general malaise.  And on more than one occasion.

My lungs hurt to breathe in deeply. I avoid laughing because it’ll make me cough uncontrollably, gasping for air. Walking up the stairs to our second-story apartment makes me wheeze. I can feel the difference in my lungs if the air is being re-circulated in the car or being brought in fresh.

It’s bad, uncomfortable, painful, disappointing. It totally sucks.

In four weeks, I’m packing up a UHaul and heading north again. Away from sunshine and blue skies. Away from smog so thick it hides the mountains.

In ways, I’m so very very glad. Like I said, I’ll be near friends and family and a city I know and love. But there is an overwhelming guilt about moving yet again. I’d planned to stay for the rest of my daughter’s high school years. Stay here until she graduated. I had the best intentions and instead I’m asking her gently to please at least think about packing. Again. Please do this for my health and for your own. Asking your child to sacrifice, knowing they’ve already had to sacrifice so much to follow your hopes and dreams to SoCal, is so much harder than I want it to be. I want her with me. I want her healthy. I want her to be happy.  It just doesn’t seem like there is one place that can do it all.

The push-and-pull between all the things I want and need and all the thing she wants and needs is tough and the answers aren’t easy. Each time I’ve moved us, I though it was for the best…a place of our own, an extended family, away from the relationship drama, to a good job, back to healthy air… but it’s yet to work out as I had so earnestly hoped.

Nonetheless, here we go again. Packing for another move, another adventure. Another notch in the belt and another reason to be angry.

Love amazes me

If you know me, you know I’ve been lacking in the “partner who adores me” category for most of my life. Nearly fifteen years since my divorce has left me…fine, I’ll admit it, slightly bitter about the whole idea of love.

But this man makes me believe that there are couples who will really, truly, deeply love each other.

This kind of love amazes me and, to be honest, made me sob tears of sadness and joy.

Back at it for another year

In many ways, this feels like a year that wasn’t. The last 18 months have been a whirlwind of changes and adjustments, some great (a fabulous job with a wonderful fabric company) and some not-so-great (sunk $6k into what should have been a reliable car, but ended up with car payments on a new one instead).

Last January, before much of the craziness started, I set all sorts of goals for myself, things I wanted to start, finish or some combination of the two. But as life tends to do, it gets in the way of all my grand plans. And so while I was sure I was going to be able to finish all the quilting on Grandma’s quilt in 2013, I only managed to finish eight blocks before it got lost to the chaos of moving to Cali.  Eight. [hanging head in shame] Sorry, Grandma.

But I’m back at it!

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I’m setting the bar low this year and am promising to finish just one block a week. Of course, it will end up taking me two and a half years to finish it this way (there are 143 of those little blocks!), but at least it’s progress. And who knows, maybe there will be weeks when I can get two or three or five done.

So while I feel like I’ve let Grandma down somehow by not finishing, I just have to remember that the darn thing sat in a box at my mom’s house for 40 years before this. Sheesh.

And there you have it, my one New Year’s resolution for 2014 (and probably 2015, too!). I will complete one block a week until it ‘s finished. And then I’ll have to decide who gets it.

Do you make long-term resolutions? Do you stick to it?

Christmas in SoCal

This was a weird Christmas for us: the first when our trio wasn’t together and our first as a duo in Southern California. So we did something new and different.

I’m lucky enough to have my sister live just down the street, so on Christmas Eve, we went to her (bigger and nicer) home and made goodies together. I used my trusty old Good Housekeeping cookbook for the ginger snaps and the recipe Grandma Coates used every Christmas to make butterhorns. 20131227-194426.jpg

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Pillow-making and Giveaway Day

Okay, okay, so I know it’s just a slightly-tapered-at-the-corners square, but I’m pretty excited about this adorable little pillow I managed to whip up last night with some superhero fabric and grey linen. I’m thinking about offering them in the Etsy shop. I was selling more quilts for a while, then got lazy busy and haven’t had the time to restock. Maybe pillows would be a good start? I love this Superkids fabric from Ann Kelle enough that I didn’t even do anything special to it. Just some curved corners, French seams and a linen back–bam, a new pillow.

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Birthday quilt–finished!

20131203-155349.jpgShe didn’t want me to show off a picture of her, so this is as close at it gets: my daughter holding up her birthday quilt. She did let me take a photo of her with it, though, which is a minor miracle in itself. I just can’t show it off publicly and that’s okay.

