Wednesday, January 04, 2006

It Hasn't All Been About Russian

Back in September, after I finished a gift embroidery for my sister, I spotted this in a cross-stitch catalogue. You can imagine who came to mind, and I thought, "What a nifty Christmas present this would make!" and ordered it. When it came, I was massively disappointed: The thing is an "embellished cross stitch," which means it was screen-printed on 14-count Aida cloth, and you only stitch certain parts of it, leaving a stitchery with a whole lot of holes to be filled in.

I checked with my cross-stitch group, who agreed with me: If I went with the original design, it would bother me every time I looked at it. So I scanned the photo into my computer and ran it through a program I have that creates cross stitch out of any picture you care to reproduce, and since October I've been working on this picture called, "Maryland Mountain Express."

Needless to say, it wasn't done in time for Christmas. It may not even be done in time for Chris's birthday, in June. But I am much happier with the results.

Slowing me down has been, not just the trip to Pennsylvania (this was way too big to tote along on a train!), but another project I foolishly got involved in: The World Trade Center Quilt. Some woman in Kentucky conceived the idea of piecing together a quilt made up of black Aida-cloth rectangles, each cross-stitched with 18 names of people who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Sounds like a great idea, right? One problem: Working with that black cloth. I really have to pace myself so I don't get eye strain. It will be some time before I ever work with black cloth again, I can tell you!

And there is one last project I promised to start this year. The woman who sold me the pattern has since had second thoughts about it, since she isn't sure how it will work up as a cross stitch, and I told her I would "model-stitch" it for her, which means I'm committed to getting something done with it. I just tried uploading it, and it's not coming up, so you'll have to look it up: Google images, then enter "Boyarina Morozova."

Some people would just say I should be committed, period. And I'm beginning to agree.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sleeping What?!?!

How about this handsome young fellow? See below....

I'd say something about Sleeping Beauty awakening, but since I will turn 60 this year, I think we can forget the "Beauty" part. More like Rip van Winkle.

In the crush of finishing up yet another semester of Russian (still asking myself why I'm doing this), I slipped several anniversaries of people's passing, including my own mother's -- probably just as well, considering how conflicted I still feel about her. In fact, today is an anniversary, but not of someone I knew well -- a high-school friend of my cousin's whom I had a crush on, till he undertook to let me know in no uncertain terms that he was "gay." Today marks the 12th anniversary of his passing, which means he was far too young to die -- I don't believe he reached his 50th birthday. Memory eternal, Kevin.

With Russian finally out of my hair for another month, I had all the usual Christmas prep to get into, except that this year, it included a trip to Pennsylvania -- yep, we visited our son! And what a lovely time we had! I must admit, it rather reminded me of one of those MasterCard ads: "Train tickets for two on the Acela Express: $xxx. Six nights at Comfort Inn: $xxx. Cost of rented car: $xxx. Look on son's face when we met at Union Station: priceless." We got lots of good pix of him running the locomotive, too. The one up top is just one. I must say, he works darned hard for his $10/hour.

On Sunday, we got to attend church at his new parish -- after attending one parish in the Philly area for 18 months, with only one or two people ever talking to him, and neither of them was the priest, he finally decided to pack it in there, and began attending a Greek parish in Elkins Park, which is only about another five miles for him to drive. What a lovely church! I wanted to see if I could get a postcard with pictures, but didn't have a chance to Explore. But he has already made a couple of friends there -- in fact, one lady said she and her husband had planned to invite him to dinner for Christmas Day -- and at least they have a Young Adult League, if he can ever find the time to get into it. My only concern is that it looks like there's a lot of money in that parish, and obviously, Chris isn't wealthy, or likely to be. However, in fairness, I must say that I've never found Greeks to be the type to turn up their noses at hard work. Anyway, it was a beautiful place, the choir loft was to die for -- up front, off to the side, graduated stands for the different parts, an organ behind all, and everyone facing towards the altar and the choir director -- and the singing was heavenly, although we didn't hear the choir -- they had sung at the Vesperal Liturgy the night before. Instead, there were three cantors, all with exquisite voices. I can't help hoping that Chris finds a real parish home here.

Needless to say, this trip was my only Christmas present, and my only birthday present. But it was all I wanted, anyway, and what better present could a mom get than a week without having to cook, clean, or wash clothes?

We have been back for almost a week, settling into the groove of getting back into those tasks, and me coping with a back that twisted into a pretzel the morning after we got home -- dratted bus ride from Boston to NH -- and dh fighting with a cold he picked up in a bar on our last night (the restaurant was packed, so we sat at the bar so the Working Stiffs could have a beer, at least. That was a mistake -- ciggie smoke everywhere, and that's how dh came down with his cold).

And I thought, well, it's about time I posted something. At least I had something to write about, for a change.