Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More Border Collie Cross Stitch

My dogs are an important part of my life. They take me out of myself and force me to pay attention to and take care of another life. This is especially true of Ace. Tonight I took Ace to dog agility class. He does well, better than I do. It requires concentration on the dog and on my actions. We are working toward becoming a team, learning about each other and the equipment.

The cross stitch pattern here is called "Next to Go." Probably sheep dog trials. Border collies are called collies or sheep dogs overseas. I love this pattern.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I misinterpreted the relationships

I wrote yesterday about two of my friends dumping me because they said I was too "needy." I have been thinking about this, and I think I am making some progress in understanding it.

I can't relate to the "needy" thing. It just doesn't fit. I have thought about it a lot, and I don't feel in my gut that it's right. Then what is right?

I think I misinterpreted the relationships. I thought we were closer than we were. I thought they enjoyed talking to me. I certainly enjoyed talking to them. But I seem to have been too intense. They felt that I was demanding more from them than they could give. This would have been the case if we were interpreting the relationship differently. In face to face relationships when this happens, the one with the less intense feelings withdraws, perhaps feeling a bit stifled by the other person. I have been there and done that.

Breaking up with friends is a bit like breaking up with lovers. It hurts like heck.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Changes, Transformations, Metamorphoses

I have been going through a lot of changes recently. My interests are becoming broader and I am thinking about new things. I have joined some new groups. I have ordered new books. I have some new blogs and spend more time writing.

It seems like my friends are changing too. In the last few days, two of my friends have dumped me. They were internet friends. We were a trio, the three of us. They said I was too "needy," but I don't see it, and I don't even feel there's anything to deny. I mean, I can't find neediness anywhere in me. And I've looked.

All I feel is transformation. I feel very different than I did a few weeks ago. I think I am going in a good direction. I don't understand why anyone would reject me now, unless they don't like who I am becoming. Maybe we have gone in different directions. How that can be interpreted as neediness, I don't know. It may just be an excuse to end the relationship.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Tough love for relatives who ask for money?

What do you do when a relative asks for money?

I have a friend who loaded a brother-in-law $300,000. He went into bankruptcy and never paid it back. The money was part of their retirement savings. They have jumped through legal hoops and there is little hope.

I know somebody who mortgaged their house to pay for a daughter's legal fees. She was a pharmacist and was doing drugs. She was on probation for manslaughter. She had shot and killed her boyfriend who was abusing her. When she got caught on the drug charge, she had to serve time for both crimes. The family eventually went into tough-love mode. They had given her everything they could give, and finally had to let her fall.

I just had a relative ask me for money. We didn't talk for 13 years...since the last time she asked me for money. I have been talking to her again for a few months, and she asked for money again. I feel terrible about saying no. I told her we couldn't afford it, that we have two children in college and a third in a private high school. I am afraid that the next time she asks for money, she will not talk to me again for another 13 years.

If I had a lot of money, I would give it to her, so she would never hurt for money again. I would buy her a house and set up a trust fund, and put her children through college. Right now I am putting my children through college and saving for retirement. I feel just terrible saying no. I feel terrible because I have so much more than she has.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I have a soldier...

"You can support the troops but not the president."
Rep Tom Delay (R-TX), when Clinton sent troops to Bosnia.

I have a soldier from Soldiers' Angels. I am a Democrat and I don't feel great about the War in Iraq. I dislike Bush immensely, especially his so-called values, which I don't share. Yet I have a soldier I am supporting who is now in Iraq. I am enjoying it immensely. I hope he is too.

As Tom Delay said, you can support the troops -- even if you aren't a Republican, even if you don't agree with the war, even if you are a conscientious objector, or a vegetarian, and even if Ayn Rand isn't your favorite author. You can support the troops if you are a Clinton Democrat.

During the Vietnam War, when I was a teenager and young adult, I supported the troops. I was staunchly anti-war, but I couldn't figure out why people didn't support the troops. They weren't at fault for the war. They deserved a good welcome. I had good feelings for the guys in green. I have deep reverence when I visit the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., something everyone should do.

Even if you're slightly left of center, like I am, go to Soldiers Angels and get yourself a soldier. It is very rewarding.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Another View of Ace!

This is Ace a few minutes ago, looking up at me endearingly. He just got back from agility class and he's exhausted. Thursday or Friday we are going back to Peabody Manor for pet therapy. I think I get as much out of it as the people he visits.

I have some new border collie cross stitch patterns to share. More later.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Green Tree Frog from Ross Originals

My friend Chrissy, who inspired the frogging post below, has an online shop called CraftBooksGalore. She's got cross stitch patterns and a lot of other stuff. My favorite is a booklet that teaches you how to make some great thongs for bare feet. I'm going to buy that one.

In the meantime (as long as we are talking about frogging) here is Chrissy's favorite FROG pattern. It's from Ross Originals, which is an Australian cross stitch company. Not all of their patterns are available in the US, and some are downright difficult to find. I was hunting for a couple of the Egyptian patterns and they are only available overseas, for example. Luckily, Green Tree Frog is available at 1-2-3 Stitch.

Updating my Blog!

Sorry I've not updated my blog for a few days. I've been really busy with my diabetes blog, getting ready for Blogathon and blogging for 24 hours starting at 8:00 yesterday morning (August 6) to 8:00 this morning (August 7). If you'd like to see what I did for the Blogathon (besides raising $85 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) go to Sweet as Candice: My life with type 1 diabetes. It was a wonderful experience for me and one I am going to repeat next year. I am already thinking of ideas. I would highly recommend getting involved and blogging for the charity of your choice!

What's Wrong with Technorati?

For the past couple of days, the Technorati icon on my blogs has been missing. In addition, I can't get the information about the links to my blogs at their website. I wonder if they are having problems. That would be a drag, because it's really fun going to Technorati to find out who has linked to my blogs. I don't think it's a complete list of links -- I think it's just the links for people who are members of Technorati. But it's a great service and I hope they come back up soon. I'd really like to ping them that I've updated my blogs.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Cross Stitchers and Frogs

It's funny. When you ask a cross stitcher what their favorite animal is, you get almost predictable answers. My friend Val is a squirrel. I am a groundhog. And my friend Chrissy is a frog. Val accumulates stuff (she squirrels it away). I pile stuff up on the floor (ground-hog). And Chrissy, well she frogs! It's all about stash and stitching.

In honor of my friend Chrissy, I'm doing a post on cross stitch frogs. Chrissy loves frogs. So do Val and Roxi. So these frogs are for all of them.

If you are reading this and you are not a cross stitcher, you may not know the significance of the frog. To us, the term "frog" means not only a tailless amphibian with webbed feet, but also the sound "ribbit ribbit," meaning that your stitching must be ripped out and restitched. To the cross stitcher, the frog can connote hours of painful picking away at floss, trying to get it free from delicate fabric without tearing anything.

We cross stitchers regularly accuse each other of sicking a frog on us, of someone letting their frog out to invade every other cross stitcher's life, or the frog coming for a visit. Nobody wants that kind of frog. The tailless amphibian, however, is beloved.

In Greece, 400 BCE, a chorus of frogs sings loudly in one of Aristophanes' plays. Aristophanes' frogs say "brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax" not "ribbit ribbit." Much use they are. (I actually did read The Frogs when I was on my Greek plays kick.)

