Monday, May 11, 2009

Boaz Shuval's Origami Butterfly

Here is the diagram for Boaz Shuval's simple butterfly. It can be made flat, so it would work for the Holocaust Museum Houston's "The Butterfly Project," described in an earlier blog (just scroll down this page a little). It is so simple that it can be made by children to contribute to The Butterfly Project. 

John Andrisan has modified this model so it is the same color on both wings. What he does is make the piece of paper 1 x 2 (tear a square in half) and fold it (back into a square) so there is colored paper on both sides. John says the extra thickness makes no difference. Alternatively, paper the same color on both sides could be used, e.g. colored bond paper cut into a square.

Regarding flatness, apparently Boaz bends the butterfly a little so it looks a bit three-dimensional. John's version, on the other hand, is flat. So the butterfly can be made either flat or three-dimensional.

Additional note: Kim's Crane has a wide range of square origami paper with both sides the same color.  The way to find ordinary two-sided same-color paper is: go to then type into the "quick find" box the following code: ac11y.  She also has washi the same on both sides. It is difficult to find at the website, so write to me and I will send you the links. 

Another note: Apparently the museum is happy to have origami butterflies, three dimensional or not! 

My Flickr Address

Here is my webpage on Flickr:

My favorite summer

The longest, most favorite summer of my adult life was two years ago when I worked nearly every day on an urban farm with homeless people. It was hot and wet and hard work and rewarding. The sun was out and I got brown although I wore a hat, and I got skinny from all that work, and I enjoyed it immensely. I am wondering where I can find a farm to work at this year. I would love to work at a farm again, doing that work, volunteering, being in the sun, letting the summer drag on and on.

1.5 Million Butterflies for Holocaust Children

The Holocaust Museum Houston is hosting The Butterfly Project, collecting 1.5 million hand-made butterflies by Spring, 2012, when they go on exhibit. I heard about The Butterfly Project through the Origami list operating out of MIT. The idea was to make a lot of origami butterflies and send them to the museum by June 30, 2011. I immediately thought of my favorite origami butterfly, the one by Italian David Derudas.

Derudas has a website at OriDavid. His diagrams for the butterfly are at: By the way, the butterfly on his website is called "Farfalla." I guess that is Italian for butterfly! 

Here is a picture of David and Tomoko Fuse. It's great seeing two of my favorite folders together!  I have loved Derudas's butterfly since the first time I folded it.  I was turned on to this butterfly by my friend Deiby in Brasil.  (He is really into folding insects!)

The other thing I thought of doing, when I saw the
 The Butterfly Project advertised, was to crochet butterflies.  There are a zillion crochet butterflies on the internet, and even a web page listing many crochet butterfly pattern links at Crochet Pattern Central. Here is one example of a crochet butterfly. They are generally made with steel hooks and crochet thread, but some are made with bigger hooks and heavier yarn, even up to worsted weight yarn. I like the thinner yarns better and view this as an opportunity to try out thread and steel hooks.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Embroidered Cross-Stitch Fairy Tale Fortune Teller/Cootie Catcher

I was perusing 1-2-3 Stitch which is one of my favorite online cross-stitch sources, when I discovered a cross-stitch origami cootie catcher/fortune teller! I am not sure how the designer got the shape to stay, but she probably used a fabric stiffener and an iron to set the shape, since cross-stitch fabric is quite soft and doesn't fold well. (Although, when you buy the fabric, it's sometimes sold folded and it's like heck to get those folds out -- so once the shape is set, it will probably stay that way.)

This embroidered origami fortune teller is pretty cute and would make a nice gift for a child. If you want to buy the design, go to 1-2-3 Stitch's fairy tale fortune teller page and enjoy!

P.S. Turns out that Lynne Nicoletti has other fortune teller designs besides the fairy tale one. 1-2-3 Stitch also has dog, cat and flower fortune tellers by Lynne. FYI Lynne has a website at Click here for Lynne's page describing the creative process of "growing a fortune teller."

Monday, May 04, 2009

Swine Flew? H1N1 pig by Joseph Wu????

Joseph Wu created an origami model about 20 years ago called "When Pigs Grow Wings and Fly." It's a wonderful model. I'm including a pic here. This one was folded by Yureiko.

You can see Mr. Wu's post-"swine" flu model here.

UPDATE: Joseph Wu has now transformed "Swine Flew" into "Ground Pork." Check it out: Ground Pork. It is only a matter of time before there is "Road Hog"!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Dragon Dreams

I love the Dragon Dreams designs (especially the ones she does with Theresa Wentzler). I was just perusing Dragon Dreams patterns at 1-2-3 Stitch -- Joanne really does have a nice selection of Dragon Dreams charts -- and I fell in love with one called "Guard This Keep." I can't buy it right now because I need to eat and survive until the 15th (small matter, isn't it?) but maybe I'll order it later. It would be great on my door!

Stopped smoking three months ago! (Gained weight.)

I can't believe it. It has been three months since I quit smoking! I did gain a little weight, even with the Chantix (if you smoke, try this!), but working on losing it again. I don't fit into my favorite shorts, so I have a month or so before I'm going to want to wear them. But my doctors say it's better to gain weight than to smoke. In the past, I've quit and then started again because of the weight, but this time I'm going to try a different tactic. I do have a dietitian, but I don't seem to be able to follow the diet. It's hard to do that, especially when it means preparing my own meals, which I'm not good at. I did buy this pedometer a while ago (it's an OMRON and I like it a lot) and haven't used it much, but I really should go walking with Ace more. We live next to Forest Park and in nearly two years I've never taken Ace there. I'm sure he would love it!

The OMRON website really doesn't show the pedometer in its full glory. Try the REI Pedometer Comparison page -- I have the pocket pedometer which, of course, is the one with five starts.

UPDATE: May 16, 2009. I am still a quitter!!!!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Howie Woo Extreme Crochet -- check it out!

Check out Extreme Crocheting at Jeremy Barker's website! He is featuring the wild and crazy crochet work of Howie Woo. Woo has crocheted such things as TNT bomb complete with timer, cigarettes inside cigarette packs, and ray guns right out of a sci fi movie. Very inspiring stuff!

If you want to go directly to the source, see Woo Toons Cartoons and his website showing his crochet in progress and in action, There are pics and links to pics of Howie Woo at both websites.

1918-1919 Flu Resources

Hey, if you're interested in the H1N1 ("swine flu") virus, take a look at this book by Gina Kolata about the 1918 flu epidemic. I learned an incredible amount about how a pandemic flu spreads. Did you know, for example, that a milder version of the flu appeared in the spring of that year, to return in the fall with a vengeance? This could be the pattern of the H1N1 virus. In fact, the preparations for a flu vaccine for the fall indicate that scientists believe the flu may come back as a more virulent strain this fall. Take a look at this book. It will enlighten you.

Also, check out this great website:The Great Pandemic. Very interesting is a discussion of life in 1918-1919. My dad was six years old in 1918. Everything you might want to know about the 1918 flu epidemic, including moving personal family stories of how the epidemic affected them. This is a great website!

Video of Che!

This is Che! Camille named him NietzsChe Guevara, of all things. At least his name shows how intelligent Camille is! I do like his nickname Che, and my Latin American cleaning ladies think it's amazing that we named a cat after a Latino revolutionary hero! Well, enjoy the video.

Craftside's Pop Art Roll of Toilet Paper Cozy Cover!!!

If you crochet (or even if you don't) you're going to love Craftside's Pop Art Croched Roll of Toilet Paper Cozy Cover!!! I'm posting a pic here (her pic, FYI) so you can see what a glorious work of creativity this thing is, and if you crochet you'll find the instructions at the above link.

My "Guilt Post" at SherryArt from 1996!!!!

Here is my guilt post from from SherryArt from 1996, can you believe that?

"June 29, 1996
Subject: Hi Sherry!

"Guilt? Guilt is my middle name. I feel guilty for not being more than I am, for letting opportunities pass me by, for not having enough energy to do everything, for not being perfect, for spending so much time on the web!

