Thursday, January 28, 2016


Hello, dear friends,

About a week ago, I decided to put the Twelve Days away for a while and started a new project. It's for my daughter's birthday (I hope it will be ready in time).

Designed by Julie Hasler

I had some "initial" threads for it in my stash to get it started, and also was able to pick up some more threads today. It's nice to have a craft store nearby, 15 minutes away from walking distance.

In other news - some pretty disgusting and despicable things were revealed to me over the past week. But that situation will be taken care of very soon, the garbage will be thrown out and the mud thoroughly wiped off from my porch. I know that in the end, my family will grow stronger and healthier in the process.

Until next time, 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Day Four...

Hello again, dear friends,
Who else thinks that today royally sucks? I do. First thing in the morning today, I learned that Alan Rickman passed away...

First - Lemmy, last Sunday - David Bowie... And now, before we all had a chance to catch our breath -  Alan Rickman...

I think I will curl up on the sofa and stitch, stitch, stitch...

Here is the Sampler update....

Seems fitting somehow - a row of crows...
I can't wait for this week to be over already. Hopefully, next one will be better.

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day Two and Three and the Good Old Days

Hello, dear friends,
For the past couple of days, I have been stitching on the "Twelve Days of Christmas." This is where I was on it two days ago.

The picture does not do the colors justice. I blame the weather: it's so gloomy and cloudy... And when I take a picture without a flash, it looks like it's been taken in the dungeon; when I use the flash - it wants to "flash out" everything to bright whites.

Here's one of the "dungeon" photos. I am stitching this with three threads over two, using Nancy Turner's home dyed threads.

Over the past week, I have also been listening to books: "Breakfast of Champions" and "Help". Each book is mind expanding in its own way. I keep thinking about the phrase "the good old days": "In the good old days, we used to..."  Or, "Those were the good old days!" I don't think that "the good old days" ever actually existed. Every year, every day in history past and present is filled with so many events, most of them are disturbing and troubling. The only place "the good old days" exist is in our minds. The more open our minds are, the less comforting the world feels.

A few days ago, I spent the whole day stitching and listening to an audio book. Nothing else existed but the project and the book... It was very comfortable. I only accepted what I chose to accept, believed what I chose to believe. Anything I did not want to exist, did not. And it was so pleasant... No worries, no troubles. No questions...

That is how it must be for someone with a closed mind. When you believe only what you choose to, know exactly how things are - and don't feel you need any additional information. You know everything you want to know. Nothing else in the world matters.

Next day, though, I had to get back to reality. I found out that on my very comfortable "good old" day, several things happened. First, David Bowie passed away. One of my friends is getting a divorce. The package I sent out got lost in the mail, and the kitchen sink got over full with dishes.

But, until I chose to learn of these things, my day was perfect. My life was perfect. I think our comfort in life depends on our level of acceptance of things. The more we accept, the more we learn - the more troubling our existence becomes. That is why life for an open minded, educated person is so much more complicated than for a closed minded one. It's a matter of choice, I suppose. And a matter of influence. How many things that go wrong are in our control to correct?

After two hours of frantic phone calls, I was able to locate the package and verify that it's on its way to the recipient. I washed the dishes and straightened up my kitchen... But David Bowie is dead. And my friend is still getting a divorce. I have to keep reminding myself that it's not my battle, not my problem. There is nothing I can do, and even if I could, it's not my place. Not my battle.

Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" is the next on my listening list. I can only imagine what kind of thoughts it will inspire.

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas

Hello, dear friends,
I am back - again! This wet weather is keeping me inside, next to the warm computer. Today, however, they promised a storm with thunder and lightning, which means the power may go out. Which means my computer will not be so warm any more.

This is the view from my bedroom window. Less than a week ago this was a football field. Today it's a lake - complete with ducks!

I took one day off from stitching after celebrating the latest finish. But after a day, I had to stitch... I know, I am an addict.
Paulette of Plum Street Samplers was hosting a SAL called "Twelve Days of Christmas". I stitched 'The First Day" into an ornament some time ago, when I saw the pattern in the Just Cross Stitch magazine.

