Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Serenity #129

can it b hugz tiem?
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These two cats are so similar in color to my Gremlyn (who died two years ago) and Merlin who probably thinks I died five months ago. I just had to post it if for nothing else but to keep track of it. Also because a 'hugz tiem' would be pretty welcome at this moment. I spent the day sorting things--mostly sewing and craft stuff but also images in my My Pictures folder. The sewing/craft stuff in order to start preparing it for the return home in 20 days. The images in order to prepare for the next back-up as My Pictures folder is about to outgrow the 4 gig thumb I backed it up on last week

I also sorted my thoughts while moving my feet on the mini-tramp this afternoon and then took some pics of Mom's front yard which I hoped to post for this Sunday Serenity post but I didn't get them prepared.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ribbos n Beads n Thread O My!

funny pictures
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I got to go to the Grand Opening of a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store today. I got some more ribbon and beads and two spools of crochet thread--red and black. I got needle-threaders, lanyards, and key rings. And a thing or two else. I'll probably post pictures later. Tonight I took a break from the sweater embroidery project to let my thoughts on it percolate. Or to procrastinate the moment I need to thrust a seam ripper under my stitches and start breaking threads and pulling them out. *sigh*

I do have another plan for it though. Probably as brilliant as the last two. See Of Hitches and Glitches and Snags in My Stitches Part One and Part Two below.

Instead of working on the sweater, I took pictures of today's haul and then started sorting my sewing and craft supplies with an eye toward preparing to pack for the trip home. 21 days. Ai yi yi. Just the packing could take me that long. That's the thing about going shopping while out of town. How do you get it home without appreciably increasing the volume or weight of your luggage? Yep. That's when it all turns on you.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: An Exercise



I'm tired of my own excuses so I'm going to combine advice gleaned from Rick DeMarinis' book which I've been reading all week, and John Daniel's workshop which I attended last week, and recent personal experience of which I've been blogging all week into a fiction writing exercise.

This may or may not ever be incorporated into a story--thinking that is supposed to relieve the pressure to perform. But if it ever were, the autobiographical elements would be less thinly disguised.

So here goes. Totally off the cuff and composed directly in Blogger:

Snags in Her Stitches

Jan held the seam ripper poised over the purple sweet pea stitched on the front of a heavy knit sweater. There was no way to save it. She had given four hours to an effort to fix the snags put into her carefully laid stitches by Barney's kneading. When tacking down, adding cover stitches, pulling to the back with a crochet hook, and combing the stitches with her fingers had not worked she had attempted to remove the stitches one by one, preserving the thread at least. But she had only made a mangle of loops out of her once smooth satin stitches. She was going to have to cut them out.

Sweat beaded on her lip and the bridge of her nose as her hand hovered over the stitches. So much was riding on this. She hated the waste of the yard or so of floss nearly as much as the thought of undoing her carefully laid stitches. But time took precedent now. She was doing this project for her landlord in exchange for a month's rent and had promised to have it done by the end of the month.

Her hand wavered a bit as she aimed the ripper at the flower. It wasn't just the loss of thread and of her work unnerving her. What if she snagged the yarn of the sweater with her ripper? Just as Jan inserted the prong of the seam ripper under the row of carefully laid stitches her glasses began to slide on the sheen of sweat and she raised her hand to push them back in position, with the same hand she held the unsheathed seam ripper.

>>>>>>>
I borrowed Jan from this little flash-fiction exercise from 2007. Gave her the same task I'm currently engaged with.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Of Hitches and Glitches and Snags in Stitches Part 2



Late on Mother's Day, after Mom had gone to bed I was finally able to discuss with my sister the problems I was having with working on the sweat pea embroidery project. The lack of a dependable workspace and the tissue paper pattern tearing and or moving off position had kept me from working on it for over a week after she had prepared it for me.

Again it was I who had a plan that she helped me implement. She hunted down a shallow cardboard box and cut the side out of it and we slid it inside the sweater. It was my hope that this would act somewhat like a quilting frame to keep the fabric in place and thus limit the stress on the tissue.


She also re-drew the two flowers I was having so much trouble with--on Glad Press n Seal instead of tissue and stuck it in place. It served to hold the edges of the tissue surrounding it place as well. I had first tested a small area on the hem by stitching through the Press n Seal and then pulling it off. It seemed to not put undue stress on the stitches. Especially if I helped it by perforating near the stitches with my needle.

And she helped me set up a workstation on the couch beside my true light lamp and pledge to help keep it available for my in the afternoons and evenings. That first night I used my own desk as a stand for it but later she brought up an old TV tray from somewhere in the belly of the basement as using my own desk meant moving the laptop and everything else off it onto the bed and bringing it out to the living room and then reversing that process when I was through. A dicey thing to do by bedside lamp after Mom was already asleep.

Besides one of the issues about working on the embroidery project was set up time. I was able to make thirteen crocheted bookmarks in two weeks because I could carry them around in my pockets and work on impulse when only slices of time as small as three minutes were available. This isn't possible when it takes over 20 minutes just to set up to start working and as much to put it away.

My first work session with the box in the sweater was very successful. But the second time I tired to start working on it, I discovered that the handling of the project in moving it to the other room and back again had caused the tissue to shift position tear. Again. And this time one of the leaves and one of the flowers covering crucial bleach spots had torn.

Our idea this time was to use Glad Press n Seal over the entire lower area where those bleached spots were to both hold down and reinforce the tissue. And to help keep the weight of the sweater under the box from stressing the tissue when being transported from room to room she used wrapped the entire thing in Press N Seal snugly to the underside of the box.

Again I had a successful session. I finished the second of the crucial flowers and started on one of the crucial leaves and got one full side of it done before my eyes quit cooperating. That was about a week ago.

Then the events of last weekend of which I blogged in detail this past week: the rearrangement of my laptop workstation Saturday afternoon; the rearrangement of the living room Saturday night; the computer maintenance all day Sunday until dawn on Monday.

I did set up to work on the embroidery Sunday evening only to discover that I'd made a big boo boo while stitching that leaf the previous session. I'd trapped a big loop of thread about four inches long on the underside and I'd bunched the fabric in my stitches so that it puckered around that leaf. I spent two and a half hours taking out those stitches and in the process ruined the surrounding tissue.

