20 April 2015

Pi-ka-CHU!

E.'s new shirt (please do not pin or re-post)
So, this season's theme in Kid's Clothes Week is "wild things." I started today off fairly strong with a t-shirt (not as elaborate as some of my fellow participants, but I made something, it's finished, ta-dah!), and I added a Pokemon applique to it. It fits the theme ("you have found a wild Pikachu") and E. likes Pokemon (specifically, she likes the Indigo League theme song).

She wanted to wear the shirt as soon as she saw the applique, before I'd managed to attach it to the shirt. I'll call that a success.

I used the Tiny Tumble Tee pattern, the baby version of the Tumble Tee from Imagine Gnats. The shirt's a long one, since it can double as a a dress, and E. is skinny, so she hasn't yet outgrown the tiny version. The two shirts I made her about a year ago from the same pattern still fit. The neckline's still a little gappy, but I didn't feel like experimenting with neck binding today. It fits over her head and stays on, and it's comfortable.

I used a chunk of blue jersey knit that came from a friend's destash. I had to cut the back of the shirt in two pieces and seam it together because I couldn't convince it to work any other way. Leftovers can be awkward shapes. The Pokemon fabric came from the same friend. I found the only piece on there with a whole Pikachu, ironed it onto some interfacing, and then ironed the whole thing to the shirt with some Stitch-Witchery. Then I tried out the applique stitch on my sewing machine. It appears to have worked, but of course, the proof's in the washing (not the pudding). If it stays on after a few trips through the washer, I think it will do.

I'm not sure what's on the docket for Kid's Clothes Week tomorrow. Probably another Pokemon applique of some sort, since I cut out about half a dozen other Pokemon to use. Perhaps a pair of shorts for the warm weather. We shall see.

14 April 2015

Chaotic Neutral, at best

Well, we survived the six hour (each way) drive to visit my family for my grandmother's memorial with a toddler. Our secret? Sticking one of us in the back with the toddler so she wouldn't scream the whole way, and a couple of Terry Pratchett audiobooks so we adults wouldn't feel like screaming the entire way. We didn't do that last time we headed south and E. ended up screaming for the last two hours on our trip to Seattle (her way of saying Happy Thanksgiving, perhaps?).

It was a strange visit. Visits to Portland are typically filled with visits to Powell's; a wander through Saturday market to admire all the breakable pretty things; a journey to my favourite tea shop, the Tao of Tea; a trip to one of the McMenamin's movie theaters if they have anything good playing; spending time with family and friends that we don't see very often; and usually a pilgrimage to Mill End (as much as I love Fabricana, Mill End was where I first started fabric shopping on my own and holds a special place in my heart). Next Christmas we plan to take E. to the Oregon Zoo. J. and I tend to go for walks in downtown or around Hawthorne and play Hipster Bingo (yes, it's probably rude, but there are so many people with spectacular beards and glasses).

This journey was different. Oh, we made it to Bob's Red Mill and Dave's Killer Bread, since my parents live nearby, and I stocked up on a few alternative flours (more on that later, once the batter for the injera finishes fermenting), but most of the time wasn't about having fun playing tourist in the city where I grew up. My youngest brother was off at university most of the two weekdays we were there, though he was around on the weekend days; my oldest younger brother was busy working and we only saw him briefly a couple of times; and my middle younger brother was only able to come for the memorial service and had to run back up to Seattle for work before the reception had ended.

J. and I usually go to my grandparents' house for dinner one of the nights we're visiting. Last time we brought a tiny four-month-old E. over to their house. This time, my grandfather came over several times, and it was strange to see him without my grandmother, because they are always together. Just not anymore.

As it became more real to me, I started to cry more. I cried through most of the service. I kept crying at the reception because it felt like all I had to do was turn around and she would be there, except she wasn't. I muddled my way through an anxiety attack that night, one that kept me up well past midnight, and then stumbled through another one at my parents' church the next morning.

I was pulled together enough to drive part of the way home and not succumb to anxiety about driving, and I feel on a slightly more even keel now that I'm a bit removed, but as always, it's taking a few days to settle back into routine here at home. Everything seems a bit off, and I think most of that is related to the grieving process, however long it's going to take. I'm back to feeling a bit sad, a bit flat, and unsure what to do about that.