I have adopted a couple of soldiers in Iraq, and when I send them packages, I send along a Beanie Baby to give to an Iraqi child. I recently acquired some Beanie Baby frogs -- lively pink ones -- and then I got to wondering if there are frogs in Iraq. I suppose there are some by the rivers, but would the children who live in dry, dusty villages know what frogs are? And if so, what if frogs are taboo. I know nothing of Islam. If dogs are despised, could frogs be far behind? I decided I was thinking too deeply about this, and the frogs are going to Iraq.

Okay, reading the web I learned that there are indeed frogs in Iraq. They come out when it rains. But clearly, to call somebody a "Frog" is a negative thing in Iraq.

I once had a cassette tape of frogs. I bought it because I thought it would be relaxing. Then I went to Zimbabwe and took a lot of tapes with me, including the frog tape. When I played it in the car, my Zimbabwean colleagues were incredulous. They couldn't believe somebody would actually have a tape of frogs. I am sure it proved to them just how far away from nature we Americans are. Or how ridiculous.

To the cross stitcher, frog is a noun and a verb. "To frog" is to remove stitches, and when one does that, one is "frogging." We all hate frogging.

Monday, August 01, 2005

La Sylphide Toquee Revisited

On January 17, 2005 I posted a entry in this blog about La Sylphide Toquee, a French cross stitch designer. La Syphide Toquee has an adorable web site, with what looks like cute little winged bugs floating around. It's a little difficult to traverse for me, not speaking French, but I figured it out. There seem to be a free pattern and several new designs added since January. The free pattern is called Ethique Coeur & Ame.

I have picked out two more designs to share here. These designs are special because of their delicacy. The design on the left is Bienvenue Mouton. On the right is The Village.

A couple of weeks ago someone named Agnes posted a comment here. She claimed to be the "Crazy Sylph" herself!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Embroidery Fairy -- Fees Brodeuses (English and French)

A lot of the people who visit this blog get here though le blog de fees brodeuses, a very creative and interesting French blog which focuses heavily on counted cross stitch. The best I have been able to translate "fees brodeuses" is as "Stitching Fairies." There is a lot of great cross stitch on the blog, and it's worth looking at. I especially like a little piece called "French Rat"! The blog is connected to an online shop called Stitching Fairies Workshop. You can translate this blog by going to the Babblefish link at the bottom of this page.

Un bon nombre de gens qui visitent ce blog obtiennent ici cependant des brodeuses d'honoraires de le blog de, un blog français très créateur et intéressant qui se concentre fortement sur le point en travers compté. Le meilleur j'ai pu traduire des "honoraires que les brodeuses" est en tant que "fées piquantes." Il y a beaucoup de grand point en travers sur le blog, et il est intéressant regarder. J'aime particulièrement un petit morceau appelé "le rat français" ! Le blog est relié à un magasin en ligne appelé l'atelier piquant de fées. Vous pouvez traduire ce blog en allant au lien de Babblefish en bas de cette page.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ace and Cross Stitch Border Collies

Since I am going to post pictures of border collie patterns, I thought I would start out with a picture of my Ace in a typical border collie pose. As you can see, he is shoving a toy at me hoping I will play with him. Yes, that is a rubber tire dog toy. I have other, less energetic pictures of Ace, but they all have those yellow camera flash eyes. I can't seem to catch him any way except head-on because he's always attentive and intense! But enough about Ace. Now for some border collie cross stitch.

The first border collie is from one of Pegasus Originals' dogs books. This one is from Dogs 9. I don't have a decent color shot from the cover, so I am posting part of the pattern. It's too small to use, so I'm not too worried about copyright infringement. Border Collie fanatics will want to buy the book anyway!

This border collie pattern is from Heritage Stitchcraft. Truth is, none of these border collies looks like Ace, because Ace has "ticking" -- speckles of black in his white fur. It reminds me of chocolate chip ice cream, with lots of chips. I do like this pattern, but it's a big project and a lot more work than I want to put into it right now.

While I'm talking about border collies, I might add that I've got Ace enrolled in two dog classes: agility and obedience. The only reason he needs obedience is because he needs to learn to heel. I'm really looking forward to the classes. One is going to be taught by my anthropologist friend, Carol, who has two border collies. Her boys, Cobb and Jeff, look a lot like Ace. Carol thinks they are related.

Here's one of my favorite border collie patterns, from Anchor. It's called "Not Far to Go." The border collie in this pattern really looks like a herding dog. I think James Herriot probably knew something about border collies -- he inspired this one. This pattern has "Scotland" written on it, and the floss numbers are Anchor and not DMC.

This last one, "Coming Out to Play," is my favorite. It features a pig and brings up reminiscences of "Babe" which of course starred some border collies. Apparently around the time "Babe" was released, border collie rescue got off the ground. People who didn't know what they were getting into would acquire a border collie. When it turned out to be an intense, demanding dog (in other words, a good herding dog) a lot of people would get rid of it. I got Ace from border collie rescue.

That's it for the cross stitch border collies in my collection. If you come across any others, please let me know!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

BlogExplosion -- a way to increase traffic to my blogs?

I have been trying to increase traffic to my blogs.

I joined something called BlogExplosion which is a website where you earn points by viewing other people's blogs, and people in turn view your blogs.

I have used it for a few days, and have discovered that I keep seeing the same blogs over and over again. Makes me think the same people are seeing my blogs over and over again! And it doesn't appear that people who are looking at my blog spend any time there, beyond the required 30 seconds to get the points.

I actually look at the blogs I visit -- well, a lot of them. I've even found a few that I like, and have returned to them and even linked to them. I have gotten some links out of BlogExplosion too.

But is it worth the time it takes to increase traffic to my blogs? Some people say no. What do you think?

Daniel and Me

This photo is of Daniel and me at a wedding a couple of years ago. Daniel's mother likes it because it looks like he's got a halo around his head! I love my mother-in-law dearly, but Pu-leeze!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Amis Français Bienvenus !

Merci de visiter mon blog !

I don't speak much French, but I have noticed that a high proportion of the folks visiting my blog are from France! I am glad you are here! Welcome!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Road to Hortonville: Reminiscences of Western Kenya

I took my daughter Camille to Hortonville today to see the orthodontist. As I drove down County JJ, sort of a back way to get into town, I felt like I was driving down the highway in Western Province, Kenya. It was a combination of rolling hills and fields of corn that reminded me of the road from Kisumu to Kakamega, the beginning of a long climb to the extinct volcano, Mt. Elgon (right). Mt. Elgon, 14,178 feet high, has a wide, flat-looking peak, usually covered by clouds, and a rare sight from Maragoli, where I worked.

The fields of corn lining the road in Hortonville (left) are reminiscent of Maragoli, but there is a vast difference in technology, scale and wealth. I remember taking postcards with me on my second trip, to show the people in the village where I lived and what it was like. I had some pictures of farms with gigantic silos, surrounded by vast stretches of land. In Maragoli, the grain is stored in a grainery barely higher than a rural mud and thatched house, and farmland -- ever diminishing with population growth -- averages one or two hectares or less.

When I came back from Kenya, I would flash back and forth between Candice driving in Maragoli and Candice driving in Wisconsin. I did know where I was, but my experience was that I could have been anywhere. Today I had the same feeling. I was back in Africa, driving on the road to Mt. Elgon.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Counters

I put counters up on my blogs early this morning, and am very surprised how many people visit my sites. I can't believe that, in half a day, 20 people have visited this blog. I felt I was hiding out in my corner of the web, relatively safe from perusal. Now I am thinking, "Gee, people are actually visiting this blog. I have to make it good!"

Something that baffles me and led me to believe that traffic on my website is relatively slow: I get very few comments. So leave me a comment, and let me know that you were here!

