Category Archives: finishing

The gladness, it arrives

What many of you don’t know is that the most recent chapter of sister-drama and crisis lasted for nine years. That’s almost a decade. Nearly a decade of being drained, embattled, hopelessly entangled, desperate, and full of episodic fury and nearly constant resentment.

Mostly kept out of view here.

I can date my getting to know the thread-people here to the very beginning of this nine year chapter because — clear as day — I remember reading an article about Jude while waiting in the ICU (“The Artful Blogger” perhaps?)*

A few doors down, my sister was recovering from emergency abdominal surgery. A hernia and necrotic bowel. Then she went septic. When the doctor called, he gave her a 60/40 chance of dying and then announced in a voice dripping with judgment, “She’s almost 400 pounds, you know,” as if it were somehow my fault.

I honestly couldn’t tell in that moment whether I wanted my sister to live or to die. It might’ve been 60/40, too.

We hadn’t talked in nine years. For good reason.

Because of her size, they couldn’t close her up. The plan was for her to lose 150 pounds before attempting the final sutures and so there would be eight weeks in ICU and then a lengthy rehab. But because of my sister’s aggression, they put her into a medically-induced coma.

(I guess the male nurse got kicked in the balls one time too many).

That meant she had to be ventilated.

And that meant that when the tube finally came out, my sister couldn’t talk. Not even in a whisper. For weeks, she wrote me short notes in a shaky hand. As it turned out, a medically induced re-entry to relationship was a gift. What better way to reconnect with an estranged relative but slowly and with carefully selected words?

Around this time, I started taking Jude’s classes. I had two kids in high school. Often caregiving and exhaustion kept me from participating in the way I would have liked. That created some tensions that were mostly, but not exclusively, internal. Some linger.

Because of this fateful beginning, it was just weird to sign up for Jude’s last round of classes during the demanding and excruciating final weeks of my sister’s life. Talk about distracted. There were dirty diapers to dispose of, commodes to empty, calls to 911 to make (“she’s at 86% on four liters of oxygen”). There were DNR and DNI’s to be signed, regular care and hospice care to be coordinated, a nursing home transition to make, and should the priest come now, no not yet. Now.

Then her awful mess to clean up. And then (gratitude!!), Italy for more than half of April.

So once again, with respect to online participation, life thrust me into this position of “delinquency” (at worst), shadowy participation (at best). It’s a pair of bookends. A bit of a rerun. Not how I want it to be.

Because this burden of care has been on me for most of the time I’ve been participating in fiber circles, I am happy to mark a change. First with a brag and then with a photo.

The brag — I HAVE FINISHED MY NOVEL! I know I mentioned this in a comment a few days ago, but it bears repeating. First draft — done! Already edited 4/5’s, so edit last bit in July. Assemble list of agents in August. Compose query letter. Start submitting in September while also researching self-publishing.

Nine years in the making (there’s that number again). Ta-da! For all of the support I’ve received here: many, many thanks. I haven’t forgotten the tangible kickstarter support that got me to SC for an indigo weekend, for instance.

And to Deb Lacativa, fellow writer in arms, a special thanks — she is the only person to date to have read almost every goddamned word. Caught typos. Made thoughtful remarks. Cast her wild imagination in and around the plot lines. Whew, what a sensibility!

The photo below is to document how gladness can arrive. It was taken last night while another friend and I celebrated R’s birthday. It’s a tradition for us. Since my birthday’s in February, R’s in July, and our third friend’s in October, the tradition keeps us connected all year long.

I hardly recognize myself.

Gladness and a finished draft. Not an accident that they arrive not long after my sister departs.

And since there is ANOTHER birthday to celebrate this evening, I picked all our currants and will make a pie. Usually for my husband’s birthday, we go out, but tonight I’m keeping it easy: pasta topped with the last of the truffle oil from Assisi and basil from the garden.

Ahhh, summer! Ahhh! Relief.

*This was 2009, but November, December, so almost 2010.

Rolling into June

Just posted this in my Etsy shop (sidebar link). Even though I pieced it before I even knew I was headed to Italy, it has an Assisi feel to it.

Enjoy a few more pix from my April trip. I’m off to edit my little tail off.

PS With the sun out and temps approaching 70, there’s a festive mood among neighbors. “Enjoy the day!” says one. “No parka today!” I say to another. “Oh at last!” I hear up the street.

ADD and Deadlines

One of the reasons I didn’t know I had ADD until my thirties is because I functioned well as a student. I could organize myself around deadlines and wanted to excel and did. Except for freshman year of college, once I left home there were always jobs, too — providing more structure.

