Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different...

When I saw this design, I knew I had to stitch it. I really don't need anymore projects, as you know. But I love, love, love it when a designer comes up with something SO UNIQUE.

It's called The Crypt Club by Prairie Moon. I've joined my very first SAL at Stitching Under the Southern Cross, and we are supposed to start on January 1, and finish by Halloween 2010.

My chart and fabby (32 ct. Thunderstorm) have arrived, and I'm gathering up my DMC (the silks would be way, way over my current budget).

So, in between backstitching Sailors' Knots, I'll be stitching up this fine looking bunch!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tying Up Loose Ends

I always find the end of the calendar year, even amongst the hectic holiday activities, a good time for reflection, contemplation, and assessment. Certainly 2009 has left me with quite a bit to reflect on and assess!

A son getting established, a daughter looking ahead to graduation, travel from coast to coast, aging parents, a roller-coaster love life, celebrating a new political landscape, and juggling two jobs, all have comprised what seemed like a year of multiple fronts. To be sure, it has been mostly exhausting and occasionally exhilarating.

All things considered, I can say it's been a pretty remarkable year, in that I still have my house, my health, my friends, and my bliss - cross stitching - which, through trial and trouble, has always managed to keep me sane.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009


While it is easy to complain about this crummy economy, idiotic politicians, rude customers, and poor management, this is the week we should all be counting our blessings, right? Ok, here are mine:

I am thankful that I have.....

A Roof over my head (although I would prefer to downsize)

Food to eat (although hardly any time to cook it)

Two jobs (although I wish I didn’t need the second one to make ends meet)

Great kids who need me (although they sometimes find it hard to admit it)

and, Wonderful Friends (who are ALWAYS there) !!

I'll be taking this to Thanksgiving dinner, along with a bottle of wine, of course:

Pumpkin Swirl Loaf

Here's my progress on Knots. Hope to get some serious stitchin' done over the holiday...

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bookish Ambivalence

The levy for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County passed this week. Although, generally speaking, I take this as good news, I do have ambivalent feelings about the future of public libraries.

My professional career began over 30 years ago as the Town Librarian in Gorham, Maine, a sweet little bedroom community outside Portland.

I broke new ground in my two years there, by being the first librarian hired from outside the town of Gorham (Mainers have such a phobia about those from "away"!), and by overseeing, along with the Board, the remodeling of the basement into a new children’s room (an even bigger deal!).

I wanted to be a librarian since I was in junior high. It’s in my gut. But, boy, have I seen a lot of changes, both in the profession, and in American society’s view of the role of libraries, especially public ones. By and large, I think libraries and librarians have done a remarkable job of embracing new technologies, but, at the same time, I wonder about the future role of the public library as a repository of knowledge and as a sanctuary for readers.

My current moonlighting job in a retail bookstore has reinforced many of my suspicions. I see parents and students rushing in to buy the next required book, usually at the last minute. I see men and women settling in with a stack of books and magazines, sometimes for a whole morning or afternoon. I even accept returns on books within days of purchase from customers who boldly admit that they’ve read them and so are done with them. And, if we don’t have something a customer wants, I am frequently tempted to suggest they try the library (it beats sending them to our competitor, right?).

So my thoughts are these. Are bookstores now supplanting libraries in the minds of parents, children, old folks, young people, men and women, as the first place they think of when they want/need something to read or a place to read? Will the public library remain only as an archive of knowledge, and a community center for the immobile inner city poor?

I am glad the library levy passed, because, through a reciprocal regional agreement, I have full borrowing privileges at the branch near my Warren County home, and I frequently go to the downtown Main Library on my lunch hour. But, if it had failed, I cannot help but wonder if the Library would see that the writing is on the wall.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Rich Life

I've been thinking a lot about getting through difficult times. To say we are all tightening our belts is an understatement. The word prioritize has taken on a whole new meaning. We are learning, for some the hard way, to appreciate what we have, to delay gratification, and to keep "to do" lists and wishlists. We seem to need to "one-up" a co-worker, or friend, with tales of money woes. Yes, misery sure does love company.

But as a student of history, I know that our forbears have been through times like these, have persevered, have discovered their inner strengths, have unearthed hidden talents, and have forged friendships that will last well past these challenging days.

Maybe it's time to re-define what it means to live a rich life, a life filled with friends and family, humor, appreciation, and contemplation. We will have spent a great deal of time kicking ourselves for past errors in judgment, for living only for today and not planning adequately for the future, for keeping up appearances at any cost. Hopefully, we will have also discovered that some of those former priorities feel just a little hollow now, stacked up against what we have come to count on as sure and constant.