"I feel guilty for not being best at everything, because merely being good at some things is not good enough. I feel guilty for being emotional and spacey and focused and eccentric rather than calm and cool and organized.

"I feel guilty for having a bit of an edge on my personality even though I do like my personality, but I still feel guilty about relating to The Evil Queen and Cruella DeVille instead of Beauty and Snow White.

"I feel guilty about having a daughter who refuses to wear dresses or pink pony tail holders, though I think she's wonderful, and she loves The Evil Queen too.

"I feel guilty about producing boys who aren't great at sports, who are thin and wiry and freckled and spectacled. But, they are feminists, hurrah. I feel guilty about aluminum cans and eating meat and using cleaning chemicals and having three children and driving a car -- ecoguilt. But not guilty enough to change my bad habits.

"I feel guilty for liking myself even though I'm convinced I've failed completely at being perfect.

"And now I feel guilty about writing so much!


Ah Candice: You get the 1st Year Guilt Prize from SherryArt. You're definitely the most guilty one so far. Love, Sherry

Friday, May 01, 2009

Twitter is Cool!

Hey, I'm coming rather late to this discovery, but I am enjoying tweeting about the h1n1 virus on Twitter. I have thought previously about looking at Twitter, mainly because the guys from The Paracast are on there. At least, Gene Steinberg is on Twitter (haven't located David Biedny yet). I've been to The Paracast forum, but I think Twitter is actually more fun.

The only thing I don't like about Twitter is people repeating the same thing over and over again. I don't know how many times folks noted that h1n1 is the new name for "swine flu." It gets rather b-o-r-i-n-g. But one guy from South Carolina noted that a Mexican restaurant was empty in his town. That is an interesting piece of information.

Anyway, if you're reading this, I've added Twitter to my blog, so go ahead and follow me!

Twitter added to blog

Hey, I've added a Twitter feed here to my blog, and I'm TRYING to figure out how to get my blog address into my Twitter posts. I did sign up for Twitterfeed but so far, it hasn't worked. Don't know what's going on. I'll keep working at it.

It took me a while to figure out that "What are you doing?" on Twitter was the way to post about anything at all. I thought it was a question, like "What are you ACTUALLY doing?" not the way to, like, discuss H1N1 (so-called swine flu). Technically, that's not really what I'm DOING, but what the hey.

Monday, April 20, 2009

No Banjo Today & You-Tube

Well, banjo instructor Dave Landreth called and said he was canceling class for tonight. He also said it's a good thing I got a camcorder! I'm really looking forward to doing some recording next week. In addition to recording Dave playing the tune of the week (so I can learn it) I also want to record each of the students playing a tune. Maybe they'll let me put it up on You-Tube. That would be fun.

I am really getting addicted to You-Tube. I keep watching videos of border collies doing one thing or another. I sent Carol, my fellow Lawrence anthropologist, a link to a video of 3-week-old puppies. She enjoyed it, but then I found one of 4-week-old puppies herding ducks! So I sent her that link.

So now I'm going to go look for clawhammer banjo on You-Tube.

Today is my birthday!

Today is my birthday. Last night my friend Charlie came over. He brought Slumdog Millionaire and Subway Sandwiches, and I had beer for him (as usual). That was fun. Charlie is always fun. Camille was supposed to come over today, but I'm glad she didn't, because I didn't feel like paying $30 to go out to lunch with her for my birthday. She says she has a couple presents for me, but that one hasn't arrived yet. She is coming over tomorrow. We will probably go to the gym. Mark called. His birthday was last week, and I asked him if he wanted a Flip Video for his birthday. He didn't have to think long about that one! I told him I was going to get him the 30 minute one like I have. I am sure 30 minutes will be enough for him. It's enough for me. Okay, so it only comes in white. Who cares?!!!?! Tonight I have banjo class. I don't know the tune for this week because I was unable to meet with anyone in between to get it down. I wrote the banjo teacher a note telling him. I told him I would record him from now on. I hope he doesn't kick me out of the class! That would be a fun birthday present!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tomorrow's My Birthday!

Tomorrow is my birthday. Charlie called this morning and sang me "Happy Birthday" over the phone and said he was coming over tonight with a movie and what did I want to eat? I made a simple request -- Subway. Fancy birthday fare, right? Camille is coming over tomorrow and I don't know what we'll be doing, but I have a banjo lesson Monday night and I will need to spend a lot of the day practicing, so spending the day with Camille isn't going to work. We'll spend some time together, but I really want to practice the banjo. I really need to, too, because nobody met with me this week to help me get the tune wired. I need to work it out for myself. Some birthday. Grrrr.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reading Kurt Vonnegut

I am still reading Vonnegut. This time it's Breakfast of Champions. This book, like Cat's Cradle, is very depressing. I didn't find Slaughterhouse-Five this depressing. It's clear right now, in Breakfast of Champions, that something really terrible is about to happen. I hate that I can barely put this book down. I know I'm going to finish it tonight, and that's depressing.

Martha Stewart Website -- Crochet

The Martha Stewart website ( has a section on crochet and there are some great projects in there. I looked at a couple of the granny square pages, and found a page with instructions for granny squares, but the unusual thing was that the squares were done with delicate thread or yarn and a small hook. They are wonderful! There is even a bookmark made of a chain of little tiny granny squares. The potholders, instead of being a single granny square, are made up of several (for example, nine). Using finer materials and hooks produces some great results! Not your ordinary granny square potholders!

Ace on You-Tube

I put a video of Ace playing with a ball on You-Tube. It's at:

Ace on You-Tube

I recorded it with my new Flip Video camcorder.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and the Fire-bombing of Dresden

I'm reading Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. I'm pretty sure I read this before -- the words like granfalloon and karass are familiar to me, but I don't remember the story, so what the heck if I'm reading it again, huh? My daughter loaned it to me, along with Breakfast of Champions. I really liked Slaughterhouse-Five. I didn't know anything about the bombing of Dresden, except that beautiful Dresden was destroyed, so I got Slaughterhouse-Five because it was about Dresden. After that I got interested in Vonnegut.

My friend John in Orange County, California, told me that the bombing of Dresden was much like the bombing of Guernica by the Germans. He said to this day the Spanish won't allow Lufthansa to land because Lufthansa planes bombed Guernica. But the Germans allow us to land our planes there despite the destruction of Dresden. I guess that is because the Germans lost the war, so they have to take what they got. My cousin Curt Siodmak -- he was 92 when I corresponded with him -- was very bitter about the bombing of Dresden. It was in his autobiography. It makes me hurt to think about it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Gym

I went to the gym with my daughter and it wasn't as bad as I anticipated, although I listened to a podcast (The Paracast) the entire time. I worked out on the cycle for thirty minutes and then did some leg work on the machines. Camille had to go to work so we only stayed for about an hour. We are going again tomorrow and I'll do some upper body work then.

Not doing any stitching right now...

I'm not doing any stitching right now. In fact, all I am doing is coloring mandalas while I'm on the phone, reading sci fi magazines (pulp fiction no less), and doing Sudoku. I'm going to be forced to go to the gym this afternoon as soon as my daughter has lunch over at the other house (she wanted to have lunch out with me, but I told her I can't afford to do that all the time). It's not that I don't want to go to the gym, but right now I can't find the pouch for my iPod that clips around my upper arm. I get so bored when I'm riding the exercise bike (and even more bored on the treadmill). At least the machines aren't boring because they keep you busy and in the moment, but I absolutely hate being bored, and thus I don't like exercise in general. I am absolutely dependent on my iPod to get me through the experience.

Hurray! Banjo tune on the way!

Keith is sending me the recording of the banjo tune for this week, and will probably be able to meet with me on Sunday. Hurray!!! I asked him if I could video record him and I will try to send (if I know how to use the video recorded by then) a copy to Sebastian. I feel like such a dunce needing so much help with this class, but the teacher, David Landreth, thinks I'm going to do okay in the class. I wish I could get the tunes learned in class, but there is no written tab, and I can't keep up with learning it in mid-air yet. Hopefully that will change soon.

