Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stitching Blogger's Question for September

Now that it is October, I thought it was well past the time to answer a question. But I think I will skip the October question about birth order and answer this one.
Is there anything that you do while you are stitching that is kind of weird or unusual? A quirky habit maybe? Or anything that you do that makes you think, Hey…I wonder if anyone else does this?

At first the only thing I could think of was that I always have a drink by my side. It's the desert, people. We need to carry water when we go to the grocery store, even in the winter. 9% humidity is no joking matter. I know most of you probably are yards away from the nearest edible. But I am not talking about greasy nachos here or melting chocolate (those both of those are great in their place). I just need something to drink while stitching, usually Coke, but sometimes iced tea. But then I took a look at this picture and saw a lot of habits that I don't ever think about. First, I always make a copy of the chart. Sometimes I increase the size to see the stitches better or copy two pages on one page. Then I always use a yellow highlighter to mark the parts I have stitched. Probably not that unusual, but it is what I do. I always have my iPhone or iPod by my side for podcasts and audio books. I stitch without my glasses, so watching movies or television is not possible.

The other things I noticed have to do with how I organize my threads. I don't put my threads on bobbins, since they are in Floss*A*Way plastic bags (for DMC) or on rings for everything else. But for DMC threads I do wind my extra thread around the part of the DMC label that does not have the number on it. And I face all my threads towards me so that I can read the labels without picking them up. I also organize the threads on the table in groups of threads that are stitched together. OK, that's probably not very quirky, but those are some of the things that I do.

For those of you looking carefully you can see that I am working on the Headless Dragon here. Yes, I have stitched more of him, but for those of you waiting for a head, you will probably be waiting a long time. I am stitching the pattern clockwise, so the part I am working on now are his rear feet. And after this picture was taken I cleared him away so that I could work on two Fair and Square exchanges. They have both been received, so I can tell you about them in my next post.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Travel, No Stitching

If you are visiting Melbourne, Australia, there isn't a better hotel to stay in than The Langham. It is on the South Bank of the Yarra River connected to a huge restaurant and shopping mall. Since the weather was always cold and sometimes rainy, we appreciated not having to walk far to get amusement and sustenance. Not to mention that the service was superb (arranging a hire car left for us Friday night when usually there are no rentals that start on Saturday). Although the river itself is rather industrial and muddy, there are a bazillion restaurants situated a pleasant walk away, not to mention the museum and shopping areas on the other side of the river.

It also helps to have a room on the corner with stunning views down the river and into the Central Business District (CBD). And we certainly appreciated a nice room after a three grueling flights (from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to Sydney to Melbourne) and long and bitter fight with customs in Sydney.

Why they need to check your hand luggage again, when you had gone through security in the US, I don't know. But check it they did and decided that not only were they going to confiscate both pair of small scissors, but ALL of my needles. Since this was plainly ludicrous, I decided to stand my ground and demand an explanation. I spent 15 minutes jamming the blunt scissors into my palm before they gave up and let me keep them. I still lost 15 - 20 packages of John James needles as they only let me keep three packages, grumbling all the while that I could hurt someone with them, although my husband pointed out that his legal ball point pen was more dangerous. Somehow this depressed me enough that I never took out my stitching again during the entire trip.

Although Melbourne is a lovely city, we have been here before, so appreciated having a car to see some of the sites in the neighboring areas. On Saturday we toured a couple of wineries in the Yarra Valley to the northeast and had a terrific lunch at Mandala. On Sunday we headed west to travel the Great Ocean Road. It is similar to driving Highway One in California; small towns, steep cliffs, and hairpin turns. All a little more exciting because you are driving on the other side of the road. At one pull off this cheeky little Fairy Wren decided he loved our car and hopped from rear view mirror to door to windshield until we drove away. We did not see any kangaroos are koalas on this trip, but we did see (and hear) dozens of exotic birds.

My husband was in photographer's heaven as there were wonderful rock formations and beautiful cliffs to shoot. The picture of the lighthouse and me was taken by my husband, though I do have similar (not as good) pictures myself. We didn't drive the entire Road, but we did get as far as Cape Otway and headed down the potholed track to the lighthouse. There is a dairy farm on this peninsula with dozens of different breeds of cows. When they say Cattle Crossing, they really mean it. I was proud of myself for walking to the lighthouse and even climbed the stairs (slowly). It was almost closing time and the wind was whipping around furiously. Many, many ships ran aground here, even with the lighthouse as the shoals and rip currents are very dangerous here.

