Friday, February 29, 2008

Team Spirit

Here we are, the 2007-2008 Countryside Gymnastics Team. Photo taken 8 February 2008. The coaches in front are from left to right, me, Jill, Becca, Peggy and her husband Dennis. Missing is my closest friend Brenda. Her twin boys were sick that night.
Not much stitching going on today. I am plotting and planning a surprise 40th birthday party for one of Joe's childhood friends. He live in Kentucky now, but comes to see us about every other month. It was quite a piece of work to convince him to come up specifically on Saturday 8 March. His actually birthday is the 15th, but that is the day "designated doormat coach" is subbing for Jill at the big regional competition, because it is her daughters Sweet Sixteen party. I could have pulled it off on the 15th if I was only coaching my own group, the Level 4s. Now I have the Level 5s also and that section of the competition runs until 9pm! The weird work situation seems to have no end in site. I try to modify my attitude about it to feel less stressed. Of course no one has noticed my attitude either good or bad, so it all seems rather pointless. At least the gymnasts are doing OK, and that is what is really important in the big scheme of things.

The menu for the party is four large pans of home-made lasagna, green beans with garlic and almonds and loaves of Italian bread. Also the guest of honor has requested one of my pudding cakes. They are basically a regular boxed cake mix cake with pudding as the middle layer filling instead of standard icing. That will be quite a balancing act with a large sheet cake, enough to feed 40+ people. Joe and his friends are a real "party crowd" so I will probably last through the food service part of the party and then vanish quietly home to do some stitching. Yes, we have managed to convince Joe's boss to let us use his huge barn for the party. It is fully insulated and heated with a large full-service kitchen set up, about 10 tables with chairs, bandstand area and dance floor. Joe's boss and his wife love to host huge parties and built this building especially for that purpose.

Today is a balmy 37 degrees F, so I am thinking of Springtime craft projects. I dug up this old Martha Stewart magazine that has this amazing "Easter Tree". The ornaments are Styrofoam egg shapes wrapped with DMC pearl cotton threads. I think I could do something like that. The tree itself is a wooden dowel frame wrapped with a yellow feather boa. The rest of the ornaments(bunnies, baskets, carrots, baby chicks) are made from pipe cleaners dyed to soft Spring colors. The carrots are carved from foam and then wrapped the same way as the eggs. I keep dreaming of this project, but it would involve actually buying the supplies to make it all. Oh well, maybe next year.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Told You So!