Friday, July 15, 2005


Look what I found! It's a website full of hand-drawn emoticons. Totally cool. It's called Unkymoods.com". My friend Leeny had one on her blog. Here's my Unky for today!

NOTE My unkymoods icon isn't working, and my attempts to visit the website are met with a web page that indicates the site is not there. I susptec the site is having problems or no longer exists.

The Shirt, by Jane Kenyon

"The Shirt"

The shirt touches his neck
And smooths over his back.
It slides down his sides.
It even goes below his belt—
down into his pants.
Lucky shirt.
by Jane Kenyon

This is one of my favorite poems. It reminds me of someone in particular. I won't say who!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Black Squirrel Letter

This is a copy of an email I sent to a web page about squirrels (Amazing Squirrel Stories). We had seen some black squirrels, and I went on the web to find out about them. Here is the letter, which they called:

"Disbelief in Appleton, Wisconsin."

I drive my children to school every day along a route that roughly follows the Fox River. They attend local Catholic schools that cluster around Prospect Avenue. Prospect runs parallel to the river through Appleton's old Third Ward, past historic houses overlooking the Fox. There, amid the old oak trees around a half dozen of these historic houses, live an abundance of black squirrels.

The children and I were disbelieving the first time we saw a black squirrel. They were the same size as the gray squirrels everywhere else in Appleton, with the same large, bushy tails. I had never seen a black squirrel before and hypothesized that this was merely a gray, bushy-tailed squirrel that had gotten down someone's fireplace and had emerged soot-covered. But we all saw another black squirrel a few days later, and soon realized that a few of the yards contained not one but several specimens, all scurrying about with nuts in their mouths preparing for the winter.

We now look out for them when we drive down Prospect Avenue near Richmond Avenue. They are truly beautiful, a rare and exhilarating sight in a picturesque little city. [Candice Bradley, 11/22/98]

UPDATE July 14, 2005

A little research on some squirrel websites has revealed that black squirrels are more common in the north-midwest of the U.S. and in Canada. Apparently black squirrels are better adapted to lower temperatures than gray squirrels. For more information of black squirrels and a list of good links, go to Black Squirrels.

Book Wish List from Title Trader

Title Trader is a book-swap website where you list an inventory of books you wish to trade. Other people then look at your list and request books. For each book somebody else requests, you get one point. For each book you request, you pay one point. I have already requested four books and sent out three.

Here is my book wish list on Title Trader:

Monday, July 11, 2005

Rubble Bubbles

I wrote Rubble Bubbles on August 27, 2001, just after I got out of Bellin Psychiatric Center. It describes the state of my bedroom (and my head) at the time. I thought it was appropriate to publish it here now that I'm organizing my office/art room. The poem was among the papers I found while I was cleaning.

Rubble Bubbles

Rubble bubbles up
from the floor like a geyser
from the underworld,

Bubbles up the bed
through the mattress, through the sheets
right to the older mess

left there before the last.
Mania's rising up
rising from times of

Idol-worship, Dionysus's
maidens- - Maenads- - dancing
on heads, laughing mindlessly

But my mess merely
bubbles up in laughter.
I later only cry at messes.

During the time I wrote this, I was doing a considerable amount of reading of Greek mythology. I just now had to go back and see what the Dionysus-Maenad reference meant. Maenads are women in the cult of Dionysus. Maenad literally means "madwoman" in Greek while mania means "madness." Thus, mania and Maenad have the same root. Click here for more information on Maenads.

Here is a picture of Maenads and Satyrs

Treasures Found in the Art Room: The Organizer

Melody, the professional organizer, came by today. In one hour, we got most of my office/art room cleaned up. It's not fully organized yet, the way it's going to be, but my "ground-hog" floor is getting clear. The Kenyan throw rug has emerged from under piles of boxes containing quilting fabric and needlework materials. There are three boxes of photos (big ones). Another box contains even more cross stitch thread than I knew I had. The genealogy books and records occupy a shelf in one of the closets. More Agatha Christie mysteries emerged from under the window.

I have found all sorts of treasures under piles of paper in cardboard boxes. I found the brochures from Sherwin-Williams with preservation and heritage colors that I had been searching for. Something long lost also appeared: a piece of paper showing a rough sketch of the gardens and lawn around my house, with the plants and trees identified. I discovered to-do lists written in beautiful calligraphy. There were amazing little art projects; one was a half-completed series of miniature houses made from brown corrugated board and paper decorated in tiny, delicate green and red flowers.

I still have tasks ahead of me. There are eight more boxes under the shelves that we didn't get to today. I imagine most of it is trash. I still need to sort it out, filling up temporary genealogy and decorating boxes. My desk needs to be cleared off, the photos put away in the cupboard downstairs, trash hauled off, bookshelves and a drafting table moved to make room for a cushy chair and reclaim a window.

I should have taken before and after pictures. I did that with my bedroom a few years ago, just to have a permanent record of what it once looked like.

After Melody and I finish up the art room, we're going to move on to Camille's bedroom.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Let Evening Come" by Jane Kenyon

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995) published this poem in 1990 in a volume by the same name. It is one of my favorite poems. The copy I have, which I carry in my DayRunner all folded up, is on a page torn from a magazine dated January 2002 -- I think Oprah. The poem is about death. I don't know if Jane Kenyon had been diagnosed with leukemia yet when she wrote this, but it is prophetic.

Here is "Let Evening Come," read by me:

this is an audio post - click to play

The Appleton Public Library is going to have a Jane Kenyon workshop this week. Maybe I'll go.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Candy & Candide

When I was in high school, boys would walk up to me and say, "Candy, like the book?" I knew the book existed because my friends in South America had told me about it. I knew it was pornographic. I had no idea what it was though. I would always say, "No." (To this day, I can't figure out how the boys knew about this book.)

I finally got a copy of Candy. It is by Terry Southern who died in 1995. The book was written in 1958 when I was 5 years old.

The dust cover says it is a satire on Voltaire's Candide. Candide was a Freshman Studies book at Lawrence, so having taught it I know it pretty well. Candy also appears to be considerably less pornographic (and probably more interesting) than I thought. It will be interesting reading both Candy and Lolita. Maybe I'll read them back to back.

* * *

Here are some comments on Candy by "Dunzy," who responded to my post on the subject on BookCrossing. (Dunzy happens to be very knowledgeable about a lot of things.)

"Candy" was sooo dandy! Early editions of Terry Southern's book are behind glass in scholarly collections now, but 45 years ago they were everywhere -- well, everywhere that parents wouldn't think to look. Copies had previously been waved around a lot in courtrooms.

Southern's credits go on and on: "Dr. Strangelove", "Barbarella", "Easy Rider", protogonzo journalism, etc. See the lively site maintained by his son, Nile: http://www.terrysouthern.com/. (Nile is the author of "The Candy Men", an affectionate memoir that came out last year.)

Dunzy's BookCrossing website is at http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/Dunzy.

* * *

Here's more from Dunzy:

“Maxwell Kenton” was Southern’s nom-de-plume on Candy’s first edition. Southern had two other books in typescript and didn’t want to identify himself with a hot-and-hasty bit of Olympia Press trash. Southern asked Mason Hoffenberg to help him for the sake of a quick turnaround. They were both young writers starving picturesquely in Paris, and they needed the money. Though the book was a huge success, no real money went to the writers or the original publisher; bootleggers made a fortune.

Professional Organizers, ADD Coaches & Therapists: People who help people get it together!