After hours of No Service, my phone rang when I was at the top of the lighthouse. It was strange to talk to a friend in Melbourne when we were miles away from any civilization. It took us hours to drive back to Melbourne and we were tired enough to just sleep most of Monday. Tuesday was gallery day. Previously we had bought a ton of lovely pottery in Melbourne, but the shop that carried it is now out of business. Instead, we found an amazing glass shop with some of the best glass artists in Australia. They shipped us four pieces that we will feature in our new house. But all tourism came to an end on Wednesday when we had to leave the lovely Langham and move about a mile and a half away to the Hilton South Wharf for the convention itself.

The hotel had a good view and was directly connected to the convention center, but because of the faltering economy, the planned restaurants were not built, so there were very few places to eat within walking distance. Still it was nice not to have wear a coat and gloves to get to the convention center. The Hugo Ceremony that I came to run was on Sunday and barely anything was in place. I spent a lot of time wrangling the tech crew, organizing and editing the slides and corralling the presenters and acceptors. Still the ceremony went off with hardly a hitch and some of the awards went to truly surprising candidates. By then I was so tired that I was glad to just have successfully navigated it all. I don't have any pictures from backstage, but there is one here of me holding the Hugo for Best Semiprozine (I know, we have odd categories) for my friend Cheryl Morgan, the redhead. I'm wearing the white jacket that sparkles.

After that it was saying our goodbyes, packing up (and wondering where we were going to put all our goodies), and heading to the airport. The plane left Melbourne for Sydney Tuesday morning (only one cursory security check in Melbourne) and landed in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning. We were home in Las Vegas by 2 pm and slept for the next two days.

Meanwhile the contractors had been busy laying the foundations for the new house while we were gone. We have a meeting with the window guys and the HVAC guys tomorrow. I start chemo infusions again on Tuesday and James leaves for Hawaii on Saturday. I know I will get some stitching done in the next couple of weeks, but I might not get to show it to you for a while. I have signed up for two Fair & Square rounds and have everything ready to stitch in the next week or two. I am excited about this since this gives me a chance to be really creative. I hope your summer trips were also pleasant and that you are all looking forward to the autumn weather to come.

Friday, August 6, 2010

One Quarter Finished

Well, almost. I was going to move the Q-snaps so that I could start on the lower right quadrant, but there is still a lot of backstitching to do on the upper right quadrant. Backstitch now or later? Sigh, I think the proper answer is backstitch now, then move the Q-snaps. The backstitching is complex enough that there is a entire separate page just for the backstitching. It is not over the entire picture, but there is a lot on the wings and body. I'll get back to cross stitching next week.

Other than stitching and sleeping, I am mostly working on the house. Last week we had a half dozen meetings with pool guys, plumbers, electricians, window and door guys, and the glass artist who is doing our front door and master bedroom shower. It's amazing how interconnected all these systems are. The plumbers need to know about the ice maker, the electricians need to know about the tankless hot water heaters, and the pool guys need to know where the gas lines can be. I am glad we have a general contractor as I would hate to co-ordinate and get bids for all this by myself. No pictures yet as they are just working on the foundation. Maybe I can post a picture when they finish the rough framing next month. Meanwhile, I wish you all swift stitches and beautiful threads.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Border to Border

Once I had moved the Q-snaps, I decided to go ahead and finish the upper right hand corner border. Of course, I couldn't just leave the threads as they were, but had to add some bling by putting Rainbow Galley Petite Treasure Braid Gold in the upper inner trefoil. It doesn't look like much bling in the picture, but there is a subtle sheen that I like a lot. I've been very schizophrenic about stitching. Some days I have spent hours moving along with this project. Then there are days that I ignore it completely to play Farmville or Godfinger and watch the new Starz series The Pillars of the Earth. Right now I have started filling in the blues, purples, and maroons of the background. This is not a cute dragon, but is actually rather mean looking, but fitting for his Celtic heritage.

