Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cackle, Cackle, Mother Goose...

Some time ago I purchased in the thrift store a soft toy - Mother Goose. When looking at her, I thought of my unfinished project - Mother Goose squares that were stitched some six years ago, intended to be but never turned into pillows. I brought her home and put her away until later - that is, until I could finish my pillows...
For Christmas, my loving and caring husband got me a sewing machine - a dream come true! Right after I figured out the basics, my first project was Mother Goose pillows. Stitching was surprisingly problem-free, and soon I, with the help of my Executive Pillow Stuffing Supervisor (daughter Rita), had a set of four pillows.
I washed Mother Goose and - oh, no! Her beak ripped and fell off... Rita looked at me and asked, "Doctor, will she make it? " That is how I made my first soft toy repair - I made a new beak for Mother Goose. Consdering that I had no idea what I was doing, I think it was not so bad. Except, maybe, the choice of material - but I did not have any yellow, and it matched the backing of the pillows.
Here is the pic of the final outcome of this experiment....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! My holiday mood is running late this year, so instead of words let the pictures tell the story....
The Advent calendar - stitched some time ago and  - finally - framed in felt with the help of my daughter Rita.

A Star - Christmas decoration, one of several, on our tree. When on his first Christmas my son, then nine months old, dropped and broke his first glass ornament, I realized that glass decorations were not in our future for a while. Without unbreakable ornaments, the only other option was - hand-made decorations. The first year, my tree was decorated with pompoms made out of wool. Over time, I collected more hand-made items.  By the way, for anyone who asks about a strangely bent corner  - this star is not ripped or damaged, it's "vintage"... That's right, vintage.

Another decoration - Santa Claus begging for work... Funny and, given the current job situation, quite contemporary.

Vera made this doll from construction paper.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Coffee, No Company...

Over the past three weeks, I have been working near the town center. In the afternoon, during my lunch hour, I usually go to Rite Aid, pick up something to eat, and then go over to the coffee shop for a cup of hot cider or tea. My schedule is always the same, day in and day out, and I find particular comfort in its predictability.
However, today was different. After making my usual stop at the Rite Aid, I went over to the coffee shop. No sooner did I find a seat, the barrista asked me if I wanted anything. I said not just yet, and opened my snack. No more than a minute later another gentleman came up from behind the coffee counter and asked me if I wanted anything. When I once again said "not now, thanks," he announced to me that what they had here was a place of business, and if I did not plan to buy anything, I should not be sitting there.
Ironically, the name of the coffee shop is "Coffee and Company." It seems that, if you don't pay for their coffee, they don't want your company...
Later in the day, after work, I witnessed the same attitude from a coffee stand owner at the library, this time towards somebody else. A young boy was standing by the counter looking at drinks and sandwiches. The owner asked him if he wanted to buy anything. When he said no, she told him not to stand there.
While I understand that we all have to make a living, I can't stop thinking that the attitude of all these sales people is just plain rude! Nothing, not even financial stress and poor economy, can excuse this rude behavior. Besides, it is during the harder times when one's true colors show. It turns out that behind these barristas' friendly smiles, behind all the comfy and cozy decor there is nothing but commercial interest.
Merry Christmas!  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Anti-Blogging blog post

It has been a while since I have visited my English blog - it seems like no one reads it anyway, or, at least, iti has been a while since I have read any new comments. So, I turned to other things, among them - blogging in my Native language. Still, once in a while I come by and do an update or two, rearrange some sections and add some pictures -you know, the regular maintenance that is due.
Several.... weeks(?) ago I noticed that my Slideshow from Picasa needed some attention. Some pictures did not show ( arrived as black boxes), others were duplicated. I went to Picasa and first of all did some cleaning and organizing. I selected the pictures I wanted, deleted others, added some new ones. Then, I deleted the existing slideshow album and added the New and Improved one. Saved the changes, did the preview - and... surprise!?!?
Perhaps the excess of emotion is not justified, but... My slideshow was fine, clicking away just the way I wanted. All my other pictures from the ENTIRE blog were gone - they appeared as blank boxes with a terrifying red X in the left corner. I frantically clicked "undo", but it was too late... my pictures are gone.
When I went to the Help screen, it described the problem for me and suggested it is because of changed "privacy" settings in Picasa - yes, I made the new album and made it public - but offered no resolution... I sighed, re-aploaded the two pictures for the latest entry, and then it occured to me that I could not possibly go through two years of blogging and reload all the pictures. I have a choice in the matter - I can either go forward and keep "plugging away" without restoring the past, or - I may just "close doors" of this one. I have not decided yet. I want my readers' input. So,what do you think? Post a comment with your suggestion under this blog entry. I will decide for myself, of course, but your opinion will play a part in my decision.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rancho Vino Event