That experience also soured me on the entire concept of working with the box too. The edges chafed my arms. Working blind to the underside meant I was likely to trap more loops of thread. Then there were the knotted ends of the yarn where the color changes occurred that I kept catching in my needle and pulling thru to the front. The real killer of the concept tho was that whenever an error required access to the underside, I had to roll the bottom edge of the sweater up until I could see area I was working and every time I had to do this the tissue shifted and/or tore some more.

So I took the tissue off. The idea is to cut out the flowers in sections approximately the size of index cards that will fit inside the area of an embroidery hoop. The embroidery hoop will not accommodate the thickness of the fabric unless I entirely remove the screw meant for tightening it down so the hoop is not going to keep the tension on the fabric stable. Tho I think it will do better than that box did. (See pic at top of this post.)

So much for brilliant ideas.

In the process of taking the tissue and Press n Seal off I damaged one of the stitched flowers. One knotted end was pulled to the front and stitches were pulled out of place and one tucked end was also pulled to front. In this spot the Press N Seal was over tissue and a second layer of Press N Seal which is probably why it didn't work like my test earlier. The tissue and plastic under the stitches is still not fully removed and is sticking up through the stitches. (See the close-up photo heading yeasterday's post.)

Like I said. So much for brilliant ideas.

Before I took the tissue off, I tweaked one of the early pictures I took of it immediately after it was drawn in my image program to emphasize the lines of the drawing and printed it. This will be my guide as to where to place the smaller sections of tissue as I work the flowers. and then after the flowers and the two crucial leaves are all worked, I will put in the vines and the rest of the leaves by eye.

That's the plan anyway.

Brilliant right?

*snort*

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Of Hitches and Glitches and Snags in Stitches

The sorry state of the sweat pea embroidery project. Read (far) below for details.


The sweat pea embroidery sweater project and the family photo scan projects are the two high priority projects for my remaining days here at Mom's--24.5 as the clock ticks. I set out to discuss these two projects and all the ways they keep getting waylaid in last night's post which morphed into a reminiscence of how my office/workstation has morphed over the past five months. Another example of a project getting waylaid. Sigh.

Yet another example: Last night's post took over six hours to prepare because I couldn't get Blogger to cooperate with my vision of it. I wanted to prepare and then upload to the platform all the photo illustrations and then type a brief note next to the photo making the point. I imagined it would be quick since preparing photos for posting whether from the scanner or camera has become quicker than doing an image search or LOLcats search for something suitable to the theme.

But when I uploaded the first bunch of five left aligned they bunched up, some of them stubbornly side by side and wouldn't let me type next to specific photos other than to fill up the space until the next photo was pushed beneath. Also the photos were not in chronological order so I had to keep moving them by cut and pasting the html. I tried embedding the picture code inside paragraph and div tags to no effect.

Once I figured out there was no other way but to fill the white space beside a photo with text to push the next photo down, I realized I did not want to go on to discuss the embroidery and scanning projects so I stayed on the theme of the workstation evolution, adding more pictures one at a time, cutting them from the top of the post where Blogger insists on depositing them and pasting them beside the relevant paragraph.

So last night's post did not get posted until nearly 7 this morning. And today of all days! Since this is Wednesday, the day my sister and her son go to Vancouver to do the Costgo shopping, visit friends, attend Youth Group and occasionally doctor or dentist appointments. This puts me on duty with Mom from afternoon through her bedtime around ten. Most Wednesdays they leave between three and four but today my sister had a dentist appointment and had to leave shortly after noon. Which meant I could only afford a nap this morning not a full 'night's' sleep.

Mom usually naps in her recliner for a couple of hours sometime between noon and four and I was thinking of using that time to scan photos but then decided to work on today's post instead since I don't know how much past Mom's bedtime I can count on before I crash.

The illustrations I prepared for this post were all about the sweat pea embroidery project and yet I've written all this preamble that barely mentions it. Sigh. It's tempting to save the photos for another post but then I'd also have to change the title and figure out another way to illustrate. It's only a self-imposed 'rule' that my posts need to be illustrated. But a hard to break rule none-the-less.

Later: I had to stop working on this when Mom woke from her nap and am just getting back to it now at eleven as I just got the dishwasher loaded and running and said good-night to my sister who just got the groceries put away. So what I'm going to do is tell the story of the sweat pea embroidery project as quickly and succinctly as I can and then upload the pictures and plant them near the paragraphs they belong to as close as possible.

I've told some of this in bits and pieces here but have only illustrated a a couple of times. I don't feel like hunting down links to those occasions so I'm going to start from the beginning.

Mom has a favorite sweater given her by my brother's wife. A couple of years ago she somehow stained it. This was after my sister moved in to help with the care of our Dad as he battled cancer. She had taken charge of the laundry and her attempts to remove the stain left small bleached spots on the dark blue areas.

She had a concept of embroidering something over those areas. She, with her artist eye, could envision it, even draw it; but had no interest nor experience in doing the stitching herself. She bought red and green floss for a patch of red tulips and discussed the project with me when I was here in December 2007. But I pointed out to her that the sweater's design looked like a trellis and would lend itself perfectly to a sweat pea vine.

She immediately loved that concept because Mom has been known for the sweat pea bouquets she gives away to everybody who stops by and everybody she visits during the season that her vine is swarming the chain link fence in the back yard. A carefully orchestrated swarm because she would go out daily to guide the end of the stems through and around as she harvested flowers.

My visit was too short to even get the project started in 2007 and I left with plans to return in February to continue work on the family photo scanning project as well as the sweat pea embroidery. But life got in the way. I put off my visit until after Easter which is when I got the flu that I didn't bounce back from until after I started bouncing on my new mini-tramp in mid October. So I planned to go immediately after NaNoWriMo and stay until just before Xmas again. They were to pick me up on their way back north from their trip to California.

Then Mom fell at her sister's house in the Sacramento area and broke her hip just before Thanksgiving and suffered a mild stroke from a post surgery blood clot that resulted in some aphasia. Mom and my sister did not return north until Mom was released from rehab the second week of December and they barely squeaked by between snow storms on their way north. I couldn't go with them because among other things their car was too full with the handicap gear the hospital sent Mom home with--the tub transfer bench, walker, commode etc.

I'd also not begun to pack yet, our family was celebrating Xmas with out of town family that very day, and my husband was about to rearrange our room to make room for a huge TV his brother gave us. I was supposed to follow four days later. But the snow storms along the I5 corridor had other plans for all of us. Snow in the passes and/or snow on the roads around Portland kept my sister-in-law from driving down to get me until just after Xmas.

