I remember Sept 2020

where we couldn’t even see across the street at 1100 in the morning.

This is what Mark, in Long Island was seeing this morning.

Carmen described drive she and Stuart made from their DC home back to their Ottawa home. I am quoting and hope she forgives me..

There are massive wildfires in northern Quebec, plus a few in Ontario, and smoke from those fires has covered a large portion of eastern North America’s skies. I expected the smoke, but I didn’t expect it to be as low to the ground as it was. By the time we were in New York state, driving through Binghamton and Syracuse, the smell was acrid, visibility was limited, and the sun was partially blocked.

Just as a reminder for those of you in affected areas – you need a filter respirator/mask if you are going to be outside, even for a couple of minutes – that means an M95, N95, etc. Cowls, bandanas, scarves,, surgical masks … none of them really filter out particles of the size that are going to do significant damage to your lungs.

On the more mundane front –

I managed a bit more than another 1000 stitches on Born to be Wild, my ducks on a scooter stitch that I introduced yesterday. I had forgotten how fast and easy it is to stitch on 14 ct.


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Final check

My daughter is due back tonight and I will be off the hook for daily cat checks. No, she didn’t ask me to do this, it is a self-inflicted trip. But as nasty as this cat can be, he does like company as long as the person feeds him.

Anyway. I have a number of cross stitch projects that I should work on which shouldn’t be surprising. I don’t have the length of partially completed projects that many stitchers have. My goal is actually to complete at least one of my outstanding projects every month that I am in town. Having said that …..

I sort of categorize projects by type and try not to have more than one in each category at any one time. Except for the Stitch-a-longs – they don’t count. This means one LongDog Sampler (currently Tap Dance), one Cottage Garden Samplings Year in the Woods (Woodpecker or Beaver left), one InkCircles, one Barbara Ana, one full coverage.. you get the idea.

Since I had finished the Dragonbook last month (I think it was last month). I hadn’t started a new full coverage.  Wanting something that could be completed in a relatively short time, last night I pulled out “Born to be Wild” by Gordon Fitchett (HAED charted). It won’t be tiny as I pulled out a printed fabric I purchased with this stitch in mind ~ 2019.

as this is a “no background” piece and the fabric isn’t gridded, I am just going to work from the bottom up. That line of stitches which would indicate ground on a non-printed fabric will be picked out as unnecessary. Wish I had figured it out BEFORE I spent the time… Anyway – the picture is two happy ducks on a scooter (this is not the one I am stitching but it will give you the idea)… The artist is Australian and I really enjoy the cheeriness of the ducks.

We made  late night run to SFO. I think many people have seen the iconic views of the Bay Bridge which features the San Francisco side. The new bridge on the East Bay side is completely different. It is no longer a double decker. It is modern and clean looking and actually lovely at night…

(taking pictures at the last moment with a phone can be a challenge).

West bound

East bound.

I am cheating a bit on the timing of the post since we actually didn’t get back till after midnight…

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Monkey Paws

yet another cat check. He is doing fine. I wasn’t so sure when I came through the door. This was the first time I wasn’t greeted immediately. If you are familiar with cats, you probably have had the experience of attempting to walk while a cat weaves around your feet. Not their fault if you happen to trip, obviously. Today? Quiet and no cat.

Okkkkk. Cleaning the cat box didn’t summon him. Rattling the box of Greenies, I heard thumps overhead and thunder headed down the stairs. This cat isn’t light, or light on his feet. He also would rather not have to work hard to collect the adoration and food due him.

what? he says. I should go after that bit of snack on top of the trunk?

and since I didn’t cave, he did…

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just a few purrs

the couple of hours spent at Avenue Yarns for the Sunday morning open knitting was lovely. I had to re-cast on Strider (a Martina Beam pattern I have already knit a couple of times but falls into the lovely category of mindless garter stitch)

then there was the cat check.

obviously, you need another picture of a cat –

getting his well earned (!) scratches. In reality, I am not sure that Boo was being all that sociable. Rather, he was trying to lure me into feeding him Greenies. Failing that, it is his thing to try and sucker an unsuspecting person into belly rubs. Not a good idea, and I am not that stupid. Teeth and claws are so not my idea of a good time.

After getting home, I finished the latest portion of LolaCrow’s Greenhouse of Oddities – the green roots and the flower being new additions.

and Part 3 of TemptingTangles Dream is now underway.

when I finish this segment, I will head back to the beginning and complete the backstitching and flourishes…

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Not coffee

Another day, another cat check. His official name is Kitty Ramon.

and he is not supposed to be on the table and I would prefer that he not be so interested in my stitching…

but he was glad for the visit, at least for a while, then he wandered off to do whatever cats do.

