Sharing my life and love of cross stitch. Thoughts about this and that.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

* * * HAPPY N E W YEAR * * *

Make that HAPPY 2012!

(computer crash ate the original but my best wishes are still the same)

Friday, December 30, 2011

PS Santa progress

I guess there is an advantage for waiting until almost the end of the year to catch up on Continuing Education. Thankfully, there are numerous options available online. One just has to sit down and listen - leaving one's hands free to stitch. So after an all night session:  -----  Well, PHOOEY!!! After the comment from Debbie, I took a longer look and this IS a different red than the other 2 on the same fabric. It looks so close that I couldn't tell under the light over my bed (my stitching spot). Well, I'm not frogging that much stitching!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Christmas Without Mom

Of course brought aching hearts and many tears. She passed 6 months ago yesterday. My DD, her DH and I attended Christmas Eve services then went to Dad's close-by house to enjoy what's become a traditional lasagna dinner my DD had made. I took a loaf of  tasty Asiago cheese bread that was made even better with butter and garlic salt. The combination was really good with lasagna! Then Dad decided to try it with peanut butter, and declared it yummy as well. Christmas morning it was back to church. Then afterwards to my DD's where she served BBQ brisket and cheese potatoes, my sister brought cole slaw, rolls and wine. Dad brought his French beans and stewed tomatoes mixture along with the traditional family "float" - one that began at least as far back as his mother in the 20's and 30's - likely passed down to her as well. It's similar to Eggnog but without the nog and a billion times better. By request, I took Velveeta (for Rotel dip) and some chips. DD had also made a pumpkin cheesecake of her own concoction and gluten-free chocolate cookies for herself and flourless peanut butter cookies for me, who is allergic to chocolate and most spices and thus couldn't eat the pumpkin cheesecake - though I did try a teeny nibble. It was delicious. As strange as it may seem, as we got in the car to leave I turned to my Dad and said something like, all things considered "It was a good day."  He thought a moment then agreed. We managed warm and cozy despite Mom's keenly and deeply missed absence. Sadly, in our own continuing grief, we keep forgetting my SIL lost his mother only 4 months ago as well. She lived in Florida and I had only met her briefly twice. I hope both mothers were looking down and feeling very proud of us all. A Blessed and Happy Christmas, Mom and Barbara!

Progress on PS 1993 Santa
I made these two on the left into very small ornies to go on the 18" Christmas tree I'd given my DD back in college that I had made other small cross stitch ornies for years ago, only to discover that this year, for the first time in 20, she'd used little store bought ornaments instead.  I gave Dad the Bah Humbug ornie I'd initially intended for myself. Thankfully, he chuckled when he saw it. I'll make myself another. No photos. I didn't like the way they turned out, even pulling one apart and starting over on Christmas Eve, so I'm going to have to come up with a better way to make them.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

To all of you who follow me and those you occasionally drop in, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and Happy Hanukkah from me and my family to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Amy Mitten Winders' Keeper Tutorials

Amy Mitten Designs - It's easier for you to take a look at her fascinating projects than me trying to describe them, but here goes: These will be online, password accessible photo and video tutorials to make a reticule, silk winders and a pin ball of heirloom quality. The 3 designs to choose from are inspired by antique samplers. The cost appears to include all supplies. Way ahead of my stash budget, but very interesting for those of you who are interested in these sorts of projects.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

PS Santa WIP / New CC Mitten Freebie

 A slow slog, but I've finally started adding the 3rd Santa to the banner or bell pull I've been working on for the past year. The top Santa in photo is actually the middle one (1991). I need to stitch the eye and the pineapple next to boot. The charted colors don't work on this 18ct Fiddler's lite. Also, I need to figure out what to do with the white as it does not show up well either. I may backstitch with the lightest grey. The newest Santa is from 1993. I changed the single-cross border from white to green. I also wish I was using 1 thread for everything except the white, but once started .... If I do another on 18ct, I'm going to at least give it a test run.

New: Sophie's Christmas Mitten - from The Cricket Collection -
click on Gift Design

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Permin & Debbie Cripps Freebies

Permin's:  Winter Cottage - good for card, tag or quick ornie
Debbie Cripps': Mini Poinsettia - quick stitch for last minute tag, etc

Both change their complimentary chart on a regular basis, so if interested at all, download now. Click on photo for larger version.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Lighthouse - a Stitcher's Christmas Card

Before I ever started this particular blog, Mary Jane downloaded the Christmas Lighthouse chart from my old GeoCities LMcDesigns site. I recently ran across her year-old email at the old address asking if she could use her stitched piece to make a Christmas card. I would certainly have given my permission! As it was, she went ahead with her Christmas card plans, giving me design and copyright credit (the only thing I would have asked in addition to a photo), adding her own short verse and quoting 1 John 1:56: "God is light and there is no darkness in him at all."  I am both humbled and flattered. She's been kind enough to send me the card itself. Very creative and wonderful!  THANK YOU, Mary Jane!!

If you would like to stitch Christmas Lighthouse (or "Shining Bright" as it is also called), the chart is here. Click here and scroll down a bit for other Christmas Freebies: Christmas Cactus, Frosty Bob, and a Christmas Bookmark with greetings in several different languages.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

PIF to Good Home

Thank you so much for entering the PIF.  I drew Sandy's name as the winner. Happy Stitching, Sandy!
Jeanette Crews "Faded Glory" by Susan Heiss.  Includes unused original chart and the DMC floss that came with the kit.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Passione Ricamo Angel freebie

# Little Angel Ornament - Passione Ricamo - new  November, 2011- click on News/ Blog if necessary, small .jpg of ornament at top of left column links to the .pdf chart

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Freebie Link & Ro*tel Dip (No, not together :D )

Cute rabbit with scissors and thread freebie from Patrick's Woods at The DandyHare blog. Scroll down to October 3rd entry. Also check out Happy Harvest from The CrossStitcher Magazine, and my "Give Thanks" freebie as well.
Cloudy grey day here with passing cold front stalling just south of us. Possible severe weather this evening and tomorrow. Maybe. Last promise of rain - none. Thanksgiving will be at my nephew's for the first time this year. My sister sent out a list for people to volunteer to bring food. I'm always the person who fills in what's missing at the last minute - as long as it's something I can buy prepared or make once I get there. Usually it's salad fixings or pre-dinner finger foods: usually veggies, Ranch Dressing to dip, fruit PLUS RO-TEL DIP and chips. ALWAYS have to have Ro-tel Dip! It's been a staple at informal dinners and parties for decades here in Texas. Thanksgiving dinner time at 2 is based on some football game starting at 3:15.

Classic Ro*tel Dip
  • 1 pound of Velveta Cheese cut into 1" or so cubes 
  • 1 can of Ro*tel Original Diced Tomatos with Green Chilis (you can use "mild" but it's hardly any different than regular diced tomatoes; use "hot" at your own risk)
  • Melt cheese and Ro-tel together over medium heat until cheese has melted or put it in the microwave  on high power for 5 minutes until cheese has melted
  • Stir as cheese is melting to smoothly blend
  • Stir in a bit of milk if dip gets too thick as it sits or as necessary to reheat
Super simple and quick. "Heat index": medium - but for less "hot" use more cheese or less Ro*tel - if dip is for more than a couple of people choose more cheese. The dip goes fast and you'll want more anyway. Store left- overs, if any, in fridge for a few days and reheat as you like.

Yummy as a dip with chips, cold veggies, tortillas, etc. or spoon over baked potatoes, eggs, and hot veggies to give them a bit of a kick. Great on hot dogs and hamburgers, with cold or hot chicken ...! We prefer our Ro*tel Dip straight, but you can add ground beef, sausage, etc.  Google Rotel Dip for other ideas.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stitched for hours today

but got no where. I haven stitched a thing since May. I'm trying to finish up a PS Santa I started last spring. Apparently absence destroys one's ability to count. I had to start over twice. Then I did not like the contrast of the pineapple colors against the Fiddler's lite and took out all of what little I had stitched. In the end I spent 4 hours stitching and frogging (watching several TV episodes on On Demand) in the process, and am back to where I started. At least I picked up the needle.

Photos of my brother at the recent UT Arlington Jazz Band Alumni Concert.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Airborne Angel Cadets

A new Highlights video from the organization my sister and other family members volunteer with. It provides Care Packages year round to our military women and men in all branches of the services who are stationed in remote areas of in Afghanistan, Iraq and other middle Eastern Countries. It's a feel good video, so please take a few moments to view. And, if you are so inclined or moved to do so, please share the link to the ACT Home Page and the You Tube videos or become involved in some other way.  Thank you so much on behalf of our troops!.

That's my sister proclaiming "Oh, it's fantastic," and one of my great-nephews in the green and yellow striped shirt taping up a box in the next scene.