Things here were in crisis mode until well into February. It didn't help that I smacked my shins on the dishwasher door New Year's Eve and developed celluitus the kept on very limited use of my leg for nearly two weeks. But even after things with Mom eased up the sense of crisis did not because my sister then had to give her attention to urgent things that had been put on the back burner. She is running a household here and homeschooling her 14 year old son It never seemed like a good moment to ask her to work on drawing the pattern for me.

Meanwhile I did image searches online and saved some likely pictures of the sweat pea plant and of needlework renderings of it. Finally, just after the Read-a-thon in April I pressed her and she sat down and looked at the pictures took them into an image program and shuffled and combined etc and then printed some of what inspired her.

Then going by the plan I had given her she traced the 'trellis' on the front of the sweater on tissue paper and then drew free hand the vine with leaves and flowers, being sure to position a flower or leaf over the three bleached spots. She then taped and pinned the tissue in place on the sweater. The idea was for me to stitch over the tissue paper.

I was so excited the evening she got it prepared and was so eager to get started. But I waited until after everybody went to bed and only then discovered that there were serious glitches in my idea of using tissue paper for a pattern. It tore easily with the gentlest of handling. Also the two flowers she had positioned over the worst bleashed spot were colored in and also redrawn over whiteout. The extra lines and the opacity made it difficult for me to be sure I was stitching in the right place.

To top things off the spot on the couch next to my true light lamp never seemed to be available. It seemed always in use by either people, homeshcool projects or clean laundry. Except after everyone else went to bed. But I hated using that time for sewing. Sewing is something that is tightly associated with social occasions for me. I have used it as a calming device for my social anxiety. I have often joked that my needlepoint is my Valium.

Those hours after everyone else is in bed are the ones I have always dedicated to my writing and the things that support it that require uninterrupted time for contemplation like research, reading, daydreaming.

But these are extenuating circumstance that require some sacrifice of such preferences. I was willing but wanted to discuss options with my sister first. Then Mom's fainting spell happened and her two day hospital stay so it was a couple weeks before I could discuss my problems with my sister. We talked about it on Mother's Day.

>>>>
OK. So much for succinct. And so much for my staying power. Three hours of sleep only goes so far. Besides this post is ridiculously over long. I'm going to save the rest of the story and pictures for tomorrow's post.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Morphiing 'Office'

Over the weekend I rearranged my workstation here at my Mom's yet again and as I did so I was trying to count the previous times and visualize them in the right order. I've taken pics of most of them except the very earliest one or two before it occurred to me.

This top picture is of the latest iteration. Or at least part of it. The area to the left of the laptop here is shown at the end.

The first workstation was in a tight corner in the family office that was once my Dad's and is now where my nephew spends most of his time gaming or doing school work. That only lasted the first night as I could see it had no possibilities. No room, no light and no privacy.

The next morning upon waking, I moved my desk in beside the bed in my Mom's room which I'm sharing with her. That first week or so there was a chair and a small chest up near the head of the bed on my side so my desk had to be near the foot and I sometime slept with my head at the foot so I could stay plugged into the headphones to listen to music or meditations as I fell asleep.

On New Year's Eve a couple hours before my shins had their fateful encounter with the dastardly dishwasher door, I moved the chest down near the foot of the bed after clearing a mountain of papers, books and magazines off of it some of which had been there since this was my Dad's side of the bed. This allowed me to have the desk near the head of the bed and I was very glad for that a week later after the ER visit and doctor's orders to stay off my leg until the swelling and signs of infection were gone.

These next two pictures were taken the evening I got back from the ER January 6th and was preparing my little nest for the duration. I didn't have to stay in bed 24/7. I usually moved my 'nest' out to the living room couch in the afternoons and stayed there until Mom headed for bed.

The last week of January and the First week of February as the restrictions against being on my leg were lifted, I did another major rearrangement to make room for my reference books and notebooks and files within reach.

I turned around the purple chair full of stuffed raccoons which I'd buried in my sweaters and PJs and stuffed the raccoons under and behind it and moved my wardrobe into the other room. Then lay a board across its arms to act as a shelf.

That was the week I knocked my coffee over on that board while putting a clipboard back in its place and ended up with coffee stains and water damage to three of my reference books and nearly began bawling like a baby in front of my Mom's physical therapist who was working with her on the other side of the bed as it happened.

It was about that time that my sister fixed the printer that my laptop had been introduced to on my visit in 2007 and suggested setting it up in here. Which is when I restarted the family photo scanning project I began in 2007.

Only a few days after pictures 4, 5 and 6 were taken my sister took me to the library and let me check out on her card. And again five days after that. For the next ten weeks I had upwards of twenty more books to make room for. And to move when the rearrangements continued.

And they did continue. I'm wondering if there is something pathological with me and re-arranging. Sometimes I feel like I do more re-arranging and re-organizing of things then I actually do productive things with and in the space.

Anyway. for the most part the 4th through the 6th pictures represent the way my workstation looked until at least late March. Even early April.

I can't remember without scrounging in my old posts when my sister and I discovered that my sitting on the edge of the bed was damaging the mattress.

At that point I had to either find another seat in here or move my workstation into another room.

So I took the board off the purple chair and moved the blue plastic drawer tower over beside it with one shelf of carefully selected reference books atop it.

When working, I was penned in behind my laptop and anything I didn't have either on that shelf to my right or the bed to my left I would have to get up to go after it, braving the distraction infested waters of this house.

The rest of the books, notebooks and files were in two boxes stacked on the small chest where the printer had been and I moved my Mom's sewing machine bench over for the printer to set on.

This was where I spent most of the day of the Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon. Sitting in the raccoon's lap.

Which was April 18. So it wasn't long after that when I discovered that the weight of that board and books was crushing that plastic drawer tower so that the drawers couldn't be opened and closed.


So I had to get them off.


And to do that, I moved the lightest thing, the printer, onto the plastic drawer tower. I put my Mom's sewing machine bench in place of the purple chair which I moved past the foot of the bed and put the board across its arms again on which I kept my crochet and needlework projects for a short time.

This left a very narrow path for me to get around the foot of the bed. An interesting trek in the dark.

The books that had been on the plastic drawer tower were added to those in the box on the little chest making it two rows deep.

I hated this set-up from the first day I spent with it. I had to try to predict every item I might need during a session and bring it over to the bed, moving my pillows to the foot to make room for books and sewing. Setting up ate into the time for work. The printer/scanner was nearly impossible to use while sitting next to it like that and was constantly in the way of my elbow while typing. And my poor tailbone hated that bench.

