Monday, April 27, 2009

A Freedom Day Update

Only because my calender says it is Freedom Day in S. Africa. At any rate, it is almost May, already - wow, where has April gone? And where are those April Showers we used to get? We got a couple, but less than 3" for the month - the summer is looking HOT and DRY, no end of the drought in sight. Car washing is banned - my car has not been washed in 1 1/2 years, and looks it :( Every clean spot I make when I'm cleaning the windshield while pumping gas, just draws attention to the dirt everywhere. Though during pollen season, everyone's cars are filthy; it's just that, once the yellow-green stuff goes away, I have a layer of black grime under it :( Maybe a day trip to SC is in order, so I can find a place to use a hose and wash my car....

Pics in this post should be clickable - sometime Multiply cooperates, other times... not.

On to the stitching! I worked on several things last week, here and there, but before I get to those, I did want to note that I took an updated pic of Chatelaine MMM03 - I didn't get to work on it at all, and hoped to on one of those days I had off around easter, but lack of sunshine prevented me. But the previous amount of work I didn't update, because I thought I'd get back to it again shortly - no such luck. And I wanted to send a picture to my mom, and realized I didn't have a current one. So now I do:

There's also a detail pic that shows the beads up a bit better - it's so hard to get a good pic on black fabric, and the light outside was really too bright - it was just glare when I tried that. No indirect light I could easily get to when I had time to bother with this. Here's the detail:

I worked on the newest RR piece I have, Paula's. She chose a set of Lizzie Kate Flip Its, and picked a gorgeous piece of linen banding for it. I picked the next one down and started and completed it during the week - Remember:

I will do another section, as I want to pick one that is using Vikki's Woad Blue (Paula's conversion to all HDF) - those are some of my favorite of Vikki's colors, especially blues :) We'll see. I'll also take a better picture next time so you can see the banding better, and the overall piece.

I also worked a night and an afternoon on Cabaret du Chat Noir - I felt guilty for not touching it all last week when I was working on MTM. I have a good start on the sun behind the cat's head, but there is a strange color charted in it - amidst 20 colors of orange is a dark gold, 680, and I haven't figured out if it is really supposed to be that, or if it's some kind of mistake. It looks a little off to me, but then, it's a long way from done, and not having the original picture it was converted from, I can't say right or wrong - I did verify, multiple times, that I had the correct thread as charted. I'll just keep going and see what it looks like further down the road - I really don't relish the idea of frogging 2 threads off of 22ct fabric, in Confetti City - I can live with a lot of things, I think :) Here he is:

During lunch, I got into the over-1 parts of Medieval Miniature, and tried to work on it at games over the weekend, before it got too hot and too bright - imagine it being too bright to work on over-1, even with the ever-present sunglasses! And yes, for the record, I am a bit fried - temps in the 90s (see my Friday post) and I had 4 games to go through - my sunscreen clearly gave up the ghost at some point, though I can only imagine how realllllyyy fried I'd have been if I hadn't bothered. Anyway, back to Medi Mini - 20 minutes at lunch doesn't get me much progress, but it's some, and you might even be able to tell what part I'm working on already :)
And my main focus piece for the week was English Garden Sampler. I felt like I got a lot done on it, but now, looking at the picture, it doesn't look like as much as it felt :( But maybe it's because the one column that is complete is white & light grey, so "appears" to be less done than it really is. Whatever - as always, not as much as I'd hoped, but better than none :) Green stuff, grey stuff,
and purple stuff, here & there in typical TW fashion:

There's a detail pic, too, showing mostly just this area I worked:

And that's it for the week :) I like weeks when I have an opportunity to work on different things - except the week I'm working on MTM when I can't be distracted from it for even a minute. I would have liked to work on a couple more things over the weekend, but I was pushing it already, switching stuff in and out, and being out in the sun just wiped me out Saturday - I was in bed by around 11:30, which is highly unusual for me on a weekend. I think I read about a page and a half, had no recall of what I'd read, so I gave up and shut off the light.

This week, the main project is Knotgarden - and whatever else manages to jump onto the frame. I also need to run into Hobby Lobby and check out the buttons and embellishments int eh scrapbook aisle - Tracy enabled me into a bit of stash enhancement with Pushing Up Daisies, and I want to go see what bits I can find for flowers and bugs - if I don't see anything that really grabs me, then I may order the JABC buttons, or improvise something else - and I need to figure out how to make the bird into a hermit crab...? My mother will probably be appalled when I show her this design :)

Well, that's enough rambling - time for lunch, I think! Happy Stitching to everyone this week!

