Ride

comments: 107

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In the afternoon I ride my bike down to the mailbox a few blocks away. It's sunny and quiet, so quiet. I pedal slowly, looking around. Aimless. Unusual. It’s empty. I could ride right down the middle of the street. My old bike makes all sorts of noise, things clicking and squeaking, and they're the only sounds I hear. House. House. House. I roll past. My street has a few bungalows and a lot of houses that are called "English" by realtors here. They were built in the 1920s and have steeply pitched roofs, gables, dormers. Mock Tudor. Pretty. A lot of them are tastefully painted stucco. Mine is, too.

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I ride down my street. A block away the houses are nicer and more stately, set further back on the property than ours, with long driveways and window boxes and ancient magnolia trees now in bloom. This part reminds me of the neighborhoods in old Disney movies, The Aristocats, maybe, or Lady and the Tramp, the blossoming trees frothy and pink and the houses old-fashioned and mouse-colored, with borders of lemon yellow tulips just starting to bloom. The street, strangely, has the exact same sort of set-up as the quiet suburban street I grew up on — it's long and stops at a T-intersection at both visible ends, and I'm often reminded of Forest Avenue here. I remember how many thousands of times I rode my bike up and down Forest Avenue, canopied by oaks and elms. Literally thousands of times over twenty years. I don’t know this street nearly as well as I knew Forest, though I’ve also lived here for twenty years. I’ve probably only ridden my bike here a few dozen times.

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My brakes squeal as I go down the hill. I see Scott in his UPS truck. My buddy of many years. We're the only two around for miles, it seems. I've been out here for a half an hour, riding alone around the blocks, and he's the only person I've come across. He sees me coasting past and shouts through the open driver's door, "Whoa! Watch out! Everybody STOP!!!" I'm grinning like an idiot and I pretend to wobble, shouting back, "It's been a long time since I've ridden! You're right to worry!" My smile is huge and loose, my voice sounds crazy, and suddenly I'm crying, tears catching in my throat, a hot bubble of sorrow and stress. He's still out here, doing his job, and so will my husband be tomorrow. I should get back. It's too quiet, the sun is too bright, there aren't even any airplanes overhead, and I feel scared and small. I miss the world. I miss what it felt like to not feel like this.

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It's been a hard few weeks all over the world. My heart is broken, aching and sore with stories of so many others' losses and pain, and the ache never leaves. "Every day feels like Sunday," says Amelia when she wakes up one morning, and although I smile and agree, I hardly know what day it is, what month. Maybe it is Sunday. I look at the expiration date on the bagels. They're weeks old, though the kitchen counter has been bleached countless times and everything else is spotless. Time has blurred into a long, strange ribbon of worry and grief and distraction, punctuated by so much cleaning and so many, many conversations. My phone is lit almost constantly, and it's exhausting. During the day I make tons of mistakes on intricate (for me) quilt blocks and sew face masks to donate out of the scraps.

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We are all finding our way here, taking comfort in soft things, moving slowly. I am reading the book September by Rosamunde Pilcher and I am loving it, at least. Usually my go-to crisis-novels are by Mary Stewart, but a kind blog reader sent me September many months ago and I am grateful now. A steady stream of Lacey Chabert movies plays on the TV every evening, though we did splurge and rent the new Emma (for $20!) last weekend, and Andy and I both loved it. I actually watched it once by myself and then literally started it over again. I found it very moving, and man, this song, at the end. We just sat there listening to it and staring at the credits. I love that song. That song is so good. Occasionally we watch Italian Grandma making gravy, lasagna, pizza fritta. She cooks everything I remember from childhood and reminds me so much of my grandma Ieronemo. I Googled her and found out she is from Foggia, Italy, which is exactly where my grandparents were from. How amazing is that! I shouted with disbelief when I read this. Oh I love her so much and I feel better, hearing her voice. You must watch. You will like it.

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I hope you are well and finding grace during these difficult days. I made a little pattern for you for free if you would like to do some easy cross stitch, or have a youngster who would like to learn. It's called Homeschool Sampler. I've been challenged by some teenage boys to make something way cooler than this for them, so I have accepted that challenge. If you have any suggestions on what to include, please offer them up. I don't want them to know I have literally no clue how to be cool.

