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 think I'll go make some chicken and biscuits now. Mmm.

So sorry to hear about Audrey. She was a truly beautiful being. I'd like to send you something that might help with your there an address I might have?

A friend of mine recently lost her dog, I did a little mini book for her with pics of Stella. That;s when I first found yours and found out about your pooch. My heart aches for you. My Abbie works with me, goes with me wherever I go, I don't know how I would deal with it were she not there. I hugged her again today, a special hug, because after reading your post, I know how dear she is. Hugs to you friend. Find healing in your art.

I've been thinking about you lots lately. I know that Audrey is with you in spirit every single day. I also LOVE that chicken & biscuits recipe. Ina is magic with chicken. I hope it made you feel comforted, warm & eased your spirits a little.

honestly, when I read what you write about your relationship with Audrey tears spurt from my eyes. I love my 2 dogs more than anything and I lost a third three days before Christmas. Everyday I think of her and almost everyday I cry, because I just can't believe that she's gone and our life continues without her. My heart aches for your loss. Bless you & dear Audrey. There is another dog that needs your love, one day... when you're ready.

Much love from Susan, Jake & Winnie Dixon and my sweet Emma Jane Louise whose up there hanging with Audrey.

Whoa, you funny girl, I stop by to say hello and have to wait in line now! 80 or so people in front of me, and it is only 9AM. You must have to spend half the day just reading people's comments! Nice to see so many caring people in the world! :-)

Well, Miss Alicia, I just wanted to check in and say hello. Glad to see you made something yummy and got to some of your creative projects!


i love how you're piecing life back together. xo.

Oh gosh. I have that 'sketchy line' problem. I hate it. I try and avoid it, but my hands refuse to make strong, distinct lines. They need to be gone over a few times before one of my lines looks confident, ultimately resulting in that whispy look that is so annoyingly juvenile. Your father taught you well. You are a lucky gal!

Oh and please, recipe!

Our dog EJ and I look at each other all the time like that too. And that's exactly what is being said "you okay?" "Yea, you?"
Your blog is a daily read for me and I feel like I know you and Andy, and especially Audrey. I miss her too. I know you will forever hold a special light in your heart for her just as she holds one in her heart for the two of you. Thank you for sharing your grief and your memories with us.

aww, man. I love those whispy, hairy type sketches because, if you squint it can really look like what you intended it to be ;)

Thinking of you, missing Auds. xo.

I can still feel your emptiness and sadness. Reading your beautiful posts reminds me that I have to enjoy and appreciate my Sophie every day, every minute because some day she'll move on. Do feel better soon, Alicia.

...Wiping away a tear. You and Audrey have left footprints on my heart.

I was going to comment earlier, but I couldn't find the right words. My almost-grandmother just lost her dog, he was a rescue, not nearly as loveable and sweet as beautiful-Audrey (he had been abused and wasn't much with giving love), but she waited not two weeks to find another dog to fill the hole his passing left in her life. That's how much she needs those little nose-on-the-foot moments, you know? And my curled-up-puppy next to me sends you a nose-kiss.

many (((hugs)))

Alicia, your post took me on a whirlwind! I looked at your table and thought, "I have that sewing book!" I found that same great book at Goodwill a few months back and it has been a great reference for me as I learn to sew. Then I started getting teary eyed, feeling the moments of sadness *with* you. Then another moment of relation as I could hear my husband say to me last week, "Your using feathery lines" as we all sat around the table for an evening of art. You are an amazing writer, for you do more than bring life to your own memories - you bring it in such a way that it revives my own. Thank you.

Was thinking about you earlier today and hoping you were doing okay. Discovering life goes on, deadlines remain, etc., is always a bummer. Anywho, was glad there's an update, and that all seems okay.

PS: Could you provide biscuit recipe? Am going to potluck on Saturday night and am trying to think of something summery to cook. Ideally something that will make my apartment smell good. Because, you know, that's important.

xoxo, kthxbai

You have such a wonderful way with words... your drawings must be wonderful too!

Tiny Writer says: August 28, 2007 at 01:22 PM

I love the Anne Lamott reference: Bird by Bird.

geez, 93 comments, I doubt you'll ever read mine. But I have to say that I loved the imagry of Audrey snuffling onions in the kitchen. Good luck with your sketches and it was wonderful to hear about your father- I wish I knew which sketches he did for the Sears catalog, thats something!

Your writing is gorgeous! I look forward to reading more!

Quiltdoggie says: August 28, 2007 at 03:32 PM

Love your biscuit dough photo * two hearts there * one heart missing. She's with you still, though. . . . always. Hope your little hearts are healing, Alicia . . . . I still whisper up to our Sammmie & Junie to make sure Audrey is okay up there, she is. . . . . .xoxoxoxo

Good girl. One square at a time. It WILL be a beautiful picture!

I'm so glad that your projects are going well. In terms of missing Audrey, you could print a copy of her picture on some printable fabric and make a little stuffed pillow to sit by you. I hope you don't think that's a weird idea and I know full well that it won't take away your sorrow.

I was thinking/praying about you, Andy and Audrey today. It's weird how we are all connected somehow. I remembered about your previous posts that were very personal and very similar to my own upbringing. We are leaving the Midwest on Sat to start a new life in TX. I was going thru my magazines and out popped the March issue of Romantic homes. Weird how we are all connected somehow. Hope your hearts are healing. Bird by Bird.

I've been lurking for quite some time but I wanted to let you know how moved I've been in the last few days.

You have a gift for weaving love, tears and above all, laughter in every story. Thank you for sharing something so personal and close to your heart. As you can see, it's affected us all.


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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