Here I am back again after a bit of a self-enforced absence. I actually used the office computer again just yesterday and found that if I do enough searches or enter various website addresses it moves everything down on the "saved sites" list. I did this long enough and now my blog address has been removed from the list because there was simply not enough space anymore! I am sure there was a more technically advanced way of deleting it but this seems to have worked. Even after all of the stress, anxiety and effort(I wish all of that burned more calories) there have been no comments from my boss or coworkers, so they obviously did not even notice my blog address. All that agony for nothing......well, not has taught me to be more careful in my computer use. I have also stayed away from the blog for a while because, in the words of my grandmother "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". It would have been all whining and griping about work or my various and sordid plots for revenge. Not what makes for enjoyable reading. I have always wondered why I have such a desire for revenge. Normally I am not a vindictive and mean person, so I can not really find the source of this fault in my personality. I think it stems from the early childhood jealousy over my younger brother. That normal “sibling rivalry” thing where I wished he would vanish from the face of the Earth and I would be an only child again, center of my parents’ world. As an adult I always find myself to be the accepting one, the one who compromises, steps back, avoids confrontation. I have always dreamed of being the one who was A Number One, all-important, star of every grammar school show. I wanted to be the girl in high school who showed up at the parties with someone else’s boyfriend and that other poor girl was left there with her mouth hanging open. The one to drive around with the “in crowd”, the popular group, the “Mean Girls”. Instead, hour upon hour was wasted plotting my revenge against such people. Even now so much time has been wasted agonizing over my work situation…how the “mean girls” have gotten over on me again. Why this craving for revenge? Because I never get it!!! I am never the one who says “I told you so”.
On a more positive note, I am still trying to keep up with my New Years’ Resolution of no new craft/sewing/needlework/hobby supply buying for 6 months. As for the need for fabric…. no there is no great need. I certainly WANT more fabric, but I do not need any. I have one of those large plastic storage bins full of fabrics. I have another storage area too. It is rather interesting and I have thought of submitting it to a magazine under their "Helpful Hints" column. I use a wrapping paper storage container to hold the large "spools" of fabric I have bought. Sometimes I can find clearance stuff at Hobby Lobby or Michael's that are sold on the bolt, so-to-speak, meaning wrapped on those large cardboard tubes. I stand them right up as if they were a roll of wrapping paper and they stay clean and unwrinkled. I am currently being tortured by the latest Herrschner's catalog that has a large selection of cross-stitch Aida and linen at ridiculously low clearance prices. Then I browse at the on-line shops and look at all the beautiful variegated and over-dyed flosses. But no buying. I did break the resolution a bit by buying 6 packages of large snaps to complete some doll clothes and also two spools of thread in colors I ran out of (also for doll clothes). I try to reason this out as a money-making venture, rather then money-spending.
I am still trying to work my way through the UFO bag and complete some more stuff that has been hanging around forever. I am currently working on Birds of a Feather "Blackbird Sampler". With a bit of snow last week and a bit more today I tried to settle in and stitch a bit after taking some time away from cross-stitch to complete more doll clothes. But no luck today. With Joe off from work due to the snow he can hardly stand it to stay at home while I stitch away. He is one of those people who likes to use the house for showering, sleeping and occasional food preparation. He likes to be out and around. I don’t mind it much, except that “out and around” to me means shopping. Here is a bit more done "Blackbird Sampler". I am tempted to buy the frame sections to finish-finish “One Stag a Leaping”, but I will hold out a bit longer. Maybe the tax refund check will come soon. Most of that is allotted to the current Mastercard bill still hovering over us from Christmas time. Ahh, to be free and clear of that and then I wouldn’t feel too bad writing a check to buy some frame sections. You see, already I am trying to modify the resolution to only include credit card “outbursts”.
Speaking of uncontrollable spending, has anyone seen the new Prairie Schooler designs yet? I hear they are coming out soon and I have already gotten the tantalizing e-mail from my eBay connection to pre-order the new charts.

I close for tonight with a photo of Coal and Sammy. Coal is the original "copy cat". Wherever Sammy or Alix go and whatever they do Coal has to be the next to do it. At first we thought he was a bully, being so big. But really he is just a copy cat, trying to do whatever the two older cats do. Here they are side-by-side, but a moment before this photo was snapped Coal had jumped up into the chair and landed on top of Sammy!

With my "excile" from blogland over I will try to keep my postings here more upbeat and positive. There is so much sadness, anger and vengefulness in the World that I will try to keep my little corner of it a pleasant place to visit.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Beautiful Old Things

Since there seems to be nothing new or exciting going on in my own life, I will share some beautiful old things. As some of you may know, my blog is named for the wonderful book by Sue Studebaker "Ohio Is My Dwelling Place-Schoolgirl Embroideries 1800-1850". It is a wonderful documentation of the samplers of Ohio and although I was born and raised in New Jersey I find the rich history of Ohio very interesting. As I discovered in this book, the largest number of documented samplers is from my own county, Warren( lower left area of the map). In nearby Clinton county is Wilmington College, a Quaker university. So those of you interested in Quaker samplers would love this book. I never realised what a treasure-trove of samplers in this style are from my own local area. The sampler below if by Mary Ann Wright, 1823. You can see faintly at the top "Lebanon WC Ohio". Lebanon is the town, 15 miles from my home, wheer I work at the gym. "WC" stands for Warren County.
The sampler below is by Mary Kelly, 1807. Waynesville is about 20 miles to the north of my home. It has wonderful antique and craft shops and a huge fabric and quilting shop! The basket design in the top leftr corner of this sampler holds the distinct "W" amongst the fruit design symbolic of Waynsville School. The spelling has since changed. I have also found a new blog called "Quaker Inspired". The more I look, the more I like this style of needlework.

