Bystander, Bifurcated: Home Again

Like my life recently, this is a bifurcated post. It has forked, diverged, split, branched, split, zig-zagged and divaricated. First a visual reminder:

Notice anything on this Index in the Year 2022? Nope, me neither.

I went back through my blog, which is a record of sorts, seeing what the heck I’ve been doing. Or not doing.

I have been doing pillow covers, which in a way, are small quilts, so I guess I could add them to the list, but if feels like cheating although January’s (the blue/white one) was more fidgety than some quilts I’ve made.

I chose this remedy: a list. Long ago in a lifetime far away I used to hang with the Finish-A-Long crowd, writing up quarterly lists, etc. Once I got into the habit of finishing, I bowed out. But since the pandemic seems to have scrambled our brains, I thought it was a method of organization worth dredging up again. One of my rules is to hand-draw the chart. At first I could only come up with one, but no worries, everything soon piled on.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m more of a bystander, sometimes torn between two good things, or tasks, or the energy just gave out, or I just want to doom scroll on the phone. We’ve all done a lot of that, but with this break in the pandemic, I was hoping to feel a bit free, hoping to feel like my old self again — with enthusiasm in working my craft.

So I made the list.

Yet, I have been busy.

Started here. 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 29. Saw the sunrise after climbing through the Cajon Pass.

We stopped in Arizona, picked up Barbara, stopping for lunch at Viva Chicken in St. George, UT. We arrive in Salt Lake City near 8 p.m. after stopping at Shake Shack for a burger (worth it). My sister Cynthia greeted us and helped us into the place where we were staying. So glad to see her!

Wednesday, March 30. Pre-Op 7:30 a.m. and first time to meet the surgeon. Definitely a Very Nice Surgeon. Then up to JeniBee craft market, where I could have purchased too many things, but so fun to be doing “normal” craft market shopping. With people. I did buy some Ukranian wooden eggs, which took up residence beside Elenor Easterly:

And this little sign, plus a few other treats. Yes, indeed: Live Simply & Bloom Wildly.

Lunch with my sisters, first time we’ve been together in over three years, and our shoes always define us, to some extent.

Dinner that night with my sisters and more family.

Barbara and Barbara. My beautiful daughter is named for my beautiful soon-to-be-94 mother.

Thursday. Report for surgery at 6:15 a.m. My husband remarked that this was not a trip of restful mornings. Barbara (daughter) had been having pain in her hip for some time, and the surgery was to take care of it, but she was to be on crutches for a good 2-3 weeks. We were home by 10:30 a.m. and afternoon was a blur of bad pain meds, runs to pharmacy, finding food that will stay down, ice packs and then, “Can we go home tomorrow?” An okay from her doctor and we changed plans yet again.

Originally we were to be up there one week. No, two weeks. Really maybe only 4 or 5 days. I packed enough craft projects for two weeks, but in the end, they never left the car.

Friday, April 1. Up too early, but we were out the door fairly efficiently, having done most of the packing up the night before. We had to stop every two hours to give her a chance to crutch around a bit, and just as we rounded the corner to her home in Arizona, I feel something like a sigh come from Barbara. Then my husband said something like “We’ll be heading off here pretty quickly.” I thought we were staying for a couple of days, but as I said to him earlier in the week, I’ve figured out to make plans that can be changed. We did.

Friday, dusk. We and billions of trucks head to the Cajon Pass, driving through the Mojave Desert. Last time we drove through here we saw Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellites, a subway train of lights in the sky. Not tonight.

We slept for the next three days. Sort of kidding. Barbara is making her way through post-op. She will recover.

This photo of Barbara & Barbara was taken five years ago, before my mother lost her eyesight. Glad to have a new one.

And next Sunday — Easter Sunday — Part Four of Heart’s Garden will drop, and we’ll plant our garden.

And then there’s this.

Since we were taking Barbara to Utah for surgery, and we were supposed to stay at my sister Susan’s home for several days afterwards, I looked at her change of address card, and decided to make her a little housewarming gift using those motifs.

I drew up the basic idea in my Affinity Designer software, using brushes from Artifex Forge to make the trees. I copied, mirrored them on either side of the house, changing the colors slightly.

I backed a homespun-looking piece of cloth with freezer paper, and ran it through the printer. (I use EPSON printers because I like their inks.) I use the same technique in making quilt labels.

I fused on the house (she has grey rock in the front of hers), the roof, chimney and front door.

Susan mentioned that her landscaper was going to put in a perennial garden out front. She has a sliver of a front planting bed, but I wanted to add that, too.

