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

Julie from Australia says: April 08, 2020 at 02:51 AM

September by Rosamund Pilcher is one of my favourite books. Also Shellseekers etc etc. Wonderful writer and her son, Robin Pilcher.
Thank you for the pattern. Something to add to my list of things to do while I am in self-isolation due to my health.
I also love reading your blog.
Keep it up.

Dear Alicia,

How I love your posts! Your amazing photos and words of encouragement are a salve to my soul! Thank you for the free cross stitch pattern! I'm sure I will do it eventually...I also love the quilt squares! I am wanting to do some sewing but right now I am working on other house hold projects around the house. I know it's hard to be isolated from the world but it's been a wonderful time to reconnect by phone or letter or Face time with our loved ones. The world was seeming so crazy and now we have time to step back and rest. Sometime we think we have all the time in the world, but this has made me grateful and blessed to have the people in my life that I do and appreciate the little things! I am truly blessed. Thank you again Alicia. It is going to be ok. From Maine!

Thank you for sharing your heart. THANK YOU to Andy for all he is doing and facing.

A suggestion for the cross-stitch is that if possible combine some traditional "boy" things, but also some things that have often not been associated with boys. I think bicycles are always great for all people, books, dance, cooking, art, carpentry, cars...

I like Rosamunde Pilcher, I am not a person who often re-reads books, but I read The Shell Seekers twice and watched the made for TV movie.

As always wishing you and yours the best.

The song you linked to is by the same musician who wrote the theme song to The Detectorists https://youtu.be/Q58Gm18-IMY

You may enjoy this English series - I loved it. Very simple story line and you’d never think searching for treasure in the countryside with Geiger counters could be engaging - but I found it so, The theme song added to its specialness.

Thank you for this soothing, comforting post with your words and pictures. You say a lot of what we all are thinking. Memories of our own childhood come to mind when we're trying to fill our own days at home. Memories you are making in your daughters life and my own grandchildren that I "Facetime" with. They just received my Easter box that we mailed to them. Thankful for the delivery people along with nurses and doctors/spouses.
An idea for teenage boys, someone else mentioned Minecraft, sports, camping. (Because my grandsons live in Florida, they have a small tent up in their backyard that they are using regularly now!
Your lovely, "homemade" home is so calming to look at, thank you again.

I miss the world, too. I miss having conversations that aren't dominated by illness, I miss going to the library, and oh- I miss the Arboretum, in its most glorious time. I keep telling myself that the longer and more thoroughly I stay at home, the more I ensure another Spring for myself and the people around me. I can work from home for my full-time job, but I still have to go to work at my part-time job at a grocery store. And yet- the sky is still blue. I can still write in my journals from home, with a cup of tea rather than a latte. Instead of going to the Arboretum, I can admire the flowers growing in my neighbor's garden. I'm no cross-stitcher, but I think I will try to give your sampler a try. Picking up a new craft would definitely help lighten my spirit. <3

stephanie says: April 08, 2020 at 07:31 AM

It has been awhile since I have had a teenage boy but I would suggest something with a shark, with some other underwater additions. Shark week is always huge at our house.
I love your blog xoxo

michele (maryland) says: April 08, 2020 at 07:55 AM

Thank you for the tears and big smiles all at once....perfect! Skateboards should be on the boys cross stitch pattern....and a golden retriever! Be safe!

Hi Alicia,
We have loved Johnny Flynn for many years - an appallingly talented fellow, (actor, musician, etc) and easy on the eyes, to boot! 😉 I think my favorite album of his is A Larum - give it a listen, I think you would really enjoy.
We loved all those songs so much and were surprised when we saw him in concert that he was the one playing so many of the instruments, too! Keep strong, better days will come!❤️

Thank you, thank you for the free pattern. I love it. I saw it on Instagram and immediately started to kit it up. I have hundreds of DMC colors, but not a single one of the colors you recommend for this! I am not good at substituting colors, especially when I would have to substitute all of them, so now I am patiently waiting for my order of threads to arrive.

Thank you to Andy for his profession. It's a scary time. We have a friend who is a police officer. His wife said she has never been more afraid in her life for his safety.

One thing I am grateful for at this weird time is my full house. In our usual lives my husband travels extensively and our children are away at college, but now we are all at home and I am comforted by their presence.

Portland is so far ahead of St. Paul in terms of springtime! Just a few crocuses and hyacinths blooming, with the scilla just opening.

Sending love and strength to you and your family, especially Andy on the front lines. Thank you for giving us these beautiful photos, showing your kind heart, and inspiring us to keep sewing and knitting and stitching.

Have you watched The Durrells in Corfu yet? It's just lovely. I watched some of it on PBS and some of it on Amazon Prime.