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Wishing you good health and all the good things these days. Thank you for all of your kind words and I send sincere gratitude to all of you who are staying home right now, and all of you who absolutely can't. I salute you and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

107 comments

First, thank you so much for the sweet free cross stitch pattern. Despite my huge collection of floss, I may break down and order some flower thread for this little lovely. I so get your story about how one minute you were greeting the UPS guy then practically crying the next minute. It just sneaks up on you, doesn’t it, and you describe it so perfectly. I miss the world, too. I’m trying to soak up this extra time with my family as we are very nearly empty-nesters, and basically focusing on one day at a time. Your pictures are so lovely — what kind of bird is that? I’m beginning to bird-watch but we live in a different part of the country than you, don’t recognize this pretty guy. Hooray for Amelia riding a two-wheeled bike!! My best to you and yours, and like you, I salute those out front, first responders (Andy!), truck drivers and grocery store clerks, and all of the people taking care of us and making sure we have what we need. I see your halos, you are in my prayers.

Oh, I love the cross stitch pattern! I have several of your kits that I've yet to make. Even though we are sequestered at home, I'm terribly busy since I'm a middle school technology coordinator. I've never felt so in demand, but I'm hoping soon that things stabilize so I can craft a bit.

For the teenage boys, how about a Minecraft pattern? Minecraft is already made of a pixelated pattern, and would be absolutely perfect. There are copyright issues, I'm sure, but I bet you know all about those already.

To Denise, the bird is a Northern Flicker. They are all over the US. I live in GA and we have them here, too. They are a type of woodpecker and really neat. :)

Alicia, thank you for all you do. You are amazing.

Oh I crave your posts...my total stranger friend from Oregon. Up here in Poulsbo WA we are doing well. Getting through. I tear up and cry over everything and nothing, always at the edge of emotions.

My 13 year old son wanted to cross stitch for his home school art (they just closed school for the year as of yesterday...unreal). I was so excited about the stitching that I had to calm myself as to not send him running the other way. He loves it, he appears to be soothed by it and listens to sports podcasts as he stitches at the table. Last week he was chatting with his grandpa on the phone chatting about football and stitching away. It was so amazing to watch.

I had no idea what to start him on, most of my patterns are yours and a bit too complex and too precious and lovely for me to share quite honestly. I found a basketball and a hoop on etsy, its a pixel version so it is very easy squares. Simple and great for a boy who loves his sports. It will be fun to see where it goes.

Stay well, keeping Andy in my thoughts.

I'm almost finished with your Homeschool Sampler. It's given me such joy and peace these past few days. Thank you.

Your ability to sum up what we all are feeling amazes me. In good times and not so good times I look to you to help me understand how I am feeling. I always enjoy both your words and photographs. Thanks for being there for us and staying in touch. Stay well my virtual friend. My thoughts are with you and yours.

I have teenage boys! I thought I was going to be helpful, but no. I asked my boys for their input and one said "guns" . What??! We don't even own a single gun. He likes guns? Whatever. I don't know. I tried to prompt them by mentioning things they liked, and they informed me I was talking about stuff from two years ago. I think whatever you come up with will be great and way better than anything I can think of. Im looking forward to it. On a side note.... One thing that surprises me about my teenage boys, is they still love their stuffed animals from when they were little guys.

Thank you for writing. Your words and photos are balm for the soul.

Thanks for sharing this beauty and truth. It resonates deeply and I'm sending achy hearts lots of love.

Thank you from Kelowna B.C. These are strange times! I love the sampler and will start my 11yr daughter on it tonight. I too find I move from smiling to a lump in my throat very easily.
We are all in this together.
Cross stitch for boys....dragons?!

I haven't seen it mentioned in the comments, but Johnny Flynn does the theme song for The Detectorists, and if you haven't watched that show yet, I can't recommend it highly enough. It's a subtle, sweet, funny slice of life show.
I always appreciate the things you share here. I'm looking forward to checking out the Italian Grandma!

Mary Stewart books are so comforting. I'm reading "This Rough Magic" again right now. I'll have to look for September when the library opens again. Thank you.

Thanks for the sweet little sampler! So precious! Can’t wait to see what you come up with for the teens.

