Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunshine and Shadow

The Amish Sunshine and Shadow quilt design can be a beautiful blend of light and dark colors. It’s been described as a symbol of the way life plays out; our joys and sorrows.. the bright and sunny with a mix of overcast and rainy times.

2011, what Papa calls ‘The Lost Year’, was like that quilt pattern but with too many Shadow blocks sewn in; might look good done up in fabric but definitely not so grand to actually have to live that way. 

In July there was an indescribable yet palpable joy as the Sunshine blocks became more dominant; beginning with the leaving of a misbegotten adventure in a foreign land to re-enter the U S of A ..appropriately... on the 4th of July. It gave me a whole new way to feel about the old 'Independence Day' phrase. 

I literally wept after the border crossing guard told me ‘Welcome Home’. It was that huge of a relief to be back in the country that I love so much… and it wouldn’t be the last time the tears came. Especially poignant was each time those beautiful ancient volcano landmarks of home came into view with the sweeping green expanses of forests, hay fields, or manzanita dotted lava beds set among the little settlements and mountain valleys. (long sentence, I know, but I’m trying to write down the panoramic views being played out in my mind’s eye ;)

Though it was a hard-traveled 3-day trip back to our Hat Creek home it was also the start of inserting Sunshine back into the quilt top. This entry is going to be dedicated to the bright and beautiful moments and events that salvaged the rest of the year for me.

The first of these was the astoundingly awesome welcome with open arms by old friends and neighbors. Geoffrey and Annie were our literal Shelter from the Storm. They gave us free run of their very private and peaceful vacation home and property at the same homestead where we raised you little chilluns for 7 years.

Being back among the junipers, wrens, pygmy nuthatches, and blue-bellied lizards was like soaking our souls in an ocean of Balm of Gilead. We stayed 2 weeks (and could’ve gone longer if we wished) while setting up and preparing our old home (uh, barn?!) for ‘re-occupy’.
Abby & Papa relaxin' at the Vacation-from-realities-of-Life house
So, from...

..Bill & Kay's tongue-in-cheek ‘Welcome to the Neighborhood’ tasty gift basket,


..delicious foods that would appear on our doorstep (Jim's chili, Peggie's pot roast, Esther & Guille's tamales, etc etc :),

and... calls, notes, and emails (Mary Lou, Bruce n Judy, Ray n JoAnn, Why-T, etc etc ;),

and then...

..the many, many hugs and sincerely expressed “Don’t you guys ever leave us AGAIN!” admonishments (besides our dear friends and neighbors that also included our library, market, bank, post office & Dr's & PT office buddies ;),


..nobody could ever feel more loved and cherished. After 30 years of living among folks like this they tend to become more like extended family than simply neighbors and friends.

Just a tiny few of the incredible life-long friends we've got :)

With Ben & Eli’s tremendous help, muscle, and support we set our home back up.

During that same month AbbyJaynlette drove across the deserts to visit old friends and help her mama regain a measure of youthfulness and uplifted spirit by providing a listening ear along with giving me a gorgeous head of curls. It took her hours and has lasted me months.. the curls and the good feelings!
partial payment: Mama's homemade flax seed tortillas
Summer & early fall days were filled with trying to recoup some of our material goods & financial losses.  Papa was (is) working for yet another big rig trucking outfit hauling wood chips from the forest to the mills. The money has been tight, the days spent to earn it too long and strenuous. But our time was also being well-spent hiking and kayaking at my favorite lake & teaching ‘Aunt’ Peggie the joys of boating. She is horrifically afraid of deep water so the fact that she was willing to try this, and trust me to be her guide, has been incredibly heart-warming and inspirational.

Autumn came and went. The cold was setting in. We bought 5 cords of lodge pole and pine rounds from Adam & Ben. Eli had left for college and Ben’s seasonal work had ended. He took a local housesitting job and would come home when Papa had days off to go out on wood cutting excursions with both their trucks. We spent some great times splitting and stacking; the physical exertion helping to heal some of the mental pain of our year’s losses.

So with at least 10 cords stacked up, the 200 gallon lp tank filled, & a new barrel stove assembled in the shop for winter projects, we were as ready as it is humanly possible to be for the winter snows…. which still haven’t come! In fact, nothing since Abby & Richard were here in early November. Had a few little rain showers (2 or 3 maybe?!), but otherwise just cold & clear blue skies. It’s really weird.. though I can’t say I’ve minded these sunny days. Just hope we don’t have to pay Mother Nature back for it in May and June :/

Some more of those metaphorical 'Sunshine' quilt blocks were made up of outings like over the peak and the Rails to Trails festival. Throughout October, and then into November Eli, Abby & Richard, and Ben helped us find and secure a new pickup to replace the one we sold off before The Adventure That Must Not Be Named.

Christmas time brought Eli home for a visit after he & Ben took a road trip w/their gal pals from the Park; snowboarding, hiking, fine dining, and the usual gallivanting about.
Zion National Park - December
Before the boys arrived home Papa & I took a trip over to our favorite nursery in Sville to one of their wreath-making classes and I finally got to learn how to make a Christmas wreath. That's something I've wanted to know how to do since clear back to our Old Station days just before Ben was born.
A little shaggy but it's just my first attempt :) Sure does smell delightful..
In addition to the tedious job of vehicle shopping/buying there were other irons in the fire of life improvements; two HUGE journeys in paper work and studying & multiple trips that basically feel like they monopolize our every waking moment. Last summer, as soon as we were back in the house and set up with phone and internet, Papa began the formidable process of navigating the road to US Citizenship. There were so many decades old ‘proofs’ we had to dig up involving 3 different counties and your Dad’s life in the State’s since being brought here from Canada when he was still 13yrs old.

So after months of work we seem to be on the home stretch. One or two more trips to Federal offices in Sacramento and he should be good to go. His civics test and interview is next month. 100 facts/questions to study. Check 'em out. See how YOU do :) God willin' and the creek don’t rise, we should be able to send out announcements of his new citizenship status by March or April!

The other major paper-work/studying/testing trial has been with this attempt at a career change. The security and normalcy the Canadian job promised and robbed us of may be attainable still through the California State or Federal job sites. Due to bumbling in the regional and state offices it’s been a ridiculously slow and arduous journey, yet things are finally starting to move along.  Before this month is done I’m hoping to journal with some awesome news in that department.

Ben & I finally wrapped up his huge required KSA résumé and started sending off for full time opportunities in the National Park system. Though he has that good job at Lassen, his season is too short and he’s looking for more travel and adventure (and women ;).

But now my 2011 tale has spilled over and into 2012. Time to finish this particular ‘quilting project'. 

Looked at another way the Sunshine and Shadow pattern can also symbolize the orderly, rhythmic Amish way of life. I live and yearn for our own orderly, rhythmic, peaceful existence. 

This brand new year just may be that time ... Ring in the New Year! 


  1. Hooray! another post for another year :) Its going to be a good one 'I just know it'! p.s. Love Love love all the pictures. Good ol' HatCreek :)

    1. Oh goodie. Glad you enjoyed them. I sure like adding 'em!

      And aren't those first (star) and last (sweetheart) Amish quilts so beautifully done? Truly works of art. I want one of each! But they're almost $800 bucks each for a Queen size. Well-deserved and well-made, I'm sure, but a little rich for my wallet at the moment..