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Archive for June, 2009

For over ten years, we’ve been having our laundry done in the community laundry room by our housekeeper/helper Ann. Now that I have recovered, I can do the laundry myself, but I sure don’t want to spend time in the laundry room. So we’ve had a washer/dryer installed in our walk-in closet. Where we had to  make room for it.

For a week Ernie and I spent time sorting through stuff, deciding what to donate to the Treasure Sale, what to put in our storage locker, and what to trash. A lot of stuff is gone, gone, gone.

Here’s part of one load, including the laundry cart, for the Treasure Sale. Volunteers came and got it.

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Last week the installation process began. First came the electrician who left this:

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holes in our entry-way and closet, plus the receptacle for the power to the appliance. Notice the lower shelf: it had to be cut back to where the clothes are hanging. Then came the plumber, who left this:

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water, good to flow. Next came the drywall technician to patch the holes:

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He was followed by the painter, who spackled as well as painted, leaving this, and considerable mess that I cleaned up, in our hallway over the weekend. This hole outside our apartment must have been for the plumbing.

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On Monday, the painter was back.

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He was listening to Fresh Air, by the way.

Monday afternoon, the mechanic-installer arrived with the washer/dryer. As he uncrated it in the hallway, he drew a crowd of our neighbors, and he was supervised by the man who lives next door and is legally blind.

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Before he could move it into our closet, he had to cut the metal shelving to make room for it.

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Then back to the hall to get the washer/dryer on his dolly. It took several heaves. I offered to help, but he declined.

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And neatly through the door:

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through my room, and into the closet.

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Ernie and I spent a couple of hours, re-organizing the closet before calling it quits last evening.

The painter returned today, Tuesday, to finish the patching. He even re-hung our pictures. Et, voila:

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I am now an independent woman—as far as the laundry goes!

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Yesterday my son Pete brought four-year-old Noah to visit. Surely you remember his blonde curls.

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The handmade wooden wagon and blocks I’d had in wait were an instant success with him. (Does he have any other non-plastic toys?)

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He found lots of different ways of arranging the blocks to show either animals, letters, numbers, or the same colors. He also spelled his name. But he seemed most to enjoy pretending that the wagon was a train. He loaded it with freight

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then pulled it around our apartment, making train noises.

What joy—spending time with this little boy, my youngest grandchild.

Meanwhile, back at the stitchery, here’s the current WIP. Notice the thread-wrapped rings. My thumbs wouldn’t work after an evening doing that.

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Should I keep going? What am I going to do next?

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Treasure Sale

Here at Charlestown residents donate items they no longer want to the Treasure Sale, which was started by a few residents who organized a lawn sale when Charlestown was new. That lawn sale grew into a major endeavor that generates hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Benevolent Care Fund, that provides for residents who outlive their financial resources. The whole enterprise is run by resident volunteers, who collect the donations, organize and store all the stuff, then staff the sales.

Four times a year the Conference Center here is filled to overflowing with every imaginable category of things for sale. Every month there are furniture sales, and this week there was a special women’s clothing-only sale. It was billed as a mini-women’s clothing sale. What, only sizes 2 and 4?

Unfortunately I did not take my camera with me, but I did take a blank check. For $22.00 I got two tops—one pure silk, the other embroidered and beaded, three pairs of cropped pants, five belts, a necklace, and earrings (separately):

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and these:

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an evening bag and a silk scarf.

The bag appears to be crocheted velvet yarn with gold metallic threads and beads. I wish you could see the colors of the beads. They are subtle earthy matte beads in bronze, pale mauve, darker mauve, and pale gray-green. Of course I am never going to use such a bag, but oh, what can I do with the beads, the border at the opening, even pieces of the crocheted velvet? And that scarf goes right into the stash, too. I may also take the necklace apart to use bits of it with stitching.

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Here’s a closer look at the bag. Can you read the price tag?

By the way, I am making progress on my stitched improvisation. And I’ll show you my $1.00 embroidered and beaded blouse after it’s been washed. Stay tuned.

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Contemporary crochet

It’s been a while since I last wrote about my dear friend Toni. Like me, she has been housebound by ME/CFS for many years. And like me, she has found needlework to be an occupation, a comfort, and a joy. Although she’s done embroidery in the past, including beautiful silk ribbon work, since she’s been mostly confined to her bed, it’s crochet that she can do there.

Yesterday she sent me these pictures of an afghan she’s been working on off and on for months. I’ve watched it progress. By all means, click on these images so you can see enlargements at Flickr.