I made this using Aria Lane’s Concerto pattern and I have to say it was so quick and easy that it almost seemed like cheating. The pattern itself calls for four solids, but I decided to mix this up with a little fabric for the Sierra collection by Bren Talavera and some Kona Snow, Pomegranate, Chartreuse and Caribbean.

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I was able to put it together by using strips for the Snow rather than peicing blocks. It worked out fine, required less sewing and when it was all quilted, it didn’t make any difference (imho) in how it looked.

I sent this to Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting PDX, one of my favorite peopl and an amazing longarm quilter. She’s been an integral part of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild and I was thrilled when she said she’d quilt it up for me. The only thing I asked for was a bit of girly, but not overboard and to hide some hearts in there somewhere to remind me daughter how much I love her. And that she did. 20131203-155712.jpg

It took me a week to stitch the binding on, but at last I tied off those last stitches, washed it and it got all crinkled and lovely. Isn’t it beautiful?! I really love how washing gives it a really texture, showing off all of Nancy‘s awesome quilting.

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Pattern Name: Concerto from Aria Lane
Time Required: 10 hours to piece the front + quilting
Rating: Beginner (start with the smaller size if you’re a newbie)
Would I Make It Again?: Yes!
What I Changed: I cut strips instead of squares for the Kona and used a mix of solids and prints, rather than only solids.

Cooling Down

I have lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest where autumn rolls in dramatically with heavy rains and a sudden drop in temperatures. I’ve wrapped my annual body clock around that change, but here we are in October in SoCal and still wearing tank tops and getting sunburnt on the weekends. My body can’t seem to figure out that it actually is fall. But where’s the cold? the rain?

For example, this was last Sunday, October 6. High of 90°F at Disneyland. Seriously? This is fall?

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Of course, if you ask my fellow Californians, the ones who lived most of their lives here, they’ll tell you it is definitely fall. The temperatures are cooling down (into the 70s? oh brr!), the morning marine layer is more common, the leaves are beginning to drop. So I guess this is how fall rolls in down here, gently and with sunshine. I like it.

Quilt Market is just around the corner, though, along with both of my children’s birthdays, and into the holiday madness of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I needed something to convince me of these changing seasons, so I decided to make myself a scarf. Robert Kaufman Fabrics has these lovely new Mammoth Flannels which are soft and warm and, if you ask me, they are the perfect colors to get me in the mood for fall.

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I was able to get my hands on a small swatch of Carolyn Friedlander‘s new Botanics collection, a fabric  that just was calling out to be tagged up with the flannel. The color is Curry and it makes me want Indian food every time I look at it.  But I digress, back to making scarves…. I simply cut a couple of width of fabric strips (about 8″ wide), sewed them together, flipped it and topstitched. Bam! A scarf!

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Now I don’t really have an excuse to complain about the A/C being on high everywhere I go.  I don’t have to be cold in the grocery store anymore because I have a lovely new cotton flannel scarf.

It’s like having autumn wrapped snugly around my neck.

Elephants on Parade

One of the perks of living in SoCal is that lots of things happen here, including the first showing of the Elephant Parade in America. A fundraiser to help save the elephants in SE Asia, the show is spread out around Dana Point and culminates in auctioning the works of art in November.

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Each one is painted by a different artist or celebrity, most of whom I didn’t know.  Instead of worrying about the who/why of the show, the daughter and I just wandered around Dana Point Harbor and enjoyed the over-the-top nature of Orange County.

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Until we found this one. I have to admit, we were pretty excited to see one done by Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer. Okay, so maybe he didn’t do the art, but we’ll never know since someone was nice enough to rip the plaque off.  Whatevs, the art was super cute.

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Some were a little hippy-dippy (see below).

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But they were all pretty great in their own way and, as you can see, it was a beautiful day to just wander around outside.

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And lookie there, even the kid had fun. 🙂

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First day jitters

It’s been a summer of change for us: some good, some bad. But today marked the official end of summer vacation for the daughter as she headed back to school. 20130910-233750.jpgBut it’s different this year with a new home in another state and a whole new set of expectations to try to live up to. We had a rough start to it and I can only hope that things improve as she learns the ropes.

It’s hard being a mother, perhaps particularly so a single mother, sending your kid into a situation you know will be traumatic. My girl has a tough shell, but like all of us she’s tender and more than anything I want to be close enough to take her hand and tell her it’ll be okay, that I believe in her every minute, every hour of every day.

I know she’s wonderful and funny and smart and pretty. I just want her to know it, too.