Lastly for this evening is one of my most favorite "old things", the lovely Alix. Here she is in the glow of the computer screen last night. She will be 16 next month.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Words of Wisdom

In the country life of America there are many moments when a woman can have recourse in nothing but her needle for employment. In a dull company, and in dull weather, for instance, it is ill-manners to read, it is ill-manners to leave them; no card-playing there among genteel people...the needle is then a valuable resource. A letter from Thomas Jefferson to his daughter, Martha-1787

Friday, February 8, 2008

Rain and More Rain

I wish it were snow and more snow! It seems as if we should be building the Ark soon. The yard is a flooded mess and it looks like there is more rain to come today. The forecast always shows the nice little snowflakes coming from the cloud, but in reality it is just more rain! Kind of fits the mood of this "off-season"....not really Winter with all the holidays and not really Spring with all the gardening and being outdoors. Here is Coal looking rather comfortable indoors. Every inch the house-pet now!
Lately I have spent quite a bit of time indoors myself. Specifically at the gym. Wednesday night the Level 6 coach was out ill so I got to stay the duration of my usual old hours. Yesterday another teacher was ill so I spent an extra three hours teaching classes. So as it goes my "demotion" has now netted me more hours then my old schedule. I'll take all I can getn the hopes of saving a bit of money for those lean times to come.

I have also stuck rather well to the New Year's Resolution of not buying any new stash. I did broaden it a bit to include not only cross-stitch items but my other hobbies also.......knitting, quilting, doll clothes making, and miniatures. I see so many things advertised in the shops and on-line; it is torture. On the other hand I get an interesting sense of satisfaction when I am able to resist. I made it through January and now nearly the middle of February. I hope to last until June. I wonder if framing sections should be included on my "forbidden list"? I have "The Planets" finished and I finsihed on "One Stage A Leaping" late last night. My next goal is the seahorse and starfish pillow. That will need some matching fabric and trim to completely finish though. Of course that would mean a new purchase, but also that it would sit around as a finished pillow gathering dust until I give it as a gift. Maybe it is better that the finished items stay rolled up in the drawer until the Summer. Ahhh, that wave of satisfaction rushes over me. Such self-discipline, such will-power! I think I need to go eat some chocolate to make up the difference.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


The weather is confused, my job is confused and so am I. Last night it poured rain and about 3am came the most horendous thunder and lightnening, as if it were mid-Summer. Bud the dog went absolutely nuts. He hates thunder and lightening. He tries to chase it, running along as if he is following the sound of the thunder across the sky. The only other pet who is upset by such weather is Sammy, the oldest black cat. He is usually a big, brave cat. Friend to all, he is not afraid of much. But just the slightest, most distant rumble sends him under the bed for the duration.
As for the coaching situation. There I was on Monday night, agonizing throughout the first group from 4-7pm. Such a sour mood, but I converted it into a bunch of new teaching ideas that just floored my coaching partner. She really didn't know what to make of my new-found bossiness! It was compounded by the fact that she new perfectly well what was going to occur at 7pm when she went merrily on to work with the Level 5 group and I was uncerimoniously sent home like a naughty child. The clock inched slowly forward, maybe because I kept looking up at it every five minutes. At 7pm the shift in groups occured...the Level 4s leave and the 5,6 and Optional Level groups begin. But where was she? The Level 6 coach was not there. The official training starts at 6:00 when all groups come together for conditioning and flexibility training so she was already an hour late. 7:15, still no sign of her and the boss was shut away in a meeting. Should I just walk out and leave them hanging? Of course not. Human doormat that I am I stayed with the Level 6 group who were quite happy to see me. I was almost brought to tears as one of them had brought me a hand-made card to thank me for my work with them while their usual coach was away. 7:20 Kelly, a former coach shows up. She fills in sometimes when we are short-handed. Short-handed? We weren't short-handed. More approrpiately I was back-handed by the boss again as she told me that she had Kelly come in to cover for Becca, the abscent Level 6 coach, and that I should go home now. This made no sense at all and it felt like even more of a personal insult then ever before. The very shocking thing is, after I had dwelled upon this all night and most of this morning, she came up to me at Noon today and apologized! She said she had been confused about the situation since it was her monthly Monday night Parent League meeting and Kelly always comes in on that Monday. She hadn't put two and two together to also realize Becca was out sick and I was already there to take Becca's place. It did feel a bit better to know she admitted her mistake but the damage has been done. It must be my personality type, but it seems this happens to me quite often. Either I am totally over-looked or I am the first one to accept compromise while everyone else gets exactly what they want no matter what. As I was heading out the door last night, coat on, purse in hand, the Level 6 girls were still asking me questions about certain elements and who would be working with them that night. What a mess. But what sort of stand can I make now? I accepted her apology with sort of a half-smile and a nod...nothing to the effect of "it's OK" or finding any humor at all in it. I am one of those people that gets stepped on and no on seems to notice that I am flattened. So my reaction, or lack of one, to her apologize (and the whole situation in general) I am sure will go quite un-noticed.