Last Saturday, Joe and I were at Rancho Vino, at the event that benefited The Children's Miracle Network. I gave my Celtic Lady Summer for the silent auction, and we were invited to attend.
As we were getting ready, I was telling myself how good it was to give to the community, how rewarding it feels to be making a difference, how it takes just one act....but these were just words. It did not feel personal to me, it did not feel like I was making a difference at all. Indeed, "it" felt more like I just purchased the tickets for the evening of entertainment, only instead of cash I gave my Lady. It did not feel personal - until I met Melinda.
Just by accident it happened so that we were sitting at the same table as the Guest Speaker and her family.
Three years ago Melinda was diagnosed with cancer of the blood. She was thirteen. In the following two years, she has gone through treatment that included regular chemotherapy and blood transfusions. Melinda described her journey to recovery in her book "Grace: A Child's Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery."
Now, Melinda is free of the disease. She became a spokesperson for the Children's Miracle Network... She goes to the events and speaks of her experience; Melinda's mother mentioned she was booked till February. Her grandfather said that in two years of treatment his granddaughter matured about 15 years. "These things make you grow up faster," he said...
As I was trying to look at this girl outside of the "cause," I saw - a child. I child who was eager to live, to have fun, to talk, to dance, to fall in love... To partake of all the good things that life has to offer her.  May it be so...
This was the moment when it became personal, and I no longer felt like I "paid my way in" for some food and entertainment. Because if another child like Melinda can make it through, then it is an honor to be of any help.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quilt Sampler and Thrift Store Treasures

Last week, I finished my Quilt Sampler. Hearts reminded me of cookies, and I constantly wanted to snack. Then, I had to find a good frame for it. Where is the best place to find a good, affordable frame? Thrift Store!
I went in there for the frame, and left with four bags of things. What treasures I found! Old cross stitch magazines. Embroidery patterns. Dolls. Stuffed toys. And - the biggest surprise - a completed and framed cross stitch! Here it is... My main treasure.
Who would throw away such a beautiful piece? I can't imagine. Well, lucky me. Now it is hanging on the wall of my new "office space".
What else? Ah, dolls. One is a collectible - came with a stand, a certificate and in a closed box. Another one I liked because of a crocheted dress and hat - she feels comforting.

Then, there were a few soft toys - two bags, exactly... Most of them went to the girls, but I picked three - a team - for my office. Here they are.
And finally (drumroll!) - the main reason for the trip, the Quilt Sampler. Here it is, finished and framed.

The frame fit perfectly, and the shabby look did match it very well. I am happy with it.
Now - off to the new projects! Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Celtic Nameplate, a Quilting Sampler, and a Tree

It's time I showed some pictures of the WIP projects I have been working on over the past month. Since the Celtic Lady finish, there have not been any new pictures... Shame on me.
Yet, I have been working on new things. Most of them are still in progress (of course!), but one, surprisingly enough, has been finished. Here it is...

This is something I made for my daughter. For now, she is using it as a bookmark; it can also go in a frame or, perhaps, as a sew-on tag on the blanket. I liked stitching the letters - simple, yet intricate.

Another project I have been working on over the past month is the Quilting Sampler. Here it is - still unfinished, but pretty close to completion:

There is still some outlining and writing to be done, as well as a couple of stitches here and there, but - the majority of work is completed. One thing I am happy about completing here is the border - boy, my eyes almost crossed from stitching all these yellow-and-blue triangles. It's nice to go back to stitching and outlining the dolls in the center. And the small hearts above remind me of cookies.
In the space above the big heart in the center it will say, "From the Heart." Once it is finished and framed, I will donate it to the Charity Auction at my niece's church. I hope to get it done by the next weekend.

Finally, one day I sat down and wanted to do something different - and came up with this:

Suddenly I just wanted to stitch leaves, don't know what came over me. I did not even draw a specific design, except a brief outline of the tree on the canvas tote bag. Hopefully, I will complete this idea after the Sampler is done and framed.
Next week, I'll be working (hooray!), and the kids are starting school, but still hope to get some stitching done in the evenings.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's August....

Wow, time really flies. It's August, soon the new school year will start (again!) and the children will come back from their vacation... It'll be noisy and happy(?). Or - stressful? Probably all of the above. Hoping for some nice mix there.
I'm stitching, stitching, stitching and have nothing to show for it. For some reason I do not feel like showing my WIP of the sampler, I really want to get the whole thing finished before I post the picture. Is it professionalism speaking? or something else?
There is one thing I am struggling with still  - inspiration. I do not know what I want to do with  myself. For a while, I have been thinking that it's teaching that inspires me, so I've gone to college and got my degree in Child Development. I started working for Headstart. But now, after everything that's happened, I do not feel that inspiration any more. Or, maybe, I have never had that inspiration, and the events just brought it to light.
The question remains: what do I do with myself? Stitching gives me comfort... Reading inspires my thinking.... Talking and writing relieves the pressure of thoughts. Should I be a stitcher? A reader? A writer? A therapist? Strictly speaking, I am already the first three. I don't get paid for it, but then again, not many people do. To become a therapist, I would have to go back to school.
I see inspiration in the works of other stitchers - and I want to be just like them, feel like their pictures and blogs feel - kind, cheerful, happy! But I am not like them. There is something missing in me... or something added? - that does not allow me to feel that happiness.
What do I want? Honestly, I want peace and comfort. I want to stop worrying about all the mundane everyday problems. This is something that is up to me. No amount of education can solve that...
And that is my DAILY DRAMA post!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stitching Thoughts

Over the past week, I have been stitching a Heart sampler. It has a big "quilted" heart in the middle, made out of different color stripes, like puzzle pieces. The whole sampler - the whole stitching process - reminds me lately of a puzzle: the picture consists of so many different pieces, shapes, colors, stitch variations. Will I be able to see the whole picture? That's what life is like for me too.
Eventually, though, I will see the completed sampler. It will be finished. Will I see the life's complete picture - that's another story.
On a non-philosophical, practical end of things - I have found a temporary job. Nothing big, just a couple of days, but exactly what I need after a long "break" from working. Wish me luck...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Results of Theraputic Stitching

  (Note: some links on this post have been lost after Blogger update).