I recently hired a professional organizer to help me get my office together. I found her through the National Association of Professional Organizers (www.napo.net). My professional organizer is Melody McCabe, a young businesswoman and mother of twins who is very involved in WorldWIT, which stands for Women, Insights, Technology and is a network of 40,000 women all over the world.

The first time I met with her, Melody came to my house to talk about what I wanted to get out of my office and a professional organizer. At that point, I thought that she would direct me and I would do most of the work. She then emailed me a list of goals that I would work on toward our second meeting. However, 3 weeks have gone by (two of which I was out of town, by the way) and I have done nothing. I am realizing I need more directed help, something more hands-on than mere assignments. I am not ready for our meeting three days from now and will need to postpone it. Luckily, being more involved is one of the options she presented to me.

In the meantime, my friend Roxi told me about a book her therapist had recommended: ADD_Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau. I got home today and it was in the carton with the rest of the mail. I cruised quickly through the book and discovered repeated mention of 1) how useful it is to have a therapist; and 2) ADD coaching. The book lists three websites with ADD coaches. These are people who, either over the phone/email, or in person (or both), help people with ADD get it together.

Coaching seems like the mental aspect of what Melody does (the emotional aspect coming from the therapist). There are all kinds of coaching, not just ADD coaching. Here's one coaching website: The Coach Connection. Google ADD Coach and see what you come up with!

Monday, July 04, 2005


I am in St. Louis for a couple of weeks, at a family reunion at my in-laws' house. I had brought a bunch of books with me, and for the last three or four days I have been obsessed with reading. I read Middlesex, The Kite Runner, several of Kafka's stories from a complete collection that John got, and now I am reading Life of Pi, which I will undoubtedly finish tonight some time.

Finding these excellent books has been mostly the result of joining BookCrossing. "Bookcrossing" is defined as "the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise." It's a great website. There is an active forum with such topics as "July 4: What are you reading?" (often in a variety of languages), or "Do you ever become obsessed with one author?" I've learned about so many books I want to read from the forum.

I haven't left any books "in the wild" yet, but I did put BookCrossing stickers in several of my books, and am passing them around to people I know. I gave a copy of Mongo to Terry, and he gave me Grand Central Winter. Now I'm passing Grand Central Winter on. The only problem is -- it's hard to let go of books I love.

When I read, I am lifted away from things that disappoint me.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


I had to create a journal over at LiveJournal so I could access somebody's ATC journal. There's not much in there, but here it is:


ATC=Artist Trading Cards

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Picture of Ace

This is my first picture of Ace. Sorry about the glaring eyes. He does have very intense eyes though. He is speckled over a lot of his body instead of white -- but of course Border Collies come in all sorts of colors, not just the usual black and white.  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Henry meets Ace!

Henry and I went to the Winnegamie Dog Club yesterday to meet Ace. When we got there, Ace was in the parking lot with Louise, and Henry was in the car whining to get out. Louise and I took the dogs to the fenced-in area where the dogs could run (wow, is this great!) and I unleashed Henry. I totally expected Henry to run away immediately, but he was a really good dog. He sniffed around and took it slow. He barely interacted with the other dogs, but was very interested in the people and came over for scratches. In the meantime, Ace and another dog were chasing balls, and Henry hardly paid attention. Every once in a while he made a feeble attempt at chasing a ball, but Ace was so far ahead Henry really didn't bother.

Ace is a beautiful border collie. He is like a shiny black streak. He is so lovely. I hope he quickly becomes part of the family.

Friday, May 13, 2005


I am currently in St. Louis for my mother-in-law's 80th birthday surprise gathering. I think I counted that there will be 19 of us here this time. The house is already full -- I don't know what we're going to do this summer when everyone is here.

Which leads me to the next topic: I am thinking about getting a border collie. Last week I met a border collie named Ace who is in border collie rescue. He's such a great dog. Ever since I met him I can think of almost nothing but bringing Ace home. I really want a dog I can train and do agility training with. It would be so cool. Henry is a good dog, but he's such a maniac when I get him out of the house. He's a wonderful obedient dog indoors. I don't know how it will be having two dogs, but I think it will be fine.

Daniel is a bit skeptical. I had told him a week ago I wanted to get a border collie and I thought he was amenable. But when I told him I had actually found a dog, he acted like I had made the decision on my own. Anyway, I put off the decision until we get back from St. Louis. It's weird though, all I want to talk about is Ace.

Friday, March 04, 2005

You think you choose your craft...

I have been thinking a lot about color. I used to think about color when I was designing web pages and decorating my house. I told my artist friend Helen Klebesadel that I was always looking at color in the world, and that I could "see" it, and she said "You're an artist." I was an artist without a craft.

The problem with my stitching is that it isn't that creative in terms of design. It takes a lot of skill and time, but the designs come from other people, and that has frustrated me. I have toyed with creating my own designs, but so far haven't been able to find the right software. I did some of my own designs back in 2000 I think it was. I did it on graph paper. I have a picture of St. Francis that I designed, with a Celtic knotwork border.

Back then, I heard an artist being interviewed on TV, and he said, "We think we choose our craft, but the craft is choosing us." I think there is something mystical about art. I took that sentence and wrote it out in calligraphy, with an illuminated letter and some trees. I still have it.

Now that I have started with quilting classes and am learning about making scrapbooks, I am suddenly interested in color again. The fabric I chose for my quilt was very different than the fabric other people in the class were using. They were using conventional quilting fabric with bright colors. Mine is an Africa theme, browns, sepias and some green. I didn't pick it up in the quilting section. Of course this doesn't mean I am competent at quilting (quite the contrary, I was the slowest one in the class).

The scrapbooking folks tend to use color wheels. I don't need a color wheel -- I can see it. But I got interested in color wheels recently and did a lot of reading on the internet. I decided to buy myself a fairly elaborate color wheel, which I found on eBay new for $.50.

When I was growing up, I was more interested in art than in anything else. My parents gave me no support for it though. They didn't think it was important. Then one day, in junior high school, the art teacher told my mother that I was talented but wasn't working hard enough. True, I wasn't completing a lot of the things I started because I took so much time doing them. But one of my paintings was hanging in the school office (I still have it!). My mother got all over me about that. Still, no opportunity to gather skills. I was forced to play the flute instead.

So here I am, decades later, still looking for a craft.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

My Mission: Creativity

After reading Michael Messer's article on Mission, Vision, Values, I wanted to define my own mission. I kept being drawn to the idea of being creative. Everything I pursue has a creative element to it. I was at a loss as to what to do with my commitment to family -- it didn't seem to fit in. But "creativity" also means to be productive, to participate in an act of "creation." In this sense, giving birth and raising children is "creative." Thus, "creativity" truly defines my mission.

I am really jazzed about having discovered this. Already, it is helping me to define my goals. I have already eliminated some things from my agenda because they don't fit in with my mission and long term goals (vision). I am starting to focus more.

It is amazing how powerful a single word can be.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Mission, Vision and Values, by Dr. Michael M. Messer

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking article written by my friend Mike Messer, a psychiatrist. I am publishing it here with his permission. I hope you are as inspired by it as I am! By the way, he would love comments.

MISSION, VISION, AND VALUES. On an individual basis, a mission, vision and values statement is a powerful tool to understand our own purpose in life. It also tends to reduce the randomness of efforts; and taken seriously, the process can yield significant results.

Let's look at each part. First, to understand your own mission the question to be answered is "Why am I here, what is my purpose for living?" Contained in this question is the belief that each life is unique and has a purpose. The question may create an existential crisis with queries such as "How is what I do any different from what other people do?" or "What value is my life to others?" For me, this took about a year and a half of wrestling with the question on and off and, for better or worse, writing to you is fulfilling part of that mission.