So a couple weeks ago I moved the bench next to the little chest and put the printer on it. And for a seat, I moved in the shower-chair which my Dad used during his battle with cancer.

But I liked this setup little better because it was now such a tight fit that I couldn't move my desk without knocking it against something which risked disturbing my Mom's sleep. And as before when the printer was on the bench it was too low to reach without stressing my lower back. So using it for more than a single quick print or scan was not an option.

When I learned my Mom was spending the weekend with my brother's family in Portland, I made plans to use the night or nights she was gone to get cracking on the family photo scanning again. I imagined myself zipping those photos onto and off the scanner bed.

So the moment my sister and Mom left Saturday afternoon, I began to rearrange again.

And while I was at it, fetched all the boxes of photos from the closet in the family's office, thinking I would keep them on Mom's side of the bed until her return as a goad to try to get as many finished with as I could before having to move them back out.

But then I found a way to make room for them over in my 'office.'

But this meant sending my books further into exile past the foot of the bed onto the board on the purple chair.

Which makes it very hard to go after anything I didn't think to bring over before my Mom goes to bed and the only light is the lamp beside me. Hard to put them away without disturbing her when I'm ready to lay down myself. Usually that means piling everything on the chair.

After all of that, I never did get to work on the photo scanning while Mom was gone nor have I yet. The explanation for that has been in the previous posts--my sister decided to spring-clean and rearrange the living room Saturday night and Sunday was taken up with computer maintenance tasks and Monday and Tuesday my attention was on the sweat pea sweater embroidery project which did some morphing of its own which I'll probably describe in tomorrow's post.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Ohai!

Ohai!
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Almost forgot to drop in here today. Too tired to stay long. Had a busy day and another's on the way. Need sleep now.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Serenity #128

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Mom is spending a second night at my brother's house in Portland OR. She is attending one of the annual Bible Conferences the church I was raised in holds and is thus seeing old acquaintances and even some out of town family.

Meanwhile my sister and I have had this time to do with as we please. As I posted last night I was intending to spend the night scanning family photos into my computer. After my sister and I finished rearranging and spring-cleaning the livingroom that is. But that task wasn't finished until 3AM and even though I had done little but watch from out of the way spots and make suggestions, I was exhausted.

I would have helped more if my help wouldn't have put me or other breakables at risk. with my vision issues there wasn't enough light for me to be moving around in a completely chaotic room. So I watched as my sister dusted, vacuumed and decluttered one small area at a time, moving smaller items into boxes and things the size of waste baskets to end tables away from the middle of the room until we had room to maneuver two rocker-recliners and a couch around. My help consisted mostly of directing traffic and describing the vision I had. Her son helped with the heavy lifting of the furniture, including the TV and a coffee table with a polished rock top. We tried three or four arrangements before we settled on one that seemed to provide a nice conversation are that provided face-to-face between the recliners and the couch, allowed viewing of the TV from any position on the couch and allowed room for Mom to maneuver her walker from the hall to her recliner.

When she called it quits at 3, I decided to settle in to test out the new spot we set up for me to work on that sweat pea embroidery. But soon discovered that the last few stitches I'd put in the day before needed to come out to release a four inch loop of thread I'd trapped on the back and while taking them out I discovered that all of the stitches in that section--the right side of a leaf--would have to come out because I'd bunched the fabric inside my stitches so that area of the sweater looked puckered. That happens when you don't control the tension of your thread or the fabric is over or under taut. This is the first time I've embroidered on a knit fabric. I don't think I'll ever choose to do so again.

It took me two hours to take out the stitches that probably took about twenty minutes to put in. By then my eyes were fried so I didn't work on the photo scanning nor the photo taking project I mentioned yesterday. I lay down with the intent to devote today to one or both of those projects. But before I began that this afternoon, I dedcided to back up my files first. And in the process discovered that I am down to under 3 gigs of free space on my 37 gig hard drive. So I decided to do system maintenance today instead. I ran a clean disk which took nearly three hours this evening. And the next step is a defrag. Neither has been done since some time last summer. These were task under the purview of my husband and I've been away from home for five months now and the two moths before that were devoted to the holidays and NaNoWriMo.

So instead of spending the night Mom is away working the scanner on overdrive, I'm going to be reading while the defrag does its thing and maybe even get some extra sleep.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Xing the Days


Postcards of sites in Aztec New Mexico circa 1920. See last paragraph for explanation.

Four weeks from tonight I will be packing. I pray I won't have left it all for the last day. Actually four weeks from this moment I had better be 90% packed. Sunday, June 21 is the day set for traveling and whoever is driving me south will be meeting up with my husband at the approximate halfway point between here and Phoenix OR. And Ed is a morning person. He'll be wanting to meet no later than noon.

My thoughts are torn between here and there. I will have been here six months by the time I leave. I have been anxiously awaiting the time to go home and yet suddenly it doesn't seem like four weeks is enough time to finish all the projects I've started here that can't go home with me:

  • the sweat pea sweater embroidery
  • the family photo scan
  • the photographing of interesting items around this house
  • the cutting into project size of several lengths of cloth and canvas for needlework projects
  • the sorting and organizing of my sewing and crafts stuff
  • finishing several library books that aren't available in our library there
That last has the lowest priority of course. And I guess I pretty much listed them in the order of priority. I suppose if push comes to shove the cutting down of cloth and canvas and the organizing of my sewing stuff could be done after I get home--if I want to try to do it on the bed with our cat Merlin's help or take it out to my in-laws front room after they go to bed.

Today, I reorganized and rearranged my 'office' here at Mom's to put the focus on the family photo scan. I made room for the rest of the boxes of photos that were in the closet in the computer room. I also moved the printer/scanner again and this time raised it up so that I can reach it while standing without bending over. There just wasn't a good place to put it where I could sit to work. This was the fifth or sixth time I rearranged this space since I got here.

I also cleared off an antique table in the hallway for use as a stand for the items I wish to photograph. Items of interest for nostalgic reasons or because they could be used to illustrate posts or make cool pictures to use in my jigsaw puzzle game. Books and games from my childhood. Some really old books. Plants in cool looking pots. A bushel or so of buttons my Mom has collected over the years, some of which came from a generation before her--from grandmother's and great-aunts. Vases and cutlery and dishes and picture frames and dolls and antique tools and utensils and...