While we aren't exactly horrendously busy, life does feel strangely chaotic. I suppose it will sort itself out, but in the meantime, I'm finding ways to cope with the weirdness.

06 April 2015

Easter Monday

Daphne Flowers
I took a picture of one of the daphne bushes over in of the public parks because my grandparents have a daphne bush in their yard. I've always loved the heady scent of the flowers, and remember my grandmother letting me squish some of the blossoms up in a cup with water in an attempt to make perfume (no, it didn't work).

We made it through Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The week has a more bittersweet twinge for me than it usually does. I managed to complete my Lenten task. This year I chose to get the book out during Lent rather than giving something up (though the task of sending it out into the world where people can read and critique it has an element of letting go). But my mind was less on my life than on my grandmother's this Lenten season.

I wasn't sure if I would write much about the grieving process here on the blog, but it has occurred to me that, as a representation of grief, mine doesn't look like I expected it would. The deep sadness passed after the first week, for the moment, and for now, I am reconciled. But I do find myself frequently dwelling on my grandmother, on who she was, who I knew her to be, and how she affected the people around her. The memorial service is this weekend, and I will be faced, for the first real time, with her absence. I feel it when I talk with my grandfather, on the phone or on skype, but it's still not entirely real.

Bleeding Heart
This evening, I spent some time working on a dress for my daughter to wear to the service on Saturday. I think Grandma would have liked that. She loved that at least one of her granddaughters had continued to sew after she spent all the time teaching us when we were kids. It seems fitting to sew something for E. for this occasion.

In the spirit of thinking about what my grandmother would have appreciated, I found myself buying makeup to wear, and deliberating about the sort of nail polish I should use (not black, I think). I've been a nail biter most of my life, and my mother tried to use the promise of nail polish as a bribe to get me to stop. Grandma just went ahead and did my nails - irritating my mother but delighting me.

Memories like that are both joyful and tinged with sorrow right now. It's a strange feeling. I don't know if they will always feel like this, or if the feelings will someday be all joy. I think I will always miss her, though, so I don't think the sadness is going to leave anytime soon.

31 March 2015

flying sounds like a good idea

My first rating on Goodreads sent me spiraling around the house, wishing I could take off like Annabel in No Flying in the House. There may also have been some profanity involved, of the excited disbelief variety. The first rating was 5 stars. No reviews yet, but now I'm less nervous about what reviewers have to say.

I ran into a guy who had been in one of the classes I TAed back in grad school on the weekend. It's been a few years, but I know his wife slightly because she and I both go to the same mum's group. Anyway, he asked me what I'd been up to, and, for the first time, I got to say, "I wrote a book," in response to the question of what I've been doing with myself. Weird yet exhilarating.

The week's been not too busy so far, but everything takes off on Thursday. I love Holy Week, but it's going to be just a wee bit exhausting. At least I have the lamb shoulder I bought today to look forward to, for our Easter dinner (I have not been a spectacular semi-vegetarian lately, but I'm sure that I'll snap back after our trip, and at least tomorrow's dinner will be vegan).

27 March 2015

all the things

Where were we? The last week has been a confusing muddle of emotions. There's the book, there's my grandmother, and there is the upcoming chaos of Holy Week when you are Anglican and your husband happens to be in the choir. Palm Sunday includes the morning service and an evening dinner to which I am bringing a couple dozen hard-boiled eggs (and I need to check how long to boil them because lately, every time I hard-boil an egg, it comes out soft-boiled, which makes me feel like an idiot). Thursday through Sunday are booked for various services, mostly in the evening, and I have no idea about whether J. is expected to be at the contemplative services earlier in the week.

I got new glasses, which I'm still adjusting to. The slightly different shape of the frames and the unscratched lenses mean that I feel a bit disoriented. Everything is startlingly clear, but the edges of the clear vision are different than what I've been used to for the last five years. The old glasses are getting new, unscratched lenses once we figure out where we want to buy them, and then, for the first time in my life, I'll have a spare set of glasses.

E. is putting garbled syllables together in clumps that sound suspiciously like sentences, which makes the linguist in me very happy, and makes the parent in me frustrated because I still can't understand what she's saying, even if the intonation is spot-on for English sentence structure.