Vision is a trajectory question. By that, I mean that a personal vision statement is a declaration of what you see as a measure of ultimate success in your life. What is the goal or state of being that would describe ultimate success for you? In writing the values statement, it is better to have a goal that is a "stretch goal," one that takes you beyond what your own concept and capabilities can conceive of you doing today.

Let me pause here to describe one thing before we move into the development of a value statement. It is important to write out each of these statements. Why? To write them makes it much more concrete for our minds. The mission and vision statements should be succinct. They should be five words or less, and in reducing it to only a few words it will convey a richer meaning. For value statements, one to two words should suffice along with possibly an explanation of what the values mean to you. One psychologist who went through our program and developed her own mission, vision, and values said "You can't just think it, you have to ink it." Enough said.

When writing values, consider those aspects of your life that are most important, lifelong and unalterable principles that guide your life. What are these values for you? Begin by writing them down in a brainstorming process. The next step is to question the value back to its core. The way to do this is by continually asking the statement "why?," and repeatedly answering this question will lead you to core values.

Let me give you an example. One of the physicians in our program said that one of his values was that he wanted to fish more often with his family. He enjoyed fishing and he thought fishing more might be the answer to his family difficulties. Then we asked why? he wanted to fish more often and said he wanted to enjoy activities with his family. Then we asked why? he wanted to enjoy more activities with his family and he stated he wanted to have a close loving family. This became a core value for him. Interestingly, his initial statement was a potential minefield. For example, if his family did not want to fish, did that mean that he could not be close to them? Was fishing his only option to solve his desire to have a close family? To get to the core value broadens the options and produces more opportunities to live by your values.

Also in this example, the "goal" of fishing was actually changed to become a "value" of commitment to his family. Changing the goal to a value can be tricky at times but remember, values are concepts, and they are concepts that have worth in themselves, not leading to something else i.e. a goal.

The two books that I have listed are helpful in the process of understanding purpose. Leider's book and Palmer's book are very good and I would highly recommend both of them.

Pursuing purpose can be life changing. For some caregivers the process made significant changes in their life. One physician, for example, realized his calling was to be in academic medicine, another physician developed a trauma service, and another began retraining himself to be a triathelete.

The technique of using mission, vision, and values is a way to examine your life and, taken seriously, it can produce monumental changes.

The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work. Richard J Leider. Barnett-Koehler Publishers, 1977.

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. Parker Palmer. Jossey-Buss. 1999.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

My First Scrapbook Page: Baden bei Wien

My first scrapbook page, about an August 1999 trip to Baden bei Wien, Austria, with my parents. Baden used to be the vacation home of my mother's family, before the property was taken by Nazis. This one is about our arrival in Baden. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

Scrapbooking Baden

I am taking a free online scrapbooking class though Barnes & Noble University. I have since started my first page. I have picked nine pictures from my trip to Austria with my parents in 1999.

We took a side trip one day to a place called Baden bei Wien, which is a resort town 26 km from Vienna. It was where my mother's family had their vacation home. It was an interesting trip because Baden was so beautiful, both the town and the forest, but the property had been taken from them by the Nazis, so the trip was bittersweet. We went to the house and tried to take pictures outside the wall, but the residents slammed the automatic iron gate on us. Strangely, my mother wasn't angered by the trip, but I was broiling. How could this property be taken and not returned after the war? The restitution my grandfather got probably didn't even cover a part of it. I asked my mother how she could be so calm, and she said, "I'm used to it by now."

My scrapbook will tell the story of our trip to Baden and also some information about Baden itself. I have a picture of the gate.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

My House

This is my house. We've been invited to be on a house tour in June. After very little cogitation, and some encouragement from my mother-in-law, I decided to do it. It is good incentive to work on the house. This will keep me very busy until June! Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 05, 2005


My friend John's cat Whiskers had to be put down yesterday. Whiskers was 18 years old. He will be sorely missed. Posted by Hello

Antiquing in St. Louis

I went antiquing in St. Louis last weekend with my mother-in-law. Did we ever hit the shops! We looked at dishes, linens, and antique needlework tools. There was a set of tools in a small kit and I could kick myself for not buying it. It was only $30. I might ask her to go back and get it for me. We did find a wonderful set of 12 damask dinner napkins. They are large -- 22" -- and have probably never been used. When we got back to the house, she gave me a tablecloth from her stash to match. I didn't care for any of the dishes. Those I am going to have to buy on my own.

Sunday night we are having a family dinner. Daniel is going to cook something special and I might make some soup in the crock pot. We are going to use the tablecloth and napkins for the first time. I just have to think of a nice centerpiece of the table.

The Quilting Class

My quilting class starts Monday, and I went out to buy my materials today. I got a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, thread and fabric. I still have to buy some rulers and a few odds and ends. It was an expensive venture at Hobby Lobby.

The fabric I got is really cool. It is African safari theme fabric -- tiger spots, a matching golden brown plain color, and for the border, a safari scene with lots of animals. I'm really excited about it.

I got my sewing machine back from the shop yesterday, and I got a 1/4" foot and a walking foot for it. The man who owns the shop said to me, "Somebody is going to do some quilting." I said, "I am taking my first class on Monday." It was quite an investment for one quilting class, but there are more classes coming up, and I am going to keep going with it until I have it under my fingers.

Current Projects

I am currently working on Millennium Cats for a round robin at RoundRobinCrazy. I have most of one kitty done and am going to work on the second kitty tomorrow. Millennium Cats is a freebie by Pamela Kellogg. It can be found at http://www.kittyandme.com/milcats.pdf. There are twelve kitties for each month plus a birthday kitty. There are six people in the RR and each one is stitching two kitties for each round.

I am doing the Millennium Cats on Silkweaver Tutti Fruitie. I am using 14 ct Aida. I have set them up two kitties across, six down. The month of December is going to be the birthday kitty because my daughter Camille's birthday is December 27. When Millennium Cats is done, it is going in her bedroom.

I counted 110 colors for the set -- I had most of them but had to go out and buy a few anyway. There are a lot of color changes and confetti stitches. Some of the neighboring colors are really difficult to tell apart when stitching. At least I am having somewhat of a hard time with it. But it's a fun stitch. I really enjoy it because it's interesting. All the color changes keep my mind busy!

I am also in a Margaret Sherry round robin, and I have decided to do the Cat Coasters as a single piece, three across, two down. There are six people in this RR, and each person will do one cat. I have until April 11 to set up my piece for this round robin and stitch the first cat. I haven't decided on my fabric yet.

In the meantime, Valerie, Eva and I are going to do a SAL (stitch-along) on Dragon Dreams' Why Hoard Chocolate. This project has a lot of Anchor Marlitt rayon thread so it should be interesting. I've never stitched with rayon thread, and I understand it is more slippery than regular DMC. I have already gotten my fabric -- Silkweaver's Inferno (one of the Expressions). I am doing it on 28 ct cashel linen. Silkweaver describes Inferno as "vibrant reds and corals reminiscent of smoldering embers." I thought that would be really cool behind a dragon! Besides, the colors look really great against it. Valerie, Eva and I are going to submit all three of ours to the Silkweaver competition when we're done. If we start this one mid-February I'll be done with it in time to work on the RRs.

I've also got a bookmark SAL set up for the Mike Vickery Cross Stitch Group. This is going to start in April. I don't know what bookmark I'm going to stitch for it. I'm probably going to pick an easy one since I have so much other stuff to do.

