The Road to California.

It started as a silly joke between my sister’s priest, Father John, and myself. I had gone to bible study at their church in Modesto when I came home in February for my mom’s memorial. I’ve always gone to church with my sister; even when she came to visit Austin, we sought out the Greek Orthodox church off of 360 and called ahead to let them know we were coming. Incidentally, the priest in Austin, Father Vasil,  studied under Father John. (Father John is the man. He published several books that the Greek Orthodox church uses in their liturgy.)  This time, back in Modesto, it was a hopefully pleasant surprise that I showed up with Sammy and my brother-in-law Jordan to study scripture and discuss the rich history in which the church is built upon. Believe it or not, I’m kind of a traditional gal. I know what you’re thinking. Yep. Tattoos and all, I pick and choose the ways in which I remain old-fashioned.

“So….Jessie….” Father John said with a smirk. By the way, my family calls me Jessie. If you try it, you might lose a limb. That’s a family name and is respectfully exclusive to them; but for the sake of being authentic, I thought I’d clue you in.

“Jessie…”, Father John smirks, “When are you moving home?” There is a glint in his eye and I can tell he’s up to something.

“Father John, don’t be silly. I love Austin. Besides, Father Vasil is so good looking!” I winked.  If Fr. John could dish it out, I was sure he could take it. For the record, Father Vasil is actually pretty handsome. For a man of God.

“So, when should we expect you to be back? Summertime? Fall? You just let me know.”

“Father John, stop playing. I’m never moving back to California.”

“Jessie. We need you here.” He means your sister needs you here.

Mookie and Pookie, February 2013

We parted ways, but not before one of Fr. John’s famous bear hugs. He gives the best hugs. With all of the dysfunction in which my sister and I were raised, Fr. John became a father figure for my sister. He baptized her, he officiated her wedding, and he drew her closer to God when she needed Him the most. I’ve always had the utmost reverence for the presence that he’s had in Sammy’s life.

These are our serious faces. Does this make me look more intelligent?
November 2012

I didn’t think anything of the little mustard seed that he had planted until it became a baby tree in the pit of my stomach. I found myself yearning for home. Deeply missing my sister and missing my QuiltMama. I’d be lying if I said I was taking good care of myself in Austin. I was coasting along, nothing too terribly destructive, but nothing nurturing was occurring. I found myself resenting the quilting beasts sitting pretty in my living room. My giant stash made me sigh, but not in the good way.

I needed a break. 

Then came Austin (my buddy, not the city), and the Vegas proposition. SWEET. West Coastin’ again. I can do this, I said. It’s close enough to Sammy but far enough away that nobody’s stopping in unexpectedly when I’m not wearing pants.

So many of you have messaged me, or, to my chagrin, publicly asked me: What happened to Vegas?

My answer is simply this: nothing. Nothing happened. We just put it on hold until the time is right. And right now is simply not the right time. Austin and I are friends before we are business affiliates. And we’ll always be that way. That’s my kinfolk.

I’ve lived apart from everything I’ve ever known for the past six years, and frankly, that trickster Fr. John was right. I need my sister and she needs me. My family has missed me and I’ve missed them too. I’ve missed the Northern California culture. I’ve missed my QuiltMama. We work better together when we’re on the same time zone.  We work the best when we’re in the same room. : )

And also, if you’ve read my previous post, I’d like to see this trial thru to the end. Not only am I legally obligated to, but I also want to see the murderer of my friend go to jail for the rest of his life. I owe myself this closure.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching the past month. I worried and fretted about leaving the last post without updating y’all. I wanted to write “Don’t worry! I’m fine! I’m done writing about dead people!” but I was simply enjoying the first month back home. Sometimes it’s good to tune out and do that.

Father John, you tricked me. Now I know what kinda game you were running. The reverse psychology game! The seed planting game! And all I want to say to you is this: Thank You. If you hadn’t had planted that seed, I’d still be treading water up to my chin and pretending everything was fine. It wasn’t. But it is now. Thank you for having the foresight that I was not prepared or wanting to see. Thank you for reuniting me with my part-time keeper and full-time best friend.


Since I’ve been home, I’ve been quilting up a storm. I’ve actually enjoyed quilting again! As in, I don’t feel like when I’m longarming that I’m going to die!

Here’s a few photos from my personal journals that give you a Jessica-eyed view of the world. (remember? It’s Jessica. Not Jessie.)

Candid photos are the best. Quilt by Stormy Lavelle, quilting by moi

closeup on the McDarlinging/Darlingesque quilting. Which one is it? Darlingesque? Darlingique?! 

More Darlingique! Darlingesque? We need a consensus, people.
Hoffman Bali Batiks, Gen 7 Lorikeet color in Galaxy pattern by Villa Rosa Designs. Pattern available on, thru your local quilt shop, or most major distributors.

So, there you have it. I’ve quilted close to 20 quilts since I’ve been home. I’ve been perfecting my swirl and my Darlingique (I think I’m going with Darlingique. It sounds like a hair weave product, and I like that.) and that’s brought me a lot of joy. When you can see progress from one quilt to the next, it gives you a tremendous sense of empowerment. 
Also, before I chock up the deuces to do more Darlingiquing (yep, I said it, I meant it), I’d like to tell y’all that I’m about to embark on a huge rebranding mission for Homegrown, my imprint of Villa Rosa Designs. I wish I could say more about it, but suffice it to say I have some huge surprises in store. 
I’ve never been one that wanted to take myself too seriously when it came to the quilting industry. Yes, I do this to pay for my food and shelter habit, but also because it is the one constant in my life that has never ceased to bring me tremendous joy and has invited hundreds of new friends into my life. I think it’s amazing that our industry allows us to be so connected to one another. I hope that you support my new vision as it unfolds. 
My commitment to you is that I will not stop sharing my personal journey. I feel that it’s vital to my brand to be as authentic as possible. The way I see it, it’s a package deal—love me, love my quilting. I refuse to be forcedly professional for the sake of monetization. If that keeps me from a certain corporate sponsorship, then that company was never the right fit for me. If it causes me to lose a few followers on social media, then I wasn’t the right person for them to follow. What I ask of you, as my friends, fans, followers, is to always be honest with me. Please don’t follow me for the sake of exploiting my character or for a means by which to find fodder for gossip. I understand that in sharing as much as I do, it leaves me vulnerable to these things. Please consider that I’m somebody’s daughter, sister, and best friend. Soon, I may be somebody’s girlfriend. (I’ll keep you posted, as always.) If you wouldn’t want somebody talking about you in a negative way, then don’t speak negatively of others. We are a mirror. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way. I haven’t always been as respectful of others’ feelings as I am now; nor have I always practiced these rules. Sometimes we need to learn these lessons thru practical application. As I continue to build my character and my necessary virtues, I feel that this is one I place high on the priority pyramid. As humans, we are in a constant state of evolution and change, and I am no exception. If I have wronged you in the past thru a negative tongue, then I am sincerely sorry. If you have wronged me with your words, then I truly forgive you. We live in a strong world and our words have power. 
That’s it for now, fam.  
All my love and honor, 

4 thoughts on “The Road to California.

  1. Ditto re Robyn's comment. I am so glad to hear you are in your right place and time now. You sound content with today, as you keep growing. Best from Pam in Amarillo


  2. You are so sweet. I'm glad you are somewhere that fills your soul. Sometimes life takes us on a journey we didn't know we needed to take. I will always support you. Best wishes and I can't wait!


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