Not able to get this week's banjo tune...

I haven't heard from any of my fellow students about this week's banjo recording, and I don't know how I'm going to practice the piece for Monday. This one is really complicated and I'm just really worried about it. I'm going to have to bug my fellow student Keith to teach it to me. I feel embarrassed about not being able to learn the piece on the fly like everyone else. I hate depending on other people to help me. I am just hoping fellow student Keith doesn't mind helping me again on Sunday and can send me the recording.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Flip Video on the way!

I ordered a 30-minute Flip Video Ultra. It's the cheapest one, and I don't think I'll ever need more than 30 minutes. I got it so I can record my banjo teacher both visually and audibly. Until now, I've had to rely on other class members to send the recording (the teacher plays the music for recording at the end of each class). Now I will be able to record and send the video to everyone else!

I still need to buy a capo and tuner for my banjo. The teacher said I would need these, but I haven't bought them yet. I just paid for the session on Monday, like four weeks late. But it seems to be okay.

There is another session starting at the end of May, and I'm going to sign up for that one. I'm going to stay in this class as long as I'm in Saint Louis. There doesn't seem to be a folk school or a clawhammer banjo teacher in Jacksonville.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Banjo Update

Well, I went to banjo class. The teacher was late, so we spent half an hour playing other songs. We played Jake Gilly, the song from last week, for about half an hour total. I did fine. But the teacher didn't ask to hear us play it when he came in. He started right into the next song, which it was difficult for me to get on the fly. Grrr. So I'm going to have to wait for the recording to come in before I'll be able to work on it, and then I'll probably have to go to Keith or Sebastian to get the rest of it down. There are two chords in there, and I know where to put one, but not the other. Grrr. This is difficult!!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Banjo Lesson Today

Today my cleaning ladies came so I had to pick up, and I piled everything up on my bed, which I cleared off after they left. So I spent the morning busy, with the intent of practicing the latest piece on the banjo in the afternoon. And I've done it! All I need to do now is speed up. And I have an hour and a half in which to do it. Actually, I have the first half down and at speed, and I need to speed up the second half, which is more difficult for the right hand. Lots of drop thumbing. Good practice though.

The piece we are learning now is called "Jake Gilly." Last week and the week before it was "June Apple." I imagine we'll learn more of Jake Gilly today.

Still Not Smoking!!!!

Well, it's been -- what? -- two months since I quit smoking? I haven't gained weight and I feel good. I don't have many urges thanks to the Chantix. I'm also not replacing the cigarettes with food. Good for me! Hurray!

My daughter also quit smoking. I would like to think that I inspired her!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Magazines I Read

I get several magazines in the mail and buy some at Barnes & Noble. Here is a list of the magazines I read regularly:

Sky & Telescope
Scientific American
Fantasy & Science Fiction
UFO Magazine
Step By Step Beads
Cross Stitch Crazy
The CrossStitcher
Brain Boosters
Original Sudoku
Original Logic Puzzles

I don't get some of these every month, but a few of them (like BARk, the beading, and the sci fi magazines) I'm subscribed to. The science and astronomy magazines I pick up at the store, along with the British cross stitch magazines. I am subscribed to Brain Boosters, for example, but the rest of the puzzle magazines come from Barnes & Noble.

By the way, I often drop by Barnes & Noble after my therapy session in Olivette. It's on the way to Forest Park Parkway in Clayton just off the 170. I usually have raspberry cheesecake while I'm there and maybe get a puzzle magazine or a cross stitch magazine if there are any new British ones. Then I get back on the 170 and take Forest Park Parkway home.

Obviously I like magazines. They appeal to my various interests and I usually read them from cover to cover.

Where to get free Sudoku puzzles -- to print out

There are plenty of places on the web that have Sudoku to do online, but I prefer the kind I can do with pencil. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to relax while I'm doing puzzles and doing them online (except for the New York Times crossword puzzle) isn't as much fun. I looked around the internet, and found one site with printable puzzles.

Here it is:

Coloring Books -- A New Way to Meditate

Well it isn't exactly new. Monks from Tibet create sand mandalas as a form of meditation -- and then destroy them when they are finished because destroying the mandalas represents the transience of life. (Look at the picture here -- the monks are using straws to blow out the sand because the mandala is so detailed.)

I started coloring mandalas at my therapy sessions because I had anxiety and my therapist had colored pencils and mandala drawings to color. I found it so helpful that we have continued to use the mandalas in therapy. The therapist also participates, coloring her own mandala.

Although my anxiety is now mostly gone because of a medication decrease, I decided to get my own mandala coloring books and some decent colored pencils. I got 36 fine Prismacolor pencils and 36 regular professional Prismacolor pencils. I also got some coloring books that are mandalas or designs or of a spiritual nature. The manufacturers of the coloring books are mostly Dover and MindWare. I like the MindWare books better. I have just about finished with one of the MindWare books, Celtic Mosaics. I don't know which one I will do next. But I am being disciplined about it. I am finishing one book before going on to the other.

By they way, there is a great website directing you to all sorts of grown-up coloring pages. It's called Best Coloring Pages and it's at Thus, it's easy to find online coloring pages if you don't want to spend the $3.95 or $4.95 for a coloring book at The only problem with the websites is that there are a limited number of coloring pages appropriate for meditation and relaxation. There are some mandalas, but not many. There are Mary Engelbreit pages, which some might find enjoyable (I colored some of these myself and liked doing them) but they may not be for everyone (especially guys, hehe). The Mary Engelbreit pages are at

Although it's probably preferable to color mandalas than other shapes, I have found that some of the rectangular designs from the MindWare books are sufficiently similar to the mandala circles in structure to be of use. I think anything with a balanced design is relaxing. It may also be relaxing to color some of the more spiritual designs that include more intricate patterns. I have one book of wizards -- both male and female -- that fits this category. It is called Wondrous Wizards and is published by Dover.

Good luck with your coloring adventures! What's next? Paper dolls?

Cleaning the House Myself????

I have cleaning ladies. They are from Molly Maids. It costs me $70 a visit plus a $10 tip. I had them come every other week for a while, and then about three or four months ago switched to every week. But my expenses have increased and I just don't have the money any more. I haven't cleaned house myself for years. I have been thinking about this and wondering if I will have the consistency to do it myself. I wish I could have them come once a month. That would really help. But if I have to do it myself, I would have to go out and buy such things as a mop and a feather duster. I would have to accumulate some rags. See what I mean?

I am thinking about spending some time cleaning the house for three days (today -- Wednesday -- tomorrow and Friday) and if I can do it I'll cancel for Monday. That would be a sort of trial. But my fear is that I won't be able to keep it up. I don't know how this would work. I would have to get into the routine of cleaning every morning, just like I take the dog out every morning. I haven't done this for years.

See the dilemma? I'm not accustomed to cleaning the house myself, and I don't know whether I'll be able to do it.

UPDATE: Well, I'm not good at cleaning the house myself. I'm just not motivated. I tend to pick up just before the cleaning ladies come, and then I still don't do a great job. But at least the house is clean, even if it's still cluttered. So I'm going to have them continue to come every other week.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I did it!

It has now been about seven weeks since I quit smoking! I have been taking Chantix, a medication my PCP prescribed for me. It has really helped with the cravings. I rarely have the urge to smoke, and when I do, it goes away pretty quickly. My quitting has even inspired my daughter to quit. She is using Nicorette.

The best thing about quitting smoking is how I feel in the morning. I wake up feeling really good. I am also not coughing, except that sometimes my throat still feels a little itchy. But it isn't like it used to be.

I think the Chantix is also preventing me from gaining additional weight. My weight has remained stable. I need to lose a little weight (just one pants size) but I haven't put any weight on since I quit smoking, which is a first for me. The weight is what always makes me go back to smoking.