I've been stitching a lot and have speeded up my stitching, so I don't think any of this is going to be a problem, except maybe getting the bookmark squeezed in there. I think April is going to be really busy!

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Snow, by Glory Bee, from the 2004 JCS Ornaments issue. This was exceedingly boring to stitch! Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Coming Out

I have been reading a book called Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, by James W. Pennebaker. Actually, I just started reading it, and instead of starting at the beginning, I went right to a chapter called "The Social Price of Disclosure." The chapter starts out talking about bereaving parents, and how after a couple of months their social networks collapse because other people can't deal with the topic themselves. The bereaving parents then find themselves alone, with nobody to talk to, even if they need to talk. The author discusses how groups can help in this situation.

A lightbulb immediately went on over my head. I have a gay son. Although he came out when he was 17 and is now 21, I haven't been able to relate to many people about it. Perhaps it is more honest to say that I haven't really been able to talk about it on more than a surface level. The topic quickly changes. But I want to talk about what it's like having a gay son! It's not that I was ever traumatized by it. On the contrary, I suspected it and have been very supportive from the moment he told me. He is my son, and being gay is part of who he is. I love the whole package. I am proud of him.

I have been in virtual isolation about my son's homosexuality. For one, I don't want to "out" him to other people when he hasn't made that choice himself. Second, a conversation about it doesn't go anywhere. But aren't I outing him here? No, I'm outing myself. He isn't here and you don't know him.

I decided, at that moment when I was reading that chapter, that I needed to go to some PFLAG meetings. PFLAG is Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. I need a place to talk openly. When I realized there was a place to do that, I felt great relief.

My fear in writing this here is that I will be criticized for it. But what I've realized reading that chapter is that I need to "come out" about it too.

Why did I choose to read that chapter first? I think I knew, just like I knew that he was gay.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Blogs as Brain Dumps

In a previous post, Musings on Blog Musings (January 2), I wrote about bloggers who bare everything in their blogs. I said that I can't do that, that I have other places to share my innermost thoughts and feelings, and that here I keep it close to the chest. I don't feel comfortable sharing everything in such a public place. I keep a journal for my therapist, but I don't even share that with my family, let alone in my blog.

One woman left a comment on my blog. She said, "I think it's because we *don't* know the people who read our blogs that it is so easy to tell secrets. My hypothetical journal for my therapist would be much easier to share with the blogworld than with my family."

I think her comment is very astute. It got me thinking about blogs as "anonymous," despite the fact that names and pictures are often on them. My feelings about blogs were reinforced after I read an article called "Therapeutic Writing," by psychiatrist Michael Messer. He advocates a kind of writing that can act as a sort of "brain dump" where thoughts and feelings can be expressed and released. He discusses evidence that shows that therapeutic writing can have significant health benefits for quite a long time, and that illnesses such as asthma and arthritis have been shown to improve if therapeutic writing is used.

How do you do therapeutic writing? Dr. Messer says:

The directions for therapeutic writing are quite simple: Write for 20 minutes each day your deepest thoughts and feelings. Those are all the directions that you need. An additional direction I would like to add is that once you have completed your writing, this is not to be kept for posterity, and that each day the paper should be thrown away. Throwing away the paper ensures that you are completely honest with the expression and that you are not writing for any other audience than yourself.

Note that therapeutic writing is not a listing of activities that go on from day to day. Apparently there are no health benefits in that!

The one difference between Dr. Messer's instructions for therapeutic writing and blogging is that the paper should be thrown away (or deleted, in the case of writing on a computer). But if the blogger is writing for what she perceives as an anonymous audience, if what she writes in her blog allows her to tell secrets that she could not share even with her family, blogging is in one sense very similar to therapeutic writing. And the entry very quickly scrolls off the page into the archives.

What I am saying is that I think blogging can be a kind of "brain dump." If that is the case, people who bare all in their blogs may reap potiential health benefits and are providing themselves with, as Dr. Messer writes, "ongoing maintenance for the unconscious mind."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Stitching Rewards!

I have a stitching reward deal with Roxi. She is going to make me a lap quilt and I am going to give her a Chatelaine chart. As I finish projects, she is going to make another piece of the quilt. I will send her the Chatelaine chart after she finishes six birds. Chatelaine designs are made by Martina Weber, a European designer who does beautiful mandalas. We have chosen Knotgarden.

I have been working on the same Christmas ornament for weeks now. My excuse is that it is boring. Well, it is. But it is so simple I ought to be able to get it done in a couple of hours. I am determined to finish it before I start another project. My next project is the Millennium Cats round robin. I need to hussle with the ornament if I am going to get the Millennium Cats done on time.

That ornament is my big procrastination issue. I have no idea why I can't finish it. I think it is a combination of fear of failure and fear of success. I am uptight about Millennium Cats -- what if I do it wrong? what if I can't get the gridding right? or if the gridding takes me forever? what if my instructions are too complex? what if I can't get my two kitties stitched by February 12? On the other side, what does it imply about me if I can get my fabric ready and my kitties stitched on time? I will have to adjust my opinion of myself.


I heard the word "procrastination" twice yesterday. The first time I had complained to my friend Mike that I was having a bad day, that I couldn't think clearly, and I just didn't feel like cleaning the house. He said, "procrastination's a bitch." I heard it the second time from Roxi, and inveterate procrastinator herself, while we were talking about putting off finishing our stitching projects. She told me I was procrastinating.

I decided to learn something about procrastination. I discovered that procrastination is caused by other underlying issues -- fear of failure, for example, or fear of success. Other causes are irrational beliefs, for example that everything must be perfect or done well, a need for control ("other people can't tell me what to do") or using procrastination to preseve a relationship or to prevent closeness. One author http://mentalhelp.net/psyhelp/chap4/chap4r.htm types procrastinators as follows:

...Sapadin and Maguire (1997) have also classified procrastinators into types: the "perfectionist" who dreads doing anything that is less than perfect, the "dreamer" who has great ideas but hates doing the details, the "worrier" who doesn't think things are right but fears that changes will make them worse, the "defier" who resists doing anything suggested or expected by someone else, the "crisis-maker" who manages to find or make a big problem in any project (often by starting too late), and the "over-doer" who takes on way too many tasks.

There are two types of procrastinators -- laid-back and tense. The laid-back procrastinator has irrational beliefs, such as "I can't do it because it's boring" or some other excuse. I am going to quote this author again:

The tense-afraid type of procrastinator is described by Fiore (1989) as feeling overwhelmed by pressures, unrealistic about time, uncertain about goals, dissatisfied with accomplishments, indecisive, blaming of others or circumstances for his/her failures, lacking in confidence and, sometimes, perfectionistic. Thus, the underlying fears are of failing, lacking ability, being imperfect, and falling short of overly demanding goals. This type thinks his/her worth is determined by what he/she does, which reflects his/her level of ability. He/she is afraid of being judged and found wanting. Thus, this kind of procrastinator will get over-stressed and over-worked until he/she escapes the pressure temporarily by trying to relax but any enjoyment gives rise to guilt and more apprehension.

Geesh, I see myself as both a laid-back procrastinator and a tense one! The point is, though, that procrastination must be addressed in two ways -- dealing with the problem(s) behind it, and establishing systems that prevent it. Some of these are:

1. Keeping schedules, to-do lists, and generally writing things down. These solutions are often short-lived because they don't address the underlying problems. It takes time to overcome procrastination.