Isn’t that spectacular?

But I didn’t know about these marigolds. Notice the different colored “leaves” in the corners of each block.

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Toni, please leave a comment to let us know what you call the marigold piece.

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For a couple of years, I think, I’ve had pinned to my portable design board behind my door these swatches of silks over a piece of silk chiffon scarf, along with some novelty yarns and ribbons, intending some day to do something with them. There was always something else to do. On May 24th I took the plunge and fused the swatches to the orange silk.

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Now what am I going to do with it? I’m trying to get myself into stitching again. I don’t want to work on the Elizabethan panel, so instead, I thought I’d just fool around. Just play.

I am doing something exceptionally unusual for me: I am working without a plan. No idea where I’ll go with this. The few times in the past when I have improvised without any preconception, plan, or design, I have not been pleased with the results. So we’ll see. This may just go into the trash or the pillowcase with earlier experiments. I’m doing this because I have become Elizabethan-averse.

After weeks of waiting, I have the right handmade gold smooth passing thread for the plaited braid stitch. I have the right handmade Japanese needle. I’ve even stitched a few inches and they work beautifully. It’s amazing—the difference the right tools and materials make. But I just don’t want to work on that Elizabethan panel. I sure hope I get over this allergy to it, having spent over $200.00 on the whole thing.

Moreover, I always complete any project I start. No UFOs for me. And I work on one project at a time. So this is very unlike me, leaving the Elizabethan panel in midstream and starting off on something which I have no idea how I will complete.

It’s related to my recovery, I’m sure. I’m doing lots of things that are “unlike me.” I don’t know me anymore.

Oh, I know what I’m doing. I’m making a sampler, just stitching a variety of stitches.

May 30. This is what happens when I don’t plan:

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As I went along, I realized that the silk chiffon had to have some backing. Fortunately, I had some remnants of the sheet I’d used to cover my bulletin board, a piece just barely wide enough. After basting two layers of the orange chiffon on which I had fused the patches to the remnant of sheet, I hooped a bit of it, chose some threads, and started outlining a patch. By the second patch, having stitched through some of the loose fabric, I realized I needed to mount this work on a frame. Alas, the largest frame bars I had were not long enough, as you can plainly see in the photo.

Since the Elizabethan panel is still held by my floor stand, I’ve been working with this frame sort of supported on my knees and the arms of my recliner. Just outlining patches. Where I’m going with this, I have no idea.

It’s part of my recovery. I just need to be stitching, whether I keep the results or not.

My portable design board now.

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Gift of Crochet

You remember June, don’t you?

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She showed me how to thread my sewing machine, and later she showed me some of her smocking. Well, then she gave me a bit of crochet work done by her grandmother-in-law.

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It’s not hard for me to think of some uses for these medallions, used separately—painted? beaded? of course incorporated into stitching somewhere. She also gave me this antimacassar. Anybody remember them?

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When she gave me these pieces, and some other small bits I can use, she showed me some extraordinary crochet work by this woman.

For example, this Last Supper:

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It is about 40 inches wide.

And this American eagle:

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The woman who did this beautiful work was June’s husband’s grandmother, Louisa Parr. She and the man who was to become her husband, John George Parr, were born in Bavaria and emigrated to the U.S. in 1850. In 1852 they were married.

In 1902 Mr and Mrs. Parr celebrated their 50th anniversary by renewing their vows at St. James’ Church  here in Baltimore. These photographs are from the newspaper article about the couple.

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According to the newspaper article, Mr. Parr was “an accomplished musician”… who performed with two bands and was one of the founders of the “old musical union.” Apparently he was unable to earn a living as a musician in this country, and was “compelled….much to his regret, to abandon his musical career at an early date.”

When June met her, more than 60 years ago, Grandma Parr was already in her nineties, and still crocheting. According to June, Grandma Parr’s hands were so deformed by arthritis that each joint of her fingers went in a different direction. Still, she crocheted. June saw her at work.

At that time, she was living with her widowed daughter-in-law and her grandson, June’s husband-to-be, Francis Timothy Parr; and she was present at June’s wedding. Here is June, in her bridal finery, with her new husband, her new mother-in-law, and Grandma Parr.

June's wedding picture

Here’s the little lady who did the crochet pieces I’ve shown you.

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She died just a couple of years later.

Since June’s husband was an only child, he inherited all his father’s collections and all his grandmother’s crochet work. Now June, widowed herself, is hoping that her grandchildren or great-grandchildren will cherish these heirloom pieces.

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