Other than stitching, my main project is organizing the Hugo presentation for Aussiecon IV in Melbourne, Australia. We will be leaving for there in less than a month. Hooray! I had my first round of infusion chemotherapy last week. It went fairly well though I was nervous about sleeping with the infusion machine. It wasn't too bad. Just like a sad puppy that pulls on his leash a bit and whines softly every few minutes. Actually it sounds more like a camera shutter clicking. This week is all about the new house: the pool tomorrow and doors and windows on Wednesday. Much of the interior cabinetry is chosen and so is much of the plumbing fixtures. We still need to settle on flooring and countertops. So until the next time: I wish you swift stitches and beautiful threads.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Headless Beast

You can get a lot of stitching done when you are in San Francisco with no refrigerator and no television. No refrigerator, no cooking. We did have a refrigerator, but it lost its freon AGAIN. So it is no more than a big white box now. I would have even more of this done if I hadn't gotten involved with several iPad games. But I did move the Q-snaps to give me room to stitch the wing at the top right hand corner. Which means that if I continue around in a clockwise manner, I will finish the head last. I couldn't resist stitching a bit of the border to get over stitching all the blues and greens. Now I do love blues and greens, but a steady diet of any color will make you long for colors of a different value.

On the health front, my month of travel and recovery is almost over. On Wednesday I had minor surgery to put in an influsion port (a plastic valve that will eventually sit invisibly under the skin and allow access to a tube in my vein. It is safer than putting chemo directly into a vein in your arm.) It was very odd to have surgery while being totally awake. I have taken my Intro to Chemo class (required half hour video that they subjected me to at 8 in the morning). The first of nine infusions will start on Tuesday. I should be able to stitch (and type) for a while, but eventually my hand motor skills may degrade. I just hope the first three infusions go smoothly. Then I will have a break while we travel to Australia and finish the last six infusions after we get back. I hope everyone has a happy and productive weekend. I'm planning to do a lot this weekend.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

By a Neck

Wow! I certainly did a lot of stitching in one day. The dragon himself is starting to take shape here, including his spiky parts. I didn't finish off the top of his wing because I was coming too close to the edge of the Q-Snaps. This pattern is just a little too big for the 8" Q-Snaps, so the wing could not be finished before I moved the fabric to expose more of the top right. There are actually lots of other colors in this design; purples and reds and blues, but they are mostly in the background, so I am stitching up most of the dragon before starting the background.

On Wednesday we left for San Francisco which has been a festival of food. Not just favorite restaurants like LuLu's and Chef's Chu's (where I got a lovely autographed cookbook from Chef Chu himself), but also favorite foods from Whole Foods (like their wonderful banana cream pie). I wish all Whole Foods had the same bakery recipes, as the desserts from the local Nevada ones are not near as good as the ones in San Francisco. And the piece de resistance was our visit to the Saturday farmer's market yesterday. I ate wonderful Mexican food and bought cheese and olive oil and jams and APRICOTS. Oh, my ghod, the Blenheim apricots from Frog Hollow are wonderful. And so are the HoneySnow white peaches. But today we head off for Nevada where I will have a port put in my chest on Wednesday for chemotherapy.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Wing and A ...

back and a leg? This is what I stitched during Westercon in Pasadena, a traveling science fiction convention over Fourth of July weekend. Next year it is in San Jose, California, then Seattle, Washington. I love stitching in public as usually some one has something nice to say. I will also remember this stitching as it was done during a talk by Larry Niven and Dr. Jerry Pournelle on the science in science fiction and during a concert by Seanan McGuire. I especially enjoyed her songs, Counting Crows and My Story Is Not Done. Besides songs, Seanan tells a great story. I love her recent book, Feed (written as Mira Grant). She's up for a Campbell award (best new writer) at Worldcon in Melbourne this September and I hope she wins. The convention was very nice for me as I saw tons of old friends I had not seen in months. But I also got tired more often than I would have liked. I was very happy to be home again and just collapsed all day Monday. Well, sort of collapsed. I actually sat in my stitching chair for hours and listened to podcasts while stitching. I'll show my progress in my next post.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This Could Be the Start of Something Small

Yes, this is a dragon wing. In fact the wing from Peter Underhill's Mythical Beasts series, a British chart that I bought in Spokane, Washington, several years ago. I also have the Griffin pattern from the same company, Heritage Stitchcraft. I thought about switching out some of the DMC for metallics or overdyes, but there are a lot of colors in this pattern, so I think I will stick to the charted far. Some of this was stitched while flying and more of it was stitched in Lexington, Kentucky, while my husband was packing up things from his mother's estate. There was so much there we could have loaded two cars, but we were cautious and just took about a half a van full. None of this was stitched on our 2,000 mile road trip. After driving for 11 - 12 hours a day, all I did when we stopped was jump into a bath and fall into bed. The trip through Tulsa and Albuquerque was very nice. We ate a lot of great bar-b-que and New Mexican food. But our favorite ceramics shop in Albuquerque is no longer there. Finding good ceramics is getting harder and harder. I don't really want to take up pottery myself, but maybe I will have to.

