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.

0 tell me a story:

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