Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mother's Day Gifts

Thinking of Summer!
This Mother's Day was chaos - as usual. Both daughters called to say that cards would be late - their lives seem to be as chaotic as mine - must be genetic. Both reminded me how impossible I am to shop for since my true love is needlepoint and I already own a store full of needlepoint.
We were at my granddaughter's college graduation but had to make a hasty run home from Charleston to get my husband on a plane for an emergency trip to Albuquerque. Out there our 2 month old granddaughter was in ICU on a respirator. Terry was needed to watch over the 4-year old. It took most of the day to make sure he had enough of all 13 (yes - 13) prescriptions to last for 3 weeks. Got him to the airport and ran to take Mom out to dinner.
I got home that evening fairly exhausted - waiting to take shoes off and relax when I noticed my formerly-known-as-feral outdoor cat doing everything at the back door except back flips. As I opened the door, I was presented with my first actual gift of the day - a huge dead rat. I am not sure what I did to deserve such a wonderful treat, but I thanked her profusely and had to sneak out at 2 a.m. to throw the thing into the woods.
In light of Mother's Day, I wanted to share with you part of a blog written by a wonderful young college student named Gatesy Hill. I have a link at the bottom so you could go to read her entire blog.  It is well worth reading in its entirety. How refreshing it is to have young stitchers finding as much pleasure in needlepoint as we always have! I will start in the middle of what she wrote:

"This new hobby definitely puts me even more in the "mom" status box I was placed in throughout the years with friends dating back to High School, but I didn't care, and I still don't.
Now, being me,I,of course, am going to go deeper. It is really amazing how well you get to know each canvas. It sounds bizarre, I know. But there is nothing like the feel of a canvas that has been completed....
But, I always think about the little journey that particular canvas saw me through. A day in bed with one of those bad colds I am notorious for getting. A rough period where I am experiencing a large change, like my parents brief move into a smaller house this summer, my grandmother's death, and then our move back IN to my childhood home. Or even just some quiet time with me, my stitches, and my thoughts (Quiet time is really a lost art; but that's a different post for a different day). Nonetheless, I have come to love this practice in my life. It's funny how you can express yourself, even amongst a form....The freedom to make a piece your own, but honoring the original form the canvas came in. A new canvas, even with the image painted on, still lends itself to endless possibilities: i.e. the freedom within the form."

On a both heavier and yet lighter note, I was called by a husband of one of my favorite stitchers - a sprite of a 91-year-old named Lib Dills. Wayne said to come quick - Lib was in Hospice and he knew she would like to see me. She was slipping in and out of consciousness. When I got there and leaned down to kiss her, she opened her eyes and gave me the biggest smile and a hug, and then slipped out of consciousness. Her niece and her nephew were both there and were most undone. I was told that they had been there all day and Lib had never recognized either of them. Why me - they wanted to know. I explained it the only way I knew how. I gave them an analogy that sadly probably fits best. If Lib were a drug addict, I would best be described as her dealer. Needlepoint is  - after all - an addiction, isn't it???