I spent the rest of the day catching up on other projects –

the June portion of Royal Gardens SAL from Fox&Rabbit is done.

which, at slightly more than 2k worth of stitches has been the smallest segment so far….

AND! the Brown Bat is done.

today’s stitches included 1 & ½ trees, a couple of leaves…. and then I looked at his head and realized that a portion hadn’t been transferred to PatternKeeper so pulled out the original pattern and added the stitches around and under his eye. A bit of check does make  sense.

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Today he had greenies

I mentioned that the youngest was traveling. I volunteered to check on her rather well fed cat. As a rule, he really doesn’t like or appreciate anyone who is not one of his two people. It means that he met me at the door, then promptly had to play cool and collected. No sense in letting the person stopping in to check know that the visit is appreciated.

Bribes are good, right? He loves greenies. So I sent out to win some affection. Or at least a purr. A purr would be nice. However, on the table is not allowed.

which meant he was promptly dropped back to the floor. About an hour was all that he could stand before marching off with tail held high.

I am still working on the Brown Bat and have elected to rob The Woodpecker of Kohl figuring I can replace the skein later,

which leaves me with two leaves, one full tree and the leaves on the second tree to go. But then I have some other things on the list: the Fox&Rabbit, the 2nd planting in LolaCrow’s Greenhouse of Oddities and a bajillion (ok 10) other partially completed projects….


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(me nuts?). I can’t say that I really enjoy driving anymore. Perhaps it is that the roads are more crowded or the drivers are bad or…. anyway – I use the car when I have to but not usually on a voluntary basis. And going for a drive, which was a “thing” when I was a child (but that was also in the pre-seat belt era….) just to go and …

Anyway – I have been doing more driving since spring of 2019 than I did in the previous 10 years. Of course, those ten years included a fair amount of time deployed or on a ship. Today became another of those days. The youngest and her guy wanted a ride to SFO. It isn’t all that far, but since it involves the Bay Bridge and traversing downtown San Francisco on the freeway, there is time involved. About an hour as a matter of fact to cover the 26 miles…(right now MAPs claims it would take 33 minutes). On BART it is about an hour, including a line change as needed. 

Since I was that far, why not keep going? My friend Alison lives in Palo Alto and we haven’t seen each other in person since before the pandemic. It is another ~23 miles to her house – which took 45 minutes due to accidents on the freeway…(note – right now Maps says 26 minutes).  Anyway – you get the idea. We headed out to lunch so as not to disturb the two “work from home” individuals on computers in her household. 

Getting back to her house after lunch, we had a chance to visit. Originally meeting through knitting, she is still creating the most amazing afghans, finger puppets,


along with enough scarves and hats to keep everyone she knows warm. I pulled out my portable stitching – two designs from SilverCreek Samplers featuring cats and bad puns.

Sadly, I had to keep  an eye on the time. By 14xx my choices were 1 hr 25 minutes via the East Bay (44 miles)  and 1 hr 45 through San Francisco (48 miles).  I arrived at home just after 1600. If you are tired just reading this, imagine me being tired from driving all of it. I would much rather drive to Portland than deal with local traffic…

The Brown Bat (Oct from The Year in the Woods by Carriage House Samplings) is at 75% and is at a decision point – do I wait till StitchCon, purchase another skein of WDW Kohl and finish it there, or pull the skein I have set aside for The Woodpecker (same series) and replace that at StitchCon. I have the rest of the wing in that color, plus 4 ½ leaves and a couple of trees….

(note, I won’t be sending them out, but I will be releasing most of the last couple of weeks posts in the next couple of days as I have time to upload the pix)


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Our visitor today amply demonstrates that all is not symmetrical in the Cervidea kingdom. Deer , my friends – deer.  To add to the confusion – the sub-family for the New World is called  Capreolinae. With me so far? Happily reading the Wiki article, it appears that the ancestors of the modern deer camping among my metal flamingos are also out-wanderers from Asia.

Our particular invasive species is locally known as black-tailed deer as apposed to the white tailed deer of New England and the mid-west. Some expert somewhere has decided that they are a sub-species of mule deer. I don’t think it really matters to the deer. Around here, they are just considered an invasive species.

Look at him, look at him closely. Click on the picture if you need to see him better….

No clue what happened to him earlier this year – but he obviously survived….



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A bit more border

Back to Fox&Rabbit’s Royal Garden

Doesn’t look like much, but actually computes to 1066 stitches (about 1/5th of what is needed) and has nothing to do with the Battle of Hastings…

I also added 203 stitches to Dream (SAL from TemptingTangles), and did a bit of cleaning…

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All the excuses

Over the years, I have lost track of just about everyone with whom I attended various schools, courses, and universities. That is, with the exception of Carmen who I have known for just about my entire adult life starting from when we were roommates as undergraduates).  And we were never classmates – oh never mind, where was I?

