Monday, April 25, 2016

Confined to quarters ....

The rain is pounding down on the roof above my head which
is a comforting, pleasant sound.    It's evening and I have decided
to update my blog since I am not really in the mood to do much
else.    I've been watching "Booktube" videos on Youtube,  I've
been stitching,   I've been reading .... but I am (I confess) feeling
a tad ... dare I say it?? ... Bored!!!!

Recovery from the gallbladder extraction has been uneventful
and everything seems to be fine.   Nurse Phil continues to 
monitor me closely and gives me hell heck if I do too much
bending or reaching.   Hopefully by next week I'll be able to
return to Curves to work out, though I realize that I'm going
to have to start out slowly and work my way back up to
where I was before my little adventure.

We went for a walk today and by the end I was flagging a
bit.  Now that the nicer weather is on the horizon I'm ready
to get out and walk, walk, walk but once again it's
something I'm going to have to build my endurance up for.

Being confined to the house and with the weather too cool
to sit out in I've been dedicating a lot of my time to my
current cross stitch project and I've gotten a lot done!
Now I am not the world's fastest stitcher by any means
so I'm not sure if this is a lot by anyone else's standards
but I'm fairly pleased with it.

The canoe and the streetcar were my favourite things
to stitch and the trees as well.   To the left of the 
streetcar is the Prince's Gates which lead into the
Canadian National Exhibition grounds.    On the 
far right of the design is the Skydome where our
baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays play.   Between
those two Toronto icons is the designers rendition
of the Royal Ontario Museum ... and that thing 
was a stinker to stitch!!!

Now above is a picture of the original building which is
quite a venerable old pile ... classy and typical of the
architecture of the 1914 era that it was built in.

And this is the section that was added in 2007.
It's called "The Crystal" and it was designed by 
Daniel Libeskind.   It is very ... modern and reactions
to it were ... shall we say .... mixed (!!!) when it's
plans were first revealed.     

I'm not a fan of modern architecture.  I much prefer
the original structure which the Crystal kind of wraps
around in one area.    And when it came to stitching the
darn thing it was ... for me ... a royal pain!

I couldn't picture in my mind how the stitched structure
corresponded to the real one.  It just seemed like
sections of random shades of blue and white.  It
still looks weird to me but at least I can sort of
see what the designer was trying to do.  I guess.
But that part is now done and I can move on to the
next layer of this piece.

And in case you're wondering .... yes, it seems that
at least for awhile the Crystal's roof did leak.   Ooops!

My reading for the past few weeks has been the
acclaimed fantasy series by Naomi Novik.
The first book came out and was nominated
for a Hugo award  for best novel in 2007

The novels are a retelling of the Napoleonic
wars but with dragons!!!   So a meld of 
fantasy and history which is skillfully 
blended into a fascinating and riveting
story by the author.   

I don't know why I haven't gotten these
books to read before this because I knew
that they were out there and were well
reviewed and quite popular .... but I didn't.
There are more books in this series which
I have in my collection and will read in the 
future but I wanted to get the first three books 
done all in one marathon read.   I don't know
if I'll pick up book four (then five, six etc) next
or if I'll go for a change of pace.   We'll see.

I don't have much else to write about tonight
so I'll just add a cute picture of the cats and call
it a night!


Monday, April 18, 2016

I meant to update my blog sooner then this however, as
happens, life got in the way.    Specifically... after five
attacks in the past four months due to gall stones ....  I had 
to have my gall bladder removed last Thursday night.   It
was something I was planning to do but a particularly bad
attack starting on Tuesday hastened the deal.   That was fine
since it didn't give me any time to fret and stress while 
waiting for a specific date to arrive.   It was a case of:  we're
here in emergency ... the surgeon is available .... we don't
have any other plans for the evening .... let's just do it!!!

A night in hospital ... spent in Obstetrics of all places ....
and a return home on Friday afternoon to recover.   Phil,
being retired now,  is able to provide nursing care and to
keep an eye on me during my convalescence ... and he's 
been quite diligent and very solicitous of my every need.

So all in all it's been good.   Keyhole surgery means an easier
and quicker recovery with minimal discomfort and that is
greatly appreciated.    So now I'm able to putter around the
house a bit, go for short walks around the neighbourhood
.... with my nurse accompanying me ... and relax at home.
It's all good.   

I've been enjoying my renewed delight in stitching again and
made further progress on my Country Chessboard as seen
above.    More border which defines the size of the piece
plus more houses.   And yes,  each house square completed
feels like a mini finish which provides a sense of 
accomplishment and encourages further production.

But of course what would the joy of stitching be without a
new start???    I mean, really?     Thanks to the enabling of
fellow stitchers I became aware of this chart available on
Etsy from a designer and had to get it, along with another
for Pretty Little Amsterdam.   There are charts for cities
throughout the United States and Europe featuring those 
well known iconic sites that each city is known for,  and 
each chart is in bright, vibrant colours.