Times moves inevitably - backwards

That irritating Standard to Daylight back and forth! Change is technically at 2 am but why wait? I've already done the official reset. After very insistent cat kept waking me up all night (but not enough to toss him out of the room and shut the door), I slept in a lot later than I intended - so it now being an hour earlier, I feel an hour less guilty!  Don't know about everyone else whose lives are governed by a tick-tock, but 2 of my clocks are 10 minutes fast, the clock in my office is 5 minutes fast, the one in the living room runs about 1 minute slow per week so time is always generally relative, and I'm always hitting the change time button when I am aiming at the snooze alarm - so that one gets frequently reset already.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Photos of My Brother - the musician

I added some additional photos of my brother in my Webshots album. One his his recent gigs was the Kim & Kris wedding. I suggested perhaps the K's would invite the orchestra back for "I'm Divorced & Available" party. Did anyone even think that one would work? I gave it 3 months. And I don't even watch the show!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Witches and Goblins and Ghosts; OH MY, The Potential Liability!

I haven't participated at all in Halloween activities in at least 15 years, despite the fact I did a couple of designs recently. 1) My DD, my costumed TrickRTreeterGreeter, moved out 21 years ago; 2) There have never been many children come round - last year only a couple were out and about; 3 & 4) A whine:  I'm allergic to chocolate and can't eat sugar so having mostly full bags of leftovers around is just too tempting to resist; and 5) Premises liability issues - I have cracks in my driveway that even I trip over on occasion - read ## below if you are interested or for your horrified amusement. [Being a lawyer often takes the fun out of otherwise entertaining activities.] Sad to say, but I park my car at an angle to block the drive, don't turn on my porch light and keep the inside dark as possible. Or I find somewhere else to be for a while. Of course, had I young children or a grandchild, I would get back into the ghoulish swing of things - elsewhere.

OTOH, My DD goes beyond the ghostly pale when it comes to Halloween. She has had
the occasional a costume party with decorated house, and for years has set up increasingly more elaborate spooky displays in her front yard. This year they added dead groom sitting next to dead bride in coffin on the porch, created more spider webs to drape from eaves and trees, upgraded the graves scattered throughout the yard, and likely added more scary noises/music, etc. The last 2 years she and her DH were Zombie Wilma and Fred. This year it's Mr. & Mrs. Frankenstein - full make-up, of course. The resultant increased vehicular traffic has encouraged other neighbors to join in.

## Promised really spooky legal stuff[Appears to me that when it comes to Halloween, the level of  duty and responsibility owed to Trick-or-Treaters falls somewhere between the highest and this slightly
lesser level. We call this, appropriately, a "grey area."]  A person (that's them) who enters the premises (your yard and/or abode) with the landowner's (that's you) express or implied permission (you decorated your house/yard, turned on your porch light, sent out an invitation, didn't stop a crasher at the door, etc.) for his or her own purposes (to acquire candy, free booze, etc.) rather than the landowner's benefit (unless you are deliberately luring them there a la Hanzel and Gretl or Hannibal Lecter), such as a social guest (the fairy, the pirate, the sexy French maid, et al), is called a licensee. An owner or occupier of land (you) has a duty to warn a licensee (them) of a dangerous condition that creates an unreasonable risk of harm (they might hurt themselves) if it is known (or should  have been known) to the owner or occupier (you again) and not likely to be discovered (seen, spotted, knew in advance about) by the licensee (them again). (One assumes this means you must need bull horn specific warnings from the porch before they step in your yard or put up brightly lit fluorescent yellow or orange signs in both pictographs and text, or include a Caveat, in bold at least 10 point typeface, in your invitation.) There is no duty to inspect for defects or to fix known defects. (That's good news, but I wouldn't bet my life savings on it, and you aren't completely off the hook since you can still get sued, which costs you $$, even if you win ...) The owner or occupier (ah ... yes, still  you) does have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the conduct of active operations (encouraging said fairy, pirate, sexy French maid, et al to come into your yard and up to the door and perhaps inside for a party, etc) to protect a licensee (yes, still them)  [whom you] know is on the property. (You don't have to go out looking - but I wouldn't depend on that actually "knew" defense working for Halloween when that "should have known" is hanging out there.) HOWEVER, (and this is for real, well so is the above but this adds another aged witchy wrinkle), an even higher duty of discovery and notice of hazards and care is due to children who can't fully recognize nor appreciate a possible a hazard or dangerous situation, and then there are those DWI Dram Shop laws that can sometimes be extended to hold the individual supplying the booze liable. And for the record: NO, my DD doesn't listen to me either.

Nonetheless, I sincerely wish those of you who do enjoy getting into costume and decorating in black, orange and purple, a wonderful Bubble, Bubble Toil & Trouble Day!

Here's a FUN and generic "Trick-or-Treat  Liability and Indemnification Agreement" to possibly make sure the hand and mouth you put the candy in doesn't come back to bite you. Imagine the screams of horror and the jagged tooth rictus on your teen and adult visitors' faces when you won't let them snatch at the goodies or through your door until and unless they sign it - in advance. Hey, Halloween might be still be fun after all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Interesting Links to Photos of Different types of Biscornus / Bicorni?

Posts on 123MB often send me off in new directions. Here's a few links to photos of different types of biscornu and tutorials. This post will be copied and posted to the OTHER LINKS page. Though I designed one, I admit still haven't stitched one myself.


Google for additional photos, charts and tutorials.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Brother Gets His Pick of Mom's Humpties

My little brother, Jim
Picked up Jim at DFW this morning with Dad and visited briefly. When we had gotten back to Dad's house, I spread Mom's Humpty Dumpties across the bed for him to choose from (see previous blog posts). He remembered them being bigger. I told him indeed they used to be at least half again as big and stuffed a lot full and didn't know why or when Mom had started making them smaller. I've promised myself I'll make some that are bigger and stuffedier, more like my grandmother made them when I was little. Without any prospect of grandchildren and the great-neices and nephews already supplied and having outgrown them, I don't know for whom, but I may just for myself. We'll see. But for now, Jim has his pick between 9 of Mom's Humpties.

Because he's only home usually once a year, his schedule of visiting and family and friends is crowded - particularly this time since his visit coincides with the Alumni Jazz Band Concert at UT Arlington - the first time he'll be participating since he graduated and moved to LA in 1981.  My sister has already taken off tomorrow so she can spend the day with him, and he has other activities already planned as well. He'd suggested we get together tonight, but having overheard the plans and after Jim konked out from exhaustion, Dad commented to me that everyone was going to get to visit with Jim except him - despite the fact Jim is staying with Dad and they'll likely spend late into the night talking. But Jim's the son and Dad is 87. He only gets to see him when Jim comes home as well.  So I told Dad to visit with Jim tonight instead, that Jim and I would find some other time to get together before he leaves. I hate that he lives so very far away, will never move back, and is so busy he rarely gets to stay more than a few days - and we're very lucky he does come to our back home to visit. It's not been "home" for him in 30 years. When he does, he has to decline performance and recording gigs as well as some quick-turnaround arranging jobs to do so. Because of his schedule, trying to visit him in LA is, therefore, just as problematic. Can you tell? I miss being around my little brother so very very much.

The UTA campus newspaper published a brief article about Jim and the concert yesterday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Updated Freebie Links

Added a new Alphabets section and moved Breast Cancer and Charity Freebies to a separate page.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Assisted with Alzheimer's Walk

... as a radio volunteer, yesterday morning in Fort Worth's Trinity Park. The weather was perfect!. To read about the event and what I did, see my Adventures of an Emergency Management Volunteer blog. Since I'd been awake all night, when I got home I ate and went to bed, sleeping through the first 6 innings of the Rangers vs Tigers game.Rangers won! Woo-hooooo!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Still No Stitching; Dad & Brother Jim

It was brought to my attention that not all the Page tabs/links across the top of the posts were working. I found it necessary to move the PAGES list to the right column, but I much prefer it on top.

I keep THINKING about stitching. I have stitching I want or need to do: a long overdue square for a charity project (they graciously moved forward without me but I do intend to finish and send to be used for a future project), something for the new baby of a woman I do volunteer work with/for, etc.. I went so far as to look at my unfinished project, pick up a couple of loose floss bobbins and hold a needle a couple of times in the past couple of weeks, but haven't taken a single stitch since early July. I can't explain it.

I am feeling the loss of my Mother more and more keenly and deeply. I've had more tears and brief bursts of gut wrenching sobs in the past 2 or 3 weeks than in the previous 3 months. I can't explain it.

For the 4th time in the past 3 months something has inexplicably fallen: twice off the ledge in the bathroom into the sink, and twice off the counter on to the floor - each time shattering an empty vase I had sitting there. I wasn't even in the bathroom 3 of the 4 times and no where near what fell last night. If it's Mom, I suspect it's because she's really angry at me - she has good reason. Otherwise, I can't explain it.