I was cashing out a customer today at the bookstore who was buying three or four British cross-stitch magazines, so we got talking. I gave her my opinion that, even though they were expensive, she could be spending money on worse things, like booze and cigarettes. Of course, if I didn't stitch, I told her, I'd probably take up smoking!

Here's my start on the Old Salty Santas. So far, I've found all the DMC colors in my stash.

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I'm also progressing on the third sail of Sailors' Knots. This piece sure has taken a lot longer than I ever thought it would. I remember taking the kit to a stitch-in at a local shop several years ago. That shop, like so many, has now gone out of business.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

That Ole Black Magic, aka Startitis

Yes, I fell under the spell again. Came across this great Old Salty Santas chart (in my stash, which is a good thing), and decided I just HAD to kit this up. It's nautical and Christmasy all-in-one. I'm going to stitch it on 14 ct. Misty Taupe Aida (like the model, yeah I'm like that). Aren't they just adorable?!

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Found a real treasure on eBay this past week. I had a saved search posted in there for the Oberlin Gettysburg cross-stitch chart, hoping for the one with just the word, like the other state and city ones, but got "BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG," which I think is way cooler, especially for a history buff like myself. It has real significance for me this year, since I walked Pickett's Charge in June.

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And, finally, I am making good progress on the largest and last sail. I have mounted it in my stitching stand, and that has made it alot easier to stitch (and easier to photograph, too! )

Friday, October 2, 2009


With each October, comes increased Breast Cancer awareness and for me, that means memories, some horrific, some warm and loving. And, as I think about others facing cancer, I am reminded of dear friends who saw me through it and are there to this day. When my friend Marianne heard about my diagnosis 16 years ago, she told her husband she just had to see me in person. So she and Joe came down from Toledo to see me in Montgomery. Here we are in my driveway (me in my wig, overcompensating with way too much make-up!)

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The following spring, as I was finishing up with chemo, they came down to Cincinnati again, this time to hear my son Nathaniel sing with the Cincinnati Boychoir during May Festival. Here we are on Fountain Square (I was sure skinny!). And, yes, she is still great at accessorizing with scarves!

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Marianne and Joe lost their dear Westie last year. He had been Joe's dog before they got married, and brightened their days from 1991 to 2008. When I saw this design stitched on khaki fabric, I knew I had to stitch this for them. I gave it to Marianne this past week, when she was in town for our librarians' meeting.

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Here's to great friends, warm memories, and to Finding a Cure !!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Past and Future

This week I attended a two-day retirement (ha!) and financial planning seminar, and all I have to say is: “Can I have a do-over??”

The amount of information imparted was like having buckets of water dumped on me. I’ve spent the weekend making to-do lists and reminders. I need to sign up for a Medical Flexible Savings Account, and, when Open Season comes around, sign up for a dental and vision plan. I need to check my fund allocation on my TSP (the govt’s equivalent of a 401(K)), and I need to get some debt paid down. Yikes!

Last Friday was my parents’ 56th wedding anniversary

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I’m a honeymoon baby (Sept. 18th to June 24th) and I’m told my maternal grandmother was really nervous that I would arrive too early. Oh, the morals of the mid-50’s!

Scared Silly is finished, too.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Silly Thoughts

Happy Labor Day Weekend - the official end of summer. It’s time to put away those white shoes and handbags, and pull out the woolies. I do plan to weed my closet this weekend, tossin’ and donatin’ things I simply haven’t worn.

(Who am I kidding? After this bloggin’ session, I’ll probably just chill till time to go to work!)

Had lunch with Shirley at Rock Bottom this week – delicious salad I must say. She and I shared some dating disaster stories, laughed (and almost cried). It’s amazing how many of us are out there, knowing full-well that this wasn’t in the script, that we were supposed to be almost grammas by now, happy and settled in our marriages and careers, only to wake up one day and realize that we got dealt the other deck.

I’ve been digging into my family tree again. Have been working on it off and on since high school, really. During my last hiatus, the internet has really kicked in. There are some amazing genealogy blogs out there, and I feel totally inspired to start my own. Found some amazing pictures the other evening and need to get them scanned. You may get a peek here someday soon.

On the stitching front, got some more Weeks Carrot so I could finish up my silly pumpkin and, since it’s almost that season, here’s “Scared Silly” so far:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Under Way Again

I thought it appropriate to post an updated photo of my "Sailor's Knots," on this the week of Ted Kennedy's passing. I did work quite a bit on it while at Mom and Dad's (thankfully I had packed my tabletop Daylite lamp). That one big sail is now all filled in, and I'm working my way up the left side.

I loved watching the scene from Boston yesterday, albeit in the rain. From the military escorts pulling the casket out of the hearse with such precision, to the Roman Catholic ceremony (being a New England Protestant, with emphasis on the "protest," I find all that ceremony fascinating). If anyone needs inspiration to conquer tragedy, look to that family. And, since my lovelife took a nosedive this week, I found it quite therapeutic to watch a funeral.