I love your St. Teresa of Avila icon. She is one of my favs. This quote from her is perfect for these trying times: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing; God only is changeless. Patience gains all things. Who has God wants nothing.”


LoriAngela says: April 07, 2020 at 06:36 PM

I am comforted by your words and pictures. My comfort book is The Little Prince. I just made minestrone from this Italian grandma and it’s great with my sourdough bread. Wha
T about space I Vader’s or Pac-Man for a simple cross stitch and that weird DOS alphabet? I made hats for my great nephews using these.

Hello Alicia! Sending love and many thanks to Andy for his service. I have wondered what boys might like for cross-stitch and the first thing that came to mind is something funny. I thought you could pick a joke and have the letters in your pattern be the punchline perhaps? I think nature images like lizards/geckos and frogs and birds of prey are always a good idea - more forest animals than zoo perhaps? Finally, anything that doesn't go together will be fun - I'm thinking "fish on a bicycle" kind of thing, but that image is for women of course. Your blog is a gift, it's the first blog I read when I learned what blogs were back in - hmmmmmm, 2002 maybe? 2003? It's very weird that I could see you and your family in public and have a whole 1-sided conversation with/about all of you while you all had no idea who I was. (I actually got to have this experience - or she got to have it with me - with Jennifer Judd McGee, poor thing.) Blessings - I feel like you're an old friend and I am very thankful for your work and your blog.

Waving at you from Corbett, Oregon. I enjoyed reading about your bike ride and your neighborhood. I also worry about Andy and hope he stays safe. We got 2 raised garden beds delivered yesterday and the soil will be delivered tomorrow. I've been wanting to grow veggies and herbs here for years and am so excited about it. On my blog post that is up now I shared how I made my own Japanese cane wrapped rock, I hope you pop over and look at it, I t

Oops.. accidentally hit "Submit Comment" before I was done! I think you will like the rock I did. Say hi to Mimi and Andy and Clover Meadow too. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

❀.•❤•.✿.•❤ Happy Easter! ❀.•❤•.✿.•❤

Kristen from MA says: April 07, 2020 at 06:59 PM

❤️

I didn't want this post to end. Thanks for creating a sense of community here. Of welcoming us into the pretty corners of your home, your neighborhood, for expressing the human experience in such lovely ways. Praying for your little family. Please tell Andy thank you for helping others the way he does. I have a soft spot for the nursing professionals. Thanks for sharing him at this time, especially. xx

There are a lot of kids in our neighborhood, so they're often outside, playing. The strange part is seeing all the kids in their own yards, not congregating into packs that go up and down the street. I kind of felt like crying the other day when I went to the grocery store--people wearing masks, no one interacting, no children. Such a strange time. But this too shall pass!

Lovely post--thank you for putting down so eloquently what so many of us are feeling.

I am just smiling at the abundance of quilts on Mimi's bed. What a lovely nest you've made for her.

Johnny Flynn has some wonderful music, in particular I like The Water and Einstein's Idea.

Sending so much love to you! Broke out my sewing machine to make some masks and now am probably diving back into a quilt (squares are already cut) which will feel wonderful to finish.

t.a.knight says: April 07, 2020 at 08:34 PM

my pre teen daughter loved the sampler. However for the boys... I would go with something space themed or fantasy. My son (13yrs) has a castle and dragon cross stitch my mother made him on his wall.

If you are loving “September”, please tell me you’ve read “The She’ll Seekers”! And my other favorite of hers is “Coming Home.” Such comfort reading.

For teenage boys, cross-stitched QR codes are fun and funny and easy and they work! Or my 14-year old says Minecraft or a funny quote, like something from a t-shirt.

Thank you for the lovely gift of this pattern. I'm looking forward to doing it with my girls, who have been itching to learn how to stitch!

For a boys' cross-stitch, I'd vote for an outdoor camping/adventuring theme!

Teenaged boys love Minecraft! Skateboarding, iPhones, and earbuds would also probably be good.

What a beautiful neighbourhood you live in. Your spring photos are always exquisite, I think I found your blog in spring and they have been forever etched in my mind. Blossom and leaves and gentle colours. As the mother of teenage boys I shall look forward to seeing what you come up with.

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About Alicia Paulson

About

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 aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.