Dad actually got on a plane and flew off to visit an old friend for a week. He's steadfastly refused to fly for the past 20 years, and from the manner in which he was way too quiet and shuffled into the terminal when I dropped him off, I seriously thought he was going change his mind - and hoped if he did it was before I got all the way home. When he got back after a visit that was more enjoyable than he expected, I suggested he think about a trip to Pasadena to visit my brother and wife. Dad's never been in the house they bought in 1999. I truly hope Jim can find a few free days where that can happen land Dad will do it.

Speaking of my brother, he'll be home again next weekend for a follow-up visit, to choose the Humpty Dumpty he wants to remember Mother by, and to play in UT Arlington's Jazz Band Alumni concert on the 23rd. When he called to tell the Chair he'd be there, he was asked "have you played your horn recently" - the need to ascertain if the former student has kept up his or her
chops and won't squeak an inopportune note. As soon as Jim started rattling off things he's done in just the past few weeks, such as the Kardashian wedding, the 2012 Emmy's Governor's Ball, being involved in arranging and recording new music to be piped in for your listening enjoyment at the Entrance and along Main Street in Disneylands around the world - just to name a representative few, the guy asked if he'd like to play a duet before the full band/orchestra came out. Sure! He bought his ticket home, then later the same day got a call to play a you'd-know-the-name gig the same weekend. As much as he would have liked to, he turned it down. Jim doesn't boast about himself unless specifically asked what he's been involved in, so forgive his big sister if she does a bit of boasting for him. I'm trying to get him to let me create a professional web page for him, but so far he's still mulling. He  leads a generally normal, pretty homebody but really hard working and interesting life. But most important of all, he's a really great brother! One of the organizations he works with. See Impulse. I think he also occasionally subs with some of the other groups as well.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For charted pink ribbons and related freebies as well as other appropriate designs, 
click on the FREEBIE LINKS page.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Charitable Request

Albertson's is sponsoring a Community Partner's Program. Charitable organizations which receive the most votes will receive a grant for requested funds. If you've already noticed at the bottom of my Blog is a link to Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas, a group which collects or purchases basic supplies and sometimes goodies then mails "care" packages to US troops often stationed in the most remote and isolated locations in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. 100% of donations are used for these purposes. Airborne Angel Cadets has requested a grant of $5,000 to help offset the costs of purchases and postage. You may vote up to 5 times a day from October 1 through October 15. If you should feel so inclined to help this very worthwhile organization, or just to check it out and read the letters from the recipients or requests for assistance, please visit the site to learn how.

On behalf of our service women and men deployed abroad, I thank you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another Finish from Years Past

Probably from CS&CC.
The fabric is actually that nice soft 14ct Aida baby blue - likely Charles Craft. My DD's favorite colors were peach and blue. She was already in college at this point.

I LOVED these type of rubbery / stretchy frames that didn't require anything more than just enough fabric to gather and baste on the reverse so it would hang flat against a wall.  I haven't seen any in a very long time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Long Ago Stitching - Zodiac Mug Insert

A year or 2 or 3 after I opened my law practice in 1981, I spotted a chart of well-designed Zodiac signs. I have no particular interest in astrology but was drawn to the Scales of Justice - Libra. I'm Sagittarius. I'd already hung some small cross stitch florals on my office walls and had been looking for something lawyerish to stitch. A bin of stitchable-insert coffee mugs was next to the chart rack. Light bulb moment! Otherwise, I wouldn't have bought the chart. I changed "Libra" to "Law," created a more formal font, stitched the letters in green to go with the gold scales (green & gold = Baylor) and changed 2 or 3 things about the scales as well. Sagittarius is as charted - though later I wished I'd changed the purple to gold and the aqua to blue, or vice versa. Next time.

I'd never stitched on plastic canvas before. I HATE stitching on plastic canvas !!! Consequently starting over a couple of days later, these are stitched with 3 strands of DMC on 14 count white Aida, treated with Fray Check, trimmed very close to the edges, then tacked to the plastic with a single thread and a bare minimum of stitches. Once sealed between the clear exterior and inner lining they have been perfectly protected from wear and tear and are as bright and colorful today as they were almost 30 years ago.  I fully intended this to be my coffee mug, but it was immediately apparent I was allergic to the plastic! Burning rash on lips and around mouth is not a pretty sight. It's been a pen / pencil / marker / ruler / scissors / etc holder ever since.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What is it with Kids?

My great-nephew was missing for over 5 hours yesterday.  My nephew was out of town and his usually SAHM  wife had to pick her Mom up from the hospital. The 4 boys, ages 10 to 16, were instructed walk home from school. They've done it before, the older ones making sure the youngest one gets safely home. It's only 4 blocks. #3, the 12-year-old whose school is a bit further away, never showed up. You can imagine the increasingly frantic phone calls and searches, and the growing panic. A notice was posted on #3's FB page that he was missing and asking for help to find him. One of his friends finally tracked him down and told him to call home - just before an Amber alert was on the verge of being issued. It was after 9pm. He'd just decided to go home with someone else and told that kid's Mom his Mom knew where he'd be and had given him permission. NOT. I can't figure out why the other kid's Mom hadn't called by at least dinner time to see if it was still okay. #3 had even gone to church with them! Probably a good thing a police officer answered the phone, after which they went to pick him up and he rode home in the back seat of a squad car. His brothers were so scared and angry the 10- year-old threw something big at him when he got home. I can only imagine how relieved and furious his parents felt.  #3 was too embarrassed to go to school today - like that stopped my niece from making him face the consequences. My sister was still so upset her voice was shaking when I talked with her this evening. It will be interesting to see what possible additional punishment could be more effective than having 2 older brothers and 1 younger take their fright it out on him, having the police lecture him all the way home, and getting heck at school. I'm sure he won't like what Mom and Dad mete out either. Thank God he was ultimately safe. BUT WHAT IS IT WITH KIDS???

To make this more horrifying for the parents is that 3 or so years ago a boy on one of the kid's soccer teams went missing along with his Mom, whom my nephew and niece also knew. It was learned 3 or 4 weeks later that both the mother and child had been bludgeoned to death by her ex-boyfriend, their bodies dumped in a shallow grave in the middle of a field. Had the man he persuaded to help dispose of the bodies not been arrested on another matter and then confessed his role when questioned about this one, they likely would not have been found for months, if ever. The murder of their young friend deeply upset and affected my nephew's family for a long time. I'm sure the memories of that horrible time made this situation that much worse.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Self-Portrait 1965

From 10th grade art class.  I'd just turned 16. The assignment required us to stare in the mirror, sketch quickly and not lift the pencil off the page. Consequently, my self-portrait is one single really long line. I have no idea where I started or stopped.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mojo Still Missing : { Untrained BIG dogs.

DD and her DH got home safely last night from an 11-day driving trip half-way across the country  for his mother's funeral. I am relieved in more ways than one. I spent 90% of that time at her house babysitting her 4 big untrained and undisciplined dogs and a sweet chatty cat. I've kept or looked after mamadog and the cat for a decade as she's taken frequent business trips in  years past. I baby sat for cat, mama dog and 4 pups since they were literally 2 weeks old, but not all together at her house since she got married almost 2 years ago. My biggest gripe is that they are not obedience or leash trained and just getting IN the house is having to shove through all 4 of them just to get in the door and pray one or more of them doesn't take off in the process, then enduring 15 or 20 seconds of big dogs jumping all over you ripping whatever you're carrying out of your hands in the process. It's literally a physical gauntlet. Same for letting them back inside even after just a few minutes out. They will sit for a couple of seconds but then jump when you reach over to pat their heads (knocking you in the chin) or into the middle of your back if you turn away to "ignore" them. It makes me so angry I want to slug or kick the dogs (and DD), though I would never do it, but I feel like it just the same. I am furious with daughter who just never took the time to train them. They are big, happy dogs who don't know any better and it infuriates me to no end. I've tried unsuccessfully when I was around them for a few days in the past, but working with 4 of them together is something I can't do, which is her excuse now that they're grown. For Christmas after the pups were born I'd bought DD 3 different dog training books. I doubt she ever looked at them. Don't get me wrong. I love the dogs, but am furious they've never had even basic training. I WISH, WISH, WISH that the lady who trains dogs would visit DD and get DD and the dogs in order. Long before now I was at the point of "Don't ask me to sit with them ever again until or unless you get them some basic NO JUMPING training!" I was very reluctant to do it this time for that very reason, but under the circumstances felt I had no choice.