I intend to be scanning and/or snapping photos most of this night as Mom is spending this night and most of tomorrow at my brother's so I'll have the upstairs to myself all night. But before I get started on that, I'm going to be helping my sister rearrange the living-room furniture.

The photo scanning project often morphs in surprising ways for mixed in with photos are letters, greeting cards, postcards, items torn from newspapers and magazines and all manner of other memorabilia of more than three generations. My Mom was the executor of the estates for two of her great-aunts so there are stuff that was once theirs as well as stuff from both sets of grandparents and both parents. Like my Dad's memorabilia from his visit to Japan when he was in the navy in the early 50s. And like those postcards pictured at the head of this post circa 1920s. One of which had a note written by my Mom's father to his own father in 1922 before his marriage to my grandmother. This kind of thing really makes it hard to just plow through the pictures. I can see I need to hunt that card down and scan it again as I didn't get that edge on the scan bed.

Both such memorabilia and certain pictures of myself and my siblings cause me to pause and my imagination feasts on them and I need to know more. When I first got here Mom was not able to answer many questions. Her energy and focus is better now and her aphasia is decreasing so it has just in the past month become possible to bug her with such questions.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Reading about Writing Fiction

Ever since going to John Daniel's reading at the library Monday evening and his memoir writing workshop at the college the following morning my words have been flowing like a river. But none of it is fiction. Blogging, emails, the workshop exercise, notes, journaling. But no work on my fiction WIP.

One thing I can say I did in honor of my fiction writing is checking out two books on the craft while at the library immediately after the workshop.

These are the two:

The Art & Craft of the Short Story
by Rick DeMarinis



and


How Fiction Works by James Wood.

I've done little more than browse in them and salivate since bringing them home. And pray they are also in our Southern Oregon Library collection because I can't get everything I need out of them in the four weeks I have left here in Longview.

I know just dropping their cover pics and titles here doesn't make much of a post but I've got little of substance to say about what is between the covers and it occurs to me that I could be using this time to read them!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Sister-Friend



Attending the reading at the library Monday was part of the special hanging out together day with my sister-friend Jamie which is what she asked of me to help her celebrate her birthday which is today. Jamie and I weren't true siblings either biological nor situational as I had been long married myself by the time she became a ward of my parents after her mother's death in her early teens. But she and I both feel a bond that the word 'friend' doesn't quite cover so when one of us first used the term 'sister-friend' we both knew it was exactly right.


This was taken around 88 or 89 not long after Jamie began living with my parents. Dad was the photographer. Left to right: Mom, Jamie, my husband Ed, my sister who is now Mom's caretaker and me. This was shortly before I received the definitive diagnosis of RP and discovered I was already legally blind and had to begin carrying a white cane.

Monday was supposed to be her day but going to the reading was my idea and she agreed without reservations. She came over Monday afternoon and we visited and she gave me a pedicure and we watched Oprah together with Mom. Then she and I fixed a spaghetti dinner for the five of us. She fixed the salad and garlic bread and I fixed the pasta and sauce. After dinner we headed over to the library and after the reading we went to Denny's to visit some more over coffee (for me) and soda (for her) and a shared order of seasoned fries. All her treat since I've been cashless since my trip to Powell's the Sunday before Mother's Day.

Does anyone else see the irony in all of that. The day was supposed to be my gift to her and yet she gave me a pedicure, helped fix dinner, took me to a venue that was more my thing than hers and treated me to coffee. That's a sister-friend I guess.

Well at least I was able to give her one of the crocheted bookmarks I made this month. The third one. The red one with the black 'ribbon' and black bead. And I know for a fact this is and always will be unique because it used up the remnant of thread left on that spool--one of the half dozen or so such spools I inherited from my husband's grandmother when she passed in 2007 and which was no less than fifteen years and possibly more than thirty years old. The bead too is one of a kind, found in one of Mom's craft drawers. The 'ribbon' was found in Mom's sewing machine drawer among the ric-rac and seam binding and piping leftovers from garments she made well over thirty years ago. It had no label and she can't retrieve it's name but she could describe its use: for decorating garments usually around collars, cuffs and hems.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Book Giveaway: Obama's Blackberry

I'm authorized to give away 5 copies. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

Obama's BlackBerry
By Kasper Hauser
6/8/2009
Little, Brown and Company
144

When Obama stated that if elected, he would keep his Blackberry, debate echoed through Washington and among the ranks of the Secret Service. What would it be like to have a president who could Twitter, send text messages, and navigate the web with ease? What would it be like to receive a text message from inside the Oval Office and, most importantly, what would it say?

Now, for the first time, We The People are privy to our new leader's epistolary back-and-forths on his wily hand-held device. We're about to discover that his emails (and the replies, from his wife and daughters, Biden, Palen, Rush, Hannity, the new first puppy, and even Bush) are so tuned in to the language of electronic correspondence they come hilariously close to the brink of legibility.


This giftable, imagined glimpse into Obama's beloved Blackberry traverses the mundane and momentous contours of the Commander in Chief's life, from security briefings to spam, basketball practice to domestic bliss, and the panic of oops-I-hit-reply-all, to, of course, the trauma of dealing with the First Mother In Law.

To wit:

BidenMyTime: Hey U, whatcha doin?
BARACKO: M rly busy
BidenMyTime: Right :( Can I lv at 4:45?

Rules:

  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog or twitter about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST Saturday, Jun 6, 2009. I will select the winners with a random sequence generator using www.random.org.
  • I will announce the winners in a post as well as notify by email. Winners must respond with their mailing info within two days or forfeit. In which case I notify the next entry in the sequence generated by random.org.
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes. Also, for those of you winning the same title in more than one contest, be aware that Hachette may not deliver multiple copies of a single title to a single address.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rivers and Story and Dreams and Self

I did go to John Daniel's writing workshop this morning. And I did not sleep first. Nor have a slept since. So I've been up since before noon Monday. I would love to go into detail of my eventful day which included a brief conversation with John Daniel after class and then being escorted by a student across campus and across the street to the public library where I spent and hour browsing for books and checking out some sixteen on my sister's card before calling her to come pick me up.