Last night, very late, I finished my Celtic Lady. While working on her, I learned to do beading - her pattern calls for so many beads her dress reminded me of a pin cushion for a while... I've enjoyed watching the design come through on the fabric and the colors blend together... Working out little mistakes (and big miscounts)...Stitching her was like going away into another world, a place where everything is by the rules and everything makes sense. And things come out beautiful.

Anyway,back to the real world. The good news about finishing this project is - that I could do it, which also means - I can concentrate again. Hooray, my mind no longer feels like soupy mush, there is substance there somewhere again...

Now that she is finished, I'll just have to frame her... And think about what to stitch next.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dropped a class

As of today, I am no longer in English 103 - Critical Thinking. No critical thinking for me. :(
Even though at first it seemed like a bad decision, going through the experiences of the class and observing critically (critical thinking in action - hooray!) convinced me that dropping was the best thing to do. Why? Several reasons...
First of all, everyone in my class is under twenty. Everyone is bright eyed and bushy tailed and can't wait to get filled with "knowledge" up to the brim. Can't say I blame them ( I used to be like that once), but - it's just not my scene.
Second thing - the topics. The topics cater to the audience: pornography, advertisements, political conspiracies... I really do not give a shit about that. For me, pornography is just there; advertisements are annoying and certainly not worth analyzing, and political conspiracies are unprovable (if there is such a word). I realize these may be just starting points of discussions, and the whole class is "designed" to teach us the skills we need... But, I can't help thinking that I have already learned these skills, that I am wasting my time.
Finally - time... The schedule is packed: five papers in six weeks. There is no way I can write a decent paper and be able to live my real life - which is also packed with events now, due to everything that happened over the past six months.
I wanted to talk to the teacher before making my decision. She was very understanding and encouraged me to try, assured me that she was there for me, her student, in every capacity. I appreciate that. In fact, her words almost made me stop and reconsider.
In the end, though, I had to face the truth: no WAY I would be able to meet all the requirements right now... Bottom line - right now I want to write what I want, when I want, and as much or as little as I want. Topics, standards, rules - these just make things more complicated. Not to mention MLA format and Bibliography - just another thing to worry about.
There was one thing that tied it for me. A girl in class tried to convince me to stay, to appeal to my "responsible self." She asked me, "What could be more important than this?" I answered something to the effect that I have to raise my family and deal with life. Then she says, "Life??? Do you know how many parties I had to miss because of the homework I chose to do?"
This just highlighted it for me... She is right in her own way, I am right in mine. We just just have different perspectives.
Better luck next time! Maybe I should stick to the evening classes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Critical Thinking Class

Last week I started a class at Hancock College - English 103, Critical Thinking. Pretty intense - in terms of schedule, assignments, and pace. Critical thinking wise - not sure yet. First topic for the paper - pornography: should it be censored? Two opinions on the topic: yes/no. "Yes" states that pornography is dirty and disgusting and portrays women unfavorably (only women? what about gay porn? in my mind, "Brokeback Mountain" was waay close to gay porn - and it was in the movie theaters and aired on TV and is now on DVD).... For all these reasons, it should be censored or at least put out of sight. "No" - pornography is protected by the Freedom of Speech Amendment and therefore should not be censored. There. The end.
I appreciate the passion the two authors have for the subject, I just do not share it. My life does not revolve around pornography, I do not see it on a regular basis, and to me it is neither "offensive" nor "diminishing." In my world, these two terms are reserved for commercials. It drives me off the wall when some desperate organization/company/person gets in my line of vision - either on TV, Internet or in person - and tries to convince me that I need something that I do not, sell me something I wish to spend no money on, and generally wastes my time. "Cheerful" commercials about childhood, "comfortable" ones about feminine hygiene, "tragic" - about children abroad that apparently will die of starvation, thirst or lack of education if I do not get involved. Annoying phrase at a local VONS proclaims "Support Breast Cancer" (in a hurry they forgot to add the word "research", so it actually sounds like I am asked to support the disease). All this virtual poking, prodding and bugging makes me feel like a piece of meat on the market. Often I look at my TV and ask myself, " How dare they? Do they really think I am SO gullible that I would consider donating to the cause of sending video games to Third World countries? Or spend money on hygiene napkins for girls in Africa?" This attitude of the companies towards me, the viewer, as if I were a mindless vessel to be filled with junk, bothered me. But what to do? The answer came quickly: get rid of cable.
So, we have been cable-free for over a year now. No video persuasions, and no bill to pay for it every month. I like that. But if someone brings over a porn movie - I might watch it. As long as no one tries to persuade me that I need to buy something.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reading and Beading