It is time to look to the future, learn from past mistakes, and move on. Stephanie will begin her senior year at UMaine tomorrow and already has a job offer. Nate is making real progress with his finances and has a new love. The air, even here in land-locked Ohio, has a new crispness to it. This is most definitely my season and I throw open my arms to embrace it. Just need someone to hug me back.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Game

Most of you know that I am a HUGE Red Sox fan. Most Mainers are. Somehow, through the grace of God, I managed to be in attendance at Game 6 of the 1975 World Series at Fenway. Seeing as I have now lived in Cincinnati for over 20 years, the irony is inescapable. I’ve been told I’m like Dustin Hoffman in “Rainman” about it: “Game 6, Game 6, Game 6….”.

Needless to say, I was literally beside myself when my daughter called me to say she had purchased two tickets to a game on July 27th. It was totally unexpected and a wonderful surprise. Since she has been at school at UMaine , she has become a huge fan as well, and had never been to Fenway. So, we were going to have a great day in Boston. COULD NOT WAIT !!

We decided to take the Amtrak Downeaster from Portland at around 6 am, which would get us down to North Station by about 8:30 and we would have the whole day ahead of us, until the 7:10 game. It worked out perfectly. We did the Duckboat tour, where even I learned a lot. The tour guide did start calling me “Google” for short though.

Here are a few of the best shots during the tour (the first is us on the early-can you tell?- train to Boston):

After the tour,we took the T to Fenway, immediately signed up for the Fenway Park tour at 1:00, then went to get something to eat. We bought a few souvenirs and soaked up the ecstatic atmosphere all around Fenway and Yawkey Way. We were playing Oakland and were sure to win.

It was a hot day in Beantown and the crowds for Gameday were building already. The tour was wonderful, and included the Budweiser Deck, the Green Monster and many many facts. Since we were members of Red Sox Nation, we got to get into the park extra early for batting practice, which we watched atop the Green Monster. Afterwards, we found our way to our seats, just behind the Pesky Pole. They were great seats and we enjoyed every minute of it, as our own video can attest. And, yes, we won !!

Maine 2009

Having “lived away” now for most of my adult life, I tend to romanticize about my home state, the people and places that I remember from my childhood, I yearn for the intoxicating sea breezes, the pungent salty air of the harbor, and the scent of the ubiquitous pine. Just to be in New England!

I think somehow I must have passed this on to my daughter in the gene pool, since she chose to go to college there. Since she did not grow up there, I cannot explain it. But, nonetheless, we now share this bond, along with many others, and for that I am grateful. It is hard to explain to anyone who has never been there. They just don’t get it.

This year’s annual visit with the folks was restful, productive, and tons of fun. Although both my mother and dad are struggling with being on the edge of living independently and making some difficult decisions regarding caring for each other, somehow their stubborn Yankee resourcefulness and determination earned them all the more respect from me. It is this pluck that has gotten them this far, and, although it is frustrating at times to see them cling to the past, I know in my heart that I will be the same way someday.

I managed to pack an almost 50 lb. suitcase full of books, stitching, and family tree research to work on, and just about tackled it all. Top that off with a Red Sox game at Fenway, and a wicked good feed of lobster, and you have yourself a perfect 2+ weeks in Maine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Headin' Downeast

Taking the time now to let you know I'll be heading home on Saturday morning for a much needed vacation.

I will NOT be thinking about the courthouse or the bookstore for over two weeks. I am taking my laptop with me, and will keep in touch periodically from the Scarborough Public Library or Panera (no internet at the folks'). Will have stitching and books, naturally, and plan to "just plain chill."

I've got my Family Tree Maker 2009 all updated, so will be pumping the folks for information, and have a 2G memory card in my camera, for lots of picture-taking. The biggest day will be Monday, when Stephanie and I go to Boston for the day, including the Red Sox game that night. It will be Steph's first trip to Fenway, and my first since the 1975 World Series Game 6.

Cannot wait!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What I've Been Stitching (When I Couldn't Blog)

Stop and Stitch the Flowers is finally finished, and I just love it. I have to admit it got a little boring at times, but you know the feeling of nearing the finish and you have such a great sense of "accomplished creativity," right?

Here are my Blueberries all done as well. I have (sort of) set a goal for myself to stitch up all my Mainey/New Englandy designs. Guess I'm feeling especially nostalgic (I leave for Maine on the 25th for two whole weeks!).

In between tackling those pesky "Gotta Finish These" projects, I picked up Scared Silly, since I had the funky fabric and all the fibers already. Even though I need my magnifier, it's been a blast so far.

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