I'd taken several small cross stitch projects with me. I read 4 or 5 Aunt Dimity books, but did no stitching. I just never felt like it. It's not like I was doing much of anything but sitting there most of the time or letting the dogs in and out, but the fact that I ended up sleeping there all but one night and the fact that even being there disrupted my own life - even if I had nothing else planned or had to do ... it wore me out. Still I was sad to leave the dogs since it'd been so long since I'd been with them, and the dogs were very sad and morose and dejected when I left barely an hour before DD arrived home. My cats, left alone 90% of the time in return, are very  very happy to have me back. It's only a 20 minute one-way drive, but in another city, and though in years past I was willing to make that trip 2 or 3 times a day, not so any more. I find it just to wearing to go back and forth and try to "live" in 2 places at one time, as "near" as they may be. Now back home, I've got to tackle MAJOR cleaning and organization. That'll consume my free time (or at least as much of my "free" time I am willing to give it), for the next several months - or years.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hopeful My Stitching Mojo is Back - Dog/Cat Sitting - Again

The only thing I've stitched on since Mom passed the end of June was the start of a Britty Kitty for a breast cancer quilt. It was due August 1st. I did email and tell them it would be late. I'm sure they've given up on me, but I will get it finished and sent. I got cat stitched, then boom - I just haven't been able to stitch at all. Instead I have been doing a LOT of reading, which I don't do when I'm doing a lot of cross stitch. My eyes will only focus for so long.  I'm hoping at some point to get some stitching done while dog-sitting.

Today was the last 100+ degree day, for a bit at least, and made the 68th day 100+ this summer. This is just 1 day less than the all time record of 69 in. However, when one compares the mean day and night temps between 1980 and 2011, because our night time lows have been 2 or 3 or more degrees higher than in 1980, actually 2011 is already the hottest summer on record. Hopefully, the only importance this has is that 2011 remains the hottest summer on record forever!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Bronny's "Hanging 30 / Witchy" Added to Gallery

She's made it all hers. Thank you for sharing, Bronny!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sad News Again / Freebie Halloween Charts to my LNS

My son-in-law's mother, who visited here with his sister in July, passed away late this morning. When the weather cooperates, she'll be buried in Maryland. Since the location is rural and the cost of Flying is out of the question, they'll drive. My job will be to spend varying odd hours for a week or more at DD's house by drive over and back 2 or 3 times a day to babysit her cat and 4 big rambunctious dogs.

I'd emailed Kathy at Stitch Niche asking if she'd be interested. "Absolutely!" I made up a suitable one-page chart format for each then took both "Hanging 30" and the "Halloween Biscornu" charts to my LNS owner who will copy then hand them out to interested customers as freebies starting next week. Kathy has encouraged me for several years to go professional and will buy some for her shop, and I've spent quite a bit of time looking into that. But the start up costs for new equipment and packaging vs the tiny amount of profit per sale were just too discouraging.  And I've yet to come up with a logo for Bits of Floss, though I can vaguely see something in my mind - more or less - it looks like a small pile of colorful orts, but so far I just haven't been able to convert that from synapses to digital form.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bits of Floss: Halloween Biscornu Freebie


Size:  44w x 44h
Approximate finished size:   25ct: 3-1/2"    28ct: 3-1/8"    32ct: 2-3/4"

  • Read all instructions first
  • Copy / Paste to save this information
  • CLICK on picture/chart to enlarge, then "save as" or "copy/paste"
  • Try printing in LANDSCAPE first.
  • Suggested fabric: 25ct, 28ct or 32ct evenweave - Not particularly suitable for aida
  • DMC or your favorite other threads, fibers or overdyes
  • Rather than a Biscornu, these make a perfectly good ornament as well - or 2 of them.
  • For Instructions on stitching Algerian Eye and the 1/2 Diamond Eyelet, see this site.  For the 1/2 Diamond Eyelet as charted, only stitch half. 
  • I would dearly love to see your finish. I'll post a photo of yours in the "Gallery!"
  • If you run into any issues, please let me know immediately

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN STITCHING - LindaMc - Bits of Floss    

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A/C breakdown #3 and an Afternoon With Dad

First, I've added some more freebie links over the past week. Lately, I've been doing that almost every day. Surely I'll soon run out of sources.

This time the capacitor and MORE FREON. : (  I'd actually scheduled to have the leaky coils replaced the end of June right after the last A/C emergency , but had to cancel when Mom went in the hospital then died a few days later. I just couldn't handle it then. I was rather hoping the freon would last the summer and I could consider the cost of repair vs. replacement under less stressful circumstances.Who knew we'd be having our second hottest summer on record? It was a record high of 107 both yesterday and today, and record high overnight lows of 85. I HATE SUMMER!

I got home from night at Dad's in time to tidy and vacuum but just as I started to shower, the A/C repairman came a knock-knock-knocking at my door without calling first. WHERE'S MY BRA??? Everything done in 10 or 15 minutes max. When I took out my checkbook figuring at least ANOTHER $200, he told me the owner had said not to ticket me. Huh? Ok, no service charge since they'd been out twice already, that's really nice since it'd been over 30 days, but how much are the other items? No. He'd been told to give the
a blank ticket to the owner. When I realized what he meant, I immediately started sobbing. Then blubbered a couple of moments, then couldn't even sign my name to a blank ticket. Historical note: My sister dated the owner back in high school in the 1960's. He was a sweetie then and still is today. I'll call Monday to say a heartfelt thank you, ask to be billed SOMETHING, then discuss what the heck to do now since new A/C units are NOT in my budget.
Mom circa 1954 - Vogue-magazine style

Called Dad to tell him what the verdict was and that I would be back later AFTER I had shower and bath, then settled in to read a book for a while and eventually went back over to move the load of clothes I'd washed last night to the dryer. Dad wanted to show me a picture on the computer. It was of Mom - one of his favorites. Thereafter, followed a couple of hours looking at photos he'd uploaded to the computer - mostly of Mom throughout the years, but of some others as well. The important thing was that we were talking about Mom. We've never really just sat down and just talked about Mom at length since she died. I'm sure each of us was trying not to upset the other, but we should have sooner. Every now and then one of us would tear up, but all in all it was a good thing - just remembering Mom.

Not Dad's favorite, but I don't remember even seeing this one before. Yep, me in the background.. Mom was beautiful and always looked 10 or 20 years younger than her actual years.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gazette 94 Closing Her Blog

by the end of the year??  If you are interested in any of her many wonderful freebies, now is the time to visit. They are scattered through out the blog, so you have to go page by page. Gazette 94

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Previous Halloween freebie reposted

Jack takes a well-deserved beach break!!

Size: 34w x 43h
14 ct: 2-3/8 x 3 inches
Click here for chart. All downloads are subject to the copyright information on the right.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sheepie Farm from BronnyB

Check out Bronny's new freebie at Bronny's Bits

New Summer Sunflowers freebie from Debbie Cripps.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Hanging 30" - New LMc Designs/Bits of Floss Freebie (w/update)

For Bronny and others I promised a Halloween Design last year. 
Click on image, then "save as."

Please read Copyright information on the right.

NOTE: After I converted the chart with key to a .jpg, I decided the cat looks better stitched 1 square to the right, as shown in the color picture. Your comments would be greatly appreciated

FRIDAY UPDATE: Never one to leave well-enough alone, this is an almost square version at 58x55 with the hanging 20 guy already shifted 1 square to the right.

Thanks and Enjoy - LindaMc

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Create Your Own KnoWhat2Do Pocket Emergency Plan

Create a Personalized Emergency Plan for yourself, your family, your pets, etc. in a printed form you can carry with you, no matter where in the world you live. This handy online app was created under the auspices of Homeland Security.  Except for a couple of phone numbers, the final print-out will apply to any emergency world wide. Make sure everyone in your family has a copy and discuss and/or exchange with other family members Freely share this link with everyone you know.

KnoWhat2Do Pocket Emergency Plan

It's 5:40 a.m. and the temp is still 89 Degrees

Yesterday was another record high 107. HAVE I MENTIONED: I HATE SUMMER??? I spent part of yesterday and all last night drinking iced tea with the fan blowing directly on me from a distance of only 3 feet while reading Requiem at the Refuge  - a Sister Mary Helen Mystery. I've been reading a LOT lately. See my Book List.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Updated Freebie Links and Reading List Pages

I'm probably unnecessarily reinventing the wheel because there are some great sites with freebie links, but it gives me an interesting challenge and so far my links all work. If you run across one that doesn't, please let me know!

It's been HOT HOT HOT here in Arlington with no end in sight. As of today we will have had 43 days over 100 so far this summer, with 36 consecutive days over 100. The record is 42 in 1980. Looks like we're going to break that. Ever had to be outside when it is 110? Or even just 105? MISERABLE!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What are Your Memories of the Space Shuttle Program?

(Originally written 7/21 but not previously posted.)