Yesterday I finished reading " A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. I do not know how to say what I need to say completely yet, the thoughts have not formed into words, I guess; but one thing is certain - this book has given me an experience like no other. For the first time I have come across a story unravelling during my lifetime - one of the characters was born the same year I was... Mention of the more recent events - the war in Afganistan offering a different perspective... I remember reading Russian newspapers and listening to the news during the war in Afganistan - as a Russian; then, I remember George W. Bush's speech on TV and on the radio during the 9/11 attack - from the point of view of an American, I guess... Now I have had a chance to read about it coming from the Afgani, and it brought a new understanding to the situation... or, rather, reaffirmed the old understanding: wars get started by politicians, factions and governments, while regular people on all sides involved get scared, killed and left to figure out the "basic math" of survival... But that is just one thought of it; this book has left me thinking about many things - on many levels. For the first time I was reading of timeless values using something current. Read it when you have time - it is worth it. It was recommended on one of the Russian blogs I follow - and I am grateful.
Another thing is... ah, beading. I continue working on my Lady Summer, and the stitching is almost complete, so now it's time for beading. I never thought that beading could be relaxing, but it is. Needlework and beadwork helps me concentrate and gives me a chance to reflect on what I have read... So the two - reading and beading - go one after another. The added plus is - it's turning out pretty.
All right, enough rambling. Back to - beading...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Design of My Own

Last night I made my first original cross stitch design. I used my daughter's drawing as an inspiration, and came up with a cross-stitched birthday card for her teacher. Here is the result. It's far from glamorous, but - it's a start. My daughter liked it.

And what do you think, my friends and fellow stitchers?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Celtic Lady Update

I have been working on my Celtic Summer lady, and it actually looks like I may be able to complete it some time soon. I have to restrain myself from putting in more beads ("Stitching first," I keep saying). I think she is turning out rather well.

Besides her, I have sooo many projects swirming around in my head... I want to stitch celtic designs. I want to stitch fantasy zodiac signs... I want to stitch Victorian houses... But - all in good time. Maybe I should stitch myself a phrase "One thing at a time"...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hardanger Lessons - Cutting Fiasco

So I decided to learn how to do hardanger, bought a complete kit at Thumbelina store in Solvang, and dared myself to attempt the project. I have never tried it before - I was terrified of the part where you cut away the threads. The stitching did not scare me.

I was right. The stitching went well, everything looked very neat, until it was time to cut away... I must have cut away the wrong threads, or did not cut away the right ones... Above presented is the mess that came out of my project. I am frustrated... I need someone to teach me!!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stitching News

I keep working on my Celtic lady Summer and on the Clippership cross stitch for a friend... Been doing "rotations" of work - that really helps.
Last week I had my final session of physical therapy, and I decided to bring my works to show to the ladies at the office... They told me to bring some business cards! Some people they know really need their projects finished, and - who knows - I may be able to start doing what I like full time... Well, let's calm down and not get too excited. For now, my excellent supportive husband came up with the design of the business card, and we'll take them to the copy shop to get made... Wish me luck!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Old Friends? New Friends? Online Friends?

It seems the online pages I joined a while ago are coming back to life. First, an old friend from my teenage years found me online - wanted to reconnect. Then, through that friend I reconnected with another friend and saw some breathtaking pictures of France and Switzerland, and talked for several days back and forth. Go figure - you meet a guy at an old rugged train station in the middle of nowhere - and fifteen years later find him living in France. Finally, it seems like the Celtic Online Stitching page is coming back to life again... Communications are reviving... Is it, perhaps, the influence of spring in the air?
We will see.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Looking for inspiration

The other day at Starbucks I saw some people I knew. We had a conversation, and it somehow went into the direction of " in the old times things were better, but now they are worse." Specifically, that now children seem to have to do more to attract attention of their peers, "more" being - more dangerous, more outrageous, even criminal. That, compared to us, today's youth is borderline insane.... But, then, again, we are old people - and the new generation is always more... everything compared to the old one, right?
During the whole conversation - or the line of monologues with comments, if you will - I could not help feeling the uselessness of the whole thing. What are we talking about? Why are we talking about it? What are we going to do about all this - and when, if ever? I already knew the answers to all these questions - nothing, no point, and never. It made me feel like I was just wasting my time...
Then, one gentleman (in answering my question) stated that, when developing a relationship, or dating, he would prefer to "get over the sexual tension" by having sex right away, and then "continue on from there." Have sex first - ask questions later, is that it? What's the rush?
He reminded me of one character from the Russian movie "Ordinal Wonder" - The Minister Administrator. In this fairy tale, the Minister approaches the Magician's wife with the words, " I have no time for courting. You are attractive; I am devilishly attractive, - why waste time? I will see you at midnight near the barn." Of course, she very appropriately answers, " Not a chance. Also, I will complain to my husband, and will turn you into a rat." I wonder if that gentleman has been getting similar answers.
In any case: whatever we talk about - I start wondering about the purpose of talking about it. "Don't talk; do." One of my teachers used to say that a lot. But what to do? I need inspiration; something to take over me and give meaning to my life.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ants and Floods

