Saturday, January 16, 2016

Still Stuck

I realize that I haven't posted a Seven Quick Takes in forever and when I caught up with Kelly's blog this morning it was too funny not to share. You can find that link at the bottom.

We are still waiting for Archway to give Alex a start date, biding our time through the afternoon hours with teachers from his past and present who come to our house for approximately two hours a day and persuade him to do something resembling work. And the rest of the day Alex spends playing Mine Craft or indulging in his Star Wars obsession. If I have to hear his rendition of Darth Vader's confrontation with Luke Skywalker at Bespin one more time, I might just die.

So, in no particular order, here are 7 Things I Do to help me cope with stress:

1. Watch tennis. The Australian Open starts tomorrow! I CAN'T WAIT! My favorite way to start my day is to watch tennis while I eat my breakfast. And this Monday is a school holiday so I plan to spend the entire day watching tennis and stitching.

If there's no tennis to watch, my next choice is Women's College Volleyball, but that's only broadcast during the fall. I recently started watching English Premier Soccer (Football!) to tide me over until tennis starts. World Cup, men and women's, is a given. Also, the Olympics.

2. Stitch. I always have at least one unfinished cross stitch project lying about (and at least 5 more planned) and it is the perfect thing to work on while watching something on the television.

3. Go to the movies. By myself, with my spouse, with my parents, etc. Just leave the house and go experience a film in a theatre. I'm hoping to see Spotlight when Alex goes back to school. I might even see Star Wars again.

4. Read. The more stressed I am, the harder it is to focus on a book, however. It has been more of a chore than a pleasure lately, but I have several library books that I've renewed 3 times already and just need to finish and return. Goodreads has been both a blessing and a curse. I can keep track of all the books I want to read and have read, but for every book I finish, I find 3 more I want to read.

I also decided, last summer, that I should read all of Georgette Heyer's published works from beginning to end. She is my mother-in-law's favorite author and I've only previously read about half of her works so it's been interesting, starting at the beginning. I've just started Faro's Daughter, number twenty-four on Heyer's list, which is an old favorite. I still have the last page memorized.

5. Do Laundry. It always relaxes me to make something clean. Kathleen Norris writes eloquently about it in The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work.

6. Take a walk. Of course, since Alex has been home with me 24/7, this has been impossible to do.

7. Write a letter or a postcard. Make a card or a postcard. Go to the post office to mail stacks of letters and postcards. I don't actually journal anywhere. I write letters or cards and send them to other people. I guess I always need an audience. Which is why a blog is perfect for me. Yes, I really am trying to blog more.

I brought my gerberas inside for the winter and they surprised me by blooming. This is a good thing I just dumped all my pots of African violets because they were getting leggy and my amaryllis haven't sprouted yet. Orange is my favorite color flower.

Here's Kelly's post. It is very funny.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Dr. Seuss from Oh, the Places You'll Go

The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

(There was a year when Alex recited the lines from this book over and over and over again until we had to ban it from the household. But I still remember.)

So the plan was for Alex to have one day to say good-bye to his friends at Hartford, That was January 4th. On January 5th, Alex and I went together to visit Archway Upper School with his case manager and one to one aide. On January 6th, Alex was supposed to start attending  Archway, his aide with him for the rest of the week. But there was a hitch.

Late on January 5th, Alex's case manager called to say Archway wanted to wait. So Wednesday, Alex stayed home with me and then went to Grandpa's to read The Empire Strikes Back to him while I went to physical therapy, and then came back home with me. And we waited. After school, his case manager called to say Archway was delaying because they wanted to be sure they put him in the right classroom. What they wanted was the results of an interview with the school psychiatrist to help them to do this. That appointment was scheduled for January 7th. And since the report from that wouldn't be immediately forthcoming, Alex needed to be put into homebound instruction. This means a Mt. Laurel teacher would come to our house after school on weekdays to sit with him for approximately two hours to have some semblance of "school." 

So, Thursday Alex sat in the car while I ran into the library and then went to Target with me to pick up some groceries and school supplies (we were out of plain paper which Alex uses for drawing which is his most common stim and heaven help us if we run out) and then home again. About 2:30, we left for the psychiatrist appointment because the letter said to be 10 minutes early except we didn't need to be early and ended up sitting for about 25 minutes while Alex glanced at the toys and went through the stacks of books and magazines at least 3 times. Yes, of course, we'd brought a book with us but he always wants to check out his options. I think they write the "Please come early" phrase for the people who aren't obsessively on time to important appointments like myself. I am usually on time for doctor appointments, even with children in tow. Sunday morning church, we often walk in 5 minutes late.  

