Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Edgar Allan Poe and His...Crow?

I belong to several Facebook stitching groups.  People post photos of their stitching, ask questions, seek advice, etc.  Well, yesterday, someone posted a photo of a needlepointed portrait of Edgar Allan Poe, complete with raven on his shoulder.  It was quite interesting, but even more interesting was one of the comments, "Love the crow!"  Crow?  I just shook my head.

She must have been referring to Poe's earlier version of his poem, now lost to posterity, in which "quoth the crow nevermore."

I've gotten two autumn ornaments stitched and actually finished, for the CyberStitchers ornament tree for the EGA Auction at Seminar.

"Gingerbread Quilt" from The Victoria Sampler

"Falling Leaves" by Jennifer Rodriquez, finished onto a miniature horn book
Our latest play was "The Importance of Being Earnest," put on by the University of Iowa Summer Rep.  It was quite fun.  We've always enjoyed going to Summer Rep, but the program has been on hiatus for several years to allow for remodeling following the flood of 2008.  We were glad to see the program back.  Unfortunately, in their remodeling of "infrastructure," they did not redo the seats.  My seat had lost most of its stuffing, and the woman sitting next to me found a big tear in her seat covering.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Security Sandals

There's nothing quite like sharing a home with a young cat.  I have been in the habit of putting my newspapers, when I'm finished with them, and junk mail on the floor beside my living room chair, where I had been letting them pile up for a few days before gathering them up and taking them to the recycling bin the basement.  Well, Molly decided it was great fun to jump onto the pile and scatter the papers all over the living room.

So, thinking to outsmart my cat, I found a cardboard box the right size, cut off the top flaps and began placing my papers in there.  Well, then Molly decided that box was a great place to curl up and nap. So now I have to make sure Molly is not in the box before I toss my papers in.

And speaking of security.  I've heard of security blankets, but not security sandals.  Molly has adopted a pair of my sandals.  She curls up on them and curls next to them.  I thought perhaps she figured out that I put my shoes on before I left the apartment so that was her way of keeping her eye on me while snoozing. But she doesn't seem to be interested in any other of my shoes.  So I'm not sure what the attraction is.

And got the last of the stitching done on The Victoria Sampler's "Gingerbread Garden Sampler."

What is this about Macbeth and his ham sandwich?

Our Shakespeare class this spring was on "Macbeth."  We read the play, an act at a time; then in class, we discuss any questions about what we've read, and the professor shares video clips of various stagings of scenes.  And then we discuss how varous directors and actors interpreted the scene in different ways.  Very very interesting, which is why I keep going back.

When in class, the professor mentioned we would now be watchng the ham sandwich scene, we all went - what??  Macbeth didn't make a ham sandwich!

Well, there is a version of Macbeth, starring Patrick Stewart, that is set during World War II and portrays Macbeth as a Stalin-like character.  The three witches are very creepy and quite malevolent - they not only tell the future, they make the future happen the way they want. And the scene in which Macbeth convinces the murderers to kill Banquo is set in the kitchen, with Macbeth making a ham sandwich.  He brandishes a knife, and acts as though killing his best friend is an everyday event just like making lunch.  The DVD of this version happens to be available from the public library, and I ended up watching the entire play (several times in fact).  I've never seen anything quite like it.

You say Sanatorium, I say Sanitarium

I attend a monthly mystery book club at my local public library.  Recently, we read "A Madness So Discreet," by Mindy McGinnis.  It's set at the turn of the 19th/20th century.  The beginning of the book is set in a very miserable insane asylum where the patients are treated very poorly and also mistreated.  The heroine of our book is transferred to a much better and more humane facility from which she does her detective work.  In our discussion, members used the words "sanatorium" and "sanitarium" pretty interchangeably.  That seemed wrong to me so I double-checked when I got home.

When I was growing up, a sanatorium and a sanitarium were two separate types of facilities.  A sanatorium (also spelled sanitorium) was a long-term treatment facility for people with TB.  A sanitarium, on the other hand, was a facility for the treatment of the mentally ill.  Now, apparently not only are the two words interchangeable, but they are considered alternate spellings of one another.

Learn something new every day...