Thank you again for expressing in photos and words the feelings of this time. And thank you for reminding me why I love Portland, besides that my closest dear ones live there. I am sheltering alone and I am suffering from health conditions that put me at high risk, so your post has brought me comfort and great joy. Thank you.

Sweetheart, don't take the grief of the world onto your caring, loving shoulders. Time will pass, we will be planning Christmas decorations before you know it and it will be the best Christmas ever because we will be out the other side. Keep safe, keep the faith, this will pass.

Anna Atterfors says: April 08, 2020 at 10:27 AM

Be well!
My teenage son is obsessed with the Japanese build-yourself-robots Gundam. Lots of anime as well... Don't know the titles though. And MEMES!!! So many memes...🤪

Such a beautiful post, Alicia. Thank you. All I can think of in these times is "I get by with a little help from my friends."

My husband is in emergency services, so he's been working. I thank Andy for his hard work and dedicated service. xoxo

Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and pictures and cross stitch designs. I just finished the winter season and am now working on summer. They bring me so much peace during this discomforting time. I adore all of Mary Stewart’s books and Rosamunde Pilcher. One of my favorite books of hers is “Winter Solstice”. I re-read it every winter. I also enjoy Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series - they’re very entertaining. Sending my prayers for you & Andy & Amelia for comfort, peace and safety, especially Andy in his job. 💕

I always enjoy your posts and thoughts. Your willingness to share your heart. Love the photos. Thanks for the sampler.

My boys are into Minecraft too. I’m not sure they would cross-stitch. When my youngest was around 12 he saw me embroidering and asked if he could try. He wanted an army tank. I just hand drew him a simple outline. He didn’t finish it but liked it.

Just thinking — what about more like an rugged outdoor theme like dogs, fishing, bow/arrow,a tent, canoe, maybe a small fire to cook on, mountains and trees- maybe wildlife like a deer or bear. Just a thought. 🙂

I don't really know much about teenage boys, but I bet you can't go wrong if you include the hashtag symbol and maybe also the @ in the cross stitch.

Star Wars for the boys-you could do a little sampler of droids and space vehicles

I can't tell you how happy I am to see the start of a new quilt! With all this home time I've been finally making progress on my quilt in breaks from university final exam study!

So much spring hope! I'm on the east coast of Canada and I think spring is finally on its way (I heard birds chirping for the first time this week) but we're due a snow storm tomorrow so I'm dreaming of spring on the west coast.

I love Rosamunde Pilcher too. My favorite was Winter Solstice. Since reading that in early December I went on to read every one of her books and collections of short stories. She is very addictive

Kimberly S Kaplan says: April 08, 2020 at 03:48 PM

Hi there! Thanks for sharing your lovely ride through your neighborhood. Although I live in the Bay Area of California, I'm a frequent visitor to your lovely city. I was just there last month for the Rose City Yarn Crawl and remember driving through quaint, beautiful neighborhoods just as you described - maybe even yours!

I have two teenage boys and I'd also suggest Minecraft. It remains to be popular in our house, even over many years and their headphones so we don't have to listen to the chaos! Both boys also love animals too - marine animals and woodland animals.

Good luck - I'd like to see this new pattern when it is done. My youngest might even like to give it a try. Stay well and enjoy the beauty of Portland springtime.

I understand how you're feeling. We're meant to be sociable people, not solitary beings. I'm trying to think of this period as an opportunity to imprint our time together forever in my mind. Years from now, I want to remember how safe I feel in my home with my loved one regardless of the craziness out there in the world. I pray for Andy's safekeeping and strength for you. You are loved and blessed in this world.

Thank you so much for the lovely cross stitch pattern. It will be perfect to do over the Easter break. I love reading your blog. It brings such joy to me! Stay safe and healthy. Teenage boys love skateboards, lightsabers from star wars, xbox, playstation & food!! :-)

Your cinnamon rolls look amazing, as all your food does. Thank you for hugging Andy and sending him out every day. Thank you. Thank you. I’ve got your Homeschool Sampler printed out and am going to work on it with my eight year old daughter. My ten year old son says he would like something with books on it! Life for us is carrying on a bit more normally as we already homeschool, but the dashing of our summer plans and not being able to see friends or go to the beach is hard. After living through the desperate months after Hurricane Maria here in Puerto Rico, then Zika, then the earthquakes, and now Clovid, I feel like we have run from one worry to the next. I stock up on food for worry of the ships not making deliveries. I wonder how badly the hurricanes will be this year with ocean temps at their highest. I buy flour, nuts and pasta to last months. I am gardening like crazy to have fresh veggies. Yes, this is a strange and stressful time. Keep sending us your calming blog posts. You and Ginny are my last holdout bloggers. You bring so much peace. Oh, and give us the cinnamon roll recipe!

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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.