Friday, January 4, 2013

A finish that took some doing

Several years ago, I started stitching the "Avalon Sampler" from the Heritage Collection by Else Williams.  It came as a kit, and as I stitched along, I realized I was running way way short of green floss.  But I didn't worry since they had provided the DMC numbers for the floss in the kit, and I figured I could just grab some more green out of my stash.  But no, when I pulled the green from my stash, I realized it did not match the color in the kit.  Nor did any DMC color match the green I needed.  And the kit was an old kit so I doubted the company could supply more floss, plus the company would need a sample of the thread and I had nothing left to send as a sample. I did some improvising, such as substituting my initials in blue for the flower and leaves on the lower left and did some other tricks, but I still ended up short on green.  I tried to stitch a flower where a leaf needed to be in the bottom left corner, but that stuck out like a sore thumb to me, so I just tossed the "completed"  piece aside.

Then one day, I thought of Ebay.  It didn't take long before I found the kit for sale, which I quickly purchased and promptly undid my flower and stitched in the leaf.  So, after a number of years,  I now have a finish I am proud of.  Now to get it framed.

Has it really been 49 years?

In September, Waverly-Shell Rock High School had it's 45th reunion.  I graduated  from Dubuque Senior High School, but headed to Waverly for the weekend anyway.  In connection with the High School reunion, a reunion (our 49th) was held for those of us who attended St. Paul Lutheran School for grade school.  We had lunch, got a tour of the old school building that we knew (not much had changed), and then a tour of the "new" school, the adjective "new" being relative of course.  We saw our old house, drove by some of our old haunts.

Can you pick me out - I'm in the dark orange shirt about halfway up the stairs.

And, of course, stopped at Fiber Works, Waverly's needlework shop.  They were holding a pattern for me (Rosewood Manor's "Halloween Quilt Sampler," and I stocked up on supplies.  I decided to stitch some of the blocks individually, rather than as the full sampler, and finish the blocks as ornaments for a Halloween tree.

I even purchased a Mill Hlll Beads kit that I discovered, once I got home, I had already previously purchased.  I liked it so much I now have two of them on hand!

Retirement is Highly Recommended

I formally retired from my position at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, after 39 years, on June 30th.  But I ended up staying on part-time through the end of August.  But finally, my last day arrived!  One of my duties had been to write the departmental newsletter.  Several of my co-workers wrote a special issue of the newsletter, as a tribute.

When people asked me what I planned to do after retirement, I responded, "catch up on my sleep."  It did take several weeks before I started getting a good night's sleep and stopped tossing and turning over work problems.

In September, I participated in a 4-session Senior College course on Biblical Poetry, then an evening class on Russian Orthodoxy.  The Biblical Poetry class met at 9:30 am, and when we were asked to evaluate the class at the end, I said that was too early in the morning!

And now I have more time to devote to stitching!  I signed up for my first on-line stitching class, Stella Polaris, through the Shining Needle Society.  I enjoyed the class, and was so blown away by some of the other students' colorways, that I stitched the piece twice.

The colorway I initially selected and stitched

Second colorway I stitched
In June and July, we managed to see four plays.  The University of Iowa Summer Rep offered three mystery plays, "What the Butler Saw," "The Woman in Black," and "Sherlock's Last Case."  And the University of Iowa Division of Performing Arts presented Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore."

A morning in London

    In the few hours we had in London before heading to the airport, we visited Big Ben and Westminster Abbey by way of the underground.

    View of the Thames River from Parliament Square

    Clock Tower
    Close up of Big Ben

    London's ferris wheel - The London Eye

    We are here!

    Protesters watched over by police

    At the entrance to Westminster Abbey

    Exterior of Westminster Abbey

The end is here

The next day we docked in Dubai, the end of our cruise.  It was hard to believe, time had flown so fast! After a whirlwind tour of Dubai (seeing tourist versions of a spice souk and gold souk, seeing a mosque and a museum), we headed to the airport to catch our flight to London.

Burj Al Arab Luxury hotel in Dubai - Accessible only by boat (private yacht) or helicopter
Sand being accumulated to start work on creating The World set of private islands
A mosque in Dubai
Replica of dhow boat outside museum

Another vew of the mosque
Tourist verson of the spice souk
Clsoe up of spices for sale
Hallway of the spice souk
And on to the tourist version of the gold souk

Up Close and Personal with Falcons

Hooded falcons waiting pre-and post-procedure

A hooded falcon n the waiting area

A falcon getting its talons clipped

One of two of the practice's falcons. which we all got a chance to hold

Me holding a falcon

Operating room with procedure underway

Door to intensive care unit

An owl being kept in an outdoor cage at the hospital; owls are not native to Abu Dhabi

Outside of Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
After another day at sea, we docked at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Day 18.  A visit to the Falcon Hospital was very interesting.  We learned that, to curb a potential black market in falconry, falcons have their own passports.  And when falcons travel, they sit in there own seat in the airplane. We also learned that falcons, since they spent most of their time sitting around, need to have their talons trimmed periodically, and we were able to watch a falcon getting a "pedicure."

ET in Oman

View of Oman shoreline and planetarium from the ship
Containers on the dock

View of Oman and mountains behind
On Day 16, we docked at Muscat, Oman.  We did not got ashore, but enjoyed the day on the ship.  We found that we could actually sit by the pool and enjoy the hot tub with so few people on board.  Looking at Muscat from the ship, we discovered quite an extra-terrestrial sort of building - it turned out we guessed correctly that it was a planetarium.

It's a Mystery

On Day 14 of our cruise, we signed up for the "Mystery Dinner."  Good food and good fun!  We sat at a table for eight, and none of us guessed correctly.  Our four table mates were openly gay and were giving us a hard time about being from Iowa (the hicks) until they remembered that Iowa was one of the few states that allowed gay marriage, then they quickly changed their tune.

The mystery dinner reminded me of a story from a stitching festival years ago.  The festival had a mystery dinner one evening, but the organizers neglected to tell the hotel folks what was going on.  And when someone on the hotel staff overheard people talking about a murder, and called the Police!

Time for Stitching

Christmas ornaments that I started stitching on the cruise
As we spent five days at sea, sailing from Israel to Oman, I had time to pick up my stitching.  I worked on some Christmas canvaswork, with a large enough count (18) that I did not need to use my magnifying lamp.  I found a comfortable spot next to large windows with great sunlight, and stitched away.  These are Laura J. Perin Designs, "Holiday Ornaments."  Disclaimer: while I started the stitching on the cruise, it took me a full year to actually finish them into ornaments.  I gave two of the ornaments as gifts Christmas 2012.

Now is a good time to mention the towel animals that showed up in our stateroom regularly.  Our cabin steward took to putting Dennis' sunglasses on the creatures.

And, to help passengers keep track of what day of the week it was, the ship changed floor panels in the elevators each day.