Friday, April 24, 2009

What Do Hot Temps Bring?

This is the temp according to my car on the way home today. It was 93 when I got in, then cooled down to 91 when I got out to the interstate, but climbed back up to 92 about 1/2 way home.

But when I got home, I had these to look at, apparently enjoying the sunny day (which was almost too bright to take good pics):

Pics should be clickable for teh originals, which are here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another April Monday...

Well, here we are, mid-April. Pollen is bad, everyone in my house has sinus crap to some degree - Little Kid is the worst, as is he is this time every year, even with the Claritin, Benedryl, and Flonase all working. A 12-hour soccer day Saturday did not help his case at all, and added a little sunburn to it - if he gets his hair cut anytime in the next couple of months, his forhead & ears are going to have quite a shock :) The pines haven't popped yet - when they do, we'll have the 1/4" coating on everything. The oaks got me a day or two last week, but not too bad. It's the storms rolling through that are killing me - the old barometer head likes the drought :) The boys are down to their last 5 weeks of school - and damn grumpy about it, too, let me tell you. Hmmm, I don't seem to have much sympathy for them :)

Onto the stitching update. Well, I started another project last week, TW's Medieval Miniature. This is my "other" lunch project, for days when D is for Dog is too hard (headache days, usually). And it ought to be fairly quick, with the majority of it being over-1. I managed to get the brown frame stitched over 2 lunches last week:
Again, using my good old 28ct evenweave, and all the DMC, Kreinik, & MH beads called for - I think this will look cute hung next to Triptych, if I ever get it framed.

I also got Paula's piece for our Round Robin, one of the Lizzie Kate Flip Its series, and I did a bit on it yesterday, before I decided I needed to close my eyes for a bit (to keep them inside my head, it felt like), so nothing picture-worthy. I love the banding she picked for this design, and she also converted it to Vikki's silks - one of the colors is a Woad blue, one of my favorite series of Vikki's colors, so I may have to do a block that uses it, just so I can play with that color :) Maybe I'll have a picture next week :)

My main piece this week was MTM; I have to say that this really is my very favorite project that I have ever worked on - to date :) It's sparkly, silky, and so colorful and detailed - and I'm not even to the buildings yet! But I did get Part 4 completed, including beads, and a small start on Part 5, which looks like it's going to be pretty big, by the time I repeat it 4 times. Part 4 is the last one I will bead until I am done - I think, in my 17x17 Qs, I will have plenty of room to reposition the fabric to work on the buildings without needing to clamp any beads down, though if I work in my 11x17s, the clamps are considerably looser, so not that much of an issue. I don't know, I'll just have to see what works best when I get it out next time, as those 17x17s are so big, especially trying to reach that top left corner when needed - my arms aren't that long! I took a few pics of this last progress, an overall and a couple of bead detail shots. I am still very pleased with my fabric choice - I think Days Gone By really sets off the colors in the silks and the beads, though the light green flowers in Part 4 (Meadow Grass?) do get a little lost on it, but I do like the overall effect: - overall - bead detail top - bead detail right side (shows the fabric better than the other one)
I really, really could keep working on this - if the other stuff wasn't hollering at me. Chat Noir didn't even make an appearance this week, though I wanted to work on it, too. And I was hoping to have a sunny day for my day off last Monday, in the hopes that I could work on MMM03 during the day, but it was too overcast and rainy, so I didn't bother getting it out. Next time I have a sunny day all to myself, though, it's coming out - gotta get those green vines done, and then the rest will be easy!

This week, back to the beginning of the rotation with English Garden Sampler. I am hell-bent on that fountain scene - check back next week to see how far I got, and/or what else jumped out needing to be worked on! Happy Stitching & Happy Spring everyone!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Some Locals Enjoying a Spring Day

Been trying to get these pics for a while - today, hanging out of the bathroom window, I finally had a bit of success!

I had the perfect shot of this male, in complete profile with the black and the yellow of his beak shown perfectly - except I didn't have my camera yet, as I had just gotten out of the shower....

I rarely see a male & female together - I think the blue jays chased them down to the ground by this tree....He's really got a lot more brown/grey on him from this angle.
I thought for sure this pic was going to be blurry - my viewfinder was all fogged up from my shower, so I just kind of zoomed in on the area & shot. Look at it - he's got something in his mouth!! And I have to tell you, this is the biggest damn blue jay I have ever seen - he's HUGE!
Another one of the little grey woodpeckers -I still don't know if this is a juvenile red-headed woody, or not. I had the perfect shot of a red headed woody the other day - but by the time I got the camera, got it on, and got back to where I was, he was long gone. I'll get him one of these days though...
This pair is all over the place - the one on the left is that biggun'...
This little guy was apparently jealous of those more colorful birds getting all of the attention. No idea what this is, a sparrow, a finch? No idea.