2. Breaking tasks into small pieces, e.g. spending five minutes doing something.

3. Keeping a journal of feelings and thoughts about procrastination. What keeps you from getting going?

4. Dealing with why you hate work -- and other similar issues.

5. Getting cognitive behavioral therapy. It is clear from what I have read that procrastination is caused by irrational beliefs, something that cognitive behavioral therapy addresses. John Perry, in an article called Structured Procrastination argues that procrastination is a form of self-deception. In short, therapy helps.

Well, what about me? I think I have all these characteristics! I'm lucky though -- I have a cognitive behavioral therapist. But I think my friend Mike lit a fire under me when he said, "procrastination's a bitch." I promptly went downstairs and reorganized the entire kitchen. Now I have to get over being "bored" by the stitching project I'm supposed to be working on.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Wisconsin Stitching Group

I joined the Wisconsin Stitching Group on Yahoo in mid-December. Wisconsin Stitching is a group of cross stitch enthusiasts from Wisconsin. On December 15 there were three members. Today there are 10 members, most of whom joined in the last couple of days. I had posted a message to RoundRobinCrazy about the group, and Linda and Elaine joined from that, but (Kim, I swear) I was totally innocent about the rest. Linda is from Minnesota, but we let her in because she was close by and promised not to diss the Packers! Woohoo!-- there's even another member from Appleton! It's suddenly become a very popping group and I think it's going to be a lot of fun!

In Appleton it is currently 6 degrees F with a -7 wind chill. It was -25 degrees F in Door County last night. Cold! I can usually take Henry out without out donning my coat, but now I don't take him the few steps to his dog pen without it. The snow shimmers with ice. I haven't seen a rabbit all day. Apparently this cold weather comes from Alberta, Canada, swooping down into the U.S. upper midwest and leaving a heap of snow behind it. I can usually tolerate the cold to 10 degrees. I don't like this.

I wonder if all those Wisconsin stitchers (and that one poor soul from Minnesota) have come in from the cold and logged onto the internet, looking for kindred spirits bundled in sweaters and sensible shoes before their LCD screens -- and with the exception of that one poor soul from Minnesota -- are wondering why Brett Favre didn't lead the Packers to the superbowl. That is, if they care about football at all. I know one thing. They all care more about choosing between a size 26 needle and linen or evenweave, resisting the urge to shop for fabric on the internet and, if they manage to resist at all, have more patterns than they could possibly use in a lifetime. But oh well, it's winter. Might as well stitch.

Anyway, here's the website:


And no, Wisconsin is not the Cheesehead State. It's the Badger State.


Candice in Appleton

Monday, January 17, 2005

Arlo and Me

This is me and the amazing Arlo, my beloved dog, in the early 1970s. I was maybe 20 when that picture was taken. The photographer was my ex-whatever. I think I got involved with him because I loved his dog. When he and I split, he took Arlo. I have lots of pictures of Arlo. It was difficult to choose just one.  Posted by Hello

And This is Henry!

This is Henry, who is a five year old Dalmatian-Australian Shepherd mix. We got him from the Humane Society when he was a pup. Henry is quite a character. In this picture he's wondering what the heck I'm doing with the camera (note his ears are submissively back and his tail is wagging). I did tell him to "stay" and he stayed. Henry has a non-stop smile on his face -- he's such a happy dog -- and a silly dog too. A real goof-ball. That sofa, by the way, is his. Posted by Hello

The Writing Class

I am taking a a free, online writing course at Barnes & Noble University. The course is called "Writing Fiction with Gotham Writers' Workshop." The activity for the second lesson is as follows:

Make a list of everyone you have ever known, in any way. Include people you know well and people you have only seen from afar. Just list the names. Stop after you fill about two pages, listing the names in columns. If you don't know someone's name, put something like "the little girl who lives down the block." Everyone on your list is a possible inspiration for a character.

Well, I wrote down 132 names on my two pages and could have listed a lot more. As I was writing the names, I had pictures in my head of the people and remember certain things about them and their relationship to me. I was aware that each person could be a source of inspiration for a story. Each person was so full of life to me. It was an amazing exercise -- and it didn't take that long. I highly recommend it.

The second part of the activity was to take one person from the list and talk about how they inspired me. I chose my friend Cubic from the village in Kenya. Some day I will write a lot more about Cubic. I have tried to write about him in the past and it was difficult. I need to drag out my fieldnotes and read them. I am sure Cubic is all over them.

Nimue Design -- La Pipe

Nimue design -- The Pipe. Fee means fairy -- these are mostly designs featuring fairies. I think they are charming. Posted by Hello

La Sylphide Toquee Design -- Boule de Neige

Design from La Sylphide Toquee -- Boule de Neige, which seemingly translates to "A Ball of Snow".  Posted by Hello

European Stitching Patterns

I've discovered a couple of French designers -- Nimue and La Sylphide Toquee. I have started to collect them. Both feature lovely delicate designs.

La Sylphide Toquee are whimsical designs in bright colors, some with French words. Apparently this is a new designer. Sylphid (in English) means a graceful woman or a being that inhabits the air. Toquee does not translate. Website for La Sylphide Toquee:


Norden Crafts has pictures of a lot of La Sylphide Toquee patterns:


Nimue is one of the names of the Lady of the Lake or Vivien in the Arthurian Legends. These patterns seem to be of nymphs and fairies. I can find no links to Nimue patterns online.

I have also collected some Dutch patterns -- mostly buildings such as houses of Amsterdam -- and some Russian ones.

The European designs seem to be quite different than the ones we have here in the U.S. They are both worth seeking out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Of Rabbits and Computers

I love going outside on a night like this, with the snow on the ground, and the temperature right around freezing -- not so warm that the snow melts, but warm enough to be out for a few minutes without a jacket. It's been colder the last few days, but now I can feel a warm edge in the air. It's as though my body is looking for the warmth rather than the cold.

We have rabbits in our yard. They leave trails of pawprints wherever they go, and the snow is criss-crossed with evidence of where the rabbits have been. I usually only see two or three rabbits at a time, but the way the snow looks, I know there must be a lot more. They particularly like the area under the bird feeder where the seeds drop through.

Tonight I saw two rabbits chasing each other in the snow. I wondered if they were playing. When I had a rabbit in Zimbabwe, she used to play a game I called "prey and prey" -- she would approach me, and when she just within my reach, she would dash off. It is quite a different game than a dog or cat plays, both preditors. I had thought that gentle animals like rabbits enjoy evasion games rather than aggression games.

Today I must have spent ten hours at the computer. I have a kind of technological focus that makes time disappear. The computer has become a universe to me. I sink into it and don't emerge unless something pulls me out. Tonight it was the rabbits. I need to spend less time at the computer and more time outside, in nature.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Making Napkins

I have been doing some research on how to make napkins.

In her book, The Simple Art of Napkin Folding, Linda Hetzer gives instructions for seven different kinds of napkins. They are:

1. Blanket stitch
2. Hand-rolled hems
3. Mitered corners
4. Machine-stitched hems
5. Fringed edges
6. Lace trim
7. Double-fold bias binding

Hetzer says that napkins can be made out of linen, cotton, polyester or any combination of those. Most napkins are made out of medium weight fabric, neither coarse nor sheer. Linen napkins usually have hand-rolled hems, machine-stitched edges, or mitered hems. Cotton and polyester fabrics are more casual and can be finished with fringed edges, embroidery, lace trim and binding. Napkins with fringed edges should be made out of coarser fabric.

All of the napkins are 20" x 20" square with added fabric for the hems. For eight napkins, you need 2 1/2 yards of 45" fabric. One source I read says that dinner napkins should be 20" x 20" and luncheon napkins 15" x 15".

