The Swing vs. The Squares

comments: 118

Work1 Hello again. Flowers. Papers. Work. I made chicken with biscuits, too. Trying to get back in the swing. When life's nice, there's a gentle swing. When it's hard, it's one foot in front of the other. Step step step. I think that's called losing your mojo. I've been there before. I've done this before.

I was alone in the house all weekend, my first weekend alone. It was quiet. I pulled the dining-room table into the living room by myself so I could turn on the TV while I worked because it was so quiet. I worked on all the illustrations for the book and I did really enjoy that. I drew running stitches and mitered corners and French knots with a really nice black pen on smooth white paper and everything looked beautiful. It felt good to have it go well. I must say that I was shocked. When I looked at all the drawings at the end of the night, I almost couldn't believe that I'd done them. I forgot that I can actually draw. It's not me, it's genetic. Mostly I was amazed that it was possible for me to get something right when everything feels so suddenly wrong. I kept looking at the drawings over and over again, trying to feel confident again. You did those, I said to myself, and they came out fine. Step step step. Bird by bird.

Biscuits1 I miss my old life, the one where Audrey sat beside me while I worked, where she dropped her head hard on my foot and looked up at me, pushing against my ankle in a way that actually hurt. She could not be denied, and I wouldn't. If I was cooking in the kitchen, she could see me from her bed. We looked at each other a million times a day — doing okay, you? Doing okay, thanks. Eventually she'd come into the kitchen and snuffle up the minced onions that had fallen on the floor and spit them back out. I have totally noticed how dirty the kitchen floor has gotten without my little dustbuster, and I had to laugh at that. 

Biscuits2 When I was growing up, my father was a working musician by night and a commercial artist by day. For many years, he drew pictures for the Sears catalog. He and my mom met in their early twenties when they both took a drawing class at the Art Institute in Chicago. He was a tough critic. He did not like "sketchy" lines, the ones that are sort of wispy and sketchy, hairy lines, so I learned never to use those, and I still don't. I liked to draw those things where you enlarge a picture on a grid, drawing each square for itself alone. There was one I did of a Durer rabbit — it was like a puzzle. They chopped it up and gave you all the squares, all mixed up, and you drew them one by one in the right places, waiting to see what it was going to be. There's something to be said for the method. I remember I'd left the rabbit drawing by my dad's chair when I was done, and the next morning I woke up and went to look at it again and he'd written "Good. —Dad" at the top with a marker. I'm just going to work on my little squares and see how it all turns out.


I like how you put this feeling; you have a lovely way of expressing the intangibles in life.

Beautiful story about your dad and how important drawing is!

Elizabeth says: August 27, 2007 at 11:48 AM

After looking at the flicker photos of Audrey with those beautiful eyes and oh so expressive face, I can surely see what a big hole is left behind without her :( I suppose it it one of those things where each day gets a little bit better,but you just want to fast forward and not feel so yucky. Hang in there.
I have that very same copy of the Reader's Digest sewing book. I bought in college for a sewing class I didn't really need,but wanted to have an excuse to sew while I was in school. I think it is the best reference book ever. I've been sewing for 30 years and I still need to use it.
Can't wait to see your book. I'm very excited for you.
Take care...and boy does your chicken and biscuits look tasty.

Glad to see you're remembering the good little bits & pieces of your days with Audrey. It hurts right now, and it will for a long time, but at the same time it'll bring comfort, rembering how lovely she was. And she obviously appreciated how absolutely lovely you are, too!

Your pics are making me drool, btw!

You made me realize how many times of the day I forget my Penny is right under me and I get up and most always step on her accidently. We are pretty tight her and I. Thank you for reminding me to not take it for granted. Would love to see just a little tiny glimpse of your drawings.


you are a sweet, sweet soul.

And I bet you still look up expecting to see her or you hear phantom Audrey sounds, your heart leaps, you turn to look and then remember. I would see the bushes sway in a gentle breeze and think "There she is! Sniffing in the backyard... " All part of loss and healing.

Elizabeth says: August 27, 2007 at 12:08 PM

Beautifully written thoughts and memories ... AND OH MY GOSH I WANT YOUR RECIPE FOR CHICKEN AND BISCUITS! That is the *MOST* beautiful chicken and biscuits I have ever seen. I'm pretty sure Audrey was right there helping you.

*sigh*......thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing a part of your life. I just adore how you express yourself....and how lovely is that chicken and bisquits! I am hungry....

step step looks like you are taking them. the food looks delicious, the words tell all us readers that you are hanging in there. you still have my thoughts. smiles.

I am so sure that he would be so proud of all the lovely, amazing and beautiful things that you are doing everyday... even things that brighten the lives of others.. like myself. thanks.

I can't tell you how much this helps me right now. One square at a time. Bird by Bird (makes me want to go read this right now). It makes the world less lonely to know that I'm not the only one trying to put one foot in front of the other.

I hope that things continue to plug along until they begin to swing along by themselves again. Your biscuits look lovely, as I'm sure the drawings are too.

My heart goes out to you, across the country, during this healing time.

there must be something in the air lately. things have seemed all sideways here too.

One of the first things I noticed after my dog went to Puppy Heaven was how dirty our floor was. I had no idea I dropped that many crumbs.

Step by step.

the food looks divine. the words are beautiful.

i'm so impressed at how beautifully and right on you are able to describe how you're feeling right now, during all this craziness and sadness. it seems like you have a lot of things to keep you busy, moving forward one square at a time. and that's the only way to move forward at times like these.

btw- those biscuits look absolutely breathtaking!!! can you please post the recipe?

"never hurry, never rest" that's how my mom and I describe the pace you need to take when in the grip of a migraine. for me, at least, it's true for grief too.

keep your chin up, little star.

I've sure thought of your sweet Audrey a lot lately. Hang in there, we are all here cheering you on. I can't wait till my kids are just a bit older (particularly the 8 month old) so that I can cook interesting things again. How sweet to make chicken and dumplings extra special with the heart shapes! By the way, posts where you give us a peek into your childhood are among my favorites. What a nice memory of your dad. "Good-Dad" It puts a feeling a can't put a name on in my heart. Will my children hold snapshots of me in their hearts when they are grown? I can only hope. Thank you Alicia.

I can sympathize with you right now. We're renting a new home and no dogs are allowed so we had to find a temporary foster home for our dog for the next little bit. Now I find myself suffering from "phantom dog syndrome". Every time I open the door I expect her to be there to greet us and I miss her laying at my feet as I work. (I also have to clean the floor more frequently - I never realized what messy eaters my kids were with that automatic floor cleaner I had in Lucy.) Take care.

Amy in Tillamook says: August 27, 2007 at 01:01 PM

it may be genetic, but it's you, too (really, doncha think?).

it's good to hear from you.

Count me in for the (at the very least) biscuit recipe. The pic of the plate is making me yearn for cool weather. Don't you just love autumn?
Keep working on your little squares ...and everything will come back into its focus.
Best to you.

beautiful painting(?) of audrey on the shelf. it's a journey alicia, step by step seems like the wisest way to move through it. wishing you and andy the best.

Good to hear your taking those steps. And how you are able to express the emotions in your words-amazing. It's okay to miss the old life, but in time the swinging does come back into things, if that makes any sense.
And hello! You must post that recipe...yummmm!

I think that your relationship with Audrey has made me hold my cat a little bit tighter and pet her a little bit longer each day. I thank you for that, and I'm sure Clara (my cat) thanks you as well.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at