Saturday, August 19, 2017

A "Stitch'n'Bitch" Post...

Hello, dear friends,

As always, it has been quite a while since I posted here. That between my daily job, my home business (a.k.a "a second job"), the girls (who are not so child-like any more), and all the "in-between" stuff, the blog seems to fall through the cracks. Sometimes, I sit down to write, but with so many ideas going through my mind - which one do I focus on? Where do I start? Quite often, just thinking about the process makes me realize it's not worth the trouble, and I choose instead to concentrate on stitching.
Stitching, unlike "bitching", yields concrete results, and I see what I have accomplished after each session. Here is something I have been working on the past couple of weeks...
12 Days of Christmas SAL
by Plum Street Samplers

My goose is cooked... My swans are swimming (along with some ugly ducklings)... In fact, the maids are starting to materialize by now - they just need their milking buckets.  It has only got me about two years to get here... I am sure it will be finished soon (she said, rolling her eyes)...

I am stitching this project with the home-dyed threads from Nancy Turner's collection, and it is a real pleasure to work with them... Such soft threads - and rich colors...

The Goose...
The Swans...

There are other projects I am working on as well, but - alas - I cannot post pictures of them yet... 

Now that the stitching update is complete - on to the "bitching" part. I hope to get this out as precisely and quickly as possible, especially because for me, this particular subject - social isolation - is a recurring topic. 

This time, my rant was inspired by the online article in New York Post about some study on single life. "Being single will kill you faster than obesity," it declared bluntly. So, wait, I thought... are they saying that choosing to stay single is, in fact, unhealthy?

First, I took it as yet another thing "they" say we, as individuals, "have been doing wrong", along with eating meat, brushing teeth, washing our face, and raising kids. I take the "expert" suggestions with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of irony, reminding myself that, as long as y methods work for me and my family, the experts can really put their advice where the sun don't shine. 

Then, I thought how ironic it was that, in a society that in all its general behavior promotes social isolation, this piece suggests that getting into a relationship - any relationship, as long as you are not "single" - is deemed healthier for me than staying by myself. In the world where on a daily basis people are isolated from each other - by their cars, cell phones, head phones, laptops - and in fact often view a simple conversation as a challenge - here is a piece that encourages each one of us to make a serious choice and "trust" them that it's "healthy" for us - just because they say so. Forget our individual needs, cultural differences, nuances of upbringing - in a word, anything that makes us unique - and follow the herd, do what we are told to, because "they" know better. Sounds awfully familiar - like something from a history lesson.

I do realize that, in essence, the article was just trying to convey a simple and true message - that 
loneliness and isolation is not good for anyone, and definitely not for long periods of time. But, it seems they are going about it the wrong way. Come to think of it, all the technology that isolates us from each other on a daily basis was created with a purpose to bring us closer together. Cars were made to help us travel faster, internet and cellphones - to communicate more effectively. But, somehow, as a society, we misused them. On Facebook, I get endless requests to like, share, re-post, and copy to "prove" that I care about suicide prevention, curing cancer, and other numerous causes. As if pressing a few buttons is actually going to help cure illness or prevent someone from committing suicide....

This is not Super Mario Brothers video game, it is real life. It requires real action. Care about a friend? Call them, text, message - and make time to see them, and talk, and listen. It will take longer than pressing a button, but in the end it will do a world of good. Feeling lonely? Get yourself out of the car and take a walk. You'd be surprised how many interesting people I've met ever since I had to rely on my own two feet and public transportation for getting around. Make real connections with real people - and you will learn more about others and about yourself, and in the process, hopefully, chip away at that problem of loneliness and isolation in our society.

If you don't have time for real communication and connection, and do not wish to make time, then... don't. But also, don't spread general prefabricated statements of "caring." Stop overloading the internet with junk. And in the long run, prepare to deal with the consequences.

Until next time,

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Trip to the Movies and Other Pleasures

Hello, dear friends,
Today is my day off, and, since my girls are on vacation, it also happens to be the first day in a long time that we can spend together... So, we decided to go to the movies - to see "Wonder Woman." (Well, I decided, and they agreed to come, but that is a small detail...)
What a treat that movie was - with the inspiring story, great cast, and even - visual effects. I am not usually one to fall for technologically enhanced explosions, but 3-D views of the Sacred Island that the "Wonder Woman" Diana is from made me feel like was walking right alongside her. I was afraid that the story was going to focus on the romantic relationship (Amazon princess + American "pauper"), but, again, I was pleasantly surprised, for the "love line, " while present, did not overshadow the message of the story, and a healthy dose of humor prevented it from becoming soppy. Well, the message of the story was about love, but the view of it was definitely more realistic than I am used to seeing in the movies: a mother's love for her daughter is often mingled with fear; the love of Diana and Steve is not so much a "hot and passionate affair," but a connection of two people who are both on a mission, are very different from each other, and try to learn about each other as much as possible in a very short time, while also working on their - not quite common - goals. Diana, a woman from a different world, constantly challenges the notions of "our" society about women, leadership, and power. Finally, in her search for the villain, she discovers that evil does not necessarily look it, or, at least, not at all the way she expected. At some point, it even looked like the "hero" and the "villain" could reach an agreement, for all they had was a difference of opinion, really... (I said afterwards that, being a "sucker" for intelligent argument, I would have probably given in... to which my daughter responded, "Mom, it is a good thing for humankind that you are not a Wonder Woman.") Indeed, it is.