Thursday, December 19, 2013

As the Needle Points 12/13

Since a lot of you have called to ask about the lawsuit, here's the recent rundown.
We filed ages ago for a change of venue to get the lawsuit moved out of federal court in New York and into court here. This should have been simple. However, they have tried every way possible to stop the change of venue - each time resulting in a new filing. This last month, they claimed my twin in New York was a large presence in my business and she lives in New York, so the case should stay there. As many of you know, my twin is on Wall Street. To trade on Wall Street, you have to file with the SEC listing each and every business you have an interest in. Needlepoint and my business are alien to her. We had the SEC send her filing over to the court and again refiled.  Total so far $52,000 and counting . Their lawyer is like the junkyard dog - incredibly aggressive. I wish he was mine.
More of you have wonderfully asked about Mom. She is an endless source of amusement. This will go down as the Christmas Mom stole Santa. Mom wouldn't join the whole family for Thanksgiving - too many people. I could not have her alone for the entire day, so I drove up to have breakfast with her. Mom has always considered herself the arbiter of good taste and hated crafts. On her table was a Santa made up of 3 flower pots glued together and painted to look like Santa. I commented on how cute it was and asked where she got it. Her answer floored me. " I stole it". She wasn't kidding. She said she walked past a room, saw 3 on the table, wanted one, none was around - so she took it. I reminded her that someone might do the same to one of her wonderful baskets she makes - not knowing what else to say. When I went back last week to visit, the Santa was gone. I asked about it and was told in a strange voice that she had returned it. Later, we were walking past the shop at Aldersgate that sells crafts made by the residents and there were 3 of the Santas for sale. I told Mom I was going in to buy her one. I was told not to bother - she didn't like them THAT much. She just took it because it was fun. I am hoping this is not the start of a crime spree by a 93-year-old. I'd hate to have to visit her in jail.
I  will try to have pictures up of the class projects by December 23rd. Here are the dates and descriptions - I'll post prices when I get the pictures up. Look under "Classes"on website.
Ongoing monthly mail-out classes:
1) A Victorian village with 4 Petei carolers, a lamppost, and several houses. Houses will be 4" by 7" tall. Not too big.
2) a beach theme group of ornaments -a crab, flamingo, pelican, sandcastle, beach tote, palm tree, flip-flops, a beach chair, a mermaid, a seahorse
Other classes:
Saturdays February 8 and 22 - 2 classes for the canvas by Lee we have named SHOOZE with 6 shoes,
  using 12 stitches from 10 till….
Saturday March 15 an Easter basket
Sunday March 23 - canvas painting from 1 till 5 at my house
Saturday April 4 - the Indian couple that are companions to the Pilgrims we did earlier
Saturday May 10th - a stand-up Statue of Liberty

I think from the fur on my gorgeous used-to-be feral cat it is going to be a good winter to curl up and stitch.   Later! Jane

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nightmare on Main Street

For the 37 years I have been in business, I have always had a basket of "work" in my car, by my bed, and where I watch television. I usually cringe at how much I "have to do" - as though it is something I dread to do.
Fast forward to Halloween week. I go to the rheumatologist about other lupus-related things going on. I hadn't mentioned my hands, but as I physically unbent my right index finger with my left hand to write something, it stopped the doctor in her tracks. Seems I have developed Trigger Finger on the right hand, carpal tunnel on the left thumb. Both severe. I have to have them immobilized for 6 weeks. Sounds simple.
The first test was the car one. When we were young, we bought my mother a car floor mat with a brake pedal : back-seat driving was her specialty. The first thing my husband asks when we get in the car - "where's your needlepoint?". For a good reason. If I am watching, it is continually necessary for me to jump, gasp or scream to save us from immediate destruction. Oh, Lord, I am my mother! I prefer not to watch almost as much as he prefers it. We drove on a short trip the other day. It wasn't pretty.
The next test: church. I sing in the choir. I have long held contempt for those who "dog-eared" the music to turn the pages. There is no earthly reason to deface the music like that. Luckily, I had the anthem for Sunday memorized or I would have been in deep trouble. I must have had a look of horror on my face when I found I couldn't turn the page, because I noticed one on the face of Miranda who stands next to me when she realized I wasn't turning any pages. And God said "Ha!". Must now be one who dog-ears.
Now to television. I listen. I seldom look up - except for the Netflix Borgia series which was so incredibly horrible I couldn't look away for entire series. I had no idea what characters I thought I knew looked like. Seems my imagination was better than reality. Except for the actor Shemar something on Criminal Minds, my inner reality was better. Now I HAVE  to watch. It is maddening just to sit there like a lump and not do something. I HATE JUST SITTING. There is nothing to do but eat while you sit there. I will be a pig by the time this is over.
Cooking is interesting, as is eating. I keep poking myself in the eye with the metal finger. I chopped onions the other day and the left brace is a constant  reminder of that.  The smell may never go away.                                                 What this tells me is that the work I felt I HAD  to do is actually the work I LOVE  to be doing. I guess that I never knew how much.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why Needlepoint?

