Sunday, June 24, 2018

JCS Publications and New Projects

Good morning, my dear friends,

As you can see, I am trying to get better at posting here: this time, it has only been a month.
My new Just Cross Stitch issue came in the mail Friday - and look what I found there!

JCS August 2018.
Design by Evdokia Nikolaeva
I stitched that (the feeling never seems to get old) and loved it. The picture does not do it justice - I remember how bright and vibrant the colors looked on fabric while I was working on it; it was like looking at the stained glass window in the sun.

A close up picture
While stitching, I could not help thinking of precious stones. When I was a child, one of my favorite books was "The Malachite Box" by Pavel Bazhov - a collection of tales about the Hostess of the Mount and her secret jeweled garden, so intricately carved out of precious stones that any mortal that ever glanced at it would lose interest in anything naturally grown ever again... This bird and her pomegranates might as well have flown out of that garden, I thought while working at it with my needle.

"Peace Angel" by Lesley Teare
JCS February 2018
This gorgeous angel was stitched by me back in... December 2017 (I think?) The whole time I worked on her, I kept calling her "The Autumn Fairy" - the green wings and the flowers suggested it for me... Somehow the doves (the international symbol of peace) did not click in the idea; among all this natural beauty they looked part of the nature set - birds that just happened to be doves.

Close up Picture
Did I like the colors, the flowers, and the butterflies? Definitely. But... look at that armband! It stands out - perfectly. Five French Knots each, two different colors - and it makes everything around it stand out.

The skirt and the doves.
I enjoy looking at the flower detail around the skirt - and the doves, of course. The back stitching gave their wings such detail, I can almost see the feathers.

The waves of the skirt, the curling flower vines, the birds - all these details give the picture the sensation of movement. She is not standing still, she is walking  - or, perhaps, dancing? In all her detailed glory, she is still hard at work - on her way... somewhere.

Recently, I have had more time to stitch for myself. The result is - better late than never - a finished "Twelve Days of Christmas."

"Twelve Days of Christmas"
by Plum Street Samplers
Maybe it's the weather and the season, but when I finished it, I could not stop thinking that it is so... red. Was it, perhaps, too much red? But then I thought - this was meant to be a Christmas sampler, it's not its fault that it has taken me three years to finish it. By next Christmas, when it's framed and displayed on the wall, it will look just the right amount of red.

Finally, I have (bravely) decided to start a new project. It will be "A Year at Hawk Run Hallow" by Carriage House Samplings. How long will it take me to get it done, I am not even going to guess. One thing is for sure, though - I am going to thoroughly enjoy it!

Until next time,

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Where Have I Been?

Hello, dear friends,

Once again, it has been a long time... This time, longer than usual. I bet those of you who still check back here wonder - where is she? Where has she gone?

I have had a lot of changes in my life over the past six months. Back in November, right after my last post here, I started to feel a bit more secure, like my life finally started to stabilize, so I decided to enroll in college. Nothing big, just one class - online, so I could do it on my own schedule. Same day I enrolled, my landlady gave me notice - two months. Two months to find a new place, to pay all the deposits, to move... My sense of stability flew right out of the window, and with it so did all my academic pride. What if I fail the class? What if I get on academic probation? Who cares! I was dealing with real life - and the real problem to be solved was "how not to end up on the street by February."
Rita after her Marimba performance

Frantic online searches, phone calls, appointments to view properties... Several callbacks with "sorry, the place has been rented" and "we'll call you back if anything comes up." Two weeks in, I started to panic: what if there is nothing out there for me? What are my options? What if... - and the endless string of "what ifs" would take over my brain, spinning and swirling were the possibilities of no shelter, no place to stay, and no way out. I was there before - only a year earlier. This time, I tried my best not to think of the "what ifs", but instead make a plan - and follow it. Do a search online - check. Call the places that are renting out - check. Pick up applications - check...Step by step, bullet point by bullet point, I forced myself to focus on what needed to be done  - then, at that moment, and delay the "what ifs" torture until as late as possible in the evening - and by then, it was my hope, I would be too tired to think.
Crystal on the quilt

When I say "there was nothing out there," I mean, of course - nothing within my means. There were plenty of rentals, both apartments and houses  - for someone who could afford $1600 a month as a starting price (utilities not included). I was looking for something a bit -- less. Roommates were not an option, as I quickly learned, -- my post on about "mother with two teenage daughters looking for a roommate to co-rent a 3-bedroom house" did not get any responses. Reaching out to another mother through the online chatroom (with two smaller children), I thought we could help each other: rent a small house - maybe even a 4-bedroom, - my income plus hers... That's what I thought - until I learned that she actually did not have any income. She did not work, - she had to take care of her two toddlers, living the best she could on public assistance. My heart went out to her - I was that mother once; heck, I was still that mother (I used my EBT card at the store much more often than I did my debit card), - but I could not help her. I needed to help myself.

Two and a half weeks into the search, still with no results, I came upon a property in the center of town - for just the amount I was looking for. True, it was only a one bedroom, but it was a house. I called the property manager and left a message.. which was returned with "sorry, it was already rented. We just took it off the site." Usual assurances that they would call me should anything else come up... Right, thank you. I hope to hear from you soon. 
And then I did. Two days after the "sorry" call, the manager called me with news. It's smaller than the one I wanted, it was also only one bedroom, but it's a bit less in price and - well, it just got ready to be shown. A small, old house (a duplex, actually), built in the 50-s... would I be interested to take a look?
Now it's May, and the rose outside my front door is in bloom.

I certainly was interested. We agreed to meet at the address on my next morning off.
When I came to the address, no one was there yet, - I was early. That is the truth of the bus schedules: you are either really early - or really late. So, not to be late, I am usually about 30 minutes early everywhere I go.. I used that time to look around. The small back yard - not much greenery there, but there was a metal shed - storage.. The street was narrow (which I liked), the sun came out - and I saw the neighbors' houses.. I was in the old town - not the fancy part of it with villas and carriage houses - but the working part: small, cozy cottages, trees, gardens - and so much sunlight.. well, at least that day.
(with the neighborhood in the background).

 Then the bells of the local church started ringing - and I was sold. I knew this was a place for me. So, when the agent showed up to open up the house for me and I saw that it was small, it did not discourage me. I liked the kitchen sink, the walk-in closet, and most of all - the light. It was streaming through all the windows. It occurred to me then that I would probably not need to turn on the lamps until the sun was down. Add the central location - five minutes away from the bus station and the library, ten minutes away from college - and I said yes. The paperwork was filled out. The deposit was agreed on.. For the next few days, I had to wait, until I got the news: yes, the owners agreed. The manager also added: "We want to work with you because you have good credit." Instead of saying "really?" I chose to simply say "Thank you." And made a mental note to check my credit when I had the chance.
The field outside my window. 

And so we are here - since February. The sun is bright (unless it's cloudy or raining), the church bells ring down the street - although, I still have not figured out what they are ringing about; they ring randomly from one to thirty two bells, approximately every half hour. What time is it? I cannot tell, not by the bells. But - the sound is beautiful, and that is what counts.

P.S. If you have read my current rambling all the way to the end - thank you! Next time, I will be talking about more changes - and cross stitch pieces I have finished (or have been trying to) over the past months. If you are not bored - please stop by again... and leave a comment.
Thank you.

Until next time,