When we got back I met with Anna for the first time In Real Life. She is just as delightful as her blog. If you aren't reading her blog, you really should. Like many people who have lived in California, but now live somewhere else, she was craving an In-N-Out burger and we were happy to oblige. They do make awesome burgers.

Now we are in the last throws of packing for a science fiction convention in Pasadena. Driving for only four hours should be easy. And there is more good food to look forward there, including Pie and Burger which has wonderful pies. But the real reason I am so stoked to be there is to see all of my SF friends who I missed at the last couple of conventions. I should have plenty of time to add lots of stitches to this dragon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

More Sheep

I bet you thought I was talking about Bent Creek Sheep! Well, I wish I was stitching one of them, but when I went to find a kit to take on our road trip, I couldn't find one, though I know I have at least two left. I said that I would stitch something from the odd Portuguese cross stitch magazine, but that pattern is being stitched on 36 count over two. A little tiny for trying to stitch on an airplane. Instead I have started a different dragon. I was going to start Teresa Wentzler's Celestial Dragon this year, but I am intimidated by the incredible progress that Dani has made on hers. Instead I have chosen a smaller dragon to work on. I will post a picture as soon as I have more than 906 (DMC Green) stitched! It's on 26 count fabric, but is only a little over 7" x 7" square.

The cuties in the picture above are from Colin's Creatures who has the best animals I have seen. they are not too small and substantially heavy. The first creature to the left is a Nubian goat. I fell in love with these animals at the Lane County Fair in Eugene, Oregon. They are very friendly and make great goat cheese. The family grouping in the front are Cotswolds, who I fell in love with during a drive in one May on the back roads of England. There were lambs everywhere. The super curly one is a Devon found in the north of England and New Zealand. I love how their coats are naturally curly. The next horned one is a New Zealand breed called a Drysdale. We saw lots of these when we lived in New Zealand. The last brown sheep is a German Pomeranian, one of the monthly specials that Colin runs. I couldn't been more happy with my little tribe and now my husband has some idea what to get me on Christmas and birthdays. These animals were purchased with my mother-in-law in mind. Each year she gave us $100 to spend on something "we wouldn't buy ourselves". I always did and boxed it up for her to see. Although she is no longer alive to contribute the money, still I did this in her memory.

Right now we are in Lexington, Kentucky, gathering together the last of her things that we want to take back to Nevada. Tomorrow we will leave extra early and drive for three days (about 10 hours a day). We need to get back by Monday evening so that I can meet Anna on Tuesday. She is in Las Vegas to visit her parents. Hooray. I love meeting stitching bloggers In Real Life.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Book Meme

I was challenged to answer these questions by a friend from Sweden. You can do it yourself, too.

1 – The book you are reading at the moment.
First, Ares Express by Ian McDonald. Normally I love McDonald's writing, but somehow, even though I started it last week, I can't seem to pick it up again. Then, Twelve Mile Limit by Randy Wayne White, a battered copy from the library book sale. Who doesn't like a little Florida mystery series? Then The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson, a nonfiction humor book about the American Midwest. My husband picked it up at the library book sale, but I started reading it.

2 – Next book you will read or want to read.
I have a bunch coming from Amazon on Tuesday, but I can't remember them all. I need to stock up for our three weeks of traveling. I do know I downloaded three books for the road trip; Songs of Dying Earth, a compilation of short stories in honor of Jack Vance, Neverwhere, written and read by Neil Gaiman who is a marvelous reader, and The Map That Changed the World (nonfiction).

3 – Your favorite book.
This is a cruel question, leaving hundreds of books out in the cold, so I will pick Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child, Bertholle, and Beck. One of the first cookbooks I ever bought. Every recipe comes out perfectly every time, but they can be maddeningly complex.

4 – Your most hated book.
Absurdistan: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart. There is nothing worse than an archly hip novel about a pathetic loser that is supposed to be humorous but Is Not. Second place, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, but this could be a number of books written by non-science fiction writers using science fiction tropes and getting them wrong every single time. Dan Brown comes to mind.