Yes, not keeping track of people as moves, life changes, career etc all got in the way.

Where am I going with all of this? University of Minnesota’s Center for BioEthics has a Friday Morning seminar. I stumbled across it during the pandemic when it became available via Zoom. All of this leads to this morning’s presentation from Dr Steven H. Miles who was a medical school classmate of mine. From looking at his publication list, being from Minnesota and completing a residency in Internal Medicine didn’t slow him down. At some early point, he became  from becoming interested, involved, and an expert in bioethics – especially as it related to physician responsibility. Not going to go over his publication list, either in journals or textbooks. He was interviewed on the webinar this morning for the novel he wrote during pandemic times. Not surprisingly, it is on physician complicity with torture. Also not a surprise, he couldn’t find an agent or publishing house with any interest. I am assuming he published through Kindle Direct since  The Leopard’s Furies can be found on Amazon.

I found listening to him describe his book and the writing both interesting and a bit one-sided. Up front, I don’t think there is ever an excuse for torture. It is not a way to get any information or truth, it simply is a way to be evil. Most people in pain will say anything to get the pain stopped in an attempt to please the captures. Others will die rather than comply. In any case, torture is simply an excuse for sadistic people to punish those who stand in the way of accomplishing whatever they may have for goals. Yes, physicians have been complicit, involved, and sometimes leading the charge. All you have to do is look at WWII (if you have the stomach for it).  But others who have family to protect, I am not sure that the lines are all that clear. Some drink the kool-aide while others are victims themselves.

Off soap box. Otherwise, I had a lovely morning spent with Alex. We admired their new kitchen cart which doesn’t take up too much of their limited floor space but provides both a bit more counter space and a location for dishes.

and now home to stitch.

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Back to Royal Gardens

I think I have probably avoided this SAL long enough – Royal Gardens by Fox&Rabbit. They think big. Much bigger than I normally will tackle, even if it is split into 12 portions. In April it was the left sided border down to the bottom border. This month it is the other side which obviously mirrors the first.

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Finished today – altho it took a bit longer and a few more stitches –

The Vintage Black Sampler from Owl Forest Embroidery

started 3 April 2023 – finished 17 May 2023.

We had another set of visitors today – this being the youngest –

But I have a serious preference for the poppies seen on a walk with the Youngest.


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Almost done

Somehow, I thought I had been stitching on this particular pattern longer than I really have. Perhaps it is because my Dragonling has been hanging out for well over a year? Anyway – the Vintage Black Sampler was my “new cruise, new start” on the NCL Sun leaving out of Lisbon last month. Actually – the start was on 3 April since I spent very little time off ship in Cadiz.

This particular pattern clocks in at a total of 23,376 stitches of which I got to here

by the end of the evening. I still have about 1700 stitches – give or take to finish it – so by the end of the week.  Most of the remaining stitches are in the border with the solid parts being the remaining sails and ship hull. This pattern is fun, and I am stitching it on Aida (Cotton Candy by BeStitchMe) in one color (PR043 by Silks4U) both of which mean that it is possible to make fairly rapid progress. Most of their other patterns are a bit more complicated (Treasure Island, Alice, Lemurs, and the Cats came back all come to mind).

Tomorrow is errand day ending with pizza which I am taking as a reward for sorting out my two project bag bins and another pile of misc things from the floor.

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I am almost afraid to look up when I started this particular full coverage piece. It has been a while, a long while. (Actually, looking it up – it has only been since Jan 2022. Could be much worse).  With my basic rule about only one at a time – all the other ones that I have wanted to do have been on hold till this piece has been finished.

What am I talking about? One of the Randall Spangler Book Spine illustrations. The previous one I did was in fall of 2019 and cranked off in about 6 weeks. This one? Well it was going fine till I spilled that cup of coffee which got all over the side of the piece. I then put it on hold and decided that it didn’t count as far as projects so I started and finished the Bengal Cat for the Eldest and the Sloth for the Youngest.

From my picture gallery record it looks like I didn’t pick him back up till 25 April and started to make some steady progress. Today – I decided that he really needed to be finished. And 1472 stitches in a day on a full coverage is a bit much. Way too much.

So let me introduce – Investigating the Effects of Caffeine on the Mind by I. M. Dragging.

a measly 22, 428 stitches…on gridded Aida with DMC. The washing is going to be less than fun…

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There is a lovely park as part of WildCat Canyon near where all three of our daughters live. The park includes picnic areas which you can reserve for parties, open areas for playing, and trails you can hike.

The Eldest reserved an area this afternoon as a good place to have a bunch of toddlers and friends for a birthday celebration for Lev. The kids seemed to have a good time as did the parents.

Plus there was an additional, and not particularly invited guest.

