Monday, October 27, 2014

We Speak Russian!

Rather than pay $50 to $60 a day for parking in Chicago, we took the bus to and from the American Needlepoint Guild Seminar.   I bring this up because when we took a cab from our hotel to the bus depot, Dennis asked the cab driver where he was from.  The cab driver said, "Kazakhstan."  Dennis heard only the "...stan" part and said, "Oh, Pakistan?"  The cab driver in an offended tone said, "No, Kazakhstan.  We speak Russian!"  That, I think, in a nutshell explains the differences that arise in the former Soviet republics (such as with Ukraine) where some people relish their ties to Russia and others do not.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Who is Rosetta Stone?

Starting September 19th, Dennis and I are attending a four-part class on "The Archaeology of Palestine," taught by a retired University of Iowa professor.  Session One was an overview, starting with the very basics, like "what is archaeology."  Some of the class time involves the professor reminiscing about several digs he was on in the 1960's, and some highlights of his teaching career. One story that I thoroughly enjoyed involved a student who had not done the required homework reading and thus thought Rosetta Stone was a female British archaeologist.

We've learned about Tel Gezer, Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and next week, our last class, we'll learn about Masada.

Quick - What do the American Needlepoint Guild and the National Guard have in common?

The first two Thursdays in September, I had cataract surgery.  I wasn't sure what to expect for the first surgery and ended up desperately clutching the surgery chair like a white knuckle flyer.  And the nurse kept having to remind me to breathe!  But the surgeries went fine, although both were all-day affairs, with the surgery in the morning, then hanging around for four hours until a quick check-up before being released to go home.  At the four-hour check-up on my first eye, I exclaimed to the doctor, "Oh, the wonders of modern medicine.  I can see, I can see!"

The week between the surgeries was odd - while I could now see fine out of left eye, I still needed my old glasses to see out of my right eye, so I pretty much had to close one eye and use the other, and ended up just watching a lot of TV.  I am now using basic reading glasses for doing anything close up, including stitching, but am not using glasses otherwise.

Once I have my one-month check up in a few weeks, I'll get a new prescription for glasses.

It was a good two to three weeks until I got back to stitching.  My first project was stitching six "Kissing Pillows."  The Kissing Pillow project was developed by the Embroiderers Guild of America, and the American Needlepoint Guild is now participating.  Kissing Pillows are small (4" square) lightly stuffed pillows that are given to service men and women being deployed.  Initially, each solider was given two Kissing Pillows, one he/she kissed and left with the family and the other pillow the family kissed and gave to the soldier.  The pillow is small enough to fit under the soldier's helmet. I think the distribution may have morphed a bit since the beginning.  There was a table at the American Needlepoint Seminar asking people to pick up kits to stitch pillows, but I somehow missed that entirely.  But, fortunately, an email came to our group list shortly after seminar saying there were some kits left over and did anybody want to stitch some.  So I asked for 5, and ended up getting 6 kits in the mail, which I stitched up and sent off to the person overseeing the finishing and assembly.
One of six Kissing Pillows I stitched

Door Prizes and Political Ads

I spent the last week in August attending the American Needlepoint Guild (ANG) national seminar in Chicago.  An earlier post has information about the two classes I had signed up for; both were very good.  I ended up winning one of the many daily seminar door prizes: my choice among a variety of donated charts and patterns.   (Just what I need - another needlepoint pattern to work on!)

In my first class, I sat behind someone from Iowa City!  We were both amazed that there were two of us from Iowa in the same class.  There are no ANG chapters in Iowa, so I'm a member "at large." ANG does have an on-line chapter, "CyberPointers."  The CyberPointers had a get-together one evening at seminar, so I went to find out more information about the chapter, and guess what, I won a free one-year's membership in the chapter as a door prize.

But what do door prizes have to do with political ads?  We have a very hot Senate race going on and have been inundated with ads since before the primaries.  Every commercial break on TV carries at least several ads from the two candidates and the various PACs, most of the PAC ads are very negative. Anyway, we landed in our hotel room, turned on the TV, and I exclaimed, "Oh, an entire week without the political ads we've been inundated with!"  There were a few ads for Chicago candidates, but those were new to us and few and far between.  Our local newspaper reported that 239 ads per day are running about the Senate campaign alone!  And most of those ads are negative ones.  Boy, will I be glad when Election Day is over.

On the home front, I am now on the Board of Directors of the homeowners' association for my condo building.  I've been appointed to fill a vacant seat until our annual meeting in October, at which time the new Board members will be elected.

I rarely complete projects from needlework classes since I attend primarily to learn new stitches and new techniques, but every once in awhile a project catches my fancy.  Such was the case with the "Whitework Sampler," which I continued to work on at home.  I switched out one color; the color the teacher used was really beige and I chose a color that has just a hint of gray and pink in it.  I had to set the piece aside in early September as I headed to the ambulatory surgery center for my first cataract surgery.  Here's my progress up to that point.