My "household management" alone is over - Joe is coming home from Florida tonight. What happened?
First, there were ants. The rain attracted them to the inside of the house - they were all over the bathroom. Ants means Pest Control Company. I called Clark (yes, that one) and the tech was there in ten minutes, literally. And, because we already have a contract with them, the service was at no charge. I was impressed, - Western took several days to send someone (service our rental company uses)...
Anyway, the ants died. I swept up the bodies and threw them in the trash can. There were piles of them... But this problem is under control.
Next, there was Internet. It disconnected and did not want to reconnect. It took me two tries to get it back on track. I know I sound like some sort of a spoiled princess - but... our Internet tends to disconnect right at the time when we need it most, like when it's time to pay bills online.
That was done and figured out, too. So, this morning I woke up, happy and reasonably relaxed... and found a clogged sink - in the kitchen. I tried the garbage disposal, the plunger - no luck. That water was still standing in there...
Full of confidence and slight desperation, I decided to drain the water from under the sink. The pipes are plastic - how hard can that be? Just put a pot underneath the sink - to catch the water, unscrew the pipe -pretty self explanatory.... Then just screw everything back on... At least the water will be out, and then - who knows - maybe the clog will be out with the water?
First mistake: the amount of water that came out was more than I expected. It did not fit in the pot. Instead, it sprayed all over the cabinet, the rug, the floor and - me! I was sitting in a stinky puddle, looking at the results, ready to scream... And I did scream. Some of the things I said may be considered "the untranslatable game of words with the use of local idiomatic expressions". Then, I put everything back together, cleaned up the mess and called the rental company. They sent the plumber - and he fixed everything. Or almost everything. I don't know, I am suspicious. Time will tell. For now, everything works.
And that is all.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

To Be Continued...

Just came back from yet another court appearance... Once again, there is a continuance. The prosecution was not ready - their report was not submitted, the doctor did not show up, no one knows anything. Total embarrassment. No, wait - it would be for "regular Joe," but not for the government. The prosecution - the DA's office- has a way to appear as if nothing is their fault. The report is not ready - not their fault. The doctor was not contacted - not their fault. They do not know what is going on - not their fault....
I noticed the same attitude lately among our glorious educators: whenever something happens at school, in the classrooms or out on the playground - bullying, fighting, injuries - it's not their fault! They have so many excuses: there is not enough funding, the class sizes are too big, they have so many children to look after, they can't "waste their time" on an individual.... Plenty of those teachers are frustrated and angry, some feel that they cannot do their job effectively... On the other side, there are parents - they are frustrated too, and they cannot do their job - parenting - effectively either, but they do not have as many excuses. How do you say - I have too many children, I just cannot handle them all? Hahaha.... (hysterical laughter)....
Yet, the teachers and the parents in their inefficiency have one common problem - the system that no longer works. The system sets up rules and procedures for teachers, tells them how to be effective teachers and what rules they absolutely have to follow. Then, when those rules do not work and the teacher starts searching for answers - the system representatives say - but it's your classroom, you cannot follow these rules blindly....
The same happens with the parents. The system tells the parents how to effectively teach a child, talk to a child, raise a child. The system tells the parents that they can't use "derogatory names" when talking to a child; they cannot strike or even spank a child; they cannot yell at a child... Yelling, spanking and striking is bad; if the parents are bad, the system will seek Children's Services after them - bad parents! No cookies! In the spirit of "promoted cultural diversity" no one is allowed to speak up an honest opinion about someone else, but "culturally diverse" - another words - different - kind of parenting gets investigated.... "Misunderstandings" have to be cleared up.... If you question a doctor of your child about the side effects of the medication - there is a "concern" that you are not looking out for the best interest of the child. (I know it makes no sense, but that is exactly how I was treated at MISC every time I was questioning a doctor - they never said anything out right, of course, just the implications, " You have to act in the best interest, " "Put his needs above yours," etc... Then the side effects backfire - and the MISC with the doctor take a different position: "We are just recommending the medication; it is up to you to sign the form and officially agree to it." Iron Clad alibi for the system! If it works - we made you do it! If it does not - it's your decision, parent!
Did anyone notice that the parent can be "reported" to the CPS by the system - school, teachers, any "mandated reporter" - just on suspicion of wrongdoing - but nothing can be done if the child is being abused or mistreated at school? Another words - the system can report you, but you cannot report the system... Hypocrites!
So - the educational system is ineffective, the parenting is getting smothered with advice and guidance; the legal system is slow and ineffective... Finally, I had a chance to observe - from a distance, of course - how "the system" treats our children that happen to get in it. My stepson has been in custody of Juvenile court; his tooth was hurting, and the PO promised that he was going to be taken to the dentist. Three months later it has not been done; my stepson's gum and jaw got swollen; there was an infection. I called the PO - she was on vacation.... It took me about a week to get a hold of someone who could do what needed to be done, and it took us getting a hold of the Juvenile Court director (I think that is his title) to get this issue resolved. Now I want to ask you: if my stepson was in his parents' care and came to school unable to talk, complaining of toothache - what do you think would happen? I tell you - we'd have CPS at our door the same day, accusing us of negligence, child neglect and endangerment, and we would have to rush him to the hospital - that is, if they did not try to remove him from "unhealthy and dangerous environment" - his family. But when the system is taking care of things - it can take months, and the most frustrating part is - unlike with family, with parents, no one is directly responsible for anything. The parents cannot report the system - or its representatives - to CPS or law enforcement for neglecting their child's medical needs. Ah, the comfort of double standard...
I am starting to think that something needs to be changed. The double standard does not help - not the people, not the parents, not the teachers. Definitely not children. I think this system has a flaw in it, and it needs to be changed. But how? Any ideas?
Waiting for your response...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Updates - stitching, life, drama, etc.