So here is my progress so far on Pretty Little Toronto.
Some trees,  the shores of Lake Ontario,  a streetcar
(sometimes known as the Red Rocket) and starts on
other landmarks.   Loving it!!!

Hey!   Did you know .....

                                                So, I was on Vonna's blog site a week ago 
and discovered that she'd made some videos on how to 
do various styles of finishes which she'd posted on Youtube.
Well,  Vonna being the Queen of Finishing .... along with
Andrea from The Craft Room .... I knew that I had to check
those out at once.   I went to Youtube and watched Vonna's
videos and was suitably impressed and fascinated with her
skill and her talent.   Then I looked at the videos "suggested"
at the side of the screen and was surprised to discover that
there is a community of cross stitchers there who are calling
themselves "Flosstubers"!!!!

I am quite aware of the "Booktubers" on Youtube plus various types
of crafty vloggers, and I follow those communities regularly, but it's 
never occurred to me to check for cross stitchers.


So while I stitch on my projects I watch vlog posts from cross 
stitchers from all over the world as they display their WIPS,
hauls,  and UFO's as well as discussing other things related
to their hobbies and interests and lives.

Did any of you know about this community?   Is it the "it"
place to be now that interest in blogging seems to be waning 
for a lot of people?   I would think that vlogging would be
much more time consuming and more work then blogging
plus you'd need some degree of technical know-how and 
the equipment to make decent vlogs.    

And with vlogging you'd have to be more aware of your own
personality and have the ability to "selling" yourself on screen
to your audience to hold their attention and engage them.   I
think an ability to write a good, interesting and colourful blog
post may not necessarily translate to the vlogging world.

So, go check out Flosstube on Youtube (if you haven't already) 
and see what you think.

In early February I spent a weekend in Toronto with my
friend Darlene for our annual "Girls Weekend".
This time we had tickets to Kinky Boots at the Royal
Alexandra theatre as the highlight of our weekend.

What a fabulous show!!!!   The music was fantastic
(courtesy of the talented Cindi Lauper with book by 
Harvey Fierstein)  and the production colourful.   The 
story was a nice mix of thought provoking,  tender,  
upbeat and a bit sad at times.   But ultimately it was a 
celebration of our differences and acceptance of ourselves 
and of others ... be who you want to be!!

Our "Lola" in the show .... Alan Mingo Jr .... has left
the Toronto production to reprise the role on Broadway
which is quite an honour.    But given how amazing he
was here it doesn't surprise me at all that he was given
the opportunity.

The show was Friday night.   Saturday we walked a
bit around Toronto on a bright, sunny and warm day.
We went to the St. Lawrence Market to check out
the colourful, diverse selection of foods and goods
that are available there.

The place is a crowded, colourful and lively
mix of ethnicities with already prepared foods,  plus
the fresh ingredients needed to make your own and 
the seasonings and the tools as well.

It's a feast for the eye and for the stomach.

And full of welcome colour in the midst of the dull,
grey days of winter.

We spent the afternoon at the Art Gallery of Ontario, taking
a tour as well as just walking around on our own.

The architecture of the place was as fascinating to
see as the art works were.

In the evening ... after dinner at Swiss Chalet
(of course) .... we went to the movies and saw
Kung Foo Panda 3, which was quite cute and

Sunday we slept in,  swam in the hotel pool, 
went out for breakfast and then lined up to buy
Japanese cheesecake from a shop near the
bus terminal called Uncle Tetsu's. 

Another book I read this year was The Aviator's
Wife.   A fictionalized account of the life of 
Anne Morrow Lindberg which I really, really
enjoyed.    I knew something of the lady's history
and I knew about her husband's accomplishments
and scandals ... and of course about the kidnapping of
their baby son but I'd never read anything about either
of them before.   It's a really good story, well told by
Melanie Benjamin who has also written about Alice
Liddell (Alice ... in Wonderland fame) in the book
Alice I Have Been and The Autobiography of Mrs Tom 
Thumb.   I'm going to check those out soon.

Phil has been relishing his retirement ... in spite of the
fact that the weather changed as soon as Spring hit
and gave us a good wallop of cold and snow for a 
few weeks that had us all questioning Mother Nature's
sanity ... in rather colourful language.   Ahem!
After a very mild and dry winter it stung a bit.  Especially
when we had more snow and colder temperatures in 
the first 10 days of April then in all of February!
But now the temperatures are warming up and the sun is
shining and we can sit outside without coats and boots,
hats and mittens.   Blissful!

Meanwhile, Phil will be out mowing the lawn and racking
last Fall's leaves and puttering around the garden to his
heart's content .... as well as a bit of puttering around the
house.    Life is good!


Saturday, April 02, 2016


Guess what I've been doing???

My stitching mojo disappeared quite some time ago,
around the same time that I discovered that my ability
to see what I was doing .... even with a magnifier ....
was not very good.   Or at least not as good as I would like 
it to be.