Three events came together in the past 3 weeks that made me appreciate what I do for a living and what my customers.
I went to my 45th college reunion. I had gone to Sophie Newcomb - the women's division of Tulane University. All the women in my class were go-getters and have gone on to be judges, attorneys, museum curators, and so on . The list is mind-boggling. I went with fear and trepidation. I was almost embarrassed to admit that I own a needlepoint shop. How "cutesy" - how mundane. Much to my dismay, I ended up being admired. Almost every woman I talked to said " You STILL love what you do????". Seems most were burned out by now and simply in holding patterns until retirement. And, yes, I still love what I do - probably even more today than 37 years ago when I started the business. I have made friends from all walks of life, friends of all ages. People who walk in my doors come because they WANT to be here.
The other two events were funerals of friends I made through the shop. Very different but both very courageous women. Eunice was 93. Probably the most independent woman I have ever met. When her children took away her car at 92 ( she had had a little "fender bender" ) she was frightened that she couldn't get here to get her supplies. We found workarounds - if she couldn't get here, I'd go to her.
The other woman - Beverly - fought a long long hard hard battle against multiple myeloma. An amazing woman in many ways.
Here's what happened: At both funerals, noone knew I was coming so nothing said was for my personal benefit. At BOTH funerals, much was made in the elegies about all the wonderful needlepoint both had done and had given. The family members all said how lucky they were to have so many things to remember her by and to keep her a part of their daily lives. Both were remembered for what giving people they were and for the time she had given them in making the stockings, pillows , ornaments and such for them and for others.
I realized that I had inadvertantly brought joy to both the stitcher and the families. You, as stitchers, do this every day. So, I'll stay in business so that you can keep creating meaningful things for all those you love.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gone but Not Forgotten