Anyway, we met with the psychiatrist and he was very helpful. He asked me why I thought Archway would be the best placement for Alex when we do have other options and I told him it was because the place was quiet. One of the primary causes of Alex's anxiety at Hartford this year has been from all the transitions: homeroom for ten minutes then gym then his main class then the secondary class then the main class then back to the secondary class. But he needs to be in a class of his peers, students that talk and relate, rather than the self contained class of the last few years. Archway should provide a small classroom of similarly abled peers in a quiet and safe environment with a calm down room just down the hallway. 

That brings us to today, Friday, January 8, 2016. He's presently working with his homebound teacher who much to my relief knows how to cope with him and his constant attempts to get out of doing anything substantial. She will be back Monday afternoon as well and then we have some old friends coming Tues-Thurs. Hopefully, by then, everything at Archway will be settled and we can go back to finding our new normal. 

In the meantime, we are waiting. I love to imitate Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, "I hate waiting." I can do my regular stuff around the house of dishes and laundry, which I have. Wednesday morning Alex and I cleaned his room, which was particularly bad. The pile of paper that went into recycling (all his stim drawings and leftovers) was twice the usual size and I didn't even dig out the whole pile from under his bed. I didn't want to know how many cheese stix wrappers and crushed chips were under there. I think I found all the dirty socks and dishes and that's what's most important. 

But everything else has to be done with Alex along or have him safely disposed with a grandparent or aunt. I didn't think I was that busy but I have something on the calendar for every morning next week. That will take some arranging.

But all the physical machinations are a good cover for the emotional ones that I'm not really looking at. The part that makes me second guess all of my parenting decisions for his entire life. Should I have chased new doctors or a new neurologist? How long will we have to wait? Is Archway really the right place for him? Will it work forever or just for a school year or two and then we'll have to do this all over again?


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Movies Galore

Somehow, I let the whole of 2015 go by without one blog post about what films I'm looking forward to or even manage to see. There was that whole "peak" television thing going on, plus all the personal crap. Grueling is a way to describe my year. Too much grieving.

But 2016 is a brand new year. Here's what looks interesting:

February 5
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies 
This is a maybe. I tried to read the book and only made it through 3 pages before I had to put it down (weak stomach). I rarely make it through a whole episode of The Walking Dead. But the premise is still hilarious.

February 12
I'm not a big fan of the character but it is supposed to be outrageously funny. I'll wait for the reviews.

March 4
London Has Fallen
I was one of the few people who enjoyed the first one. But I liked White House Down, too. Popcorn movies.

March 25
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
I'm a sucker for a good comic book movie. I play no favorites between Marvel and DC. It could be good.

I Saw the Light
Tom Hiddleston. I'm convinced.

May 6
Captain America: Civil War
Can't Wait!

May 27
X-Men: Apocalypse

June 17
Finding Dory
I can still do all the lines and know every note of the soundtrack of Nemo. Popular movie here.

July 1
The Legend of Tarzan
Could be fun. Looks pretty.

July 8
Secret Life of Pets
This looks like so much fun.

July 22
Star Trek Beyond
I loved the first but liked the second. Still, Idris Elba. Swoon.

Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur
Directed by Guy Ritchie; could be interesting.

July 29
Bourne Sequel
Very interesting cast.

August 5
Suicide Squad
See above re: comic book movies.

August 16
I like the original but I'm not a huge fan. Bekmanbetov is an interesting director, though.

November 4
Doctor Strange
More Marvel fun.

November 18
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Can you ever go wrong with JK?

November 23
The Great Wall
This could be fascinating. Or just pretty.

December 16
Rogue One: A Star Wars Movie
Goes without saying.

December 23
Assassin's Creed
Michael Fassbender and a decent script could make this work. Maybe.

And that's my first pass. Lots of fun stuff here.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

There Be Dragons! Er, Well, One Dragon, Minus One Leg

There haven't been a whole lot of happy things to blog about here lately, but when my depression hasn't totally oppressed me, I've been able to stitch.

Teresa Wentzler's Celestial Dragon is what's known as a BAP (big ass project) and there have been many evenings when I stare at all the little x's and wonder at my foolishness. But any progress is movement forwards and closer to completion. Sometimes, all I have are small victories, so I mark them.

Remember, here's the finished project:

This is the lower right corner.








Finished this section. BTW, that design in the middle is stitched one over one. Not to be attempted in anything but natural light.

Back to the dragon body and the world of confetti.