Although this pitiful situation is far from finished, I do have a cross-stitch finish to show. "The Planets". I also worked rather diligently at Barrick Samplers "One Stag a Leaping" during the Super Bowl party and completed the grassy hills and part of the over-dyed blue sky. I deleted some of the little flowers and trees, because I like the look of the clean color areas surrounding the stag. I have to complete the clover flowers in the border area and then that one is complete also. I feel I am really pushing forward on emptying that canvas bag of UFOs. I will tackle the tremendous "Citrus Fruits" pillow next. There is a small counting error in one of the oranges and I think it may throw everything else out of whack. I have to figure a way around it and still keep the pillow square. Joe is not feeling well and has gone to bed very early. Although I am lacking in good company and conversation I do get the "good chair" to myself, the one with the good lighting that is, so I can stitch for the next 2 hours. In my browsing of the Internet earlier today I am very happy to see Annemarie back on-line. I missed your sharp sense of humor, Annemarie. Your blog is always filled with interesting stories that give me the proper perspective of Life's ups and downs.
I conclude this post with photos of one of my favorite historical figures. I am fascinated by all the Victorian and Edwardian Era royalty of Europe, but most especially the Romanov Imperial Family of Russia. The Empress Alexandra Feodorvna and her four daughter were, by all I have read about them, quite talented needleworkers.

For those of you interested in more about the Romanovs and their extended family check out the Alexander Palace Time Machine website. It has a wonderful message board filled with interesting information and gorgeous old photographs.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Planets Align

...or they will in about an hour. I may have my first UFO finish in a while. I am just about done with the interesting "Planets" design, the freebie from the Italian website Casa Cenina. I am tempted to go directly on to stitching over one, but I may tackle another UFO first. It is so satisfying to complete these, as most of this past week has been very unsatisfying and unproductive. Hope to have a photo up of "planets" very soon.
A bit more about "The Dwelling Place". On April 1st it will be 17 years that we have lived here. The first two as renters and then we bought it in 1993. A real "steal", as the price of acreage goes, but it is priceless to us. We have enjoyed this secluded life for all these years, although recently the rest of the surrounding land has been sold off and "McMansions" built near us. At one time the entire 250+ acres belonged to Dr. Wiallam Strout, the first doctor in Warren County Ohio. He built this house upon his marriage to Rachel Swallow in 1823. The house and farm property has had only two other owners after the Strouts. A family called Poe had it in the 1920s-late 1930s. Then Clifford and Edith Beuterbaugh owned it up until their deaths when their rotten little money-grubbing nephew inherited it. He had no regard for either the house or the land and rented it to another young couple for 2 years before we got it in 1991.(our property is where the cut grass area is. It also extends further back then in this aerial photo)

He promptly built himself a house on 10 acres of the land just up the street from us and then began to slowly sell off odd sized lots to various relatives. Since they were all as charming as Dennis (the Nephew) himself, they got in numerous fights and each one sold their property vowing to never see or speak to the other again. We jumped at the chance to buy ours in 1993 and got 4.75 acres, the house and three out-buildings for $40,000. At the time Dennis was moving on to "a less crowded area" to build another huge house and desperately needed the money. As his new house progressed he eventually sold about half of the remaining land to a developer. These 8 houses are on the opposite side of the road to us. He left us the option to buy the 5+ acre lot directly outside our kitchen window. In a sudden fit of greed/debt he gave us 2 weeks in 1995 to come up with the $25,000 ( in cash) to buy the adjoining lot. Of course we did not (and still do not today) have that kind of money laying around. The lot went to the local realestate baron(or baroness) Drexanne Evers who owns all the reamining land that the Strouts didn't oringinally have. The lot sat serenely empty for 12 years until Drexanne's greed over came her and she sold over 150 acres to a developer. We now sit in the path of "Mauerfield Estates-25 Beautiful Secluded Lots with Luxury Homes Built to Suit."(our property is outlined in red) What we got for it is a one acre rural easement in the form of a 5 foot wide strip running along the west boundry of our property. There are currently no "luxury homes" built yet, as the housing market has hit rock bottom. There is a series of paved roads that have become a mix of neighborhood park/dog walking,jogging path/skateboard, dirt bike and 4-wheeler testing ground/teen driver speedway course. We savor the five new pine trees that were planted on the 6 foot high dirt hill that was erected outside our kitchen window. On a regular basis we get a phone call from the developer offering to buy our "old eyesore" for some pitiful amount of money.