I highly recommend Chantix. It is VERY expensive, but not more than smoking a pack a day.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Banjo Lessons

I started taking clawhammer (old timey) banjo lessons again, at the Folk Music School of Saint Louis. This place is great! So professional. My teacher is David Landreth, who is a very fine banjo player (I understand the best in the area). He's a tough and demanding teacher, which really is great because it requires discipline and practice. It's a hard class because there is no tab (written banjo music) and one has to learn in class. I am having trouble keeping up (there are five people in this class), and need to meet with people between classes to catch up. Eventually I hope to be able to get the stuff down in class like everyone else. Dave has confidence that I will be able to do it. He said he knows I could do it or else he would have kicked me out!

I think I would like to stay in Saint Louis for a while to continue with the banjo lessons. I will be here for another year because Camille will be going to Forest Park Community College for the next year, and I plan to stay here (and delay my move to Jacksonville) until she goes away to school.

Mark gets into NYU!

My son Mark, about to turn 23 and living on the Upper East Side of NY City with his girlfriend Sarah, just found out he got into a literary journalism program at NYU! He applied a week ago and already had lunch with the head of the program, and he told Mark that he would get in no matter what. Mark will also get some money (one rarely gets support in a master's program) and will take out student loans for the rest. He will continue to work at the coffee shop. This is great news! What else to do in a recession but go to grad school? I am so proud of him!

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Pinn Pattern Ordered!

I got the Pinn pattern I sent for from Thailand (picture a couple of blog entries below) and decided to get another. The one I got this time is "I always feel eternally loving touch." It is in the same style as the first one, and the two will look cute together. I have attached a picture of the one I'm expecting in the mail.

Rats Giggle!

I heard a program on my iPod from Radio Lab about laughter. Some scientists don't believe that any animal besides humans laugh. There were a couple of researchers who worked with rats, and they discovered that they could hear rat noises that weren't audible to the human ear using an electronic device that can detect a larger range of sound. At first, they heard the rats chattering while they were playing (inaudible otherwise), then they tickled the rats to see if they would laugh! Sure enough, there it was. Rat laughter. After being tickled the rats would follow the scientist's hand because it wanted more tickling! Sounds very cute. I tried tickling Lucy this morning but she was too wiggly and I needed to feed her. (She got smoked salmon and a little bit of a Reese peanut butter cup. She is spoiled rotten!)

Cross Stitch, Not Cigarettes

I have been taking Chantix, which is a stop-smoking drug. I have been taking it for two weeks, and although I have cut down considerably on the cigarettes, I really need to stop. Chantix halts the desire for cigarettes. In fact, they are disgusting. But I have a habit of smoking, and I have to find something else to do.

I got a new pattern in the mail yesterday. It is the Pinn pattern from Thailand with the Japanese mother and child in kimonos. I have posted the design to show what it is going to look like. It is rather simple, but maybe what I need right now is a simple, encouraging design to stitch rather that smoking. If I get in the habit of stitching rather that smoking, it would help me a lot.

I also don't want to eat much. The Chantix is affecting my appetite, which I think is a good thing! One of the problems with quitting smoking is the weight gain. Stitch instead of eat, huh?

I need to exercise. I have been wearing a sweat suit every day, thinking I would go over to the gym and exercise. It is too cold outside to walk the dog and get my exercise that way. So I need to go over to the gym.

I hope I can go without cigarettes today.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to Win at Hidato: Hints

I have noticed that some of my hits arise from folks googling "how to play Hidato." So I want to give a few tips on how to win at the game.

1. Never guess. Start out by going through and filling in all the areas of which you are certain. Then look again to see if, after filling those in, there are any more which have come up. Do this continually until you are finished. THERE IS NEVER A REASON TO GUESS. ONLY FILL IN THE SQUARES OF WHICH YOU ARE CERTAIN.

2. Avoid getting blocked in. There are several ways to get blocked in. One way is insisting that numbers go next to each other in order. Remember that they may be staggered. For example, if you have 51 and 53, it may look obvious to put 52 in the center. But 52 may actually go in the square up or down from the other two numbers. This may especially be the case if there is another sequence going in the same area. Let's say there is a 24 that is nearby, and it needs to get to a 27 which is actually below the 51 and 53. In order to insert the 25 and 26, you will need to leave a space. Staggering the numbers up and down is one way to do it.

Another way to get blocked in is to have a row of blanks in a corner. You need three squares next to each other (not in a row) to turn around in a corner. If you have two empty squares in a row and can't get out of that area, you have done something wrong and need to do some thinking and erasing. There has to be another way to complete the sequence so you can turn around in that corner.

3. If it is obvious that you've done something wrong, count through the entire sequence to see if you have added an extra number or omitted a number. If you have omitted a number, you will end up with a blank when you are finished. If you have added an extra number, you will be struggling where to put something that seems to obviously fit in where you are working.

4. Sometimes the sequence isn't at all obvious. If you find that your numbers aren't fitting, go back and see if you can rearrange the numbers you've already inserted near it. Count backwards or forwards and see whether what's there can be reorganized. You may have to back up several squares to get it right, and you may end up erasing a sequence.

5. Don't be afraid to erase! You may have thought you were certain a number was positioned a particular way, but there may have been other alternatives.

The best way to figure out Hidato is to start with the easy puzzles and work your way to the difficult ones. Then you will learn the tricks along the way.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Subversive Cross Stitch!

There's an online shop called Subversive Cross Stitch that has all sorts of charts that might interest the rebellious adult. I say "adult" not because there's so much sexual content, but because the language is a little racey. It's definitely not a site for your kids to be perusing. But if you live alone or with another adult, it might be fun to stitch a little sign that says "Whatever" or "Bite Me" or "Irony is Not Dead." Subversive Cross Stitch is not at all like the Radical Cross Stitch site, which is put together by what I consider to be a fine artist. But it's fun, and if you're not easily offended, is worth the visit.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Radical Cross Stitch

Rayna Fahey, an Australian, has a website called Radical Cross Stitch. Rayna is truly an artist, with an artist's cultural mentality. She has charts for such things as "Question Authority" (surrounded by a pretty flower border), "Riots Not Diets," and "Stop Climate Change" (with a nice polar bear, stitched on a pillow). Rayna's designs are for sale, and right now all the proceeds from her sales are going to the Australian bush fires victims. I strongly encourage you to check out her website and (if you are so inclined) buy something. Pretty amazing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Last Cross Stitch Shop in Saint Louis

All the cross stitch shops in Saint Louis, Missouri, have closed -- except one. It is called Shamrock Cross Stitch. It has everything. I was looking for a place to buy Weeks Dye Works and Sampler Threads, and they have them, along with a plethora of threads from several other companies: DMC and Anchor floss, Caron Waterlilies, Sole d' Alger, DMC specialty threads, Thread Gatherers and Rainbow Gallery Fibers. Rainbow Gallery has that fuzzy thread called Fuzzy Stuff that gets used so often for sheep and Santa's beard. They also have Mill Hill beads and buttons, and stacks and stacks of cloth and patterns. You can't order online from Shamrock, unfortunately, but I am sure it will be a great place to visit locally. Well, sorta locally. It's across town. But I am willing to make the drive! I don't care how much gas it takes!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cleaning ladies mess up my stitching stuff!

My cleaning ladies came and "cleaned up" my table with all my stitching stuff on it! Grrrrr! Well, I can't get by without cleaning ladies, so I guess I have to put up with this and reorganize it myself.

My cousin Carl keeps finding new information on our mutual grandfather, Edward (or Edison) Fylor Bradley. My father had told me his father had gotten the flu at basic training and never went overseas during WWI, but it turned out he did, and we have his military records. He also died pretty young of a massive heart attack. Carl is going to the funeral home tomorrow and getting a bunch of information, also on our great-grandfather Edward C. Bradley. Turns out that grandpa Edward had a paramour in Ohio. Don't know if that's why grandma went back to Rochester with the kids, but she also had a "roomer," which is a polite way to put it. His name was Jack Simpson. The woman in Ohio was Iona Henry. All the scandals!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Thank you, GBP

You ever talk to a friend who has the ability to make you relax and feel good? I talked to a friend like that last night. All my anxiety disappeared. I was no longer playing the videos of the past in my mind. I was totally in the present listening to him. We talked for three hours, and every minute of it was enjoyable. In addition, we speak the same language, we are both social scientists with an interest in biology. I was able to talk about neural networks and be understood. This morning I had to explain to a very good friend what a receptor was. Last night, there was none of that. It was so good.