This particular gopher popped up next to the picnic table. Noah attempted to discourage the beast by plugging his hole with that rock. Nope, the rock got pushed aside and mad digging ensued.

The best anyone could do was to keep the kids away and tamp down the area. Obviously, he was here first, but no one wanted a toddler to step in a hole either.

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Have I mentioned that I have numerous pairs of glasses floating around. Most of which are several years old. The prescriptions in all of them are similar, but some are a lot better than others.
Last year about this time, I got a new pair of glasses. I really liked them. They fit even when wearing a mask. They let me see well enough for stitching that I wasn’t spending my entire life with them somewhere else while I peered through a magnifier or squinted at what was in my hands.
And then I couldn’t find them. I looked all through my craft room, our bedroom. Suitcases, closets, bathrooms. I looked.

And then this morning, when I got around to heading into the guest bedroom to change them bedl linens, I happened to glance over at the built in bookcase. There is this pair of glasses sitting there..

I brought them out to my craft room and spent time looking at them.

No question – these are the missing glasses. 

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Treasure Island

I have been suckered in again. This time by Owl Forest ( whose designers, in addition to a lot of Russian looking patterns, are the guilty parties behind my 85% complete Alice from 2021. And the Vintage Black Sampler now at 89% complete. Anyway – each year there is a free Stitch-a-Long which is in about 18 parts one of which is released every two weeks. The first section was released May 12.

The fabric is 16ct Moccasin from Fortnight Fabrics and I am pulling out random Silks4U and substituting for the DMC.

I am not really happy with the white – although it matches the DMC. Looking at their website – that sun and half the moon are definitely yellow. Looks like I might just have to do a bit of backstitching ….

this part was only about 1200 stitches. Easily doable in a day.

Otherwise, I headed over to Avenue Yarns for their open sit&knit and managed to gift away two lengths of spinning roving to other attendees who are also spinners. I have more than several lifetimes of fiber and realistically am never going to spin most of it….


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The best toy

Can sometimes be the simplest. It doesn’t have to have bells and whistles. Be shiny or terribly expensive. What it needs to do is be the exact thing to bring joy to a two year old’s heart.

Lev turned two today. Overall I think he had a pretty good day which ended at our house for supper. He loves noodles, so that was on the menu along with cupcakes. He didn’t completely get the idea of opening presents. Since the first one he opened was a book, that took up a significant length of time sitting on his grandpa’s lap. 

But the best present? One that his Uncle Noah found. Blocks. With magnets inside. When you are two, sometimes that tower you are building to the sky just doesn’t go up as far as you would want before it comes crashing down. (and, as most of us adults know, that tower may continue to crash as we age and the stakes become higher.)

Blocks with magnets? They stack and stack and stack!

I think he would have happily sat with Miriam and stacked blocks for hours. Eventually toddlers get exhausted, all the desert is gone and it is time to head home.

Now guarding the stairs heading to our house 

Since I am starting to run out of space on the upper patio…

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Today started out less than auspicious. Of course, I didn’t know about my contribution to destruction  until I returned home. When Amazon dropped off a package in the middle of the driveway (after dark I might add) is it any wonder that it got flattened as I drove out on my way to the SFVA at 0dark30? Apparently it was small. Barely a bump that was grazed by a tire and went Squish.

Noah asked me on my return if I had noticed a small package on my way down the driveway. Had I gone out early? Yes. But something in the middle of the driveway? Small and flat? No, hadn’t seen it. He called Amazon – reminded them of the delivery instructions (NOT in the driveway, NOT abandoned on the public stairs leading up to Keith – next to the number sign at the big tree was fine) and whatever it was will be replaced.

Otherwise – dental appointment. A bit more garage organization.

meaning that it is actually possible to walk to the back wall in one of the three bays.

and then there was the evening visit from one of the nearby nature preserve residents.

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This was a cleanup day. I had mentioned to George several days ago that we really needed to tackle the garage. He promised right after his first two morning conference calls. And I promptly forgot all about it.

I was just back from running an errand or two and was headed upstairs – stitching was calling me. And then I was reminded that organizing the garage had been my idea. The next couple of hours were spent sorting, consolidating, re-organizing. We made serious progress. Tomorrow I am washing a couple of loads of clothing that need to be donated.

Feeling full of energy, I grabbed the heavy duty clippers as I was headed up the stairs and back to the house. I had been watching some of the plants along the stairs. Those on our side were getting well out of control. Imagine my horror –

when I discovered these babies growing along the stairs and into our upper lawn. I haven’t ever seen thistles here before. They are really nasty suckers and are more than willing to tear up hands and shed little spikes into any and all clothing. The only positive thing I can say is that their roots are very shallow. 

I will try and remember tomorrow to get pictures of the sightly cleared stairway and the garage…

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