Nineteen of the first thirty years of my life were spent attending school.

The free-for-all business of raising two “highly active” boys was another matter altogether. When the younger son was tested for ADD, we checked all the same boxes.

Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare. Ed Asner

So now I know.

Next Wednesday (five days from now) is the first of my “Last Wednesday” Etsy store updates. It’s an experiment in promotion and setting deadlines. All of a sudden, I have a half dozen quilts to finish!

I probably will, even though my brand of ADD makes finishing things waaaaaay harder than starting them. So stay tuned!

Now if only I could impose a deadline for a first draft. Or rather (since I’ve done so multiple times), if only I could impose one that worked.

Sunday snow, Saturday glow

Today the scene behind this quilt is a snowy one. Not at all like yesterday’s blazing blue sky. Rain predicted for later.

Have I ever ripped out as much as I did for this Village Quilt? I don’t think so. I’m so pleased with the result, I’m predicting more fussiness in my future.

First, I had to shrink a glaring rhomboid of orange. Next, the beige square with stitched orbs (center top) looked too static, so I unpicked its two edges and added a triangle to the lower right.

Then, after stitching what I thought was the second to last seam, the roof lines were off so I had to rip out a long horizontal seam and a partial vertical one. ARG! To correct the placements, I added narrow strips to either side of the rectangular section, one pieced, one not.

Someone has expressed interest in the piece and I may leave the finishing treatment up to her. More and more, I like these cloth villages without any backing whatsoever.

Happy Sunday! Any good news to share?

I’ll start: K is home safe and sound from China. Also: I’m enjoying another outstanding Irish author right now and when I say outstanding, I mean mind blowing (the other recent read was by Colum McCann). Also: I managed to get both boys’ birthday boxes in the mail well in advance of their days!

Moving along

Some thing’s getting done. Other things getting fucked up (by you know who — don’t ask me about aprons right now).

Will make (an unexpected) run to Salem today in order to take my sister to the North Shore housing office. She’ll be signing the lease for subsidized housing this afternoon. Hooray!

Now if only Son #2 would get a job — something, anything — if only to stave off K and me having to ask, “What is our limit here?” I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that many families would’ve considered it reached and then some.

It is very cold today. Very. As in, bitter. But, Finn and I walked around the lake with a friend and she graciously shared stuff about the child of hers that has needed extra this and extra that.

Her words were the first gift of the week. The second is that K has agreed to come home early so that I don’t have to abbreviate the visit with my sister in order to accommodate the dog.

Off to fix an apron!

Literary intentions

Here are the books I want to read this year. They’ve been culled from the many, many unread books in the house.

There are two complementary goals in #theunreadshelfproject: one is to read books already in possession and the other is to put the brakes on book-buying. For me, there’s a tertiary goal: to finish books I’ve already started (about 1/3 of those pictured).

And of course, I want to read more.

Our current political nightmare has turned me into a news consumer, a fact both good and bad. Good, because I need to know what’s going on. Bad, because — well, you know why — because it’s all so overwhelming, alarming and disturbing. Also bad, because it means sacrificing other reading.

Seeing “Top Ten Books of 2017” on Instagram this week made me wonder: had I even read ten books over the previous twelve months? (I had and then some, but lax tracking also wants improving).

So. My shelf is sagging with weighty non-fiction, and since I prefer as a rule to read fiction, these 30 books represent an unbelievably ambitious goal.

And look at the size of the James and Mathiesson novels!

That’s okay. This is about intention and focus and not about making myself miserable. It’s also about changing my relationship to COMPLETION.

Each of the two books that I’ve already finished this year (yes! that’s two books in two days!) spawned ideas for future reading. I could just line titles up on an Amazon wishlist or a Goodreads TBR shelf, but the former is inescapably a shopping site and the latter bugs me for a bunch of reasons, so I’ll make a standing post here instead.

Bear with me while I figure this out.

Meanwhile, we’re bracing for a “bomb cyclone” : up to 12” of snow is on the way, along with nearly hurricane force winds (more the Cape and the Islands, but also here), all to be followed by record shattering cold (they’re predicting -10 to -20 for the weekend). Because of the Super Full Moon two days ago, flooding from storm surge is a real possibility along the coast, too.

I just hope we don’t lose power.

At 17 degrees, Finn and I worked up a good sweat playing fetch this morning. I sniffed the air. Doesn’t smell like snow yet!