Last night Daniel read from one of his essays in which he likened a river to a story. It was an involved and elaborate extended metaphor. Today as guest speaker in a creative writing professor's class which welcomed the attendance of any John Q. Public, he reversed the extended metaphor, likening a story to a river. And then as he dwelled on the specifics of memoir writing, he asked us to imagine our selves and our lives as rivers before zeroing in on one event to begin writing about.
Later, towards the end, while answering a question from a student about writer's block, he discussed how sometimes what gets labeled writer's block is really that the thing to be written is not ready yet as there is still much work the psyche needs to do in the non-conscious realm before releasing the flow of words. Then he told of how his memoir of the years he cared for his aging, Alzheimer's stricken mother took many years of incubation before it was ready to tell. He spoke of how unnerving it had been to find himself the caregiver of his own mother, the one in authority over her. It was because of this that I got up the nerve to approach him in the hall afterwards in order to thank him and tell him I could so relate as I and my sister have been going through a similar experience right now.

I so hope the Southern Oregon Library System has a copy of Looking After because it is now the one I most want to read.

One thing I learned about myself today is that I love being in a classroom as much as I ever did. I think it is second only to libraries and bookstores as a place I could be in bliss--in my element like a fish in a river.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Story Hour at the Public Library



This evening I went to story hour at the library--the grownups version. It was a reading by author John Daniel for the Northwest Voices program sponsored by The Longview Public Library and Lower Columbia College.

Daniel read snippets from several essays in the just published collection The Far Corner which he carefully noted did not have the word 'essay' anywhere on the front cover or title page because the publishers say it is a death knell for a book since apparently the very word essay sends half the potential readers running for the nearest exit and the other half to sleep. Which is a shame because so much of the best American literature is of this genre. Think Mark Twain, Emerson, Thoreau, Anne Dillard, H.L. Mencken, James Thurber, James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, Adrienne Rich, Wendell Berry, Joan Didion, David James Duncan..... Oh, I could go on and on and that's just the Americans.

As far as I'm concerned a story is a story whether it is labeled fiction, essay, poem, biography, memoir, myth, play, news, expose, gospel, novel, short, romance, drama, documentary, lyric, limerick, epic, genre, literary, ...or whatever else the literature taxidermists contrive in their endless attempts to keep story in 'its place'. But story is no more containable than a tornado, no more leashable than Coyote the Amer-Indian Trickster figure referenced by Daniel in one of the essays he read from tonight. An essay musing on the meaning of place and whether loyalty to place or rootlessness is the more to be desired.

As I've said here before in other contexts and as I sometimes signature my emails and tag my blog in the social networks: Story is my joy. Which is half the meaning of the title of my blog. The other half referring to the personal journal aspects.

Story is my joy and I don't care what you label it as long as it pulls me out of myself for long breathless and weightless moments and then gives my self back to me a little more whole than it was before, a little more faceted and a little more enlarged like yeast activated dough.

So imagine how thrilled I was when Daniels launched into an essay about the Rogue River in Oregon, the river that gives its name to the valley I live in, using the extended metaphor for the river of 'story'. The river was a teller of stories of everything thing it passed between its headwaters in south eastern Oregon to its outflow into the Pacific at Gold Beach Oregon; it was a story endless and infinite in variation that could be dipped into at any one of its bends.

Whatever else John Daniel is, (poet, memoirist, nature writer) he is a storyteller. There is no higher accolade in my lexicon.


The Far Corner
Northwestern Views on Land, Life, and Literature

"These essays include meditations and arguments on becoming a writer; on old-growth forest and the practice of clearcutting; on the fluid dynamics and biotic diversity and mythic resonance of rivers; on the writers Ken Kesey and Wallace Stegner; on the literary genre of "creative nonfiction" and its kinship with fiction; on death and dying and the consolations of death and dying; on the al-Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001; on a stint of hot-weather solitude in the Rogue River Canyon; and on my allegiances to the places and region and country I call home."
—From the introduction to The Far Corner

More about The Far Corner

Read the reviews.

Discover some of his other works.

After the readings, Daniel autographed and sold copies of his several books and I regretted that I'd spent the last of my cash at Powell's though I couldn't think of one of the three books I bought that day I regretted buying. Maybe if I'd waited on the book easel... But then I've used it more than any of the three books in the last two weeks and wouldn't want to do without it again. So I guess I wait until I get back to Phoenix and get to the library. Surely the Jackson County Library System will have copies of some of his books. And I can put in requests for them to acquire any they don't.

Tomorrow morning, actually about six hours from now as I write this paragraph, Daniel is going to be conducting a writing workshop entitled 'Finding the Necessary Story' at Lower Columbia College across the street from the library. I am yearning to go but not quite sure how to manage it. My sister said she would be able to drive me over after breakfast and then pick me up at the library after lunch. But considering that this morning, Monday, I didn't even get to sleep until nearly 8am and then woke at noon to prepare for my afternoon social engagement with my sister-friend Jamie (which I described at length in an earlier version of this post but then moved into a draft post for Thursday) and add to that the several cups of coffee I drank with Jamie at the restaurant after the reading...

Whether to go or not to go and if so whether to sleep or not to sleep first and if not whether I would be of any use to my sister and mother Tuesday afternoon and evening when my help is the most crucial.

And whether I short myself on sleep or completely deprive myself, it means yet another day of not working on the sweet pea embroidery on Mom's sweater, a project which I managed to give only two two-hour sessions since I started it a week ago tonight. I promised my sister I would finish it before leaving. And I've promised my husband I would do my utmost to return on June 21st. I'm estimating over 50 hours of stitching.

But then where do I fit in my promise to demonstrate devotion to my calling, my bliss, my joy...story. How will I feel this time tomorrow if I let this opportunity pass? Its a ninety minute free writing workshop! Surely, even if I can't find the courage to open my mouth or put marks on a page once there, I can muster enough to walk through the door and sit down.

Besides, a little sleep deprivation has always been a catalyst for word generation for me. Witness the length of this post. Quality is not as dependable as quantity at those times but then nobody can do a thing with nothing--no mortal anyway.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Serenity #127

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Today was all about hanging with my Mom while my sister went to a friend's daughter's bridal shower and then grocery shopped. Mom made an Apple Brown Betty. She had some help from her grandson and me but she was directing the show.

Mom and I spent most of the afternoon and evening vegging in front of the TV--Halmark channel Sunday Moives. I wasn't even sewing until after dinner because I kept forgetting to go after it during commercial breaks. I was that lazy.

I did crochet another bookmark this evening though. That makes two for this week but neither is truely finished.