It has been a couple of weeks since I have posted anything - busy with things to do, schedules to keep, housework (yes, that too)... Ah what the hell - there was nothing to write about, that's all. Scrubbing the kitchen counters may be something necessary to do, but it's hardly worth mentioning on the blog for the whole world to see. As for the thoughts in my head - they are too quick and flighty to capture on paper - or virtual space.
There is one update worth noting, though: I decided to go back to school. I changed my major to Business/Accounting - no more teaching for me, ladies and gentlemen. I just do not think this field is all it is described to be... By the time your students realize they had a good teacher, they are generally raising their own kids, and you are ready to retire. In the meantime, you put in hours at work and more hours at home planning lessons, living on coffee and self-inspiration... Oh, worse yet, one of your students goes out and does something horrible... And, although the responsibility is not yours, it still feels like there is something you could have done... And that is just too much.
The world of numbers, accounts and ledgers is more quiet, more definitive, and has clearer expectations. It does not invite you to change the world, but then again I am not up to that task anyway. It only asks you to balance the accounts.... Fairly clear.
If I start this summer, I will be done and ready to transfer to Cal Poly in two semesters. All that General Ed I took while working on Child Development degree is paying off. So nothing's wasted.

The Stitch-Along I am participating in has died out, so it seems - no one is posting their updates. I guess everyone is busy doing things. That's understandable, although it would be nice to hear from someone once in a while.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Last week we went to see the new "Alice in Wonderland" movie. It was more impressive than I expected, - good actors, great voices, and timely special effects. While Joe was admiring the Mad Hatter's costume, I enjoyed the characters' voices. I was especially impressed with Epsilon the Catepillar - Alan Rickman: "I can't help you - you don't even know who you are, stupid girl." Stephen Fry as the Chashire Cat was especially charming. The Mad Hatter's character has more depth than the original story - it explores all the meanings of the word "mad". Every character in this movie is shown from a new, often unexpected, angle, giving each character and the whole story additional depth and meaning.
My favorite lines from the movie are....
"It's the wrong Alice! He brought the wrong Alice!"
" You are not Epsilon; I am Epsilon."

I have seen a few reviews of the movie; some complain that it does not bring the magical crazy world of Lewis Carroll, that it is nothing like the book, and that it is "too logical." I have read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and this movie reminded me of the books, of how I felt when I read it as a child. There was a sense of danger, a sense of maddening nonsense and crazy logic. I never had that feeling when watching the classical Disney cartoon - that was just a cleaned up, pretty story, as far as I am concerned. This movie is different: it shows real connections between real life's problems and the Underland, inviting to make real choices - the ones that will affect you everywhere, in "the other world" and this one.

Anyway, I guess I am starting to ramble again. My Celtic Lady's calling - time to stitch!
Let me know what you think when you see the movie.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Month - New Week - New Day

For the past month, I have been mostly healing, going to therapy of all sorts, dealing with family crises, and stitching. All sorts of things have been happening - sadness, disagreement, anger, nonsense, violence... Both within - and without - myself and my family. Some things made no sense at all... Anyway, I am starting to ramble without providing anything concrete. But, as George Carlin used to say, it feels like circling the drain. Everything swirls around so fast, and it's all bullshit. And it's bad for ya. :)
Some time last week I had a weird feeling. Suddenly I thought that someone was in my back yard, and that he was going to shoot me - right through the open window, through the screen. It was dark outside, and I did not see or hear anyone - and there was no one there. But the mere possibility of it scared me so that I actually closed the window and moved away from the wall.
Of course, about a minute later my logical self said - you are just freaked out; nobody is there, and living in constant fear that someone is going to do something bad to you is not a way to live at all. And then I thought that, in reality, anyone could hurt me at any moment, rules and laws aside. In my mind there are all these "guarantees" of safety and rights, but all these things in my mind are not real - they are not going to protect me. If some jerk or psycho decides to go out and just kill me - he or she may just succeed, regardless of all the rules.... How do I live with that?
I suppose I will - live with that. It teaches me that I cannot take anything for granted. Ever since the attack I had one reoccurring thought - "My life is not my own." Living on borrowed time? I don't know.
Maybe I am starting to lose my mind. Or maybe I am discovering some new and profound truth about existence, and my mind has trouble dealing with it.
Stitching keeps me busy and freak-out free - at least for the most part. This, together with my cat, gives me the best therapy ever - seriously, better than the real therapist. Somewhere I read the break down of the word "therapist" as "the rapist".... Anyway, Crystal - the cat - sits next to me when I stitch, and once in a while she looks at me and lies down straight on my project. That's her way of saying - enough work, I need attention. pet me. I pull the project out from under her, pet her, and she purrs. Sometimes I hear noises and get worried - but she hears them first, and her ears point up, and she starts surveying the landscape. I feel like she is protecting me from the unknown.
Such a bazzare post... Maybe I am losing my mind.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Project - Celtic Lady Summer

Last week, I started working on Celtic Summer project. Here she is... I already had to do a couple of un-dos and re-dos, but it only inspires me more... I want her to be perfect, and working on her brings me satisfaction. With my recent concentration problems, I have not been able to complete much work, but I can concentrate on her. Selective memory problems, isn't it? Don't know. All I know is this is one thing right now that keeps me going.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stitching Project - Hunting for Threads