5 – A book you could read again and again.
I haven't read it in a while, but for a time in my teens and early twenties I read Julian by Gore Vidal over and over again.

6 – A book you have been able to read only once (whether you liked it or not).
I loved Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, but I would have to be stuck with only that book on a deserted island to read it again. It's 916 pages!

7 – A book that reminds you of someone.
I tend to read a lot of books in the science fiction/fantasy genre, but I have never met a werewolf, wizard or vampire. Or even a space ship captain. Most people I know are good and kind hearted, but dull. This is a good thing. I've met some exciting people in my time and they are dangerous.

8 – A book that reminds you of somewhere.
I love books about places I have been. Mystery writers tend to do that well, so I could choose any book by Julie Smith (New Orleans), Margaret Maron (North Carolina), Dana Stabenow (Alaska), or Marcia Muller (San Francisco).

9 – First book you ever read.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. My mother started reading it to me, but couldn't read it fast enough to suit me, so I learned to read so I could do it by myself. I was four.

10 – A book by your favorite writer.
George R. R. Martin, both personally and professionally. You could start with Game of Thrones (soon to be an HBO mini series), but I warn you, the series is not finished. It needs three more books!

11 – A book you loved the first time you read it but you can’t stand now.
Gateway by Fredrick Pohl. What a cowardly, whiny protagonist! How did I ever get through it the first time? Same with Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.

12 – A book you have been recommended by a friend or acquaintance.
I recommend books to other people way more than they recommend them to us. My husband has started me reading some graphic novels, the one I like best so far is Y: The Last Man, beautiful and exciting.

13 – A book that makes you laugh.
I grew up with a book of cartoons by Charles Addams. Dark, but funny. James Thurber is also laugh out loud funny. On drinking a wine from a neighbor's backyard he exclaims, "It doesn't travel well, does it?"

14 – A book from your childhood.
Anything by Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons, etc. Although I read (and own) all the Oz books, I also own most of the Ransome books in first edition. It helped to have a grandfather who worked for Macmillan Books.

15 – The fourth book counting from the left in your shelf.
Which shelf on which of forty or more bookshelves? Well, it's not going to be the top shelf in the bedroom, since I need a ladder to get up there, let's go with the fourth shelf down. And the answer is...Earth by David Brin, signed, first edition.

16 – The ninth book counting from the right in your shelf.
I'm going back to the cookbooks. After all there are 700 of them. The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser. You can only have so many books with recipes. Right now I collect more books about the history of food, eating, and culture.

17 – Close your eyes and pick up a random book from your shelf.
I'm going with the mystery shelves. By a Spider's Thread by Laura Lippman. I could also use this for question number 8. I love how Lippman evokes Baltimore and makes you love every stop light and cracked sidewalk.

18 – The book with the prettiest cover you own.
I'm sure there are prettier covers somewhere in the house, but right now I love Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Pictures do not do it justice, but the shimmery copper is lovely. It helps that I am a sucker for copper.

19 – A book you have always wanted to read.
I really can't answer this one, because if I want to read a book, I do. My husband might count Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch since it has been sitting in my small To Be Read pile for years.

20 – The best book of all the compulsory readings you had to do at school.
Dickens. All of it. I took a course in Victorian Literature at university and started with The Pickwick Papers and found it hard going. Half way through I found his voice and never looked back. I think I read six books by Dickens in that quarter.

21 – The worst book of all the compulsory readings you had to do at school.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of the very few books that I Did Not Finish. I might even like it now, but I am not going to chance it.

22 – The book in your shelf with the highest number of pages.
I thought it would be Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, which took me a month to read, but it has a wimpy 916 pages. The winner is Under The Dome by Stephen King at 1074 pages, which only took me a weekend to read.

23 – The book in your shelf with the smallest number of pages.
Do graphic novels count? Do comic books? I have a couple of photography books that have only 10 or so prints tipped in.

24 – A book no one would think you’ve read.
The Bible and they would be correct.

25 – A book which main character defines you.
Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert Heinlein. One of the protagonists is female, a real shocker in the male dominated science fiction field in the '50s.

26 – A book you’d read to your kids.
Oz books, Ransome books and YA science fiction by Heinlein.

27 – A book which main character fits your “ideal”.
Ideal what? Friend, lover, person to call on when you need someone killed? I have read plenty of books with characters I enjoy, but most interesting characters are flawed enough that they are dangerous to be around.