In other news... I treated myself to a gift recently. After a little over a year of hard work, my family is with me again; my daughters and I are reunited. During the time apart, I have learned to enjoy the simple things in life and get along without so-called "necessities," such as a car, a computer, or a DVD player. After things started getting to the point that we, as a family, agreed on as "normal," I gave myself a reward... I thought of it as a combination birthday, Christmas, and Mother's Day present....

A Simpson's House Lego set.

The "Open" view of the model - with all the details inside.

It took me about five days to put it together (not counting the breaks in between - for work, stitching, housework and life), and when the time came to connect the garage to the house (yes, it connects, so that the house can "close" and look like a regular two-story box with a garage attachment), something went wrong - and... the walls collapsed on both the garage and the house side. I cried "Nooo!" and left it to sit alone for a few days, commenting that the house turned out to be "not prepared for the earthquake". Then, after calming down sufficiently, on my following day off I sat down and devoted the morning to rebuilding the disaster. It worked - as it should have. But, to save myself the aggravation, I decided to leave the garage detached - and the model open... It is more fun to look at the details anyway rather than stare at the closed "house" box...

Inside the garage. Loved the miniature tools and broom.
The cabinet door opens.
Lisa and Maggie...

Lisa's room has a vanity and a camera...

On the wall, there are pictures of Grandpa and Maggie..
Bart's room has personality, with the poster and the comic book.

Finally, a few little details...

Ned Flanders doing the BBQ.. 

A mailbox - complete with the letter!
I loved putting it together, along with Lisa's camera, the BBQ pit, and the kitchen cabinets...

How did it end up at Homer's???
Marge with the vacuum cleaner... 
I know that to some people it may seem like I am being childish. So many things to take care of, so many serious problems, issues, worries - and here I am, playing with the... dollhouse. To these people, I would say - I have been taking care of things all my adult life, and at times I feel that I need a break. This is simply a self-care kit of sorts. I loved working on it... and that is all that matters.

Until next time,

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Stitching Post

Hello, dear friends,

It looks like, finally, I can share some of the projects I have stitched in the past couple of years. So, beware - this post is picture heavy.

First of all... "The Old Rugged Cross"  - perfect for Easter holiday! Oh, wait.. the Easter was a month ago. Oh well... I enjoyed stitching it, and here it is.

The Old Rugged Cross

This project felt like a work of art - all the colors, and the skies looked so realistic, I could almost sense that chill in the air right before the storm. The details of the cross make it look three-dimensional, almost real.

I have taken quite a few pictures of this project, front and back, but these two are my favorites.

Next- quite a different topic: vegetables! This one made pictures of the ordinary vegetables into an art form... It was like re-creating Still Life paintings with needle and thread.


While stitching it, I thought it would look good in someone's kitchen - inspiring people to drink carrot juice? The taste of it kept popping up in my mouth all through working on this piece...


With the Eggplant, I loved the colors! Looks like the sun is bathing one side of it... While in real life I find eggplants boring, this one was anything but. Another decoration for someone's kitchen, or perhaps restaurant.

For the final piece - my favorite miniature...

A hedgehog with the mushroom! Don't mind that the mushroom is poisonous - it is a decoration, not food. I could imagine it in a handmade card.

Now, I have been told that all these pieces have been released as kits in Hobby Lobby stores all over the country. Unfortunately, there isn't a store like that anywhere near I live, so I cannot see the "final result." Stitching them was a pleasure, though, so I know those who work on them are going to enjoy the process.

Until next time,

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's the Little Things in Life...

Hello, dear friends,

Overcome with a fresh bout of graphomania (typomania, in my case), I decided to write a blog post. Over the past few weeks, a lot of things happened - but, small things, details that made, like puzzle pieces, the whole picture more interesting.
First of all, I re-joined the gym - which means not only paid my dues, but actually went for a workout twice. Working out and swimming in the pool afterwards was a pleasant experience - save for the humbling realization that our group trainer, while pregnant, still could bench press more weight than any of us. I resigned not to feel inadequate about it, but focus instead on the fact that my personal best has improved since last time I was there. (Last time, I walked out of the session after fifteen minutes, fighting back tears).
Mother's Day this year was a pleasant experience - perhaps, partly because I was not sitting around waiting for presents or recognition; instead, I did what I felt I had to do to make the day more enjoyable for myself. Spending some time with my daughters between work (I did have to work on Mother's Day) was a nice bonus... Then, upon coming to work, I found a catered lunch that was served in the break room for all the working mothers - with live roses for each one of us to take home. "Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, " as a good friend of mine says in such situations.
Thank you for reading my ramblings...

