the reprieve is over

That kind of good luck never lasts. Last night the cat decided that he needed to sleep next to me on the bed. Ok, I can deal with him taking his ½ on the outside edge. What was less than thrilling is him checking on me at about 0315. No cat, it is dark, it is not breakfast time, I am going back to sleep.

(Queue about an hour or so of quiet)

Right around 0500 the “pats” on my shoulder started. Solution? Open a window – that managed to keep him occupied sniffing, commenting, and watching for interesting things in the trees behind the house. At least I was spared the excitement of deer walking along the trail next to the house.

I gave up at 0545 and crawled out of bed but refused to feed him before 0600. I headed up to my craft room to quietly stitch. Obviously it is too early in the morning to do any cleaning (reasonable excuse, right?) and sitting quietly and listening to an audio book doesn’t make a lot of noise.  But then there were errands (car, other people’s medical appointments etc) before finally getting back home.

I am making steady progress on my current batch of projects.

Part 2/3 of Portuguese Dreams (Barbara Ana) is now complete. And since there are all those cats on her hat…

had such a hard day pestering me that taking a nap on project bags just seemed to be the perfect thing to do….

 

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and today 0715

Again, no cat early this morning. In fact, I woke at 0715, light shining in the window and a feeling that something must be wrong. No cat. Oh dear. Swinging my legs out of bed, there was this scurrying sound followed by a few meeps. Ok, the cat is alive and well… he must have overslept as well…

I headed to the back room for most of the morning – the light is great. I did have supervision –

Unlike most days where the only one who controls my schedule & activities is me – we had two “social” events on the calendar. The first was a reception for the donor group out of Cal from 1500-1700. Obviously important to George, I tagged along but found it even less interesting than last year. There was a nice table in the back of the room where I could avoid the masses of people (and read a book on my phone). From there we headed to Jack London Square in Oakland. The navigation apps all provided a route that involved freeways…

At 1700 there was absolutely no way any one in their right, left, or sane mind would voluntarily get on a freeway around here unless there was absolutely no choice. Instead, we headed essentially in a straight line up Telegraph Ave, used 29th to cut over to Broadway which went all the way to our destination. For anyone who might have to go through downtown Oakland, I do not recommend driving. The lane markings are continually changing complete with bus lanes, bike lanes, turn lanes…. leaving only one wandering bit of pavement for cars intending to head straight ahead. We survived to our destination only to find that it was on the far side of the train tracks, home to both Amtrak and freight trains.

Why were we doing this? End of season dinner for supporters of the Cal Women’s  BasketBall team. Last year the dinner was on campus. This year the team wanted to try something different. They succeeded. Plank is a bowling alley. Plus pool tables, plus all sorts of electronic game machines… Shall we say loud? Extremely loud?  The team had a great time. Most of us “adults” tried to stay as far away from the noise as possible.  We saw only a few people that we knew and I was glad to get out of there as early as possible.

End assessment? I will happily skip both events next year, especially if they are held in the same locations.

Part 2/3 of Portuguese Dreams (Barbara Ana) was released on the 15th. I managed to add all of the 3371 along the top as well as the bit opposite the houses. I have perhaps a few hundred stitches more to add. I think it is pretty obvious that her head/face will be the last section (30 April).

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An extra 15

Seriously, the cat didn’t sleep with me last night. Nor did he start bothering me in the dark. I actually woke up on my own at 0615. I took a good look at him. No signs of illness; no fur coming out in chunks, no dragging limbs. I have no clue why he is being so considerate, but I am not going to turn it down.

In all other aspects today was a routine Tuesday except for one small challenge.

Have you attempted recently to get through those automated menus and speak to a real person at a bank? I needed to check on two things: new checks and use of my debit card to pay off a bill. According to the banking website – I could order checks on line. But the site dumped me directly to a third party which asked for all my banking information (account, routing number, address etc). Now being a really suspicious person, how do I know that someone hasn’t jacked the transfer? The IP certainly wasn’t in the same series of those of the bank. I thought about doing a WHOIS double check and thought – screw it, I will just talk to a human.

Fat chance of that. The “nice lady voice” was more than willing to give me a balance, tell me to use the app, etc. The old method of saying HELP or repeatedly hitting zero no longer works. It took over five minutes but I finally go through to a nice young man who solved both problems in less than a minute after we went through the verification dance.  Again, I am tempted just to move my accounts to a local bank here so that I can just walk in for assistance.