I guess I have been incredibly blessed in my life. I haven't had to say goodbye to many loved ones. That is good, because I am not good at it. Truth to tell - I NEVER really have said goodbye to any of them. I keep them  with me.
My parents collected Oriental art. I grew up surrounded by wonderful museum-quality pieces. Dad would rather have a piece of art than food if given the choice. As we were growing up, Dad would tell me over and over about each piece. If Chinese, the dynasty it was created in and what else was done during that historical time. If Japanese, the area it came from. He told me where he bought each piece, what was going on in his life at the time, and why that particular piece appealed to him. I am now surrounded in my own home by many of these pieces. I hear Dad's voice every day as I sit in front of the Chinese screen, as I pass by and pat my Foo Dogs on the head, as I look up to see the old old Ginger jars. More than anything I treasure a needlepoint piece hanging on my dining room wall that he did not too many years before he died. We would sit for hours in Florida and needlepoint together. He is still with me.
The two women I loved DEARLY who have died were my grandmother ( she was already the subject of a blog I wrote) and my best friend for 46 years- Donna. Both women couldn't have been more different, but they both had the same obsession - jewelry.  My grandmother was the strongest woman I have ever known, and Donna the weakest. When my grandfather went off with other women, my grandmother bought diamonds. Donna had a sad life from start to finish. She made herself feel better by buying jewelry. I have been the unwitting recipient of their purchases and I treasure each piece. I wear them according to my needs of the moment. If I need strength ( and lately fighting the frivolous and expensive lawsuit from the other Two's Company I need it a lot) I wear  a little or mass quantities of my grandmother's jewelry. I have been piling it on lately to gain strength from it and from her. I feel close to her with it on. In dealing with my daughters, I wear Donna's jewelry to commemorate what she went through with her daughter. I know they are both close by.
And so it was with incredible sadness that I had to face the end of Doodle's life. Doodles was bought by my daughter many years ago. Jennifer had 2 other cats. Doodles wasn't a social cat at that time. However, I always felt she was mine. She would come out of hiding whenever I went over there. I would sneak over when no one was home to groom her and help with the huge knots she would get in her long silky hair. After a while, Doodles retreated to a closet and refused to come out. Jennifer, at her wits end, was going to either put her down or bring her to me. So - to the shop she came. From the first day, she was the epitome of the perfect shop cat. She was at the door to greet each and every customer. She never tried to run away. She never got into the thousands of skeins of threads readily available. She was by the door waiting when I got there and went to the door with me in the evenings. Last year, she started limping and losing weight. We tried cortisone shots, and they worked for a while. Later tests showed cancer was the problem. I could keep the pain at bay for her with drops of painkillers. They worked for the past few months. I brought her home to be by my side more. She never left my side when I was here - watching me all the time.
On Wednesday, Doodles couldn't stand up. I called the Vet to see if I could up her pain medication and was told that that would make her violently ill. I knew the time had come to make the decision I did not want to make - so I made the appointment. I ran out of the house to buy a camellia bush. I have never had one - and I wanted one so that every time I looked off my back porch I would see Doodles. Enter my husband. I am amazed men and women are from the same planet. I told him of my decision. His first question "How much will they charge?" Did it matter? He told me he would put her down for me quickly and painlessly - and for free. We have no gun. I was picturing him bashing out her brains or wringing her neck. He was not my favorite person at that moment. I told him to dig the hole and I'd be back.Only when he saw the tears did he give up his quest to go to the Y and work out and he dug my hole. I needed everything in place. I took Doodles. As usual, her eyes never left my face, and it was that way until I saw the life totally go out of them. She was watching me and I was watching her- my hand on her paw. I brought her home, put her in her bed, and put it in the hole. Over her went bags of miracle grow. It has only been 3 days, but there are flower buds breaking out all over that plant. I still cry every time I look at it, but I will always see Doodles hopefully for as long as I am here.
Now I have to be a big girl. Megan and Deb were at the shop yesterday for the last time. For 9 years, Megan, Deb, Doodles and I were at the shop. Megan and Deb are thankfully alive and well, but Megan is moving to Shreveport and deb to Dallas - both going to exciting new jobs. I wish them well -but again, they will be gone but not forgotten. Saturdays will be hard for a while.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mom made me do it!

Many many years ago, I was put to bed. I had previously miscarried, so this pregnancy I had to keep a little quieter than my normal frenetic pace. I don't sit still well. I was not doing well. Mom came to the rescue. Mom was a needlepointer. In her life - her life with my father - she needed calm and peace. She found it in needlepoint. She didn't like doing the colors - she didn't like anything fancy. She LOVED the tranquility of doing a background in a beautiful shade on a preworked piece. That was what she decided I needed to do.
Mom brought me a little duck to make into a seat for a little chair. She taught me to basketweave. About 2" into the piece, I revolted. I asked Mom to get me some blank canvas and some colors. I had no earthly idea what I was doing, but I was bound and determined to create my own design. I had a blast! By the time Jennifer was born, I was on a roll. After a few years, I was painting canvases for me, my friends and all my aunts.
I moved to Lexington when Jennifer was 4. I was pregnant  with Elizabeth. It was a hormonal surge that changed my life again. I was driving in an older section of town and saw a "For Rent" sign. I was furious because the only needlepoint shop in Lexington didn't allow any children to enter. Jennifer was the best behaved child in the world - HOW DARE THEY! So, of course, I rented the old townhouse and went home to tell my husband that I was opening a shop. Mom was the only one who was as thrilled as I was. She has always been and will always be my biggest supporter - my cheerleader.
Mom is 92 - soon to be 93. My husband calls her The Queen Mother. She plays bridge 3 days a week and makes gorgeous baskets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Life has a way of toying with you - this has turned out to be the happiest time of her life. Mom was one of 6 kids. They were abandoned by their father when she was 6. She married my Dad. While I adored him, I must admit he would have been impossible for me to be married to him. Murder and mayhem come to mind. I had a younger brother born with lung  cancer. He actually lived to be 40 but was mentally unstable and in and out of prison. She can finally relax and not dread the telephone ringing.
Those of you who know me know that if I don't see Mom on Sunday, she is in the Emergency Room on Monday. A trip we were taking to Ireland was almost derailed by a hospital trip for all the following; appendicitis, gall bladder problems, uterine cancer. The fact that she had no appendix, no gall bladder and no uterus made no difference.
I owe my life to this woman in so very many ways. First, just the fact that she is my Mom. Second, I would not have been doing what I LOVE  for 37 years without her pushing me into it. Thirdly, she has loved me unconditionally. I needed that. She tells me when I screw up, she praises me when I  do well. She always speaks her mind. I can't imagine life without her.
Happy Mother's Day !