 It unnerved me.   You see one of my biggest secret fears is of 
loosing my eye sight.    The thought terrifies me!   And being 
unable to see my cross stitching as clearly as I once did 
aggravated that fear.   When I picked up a project I would start to 
get to feeling a bit .... um .... anxious or panicky.    Not a pleasant 
feeling.   So I began to avoid stitching and eventually I just 
sort of let it go.

Just to note here:   I'm not actually loosing my sight at all.
I just have lousy eyesight .... always have .... and with 
age it's gotten worse. It's normal.   One of the perks 
of aging.   Whoopee!!!

But I missed it!   Terribly!!!   

So in the New Year I picked up an unfinished and long
neglected project and ... ignoring my inner fears ....
finished it.

(Stitched in my favourite colour of red.)

Well ... I thought when it was done.... that didn't 
really go too badly.   Peering over my glasses and 
holding the project up close I could see the stitches
that I was making clearly and could therefore
see that they were laying properly.   I 
stitched this one in hand .... without a hoop or
Q-snap .... which I don't usually do.   

I had another unfinished project or two languishing
in my To-Do box .... as one is apt to do .... (rolls
eyes and grimaces) so picked up this one and ....
finished it too!!!! 

Wow!!   I was on a roll!!!

So now I was feeling the itch to begin a new project.
I went into my cross stitch cupboard .... covered
in cobwebs and dust and neglect .... and began to
rummage and root around in there.

I pulled the chart for this one out and it appealed to me.
Simple and easy with lovely, bright Spring like colours.
In the past I would have worked on this for a day or
two and then put it aside and forgot about it for days
... or months ... or years!  But not this time.   I could not
put it down!    I finished it in one week!   I cannot remember
the last time I finished a project .... even a small one like
this ... in that time period.

(Note:   stitched this on a spring frame.  I'm not keen on
stitching in hand really)

More!    More!!!     More!!!!!!

I've had this project on the go for years.   It's been 
sitting in a corner, neglected and ignored, for a 
shameful amount of time.   It's not a difficult stitch
at all.   Just huge!    I had it being worked on a 
large Q-snap frame which was very ungainly and
awkward to work with.   So I switched to a smaller
Q-snap frame and went at it.

I have done a couple of houses and some border
and the stag.   I'm enjoying it ... a lot!!!!   I sit at
my craft desk with the radio tuned to a Toronto
talk radio station (I'm a talk radio/news/politics
junky) and while away the hours with needle and

Don't know how long this is going to last but I'm
making hay while the sun shines ... as it were ....

I also don't know what the heck I'll do with this 
if and when it's finished because .... as I said ....
it's huge!    But that's not the point, is it?   The 
whole point of doing this ... or any craft ... is to
have fun!

I'm having FUN!!!! 

Behold my DH.   Phil.   He retired last week.
After 40 years with the same company he 
decided that he'd had enough and filled in the
paperwork last summer to give notice to his

The branch where he works had a grand send
off for him last Thursday.   Unfortunately it was
one of those days when the weather folk advised
their listeners ... if you don't have to go anywhere,
then don't!    Freezing rain, snow and strong 
winds.   Great!

But Phil is a superb driver and had no qualms
about heading out.    The schools in our district,
and those in other districts that we drove through, 
were closed due to the weather and since it was the 
day before Good Friday the roads weren't busy anyways 
as people prepared for a long weekend .... the first 
one of Spring (ha ha!!)

So we got to his work place in normal time.  He
finished packing up his desk and then it was time
to party.   They barbecued!   In that awful weather
they set up the barbecue in a sheltered area near
the building and they barbecued!

There was tons of great food,  speeches,   gag gifts
and lots of laughter and hugs and stories told.   Phil
was thrilled with it all.

So now he's home with me.  All.  Day.  Long!!!!

We'll see how that goes.

Fortunately,  and I should say this here and now,   Phil
is a putterer.   And he loves to garden.   And he has lots
of interests to keep himself busy with.   So I'm not worried.


Reading for the last few months.   My first love
in reading genres is fantasy.   If I didn't watch
myself I'd read fantasy novels pretty much non

V. E. Schwab is the name that this author uses
for her adult fantasy novels.   She writes as
Victoria Schwab for her YA books.   This is the
first book of hers that I have ever read and I 
quite enjoyed it.   I've since got the sequel to
this one plus her other books in YA and adult
fantasy because ... well ... that's what I do.


Heard good things about Paullina Simons
around "Booktube" and decided to get a
few of her books and try them out.

Historical fiction.   This series is based
in Russia during the second world war
and is a love story that takes place in
Leningrad during the awful siege that
took place during the Nazi's attempts to
invade and conquer Russia.

This is a nice, hefty novel with lots of 
period detail and historic info though not
so much that it dragged the story down.
There are two more books in this series
and yes I did get those too.

My current read.    The author's first novel.
First of a series.    I love books with 
sequels.   This one is a combination of
fantasy (featuring the Greek gods now 
living in the modern world) and murder
mystery.   I'm enjoying it so far.

That's it for now!   Cheers!