It was a beautiful day outside and I kept telling myself I should go out on the tramp or go out and take more pics of the yard. But...like I said, lazy day. It must have been quite warm outside because the heat pump system was working the cooler pretty hard from late afternoon on.

I got to visit with my husband for half an hour by phone and learned what I was missing back home...a 93 degree day with no air conditioning. Bleh. When I left there it was snowing! That is going to be a shock to the system when I get back next month. I'm seriously spoiled by this heat pump system keeping the house between 65 and 73.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Calling All Entrants: Winners Are...



The winners of the three book giveaway drawings that deadlined today are as follows:

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

canadiangiveaways
nightdweller20
thekoolaidmom
Sara
Sue W.


Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts

Donna M. Clark
Samantharae
Ashley
AmandaSue
ellie

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Beth
Bonnie in FL
Bingo aka mr12step
tetewa
janetfaye

Congrats to all winners and many thanks to all participants with special thanks to those who blogged, twittered or otherwise spread the word.

I usually send the email notification to the winners before posting my winner's announcement post but there was such a large turnout this time it took me soooo long to compile the lists that I'm in dire need of a break. It will be a few hours at least and possibly sometime tomorrow before I get all the emails sent. But if you recognize your name here and wish to go ahead and send me your snail mail before you get your notification that would help speed things up. Email me: joystory AT gmail DOT com

Note: Hachette must have a US or Canadian address and cannot ship to PO Boxes. Also, if you have already won a copy in another contest Hachette may not ship the duplicate copies to the same address. If you have won elsewhere and wish to pass, let me know so I can alert the runner up.

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Friday Forays In Fiction: Epic Fail

epic fail
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


I failed to remember it was Friday when I sat down to put up a post last night. Thus I failed to do my Friday Forays in Fiction post, a task I set myself in an attempt to hold myself accountable if only to myself for keeping my fiction writing forefront in my priorities.

The fact that I forgot it was Friday--a day indelibly associated with this task in my mind for months now--is a clue that I'd not been thinking about my fiction WIP for days. In fact probably not since last Friday for as I think back I remember Saturday as a frantic effort to prepare those twelve crocheted bookmarks for the photo I posted--a last chance to get them all in one photo as several were meant for Mother's Day gifts. Sunday was all about family with Mother's Day celebrations and family from out of town. Monday my sister and I got serious about preparing that sweater of Mom's she had damaged for me to embroider a sweat pea vine on it ...

Well you can scroll down over the past week's posts to see what each day's focus has been. Obviously it hasn't been on my fiction WIP. About the only thing I can say in my defense is that I did give some occasional thought to a charater or scene or what have you as I stitched away in silence--in the rare moments when there was silence that is, when there was no TV blaring or streaming videos or podcasts worming a phalanx of alien words through the earbuds into my thoughts.

It's that latter that is the issue--the streaming videos and podcasts that is for the TV goes off when the others go to bed and I seldom turn it back on. But ever since I started crocheting those bookmarks about a month ago I began to allow the podcasts and streaming vids encroach upon my late night work sessions, slowly turning those hours over to them as I justified it by using the time to crochet or sew.

So that is my confession this week. That I have failed to even put up a pretense of devotion to my fiction writing for an entire week.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

My String Theory

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I'm busy playing with my string.

Which tonight includes washing and drying a six-strand length of embroidery floss that my nephew's cat Bradley swallowed while I was bending over my sewing bag fishing for my scissors to cut the half yard length I'd just measured off the skein.

I worked on the sweat pea sweater discussed in previous posts for several hours this evening. Took a picture of it too and hoped to post it tonight but I'm not in the mood to mess around with the image program to prep the pics.

I've been contemplating with amazement lately just how much can be done with a few strands of thread or a long string. As a practitioner of fine needlework for decades it did not sound one bit silly to me when I first read of modern physic's String Theory. It was almost an epiphany to think of God having (crocheted, knitted, needle pointed, cross stitched and/or embroidered) the world into being with threads of light.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ever Had One of Those Days?

funny pictures of cats with captions
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It all started with misplacing my needle threader which I found hours later in my left pants pocket. But not before unpacking and repacking two sewing bags, shaking out blankets, sweeping swaths of carpet with a small flashlight beam and checking and re-checking and checking again the collar of the shirt where I pin it when I'm working and checking and re-checking and checking thrice more my RIGHT pants pocket.

Sigh.

I had finally raided another project for the threader assigned to it and put a few hours of work into the bookcover pictured in Thursday's post. During that time it began to seem that I used the needle threader more than I used the needle. I had to remove the needled to pull out stitches or the needle came off the end of the thread or the thread knotted.

Part of the problem was the headache that I woke up with. It wasn't a typical headache, starting just above my ears behind my temples on both sides. It wasn't until after I tried several tried and true remedies without relief that I discovered the problem while rubbing the sore spot and finding my headband in the way. The headband that I'd been wearing to keep my hair out of my eyes while I sewed yesterday and then slept in. The headband was pulling my hair. As soon as I touched it and felt that distinctive sensation of hair being pulled snug, I knew and also could ot understand why it took me so long to figure it out because that is the exact kind of headache that plagued me in elementary school and Jr High years whenever I wore headbands, ponytails or braids.

It wasn't all bad though. I finished putting in those rows of decorative silver stitches on the book cover that I targeted as the next project to finish. I still can't call it finished though as it is not yet a finished and useable product. I discussed with my Mom the best method for attatching the lining. It has to be by hand so as not to damage the needlepoint stitching. She reccommends the blind stitch. But she'll have to teach it to me--again.

I didn't work on the sweat pea sweater project again today. The headache was compromising my vision too much. Sigh. At this rate it'll be closer to Labor Day than Memorial Day before I can go home seeing as how I've promised my sister I'll finish it before I leave.

Other news is real good. On the Mom front: Mom seems to have parked her walker for daytime and is using her cane. She is going to the kitchen to make herself snacks. She asked to go down the outside stairs to the bakc yard to look it over and while there started pointing out to my sister all the things needing doing--pluck off the heads of this and pull out the extra that and tie back such and such and...and...

My sister said, 'Mom, I don't have time to play outside.'

