For the Love of Fabric


Gigi on a baby quilt made by me, ca. 2016

Peek into a quilters’ closets and drawers.  You may laugh, or be slightly shocked.  We quilters collect fabric like oenophiles collect rare wines.  Arranged by genre (batik, 30s, ethnicity…) or color, these piles of cloth are our (sometimes guilty) pleasure.  We delight in the colors, the combinations, the patterns.  The potential.


wedding quilt 

Each part of the quilting process carries its own joys and frustrations.  Joys: choosing colors, arranging pieces and blocks on the design wall, seeing it come together.  Frustrations: running out of fabric or thread, discovering crooked seams, ripping out stitches, adjusting thread tension on the machine.


Quilters paint with cloth.  Once a quilt is finished, I usually take a photo and then give it away.  Some quilts have a destination before I start them; some claim an owner while I’m quilting.  I keep very few.  At home now I have only five quilts: one in use, two stored away, one I didn’t make, and a baby quilt waiting for a baby boy to be born.

Quilters trade fabric and give it away, too.  Most of the Japanese prints I’m quilting with now arrived by way of a friend’s friend who moved house.  There are other creations for fabric junkies:



tree skirt_3542.jpg

and a tree skirt, if you know a tree that needs one…

Hidden California


The landscape on Interstate 5 glows under shafts of light.  A visual feast spreads before me: blond hills dotted with the shadows of grazing cattle, live oaks stark against the rolling slopes.  We drive north through the central valley, toward our first stop at Los Banos.  My rudimentary Spanish tells me there may be hot springs for bathing nearby.  And so it is: we pass a sign just south of the Los Banos exit announcing “Mercey Hot Springs.”

That’s where we go the next morning, taking a long, winding detour through the golden hills and gullies.  Steers lean against the fencing, reaching for the greener grass.  Hidden in a copse of feathery trees, we come upon the place.  (Don’t be fooled by the clothing–it wasn’t that cold!)


At Mercey Hot Springs, you can rent a cabin or camp, or just stay for the day as we did.  There is no restaurant, but snacks are available at registration.  Towels, too.  We changed into bathing suits and chose the “bathing suits required” option as it is not fenced in for privacy.

The individual tubs are arranged in a circle.  We were advised by a fellow bather to rinse the tub with the mineral water to heat up the metal tub before filling it.


The day was cool and cloudy, but the water was hot.  Not scalding, but comfortable.  To my right, I was joined by a mother and her daughter who came all the way from Hawaii.

Unlike my hot-tub-loving husband, I do not enjoy soaking idly for hours.  After a half hour or so, I get fidgety and drip away to the mineral-water-fed swimming pool.  This is more to my liking: I can move around and still be in water–88′.  As I grew up with a backyard pool in southern Los Angeles, I love to swim.


From the tubs and pool, we move to the sauna, sweetly smelling of cedar.  Then, a picnic of Trader Joe’s wraps beside a slow trickling stream lined with agave cacti.


Revived and relaxed, we press on to the north, after experiencing another hidden wonder of California.

Who Is Listening?


                   Photo of my sewing chair and stillness.

Who reads this blog?  I’ve been writing it for at least two years.  Lately I’ve been wondering if I should continue.  It began as a site to expand on my books in the Karakesh Chronicles.  I wrote about the different kinds of faeries that appeared in my books.  Then I detoured into other topics.

Many authors write blogs, maintain websites, and have a presence on Instagram and Twitter.  I wonder–when do they have time to write?  Luis Alberto Urrea posts frequently on Facebook. Authors are pressured to have a platform and be highly visible on social media.  In fact, on some applications, there are places for writers to supply this information.

Yesterday I sent out an application to participate in the Hudson Childrens’ Book Festival in May.  I offered to present in schools, doing what I know: talking about writing process and guiding students in creating characters and plots.  I made a point that this would be for individual classes.  The idea of standing on a stage in front of an entire sixth grade (100+ kids) terrifies me.  That is not a writing discussion, but a performance.  Perhaps I’ll work up to that someday, but for now, it’s not a possibility. I don’t believe I’m that entertaining!

I do love writing with kids.  The excitement, the originality, the surprises–it’s addictive.  But this–the blog–tossing out thoughts into the ether and never knowing if anyone is receiving–is unsatisfying.

Are you reading? Listening?  Drop me a comment and let me know.

May all be blessed with health and joy in this new year.