Until next time,

Monday, May 1, 2017

Life and Stitching News

Hello, dear friends,

It has been over four months since my last post. Has it really been that long? Time keeps flying by, one week after another, and some days I feel I can barely keep up. What, is it March already? No, wait, it's April... No, wait... make it May!

 A lot has happened in this time. My daughters and I are together again, living under the same roof. (The song "Reunited" keeps popping up in my head every time I think of that). The past three months without them have been a glimpse of what life would be "on my own," when they have grown up and started living their own lives. It was a bit empty, a bit scary at first, but in a way also educational and - liberating. Scary - because suddenly I had no one to cook dinner for, nobody to take care of. I felt like a woman out of a job, like I have lost my main purpose. Then, after the initial shock, I thought of the best way to use the free time - and that is when the liberating part came in. I had one of a kind chance to remember who I was before taking on all the roles - before marriages, motherhood, working, earning a living. I got back to basics - reading, listening, writing, and stitching (of course). I learned to like my own company once again - something I had in the beginning, but lost in the process and had to reclaim. In the end, I learned that living on my own is not quite as scary as I imagined; it's different and new, but it also has its advantages. While I am not in a hurry to start living alone, I know now that, when the time comes, I will be all right.

During the time alone, I have done a lot of stitching, but, alas, there are only two projects I can show.
The first one is called "Aquarius" - remember, I started it over a year ago for my daughter? I was able to give it to her for her birthday this year...

The second project I finally finished was the Christmas stocking. This one took some time and effort, and eventually these snowmen started haunting my dreams, giving me nightmares. Perhaps, they wanted to be finished. Or, perhaps, I was feeling guilty for taking such a long time... In any case, I am glad to have completed it finally, and I am pleased with the result.

"Three Snowmen"

In the end, I enjoyed stitching this project a lot. The different thickness of the thread made the snow hills look fuller, and the backstitch outlined the trees and brought the details into sharper focus. I loved finishing it.

There is a lot going on in my life still - as always, it seems - but it is my hope that from now on I will be able to post more regularly. See, now I have a laptop, which means - no more going to the library,  I can once again write in here right from home.

Thank you for reading my ramblings.

Until next time,

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Wishes

Hello, dear friends,

For almost a month now, I have been living at my new place. I like it here: it's clean, simple, and quiet. I have access to all the necessities - such as hot shower, kitchen, and laundry facilities - and there is also internet access, but without a computer, it is not much use to me. I look at it as a hidden blessing: no internet - no distractions... It only took me a week and a half to finish a stitching commission once those distractions were eliminated - and that 's saying something in favor of just working and concentrating on the task at hand.

Work is steady, busy - but not overwhelming, and I am grateful for that. I like working, the feeling of being useful, productive, necessary to the process. I like my time off too, though, it gives me a chance to be productive on my own terms, in my own life: moving along with stitching projects, goals, things to be done...

Some time ago, an acquaintance asked me, "So how does it feel to start over at the age of 38?" I thought, "Start over? I am not starting over, I am moving on." Indeed, starting over would have to mean time rolling back, children back in diapers - in need of a sitter on a daily basis, - and me - yes, younger, but also without all the acquired experience of the past 14 years. It is because of life experience that I do not consider these years wasted, and I would not give it up for the place in a younger age bracket.

Today is my day off from work, and I decided to go to the library and write. Except - I forgot to bring my "Stick" drive, so there is no way to save what I would have written - on anything...  Darn you, memory. That's what I get for wanting to try out a new accessory: something crucial is always left behind, in the "old reliable" handbag.

On Friday, my daughter and I went to see "Collateral Beauty." Vera wanted to see it because "Will Smith is awesome" and because of the story. Originally, I voted for "Beasts and Where to Find Them" - to get my "Harry Potter junkie" fix - but "Beauty" in the end was a better choice. In life, when we face the Three Abstractions, we are often too absorbed in the problem to notice when these very Abstractions materialize in front of us and lend a helping hand. When we do notice - and take their advice - life improves... hopefully. In any case, we learn, and, as de Laclos wrote, "education is never a loss."

Christmas is almost here. This year, I am getting my loved ones what they need - and reward myself with the gift of their company. I am looking forward to making the memories, for experiences and memories are the only real things that we possess. In the end, these are the things that make our life richer - and we can take them with us wherever we go. So, this Christmas - and New Year's - I will meet with the people I love. May we come together in the New Year - and may our bond grow stronger with Love and Time, and never be broken - not even in Death.