Thursday, January 31, 2013

God helps the Hapless with Hurricane Sandy

I was reminded yesterday that I have been a failure at blogging. Time is my enemy. I have been meaning to post this since Sandy hit.
The story involves several different groups of characters.
My twin sister has been on Wall street since 1969. It has been a brutal place for women. Over 25 years ago, she realized that she needed to be able to escape the city time and again if she was to have any sanity. She bought a wonderful old old home on the ocean in an old whaling village called Orient - as far out onto the tip of Long Island as she could get. To de-stress, she hung a swing on her front porch where she could sit and drink and glass of wine , watch the ocean and chill out .
My husband discovered the island when we went to visit Myrna and Judy. He fell in love with the place. Orient is inhabited by a wonderful group of  brilliant gay women - editors, surgeons, artists. None of them are handy. Enter my husband. He loves oysters and clams more than any other food.  He is the ultimate handyman, a jack of all trades.The women discovered that he could be bought - an oyster gigilo as it were. The phone rings early when we are there. "Can Terry come fix my screen door? I'll take him to the dock for oysters and beer". He's off like a shot.
Now we add to the mix a man and wife - both New York divorce lawyers. Megabucks. In front of my sister's home between her house and the ocean is a service road to the yacht club. In a semicircle of this service road was land that was never to be sold. Somehow these two bought it - and planted HUGE cedars. The covenants of the village state that nothing over 3 feet is to be planted along the ocean. These two just pay the fines and keep going. They totally blocked the view of the ocean from my sister's porch.
Terry and I were visiting. My sister has survived 5 cancer surgeries - 3 breast cancer surgeries, and thyroid and parathyroid cancer surgery. We were drinking wine and staring at the cedars. She got quite tearful looking at them and saying how much she missed the ocean. You understand that I would kill for this woman.
Everyone went to bed - but I went to the internet. " How to kill Cedars". You cannot imagine what all came up, but the most expedient method is to drill a hole in the trunk and fill it with antifreeze. Hmmm. Judy had a drill, and had antifreeze. I had only to find some dark clothes. Keep in mind that I don't even kill bugs - I catch them and release outside. This was difficult for me. I apologized to each tree as I went around. I wasn't sure it would work.  I broke off a branch and plugged each hole as I went. My sister caught me as I was returning to the house. "What if they had survellience cameras?" Good question. No problem - they would think it was Judy. After all, we're twins.
Six months later, my sister called and said "Open your email". "Why" '"JUST DO IT. It's the great cedar blight!!!". The trees were falling right and left. Her view was back! Mass quantities of wine were drunk to celebrate. But, sadly, that was shortlived. They planted new trees. I wasn't sure I want up to killing more trees. God might get me. But, it would have to be done this Spring as soon as I could get there.
SAVED BY SANDY. While very little good came from the hurricane, I can only think God did this particular deed to save me from myself. All trees were obliterated. My twin's home has to have new floors and appliances, but for the most part was unscathed. The lovely couple - well, their home was hit quite hard. They are selling and moving. What a shame! Terry can't wait to get back to his adoring fans and the oysters, I can't wait to get back to see the ocean.