This friend suggested I write. I have often talked about getting back into writing but I haven't done it. I plan to try something different this time -- science fiction. I told him I was doing a lot of science fiction reading. He said, "just do it, you don't need to read any more." So here I am, writing in my blog (which he says is really a diary) instead of writing.

But I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, GBP.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

European Cross-Stitch Companies

I received four patterns in the mail from Der Feine Faden.  Der Feine Faden means "the fine thread" which I think is a cool name. The patterns I received range from groups of flowers to mandalas to a Gustav Klimpt reproduction. All look fairly easy, but there are no sizes for fabric, or information on whether it is stitched over one thread or two. There is very little information in the packet in English, and what is there is pretty obvious (like, uses DMC thread). I love the designs, though, and can hardly wait to stitch them. I got them from European Cross Stitch.

Another European stitch company is Le Bonheur des Dames, which means, in French, "the happiness of women." It is also the title of a book by that name by Emil Zola. These are available from ABC Stitch Therapy. It is translated on the web as "The women's delight." I  received two patterns from them.  

The European cross stitch companies produce very fine designs, often very delicate, with ample size patterns that one could be almost blind to see them!

Friday, February 06, 2009

My Hobby Lobby Adventure

I was feeling really exhausted this morning, but after lunch I decided I wanted to stitch the Bobbie G "LOVE" design. This meant getting into the car and driving out to Kirkwood (about 10 miles in city traffic) to Hobby Lobby. I got the thread, then discovered a whole lot of ribbon yarn for $1.99 each. I thought, well, if I want to teach crochet at the children's hospital that I'm going to be volunteering at starting in March, I might as well get some yarn for them to make cell phone cases (I have used ribbon yarn for this myself and it's great). So I bought the stuff, and then I walked a few buildings over to get Yoggies (yogurt drops) for the rats at Petco, and I left my wallet there. I didn't discover it until I drove up in front of my building, alas, and this was after driving the 10 miles home from Hobby Lobby. I tried calling but there was no answer. So I got back into the car and made the 20 mile round trip again, and of course my wallet was there at Petco. What a hassle! But now I have the threads for the Bobbie G design and John's baby rat really appreciated the yogurt drops. BTW, John and Dan are coming tomorrow to get the rat, hurray!

Le Bonheur des Dames eyeglass case

Well, I took a look at the pattern. It's over one! The pattern is very large, and of course the case won't be. I don't know what count the fabric is, but it may be 28 or 32. So over one on high count fabric. The threads are already separated in the kit (which is nice). A lot of the instructions are in French, with a few select ones in English and other languages, but I can figure it out. The colors are also in French, but I decided that I can look at the picture and figure out which ones are which. I can't decide whether to start this one or do the Valentine's Day ones first, leaving this for after the 14th. I'm thinking -- maybe I'll start it. I am washing the fabric for both the eyeglass case and the Bobbie G "LOVE" design. I am looking forward to doing some stitching! By the way, it is 60 degrees here today (Spring is coming?) and I'm going to walk with Ace (my border collie) to the Subway half a mile away.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"How to Live on Mars"

I am reading an interesting book by Robert Zubrin called How to Live on Mars. It is an imaginary (yet fact-based) handbook for getting to Mars, setting up, getting rich, finding water, etc. Zubrin is a member of a group called the Mars Society (Mars Society) which wrote a declaration in 1998 proposing that we explore Mars and use Mars as a frontier. The book is very accessible and has a lot of drawings demonstrating various concepts and constructs. I am only part of the way through the book, and will probably finish it today. It is possible, that for me, the book is a little too simple. But it is written for the general public and I hope it ends up on the bestseller list. I also hope Barack Obama reads it!

A regular one-year membership in the Mars Society is $50. 

Weather and Phone Calls

Well, it's warming up here a bit.  It's going to be in the 50s and 60s over the next several days. This is a welcome change from 10 degrees with wind. I plan to walk half a mile with the dog to Subway, grab a sandwich, and walk back the half mile. I am really looking forward to the warmer weather. Maybe Spring really is around the corner, but first we need to get past the Vernal Equinox on March 21. 

I feel like I've spent the past two days on the phone. I have talked to my newfound cousin Carl several times (found out my great aunt Clara made a killer orange cake) and also talked to my buddy from grad school for about 3 hours last night. We are going to talk again on the weekend. There is a lot of catching up to do.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Camille is going to learn to stitch!

A few days ago I posted a picture of a design from The Bold Sheep called "Crazy Cat."  I got it for my daughter, Camille, who is 17. She has never stitched before and doesn't know any of the crafts/skills my mother taught me and my grandmother taught her -- and my great-grandmother's incredible stitching skills were never passed down  entirely. I want my girl to learn cross stitch, so I got her the cat kit. I showed it to her today, and lo and behold! She is enthusiastic. She even went through The Bold Sheep catalog and checked off designs that she would like to stitch. I can't express how happy I am that she is going to learn to stitch! Of course she is much older than I was when I learned, but I'm sure she'll be great at it! I washed the fabric to get the creases out, and I'm going to grid the fabric before Camille starts stitching, just to make it easier. Heck, I always grid my own fabric when I stitch. No, it's not because I can't count. It's just harder to make mistakes if the fabric is gridded. So the next time Camille comes over, we'll get to it!

Talked to an old friend

Somebody I went to grad school with.  Nice person. He's not in academia any more (neither am I). He is in Phoenix taking care of his 92 year old mom. It was nice to locate him. I found him through one of his mentors/coauthors. More about him later. He doesn't cross-stitch but he's got an incredible blog!


It's 10 degrees outside.  The lines at the car wash have been endless, so I waited until this morning (7:00 am) to beat the crowds.  Car wash went somewhat well, but there's ice frozen on my side mirrors now, and streaks of ice down the back and top of the car.  That's what you get for having a car wash in the dead of winter!

Bobbie G's "LOVE" design

I received some of my Valentine's Day stitching charts in the mail yesterday.  My favorite is a design by Bobbie G which is the word "LOVE" which includes hand-painted pink fabric.  I plan to stitch the design on the fabric, then do it again on Silkweaver hand-dyed solo fabric.  I'm making this for my two boys for Valentine's Day.  

Monday, February 02, 2009

Relationship between Hidato Puzzle & Cross Stitch

I realized while I was doing a Hidato puzzle just now that Hidato and cross-stitch have much in common. In Hidato, you must find your way through a maze of numbers and every number must be next to the one before it and the one after it. Cross-stitch is a similar sort of maze. The design is printed on a page with a key, and you must figure out how to place the stitches for the neatest, most logical "solution," so to speak. I saw, when realizing this similarity, why I like both!

Where to find Hidato Online!

More "not-stitching" but something cool!

I was working away on my blog today when I received a phone call from somebody I didn't know. He asked for "Candy" and I said, "This is Candice." Nobody but my parents call me "Candy" and it drives me crazy. Anyway, it turned out to be my first cousin Carl B. from Rochester. He hunted around for me on the internet and then called information for my number. I met Carl once.  He was about 11 years old and I think I was 21. My sister and I had visited my uncle and his family on our way to Niagara Falls. We spent the night there and had dinner. They were very nice to us. 

Carl is a really nice person. We talked for a long time and I promised to call him back. We both have children older than I was when we met. I didn't realize it was that long ago that I met him and his sister Eve. My uncle Al died in 1988. Carl says his dad was his best friend. My dad and Al did not get along, for a variety of reasons. They had very different experiences during childhood. Carl and I were able to fill in some gaps in our ancestors' stories, and I promised him that I would get onto my other (not in use) computer and download the genealogy records I have accumulated. Then we can compare notes and fill in the blanks. I am so glad I did research on my family. Carl didn't even know that his grandma's ancestors came over before the Revolutionary War and were from Holland. I think he will be amazed.