You can see a few more shots here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

A Relapse Update

Well, I don't know what the hell happened to spring, but winter is back, and I am not impressed. They are calling for s@&% flurries tomorrow, which has the entire state in panic, but as it was 80 on Saturday, it's not like we'll have any accumulation. Actually, that I could care less about; it's the cold and the wind we have today that I could live without (yes, I know, you can't have snow without cold - but you can have cold without snow, and I'm done with cold). Took Lucy out this morning, since the boys are o n break this week, and a gust broke my hair, so I was a disaster before I even got in the car :( At least DH got some of the grass mowed yesterday, before the little sprinkle forced him to give up for the week.

Well, you have probably already seen my post about my gato negro, Booger. That pretty much screwed up my whole week, stitch-wise, work-wise, life-wise. Several years ago, I was surfing the net and found a site with lots of patterns on it, many of them free - Jaenne Bonner. She had a conversion done of that famous Chat Noir poster, and it was a freebie, and the first time I ever saw that poster, I said to myself that that was Booger to a T, so I downloaded that chart, as well as a couple of others, thinking I'd do that one day for Booger :)

Then, when Hancock had that erroneous floss sale a few years ago, it was one of the things I kitted up. I was discussing it with someone one day (Claire???), and went to see if I could find it again, for the picture, and found that Jaenne had changed it show a blue background w/moon. I e-mailed her, just on the off chance she still had the original image around. She e-mailed me back that same day, and said she didn't have it anymore, but she had switched it up to the blue/moon as a tribute to her little black kitty, who's name was in the e-mail, but I don't have it anymore, as it was in a long-dead machine.

So here it is, a few years later, and it's time to start the piece. I started winding bobbins on Wednesday, after I made the appointment to take el gato in, and later that Friday night, once my eyes had dried a bit and my hands stopped shaking, I started. I worked on it all weekend, when I had time to sit down, and I thought about Booger with each stitch. I have to say that I am convinced my HaED & SQ charts are just insanely hard, with all the color changes, as I got great progress in on this piece, about 1500 stitches in in a few days - I couldn't do that on either of those other pieces if I stitched non-stop 24/7. You can see the progress here:

Before that, I was working on my small LD Foursome Reel piece. I got the alphabet done, and the inner box around it, and started on the lower motifs. I didn't get very far on it, what with these other things going on, and I almost picked it up yesterday to finish the motif I had started, but I didn't want to put Chat down, so didn't. The progress is here, with a ruler so you can get an idea of how big this is, over-1 on 36:

If you look at it, you'll notice the bottom row of the alphabet looks like it is misaligned. Well, that would be because I skipped a letter. It took me taking a picture last night to notice it, but it was too late to pick it apart then. Man, do I hate, hate, hate frogging over-1!!!! Especially this small! I will try to unpick when I get home tonight, then put it away - I was so worried about that cat and getting him taken care of and paying lots of extra attention to him, that I apparently forgot my ABCs. Oh well, that'll teach me to be distracted and try to stitch.... Hmmm, do I flip the fabric over and start again on the other end? We'll see how the unpicking goes.

This week, I am supposed to work on Lady & Unicorn, but I may divide my time to also work on Chat; I'm definitely not ready to put that down just yet. I need to get to a stopping place on Lyne's Santa, as we need to shuffle by the 13th - I put about 10 stitches into it last week. I will try to do better during lunch this week on that. I have Friday & next Monday off - a much-needed break after the boss being gone for 3 weeks, and well, I just need a couple of days off. I would like to finish that necklace I've had laid out since October, and Nancy sent me the fob I made her for repair (her son's adorable puppy Barry got hold of it and turned it to bits :) - I'm glad he didn't swallow any of the beads, though I assume they would come out okay?! ), so I'd like to do that, and someone I work with gave me something to restring, as well. I think I have plenty of stuff to occupy my time, so long as I don't get in a fit of spring cleaning - though I will have free child labor on Friday, so we might just do a little then. So, who knows what I'll work on this week? Anything's possible. Until next week, happy stitching, everyone!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Booger T. Cat , March 1989-April 2009

I've always had animals in my life; when I was small, we had a dog named Otto that I don't really remember, and then my dog, Bruno, who was an old mutt of the best kind. Later, we had Baron, the crazy Irish Setter, that was the pick of the litter from my sister's Irish Setters. He was a gorgeous dog, but he didn't do well living trapped in a house all day with no where to run, so after a couple of years of trying to get his nervous conditions under control, we had to put him down. Old Bruno also got put down when his arthritis was so very bad, he couldn't come up the steps to get in out of the winter cold.