The question came up on the 123 Message Board: I thought I'd transfer my response and ask the same question here.
  • The first space shuttle was named The Enterprise. Good going ST fans! The next one needs to be allowed to actually fly.
  • When Columbia, on the very first shuttle mission, landed in April, 1981 on a whim I took the portable TV up to my DD's elementary school so her 3rd grade class could watch. However, I later mentally kicked myself when I belatedly realized the horrible effect it would have had on the kids had the landing been a disaster. Thankfully, the landing was spectacularly perfect and awe-inspiring (for me at least.). I wonder if any of the kids even remember that? I still vividly remember sitting in junior high World History class in 1961, us holding our mutual breaths and each other's hands as Alan Sheppard was launched from Cape Canaveral inside a tiny Mercury capsule, becoming the first American in space - the event broadcast live over the intercom.
    Challenger Mission Patch
  • In 1986 I had just walked back to my car from the Federal Courthouse, turned on the engine and radio and heard Challenger had blown up on launch. I don't know how long I sat there with the engine running, in a state of shock that quickly became a deep depression that lasted for weeks. Kay, my next door neighbor. had been a local finalist for the Teacher in Space program. When I got home I went to check on her. She was sitting in the dark shaking and crying. We agreed that even if we had known the tragic outcome, both of us would have still have gone through the weeks of training and gone for launch. I already had reservations for a trip to Disney World for my DD's 14th birthday 6 weeks later. I'd been excited and wanted to visit the now Kennedy Space Center ever since Alan Sheppard blasted off when I was about the same age  Instead, the Visitor's Center was unbearably somber with the Challenger count down /.mission clock clicking forlornly forward in time. It was at +42 days, so many hours and so many minutes and so many seconds ... and still inexorably counting.
  • One night in 2000 or 2001 a shuttle descended across DFW on it's way to a rare night landing in Florida. Our Sweet Adelines chorus went out to the parking lot to see if we could see it. The flight path was us almost directly overhead. The golden trail of ablation and sparks as it flew over (seemingly MUCH closer than it possibly could have been) were incredibly beautiful. We spontaneously broke out singing the Star Spangled Banner - in perfect 4-part harmony.
Columbia Mission Patch
  • The next DFW shuttle landing overflight was Columbia in 2003. I'd meant to get up early, go to the park and look up.Instead I turned on the TV just in time to hear a local newsmen [standing on the roof at WFAA in Dallas] suddenly go silent then say with voice that almost cracked that something big looked like it was coming off the Shuttle. OMG! was it breaking up directly overhead? We knew the horrible truth before NASA in Houston or Florida even suspected any problem at all. It was our local TV/radio stations calling them that alerted them to the disaster. One of the woman astronauts, Kalpana Chawla, was a popular post-graduate student here at UT Arlington, so a lot of her former colleagues and professors were outside watching her fly over. I have always been grateful I had NOT witnessed yet another shuttle disaster - this one happening right above me.
    • Since I was too young for Mercury and Apollo and too old for the early years of the Space Shuttle program, my ultimate lifetime goal (at the top of my bucket list, if you will) has been to be the first Octogenarian in space. Seriously! But I think John Glenn beat me to it. Ok, for John Glenn I'll lower my sights a tad and be the SECOND octogenarian in space. Maybe in the next 17 or 18 years they'll come up with another space program and I can still make those lifelong dreams come true.  
    ADDENDUM: When I was at North Texas in 1966, 3 years before the Eagle first landed on the Moon, my physics professor proclaimed with absolute certainty and conviction that within 25 years man would be living on and making scheduled trips to the Moon and to Mars, preparing for a journey to the stars themselves. I believed him and dreamed a dream that maybe one day I, too ....  Since originally writing this blog article, the Soviet Space Agency has announced it will scuttle the International Space Station in the Pacific Ocean in 2020 or so, thereby undoing and destroying all the work, effort, and dreams of myself and generations of past and future astronauts, discounting and perhaps discrediting the lives given and expended in the process, terminally wasting the billions spent by US taxpayers in its construction and upkeep, and inexorably nullifying the sole reason d'existence for the Space Shuttle program itself. For our children and our children's children, the past 50 years of human space endeavors may/will become just another blurry fairy tale: ONCE UPON A TIME, believe it or not, women and men from Earth were launched into space, traveled to the moon just to see if we could do it, circled the world in a two stations they quickly subsequently and summarily destroyed, and dared to dream dreams of future journeys to points outside the atmosphere and living somewhere other than on Earth. Once upon a time. Believe it or not.

      Finishing Tutorial

      The Twisted Stitcher's Tutorials -pin cushion, cube, framing, floss and key tags, many others  - See the list in the right-hand column. Lot's of photos and excellent directions.. This link added to Other Links Page.

      Tuesday, July 26, 2011

      Think I've Hit a Brick Wall / Freebie Links Page Updated

      Mom died 4 weeks ago yesterday, or a month ago tomorrow. I've been doing okay, but I'm finding myself more and more upset and weepy rather than moving through it. I've been able to hold it together for the most part, but found myself starting to choke up when I called to check on Dad yesterday. NOT what I wanted to do. I don't even want to leave the house, but that has a much to do with it being 106 outside and 25 consecutive days over 100 with record high overnight lows. I HATE SUMMER! My A/C is running full time. I finally just turned it off last night to spare what freon and motor bearings I have left. It was 85 inside when I woke up.

      I've taken photos of the Humpties, but they are still in the camera.

      I'm adding to the Freebie Links Page as I run across or discover more of them.

      BTW! I've tried to respond to your kind comments but Blogger won't let me. I'm signed in but they won't post. Anyone have any idea what's wrong? Know that I do appreciate all of them!

      Saturday, July 23, 2011

      New Prairie Schoolers & 2011 Annual Santa Have Been Released

      Click on title to access the Prairie Schooler website for photo:
      I purchased Bk #172- September (which will be stitched with a different verse) and the Annual Santa.  If you don't care for the hunter "sportsman" the smaller design has the man holding a basket [designed to fit the same space on the large design]. Note the squirrel bombarding the hunter with apples! I may reverse or rearrange the animals at the bottom so that it looks like the dog is running away from or being chased by them. :D

      I talked with Nancy earlier today who says the minicards were some that they had left over from years past. They've never done this before and are unsure how well the sets will sell (I assured her probably VERY WELL), and that when the minicards are gone, they are gone!

      Thursday, July 21, 2011

      Humpty Dumpty Found!

      First a small box with some partially cut out, then a bag of 9 Humpties Mom had already finished - located separately in the tops of 2 different closets. When he heard the news, my 53-year-old brother choked up and asked for one to keep for himself. Of course, Jim! You can have your pick! Now that we know where Mom put the Humpties, they went back to the same spots. Belatedly  I remembered the bag of finished ones being above the back bedroom closet, but only sometime after we found them, and only because I remembered the unusual fabric she'd used on one of them when I saw it. Unused synapses take their own sweet time to reconnect.

      Wednesday, July 20, 2011

      Separate Blog, Refocus and/or just remove posts?

      This was intended primarily as a cross stitch blog. Lately it's been the way I've been working through my emotions and honoring (I hope) my Mother after her death. I know that's NOT why people visit. So more cross stitch and pictures as I eventually d/l from camera, or okay as is?

      Your feedback is greatly appreciated. - LindaMc

      Saturday, July 16, 2011

      A Painting from 10th Grade

      Mother had also saved this 9 x13" Linda original dated 10-12-64 I painted in Art I.  It's a watercolor - right out of a black metal Prang box of 8 shades. That's a mauve draped something in the background. What an awful color even then. I'd never drawn or painted any of the elements before. The colors have since faded but except for that hideous mauve, this a close approximation to how I remember them. Computer colors and contrast are never the same as what the eye sees in real life. I was a fair artist even in elementary school, having some of my artwork displayed in the ISD city-wide art show, but I haven't painted and have rarely sketched anything in over 30 years. I really wanted to continue Art but I had a no-win choice: Art II or Choraliers (the audition only choir), both the same period. I chose to sing. I so wish I could have taken both!  My parents offered to send me to art school so I could become a professional artist. I said NO, why would I want to work at something I enjoy doing?  Instead, I've been an unhappy lawyer for the past 31 years. Talk about stupid.

      Friday, July 15, 2011

      Among Mother's Things - No Humpty Dumpty but an Advent Calendar I stitched years ago

      Yesterday my sister and I met at Dad's to start going through the things in Mother's life that were so much a part of her. It was supposed to be excess plastic containers and pots and pans. Instead, he wanted us to go through her closets and drawer to start sort clothing - and her sewing room. I wasn't really ready to do that. You just have to turn off your emotions or it would be impossible, and even with that a sudden memory comes fondly - which leads to the catch in your chest and tears anyway.  We boxed summer and personal items for Arlington Charities, but left winter and her really nice clothing to decide on later. And there were some items Dad isn't ready to part with. Us neither. We left more than we boxed.