So my focus presently is finishing this section of trunk and leg and then I'll move to the upper right corner, which is the last one. But, wait! There's more! The beading and backstitching will probably take another six weeks after that. But I can see the end from here and it feels good.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Random Thoughts

I haven't posted in forever because my depression has limited my desire to do anything not absolutely necessary, but I started new meds almost 3 weeks ago and suddenly I have energy again. Strange.

Just a few minutes ago I was looking for a cross stitch pattern I have just learned is out of print (one of those cases when I should have bought it when I saw it 5 years ago) and somehow joined Pinterest in my search for it. As if I needed more social media platforms.

What I'm looking for is the Dragon Virtues Afghan pattern by Dragon Dreams. Here's a photo of the finished product.

Ah, well. It's still beautiful.

There is presently a vacationing brown labrador in my living room and two contractors in my attic who are a part of our energy saving upgrades and neither is happy with the other. I could really go for a boring day where everything went according to plan.

12 Days Later

There are now 6 more contractors all over my house, finishing the work started on the 15th and
Roman likes them even less. Silly puppy.

In the fun of this household upgrade, we have emptied the attic of the dusty boxes of stuff we forgot about and 3 diaper boxes of our cd collection. If someone could tell how long we have to keep the cd's to prove the legality of our digital music collection, that would be very handy.

Something helpful I did find was my Cabbage Patch doll which looks surprisingly good for being 30 years old (at least) and Miranda immediately decided she liked it. Even better, I have clothes made for her by my maternal grandmother who's been gone since 1986. I was so pleased to wash them again and see Miranda's delight. Everything old is new again.

I've been told that Dragon Virtues isn't completely out of print and I might be able to get a copy for myself in a month or so. Happy news. A series cross stitcher will always have on hand the patterns she wants to stitch sometime in the next ten years.

I actually picked up Celestial Dragon on Friday, which was remarkable. I was in the mood for one over one stitching, which is crazy. I went from this

to this

I also remembered why it's much easier to work on this with my upright wooden stitching stand and not the simple hand held q snaps. Hmmm. I'll have to decide if it's worth moving the whole stand out of the closet.

Best to post this now. Always time to blog more later.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Calla Progress

I always know that I'm feeling better, that my depression is retreating, when I can pick up my cross stitch project again. (I always have something going; someday I'm actually going to finish Celestial Dragon.)

For some reason, I can't find any pictures from last year. Ah, well. Some things are just permanently lost to cyberspace.

Beginning on May 30, 2015

End of May 30, 2015

June 14, 2015

June 16, 2015 

July 1, 2015

July 2, 2015

 July 7, 2015

Here's a finished project.

And here is Celestial Dragon which I started 5? years ago. I hope I wrote it down somewhere.

Here's a link with details.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Forever Pile O' Mulch

I had 3 yards of black mulch delivered around April 25th. I quickly got it spread over the first third of the flower bed because it's much easier to mulch hostas when they are tiny. And then, I got busy. Or sick. Or tired. Or lazy. Or despondent. And the pile of mulch lingered and mocked me every time I looked out the window or walked past it to get in the car.

On Saturday, we celebrated with Marshall's sister and her family and she mentioned how my twelve year old nephew had few opportunities to earn cash and I was suddenly inspired. So, Sunday afternoon, he came over and shoveled and wheel-barrowed and spread all kinds of mulch for me. While I weeded. And weeded. And weeded. He also cut the boxwood most handsomely.

Here are some before pictures:

Large pile o' mulch with the wheelbarrow at the ready. It's been catching rain for us for months.

Two small maple trees growing out of the mulch.

Poor Japanese maple overgrown by grass and weeds and mushrooms.

The other Japanese was similarly overgrown.

Last years hanging baskets, long dead, hiding behind the maples. The boxwood overgrown. The roses in desperate need of trimming and feeding.

Better picture of sad roses.

More mushrooms and maple.

Here are some of the after shots.

A much smaller mulch pile.

Mulch, mulch everywhere. And hardly a weed to be seen.

Handsomely trimmed boxwood and well weeded Japanese maple.

More happy, weed-free space.

More mulch, less weeds, and hanging baskets have been relocated ...

... to the driveway for now. Last year's baskets are intact and just need something replanted in them. The Gerberers I bought in the spring have stopped flowering so I'm thinking they are done for the season. I wonder if they are worth saving.

The butterfly bushes haven't been mulched in years and are much happier looking today.

Of course, they'd probably have more flowers if I watered them, ever.

The moral of the story is: when you are stuck on a project, get help. Young relations with strong backs and energetic spirits are ideal.