Okay, this isn't about stitching, but maybe some day I will be able to stitch at least a skeleton of a family tree.  It would have to be awfully large!


Although I usually write about cross-stitch and other crafts, today I am going to write about a game invented by an Israeli mathematician named Gyora Benedek. The game is called Hidato and it is a number/logic game which involves filling in blanks on a number grid (sort of like Sidoku) but rather they are filled in order. I am having a great time with this puzzle and own the two available puzzle books by the inventor. (They are at I am attaching a picture of a Hidato puzzle as an example. There is a learning curve, and the puzzles start easy and end hard. But by the time you get to the difficult puzzles, you've pretty much gotten the pattern wired. I am to the point that I can almost do them in my sleep, and I imagine when I finish these two books I will be ready to move onto something else. I do hope Gyora Benedek publishes more Hidato books. I am hooked.

Here is Gyora Benedek's bio and a very interesting story about how he came to invent these puzzles because he saw a school of fish while skindiving!

January Cross Stitch Crazy

It takes a while for the British magazines to get here, so I just recently got the January issue of Cross Stitch Crazy. Of course, somebody visiting Barnes & Noble stole the free gift that was in the package with the magazine. I could kick myself for not checking first.  Most of the designs in the magazine aren't interesting to me, but I like one that says "Forget the Gym.  Stitch Yourself Slim," featuring a slightly chubby woman surrounded by delectable goodies, sitting cross-legged on an exercize mat, stitching. The design is shown as a pillow, which I think is pretty cute. It has a really nice border, which is the one thing that makes the entire design appealing. The pattern is rather simple, although the instructions say it would take 40-50 hours to stitch. I don't think there are any partial stitches (let me check): yes I am correct. Whole stitches only, but there are some French knots (see my blog entry on doing French knots). And there is a lot of backstitching. The design looks cute though, and might be worth stitching.

There is one other section of the magazine featuring a fairy alphabet. They show an example of a stitched name, and it's quite nice. It would be great for a little girl's door, but I know adults who like fairies (heck, I like fairies) and I thought of making one for a friend in New Zealand. Each letter takes 4-5 hours to stitch, which means a five-letter name takes 20-25 hours to stitch. The nice thing about this alphabet is that there are very few design repeats. So often, when they do an alphabet, they have only a few designs for the motif with the letters that they repeat too often -- I reject those.

By the way, the January issues of the British cross stitch magazines still include Christmas designs. This issue is no exception. I guess they come out well before Christmas in England. 

So that's it for the January issue of Cross-Stitch Crazy. There may be other designs in there that you like, but these are the only ones I would consider stitching. I'm looking forward to the February issue, and this time I'm going to make sure nobody stole the free gift!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

My friend Charlie

I call him "Happy Charlie" because he is always so positive and smiles all the time. Charlie doesn't have a job right now, like a lot of people. I think we all know somebody who doesn't have a job, don't we? Anyway, Charlie is a very generous person. For example, he drives homeless people to church on Sunday, visits children at a hospital, and he helped me hang my pictures, put together my bookshelf and wine rack, and recently he put together my fish tank stand, which was a real challenge. Charlie came and picked me up at the hospital the other day. Then he stayed with me until my daughter Camille came over. Charlie and I watched movies on TV and he said it was a very relaxing afternoon. I was still recovering from the anesthesia from the surgery.  It was so good to have him come here. The only funny thing was that the nurse at the hospital suggested he help me get dressed, and Charlie isn't that kind of friend! We both got a laugh out of that!  Of course Charlie stepped outside while I dressed.  It was really funny.

Who is Nimue?

I got curious about who designs the Nimue patterns.  This is what I found at the website!

Nimuë, is a person : Annaïck Chauvel
Cultural engineer and artist, She became the Director of  Centre de l’Imaginaire Arthurien (Centre of the Imaginative World of Arthur) at the Château de Comper at the age of 25.
For ten years here in the  mytical  forest of Brocéliande, in Brittany, she organised meetings with many academics, writers, painters, photographers, illustrators, film-makers and other creators of imaginative works.
Some became her friends, and when, in 2002, she decided to create counted cross-stitch designes on the thermes dear to her, Celtic Mythology, the Marvels of the Middle Ages, the fairy-tale World, and the Legendary world, naturally it was the works of her friend that she interpreted in embroidery.
The Matière de Bretagne (Arthurian Cycle) is the breeding ground for her inspiration.

The best collection of wedding samplers!

I have been looking at wedding samplers on various websites, and I finally found the mother-lode of wedding samplers.  They are on the Abc Cross Stitch website.  There is a drop-down menu which lists weddings as one option, and there are (get this!) 17 online pages of wedding cross-stitch! I am going to remember this for the future.  The website is  Go for it!

Nimue designs

I love Nimue designs.  Mostly they are elves and fairies.  There are two named Mic and Mac (try looking that up on the internet and you get lots of computer sites!).  Nimue is in France, but they are sold her by ABC Stitch Therapy (I haven't found any other place).  I did send an email to Nimue in France to ask how to buy the designs directly through them.  The website is in French and the order page appears only to take French addresses.  Anyway, I have attached here a couple of Nimue designs I ordered from ABC Stitch.

I think these designs are really charming.  I have loved them for a long time but have never ordered any.  I like the one with the musicians because I play flute, banjo and tin whistle and love Irish music.  It is too cute!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Progress on the hand

I actually got into the car today and drove to Walgreen's, bought sodas, nuts, a few other things, and drove back.  I took my old-lady-shopping-cart and filled it up, steering it with one hand.  The woman at the front desk came and opened the door to the lobby for me, and I brought everything upstairs.  So my hand hasn't been much of a handicap today.  It's probably partly because it's my left hand, and I dread the day when I'll have to have the right thumb fixed -- I know that day will come because they both started aching at the same time.  Only the left turned into a trigger thumb at this point, but the other thumb is inevitable.

I can even type at the computer!

I think this thumb business is hereditary.  My mother has had both her thumbs repaired, and my maternal aunt has a painful thumb now.   They both waited longer to have their thumbs fixed than I did.  I didn't want to get to the point of it being incapacitating.  

The pain isn't incapacitating.  In fact, there's hardly any pain.  It could be the Celebrex they gave me -- I have to take it for four more days -- that's keeping the pain at bay, but I did take an oxycontin this afternoon that I had on the shelf from a previous injury.   The hard-core meds they gave me at the hospital cause various side-effects (in fact they gave me a pill to counteract one of the side effects of the pain pill), and thus I haven't been taking them.  But I haven't really needed them.  I think I would do okay with my hand even if I didn't have any pain medication.  I think that's amazing.  It could also be that I have a high tolerance for pain.  When my mother had surgery on her thumbs, all she did was complain.   I'm not like that.  Apparently my grandmother had a high tolerance for pain.  Maybe I inherited something good from my maternal line, in addition to the lousy stuff.   But my grandma had Alzheimer's and I sure don't want to inherit that!

So the hand is doing well!  The bandages come off Tuesday, but I still have to make sure I don't get the stitches wet.  I'm seeing the hand doc on the 10th and then the stitches will come out!

I'm listening to Pandora Radio -- The Rolling Stones are singing "Angie."  I love that song.

Other crafts I do

Besides cross-stitch, I have dabbled in a number of other crafts.  First on the list is origami.  I have been doing origami for at least a decade.  I haven't done any in a while, although a bunch of my cranes ended up on the building's Christmas tree this year.  There is a woman in the building, Niki, who also does origami, but we haven't been able to get together yet.  I talk to my buddy John in California, who does TONS of origami, and is very inspiring, but mostly we talk about funny stuff about language, math, computers, bowel movements (! I'm not kidding!), food, and a bunch of stuff.  He is really great at origami, modifying existing models and getting on folding jags where he folds the same thing over and over using different modifications and materials.  

Another of my crafts is crochet.  Again, I haven't done it in a while, but I'm aching to, and I'll include some of my crochet in this blog.