I wish I could just scan Hetzer's pictures and instructions for each kind of napkin. Nevertheless, they are all pretty easy to do. Instead I have searched the internet for instructions. The following websites have instructions on making napkins:

HGTV: Making Napkins

How to make table napkins

Serger napkins

Hetzer's book is only $8.00 at Amazon.com. It's totally worth it for the two pages on how to make napkins, although the 94 napkin folds are very nicely illustrated and easy to do.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Cross Stitch Napkins

I have a dream of someday making 12 cross stitch napkins for my mother-in-law. My fantasy is that each napkin will have a different flower on it. So when Bonnie at RoundRobinCrazy asked for suggestions for round robins, I suggested napkins. There was a great response! A lot of people besides myself would like to make cross stitch napkins.

The only problem was finding napkins which are amenable to cross stitch. I hunted on the web (I've done this before) and couldn't find what I wanted. There was something in England, but they were too pricey. I decided I would ask 1-2-3 Stitch if they could find napkins for me -- they say on their website that they will try to get special requests. They found some cross stitch napkins by Crafters Pride, made of 14 Ct. SaLem fabric. They are washable, fringed, and come in white or ivory. They are a bit more casual than I had in mind, but I ordered 12 of them.

If I want more formal napkins, I will need to make them myself. I got a book on napkin folding -- The Simple Art of Napkin Folding: 94 Fancy Folds for Every Tabletop Occasion, by Linda Hetzer -- and it has two pages of instructions for making seven different kinds of napkins. I will need to figure a way to explain how to make these napkins in my blog, without plagerizing or violating copyright laws!

Napkin folding is interesting. Now I need some china and some Waterford glasses! My mother-in-law says there is a place in St. Louis that sells complete sets of china on consignment, stuff that other people no longer use. I would do that if the pieces were open stock. I don't know how I would get it home to Appleton though. But getting china is one of the things I would like to do. I have never had china. It would be wonderful to be able to set a formal table, with fancy folded, hand-made stitched napkins.

My Stitching Nook

My magnifying lamp got here Friday. Daniel set it up and it is now sitting next to my rocking chair in my room. It is so awesome! I can see every kind of fabric under it -- I tested them out! I am so excited to use it.

The problem was creating the stitching nook. The stitching nook is #1 on my list of stitching goals for 2005. I had to clear the fabric, projects, q-snaps, buttons, etc. off the rocking chair so I could use it. I sent Daniel to the store for some plastic file boxes and plastic see-through shoe boxes. The first thing I did was create a box for my fabric. I put the fabric in hanging file folders. Then I filled the two shoe boxes -- one with odds and ends (buttons, needles, floss cards), and the other with threads I haven't carded yet. But the box got awfully full awfully fast, so I am getting another two shoe boxes for just the floss -- one for DMC, and one for specialty threads. And I am also getting some more file boxes for my patterns.

The rocking chair is now empty and ready to use. There are boxes everywhere but I will find a place for them in the closet -- as soon as I get the closet cleaned out! That's the next step.

I am taking a online class at Barnes & Noble University on organizing from the inside out. It is a free class. I am hoping it will motivate me to clean my office/art room once and for all.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Fabric Origami

I have discovered fabric origami. However, to say "fabric" origami is a bit of a contradiction. Origami means "to fold paper" in Japanese. However, the techniques of paper folding can be transferred to fabric. Some fabric folds are inspired by origami but depart from it. And other fabric folds, such as napkin and towel folding, aren't considered origami but are of interest to paper folders.

When I first heard of fabric origami, I thought it would be necessary to stiffen the fabric first. I found fabric stiffener at Hobby Lobby, thinking I would transfer directly to fabric what I know from doing origami. I shortly realized that origami made with fabric stiffener wouldn't survive a wash. It would be great for wall hangings, though, and for making origami ornaments ("kusudama" origami) out of fabric. There are some great examples of kusudama origami at a Brasilian website called Kusudama: Arte em Origami. Unfortunately it's in Portuguese, but the origami is beautiful. I have several books on kusudama origami and look forward to doing some fabric origami using fabric stiffener.

Rebecca Wat has some fabric folds for quilt squares in her book Fantasic Fabric Folding. These don't require anything but ordinary cotton fabric, finger-folded into shapes such as flowers, stars, and pinwheels. They hold together through washings and are merely tacked in a couple of places to keep them from losing their shape. These fabric folds are then incorporated into quilts the same as quilt blocks.

Kumiko Sudo's beautiful fabric origami folds are not strict origami folds like several of Wat's. They are folded fabric pieces that are sewn onto wall hangings or appliqued onto quilts. They will not hold their shape unless they are sewn, and most of the ones in her book Folded Flowers really do belong on wall hangings that will not be washed. They are, however, sensational. There are many more examples of Japanese quilt designs which employ fabric origami techniques.

Napkin folds aren't "strictly origami" but are based on the techniques of paper folding. They are made out of ordinary napkins instead of paper...although you could fold a paper napkin! (I've done it.) There are dozens of different napkin folds. For example, Linda Hetzer has a book of 94 napkin folds, and one of the reviewers at Amazon.com criticized her book for omitting some key folds.

Fabric yoyos are a bit like fabric origami (see post below on fabric yoyos). They are "folded" when the thread around the outside is pulled to form a circle half the size of the original fabric. Although fabric yoyos are often appliqued onto a quilt or other piece of fabric, I like the yoyos that are connected at the edges and are not foundation pieced. In other words, they are the quilt, not attached to the quilt. Yoyos are used as applique in a quilt called "Hurricane Party" by Amy Stewart Winsor. An example of a yoyo quilt is at http://www.quilterscache.com/images12/karrensyo2.jpg.

Right now cross stitching is my priority, but I hope I will find time to do some fabric origami in the near future. I'd like to do all kinds!

Musings on Blog Musings

I am always amazed at how open some bloggers are, how they write about the details of their lives, their emotions, their ups and downs. I can't be that open in this public a setting. I keep it close to the chest. I would be embarrassed.

I have other places to write some of these things. The About.com Cross Stitch forum is one of them. I know the people there, and I can talk rather openly in that setting. I have friends, too, with whom I share things -- Valerie, Roxi, Chris, Coby, Sandi, and Mike. I also keep a journal for my therapist. I can write just about anything in it. It's also not something I can share online, although I know that people do share such things in their blogs. But for me it's too intimate. I don't even share my personal journal with my family.

So I don't keep a blog with my daily musings in it. My blog is more topical. I like to post pictures. I write when I have something to say. But I have been branching out a bit from the subject of stitching. I now write about origami, and I have become interested in quilting. I'll probably write about that too. I am thinking about posting more about other things in my life, but I don't want to stray too far.

Fabric Yoyos

The first time I saw a fabric yoyo was during the early 1970s when I was in college. One of the students had a vest made of yoyos. It was really cool -- and a little hippy-ish. I asked her how the vest was made, and she briefly explained to me how to make a fabric yoyo.

Apparently fabric yoyos have been around for at least 100 years. They may have come originally from the Philippines, but in the 1920s started to be used in quilts in the U.S. Here's a marvelous pdf file explaining the history of the fabric yoyo and how it is used in quilts:


Yesterday I saw a cross-stitch pattern from Waxing Moon Designs with several fabric yoyo embellishments (thanks Eileen!). It's called "Take Thyme." If you find this pattern and don't have the embellishments, you can make them yourself. They are really easy. Here is a web page explaining how to make a fabric yoyo:


Now if I could find an origami yoyo my day would be complete!