I close with another shot of Bud, proudly guarding the Strout Homestead.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Whole Lot of Nothing


As is usual in Ohio the doomsday "White Death" weather forecast of Friday turned out to be nothing. No snow, no sleet, no freezing rain. Not even very much regular rain. All day Friday the TV had the little map of Ohio with the bright colors of watches and warnings splattered all over it glowing in the upper left corner of the screen; the ominus "Stayed tuned to this channel for further weather updates" scrolling across the bottom of the screen. The grocery store parking lot was packed with cars as if it was Christmas Eve or the day before Thanksgiving. I waited and waited and NOTHING!
Well, that seems to be the theme of things lately. I wait for Monday at the gym when I am "rewarded" for my work with the Level 6 group while their coach was away by recieving a three hour reduction in my hours and the loss of my Level 5 group. I am more sad about it all now then I am mad. Do I just leave at 7pm? Do I make a little speach? Do I make a big scene? Most likely I will just slink away, unnoticed and cry in my car on the way home. I had to go in today for an hour and it was really very difficult. The gym had been my place of refuge and now I simply don't feel comfortable there anymore. When the only two positive things I can find about my job are "It's close to home" and "I need the paycheck" then I think it's time to start looking for other opportunities.
I will focus on stitching for the rest of the weekend, trying my best to ignore the Super Bowl and all the over-blown activities that go along with it. The only thing I really like about Super Sunday is that I can try out some new recipes if we are invited anywhere. Once at the party I am totally bored by the game itself and usually spend the time looking through the Spring garden catalogs. I have already ordered all of my seeds/plants to the whopping total of $83.74! This does include to columnar apples trees and two bunches of Cipollini onion plants, so I guess the cost is not unreasonable for the return I will get. My favorite catalog is Territorial Seed Company. They have a wonderful variety of heirloom American seeds and some interesting European varieties as well. My most unique seeds from them are the Organic Black Soy Beans. These are a wonderful alternative to regular black beans and virtually no carbohydrates. I use them in everything from soups, chili, and even ground up to make a bean paste dip for chips. It's bright and sunny outside although the temperature is only 39F. It really makes me long to be out in the garden and the flower beds. Everything looks a total mess right now. A mix of mud and frozen dirt chunks. But in a few months everything will brighten up. Here are some of my veggies from last year:
A photo also of our dog Bud. I don't think I have posted a photo of him yet. He is a Beagle/Rottweiller mix. Very friendly and an superb mouse catcher. Also an excellent exercise partner when I don't want to walk our rural street alone.
I will go on writing about all things needlework. I'm in a rather chatty mood, since I have had no conversation at all with another adult today. Joe was up and gone to work before I got up. Then only one hour at the gym...just me and one student I was testing for placement in a class. No other coaches around and no boss.

I am wanting to get started on doll quilt Number 3. This time it will be red prints with white in the Shoofly pattern. A photo here would enhance the description but I have to wait until I scan the design from the book and post it next time. I am also wanting to try stitching "over one" on some 28 count linen. I have a lot of nice Quaker motifs that would come out too large at 2 over on 28ct to be ornaments. Harmien sent me a real beauty for Christmas. A work of art rather then just a piece of stitiching. I sent a photo of it to my mother and her response was "You didn't make that did you?" She could tell right away that it was way beyond my stitching talents. For those of you who have stitched over it very difficult? I suppose one must have very good eyes and a steady hand, two things I am lacking lately.