Until next time,

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Step in the Right Direction

Hello, dear friends,

After all the talking, thinking, crying, doubting, and procrastinating I filed for divorce. I almost automatically want to type in the word "finally" in that sentence, but no, not finally. A step like that requires more than a few weeks consideration, especially when it has been a long relationship (in our case - 13 years).  I took my time (almost eight months), but when I was ready, I did it.

Why did I do it? Was it necessary? Could this break have been avoided, repaired, resolved? These are the questions I kept asking myself during these past eight months, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that - yes, it was necessary and no, it could not ever be repaired. Too many things happened. Too much trust has been lost.

How did it happen? Two people don't fall in love and get together with a thought, " I think I will make this person's life miserable for the rest of our lives." We have good intentions, good wishes, "nothing but the best" in mind for our partners - and ourselves. Yet, it did not work out that way.

 My husband and I have gone through a lot - enough to have split up any other couple a lot sooner, I believe. Seven years ago, I was attacked by his then adolescent son and had to have surgery on my hands. After physical therapy, psychotherapy, relaxation, meditation and god knows what else - I still have PTSD, - it stays with you, apparently, and gets triggered by stressful situations. Sort of an emotional luggage that you lug around with you forever.

Last year, I was overweight, stressed, anxious, and jobless. It seemed that, no matter what I tried, I could not get a job. Not even part-time. I had no income of my own. I was completely dependent on my husband - financially (he had a job), physically (he had the car and drove it, and I don't), and, it seemed, emotionally. When he was upset, my girls and I were afraid to talk or laugh; when a problem needed to be discussed or resolved, I could not address it without my fearing his reaction: a nervous breakdown, a crying fit, a fainting spell. Family and friends suggested I was patient and understanding, for he had a lot on his plate, he had to deal with so much... I tried to be patient. I excused and explained away many a tantrum: health issues, depression, hard day, stress at work, stress at home... the list went on and on and on. Then, one day my daughter told me, "Mom, when I find the right person to be with, I'm never getting married." -"Why?" I was surprised. The answer that followed, however, positively stunned me. "Well, look at the way you are being treated. I'm never putting up with that!"

I looked at myself... Thirteen years. I was fat. I couldn't get a job. I got stressed out with too many people around. Or no people around. I couldn't breathe in confined spaces - and couldn't walk without falling in open spaces. Every time I tried to raise objections about anything, they got filed away and dismissed without even being heard, - or was it just my perception? I could not stop apologizing for things, - yet, I was not even sure what it was I was apologizing for... To complete the picture, I could not have a decent conversation with my daughters about anything - there seemed to be a barrier between us...   I was pathetic.

All these things were true - but they weren't necessarily my husband's fault. I did it to myself, and I had to find a way to get better, to find purpose, to... oh god I did not even know what. All I knew was that- I was unhappy and feeling worthless. I fully accepted that it was my own personal problem, and no one else's, but I did not know what to do. I could not find the source of this misery, this draining feeling that sucked all the life and purpose out of me.

Now, eight - almost nine - months after the separation - I am.. I am. I am! (Drum roll). I don't fully know what "I am" means yet, but I am coming back - slowly, but surely. First, I started to taste food. About a month on my own, I sat down to breakfast  (fried eggs, bacon and tea with toast) - and realized it was delicious. That was the first sign that I was going in the right direction. Then - I got a job... lost a job (to a panic attack and over work)... found another job and kept it. In addition, I lost almost forty pounds since last year.

It does not mean, of course, that life has not been difficult. I don't have the financial security I used to have; I have to work - not just when I "feel like it," but when I am scheduled, and sometimes even when I am not; I have to be very careful with money I earn, and still I may end up without a roof over my head within the next month or two. Am I scared? Of course. I am scared, worried, stressed.. but this time, I can do something about it. I am not helpless. Things may get worse before they get better, but they will, eventually, get better - just as long as I don't give up and do the right thing, for myself and for my daughters.

Friends that see me tell me that I look better than ever... Acquaintances I meet mention how I have "changed" and became more "lively." My daughters and I can talk - and finish a conversation, and (alas!) agree on most things without anyone throwing a tantrum.. At the same time, I have had to say "no" more times than I said "yes" to them. Yet, they listen - and understand. I have a feeling that they are learning something from me right now... Perseverance, perhaps. Ability to stay strong in the face of hard times. I can feel that they truly respect me, and that I am earning it with my actions - every day.

I want to finish this rambling post with the words of my favorite movie character Baron Munchausen: "Long live Divorce, for it takes away lies I hate so much!" All right, perhaps its' a bit vague and nutty if you have not seen the whole movie, but those who have would understand me right now...

Thank you for reading this until the end.

Until next time,