Polishing Edits

Dear Vi,

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned the manuscript. Were you wondering what’s up with it?

Well, at the end of February I sent it out to a few friends who volunteered to be beta readers. These are people who give the novel a test run and report back with any problems they find.

While they were reading, I put the manuscript away and moved on to other things. At the time, I felt so done with it, I really didn’t care if I never looked at it again. But time passed and comments started trickling in.

Their enthusiasm was so contagious that I felt ready to pull it out again and tackle the polishing.

I printed out the novel and have just finished reading it from start to finish with the handy red pen that my writing partner Holly sent. And because I literally haven’t looked at it for about six weeks, my eyes are fresh, which allowed me to catch a few things I hadn’t been able to see when I was deep in the throes of creation.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve actually read it as a “real” book.  Just between me and you, Vi, it was an incredible experience. I felt…in serious awe of myself. I wrote a book! And it’s damned good!

(oh, boy, you’ve no idea how hard it was to say that, having grown up in a serious never-toot-thine-own-horn culture)

Now it’s time for me to get to work reading and analyzing what my test readers had to say.  Stay tuned because there’s sure to be a blog post or two coming out of the experience. 🙂

Posted in Blog Categories, Writing | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Fire!

Dear Vi,

It’s foggy this morning. Outside my window, wisps of fog stream past like smoke from a chimney. Wait… maybe it really is smoke.  I get up to check. Nope, it’s fog. Relieved, I take another sip of coffee. And then I burst into tears.

A couple of months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of sirens.  The urgent wail came closer, then faded as it passed.  I got out of bed and wandered through the house toward the bathroom as one does in the wee hours. But something was wrong. It took my sleep-addled brain a second to figure it out.

The kitchen wall was lit with a strange orange light. And it was flickering. I could hear a distant roaring sound. I turned around and looked out the window.  Less than 100 feet away, the big fir tree on the edge of our yard was engulfed by flame!

My heart stopped for a moment before I realized the trees were not actually on fire. They were backlit by fire. On the street behind us, my backyard-neighbour’s house was a raging inferno. Totally engulfed.

“Fire! Kelly, wake up, there’s a fire!”

I called 9-1-1. They had already received the call. The emergency crew was already on site.  More sirens came screaming in the distance.

Were we in danger? Did we need to leave? We were running on adrenaline, barely breathing. Everything was happening fast and slow at the same time.

Kelly opened the patio doors and stepped outside. I put on a jacket and followed. As soon as the door opened, we could hear the roar of the fire, so loud. It crackled and popped. We could hear the thrumming engine of the water truck, see great arcs of water shooting from the hoses.

We could also see that it wasn’t the house immediately below us. The house engulfed by fire was on the far side of it. Empty, its elderly owner had passed away less than a month previous.

We got dressed and walked down the street to join the huddle of neighbours watching the firefighters. The sky slowly lightened. Dawn came. The fire burned down, was drowned and washed away.

The next day it snowed.

It was as if Mother Nature wanted to cover all the ugly fright with a shroud. Take it away. Make it better.

Except you can’t cover up a fright like that.

Fight or flee? Huddle or bolt?  This is the kind of fear that lives in the depths of your bowel and in the stem of your brain.  It shares a very old room with fear of the dark and of falling from a great height and of unnamed monsters under the bed.

For weeks afterward, I got up two or three or four times every night…every single night to wander the house. Going from room to room, I’d look out all the windows, looking for the tell-tale flickering orange glow.

Several months have passed since that horrible awakening, and I’ve lost the worst of the urgency. I only check for fire once each night, now. I get up to use the bathroom as I have always done. But instead of going directly back to bed, I take a tour of the house, checking out the windows. And I always check before going to bed in the first place.  I can’t help myself. A whiff of smoke sends my heart racing.

A week ago I woke up at 3am with a terrible sense of urgency. I’d dreamed of fire, of course. In my dream, Kelly was shouting. “Fire! There’s Fire!” His voice ringing in my ears, I got up.  I checked all the windows. Nothing. I put my coat on, shoved my bare feet into boots and went outside. Nothing. I walked out the driveway and stood in the middle of the street. Nothing.

The hulk of my backyard-neighbour’s house is still there. Melting snow reveals charred beams, twisted metal, the blackened refrigerator.

And I’m here in my own house, like the rhinoceros racing by instinct to stomp out flames. Even when there aren’t any.

Posted in Blog Categories, Just Write, life, Memories, Philosophy, Writing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Slow Sunday Stitching (Vogue 9057 and small handwork)

Dear Vi,

Today it’s snowing again, one of those dreary low-light days where you just want to hibernate and read a good book. You know the kind.

