Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Yes, I am alive

I will get back to posting on a regular basis by the weekend.  Truth be told, I have remarkably little to post about given the length of my absence.  Confirmations, First Communions, May Crowning, Registration and the myriad details of finals and progress reports and last days for five sessions have pretty much consumed my time.  I have done very little stitching and am way behind in work on an exchange project ... so you know exactly how I will be spending my Memorial Day Weekend four day holiday.   What little stitching I have managed has been the simplest of simple: the borders of the four remaining squares of Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie.  Simple rows of xxx's in unvarying black have been oddly relaxing these past few very busy weeks.  In any case, anything more complex would likely have led to hours of frogging given my attention span and stamina.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Giving Up

I finally gave up waiting for the Tokens and Trifles cards and have started stitching a scissor keep for my exchange on 32 ct linen.  No doubt, the cards will be waiting for me after work, having arrived in today's mail.  That is always my luck.  I have decided on a alternating scheme of Queen stitches and floral rows, I am stitching Spring flowers as required by the exchange rules [notwithstanding my partner's request for sunflowers --- not to be mean, but only because none of my sunflower charts would fit on a scissor case, even if stitched over one].  I am trying to keep to the requested yellow colorway though and am stitching daffodils and pansies.
Obviously, no photo is forthcoming since this is an exchange and I have only just begun, anyway.

The two Confirmation practices went off rather well ... all things considered.  My 8th graders are so done with everything.  They are exhausted from two solid weeks of state testing in Language Arts and Math, prepping for finals, and now I put them through the torture of ninety minutes of rehearsing for Confirmation after a full school day.  The strain of having to be quiet and well-behaved in church for that long was really beginning to tell.  But they bore up reasonably well, being the good kids they are.  This class has a really nice group dynamic: 64 kids who are social and funny but smart and sensible, as well.  Heck, the Tuesday group even sang the hymns loudly enough to be heard over the cantor ... and that's an almost heroic effort coming from adolescents at the end of a long day!  I am going to miss this group: especially since the group coming up in September has a totally different group dynamic.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: May 6, 2012

With the exception of a very brief window of sunshine on Sunday afternoon, the weekend was quite overcast.  There is something about overcast weekends that makes me lazy.  My only real commitment was to serve as lector at the 5:30pm anticipated Mass on Saturday.  This meant that Sunday morning could be as leisurely as I liked.  And I liked quite a lot.  After making a lovely pot of Assam tea and a light breakfast of one slice each of French toast garnished with sliced banana and fresh blueberries for my husband and myself, I lazed about: reading, stitching and watching a DVD or two.  Lunch was reheated home-made potato-cheddar soup leftover from Saturday and dinner was eggplant parm and a salad delivered by our favorite Italian take-out place.  It was a very minimalist sort of Sunday.  Indeed, I spent the whole day in a nightgown and my favorite, cozy chenille robe.  Aside from cooking, I did only those chores that couldn't be avoided like making the bed and emptying the dishwasher.  Anyway, there was no trip to the nursery and no puttering in the garden.  That will have to be deferred to the next weekend or, more precisely, next Sunday, since most of Saturday will be consumed by two Confirmations.  I expect I'll squeeze in a bit of time after visiting my Mother.

As to the stitching, it's been mostly off-goal projects this past weekend:
* the sewing finish of Riona's Book Nook Book mark
* the cross stitching finish of Prairie Grove Peddler's Lighthouse Candle Mat
Photos will have to wait till another day though since I haven't the time today.

There was a very little bit of on-goal stitching: 
* I got started on the border of the third square of The Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie.  Quite a dull affair of black cross-stitches in a neat rectangle, nothing particularly camera worthy as yet.

And, alas, the Summer issue of SANQ arrived with Part II of the English Band Sampler before I have quite finished with Part I, so there is a bit of catching up to do there.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Free-associating on Friday

The only time I have had for stitching this past week has been the hour between breakfast and getting ready for work.  It's a pleasant hour with a mug of tea, the local radio's morning drive time program and a project from my current stitching bag.  I've gone a little off goal while waiting for my Tokens and Trifles cards to arrive ... I fear the shop I ordered them from did not have them in stock, as I was told, and that they had to order them.  In the meantime, I have been working my way through some small and nearly finished projects in the stitching bag.  I figure if I can't work on goal, at least I can work on projects that will swell the list of 2012 finishes.  That's how Riona's Book Nook saw a cross-stitch finish earlier in the week, though the final sewing finish will likely come today. And Wednesday & Thursday mornings, I picked up the Prairie Grove Peddler Lighthouse Candle Mat again.  I figure just four more hours of steady stitching ought to see that project ready for a sewing finish.  I am hoping to get that accomplished today, as well ... another opportunity to play with my new sewing machine.  It is a miserable and overcast day, and I really have very little to do besides catching up on housework, one or two errands, and sitting around this afternoon waiting for a delivery. So another cross-stitch finish will be most welcome.  I am feeling a bit disappointed in myself this year with my rather paltry 8 finishes thus far.  I console myself with the notion that most of the class projects and 2010-11 WIPs that I have made it my goal to complete this year, are BAPs of the first order.  And after all, they will take longer and be fewer in number but no less satisfying for all that! But I foresee going off-goal every so often to do a quick little small or medium sized piece just to keep from feeling like I am on an endless treadmill.  I do seem to crave variety and tangible progress in my stitching, being fairly equal parts process stitcher and project stitcher.