I remember thinking then how I would love to stitch all 12 days - what a collection it could be! And now it will be.
I decided this time to make it into a sampler, just as the SAL suggests... Here's where I am now.

With the rain and the wind all day, there's no time like now to sit down with a cup of tea and continue on...

Until next time, 

Monday, January 4, 2016

First Finish of the New Year

Hello, dear friends,
I am back again! Yesterday, I finished the Christmas Heirloom Stocking, and today I am celebrating (so far, on the inside).

"Santa's Workshop" Heirloom Stocking

I have been living with this project for two months, and today, looking at the finished piece, I could not stop taking pictures. I think I took over 30 of them in all... one for every two days of stitching (haha).

Doll House Detail
I could not figure out what that white/grey thing on the top of the bar stool was until the very end. Once the last back stitch was put in, I saw it - it's an apron! The whole time I was expecting some sort of a cloak, the way it was draping all over that stool.

Noah's Arc detail

I look at the toys in these patterns and ask myself: do they still have toys like these? The arc, the animals, the house -they are so... realistic, so detailed. Honestly, I want to visit a nursery like the one in the stockings some day - just to reassure myself they still exist. Although, to be fair, this is a "workshop"... Never mind. I would still like to see the toys.

My personal favorite - and a matter of pride. Look at all this popcorn and cranberries on a string! All those French Knots in a row (and there are more of them elsewhere), three different colors. Making the long brag into a short one - I am proud of the result.

Another one of my favorite details - the coffee cup. I loved stitching it, not to mention - Santa drinks coffee, too? Makes sense, he has a lot of work to do on Christmas Eve...

Another detail... I did not particularly "like" the fruit bowl while stitching it, but once finished - it has become so colorful and sharp! Thank you, back stitch...

Fruit bowl with paint can and car
Here, I should probably stop, for as much as I know you, my readers, like cross stitch, twenty-something pictures of the same project taken from different angle will wear out the most enthusiastic and patient reader.

Perhaps one more picture of the whole stocking..

Until next time,

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Dreams and Goals

Well, the New Year has started. Hello, New Year! What will you bring to me and to my family?

I hope for more positive experiences in my everyday life. I want to be less stressed, less tired. In general, I hope that this year will be happier than the last one.

I plan to keep going to the gym and lose more weight. Ever since I started exercising six months ago, I have been feeling more positive and energetic, and as I work out, my head gets clearer. Not as much running around like a headless chicken, forgetting what I was doing every five minutes. I can keep to the task and complete it (most times). Those who know PTSD will agree with me that it's no small achievement. Plus, being able to fit in my old pants once again is a great motivator!

I plan to expand and improve my skills.. Now what does that mean? Originally, I thought of going back to college and completing my Bachelor's degree in Accounting. Now, after a meeting with a counselor and doing the "cost vs. benefits" list over and over in my mind, I have decided instead to take a Community College Machine Sewing class. I've been wanting to learn how to sew "properly" for years now. It's a great investment in myself - and it will pay off a lot sooner (unlike the distant BS degree) in my "home business" plans.

I plan to write letters to my friends...

I plan to stitch!

Not a long list. But, on the up side, it is completely within my reach. When it comes to goals, I don't feel like reaching for the sky, - a tree branch just over my head is good for now.

What are your goals for the this year, my friends?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Hello, dear friends,
Traditionally, this time seems to be the period of "coming off" the Christmas shopping craze, drawing year-end conclusions and drawing out goals for the New Year.
For me, this season has been a non-traditional one. For starters, I decided not to put up a tree this year. With Joe working every day  - except Christmas - it seems that, no sooner we get it set up and decorated, it's going to be time to take it down.
Then - presents. Every year I tell myself that I am not going to go crazy shopping for gifts, and yet every time at Christmas I get swept up and carried off into the crazy shopping spree. I don't enjoy the shopping. I feel rushed and over-spent. The crowds of shoppers in every store always make me anxious... As a result, when Christmas morning comes, I feel stressed, spent and tired. I just want it to be over.
This year - non-traditionally - I exercised self-control. Each member of my family got one gift and one gift card. I set limits and I stuck to them. After all, if Christmas is the season of love and giving, then let's finally find out what love and giving is all about - without the heavy gift boxes and the heaps of trashed up wrapping paper to boot!
I am satisfied to conclude that my exercise paid off in spades. For, although we did not have a flashy Christmas - and the kids even mentioned that "it was not a real Christmas this year" - this season was the sanest I have felt in years. Not excited, not exalted, - but calmer than usual, and, above all, sane. Sanity is the best gift I got from the Powers That Be this Christmas (Yule, Solstice) season... and I appreciate it more than it shows on the outside.

