Category Archives: In the Company of Cloth

notes from a quilter, collage artist, fabric collector

The sly reveal

Synchronicity, Part Two

As many of you know, I collect things: dried hosta stalks, bird skulls, beach glass, rocks.

One year, I used a sharpie to write on a few “special” stones and by special I mean somewhat flat and easily held in the palm. One stone down in the basement reads, Let the breath take you deeper. This is a catch phrase of a meditation circle I’ve been part of since the late 80’s (and incidentally, might be the only instruction one needs in order to learn to meditate).

I made a few of these and as far as I knew, they were either in the cellar (below) or I’d given them away.

My writing bench upstairs and the surrounding bookcases are hardly free of clutter. However, the clutter does not include bowls of rocks or shells. There are no freestanding rocks, either.

But somehow, this stone showed up near my power strip a few days ago. I was flummoxed. As flummoxed as I was on Sunday when I made a special trip to the grocery store for cilantro, bought cilantro and parsley, and could only find the parsley later. The cilantro disappeared. Or, to put it as a dear soul gifted with ADD and Irish blood might: the cilantro fucking vanished.

But here’s the thing. The dude abides. Yes indeed, when I flipped the stone near the power strip over, it read: the dude abides.

I have NO IDEA where the rock came from. It’s the inverse of the missing cilantro — the stone just fucking appeared.

Thank you, Universe. Nice to know you have humor in your bag of tricks! If there is any take away here, I think it has to do with appreciating and celebrating one’s tribe.

I lose cilantro but I also make stones appear.

** I didn’t seal the breath rock and it faded. At first disappointed to notice this wispy script, I later decided it captured the nature of the breath better than clearly defined text.

Our anniversary

We made a nearly four mile loop through the woods surrounding Sandy Pond in Lincoln. It was a new walk for us — meant to be special and it was. Until we got near the DeCordova Museum, we saw almost no one. Crows cawed, a couple small planes passed overhead, and now and then, the Amtrak whistle sounded from a few miles off.

Once back home, we left Finn so we could eat out. Lunch at a restaurant with outdoor seating and small plate offerings did the trick. The sun was bright. The food was good, especially the fish tacos and homemade potato chips.

Earlier, I had offered to buy him a cashmere scarf but he said he likes the one he already had, which I’d also given him, did I remember? After we finished eating, he suggested we stroll over to one of the jewelry stores a few doors down. Nah, I said. I don’t even really wear earrings anymore.

So that’s it. Our 32nd anniversary! It is sunny and unseasonably warm today, not unlike the day we were married. Our wedding was about a mile from here. Seventy people. It was okay. Lukewarm food, a space broken up awkwardly so that there was a feeling of innies and outies, lackluster dancing, and meh toasts. On the other hand, our rehearsal dinner was really special.

For one thing it was in a teeny, rustic restaurant at the end of Bearskin Neck in Rockport, a favorite place for both our families. It was intimate, joyful, and relaxed. People ate either lobster or mussels and both were delicious. There was no anxiety about performance or socializing. No endless posing for pictures. We often wish that had been the whole deal.

Too late now.

This year, there’s a sense of being past the grand gesture. What a relief!

The things that trigger gratitude about being together this year are both simple and essential. I am glad we’re both alive (K had another funky-looking mole removed yesterday). I’m glad we both still can walk (and kick through fallen oak leaves!) I’m glad I know how to make a really tasty carrot cake and that we want to eat it at a similar pace.

Tempo is everything, right?

We met in 1961 or 62


Sometimes, especially when out with the dog, I think, “You know this is as good as it gets.”

Perhaps that sounds like gratitude or realism, but there’s a wary curiosity in it.

The absolute highlight of my week was talking to a fellow writer and feeling useful to her.

Some themes lately: what children need (they need to be seen); what are some of the differences between having sons and having daughters and are all those observations too reductive; entanglements.

We saw C this week, more briefly than I would have liked, but he still has good friends around here so what are you gonna do? It’s funny to me how after a few years in California, Massachusetts felt cold to him (it wasn’t cold).

I’m babbling, so I’ll close by saying I finally made some chive/garlic butter. We’ve been enjoying it on baked potatoes, pasta, and green beans, to name just three dishes. Yum!

Editing as whittling

PCC collage

We are getting rain. The painters stayed home today, but yesterday as I sat upstairs in my writing chair, a man worked on a ladder directly out the window. He chatted on his phone, Spanish providing him privacy since I don’t know a word. But how I worried about him, scaling the ladder with one hand, or gripping the phone with his neck and shoulder while balancing two stories up!

In today’s blessed quiet, I’ve been editing, determined to get my word count below 140,000. Deb would scoff and maybe my paid editor would too. But a lower word count would be more appealing to the average agent. Or so I’ve heard.

Couple years back — before Covid so it feels like another lifetime — Deb visited and invited me as a guest to a writer’s conference where she was the keynote speaker. Talk at the table turned to word count.

“For a debut author, anything over 90,000 is a no-no,” one writer said. Others agreed. (Deb’s speech was amazing BTW — part humor, part wise advice).

Well, I’m not gonna even get down to 120,000, but you have to admit that our minds respond differently to 141,800 than to 139,800.

And I did it! Gonna keep going because I have a new appreciation for where I can carve. Mostly I’ll go to the Eliza chapters because she thinks too much and can be flowery in her speech. Snip. Snip.

Sleeping with a robot

Covid quarantine, continued.

The air purifier in my room is cylindrical, white, and about two feet tall, coming across as a cute robot — until you operate it, that is. It emits an eerie blue light that waxes and wanes — a chilly blue. Eye cover takes care of that, but the noise is inescapable. It should read as white noise but somehow doesn’t. After three days I can’t help but feel the thing is sentient and a tad malevolent.

The bedroom now reminds me of a somewhat creepy Airbnb we stayed in for a night near Portland, Oregon. It was a filler stop the night before flying home and I hadn’t been terribly picky, but you never know with these places, do you?

We got to the modest bungalow late and the place was dark. Everything was in order — clean, well-appointed, but? There was a communal kitchen you didn’t want to be in. The bathroom forced you out into a shared and dark hallway. I couldn’t put my finger on why it made me feel uneasy then and still can’t really. But it did.

I know not to doubt these impressions anymore. Maybe if I wrote about it one of my fellow writers would say the piece paints a classic picture of anxiety disorder (thanks, Linda*). But, so? When K and I were looking at houses there was one that made my skin crawl. K didn’t understand why I so badly wanted to leave but terrible things were happening within those walls, I just knew it.

The robot-air filter must be disturbing my sleep because I didn’t wake up until 10:30 this morning. TEN-THIRTY! I was vaguely aware of the mechanism timing out and going dark and silent — probably around three. I fell into a solid, deep sleep at that point.

Tonight, I’ll run it from five until bedtime and leave it off during the night. K hasn’t tested again yet but is likely still positive. I just read a physician’s explanatory twitter thread about how long a person can remain contagious. Oy.

I’ll cap this off with another mushroom picture from yesterday’s walk — ar, ar.

* Not her real name and it was okay, really. You should’ve heard the prompt response. It was about what a woman does to feel safe when her husband is out of town and might have involved setting up booby traps on the floor outside of her bedroom.