My able, four footed assistant managed to get under the desk and behind my floss organizer bin.

then there was this slight issue of not being able to get out easily. I had to pull it all the way out from under the desk, then promptly shove it back in so that he could not repeat the action. After all, there is a dark space back there – it must need exploring.

The beads arrived yesterday – so I was able to complete Gemini (Nora Corbet Zodiac Girl. Stitched on 32 ct linen with all the called for. As it turned out, there were about 100 left to attach. I am not with adding the Zodiac signs to any of them. In twice monthly Tuesday evening Zoom, the owner of Acorns & Threads offered to take her off my hands as that was her zodiac sign. I declined but it certainly was a nice compliment.

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Monday, Monday

For those of you who are no longer part of the Monday-Friday working world – Monday no longer functions as the “great divide” in which you slide downhill hoping that something stops your decent before you hit Wednesday and start crawling back uphill toward the weekend.  I don’t think it matters whether you drive to a factory, retail location, office, medical or legal location or work from your own cave complete with phone and computer – that clear demarcation between “time owned by someone else” and “time over which you can exert some control” really vanishes.

Since the Pandemic has faded from daily public consciousness but not from reality the last bit of outside control has functionally fled from my life. There are still some obvious limits, many provided by activities I choose (with set dates/times) or by George’s schedule since he rarely turns down an opportunity to become involved in yet another project/organization/board… but really – I am mostly identifying the day of the week by looking at the calendar.

If I look at the calendar, I can pretty much know the current location of family members. I certainly don’t need it to predict the every 2-3 hours nagging by the cat who is completely sure that he will STARVE to death if not given a small amount of kibble or Greenie treats.

All of this comes down to an extensive use of both alarm and calendar systems on my phone. The alarms are so that I don’t miss anything on my weird medication schedule and the calendar alerts are so that I don’t blow past something that I will regret having missed.  Maybe I can blame aging brain, although I would much rather blame the current addition of oral chemo 3/4 weeks each month. In any case, I will get my morning coffee, the cat will be fed, some stitching will happen AND if everyone is very lucky – I just might do some cleaning or laundry….

end result of cat helping himself to my yogurt. Lesson learned – do not leave unsupervised bowl on desk for even a minute.

Cottage Garden Samplings – The Cottage. 18%

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Not better today

Some how, have the old attitude of the working multitudes – that weekends should be best enjoyed as not having to be in the office/workplace/base /whatever but should be for personal time and catch up.

So what part of that relates to the early morning nips from a cat who thinks that breakfast MUST be served NLT 0600. The harassment started again this morning well before 0600. I am not actually sure of the exact time since I refused to look at the time, not really wanting to know it. What I do know is that I finally gave up and headed upstairs around 0530 but refused to go anywhere near his feeding station till 0600.

The only good thing I can say about being woken up at first light is that it presents me with a full day in which to stitch/sew/knit/chat/clean-up-the-craft room of which a few things were accomplished.

He looks so innocent doesn’t he? Of course, the reason that my laptop is closed relates to someone coming and sitting on it while open which totally disrupted both input and my ability to listen to an audiobook. I finally gave up and switched to my phone. I am assuming that even the best laptop must be warm. The fact that I am considering getting a water bottle for him says how much he is both disrupting and ruling my time…

I managed to stitch on a few projects after plugging in and rethreading the serger to finish fabric edges. First was the start on The Cottage by Cottage Garden Samplings. While not completely full coverage – it seemed well more than 50% overage. I had guesstimated about 9500 stitches (120x120x65%). The actual number (skinned into PK) came out 4 stitches short of 9300…

The fabric is 18ct Vintage something or other with the called for CCW and DMC. Given the solidity of most of the pattern, I am just treating the cottage and grounds as full coverage and using 20 stitch diagonals from the bottom up.

Sunset is getting later and the sun has “moved” toward the north – no longer setting over the Golden Gate Bridge as seen from my craft room window.

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Early breakfast

I have mentioned that I am cat sitting, right? And that said cat belongs to my youngest? Like many others of her generation, she works remotely. Not an issue in most cases but the firm for which she works is based in New York City. US East Coast time zone which is three hours ahead of us here in California. Doesn’t matter if it is a normal part of the year or the “daylight slaving time” as an older relative of mine used to designate the time switch. What is important is that she starts work at 0600 US West Coast.

