Sunday, 26 June 2022

June 26, 2022

Gah! The realization that Christmas is coming and my stitching has been stagnant hit me a few weeks ago. The moment of panic was huge and then I remembered that COVID has screwed with every part of my life. I make ornaments for family and friends every year and that project usually starts in January, not June. Cutting myself some slack and learning that the latest season of "Mayans MC" has been released, I sat on the couch last Saturday and stitched until the last moments of the last episode. What a joy it was to indulge in one of my favourite shows and to stitch until my eyes and fingers finally said "No more!". Ornament #1 is underway:

At the same time, my community garden bed is starting to take shape. My friend and I crammed a full sized garden's worth of seeds into a 4 foot by 8 foot garden bed so I have started moving plants around to fill in the bare patches. Three zucchini found a new home in the pots in the foreground, the beans on the middle right side are now lined up in a more orderly fashion and a handful of lettuce plants have found new homes in neighbouring veggie patches. I am having so much fun going over to the garden every few days to see how our plants are growing and to see the gardening ideas of the other people who also have plots. The other fun part is getting know the other gardeners as I work on building a post-pandemic community around myself. My body and mind are in need of so much healing and the garden with all of the growing and nurturing is becoming a very important part of my recovery.

 The past two plus years have been brutal so it is amazing to feel a smidge more balanced and centred every day. I love that I have the energy and desire to do the things that I have always loved like planting flowers and experimenting with plants. Like the maple sapling and the raspberry cane that have appeared randomly appeared in one of my planters, I am finding joy in the little nooks and crannies of my life.

Happy stitching!

Saturday, 28 May 2022

May 28, 2022

 To stitch or not to stitch. Yeah, I am not stitching this week at all. At the moment, I am falling asleep on my couch on a Saturday morning after waking up at 4am to the sound of generators droning away across my neighbourhood and a message on my phone that a bat may have been flying around the backroom of the store where I work. A storm called a derecho hit Ottawa last Saturday afternoon, causing widespread damage and power outages and leaving us on day 7 now with no electricity to our neighbourhood and devastating tree damage. 

We are surviving quite nicely thanks to amazing neighbours who are sharing their electrical generator with us and the joy of being on a city water system so we still have water for the house. I have spent most of my life in rural New Brunswick on a well so no power meant no pump running for water and a whole other layer of things to think about when living through a prolonged power outage. We even have an amazing luxury of internet because my lineman partner immediately charged up our internet box to find to our great surprise that our internet service is still functioning. My heart goes out to the families of the 10 or 11 people who lost their lives as a result of the storm. The power of the storm system was devastating.

Take care of your self and those around you.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

April 24, 2022

 So, my optimism about the fella' quickly recovering from COVID is out the window as he is struggling with head and chest congestion along with exhaustion as well. His employer is a wee bit more generous for sick days so he has been off work since the day I tested positive over 2 weeks ago while I have been back to work and doing my best to not cough when my staff or customers are nearby while dragging myself around in a fog of exhaustion. Ugh.

That being said, I do feel marginally better every day. I am feeling a lot of frustration and annoyance about how much more lost time COVID has taken from me as I struggle to kick into a higher gear. Friends of mine travelled from Maine to Paris, France this week and I can barely get out of my own way thanks to burnout and now acute illness. The burnout which had me feeling burnt on a cellular level had just started to begin to heal when the positive test happened and I feel majorly set back. A flash of inspiration did penetrate the fog the other day about how to move forward in my life, a flash brought on by the recent death of a hometown neighbour who was only 64 years old. That age is significant to me because my grammy also suddenly passed at age 64 when I was 16 years old and I am now 50 years old. There has been something quite heart stopping about how 64 is only 14 years away and how there are so many more things that I want to do! I can sit and continue to whine about how much COVID has stolen from me or I can take microscopic steps in the moments when I have enough energy to move. A minute of stretching here, putting away a few pieces of laundry there, a few stitches in my current projects on a lazy Saturday afternoon, picking up a library book on small veggies gardens to start planning my community plot in between sitting on the couch with the dogs. Eventually, each of these tiny steps will start to add up to better fitness and a smile on my face at a job well done when a project grows before my eyes.

My dollar store metal lizard blew off the fence in a recent wind storm so I took a few minutes yesterday to freshen him up with some greens and blues. My painting skills are quite basic but my technique of applying thin layers of paint starting with the darkest green and ending with the shiny teal blue has worked well, I think. Even the fella' was quite struck by the new colours which he noticed when he had to move a curious cat away from the wet paint. 

Time to sign off! We are going to take a Sunday drive downtown here in Ottawa to explore this place where we find ourselves these days. Some lunch somewhere and a stroll in a new to us spot like maybe Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor-General or maybe somewhere along the Rideau or Ottawa Rivers.

Happy stitching!

Saturday, 16 April 2022

April 16, 2022

 The joy that is the COVID pandemic is just the gift that keeps on giving. After 2 years and five waves of COVID, our province dropped the mask mandate just in time for Spring and the election campaign. I went to a hockey tournament to watch my nephew play and received a text later that day that a family member who was also at the tournament had come down with symptoms of COVID. Forty eight hours later, I was texting my boss to say that I was too sick to work. It took another three days to finally test positive which was good because I was feeling miserable and my work was about to force me back to work because so many of my colleagues had tested positive last week. The fella' tested positive four days later so our Easter travel plans were cancelled as there was no way either of us could drive from Ottawa to Sudbury, a six hour drive. 