A couple of days ago I started the Celtic Summer project. I picked up the DMC threads; found the beads; now I am on the hunt for Needlepaints and Rainbow gallery... I must have visited about 20 stores - physical and virtual - and Ebay has proved itself once again. Although with Needlepaints being phased out, they are hard to come by. I found one shade - six colors; nothing else is available.
I looked up the conversion chart from Needlepaints to DMC and to other floss manufacturers. I think by the time I am done with this project, I will know enough to write a paper on floss manufacturers and conversions of color.
I am glad to see that my hunt has paid off. Does anyone have any advice? I have not stitched enough to post a picture on the SAL blog yet, but it is coming along, and I like it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

New Year's Resolutions, Goals, and Updates

After recent events I felt I needed an outsider's point of view - someone who was familiar with the general problem I was facing, but not entirely in the picture. That point of view came from an old friend; he said (adding that he was probably quoting someone) - "People try to "help" fixing someone else's life when their own lives are not quite working out. And the more successful your life is, the more "helpers" you may expect. Ignore them and stick to your own business - no attitude, no "I'll show them" behavior; that's the best way."
Now that I am translating his words into English, I know I've heard this before. Maybe I had to read these words in Russian to get inspired. In light of this, I have decided to try and ignore "helpers" and "supporters" of this sort. Another words - I am going to try and ignore all stupidity. I am going to focus on my own health, my children's health, and my family's improvement. We all have been through a lot this past year, and we will need time to recuperate.
Since last week, I have found myself unable to concentrate on tasks: cross stitching does not get done; reading is not an option; I can't focus when watching a movie. Tutoring job had to go - I have neither patience, nor attention span necessary for this kind of work. A good friend advised me to do small tasks - housework, dusting, sweeping - something where I will be able to see the results of my work instantly.
I can, however, write in my journal. That helps. Describing feelings and emotions provides an outlet and brings relief. Writing this blog helps - even though I am not sure how many people read it; but it is truly a stitching time - a stitch in time - one step at a time - process; just like life.
Now about my cross stitch and embroidery plans. About two weeks ago, after my splints were removed, I was so excited, so full of ideas and plans... I wanted to sign up for the Celtic Lady SAL - and I went to the store, got the chart, and over the next week found the linen and most of the floss needed for the project. I also planned to sign up for the Oriental Bunka Art lessons at Community education - to learn Japanese embroidery. Then - I noticed my concentration problems. Bunka art had to wait - to save myself the embarrasement of crying in class. Stitching at home is also put on hold - hopefully only temporary. I hope to get back to it, a little bit every day - even if only 10 minutes at a time - and build it up, just like everything else...
This is what amazes me: the whole stressful event took maybe ten minutes - but the affects of it are still showing up, and are far from over... It's a gift that keeps on giving, someone said. I can see and feel myself changing - I don't even care if it's for better or worse; I just know that I will never be the same because of what happened during those ten minutes. My changes happen suddenly, unexpectedly, but, strangely enough - also one step at a time... Just faster steps.
We'll see what happens. I change - one step at a time; I write - one word at a time; I live - one day at a time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Racism and Loneliness