Obviously, if you start work that early you have to be up a bit earlier so that you have clothes, tea/coffee and an awake expression on your face. Now, if you have ever had pets in your life, the only way to get them to leave you alone in the morning is to feed them relatively promptly.

See where I am going with this? If you are a cat and your stomach is used to having your breakfast (small amount of stinky wet food) at 0600 in the morning so that your person has a chance to start work easily, well – that is what you expect. Doesn’t matter what day of the week it is – if you are the cat, you really, really, really expect your breakfast to be served in the proper dish at the correct time  It is Saturday morning. Said cat started his breakfast campaign shortly before 0500 just to make sure that I wouldn’t forget that he needed his breakfast. It is now about 0630. I have been awake for more than an hour whether or not I intended to sleep in because no one can ignore cat nagging that starts with stares, progresses to purring and will move on to nips if the stomach is not appeased.

Now? He is taking a nap on my sewing table happy as can be. I have found I can limit the damage that he does to stitching supplies if I clear off a space and place an empty project bag, Light color  might be best since he is a grey cat.

at least right now he seems willing to let me use my laptop but I am sure that the demand for lap, chair, or other disruption is coming all too soon.

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Small figures –

and, as I mentioned there are 324 of them – each in a different DMC color. It almost takes more time to pul the thread than to stitch those 25-50 stitches  for each color.

Is where I am currently. Trying to stitch at least one every day at minimum and 3-4 when I can manage it…

Oh – the obligatory cat picture ….

And otherwise – I managed a good 700+ stitches on Poison Apple…

 

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On the keyboard –

which doesn’t help me 1) send email 2) watch YouTube or 3) listen to an audio book since head and paws hit keys/ trackpad on a regular basis….


and just in case he wasn’t a challenge….

Which I am afraid didn’t provide me all that much entertainment since I am pretty wiped. An early drive into the VA plus hanging out in the infusion center folled by not too sucky traffic on the way home..

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Three 24

has become a kind of “thing” in the cross stitch community. Arlene Cohen of Works by ABC released this particular patter at Nashville last month. Perhaps the best way to describe it is as a combination of a color gamp set out in a series of alternating small patterns and squares. What makes this fairly unique is that it uses 324 DMC colors. One a day? Finish in a year. Several a day? Finish sooner… etc. In any case there is a certain amount of fascination, be it morbid or not, with this particular pattern. If you are an Instagram fan, I am sure that you can find dozens, if not hundreds of people who are engaged in this particular bit of insanity.

Obviously, I got hooked or I wouldn’t be writing this particular commentary.  My DMC is all – or mostly all – contained on my lovely Unplanned Peacock floss holders.

 

 

Most of the time I will spend the time and effort to pull the floss for a project. But this one? Not a chance, I am just grabbing the single strand (out of the six-ply) that I need as each color occurs. And here are the first 37 colors

which places me just over 10% of the total.  It appears that I am gradually leaving the reds and pinks to head into the purples… Besides this particular bit of stitching, I put a few hundred stitches into a couple more projects.

Otherwise, I headed to the Kensington Library for the first Tuesday knitting group. Tomorrow is an early day.

 

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Finished with those beads

But first – pictures of my helper today

Since supervising is obviously exhausting. And if you keep pushing the laptop enough – you can gain control of a significant section of desk –

But Taurus – Nora Corbett’s Zodiac Girl started May 2022 and is done now,  Finally – it turned out to be just under 100 more beads beads for a total close to 900.. This counts as  my first finish for April rather than making it the 9th for March. Starting the month this way feels much better. The fabric is 32 ct Vintage Country Mocha linen with all the called for Caron Waterlillies, Mill Hill Beads, DMC & Kreinik.

I now need to decide on my next finish-up project. I have Gemini to go, the Thea Gouverner Tea, and SALs, I could roll the dice.

After due consideration – I elected to start the new Barbara Ana – Portuguese Dreams SAL, the first the three parts was released today. Part one is only about 2300 stitches – of which I managed the first 1139. Block stitching can go rather rapidly

The threads are DMC, the fabric is 16ct Aida and last Decembers Fabric of the month from Ship’s Manor.

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She is shiny

and I had planned on having her finished today, which just didn’t happen.