I spent a lot of time learning calligraphy.  I'm not nearly as good as I used to be.  I used to wake up and do calligraphy every day.  I got really good at Celtic calligraphy.  I don't do the fancy cursive stuff, though.  I like using fatter pens.  All my calligraphy stuff is in a drawer in my desk.

I've done scrapbooking but I don't know where all the stuff is.  I was doing a scrapbook about my trip to Vienna with my parents, but I wish I'd brought the stuff along to Saint Louis so I could finish it.  

I sew.  I just acquired a sewing machine and cabinet from Craigslist but I haven't touched it yet.  I want to make crazy stuffed animals/people/things.  I have 8 ties in a bag that I picked up at Salvation Army to make an octopus.  I also shrunk a wool sweater to make a silly cat.  Haven't made it yet.  I really need to get this sewing machine going!

I have some gift wrapping books which came in useful at Christmas.  I used some of the methods to wrap Christmas presents as well as Birthday presents for my daughter's birthday, which is two days after Christmas.

I also bead.  I'm in the middle of a bracelet.  Beading is MUCH faster than cross stitch and crochet.  I enjoy beading a lot.  I am also buying a necklace and earrings from the wonderful beader Phyllis Dintenfass, who was featured in Beadwork magazine last month.  I just fell in love with it.  It's $375 and I'm paying her one month at a time.  I've already made one payment -- two to go.  Phyllis was one of my beading teachers.  I can really bead anything at this point but I like taking classes.  Classes are a quick way to pick up new beading designs and to be motivated to get something done.

I've also dabbled in bookbinding.  I would like to get back into that.

So I do/have done a lot of crafts.  I wonder how many other people there are who have started and continue to do a lot of different crafts.

Phyllis Dintenfass's work may be seen at

Pinn-Stitch -- Thai Stitching Company

I just discovered a unique cross-stitch site from Thailand, with all kinds of patterns not to be found anywhere else.  There are Buddhas and other Asian, Chinese and Indian gods and idols.  There are adorable easy charts of pairs of Asian couples wearing Kimonos -- I think they are Japanese.  There are lovely landscapes.  Difficulty of charts takes the entire range of products they offer.  I ordered a chart of a Japanese mother and daughter in Kimonos, and the shipping was on $5.00 airmail.  The chart was $8.50.  Everything is sold in US dollars.   

The website can be found at  It's charming!  Go for it!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The rat and the hand

I have my son's little brown rat on my shoulder, and my left hand is in a bandage from the surgery.  The rat is wiggling inside my shirt.  I don't know what she's doing in there -- maybe cleaning herself.  Pet rats are very clean.  They are meticulous.  I love this rat.

I am able to type with the bandage on.  The surgery wasn't bad, and I don't have to take pain medication because my hand doesn't hurt enough to go through the hassles involved with the medication.  The medication is actually worse than the pain.  If you don't need to take a powerful pain killer, why bother?  The only thing I didn't like about the surgery was recovering from the anesthesia.  That was hard.  My surgery was done like at 9:00 and I was in recovery until around noon, sleeping most of the time.  I barely remember going into the operating room.  I have a vague memory of somebody putting an oxygen mask on my face, and of moving from the gurney to the operating table.  The anesthesia stung a little when it went into my hand, but I had been warned about this, and I was hardly aware at that point.  I remember it for a couple of moments, and then the next thing I remember was being in recovery.  Charlie, who had picked me up from surgery, stayed with me until 4:00 in the afternoon, when Camille came over.  Camille spent the night and left late morning, then came over this evening and had pizza.  She also brought me sodas and ice cream (the breathing tube left my throat sore).  Charlie and Camille have been really helpful while I have been recovering, doing things like walking the dog for example.  I am lucky to have people who care about me.

The rat has settled down on my shoulder, quiet and still.  I know my son will really love her when he gets her.  I will have her for another week, but I really want him to see her as a baby.  She's already growing.  I have been checking to make sure there is a little bump in her tummy from eating food, but I don't see her going up to the next level for her food and I don't see her drinking water.  I know she is eating and drinking though.  She is a very happy rat.  She doesn't have a name yet but I've been calling her Lily.  

I have a good life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's your favorite Valentine's design?

I've been looking at small Valentine's Day designs on 1-2-3 Stitch.  There are three web pages of hearts, Valentine's sentiments, love symbols and (the ubiquitous) reds and pinks.  I'm not going to tell you my suggestions -- just that I'd love to make a couple of quick designs for my sons and their amores.  What would you suggest?  What Valentine's Day designs are your favorites?  I'll reveal mine soon!

My trigger thumb and surgery tomorrow

I am going in for surgery tomorrow on my trigger thumb.  Apparently trigger finger or trigger thumb is caused by inflamation around the joint and tendon.  Mine has some sort of related cyst on the place where my thumb joint meets my hand.  That's very common.  Trigger thumb is called digital tenovaginitis stenosans.  Tomorrow I am going to be knocked out and my doc is going to do the surgery.  Since I have diabetes, I get the first slot in the morning, which means I have to be there at 6:30 am, and I'm not thrilled about that.  A friend of mine (I call him "Happy Charlie") is coming to pick me up at noon, around the time I will be out of recovery.  We will need to go to the pharmacy to fill the prescription for the pain medication, then off to my house.  At some point my 17 year old daughter Camille will relieve Charlie.  I need to figure out what kind of "loose clothing" to wear tomorrow, and I'm not sure I have anything that will work, except maybe my pajama top.  I might try that.  I don't know how big the bandage on my hand is going to be.   It would be a drag to have to split open a shirt just to get my hand in there.  Maybe the pajama top is the right thing to take.  I could always replace the pajamas, right?

I don't have a picture of this right now, but I'll take one and post it.

Sale at The Bold Sheep

The Bold Sheep is having a 3-for-2 sale.  Buy two patterns or kits, and the third is free.  The free one will be the one that costs the least.  Besides cross-stitch patterns and kits, The Bold Sheep also carries tapestry kits.  A lot of the designs are the same as the cross-stitch designs, but there are some different ones.  They carry both baa-ginners (beginner kits) and regular kits.  Some of these are really pretty!  I'm going to try out tapestry myself and I plan to use a baa-ginner's kit.

The trick to the French knot

I had a lot of trouble with French knots until I learned the trick.  The trick is to keep your thumbnail or finger on the knot as you pull the needle through.  The knot must be against the fabric when you do this.   That's all there is to it!

I have looked for a picture on Google Images for exactly this procedure, and I can't find any that show it the way I do it.  I just know that I haven't had any problems with French knots since I started using this method.  Try it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gridding Aid from 1-2-3 Stitch

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog on how to grid cross stitch fabric to make stitching easier.  In fact, I can't stitch without gridding.  It makes it a lot easier to count and prevents mistakes.  It is especially useful on evenweave fabric, although I need a magnifying glass to make sure I get the rows right.  I always use a thread color for gridding that contrasts with the fabric.  This is done with regular sewing thread, by the way, and not floss.  After you're done stitching, the threads pull right out.

Well, 1-2-3 Stitch ( carries a product that makes gridding easier.  It is called Easy Count Guideline and runs for $7.83.  It looks like the grid can be inserted without a needle, and appears heavier than the plain sewing thread that I use for gridding.  I haven't tried this product, but it does look useful.

La D Da cross stitch

Another one of my favorite designers is La D Da.  The designer is Lori Markovic.  She does great stuff.  This one is called "White Cat" and is done with Gentle Art Sampler Threads.  This was one of the first La D Da designs I saw and I really liked.  I don't have a white cat (I have an orange tabby instead) but I love this design and would love to stitch it some day.  A good place to buy La D Da designs is 1-2-3 Stitch online.  She has a lot of options.  Strange, I haven't looked at La D Da in a long time, but there don't seem to be any recent patterns.  I am wondering if Lori has moved on to other things.  Anyway, all of the La D Da designs are what I would call "primitive."  