At work, Thursday was a busy day preparing for the two Confirmations coming up on May 12 and working on the registration mailing.  I want that in the mail by Monday morning, Tuesday morning at the latest.  There seem to be a thousand details to manage and juggle as I move through the usual May chaos of final exam schedules, progress reports, sacraments and registration at this time of year.  And, though I am more comfortable in the routines after having been on the job 18 years now; conversely, I have less energy and seem to be worn done more at the end of the day.  It's getting harder and harder to find the will to stitch of an evening ... not good since, I seriously need to do some exchange stitching.  Well, I will have some solid blocks of time this weekend that I can devote to stitching on the exchanges.

On the gardening front, I am hoping that the weather will warm and stay warm, that we will have seen the last of the frost warnings and that I can spend at least part of Sunday working on my second large planter box.  Recently, I turned the dead leaves with which I half filled it several weeks ago and exposed the rich leaf mold forming beneath the surface.  I am amazed at how quickly it is composting down into honest-to-goodness soil.  It's breaking down beautifully.  I am getting such pleasure from the process.  I may even celebrate by buying myself an genuine composting fork with which to work.  Currently, I am making do with an ice breaker that I use rather like a giant mixing spoon.  Oh, to think that rotting leaves could make me so happy!  Taking the kitchen waste out to the composting bin has become a morning routine.  I save all the vegetable and fruit waste, all the tea leaves and coffee grounds, all the egg shells, etc. in a mesh strainer set in the corner of my sink.  But I think I have hit a new low, or high, in my enthusiasm for composting.  Yesterday at work, I tucked the banana peels from my fruit serving back into a Tupperware in my VB cloth lunch bag to take home for the compost pile.  I may not be completely normal but at least I am never bored.  Bor-ing to others, perhaps, but never bored myself.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Random Wednesday

Riona's Book Nook Bookmark, My own design
I have been taking it easy these past few evenings.  May is a pretty high pressure month at work and I have been unwinding with a bit of TV watching.  I do manage to stitch a bit as I watch my DVDs and today's photo is of my progress on Riona's Book Nook bookmark which is now ready for a sewing finish.  I apologize for the unpressed look but I didn't feel like dragging out the ironing board and iron for such a tiny piece.  I'll press it this weekend when I have time to work on some sewing finishes.

As I said, lately, I have been spending my evenings watching TV: most recently, my DVD collection of Rumpole of the Bailey episodes.  I admit I am a bit of an Anglophile when it comes to television series ... with the exception of science fiction, which I think we Yanks do a great deal better.  My husband claims I identify with the long-suffering Hilda.  Some of the verbal byplay between Hilda and Rumpole does sound a bit like my husband and I ... mainly those conversations when Hilda is being a bit repressive of Rumpole's inappropriate flights of fancy or forays into questionable humor.  Except, where Rumpole quotes from the Oxford Book of English Verse, my husband tends to quote from the U.S. Constitution and other political and historical documents.  I must say I prefer the last Hilda over the first ... can't recall the names of the actresses involved at the moment ... but the later Hilda has so much more presence.  Though perhaps, I should say gravitas as that is a word that keeps cropping up in the series.  And I definitely like the interplay between Rumpole and Featherstone [or Leo Kern and Peter Bowles, if you will].  But then I have enjoyed Peter Bowles in The Irish R.M. and in To The Manor Born, as well.  With the possible exception of The Odd Couple, I can't think of an American sitcom that can equal the quality of the dialogue in British TV ... at least the British TV that travels across the Atlantic via PBS.  No doubt, there is just as much trashy Brit TV that never makes the cut as there is trashy American TV.  As to the Rumpole series, I love the well-defined character/caricatures [one has to admit that, at times, the characters are drawn very broadly though most have more realistic scenes as well].  And the satirization of the British class structure does, I confess, appeal to my sense of humor.  And, then again, the Brits do over-the-top eccentricity so much better than we do.  And they seem to have a lighter hand with comedy that pricks the social conscience, as well.  There is so much clever humor to enjoy in the Rumpole series that it stands up very well to repeated viewings.  The odd thing is that I was raised by my Irish-American mother to think that the British have no sense of humor ... one of those unpleasant little biases bred into her by my grandmother and great-grandmother who remembered the bad old days before 1918. Mom just doesn't know what she is missing!  My husband and I are alternating [or as the kids would say: taking turns] watching DVD's.  His selection is Sanctuary, a fantasy show put together by Amanda Tapping from the old Stargate franchise.  I am equally happy with either.  But I also have the yen to add Victor! Victoria! to my Netflix queue after reading on one of my favorite blogs, Blacksheep's Bit of the Web,  about a TV reality show called Drag Queen Races.  Now, I ceased subscribing to cable nearly two decades ago, so I haven't watched any commercial TV in a very long time ... but his post had me remembering some of the wonderful "stage act" turns that Julie Andrews did in that movie.  I'd very much like to see that again.

My garden seems to have survived the various freeze and frost warnings we have had the past few nights.  I am looking forward to another weekend trip to the nursery for some bamboo stakes and trellises, some more soil and peat for my second planter box, and some eggplant and pepper plants.  I held off on the last two plants because they are more tender than the others for which I risked an early planting.  I have gotten my heirloom seeds and am anxious to sow some lima beans, green beans, lettuce and carrots in the second planter box.  Bill's wicker patio chair will be delivered on Friday.  The back garden is really coming together.  I look forward to a really pleasant summer, enjoying my outdoor living space.

Well, that seems to be all