      History of Humpty Dumpty: At least sixty years ago (probably a lot longer ago than that), my grandmother begin to make each of her grandchildren and nieces and nephews and the children of family friends a stuffed Humpty Dumpty out of scraps of fabric. It was a McMillen family tradition that Mother took over when Grandmother passed in 1958.  Thus, it wasn't surprising at all that within a day or so of Mom's death Dad asked (and others of us had already wondered but left unsaid), "Who will make the Humpty Dumpties now?"  Which led to: "Is there one at home, or can we find Mom's pattern?" So after Betty and I had boxed some and rearranged other clothes,. I went into Mom's sewing room to again look for the Humpty I'd seen in that closet, then quickly through drawers for pieces she might have already cut out and had pinned together awaiting stitching and stuffing - or at least one of Mom's homemade patterns - usually out of brown paper grocery bags. I was just going to do a quick search, since Dad had just again asked, but spotting me in there Dad came in and needed to personally double-check for himself. As he did he again mentioned calling the church ladies to come get Mom's boxes of fabric and anything else they might want. NOOOOO! Except for some of the fabric, leave everything else alone!! If it were up to me, I'd probably make Mom's sewing room an emotional oasis, it was so much a part of her and her volunteer work and her life.. I know that's me just wanting to hang on, but don't just willy nilly give everything away, Dad. WE want to keep many of her sewing things for ourselves!  Thankfully, Betty and I convinced him to leave it until later. We haven't found Humpty Dumpty as yet. I THINK I could recreate a pattern from memory (I helped her make 2 or 3 over the years to replace Humpties who had been so loved on they had fallen apart), but I might have to borrow one from a great-grandchild. I have looked online but the ones pictured are not the same. It's possible that ours was of my artist/seamstress Grandmother's own design.

      Advent Calendar: In the process of sorting and repiling things from here to there, I ran across this Advent Calendar I'd stitched for Mother at least 15 years ago and presented it to her unframed.  Laying under it was the frame she'd found it would fit. Dad and I had both I promised to frame it for her over the years - but never did. If that were the ONLY one of her stitched handiwork pieces for which promises were made and never kept... Every time I ran across something I would kick myself mentally,  "Oh, I need to get that done now!" But I never remembered when I COULD AND SHOULD have done it. NEVER LEAVE ANY PROMISE UNKEPT.  The design is from a magazine. Country Cross Stitch maybe? DMC with gold cord, gold Kreinik filament, and wine red translucent seed beads. Stitched size: apx 15 x 10

      Mother loved her garden and spent every morning out watering and pulling weeds. I'd taken her to the nursery 3 times earlier in the spring for plants, which she spent a very long time considering then choosing. While she was in the hospital the neighbor across the street came over to water, not wanting it to die before she could get home. She offered to continue. Dad apparently told her no need. He has no interest in maintaining any of them and they are dying in the record dry spell and almost record-breaking heat. That was her thing. Not his. Her beautiful hydrangeas are essentially already dead. The herbs and turks cap almost dead as well and her beautiful hostas and the bushes by the house and the poinsettia she'd managed to keep alive for 3 years in a pot. All dying - or maybe dead by now as well. It is killing me to see something she so loved deliberately neglected, but even when I offered to water them for him when I was there, he told me no. He'd wasted all the water he intended to on them. I can understand him not wanting to do it himself, but flatly turning down offers to help? Watching dead leaves fall from Mom's beloved hydrangeas is like watching her die all over again.

      I brought above stitched piece and the frame home with the intent to frame it now and hang it on my wall. But perhaps the guilt would be too great every time I looked at it. I don't know. To be honest, I'm not sure my mother really ever knew what to do with it either as I know it was in a drawer for several years before a frame showed up with it. I can't recall, but it could have been ME that pulled it out of the drawer and a frame was later found. What does one do when one really doesn't do Christmas decorating any more?

      Wednesday, July 13, 2011

      Nephew at the ESPY's - I'M BACK ON DSL!

      His employer leases professional television and radio broadcast equipment to ESPN and other organizations, so Alan gets to go along to supervise set up and trouble shoot.

      After six (6) frustrating months of various attempts to fix ongoing DLS problems, stuck with dial-up and 1990 connection speeds, and assurances even this afternoon by AT&T tech support that it could NOT be my modem or data line because they could ping my modem (even most of the time it was blinking red, and a itty bitty bit of the time it showed to be working and connected - but WAS NOT!!!), I did what I should have on January 2nd, BOUGHT A NEW MODEM and not relied on countless hours of "professional" troubleshooting, which did not work! YEAH - DSL!