I sketched in the dimension with pencil, then marked evenly around the outer upper edges. Using masking tape as a guide, I hand quilted rays of sunshine emanating from her new house, hopefully wishing her happiness.

I trimmed it, bound it in some of my current favorite fabric, and sewed on a hand-written label.

Happy New House, Susan.

While the original plan was to stay with Susan, our daughter Barbara took one look at the stairs up to the guest bedroom and worried about getting up all those stairs on her crutches. So that’s why we headed home early.

We’ve seen many pictures of refugees lately, people leaving their homes to escape conflict, destruction, fleeing for safety, for their future. I feel incredibly sad for these people. Our church congregation works with some of the Afghan refugees here; this past week my husband drove them to a dentist’s appointment, and helped assemble bunkbeds for children (he’s a saint). There is so much to do when they come to a new home: find a place to live, find furniture, household goods, acquaint them with our community, help them. I have forgotten what it’s like to start again, in a new place. But my hope is that one day, when all the displaced walk through their new front doors, they too will say: Home Again.

11 thoughts on “Bystander, Bifurcated: Home Again

  1. So is my understanding correct? You and your husband drove your daughter Barbara to some place a long way away to have surgery on her hip. And then after a day in the hospital she was freed to go home, but rather than stay with your sister Susan because she has stairs, you returned Barbara to her home. Whew. It’s so nice for Barbara that she has supportive parents like you! Sounds like you planned for every contingency, including lots of waiting time for handwork. The piece you made for Susan is pretty, and such a nice reminder of her new home. And it’s okay that you’re not adding finished quilts to your 2022 list, because, as you know, much of what we make is about the process. Enjoy the process of life!

  2. I am so glad your daughter’s surgery went well & that the medications were able to get sorted out. Thank goodness for options with those. (Hug)
    You are so right – that sense of homecoming includes such a sense of relief. It is so difficult when one is forced to emigrate & then, often, immigrate. I’ve heard so many journalists talk about the bravery of people who are forced (and sometimes fortunate) to do this and think, they have no choice but to be brave. As you noted, may we all be mindful of that and as kind and helpful as possible to all.

  3. Elizabeth don’t fret about the fact that you have small finishes this year. Instead think of the time spent with your daughter. What a gift to be able to help her by going with her for her surgery, visiting with family (love the shoes photo), attending a real craft market, and then knowing that not only are stairs a major chore with crutches; one always heals better and faster at home. To me that is the highlight of your story; family and being there. The sweet list you drew will get you back to sewing larger projects when the time is right. I know it’s so because for a month after losing Clarke all I did was hand quilt a little quilt and do some EPP piecing. This week I did break out some time with a machine to make a pattern test quilt. By the way I’ve been studying your list. Looks like some fun ideas are brewing.

  4. The photos of Barbara and Barbara are so touching. How wonderful you could really come through for your daughter with this kind of big help! And, your help with refugees…. our quilting is important but this other stuff with and for loved ones, is what life’s all about.

  5. Wow! What a. whirlwind trip. Hope Barbara is mending well. The housewarming mini is so lovely and thoughtful in how you customized it. It must be special to have so many sisters. I’m an only. We’ll be off on our own similar trip soon although no surgery is involved thank goodness. Just several stops for sculpture installations including a couple of forks so the fork at the crossroads caught my eye. I’ll probably take a project along but am notorious for never working on anything other than writing and reading. Looking forward to time when I can think through all the things I want to do. I have so many projects I want to start and finish in my lifetime. But I seem to spend more time thinking and planning. Need to jump in soon and do while I’m able.

  6. While it was a whirlwind of a trip, I’m glad everything went well for Barbara. How lovely to see you visiting your mother, your sisters and a craft fair. And no shame in not having a quilt finish- I also only just completed my first quilt for 2022. We do what we can while life around us happens. My heart breaks for the Ukrainian war and the brutal suffering they are facing. Our government’s regard for refugees is not one I am proud of so I pray for peace and harmony for all. Of course I’m really looking forward to planting my Hearts Garden ♥️

  7. Glad you are home safely and catching up. I’ve never known two people who can travel as many miles in a day as you did and still be pleasant when you arrived home. Maybe next time we will have more time to spend reminiscing and sharing childhood memories while you are hand quilting.🚌

  8. You are a wonderful mother, sister, and daughter. It’s all here in the post. And on top of that, you are one of the most creative people I know. You are amazing.

  9. I hope Barbara’s convalescence has gone smoothly. What a whirlwind! I love the pictures of her and your mother–so precious. That little quilt you made for Susan is a treasure.

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