I don’t have anything new or earth-shattering to share, so I’ll just catch you up on what’s going on in the sewing room, okay?

I’ve been feeling the urge to sew a piece of clothing. This piece of clothing in particular:I just can’t decide if I want the two sleeves to match or if I want one sleeve to be different, like in the picture (view D). What do you think? Does one contrasting sleeve scream middle-aged woman trying too hard to be funky?”

But then, I kind of like being a little bit different…

Anyway, stay tuned…in a day or two I just might have something to show you!

I’ve also got a new quilt on the go…a Very Secret Project. But I’ll give you a hint:Isn’t this bowl of roses sweet? It’s a technique called broderie perse, or chintz applique. I wanted to learn something new, so I gave it a try. I found a piece of fabric with a dense rose print, cut out the individual flowers, then used fusible web to rearrange all the flowers and buds into a new design.  I sewed them down with my machine.Very fiddly. But effective, don’t you think?

Another thing I’ve been working on during TV time in the evenings are these little hexi-flowers. English Paper Piecing with 3/4 inch papers.I’m using my smallest Kaffe Fassett scraps. Happy, happy fabric!

Some are being made into bookmarks for eventual gift-giving. That’s about it for me. Today I’m linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching over at Kathy’s house. Pop on over and say hi!

What are you working on these days? Write back and tell me all about it.

Love,

N.

Posted in applique, Crafts, Embroidery, fabric, sewing | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Up at Dawn

Dear Vi,

I woke up early this morning. I tried to go back to sleep, I really did. I arranged my pillow, rearranged my pillow, stuck my foot out, turned over, turned back. You know the routine. Finally, I got up.

It wasn’t really early anymore…not quite six. I turned on the bedside lamp and opened the blind in the bedroom. It was just starting to get light outside: that pearly dawn light. The big fir trees were in silhouette, a bit of a moon peeking out between them.

When I let Sam out, I stood for a moment on the porch and smelled the air, listened to the drip drip drip of melting snow, the train thrumming on its track across the lake. I could see my bedroom window from where I was standing. The light shining through, my bed on the other side of the glass, rumpled sheets and blankets.

I fed Sam, who was dancing around ecstatic at the thought of eating two hours early. Well, why not?

So while the kettle was boiling for tea, I rummaged around in the pantry and pulled out a jar of applesauce that my friends Norrie and Barry made last fall. From apples they picked at Hanna Orchards on Apple Fall day. That’s the day the orchard opens to the public and lets you harvest the windfalls for some ridiculously small amount of money.

When I opened the jar, it made that wonderful seal-breaking thwack sound, and then this aroma of apples rose up like an old memory, except it was real. Oh, my God, wonderful. Delicious.

6:52 am. A new day begun.

Posted in Just Write | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pinwheels for a Baby

Dear Vi,

We’ve all been very excited over the news that Mr. C’s cousin Frank is going to be a grandpa! Well, the baby was due on Valentine’s Day, but she decided to put in her appearance a few days early.

I haven’t gone anywhere near mama or baby yet because I’m still fighting off the after shocks of the flu (sinus infection followed by bronchitis). Some things you just don’t want to share, am I right?

…but I’ve been quietly stitching away in the background in anticipation of the special delivery.

I had so much fun shopping for the fabric. I decided not to use my stash…I wanted something brand new. Don’t you just love these sweet vintage-inspired prints? They go so nicely with the pinwheels, which are themselves a vintage quilt block. In fact, according to one quilt historian, the pieced pinwheel block pattern hails back to 1795, following the invention of the cotton gin!

I put prairie points between the inside & outside borders because babies just love little tags of cloth to explore and fiddle with..

At 35 x 42 inches, it’s perfect for tummy time.

Hand quilted with love for our wee Logan ♥

 

 

Posted in Blog Categories, child, fabric, Gifts, Hand Quilting, Quilting, Quilts | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Two Ingredient Pancakes?

Dear Vi,

Have you seen that recipe making its way around the web…2 Ingredient Egg & Banana “Pancakes”?

Yeah? Well, I decided to give it a try. I like eggs, I like bananas, why not?

All you do is mash up one banana, then add 2 eggs and whisk well. Cook like pancakes.

They look like pancakes…

…but they taste like eggs that you accidentally dumped a cup of icing sugar into. Not so much like banana.

Sugared eggs. That’s the best way I can describe them.

I guess whether or not you’ll like them depends on how sweet your tooth is. Me? not so much.

What do you think?

Bon Appétit!

Posted in Cooking, recipe | Tagged , | 4 Comments