There have been two good things come out of being in isolation: 1. our dogs have been delighted to have both humans home for endless snuggles and 2. after 3 days in bed, I made it downstairs to the couch and did some stitching since I had no energy to do anything else and I was not allowed to leave the house, according to Public Health rules. The project in the picture was one that I started last year as a 2021 pandemic project to use up my scrap threads and fabric. The threads are the leftovers from kits and the fabric comes from an old uniform shirt that belonged to the fella'. 

Yes, those are french knots. The entire piece is being stitched with french knots. I have never understood the dislike of french knots that I see so often in stitching groups because there is something very calming to me about doing the wind and stab to make each knot. It seems like french knots are even more disliked than backstitching which I find amusing because french knots are my favourites. My little obsessive brain is also fascinated by the slow filling in of all of the fabric with the knots and seeing my junk thread tangled mess slowly shrink one length of thread at a time.

The fella' is recovering quickly from his bout of COVID whereas I am battling a touch of bronchitis which is leaving me with a nasty cough and exhaustion. Fingers crossed that having a long weekend of no plans will allow us to recover enough for the work week next week.

Happy stitching and stay healthy!

Sunday, 13 March 2022

March 13, 2022

The news out of Ukraine last weekend continued to be grim as I settled in for a stitchy Sunday with the dogs. My meditation and prayer for Ukraine continued as I watched the news for a bit before turning to my favourite renovation show to avoid becoming completely overwhelmed with the images of mothers and children fleeing their country along with their grandmothers and pets.

Stitch by stitch my prayer continued as I contemplated how I can also actively help Ukrainian refugees. Thoughts and prayers are lovely, but they do not warm a person like a hot tea or provide shelter and rest like a hotel room. I am awaiting the invoice from a hostel in Frankfurt, Germany that is offering beds for 20 euros/2 nights and I donated some surplus medical supplies to a woman who was collecting as part of an effort by a local church. I also purchased some cross stitch patterns on Etsy from a designer in Lviv, Ukraine. 

The last stitch went into my prayer last night so now my thoughts turn to how to finish. Well, not really. Who am I kidding? I have never been enthused about finishing my small stitches so finishing this project will be part of my challenge to myself in praying and meditating. My finishing skills are okay but I really do prefer the stitching part over the finishing part.

Despite the calendar telling us that Spring is mere days away, the 10cm of snow that fell Friday night is Winter's way of saying that the season is not over yet. The odd robin has been spotted and I do hear birds chirping in the trees in the morning when I head out to scrap ice and snow off my vehicle before leaving for work. Winters here in Ottawa are colder and longer than my East Coast self is used to after a life time of milder, shorter winters thanks to the Gulf Stream. Throw in a healing process that is slowly taking place in my heart, mind and soul as we start to transition into life with COVID being an aside instead of the main course and voila, a new hobby is emerging. 

Someone else in this house keeps grumbling that we have enough houseplants already with 25. He wisely said nothing yesterday when I separated the plant that was loving life on the bathroom counter (one piece is on the left here) and started a  2 pothos clippings with root hormone in freshly prepared pots. The fiddlehead in the middle is spring time delight in New Brunswick and the green of the glass just adds so much to the white winterscape when I look out my kitchen window.

We have such a small backyard here in the town house section of the housing where we live so I can not really indulge in my passion for gardening outside. I have 3 planters for tomatoes, a small shed, a spot for our whirlygig clothesline and the rest of the yard is for the dogs to do their business. At our last house, when we had to turn the yard back to its original state before we left, I dug out so many plants and sold them for $2 a piece, making over $70 from my plant sale. That does not include the 10 rhubarb plants I gave away and the raspberry bush that did not get dug out or all the flower beds that I did not touch. At our current house, I had to ask our next door neighbours if I could plant flowers on the shared little patch of grass out front between our 2 houses. Sooooo, the lack of outdoor space means that our walls and windowsills and bookshelves are being filled up with plants. Mind you, some space will be freed up once the weather co-operates enough for the 4 geraniums I am wintering in the house can go outside. 

Happy stitching and Happy Spring (is coming)!!

Thursday, 3 March 2022

March 3, 2022

What to do about overwhelming news coverage when it is so devastating and can have some big consequences so very close to home? So many families are waiting to hear what will happen as our government puts so many troops on standby while increasing support for Ukraine. The war is just one more layer of stress on top of all the other stressors that have been pressing in on me and other Canadians. I feel for the people of Ukraine because I can not imagine taking up arms or making Molotov cocktails in preparation to defend my family and home. 

I am not usually a thoughts and prayers kind of person, preferring action over the metaphysical action of putting good wishes out into the Universe to make things better. I am considering making a donation of medical supplies to be sent to Ukraine if I can find an organization here in my area. This design was offered up in one of the many stitching groups that I follow and there was a suggestion of stitching as meditation. A short meditation immediately came to mind as I looked over the design so I say it to myself every few stitches.

For those they have lost
For those they will lose
For those who will survive and thrive

Thursday, 17 February 2022

February 17, 2022

Here's an updated photo of my stitching in the past few days while I watch all kinds of madness unfold in my country.

Here is my table as I attempted to fold origami roses yesterday. Progress was slow as this piece of paper resisted being folded.