Bonheur Des Dames Eyeglass Case

Bonheur Des Dames, a French company, has the greatest designs.  I picked this one to show because it is so delicate and lovely I couldn't resist.  I would love to make one.  It appears to be on blue linen evenweave, which would make half-stitches possible.  I haven't ordered anything from Bonheur Des Dames in a long time, but I'm going to order this one.  I need an eyeglass case to keep my reading glasses close at hand.  (No, I don't wear one of those chains around my neck!)  Look at the delicate flowers on the case.  Aren't they charming?

P.S.  I did order the kit for the eyeglass case from the company.  It is expensive (in Euros) as is the shipping, but I'm looking forward to receiving it and stitching it.  I don't know how long it will take to get here, but I'll let you know.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I got this horrid SPAM from somebody advertising their webpage about making the most of the economy (or something like that) asking me to link to their page and write a blog about it.  This person found my private email address and wrote to me there.  I can't believe she did that.  (Or was it a he?)  I find this really annoying.  People looking up my email address instead of using the blog.  Can you imagine?  I tried to write back telling this person not to email me again, and the email address was set to nonresponse.  I thought blogger was supposed to protect us from this kind of SPAM.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beginner Cross Stitch Kits from The Bold Sheep

I have been in the market for a beginner design for my 17 year old daughter.  It occurred to me to go to The Bold Sheep website (link in my sidebar) and see what they have.  The Bold Sheep is a British company, and although they have both patterns and kits for more experienced stitcher, the beginner patterns are all kits.  I understand European kits have a greater allotment of fabric than US kits, so I thought I would try this out for my daughter.  It is on 8 count Aida with bright colors and sooo cute!  Designs from the bold sheep are cute, fun, relatively easy, small and have a variety of charts for several different levels of stitcher.  

The price is in pounds and it looks relative expensive, with costly shipping added.  I hope she appreciates it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

British Cross Stitch Magazines

I have a vast collection of British cross stitch magazines.  Most of them are in storage in Wisconsin, which makes them impossible to access, since I live in Saint Louis.   My favorites are Cross Stitch Crazy and Cross Stitch Card Shop.  Some of the other British cross stitch magazines, such as Cross Stitcher, don't appeal to me.   If I want a big design, I don't want one that is stitched on Aida in whole stitches, with tons of backstitching just to define the edges.  That is why, for big designs, I prefer charts from, say, the US or France or Ireland, and I stitch them on hand-dyed linen.  I don't do kits, either.  There are a lot of references to kits in British magazines.  I don't understand kits.  I don't understand why all the threads are not already sorted and labeled in some kits (Dimensions kits would drive me crazy for this reason), or why the fabric pieces are always so skimpy and almost always white, or why they use boring brands of thread rather than hand-dyed thread, which I prefer.  I do like Cross Stitch Crazy and Card Shop because the designs in them are small.  I don't mind stitching something on Aida in entirely whole stitches with cheap thread if it's something small and quick, although small and quick for some of the designs in these magazines means up to 50 hours.   They do have "one nighters" which for me would take a week because I just can't sit down and stitch for four or five hours straight -- unless it's Monday and I have an iPod full of new podcasts I could listen to for hours on end.   If I could read and stitch at the same time, that would make me happy.  Okay, so I could (and do) download books and listen to those.  That kind of multi-tasking would make me happy.

So back to the British cross stitch magazines.  They are fun to look at.  They are fun to read.  Sometimes I find nothing in them I would want to stitch, but there's a lot more in them than designs.  They are almost cross stitch gossip magazines.   They're very entertaining and fun.

I get my British cross stitch magazines from the racks at Barnes & Noble.  The only problem with buying them at Barnes & Noble is that oftentimes some idiot cheap stitcher will have already stolen the free gift out of the plastic wrapper.  It's not that I really want the free gift (I almost never use them), but it does take some of the fun out of it.   It's important to check that the free gift is still in there when buying the magazines sold in wrappers.  

Now I'm off to fantasize about stitching silly little designs in the latest issue of Cross Stitch Crazy.

My New Fish Tank!

I got a 10 gallon tank with all the paraphrenalia on Craigslist, and today I had a guy from a fish store come out and set it up for me.  He put in gravel, plants, a few guppies to condition the water, and chemicals (bacteria to speed up the process and decholorinizer).  He left me some other stuff, including fish food and chemicals, and pointed out that I had a device to clean the bottom of the tank.  He also left me a big bucket for water.   I am not thrilled about the guppies, and plan to return them to the store when I get the real fish for my tank.  These are very boring guppies.  I know where to get Moscow blue guppies (another ad on Craigslist) and I would like to get a couple for my tank.  The fish store says they take in guppies from time to time, so I would have a place to take all the babies if I get a male and female pair, or even two females who would probably already be pregnant.

I used to have guppies and other live bearers in my 5 gallon tank when I was a kid.  I had fish since I was about 10.  I loved my fish.  I had one fancy guppy I called Golashes.  That fish seemed to live for an eternity.   I generally took very good care of my fish.  I had several types that were livebearers, and some that laid eggs.  I had a constant supply of fish.  They made me very happy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reading Kurt Vonnegut!

I got Slaughterhouse Five because I heard it was about the firebombing of Dresden.  I've had the book for a couple of weeks, but I just picked it up yesterday and I am amazed!   What a great author!  I haven't read any Kurt Vonnegut and now I am going to go to the library and get several more of his books.  Wow!

My son Mark has a tattoo of Kurt Vonnegut on his back.  My ex- used to read to them at night, and he read a lot of Vonnegut's books to my boys.   By the way, my boys have excellent vocabularies and are wonderful writers, and I attribute this at least partly to being read to every day!  No baby books for my boys.  We started reading novels to them when they were pretty young!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I have three very simple New Year's resolutions.  

1.  Eat healthy food.  I have been seeing a dietician at my endocrinologist's office (in case you don't know, I have insulin-dependent diabetes).  Last time I went, I had lost one pound.  Very disappointing.   The dietician put together a healthy diet for me.  It's hard to keep up with it, especially with all the fruit and vegetables.  I think I have managed the fruit, but I have neglected the vegetables.  I am also eating oatmeal, one of her recommendations.  I love my oatmeal and eat it nearly every day.  I do go through a lot of oatmeal!  Anyway, eating healthy means sticking to the diet she put together for me.  Sometimes I feel like I'm eating all day just to keep up, but supposedly it's going to help me lose weight.  I need to lose about 15 pounds.  Not much, but it's a struggle.

2.  Exercise.  I belong to a gym just two buildings away, and I haven't gone in a while.  I also have walked the dog a half mile in the past, but I'm just taking him down the street real quick right now.  It's been too cold to walk.   Today it seems to be a bit warmer, so I'm going to try to start again today.  Walking is key to losing weight and being healthy.  

3.  Write.  I have lots of ideas in my head, and my goal is to publish.  This takes discipline, which I don't have yet.  I want to write three pages a day.  Right now, I am thinking of some pet articles, to send to pet magazines.  I also want to write a novella about being a young musician (as I was) and also some science fiction.

That's it for my resolutions.  So far, I haven't done too well, but I keep working at it, and that's the key.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Update on the PayPal Account Compromise

Well, I just want to report that the situation with PayPal was resolved in only eight days, at which time PayPal put the money directly into my account.  They moved quickly, got the money back from the sellers, and prevented the goods from being mailed out.  Somebody in the automobile repair business was involved in this.  He (and I'm almost certain it's a he) bought body parts and even put the name of a auto repair business as one of the purchasers.  I think this guy was stupid.  He didn't get what he wanted, and very likely got a visit from the police!  

PayPal keeps their word!

Selling Silkweaver Cross-Stitch Fabric on Craigslist

Well, I accumulated too much fabric stash.  I had an entire cardboard file box full.  I decided I would sell each piece on Craigslist for $5.00.   Two women came out, one with her daughter, the other with her husband, who actually found the posting for her.  They each bought 14 pieces, and I've got a lot left, I'd say half a box.  My posting lasts for 30 days, and I might get more takers, but if I don't, I'll repost after the month is up.  If you are interested in purchasing some silkweaver fabric for cheap, send me an email and I'll send a description of what I've got.  

No worries, I have more stash of my own in another box!