Well, as if I have not had enough crap happen to me, yesterday another thing resurfaced... How would I put it delicately? ah, fuck it - there is no way to put it any other way: my husband's sisters are racists. The younger one has been easy to understand: she disapproved of me from the start. When the tensions finally mounted to the breaking point, she called and left messages on the phone cursing and swearing about her brother accepting " the white bitch that walked into his life" and "forgetting of who he is" and "forgetting that he was a black man." I remember sitting in the living room alone with my 3 week old daughter and having to listen to every message - I did not want to pick up the phone....
After many calls and screams and yells between Joe and his sisters he assured me that "this was not going to happen again". I was not sure how he was going to guarantee that, but I wanted to believe him. On my part, I did the only thing that seemed reasonable - I isolated myself from that woman and her attitudes. I made it known that she was not welcome in my home, and I did not want to expose my children to that kind of attitude ( yes, I specified my children - Joe felt that Mike and Alex should not stop seeing their aunts).
The older sister, who calls herself an artist, was not as abrupt. In the end, though, she turned out to be just as strongly opinionated as the other one. That one hurt more, because her poison was slow and almost untraceable: no, she did not mean to be this or that, but this family is just so special and it has so many things going on and you just have to be one special person to understand its dynamics. No, it's no disrespect meant, but this is a family matter, and I should not be involved. Oh, I should really keep my opinion to myself. Ah, I really do not understand my stepsons - after all, let's name it loud and clear - they are African American, American Indian (the tribes were mentioned - every time in particular order), German, Jewish, and - at the end - Caucasian. It was stated to me - ever so subtly - that I simply was not capable to understand. Why, and who would? A black person would - because of that person's culture... For a second I actually regretted not being black - then - wait a goddamn minute!!! Since when did the skin color was an indication of ability to understand a new, different culture? I never fully voiced my opinion - not that I did not try, but I was always shut up in the process - but I ended up never being comfortable around my "ever so cultural" sister-in-law. Especially when she yelled at me at the top of her lungs for trying to breastfeed my baby in the room with her artwork - I was "being disrespectful and insulting" to her masterpieces by taking care of my daughter's basic need. Her accusation seemed even more awkward because we were surrounded by paintings and statues representing family, and preceded by a lecture on family values. So -real family live dynamics are offensive to the family art? Suddenly all her words, all her works turned into idols - ugly and lifeless representations of her self-importance, nothing more. From that moment on, I was doubting whether she was a real artist - perhaps, I thought, a mere craftswoman who knew techniques well, nothing more. Was there soul in her work? Where?
The conflict finale took place yesterday. After my "incident" of injury - another lovely way to avoid calling it what it is - an attempt on my life - Joe and I had to go to court. The "artist" sister wanted to come too - "for support," as she said. Some support it was. After we left the room (another continuance, nothing new) she started shooting out questions: did you talk to the attorney? Can Alex be released? You need to find out what can be done - Alex is part Native American, so "they" can't even judge him by American laws - he'd have to go before the Tribal Council. When I tried to answer, she waved her hand and said sharply, " I am not talking to you, I am talking to my brother!"
Excuse me???? excuse the FUCK out of me!!!!! I AM HERE TOO!!! that's what I wanted to say, but instead - I lost my breath and could only say "Excuse me?"
She says - "Get out of my face!"
For several seconds I felt like I could not breathe. Joe was saying something about respect- disrespect and how I was to be respected and how she did not have the right to treat me like that... it was obvious to me that she couldn't care less. I turned around and walked away. And Joe stayed - perhaps, to explain to her the error of her ways...
Finally I walked far enough and started to be able to breathe again. I collected my thoughts... What to do, what to do? I wanted to go home. I turned around and walked back - Joe was still talking, and she was still talking over him. None of them turned to me - I did not exist to them... At least that was how it felt. I am really becoming more and more familiar with that feeling...
Finally, I said, "Joe, I need to talk to you - separately." Joe pulled himself away from his sister, and I said, " I need you to take me home - now. If you want to talk to her about this, please do it later." Joe said his quick good byes and took me to the coffee shop - to get over the shock.
Yes, he said all the right things. He said that he was "on my side," that she was wrong, and I was right, and this was "never going to happen again." And then - he walked out of the shop and called his sister on the cell phone. And I was left alone to deal with my feelings...
She said to Joe that "perhaps I would be more comfortable around people of Caucasian descent." I never heard anything more ridiculous...
Again, just like seven years ago, I had to make the decision. All this time they said I was part of their family... or not... I decided - I don't want racists in my family, and I do not have to accept their deformed views!
Of course, Joe keeps telling me he loves me. he says... many things, and they are all the right things. But it's all in the details. while he "explains the error of her ways" to his sister, he actually talks to her, while I stay alone.
I feel alone. Sometimes I want to disconnect the phone - no one calls anyway, except bill collectors. Except my children, I have no one. I do not feel loved. I do not feel protected. I do not feel anything but pain and disappointment. Sometimes I do not want to feel any more.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More Stitches - Hospital This Time

It has been almost two months since I have written a note in my blog. Why? Because in the beginning of December I was attacked and injured. My daughter was with me at the time, and I am very grateful that she did not get hurt - at least, not physically. But my hands were cut and "out of commission" until now. Today is the first day I officially took off my splints - and here I am, back, writing again in my blog page.

At the hospital I had to get stitches. The doctor used blue color thread; he poked my fingers with different types of needles; he used one thread at a time, continuous, stitching on my skin as if I was a piece of fabric, and he had to prevent it from fraying. He even made knots at the end of each thread, so it would not come loose. When he was done, I looked at my hands... my friend told me that I looked like The Corpse Bride. I felt like an old ripped blanket.

Several weeks later, it was time to remove the stitches - or "stitchery," as the therapist referred to them (what is it, new type of needlework?). The therapist said she "has never seen this type of work" (he must have been a rare craftsman), cut the first knot she found and attempted to yank the whole thread out of my finger.

Now, they told me that due to nerve damage my fingers lost some sensitivity to them. But at that moment I realized they did not lose THAT much sensitivity. I jumped out of the chair and yelped out loud.

I mean, sometimes I tried to do the same thing with my needlework to save time - just cut the knot and pull the thread out of another end. But experience has taught me that in these cases, more often than not, the fabric would wrinkle and start fraying and falling apart. Of course, I never thought of how the fabric would actually feel during that process. The fabric she was working on - my skin - also got wrinkled, but it also had nerve endings in it... Several drops of blood came out, and I pulled my hand back.

This is where my paying attention during the original process with the doctor came in handy. I happened to remember how he stitched me up, and ended up guiding her through "un-doing" some of the "stitchery" of the surgeon with the least damage to my hands. The stitches that did stay I was able to find and remove later at home - believe it or not, with a sterilized embroidery needle... what an unexpected way to benefit from stitching experience.
In the end - I am back! my splints are off, I can use my hands - reasonably, of course, without overworking - but... I can stitch again, I can write again, and I am looking forward to both.
Kathy, I would LOVE to join your Celtic Lady SAL group - I want to talk to other people about stitching and share ideas. Thank you for contacting me.

I do not know when I will be able to find the right words to describe what happened that day to me and to my daughter. It will probably take quite some time, but I know it will happen. Just have to wait and work - on my stitching, on my words - one stitch in time, one word in time, that is all it takes.