      Thursday, July 7, 2011

      Surprisingly Not Sad Memories of Mom's Visitation and Funeral - Memories of Mom

      [Please excuse my need to document these things, for myself if for no one else. Writing is how I end up working through many issues in my life.]
      Mom, January 2011
      My mother, Helen Dorrace Taylor McMillen, was 84, almost 85, and she and Dad had been married 64 years when she died on Monday, June 27th. We genuinely expected Mother to outlive almost all of us, her children. The same was Dad's hope for himself. He once told me, as he sobbed during a previous serious medical event in her more recent years, that he hoped he'd go first because he didn't know what he would ever do without her. We all fully expected Mom to be there for us, and for us to care for when it came time, well into her 90's at least, maybe past 100, and that we or others coming after us would gratefully and joyfully celebrate my mother's amazing resilience to serious ills and the infirmities of advancing age. All these she viewed as inconveniences, which she quietly and gently accepted with little complaint, deeming them each just a part of life. We also truly anticipated that we would have the many opportunities to celebrate and toast my parents' 65th and 70th and 75th, maybe even their 80th anniversary, next year and in the many years we realistically expected for her ahead.
      We, or at least I,  may celebrate them in remembrance of my mother anyway.
      Photo: My brother, a professional musician/arranger/etc from LA, on trombone with my great-nephews (1st cousins - each a son of one of my sister's twin sons) playing Jim's overnight sort of  New Orleans jazz-style arrangement of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" at Mother's brief graveside service Tuesday, July 5th. Reed, age 12 and already very musical in his own right, (far right) has only been playing horn for 9 months but was likely note perfect. Travis (16) has played longer but not really that interested in it so far, played just as well, both despite little time to practice - especially together with their Uncle Jim. Surprisingly, but not really, it was my brother who had the hardest time - difficult to sing or to play with choked up throat through rolling tears. This was the boys first non-school  performance and experience playing with a real professional. We were very proud of each and all. Their efforts were wonderful and meaningful to us all. Thank you, gentlemen. The family is so proud and appreciative. Mom / GGMom would have loved it.  Photo by one of the Moms.
      "Never leave anything unsaid," Mom told us through the years as her family and friends her passed on, and out of the blue as well. I would add "nor unasked." I wish there was little left unsaid, but really there was and will always be. I wish Mother had broken through our thick skulls by confiding or at least more broadly and openly hinted or simply told us if she had a premonition her days were more numbered than we believed and so wanted. Though she had not bothered with a photo for the Church directory for years, she made a point to get the one above taken earlier this year. Dad doesn't think it looks like her. He prefers the one from just a few years ago where she's openly laughing and her eyes are lit up with an inner glow of mirth; the one of his young wife in a pensive mood; the one in which where she's looking lovingly down on my then 2 or 3 months-old baby brother, the same Jim as above, unsteadily holding up his head and staring "huh?" at the world from where she held him over her shoulder; the snapshots with her face full of delight and love for him and her children. 
      "Linda, I'm not sure I'll ever finish these quilts." "Sure you will," I answered brightly only 2-1/2 weeks ago. I hadn't understood, and it didn't occur to me to ask why she would say that at that moment. "Betty, I won't leave the hospital," she struggled to say. "Yes, you will, Mom, Every one is working very hard to help you get well so we can make sure you get home," the night before and again in the early morning before she died. We now realize that Mom knew long before we understood and had accepted she never could nor would. Never again to go back to her bricks and cedar home just down the hill. Betty, bless her, told me later that when she had said "home" she also meant Mom's heavenly one. Thank you, Betty. I was too wrapped up in my own disbelief and dismay and probably denial to think that clearly. I think Mom knew. Although Mom in recent years often plopped herself on the arm of Dad's recliner and told him how lucky they were to have had so many years together, he later told us that only 2 or 3 days before her final trip to the ER that she had slid on down into his lap (something she had rarely ever done), wrapped her arms around his neck and told him how much she loved him and how much she had appreciated their long life together and for their family. Dad says he now believes she had a premonition. Perhaps that was her gentle way of trying to help him prepare and was telling him those things she wanted him most and always to remember. But there are so many things she didn't say that I wished I had simply asked her about in recent years and months and weeks and days. Perhaps, maybe, some day or year or millennia, however it is time or nontime or non-linear time works on the other side, I and we will all get those eternal opportunities to speak again of all those things probably left unsaid after all and ask all those unasked questions just to hear her answers.
      More Words of Wisdom:
       "Don't simply give up, ever. You're too important and worth more than that, you know." I wish I believed in me as much as she always ALWAYS did. I wish you were here right now to tell me that yet again, Mom.
      "Linda, change the things you have control over and can change. Accept the things you cannot and move on." Her constant mantra to me as well, the person who almost never accepts anything gently nor quietly nor usually without a lot of complaining nor struggle nor occasional real fear, and often gets bogged down in the details and memories. I wish I had listened better and tried harder and inherited more of her can-do no- matter-what-the-odds spirit. I do try and Mom, I promise I will keep trying to live up to your simple philosophy of life, your hopes and your many many prayers for me. Maybe if * I * live long enough there's still hope for me yet. 
      Hi, Mom. I'm working to accept your death and will do my best to move on with my life to honor you. It's hard, you know.
      "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I do try but I am nowhere near perfect on that one.
      "Fools names and fools faces always appear in public places." Gotcha. That one took - permanently.
      Mother never swore. She said nothing at all or maybe "Fiddle-dee-dee" or "Fiddlesticks," and when really frustrated the occasional "Dern" or "Darn It." Those were as far as she would go, and promptly chastised us if we said anything more brazen in her presence as well. 
      So many other wonderful Mom and family memories. Her 100 or more typed-pages memoir, I've Had a Good Life, written a decade ago while she still retained her wonderful memories in vivid detail, printed and bound by Dad, is a treasure for us all. Maybe we should start adding our memories of her as addendum to that. But that would make it our book, not hers, wouldn't it? So maybe not.
      Visitation - Sunday, July 3rd: I absolutely dreaded it but was determined to plow through as best I could. Mom would expect that of me and of us. I wasn't about to disappoint her or them. It's been a long time since I was comfortable or brave enough to venture to one. I've always felt awkward and never knew what to say to a grieving family, almost none of whom I had previously met, if any. Turns out that doesn't matter. One's mere presence and fumbled words, no matter how brief nor how few, are meaningful to family and other friends in and of themselves. And the open casket, which always seemed somewhat morbid to me, was not morbid nor constantly overwhelming nor necessarily sad at all. We knew she wasn't in it and that was a happy thought. My mother had a deep and abiding faith and had no fear of death, so neither should I for her. I'm still a work in progress re myself on that, Mom. Seeing the quiet peaceful body, which in this life was my Mother's, did bring momentary hard tears but then almost as quickly fond memories of our too short time together. And it gave me another opportunity to see her as she almost really was, much less upsetting than her days and hours in the hospital (that for some reason I want to remember, too) another opportunity to tell her I loved her and to say goodbye one more time. 
      It surprised me that I took great comfort and felt a loving peace and could even smile knowing her body would be in the white casket with pink liner which she had picked out for herself almost 20 years ago, the one in which she was to be buried in the spot that she and Dad had selected in the almost-just-across-the-street-from-home cemetery (even if the essence of the person I knew as my Mother wasn't really inside or there), on the side of a small hill overlooking the trees and shrubs and landscaped lawn and flower beds surrounding a beautiful pond with fountain below, in the section designated by a large white statue of praying hands, which in winter we'll likely be able to see at a short distance away as we turn off of or on to the street where she lived for the past 50 years. Knowing that would be her resting place, I've been concerned for a long time that as I drove by I would burst into tears and would have to drive a different route. Instead, I think maybe I will smile knowing at least her body is so close, and maybe from time to time her spirit will be, too - our Guardian Angel looking down on us from a terrace looking out from the small hill above.
      We had asked for charitable donations rather than flowers, but I had received an very nice arrangement from the local Ham Radio Club I belong to (quite unexpected), a couple of peace lilies from my sister's employer and in-laws, a basket of indoor plants (??) that Dad will be able to take care of, and later a beautiful arrangement of pink gladiolas and large white lilies sent by a long time volunteer co-worker and friend who could not be at either visitation nor funeral. Though not expected, I was happy there were even those few after all. The casket piece was beautiful with a variety of colorful flowers and fillers, though overall color scheme and flower types looked similar to but only somewhat like the bright-flowered pictured selection. To be honest, I personally preferred the slightly gentler look. Or maybe my memory is just way off on that. It is dealing with a whole lot of more important things at present. Visitation included Dad and each and all of Mother's three generations of decedents (3 children, 3 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren). A variety of people dropped by: her or our old or current friends and neighbors, acquaintances from her 50-year church membership (most of that time anyway) along with several who knew her from the even greater number of years she's been involved in volunteer activities. Individuals she's been out of contact with for decades came to offer their condolences, too. But that was okay. I realized it meant they remembered her, or us, fondly still after all this time. Mom's nephew, his wife and his daughter drove the 5 something hours from Tulsa despite the fact my 66-year-old cousin, Bill, is on round 3 of chemo and very very ill. I'd asked them not to risk his fragile health, but he insisted on coming to honor his Aunt Helen. It had been many years since I've seen him. He's almost the age that Mom's father was when he passed,. Though it's been 46 years, Bill looks so much like the Pa I remember and loved, I spontaneously exclaimed so without thinking. Hugging him was hugging all those memories of my long-ago-deceased grandparents. Bill's sister, my cousin Janet, wanted to make the almost 10-hours drive from southern Louisiana, but she's also undergoing chemo (breast cancer). We so appreciated just her desire to be here for her Aunt Helen. Perhaps when she gets past these first medically difficult months, she'll be able to visit later.
      It was strange. Or maybe my brain and emotions were on hold. There was this beautiful, if slightly frail woman laying in a casket dressed in my mother's clothes who at first and occasionally thereafter, from the corner of my eye and sometimes in plain sight, appeared to be breathing who looked so very like my mother - but wasn't. Except for a moment's hesitation as I first entered the room and approached her and specific moments of sudden tears when a memory suddenly crossed my mind, I didn't feel really that overwhelmingly sad about it. In fact, more often I smiled (that was MY mother) and whispered to her from time to time hoping, I guess, that she was somewhere nearby and watching and might answer. Mom, am I weird or  just plain nuts or something? I asked if she was proud of how we were handling her unexpected passing as a loving and cohesive family and to please help us each as she could in the coming days and years. I love you so much, Mom.
      Shortly after the end of the visitation period and followed by my cousin 
      Bill's family, we drove the block or so home, anticipating but not knowing if anyone else would then drop by the house - and were relieved no one did, particularly as one of my nephew's wives took a turn and passed out in Mom's sewing room. Having eaten an hour or so before, her blood sugar, which I tested immediately, was much lower than it probably should have been. A full-strength soda helped and she seemed okay to go home 30 minutes minutes later. I hope that's all it is.