Then we got a cat. Mom was allergic to cats for many years, but I guess being away from them the years we had the dogs, she was able to tolerate cats again. We got a bold calico from a cousin of ours. And at some point, we decided to let her have a litter of kittens before we got her fixed, so my brother had a friend who had this cat that looked just like a lion - he had a poof on the end of his tail just like lions do. So when Zip went into heat, he brought that cat over to do his thing, and weeks later, we had 5 kittens around the house.We kept one of them and named her Tarzana. She was the coolest orange & white cat, but man, did she have an attitude. Just hated everyone except mom.

Then I moved in with dad. Cheryl had gone to a rescue place and gotten Gretchen the cat. I don't remember what happened to her now. And then came Bud (or ALex, as I called him - after Alex the Budweiser dog), who Cheryl found on the way home from work, out in the middle of the road. He was the whitest cat you've ever seen. He was a hunter; I remember one day when he brought 3 baby rabbits up to the house in about 10 minutes - he had to go inside after that. And then Big Fat Sally showed up (her real name was Pumpkin, but believe me, BFS was much more fitting).

When I joined the AF, my first permanent duty station was in England, and it wasn't too long before I found myself living off base, in downtown Ipswich. One day, three little Pakistani girls that lived around the corner banged on the door of our flat, and when I opened up the door, they held out this scrawny B&W cat and said "You want a cat?" So of course I said yes. He lived with us and we named him Socrates (there's a story behind the name that I don't recall now), and he hated the plecostamus in the fish tank :) When we moved out of the city, he much enjoyed his time in the country, and brought us "gifts" everyday - voles, finches, other things, all scattered outside the door between the house & the car. He even brought a few inside, not always dead. Soc fetched sticks, until the day the Killer Pheasant chased him back through the yard. When we left England, we brought Soc with us - it was an easy thing to do, since coming from England, it's the only place on the planet there's no quarantine from, since rabies doesn't exist there.

We got to New Mexico, and bought a house, and Soc seemed kinda bored tooling around there all day by himself - even with a new plecostamus to terrorize, so one of the guys in the shop had a litter of kittens he was looking to get rid of. So entered Booger into my life, though he was called Bear when he was little.Soc was happy, he had a buddy to play with. And play they did, tearing through the house at all hours, fighting, eating, running around the back yard, looking for horny toads.Bear was my constant companion; I'd open a book after a long day working the jet, and he would either push it out of the way or plop right down in the middle of it. If I was working on my needlework, he'd be right there on my lap, purring up a storm and chasing my thread underneath. And at night, when the porch light was on, and the giant moths would appear, he would constantly crash against the windows, trying to get them - and he ate a fair few of them.

He would go out back on the patio, into the hot New Mexico sun, and about 2 minutes later, would be panting so hard - he could get his black fur so hot, you almost couldn't touch him. Then he'd flop down by the half-barrel and survey his surroundings. And usually get dive-bombed by Soc. Then we had new neighbors move in, and they had British Bull Mastiffs. They had 2, who then had a litter, and they kept 3 of them. And their kennel was up against the fence that separated our back yards. So where did Bear like to walk? That fence over that kennel, just teasing those damn dogs that could squash him with a paw. Cat humor at it's finest.

From New Mexico, Bear & I found ourselves in South Dakota. I hated S. Dakota - it was ugly, it was hot, the people were so strange. Weird place, even though it wasn't all that different from NM - but it was different enough. We had a flock of wild turkeys that ran through the yard. Soc didn't like them. Bear ignored them, though he did like to prowl their path.

I decided I couldn't stay in S. Dakota, so I took my cat and I went home. I left Soc there, as I couldn't bring both with me :( I was told he had been adopted by a nice family; I hope so. So back to Ohio I go, cat in tow, and we move in with my dad. That's where Booger comes in - while I was away at school or work, my dad adopted Bear and renamed him Booger, and as boogers often do, it stuck :D And then Bitty was rescued, and her & Booger pal'd around like he and Soc used to do, though now Booger was the teacher and older brother.

After a while, I found myself in some strange circumstances, not going to school, quitting one job for another, living in this horrible house with a horrible girl with two kids. And then I found my current husband, who I knew Booger would have to like before I would - he did NOT like a guy I dated 2-3 times in school. Booger liked him immediately, and even his house that had an ankle-biting dog running around - Booger just knew he was so above that dog, that that dog could just bark at him all day long, and Booger would just give him a swipe across the nose and go about his business.