First, I had help from the cat who felt that his place was on my lap with his head between me and the stitching. When that didn’t go over well with me he went for his second option; sitting on the desk blocking my tablet and scattering beads. The only time he was willing to leave me alone was when Noah came by to take out the recycling and just happened to have a treat or two…

Anyway – the project is Taurus – #10 of the Nora Corbett Zodiac Girls. She has been all complete except for the backstitch and beads since May of 2022.

was where I started.

Backstitching, hours, and 425 beads later she was still nowhere near done.

I finally hung it. 735 beads + the backstitching and I still have well over 100 beads to go. I just ran out of energy, patience, and the hot tub was calling me.

 

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Not quite a throne

and I was the recipient of the Kitty STARE for a good proportion of the morning. There were obviously several things I had done totally and completely wrong and thus had earn the ire of the cat.

The first was when I hadn’t double checked on him the previous evening. He has decided that next to me is an acceptable place to sleep, but he didn’t join me. Early – like about 0500 this morning – something filtered through and I woke up. No cat. No cat next to me, nagging in preparation for 0600 breakfast, snagging the runner with his claws. No cat.

Apparently he had been snoozing on his pillow under a chair in the craft room last evening. I had failed to spot him before leaving and closing the door. Obviously I was just the worst. That attitude lasted only until giving him his morning food. Then, obviously, I was acceptable as filler of food dishes.

Rather than head back downstairs, I just laid down on the couch upstairs to read. You can see from above the kind of looks I received for most of the morning. That ended when he decided to apply claws to leather. Now, the chair isn’t new. In fact it was purchased about 1993 at the latest and could have been earlier. Scandinavian in design, it is leather and has survived multiple moves. Cat claws aren’t particularly welcome.

Several treats later, I was forgiven. Till the next time I don’t manage to do exactly what he wants.

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And #27 for the year

In spite of errands, distractions, Costco and other such time consumers, I managed to sit down to stitch late afternoon. Silhowitches was released by Teresa Kogut in 2021 if I remember correctly and I started it sometime in 2022. Obviously, from the 2023 I had gone ahead and placed in the upper right corner, I planned on finishing it last year. But there was a slight matter of floss. And time and energy. But anyway – I started the piece with Vampy from Leo&Roxy (now RoxyFlossCo) and was afraid that I would run out. After searching through the stash, I located a couple more skeins. I am not sure what the original green was, but in the end I used DMC 704. It took a total of 3588 stitches to complete the piece.

from here, it is primarily SALs left to finish of previous year projects. My goal is to finish the year – if not sooner with no projects left over from prior to this year.

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Power Outage

I am currently sitting in a lovely cafe down on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley. We had fair warning about a power outage today from PG&E as they tackled the replacement of two power poles. My section of Euclid is a divided road. We are on the uphill side. Which just happens to be the side where the poles needing replacement stand.  The warning said power outage between 0830 – 1630, So there we are, shortly after 0800 heading out for errands and some coffee figuring that there is little work that can be accomplished without the use of at least some electricity. Phones die, printers don’t work, and I really prefer my laptop over hunt & peck on the phone.

As I go out the door, I see a large number of huge white utility and other monstrous vehicles lining our side of the road. Walking down to the street – yes, there is one of the long beasts parked across our driveway. There is a nice guy in a hard hat, utility vest, and carrying a walkie-talkie. At the same time, our neighbors walk down. Their car is on the street, so “all” Wendy has to do is either back down the winding hill or execute some kind of bajillion point turn to head down front first. Meanwhile, George has driven down as far as he can. The guy scratches his head, finds the vehicle driver and pulls it forward just far enough for George to squeak past its rear bumper. 

The rest of the morning till now consisted of  picking up Dani, breakfast at Saul’s, dropping off Dani, and lucking into a parking space almost directly in front of Victory Point Cafe. They make excellent lattes in real cups. I did a bunch of editing on this site and hopefully navigation will improve. It may take cycling through a few themes, but hey – not bad for the past nine years here and the previous 10 in Germany. 

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Check 0ff the Greenhouse

This is the third of the Fabulous House Series by Cottage Garden Samplings. So far it is the only chart of theirs that I have stitched in the last three years that didn’t call for even one skein of a hand-dyed floss. Works so absolutely well for me.

stitched on 18 ct. My only issue is that the white doesn’t show up at all in the photos although it is pretty clear in person. Makes me glad that I substituted DMC#02 for white in the greenhouse frame. At slightly under 5k stitches, it may be one of the easier (except for all the twiddly fiddly scattered motifs) stitches in the series.