In late April, we saw The Pirates of Penzance.  Quite fun.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Early Stop on International Tour

We attended a concert by the Wartburg College Choir (in conjunction with the Mount Vernon High School Concert Choir).   I figured that they picked the Mt. Vernon location because it would attract people from both Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.  But it turns out the director of the Mt. Vernon High School choir is a Wartburg graduate and was quite a "star" at Wartburg.  The concert was jam packed; we arrived 15  minutes early and had to scrounge a seat along the side, where we had a good view of the conductor, but didn't see much of the choir.

What we didn't realize is that this concert was an early stop on Wartburg's spring international concert tour. With concerts in Minnesota and Iowa, the choir then heads at the end of April to multiple stops in Germany, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

And we attended a concert presentation of "My Fair Lady," similar to "South Pacific" which we saw last year.  What I call more than a concert, less than a play.  The orchestra sits on the stage, there is minimal dialogue, just enough to get us from song to song, and the only props were three chairs that were used on and off as people sat or stood, Eliza's jewelry that she gives back, and the pair of slippers she throws at Professor Higgins after the ball.

And a couple of small completed stitchings.

Just for Fun #1 Fiesta Flowers by The Sweetheart Tree
This bright purple fabric with neon threads was in my stash, it caught my eye one gray cloudy day.  And with enough fabric and thread left over to make a bookmark.
Several bookmarks ready to be finished

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Collecting Dust Bunnies

I now have a new cat.   I picked out a very personable and cuddly long-haired tabby from the local animal shelter and she immediately made herself at home in my condo.  The first evening, she spent time inspecting and going over every square inch of my floor, collecting dust bunnies from under the bed and the far reaches of my closets.  Once she was satisfied with the floor, she began inspecting the higher reaches (tables, chairs, bathroom and kitchen counters, etc.)  She is much smaller than Max was (her 8 1/2 lbs to his 22 lbs).
Molly holding down the various papers by my computer
One thing I've discovered is that when Molly hops into my lap, she doesn't want to curl up and snuggle.  She wants petting, NOW.  So I have to drop whatever I'm doing, which is usually needlework or reading, and give her my attention.  I found a "grooming mitt" which I can use to pet her and at the same time brush off the loose hair.  She seems to like it.

In the process of adjusting to a new cat, I have managed to get two small pieces (bookmarks) stitched.

"Bookworm" needlepoint pattern I converted to cross-stitch

"Anemones" pattern by Textile Heritage of Scotland

Good Night, Sweet Prince...

...and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. (Horatio in "Hamlet")

Well, sad news.  In late January, my elderly cat, Mr. Max, decided to quit eating his prescription dry food.  So we tried mixing it with wet food, going to prescription wet food, to no avail.  A trip to the vet revealed no obvious underlying medical problem (blood sugar, kidney function, liver function, thyroid function all normal).  He continued to lose weight and to eat less and less food.  We finally gave up on the prescription food, and focused on just getting him to eat anything, and for awhile he ate chicken and turkey baby food.  Then came dental work, in case his teeth were hurting him and causing him not to want to eat.  That worked for a few days.  Then we went to medicine to increase his appetite (which he fought tooth and nail against taking) and steroid cream that I could rub in his ear that he didn't mind so much.  Everything we tried worked for a few days but not long term.  He lost more and more weight, though was acting his normal self.

Finally the end came on March 22nd.

And the week before, March 16th, was the 10th anniversary of my husband's death.   So the time was doubly sad.

During these weeks, I didn't get much done with regard to stitching.  I was so focused on Max that I wasn't in the mood to do much else.

Sympathy card from veterinary clinic, signed by everyone

Before and After

A beauty salon opened in the neighborhood (which I have been anxiously awaiting).  I gave them a try and as soon as I walked in and sat down, the beautician asked if it would be alright if they took before and after photos of me.  I said OK, and then the more I thought about it, the more I realized this really wasn't a compliment, that they must have thought I looked really horrible with my shaggy hair.   Of course, the haircut took an extra long time as the beautician made sure she got every hair exactly where she wanted it for the "after" photo. They have since posted the photos on their Facebook page, and one respondent commented, "what a transformation."

We went to see "The Sound of Music" at Hancher.  It was great!  And the woman who played the Mother Abbess (Melody Betts) was a stand out!

I did manage to get one piece of stitching done.  This is "Noel" by Lizzie*Kate.