28 – Thank God they made a film from this book!
I think books make terrible movies. They are too long and complex. But short stories and novellas are the perfect length for a movie. I'd choose AI from Brian Aldiss' short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" or A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison.

29 – Why on Earth did they have to make a film from this book?
Almost anything by Jane Austen or Dickens with the exception of Great Expectations, one of his shorter books made great by some of the most fantastic acting ever.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stitching Blogger's Question

"Tell us about something that you have stitched or plan to stitch for any father in your life. Maybe it’s for your father, your father-in-law, your children’s father, your grandfather, your godfather, or someone who was or still is an important father-figure in your life. Why did you choose this particular piece of stitching? Tell us the story behind it."

Originally I wasn't going to answer this question, but my first needlepoint that I designed myself as a teenager was for my father. My father was born on July 4th, so for the longest time I thought all the fireworks were for him. I designed a needlepoint American flag, all in wool in tent stitch. As I recall it was rather large (over 12 inches high and over 18 inches long in 14 or 18 count canvas) and took me several months to stitch. The stripes were red and white, but instead of stars, I put his initials, CEP, in gold Kreinik in the blue field. When I gave it to him he was less than impressed, which is probably why I hesitate to stitch for others. Maybe I should have stitched a Confederate flag to match his favorite lighter, which also played Dixie when opened. I never stitched anything for my lovely father-in-law because his wife was a much better stitcher than I was at the time.

"Often times we identify our love of needlework and our skills with our mothers or grandmothers or other women. It’s understandable because often they were are first teachers or role models. Now let’s think about our stitching life as it relates to our dads. Is there anything about our approach to stitching that we can recognize as traits of our fathers? For instance, does your dad (or any other important man in your life) have an approach to one of his interests that you can observe and think, “Hey….if I substitute the word “needlework” for “fly fishing”, we’d be pretty darn similar!” So tell us about it."

I have inherited my father's genetics; thin straight hair, good teeth, and fair coloring. We are both introverted, but spent most of our working life traveling. Other than that, I really can't say much about him. I haven't seen him in over 30 years, even when I went to see my mother in Florida, he made sure that I wasn't around when he was visiting.

On a more productive note, I am almost, almost finished with Angel Cat. I have finished all the picky details and just have the background and the border to finish. I should have it done this week. Then I have mostly kitted up (need to iron the fabric) a strange pattern from one of the Portuguese cross stitch magazines I bought in Lisbon. It will fit in well with my other kitchen cross stitches.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's A Fish

I've been very schizophrenic about stitching lately. Some days I will sit down for hours merrily stitching away. Then other days I ignore my stitching chair altogether. Yesterday I even started going through cross stitch magazines looking for a small project to start. I'm supposed to be working on UFOs, this year but a new start here or there can't hurt. This project is very close to being done. I just have the lower right quadrant to finish, but it has a lot of picky background stitches and I just can't get the motivation to do it. I am glad that I bought another skein of Gloriana Perle Granny Smith (the main background color) as this shows the last stitches of the two skeins that I thought would cover all the background. Maybe it would have if I was a more frugal stitcher. But every since I began needlepoint, I was taught to be sure and cover the back as densely as the front. That is especially true for working with wools that might get some wear, but it really is a good idea for most canvas work. The canvas won't hide a skimpy thread like a linen might.

On the health front, the fun part is over. Although my chemo oncologist says that the Xeloda pills I am taking are not "serious" chemotherapy, I seem to be having several of the side effects that the pills can cause, including nausea and diarrhea. The good news is that my radiation oncologist has just shortened my radiation sessions from 30 to 28. If the machine doesn't break down, my last session could be next Thursday! Hooray! No more chemo or radiation for a month. Of course after that comes the serious infusion chemotherapy, but in the meantime I can travel for the first time in three months (visiting an oncologist in Pasadena does not count as traveling).

First we are flying to Lexington, Kentucky, to drive home some of the larger items in my mother-in-law's estate. The question remains do we drive back through Denver (better scenery) or Albuquerque (wonderful food)? Then we are going to my first science fiction convention in almost a year. I missed the last three conventions I usually go to, so I am excited to be able see many of my friends. And possibly I can sneak a small trip to San Francisco in there, too. I really miss the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. I hope apricots are still in season when I get there. Although treatment for cancer is Not Fun, I still have great oncologists and support staff and am grateful for the help I am getting.