The book has been sent off to several reviewers; I'm half-way convinced they're all going to give it a single star, or no stars whatsoever. And I need to find a few more bloggers willing to review it and I haven't pulled myself together enough to . It's time to get back to work on Book 2, and I'm considering doing a short story project, too, just because. I need the practice; if I'm going to improve as a writer, I'll have to write more. The latest writing project has been a journaling thing that I have no desire to publish, so I need to change gears and work on something else.

We're driving down to Portland in a couple of weeks, so I've been trying to plan ahead for that. I actually found myself buying foundation at Shopper's today. It took ages for me to find the kind I wanted (something that wasn't hideously expensive and that also functioned as sunscreen), and then even longer to find a colour that I think will work. Naturally, none of the testers were in the colour I needed to try. I hope you appreciate that I'm actually going to wear makeup to your memorial, Grandma. You always commented on how nice I looked when I wore it. And now I have to do a few trial runs to ensure I won't look like a raccoon. Sigh. Stage makeup was fun back in high school. Regular makeup has never been fun, except for when Grandma let me play Beauty Parlour in her bathroom with all her makeup, when I was small.

And with that, I'm done for the day. Everything aches and my child is running around wearing nothing but a diaper and a swimsuit top. 


20 March 2015

processing...

This has been a strange week. The kind of strange where I don't really know how to process things anymore.

The week has held big things, and little things. The little things aren't that bad on their own: our bathroom fan broke and our landlord is hunting down a replacement; E. has a cold, and alternates between wanting to wear nothing and wanting to wear seasonally unsuitable things (last night and this morning's pick is a sundress my in-laws bought her last year that now fits. She slept in it. It's raining today, so if she thinks she's wearing it outside...); Facebook pages are harder to navigate than I anticipated (though the book does now have a Facebook page); and I'm not sleeping well, again.

The big things, well, there's the book. I still can't believe I actually did it. Alea iacta est. I'm so paranoid about other people reading the serious things I've written, and I just went ahead and put it up there.

The other thing is at the other end of the spectrum. My grandmother died about a day and a half ago. As I am still at the stage where I am half-expecting my parents to call and say they were mistaken and she's still with us, I don't have a lot to say yet. I have cried, and I have felt numb (mostly that). Her memorial service isn't for a few weeks, so we don't have to pack up and drive the 6-7 hours south on short notice, and I have a sinking feeling that it won't become real until I see my grandfather and realize that my grandmother isn't with him like she always is.

That's about all I can say on the topic at the moment. I doubt I'll write a lengthy post on my grieving process at a later date unless it really feels like something I need to do. It'll work its way out in other writing (there are a few chapters in Book 2 that involve death and grieving; I'll probably find revising those helpful for working things out). In the meantime, I'm trying to keep going, even though pausing everything for a while would be pleasant.

And we still have Holy Week and Easter to get through.

17 March 2015

Comrades We: The Launch

I actually did it. I finished tinkering with a book. You are now able to purchase it here on Amazon or here on Smashwords, or here on Google Play. I am currently trying out the world of online self-publishing, and we will see where it takes me. Please buy it if you are curious and let me know  what you think, good or bad!

Each of the sites it is available on have limited previews available, so you can check it out there. I'll be building it a Facebook page this week, and the page here on the blog for the book will have more stuff added as time goes on. I'm still waiting for Goodreads to hook up my author account, but I've made sure the book is up there as well in case people want to review it on that site.

Comrades We is the adventures of six friends as they grow up, encounter bad stuff, and try to fight their way out.

This is a fantasy novel. There is magic. There are swords. There are mysterious and cryptic gods. There are some really bad guys and there are good guys who are mostly ordinary and trying to do their best. There is knitting and spinning when characters are not practicing swordplay and archery. And if needed, there always tea. There is also more to come, as Comrades We is the first in a trilogy (cue me panicking and realizing that I need to finish writing the middle of the second bit).

Content warning: Some violence and mention of sexual assault. Made-up swear words. Best suited for teenagers and up, probably not for anyone under 12 (unless you happen to be super-mature and have parents who let you read absolutely anything no matter what).