Eventually, we got our apartment, and then, poor Booger was home alone all day. So we were in a pet store in Englewood one day, looking at fish, I think, and there were a bunch op kittens for sale. Next thing I know, Todd had one out and was up at the register paying for him. He actually paid for a free cat - because there aren't any free kittens anywhere.... And so Booger had a new brother to train, Ripley.And then our first 2-legged kid arrived, and Booger was not impressed by his loss of attention. But I think he was very protective of this new brother-thing, as he slept under his crib or in his doorway for a long time. We never saw Ripley while we lived int he apartment - he slept under the water heater (next to the pilot light) by day, and would come out to play with super balls at night; must've driven the people downstairs nuts :) But every moment I wasn't handling a baby, I had a 12-pound black cat in my lap, and he slept with every time I closed my eyes.

And then we moved to Georgia, and soon after, came across a dog that needed rescuing. Otto was his name (for the one I had when I was little that I didn't really remember). But Otto didn't get housebroken properly, so he had to spend his time outside, so Booger & Ripley didn't really pay a lot of attention to him. Then we got Zeke from someone at work. And then our 2nd 2-legged kid arrived. It was pretty much a full house at that point.

In the intervening years, we've had 3 hamsters, 3-4 hermit crabs ( a couple of which escaped and have never been found), gold fish that refused to die until the heron got them out of the pond, turtles, and Booger, Ripley, and Otto. Then I had to rescue a cat from my dad in 2006, a beautiful, but slightly weird, mostly-Maine Coon, who has since become known as Beanie (his given name was Legion, as my dad found him in the American Legion parking lot - but that didn't work, so we flipped through several before landing on Bean) .We lost Otto on a Saturday morning; Todd went down to the garage to get stuff ready to go to soccer games for the day - a tournament on the other side of Atlanta, I think - and Otto was in the garage, laying on the floor having trouble breathing. A little bit later, he was gone. I think he had a good 13 years, keeping all the neighborhood squirrels in check :) He had a wonderful relationship with the dog next door, whom we all felt should have been ours. And then, Ripley got sick, and went downhill fast. He died in April of 2007, a good 15 years old and beat up as all good alley cats should be. And here was Booger, still ticking, still stuck to my side like a burr, though he was definitely moving a bit slower than he had, and would really like Bean to just leave him alone so he could sleep. Some days, he wouldn't even wake up when I got home, but as soon as he did, and realized I was there, straight to me he'd come, yowling with that horrible Siamese scream he perfected.

And then we brought Lucy home. Beanie was having no part of that damn dog in the house, and Booger, well, it's all old hat to him by this point, except now, he has to eat his food on the counter all of the time, to keep the dog out. SO does Bean, which means Bean will then come finish off Booger's, because Boog's a dainty eater, and not a wolfhound like all of the other animals in the house. But Booger & Lucy come to an agreement - they'll stay out of each other's food, and if Lucy sniffs his butt too much, he's going to hiss & smack her nose, and that's just the way it is.Last fall, Booger really started to act his age - he was 19 1/2 in October. His kitty dementia was getting worse - he's just walk through the house, yowling, and would be found in the kitchen, over by the pantry, looking up at the wall, just screaming like he had no idea how he'd gotten there or where he had planned to go. Then we had the cold snap in November, with highly unusual freezing temps, and he was so slow to move, even when Bean and Lucy were chasing him or picking on him. You could tell how stiff he was, but he was still going up & down the steps to use his box, but sleeping a lot more. I thought for sure he wouldn't make it through the winter.

And then around December, his fur started to mat up, and he wouldn't let me comb him - you could tell how much it hurt. And he was sooo thin. I knew the time had come. I gave him a few more months, thinking maybe he would just finally go to sleep one day and not wake up - but he always did, and was out here sitting on the counter every morning, screaming for his breakfast. His unofficial birthday is March 25th, and when he reached that his year, his 20th, I figured he's just being stubborn. But as his back legs were failing him more & more, I knew I had to make the call.

We took him in to the vet last Friday. I think the vet was actually shocked that this cat was 20 years old! He went peacefully, and is now outside with Ripley and Otto. I miss him dreadfully.I had him with me for half of my life, and all of my adult life. I had him longer than I've had my family. And unlike my family, he just wanted my attention everyday, with no back talk, not too many demands, just some chin scratching and ear rubs, and all the tuna he could eat. And DH said he'd get me a new black kitty. NO! I do not want another, as there is no other.

I see you soon, kitty - I'll bring the tuna. And the can opener.