Her interest is such a good sign we would like to encourage it but are still trying to figure out how. She would need a portable seat to sit on as she worked in her beloved flowerbeds as she can't kneel yet nor should she be doing a lot of bending over from the hip.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Paradigm Lost



My sister recorded the season finale of Lost tonight and she and her son will be chomping at the bit to watch it. I'm behind by two episodes so if I want to watch it with them--assuming we can coordinate our so called schedules--I need to catch up. I've never been tied to the weekly air time for Lost since the fall of 2006 when we got broadband and wifi and I discovered video streaming and abc.go.com. My preference has been to let several weeks go by and catch up by watching several back to back. This season I let too many weeks go by and lost my opportunity to watch the season premier and the two or three episodes following that before ABC took them down. I debated whether to wait until they put up the whole season as they have done for the first four but then I'd be out of the loop when my sister and nephew talk about it and they'd even shut up as I entered the room as they have done so I dove in at episode 4 or 5 about six weeks ago . I really don't want to be left out of the loop when my sister and nephew start talking about the finale so I'm off to watch episodes 15 and 16...

The storyline of this series ties my brain into a pretzel. I've been trying to keep the time lines of the various characters and groups straight in my head all this time and it sometimes resembles a multi-screen movie theater playing simultaneous films behind my eyelids. Much like this YouTube vid except that the vid only covers the minutes leading up to and immediately following the crash. The still picture showing on the vid only shows three but there are times there are at least seven playing at once. It's a pretty amazing splice job. Kudos to whoever made it.





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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stitching Toward the Finish Line(s)


My sister and I did solve the issues with the sweat pea sweater project discussed in yesterday's post and I did start stitching on it tonight and I did get pictures but I didn't get them off the camera and my eyes are too fried to fuss with the image/photo application--adjusting, cropping, rotating, resizing--so I'm going to delay describing that one today. But it feels like a huge WIN to have it started since getting it finished is a prerequisite for going home.

So I will talk about the other project I worked on today while waiting for my sister to be available to 'fix' the sweater project. Pictured above is Tri-panel needlepoint bookcover which I started in the winter of 98/99. It was meant for my nieces sixteenth birthday as a Bible cover which would accommodate a notebook and pen. I had finished the yarn work by the summer of 2000 and began putting in the outline stitches with the metallic silver thread. That niece is about to turn 25 and lives with her husband of two years in Montana. I've gotten this out as her birthday or Christmas approaches at least once a year but would get discouraged when I realized I wasn't going to finish it in time for that particular occasion so I might as well relax.

Well I felt so energized by finishing those twelve bookmarks Saturday night, I decided to harness that energy and target another languishing project. This one is one of the closest to the finish line plus my niece's birthday is in July. Also my sister or Mom are available to help me with some of the finishing touches that have me flummoxed--like getting the lining stitched onto the backside and making the pocket and so forth.

When the picture was taken a few days ago, I had eleven and a half horizontal rows of the silver stitches left to put in. Today I put in five and a half of them. A full horizontal row is three times as long as what is visible in the picture as the two end panels are folded under. Each panel is just a tad smaller than a sheet of typing paper. So when it is unfolded it is over twenty inches long and just over ten inches tall. If I remember right the canvas is 12 count and the purple and blue checkerboard are stiched 8x8 to make them 3/4 inch squares.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Sweet Pea Sweater Embroidery Project


This is the project that had most of my focus today. I did crochet another bookmark though after this project ran into a snag which my sister will have to help fix and her agenda was full today. She drew the sweat pea vine on the tissue paper and pinned it to the sweater so that two of the leaves and one of the flowers are covering spots that she accidentally bleached while working out a stain on Mom's sweater nearly two years ago.

The concept of using the tissue paper for a pattern for me to follow seemed good but the normal handling of the project is tearing the tissue paper and causing it to shift position so that the crucial flower and leaves are no longer covering the offending spots.

I suggested to her today that I could probably put in the vines and leaves by eye so it is mainly the flowers I need a guide for and possibly it would work better to have the flowers drawn on small pieces of tissue no bigger than index cards that I could pin in place as I prepared to work that flower. If we go that route she will probably cut the out the flowers from the tissue sheet shown in the picture. Except for the crucial one on the bottom middle which is torn and which she had to use whiteout on and redraw after goofing it the first time. I told her that one was confusing me as there were too many extraneous marks and I can't see the 'trellis' line on the sweater through the white-out. And that is the one covering the biggest bleached spot so it has to be positioned perfectly. All of that coupled with my visual impairment just makes it too iffy.

I've committed to finishing this before I go home so I'm going to be dedicating a lot of attention to it over the next couple of weeks and thus blogging about it. Today I chose the colors from a selection of thread given to me by a friend of my cousin who was at a baby shower my sister and Mom attended Saturday. My sister overheard her talking about these bags of thread given to her that she had just sorted and untangled but didn't really need and mentioned my interest in needlework so the lady dropped them off today. They apparently had belonged to my Mom's best friend who died in November. The same woman who took my wedding photos and whose shoes fit me so well when her daughter brought them by in early January, I kept four pair plus a pair of slippers.

So that's the second time I've scored the remnants from the sewing 'bags' of someone whose passed. Most of the crochet thread I used the last couple weeks was from my husband's Grandma's sewing bag. And my sister-in-law who received one of the bookmarks I made yesterday, asked if I'd be interested in some more remnants which I suspect came from her Grandmother who went into a nursing home awhile back and who was known for always having a crochet or knitting project with her.

Then there is my Mom's sewing and craft stuff--bushels of it that I've been going through and blogged about a few times already. Which is where I found some of the ribbon and most of the beads I used on the bookmarks Saturday.

If I'm not careful, my sister-in-law will have to use their van instead of their Prius to drive me south when the time comes.

Speaking of which...

I have been hoping I would get to go home by the end of this month but I talked to my husband today and the only day he would be able to make the drive to the truck stop half way between Portland and Medford is the Monday of Memorial Day weekend which is only two weeks and though it might be doable getting the sweater embroidered and my stuff all gathered from the umpteen corners of this house and packed and all the last minute errands and visiting all while continuing my daily duties here and daily blogging and.... Umm. I'm sure I'd have to stop work on the family photo scanning project and probaly on sleep and tramp work and showers and reading for fun and... Umm. Maybe doable but not with grace. I'm stressing just imagining it.

So the next available day he has is the Sunday of June 21 because between Memorial Day and mid to late June is when his company ships cherries which are fragile and have a short shelf life so that is always a frantic few weeks--long hours and lots of aggravation. Of course, we don't have to wait for a day he is availbable but then whoever drives me down would have a ten to twelve hour round trip.

So June 21st is my tentative return date--one week short of six full months from the day I arrived.

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