Now that this one is done, it leaves me only two active WIPs – the older Silhowitches –

with two motifs completed today. At this rate, it will be done in the next week and I can rotate in yet another unfinished one. 

and my daily dose on No Time Like the Present – by Modern Folk Embroidery

Currently at 20%,

Otherwise? Cat invasion –

let me assure you that my laptop did not appreciate cat toes or nose on either keyboard or track pad. 

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Amur Leopard complete

and here he is in all his glory.

stitched on 18ct fabric hand dyed by VintageNeedleArts (Etsy shop) left from another project. As the background and one of the suggested floss colors wouldn’t work, I substituted DMC 3862 and two colors from Forbidden FiberCo (Coffee & Cloves) for the fancy floss suggested.

The next animal in the series has been release – the Savanah Elephant. It is cute, but not as much as the leopard. Perhaps I am thinking in light of the elephants I saw in Africa and not being all that impressed especially considering all the environmental and agricultural damage they do.  I am not starting this one till next month so it leaves as spot open to fill now with anything I can do in less than 2 weeks.

then there is the challenge of attempting to stitch with a lap kitty.

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WBIT

Looks and sounds like those responsible should have come up with a better name. It stands for Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament. California (UC Berkeley specifically since it is considered the MAIN CAL school) landed a slot and the first game was this evening. In town was the team from University of Hawaii with a sizable cheering section. Turned out one of their players was from Lafayette, just over the small mountain from here.

(I looked it up, there is no actual scientific definition of a hill vs a mountain. Some like to say that a geological feature has to be at least 600 meters tall to qualify as a mountain. In reality, it is local usage.)

Cal managed to pull off a win, but it certainly wasn’t one of their more stellar performances. Too many fouls and too many free throws missed, OTOH – the Hawaii team had excellent speed, teamwork, and overall superb sportsmanship.

It is school break, there were nowhere near enough fans. The band barely managed to field 20 members, the two cheerleading squads combined the four members of one with the four members of the other (normally each has 7-8 at each game).

The follow on game is Sunday. I am going. Once again, George will probably miss it due to having already made another commitment that runs at close to the same time.

Oh? yes, stitching – I managed to get Leopard to 93% and part of a motif in Silhowitches.

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Down to six

I counted on my WIP shelf. I am down to six projects carefully stored in their project bags with origin dates from 2019-2022.  Looking at them, I don’t think I really have anything left over from last year. Strange that – or perhaps they were easier and smaller projects that I knocked off first.  The issue of course with those that are left is that they all are bigger projects.  Two are single issue items (the Tea Sampler from Governeur and Silowitches from Teresa Kogut).

Six projects are easy – I didn’t even need to go and borrow a fancy die – a normal six sided one was more than sufficient.  And Silowitches it is. I will have to look up start date (2023 sometime) and fabric. I think it is 18ct by the looks of it, the thread I am using is Vampy from Leo&Roxy Floss (Now Roxy Floss Co).

My helper is still taking over the chair at every opportunity

(and once I finished with this whole discussion I realized that I have three other projects left over from last year, it is just that they are hanging up rather than having a home on the shelf – Treasure Island from OwlForest and two Nora Corbett Zodiac Girls needing backstitch/beads – Gemini & Taurus. Total number is still in single digits. That is compared to the 21 finished from previous years so far.  Plus the three projects both started and finished in 2024).

 

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Turkeys!

And…. they are back!

It has been more than a few months since I have spotted any of the stupid birds around the intersection of San Pablo & Marin in Albany.

But there they were, on a Saturday morning hanging out near their favorite gas station. One that I suspect has feed them in the past.

and in case he isn’t all that obvious –

I look at the size of their heads – and how very little brain there can be. It is a wonder that they survive at all. I think, however, at least around here, they have been spotted crossing the roads IN THE CROSS WALKS often enough that everyone just stops and waits.

 

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The 2022 Hanukkah SAL

Which I mostly stitched on while cruising or in Australia during the last quarter of 2022. And then I either forgot about it, couldn’t find it, or just plain ignored it for all of 2023.

When I first pulled it out, figuring it wouldn’t take all that long to finish, I found out that I was totally wrong. Totally and completely. But today – I put in the last stitches on the Menorah and it is done!

Obviously, I left the date alone – given that I would have had to change both the Latin and Hebrew dates – it just didn’t seem reasonable. It was close to 100o stitches today…

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