"Merry Christmas"
Design by Nancy Turner
With sanity by my side (like a loyal friend and sidekick) I noticed that I do, in fact, have a social life! Letters, Christmas cards - and even one "care envelope" - found their way to my house from friends all over the world.. We have been corresponding through the year(s) - and they have not forgotten me. I was - and still am - overwhelmed with attention. Thank you.... This is the second gift of the season that I am grateful more than I can ever express - connection, not being forgot by my friends...

Here, I have to apologize for my behavior. I myself am lousy at writing Christmas cards - or any other cards, for that matter. All I can say is - thank you, my friends! You made my holiday season complete.

New Year was celebrated in the same spirit as Christmas - no excess. I did not worry about the house being clean, or "special" dishes to cook. There is a belief I was raised with that says the way you meet the New Year is the way you are going to spend it. So, there has to be good food in the house - something everyone likes. Every family member has to have money in their pocket (purse, wallet) - at least one dollar so they don't go into the New Year broke. The trash has to be taken out (well, that was me more than the tradition here), and there has to be good mood, good spirit among family and friends that gather.

All the essentials were taken care of - well, almost all of them... Who would have thought that it's the last and most important ingredient - the good mood and spirit - was the most difficult... Just six hours before midnight, Joe told me that his sister had two heart attacks in one day. She was in the hospital by the time he found out, in stable condition, but the news, of course, shook him up....
It seems like every year, right around Christmas, something bad happened in our family. Year after year, I keep hearing Joe's story about his father dying on Christmas morning - so in part Christmas seemed like a day of mourning to me, rather than celebration. I was respectful. I understood - or at least I thought I did. My own family, the one I came from, lives thousands of miles away, so if anything should happen, I am lucky to find out about it days or sometimes weeks later, by email. Grief is no foreigner to me, either. But I try not to dwell on it. At times I can't help it, and tears come without warning, and I wipe them off, and try to go on with what I am doing. I know that grief has to run its course, and at the end of that course is acceptance, which is necessary for all of us still living to keep living. If I fell down on the floor heartbroken and crying every time I thought of my grandmother who passed away some eight years ago, I would not be able to do anything else but weep. But I don't want to weep. I want to live. I want to feel calm, comfortable, and - what gives? - even happy some day.  I don't get enough of these emotions throughout the year as it is. So, when something bad happened on New Years this time, I... did not want to hear about it. After hearing the facts - heart attack, hospital, stable condition, daughter is with her, and nothing need be done - I wanted to go on with meeting my New Year. Was that selfish of me? Of course it was. But good feelings have been in short supply this past year, and I wanted  - nay, determined to! - meet the New Year as close to happy as possible.

After dinner, a friend stopped by. We drank Martinelli's (the girls and friend), beer (me) and champagne (Joe and me)... We played chess - or,rather, joked around and made faces while moving the pieces around. We laughed and we talked - about everything and about nothing, with no particular topic in mind. Rita, my oldest daughter, made me laugh. She does have sharp sense of humor and a talent for telling stories. She wants to be an actress, but thinks that she's too shy to do it "for reals". I hope she can achieve her dream some day not too long from now. Vera told stories about school, horrible substitutes and detention horrors. She can be very descriptive and insightful. I can see a young writer developing.

Today, thinking about last night's "quiet party" of ours, I feel (once again) tears welling in my eyes. But they are happy tears, brought on by happy memories. And that is the best way to meet the New Year.. so that there will be more to remember in the years to come.

Happy New Year!