      My Dad, who has primarily lived alone with Mother for the past 30 years (except for brief stays by one of us kids or grand-kids in temporary transition - which I'm sure grated on his nerves), has had great difficulty physically and emotionally dealing with all the people and activity that has surrounded him this past week. I asked Dad at some point in the past few days if he had ever lived alone? Sure, the US Air Corp during WWII. But Dad, you were in the barracks surrounded by other young men. Oh, that's right. He had already moved back in with his parents and was living at home when discharged. A few months later he met (on April Fools Day), got engaged (on Halloween) and married Mom (a week before Valentine's), then they moved in together in the same boarding house where my mother had been living. I was their Christmas baby, then came Betty, and many years later, Jim. The only times Dad has live alone, if it could be called that, during the past 86 of his years were the occasional month or longer periods he was in a motel while doing oil field experiments in California or Canada more than 30 years ago. Not quite the same, is it? When my brother and wife leave the back bedroom to return to LA tomorrow after their extended visit, Dad will be truly be alone for the first time in his life; for the first time in Mom and Dad's now 50-year-old house; the house he alone designed and had built for Mom and us kids; the home they created around and for us. I know it will be very very difficult for him.
      Formal services at her church - 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 5th: The minister opened with a prayer. She'd been provided a copy and had read Mother's entire book of memories. She spoke of Mom's life from Mom's own perspective and often in Mom's own words. It was so thoughtful that she took the time to read and get to know Mom. Dr. Katie had assumed the ministry of the church only 2 or 3 weeks before Mom's even then infrequent attendance had ended, though Mom had continued participating in CWF when she felt well enough and probably knew her there. It was an honor and very moving that she had taken her weekend and holiday to read Mom's book and prepare her words. Jim and I then each spoke of our Memories of Mother. At one point he even sang a verse of the lullaby (Tura-Lura-Lura) which she'd sung to us every day before each nap and at bedtime from the time we were born, which we've since sung to our children, then grandchildren as they came. Because we have, he said it was, therefore, a piece of my Mom still lives in each of us, her descendants (a continuing theme in his presentation). There are MANY pieces of Mom and her Mom and Dad, and their parents and so on inside each of us. My fuzzy, sleep-deprived, foggy brain initially couldn't think of anything I might say until the wee hours just before that dawn when everything suddenly went crystal clear and resulted in 7 pages of single-spaced typed prose and/or bullet-points (some over-lap between them) More thought and attempts at editing, as you can guess by now, only made 2 pages turn into 4, then 6 and and finally 7, which, of course I knew, had to be severely edited down to only the most important thoughts. In the meantime I had to get SOME sleep before the funeral - 2 hours would have to suffice. I got to Dad's house just before everyone left for the church. Jim and I made sure we were in the same car, where he quickly skimmed my pages in the 2 minute trip to the church. Half or more of it had to go. With his keen insight and input and using the thick black marker he'd grabbed off the kitchen counter for that purpose, together we managed in 3 or less editorially brutal minutes, sitting there in the front row of sanctuary chairs (no pews) right in front of Mom's open casket with people starting to mill around us, to do so. It was absolutely necessary. Once started, absent black redacts for me and notes to himself to limit his personal remarks, both Jim and I could and would probably have talked on and on for hours and hours about our Mom. His remarks were much longer, more humorous at times (as is his natural state of being, despite the fact he is incredibly introspective and serious at other times) and more emotional than mine. I read. He had notes, but was often extemporaneous. At one point he even sang the first verse of  "Over in Killarny" (Tura-Lura-Lura) following that up with the comment that until a week ago he didn't realize what the lyrics, "I wish that I could hear her sing that song to me today ..., " had actually meant, and that Mom's songs and lullabys would live on and carry though us as well. A comforting thought. Since she never sought praise nor the spotlight for anything she did or accomplished, I suspect Mom was quite relieved that we kept our Memories of Mom down to maybe 3 or 4 minutes for me (I spoke slowly) and perhaps 10 to 15 for Jim. Momma, can you hear us? Momma, did you hear us?
      I'll share those other memories elsewhere, even if only for myself and for you.
      My daughter followed with an emotional, tear-filled reading from "There's No Such Place as Far Away" and her husband sang "How Great Thou Art," equally tear-filled and difficult for him to get through. Though he'd sung solo in church many, many times, it was his first funeral. He confided in advance that he so wished it wasn't for someone he loved so much. He's known Mom for less than 2 years and the depth of his emotion surprised and made me feel so much closer to him at the same time. The minister's Bible passage reading and homily that initially left us wondering what that had to do with death, was wrapped up with (a close paraphrase): "As Jesus took time out of his busy last [as it turned out] day to visit his disciple's very ill mother-in-law, take her hand and heal her, so, too, can you all be assured that admist all the strife and grief and joy in the world, He took the time to be beside Helen, held her hand, healed and lead her into God's kingdom." Ah, yes, He would do just that, wouldn't He?
      It's been many years since I've attended any funeral because they often upset me greatly (memories, I suppose, of the passage of all of grandparents by the time I was 20, and the related generations above me). But this was peaceful and very meaningful. Smiles and quiet chuckles as Jim and I spoke were wonderful to see and hear.  I hope Mom was there and saw and heard as well. I truly appreciated each and everyone who came, whether they stayed to express their condolences and said nice things about our Mother, or not. In my remarks, I had described Mom as a "compassionate pragmatist."  As she had told us many times over many years, and quoted by Jim in his remarks, "Funerals are for the living; the dead have no need for one."  Yes, yes she was a compassionate pragmatist, along with many mary other things as well. Perhaps I will attend more funerals for those I knew or were loved by my friends and acquaintances. At my age, those will be more and more of a certainty.
      On to the Cemetery: After the short receiving gathering, which sort of started out as a "line" but quickly became clump, my final last goodbye knowing it would be the very last time I ever see her again - but only for now I truly hope, the closure of her casket (which I am glad I didn't see - too much, that would probably have too much for me), casket was rolled outside and the pall-bearers (Mom's 2 grandsons, 2 of her great-grandsons, my brother-in-law, and my son-in-law) lifted it into the hearse, and they then rejoined their respective families in their respective cars. As each vehicle was occupied by family members or neighbor or friend, each left the church parking lot personal vehicle by personal vehicle to drive the 5 short blocks to the near-graveside location in the cemetery. The intent had been so my brother and his young trumpeteers could set up and be ready to play as the hearse and other mourners arrived. Shortly after we had all left one by one, the Funeral Director's car and the hearse followed on their own. I wondered of coming in absolutely last rather than leading a procession behind was a first for them? Not exactly as anticipated, but it worked just fine for us. We'd advised them in advance: no family cars, no formal procession and no escort necessary.
      After all arrived, pall bearers moved casket to a metal dias under the typical canvas shade, and the Brass Trio finished their tribute and joined us across the roadway. Some of us sat for the very brief ceremony under the stifling canopy, which consisted simply of a final prayer and minister's shaking of hands and brief condolence to each of us. For those that wanted to and/or had not seen the exact location of Mother's plot, it was a short walk to the actual grave site where we stood a few moments, each in our own thoughts under the scorching Texas sun. This brief but meaningful ceremony was followed immediately by a fried chicken lunch for family and friends back at the church, prepared with love by three of mother's long-time church friends. 
      Overall, it was as nonformal as a formal funeral could be without being considered informal (if you understand what I mean), and we believe just as personal, meaningful and non-fussy as as Mother would have wanted.
      It was very odd. Because her grave is in some sort of underground 2-vault-deep mausoleum that sits 4' below ground level at the top, it was very deep. My brother later commented that seeing it and understanding it was for "eternity" (to which I added "or for at least a few hundred or thousands of years" - the earth and the sun and the universe having their own cycles of life and death and rebirth that will profoundly affect and change all on this small planet - I tend to think on the really long term), [he continued:] "... looking into that permanent pit was a good recommendation to opt for cremation instead. He has a weird sense of humor and often uses such to express his innermost thoughts at times. I also recognized the attempt to handle is own grief. 
      Though Dad's name is already on the marker which comes with the gravesite, he will be cremated and scattered elsewhere. Although I really really want at least some bit of my atoms and molecules shot into space to rejoin the dust that has created everything so far and maybe some scattered and recycled into new life here, I also don't want Mom to be alone by herself in that deep hole in the ground and would rest there with her until some hopeful future judgment day or until the end of the world. I don't know if that even matters to anyone but me. 
      That may have been the body she had in this life, but the person and the soul that is or was my mother is not really in that grave. I think at times I almost see or feel her - or so wish she is still -  sitting in the passenger seat beside me and find myself spontaneously talking to her as I have when she's ridden with me in the past, and as I have here. It's very odd. I know she's gone, that she has passed on and is buried, that she is somewhere better than here, with God and her family I trust, and I am very strangely and quiet unexpectedly so far okay with that. Maybe I'm still numb and dealing with this a tiny bit at a time and later I will feel differently and suffer the throes of the despair that is loss. And when I think of the next time I need to call her about something family or stitchy or about the progress on her quilts or to just hear her voice or really need for someone to just listen to me ramble on and on or for advice I can't go to anyone else about or for her to remind me of the words to a song or lullabye she used to sing to me or hear her words of simple wisdom or for to give my Mother a gentle hug just because and for her to return her gentle kiss on my cheek but then realize she can never and will never again  be physically there .... I am going to be very very sad and it's going to really really hard.
      Somehow, Mom's favorite hymn, "In the Garden," the one she wanted sung at her funeral, wasn't. I don't know how that was missed by the minister or us before the funeral. Other things on our mind, I guess. I think the pianist played it somewhere in there as background music, but that wasn't the same, of course. There was some other hymn listed in the program which I'd heard before but was not meaningful to me, nor to any of us I suspect. I wish now I had just spoken up right then and there and asked to add "In the Gardent" just for Mom. Or had noticed it was missing and asked it be sung instead rather than edit my remarks before hand. Jim had arranged it for him and the boys and planned to play it at the cemetery, but since we all arrived at once, he chose not to, in good part because their short rehersals had not gone as well as he'd expected. 
      Back Home: So after we got back to the house (only 4 blocks north of the church - the cemetery beginning at the end of my parent's street), we persuaded Jim and now reluctant pre-teen and teen, to stand on the shady back patio and play for us again. With all gathered close round, cameras and cell phones recording sound and picture, they did just that. Mom finally got her "In the Garden" played very, very well, and as Jim remarked, far improved from their  earlier rehearsal. "Amazing how well terror-induced adrenalin can enhance one's performance skills," he quipped in typical Jim fashion.  On behalf of our mother and great-grandmother, Thank you so much, guys. I love you, Jim.
      More Thank You's: We, individually and as a family, are so appreciative for the many things the minister and church members, neighbors, relatives, friends and the funeral home employees have done for and with us during this difficult time, as well as for the family and friends who visited or attended, the persons who could only send cards, for each one who has expressed their memories of and love for Mother as well. And I also thank each of you, my stitching friends, who have taken the time to skim or read these lengthy posts this past two weeks, and for your kind comments and support. I'll need that for a long time to come.