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If I continue blogging, it will be at this site: In the Ever After.



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Next step

Next step

Originally uploaded by jowynnjohns

Here’s the next step in my TAST 2010 sampler. All but one of the stitches covering the seams are TAST stitches. With no ideas for further embellishing the seam treatments, as this is going to cover a little cushion behind Ernie’s back, I decided to add motifs to the larger patches. Again, no inspiration.

Finally I decided to cut out shapes from print fabrics. I fuse-appliqued them to the patches. Now I’m going to stitch over, and/or around them.

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But he didn’t die

On June 27th my husband suffered a massive brain attack. In the ER, the doctor, putting his hand on my back, said he was sorry there was nothing he could do. He said, “You made the right decision,” referring to the Do Not Resuscitate directive. Ernie was admitted to the hospital on palliative care only. I wondered whether my birthday, June 30th, would be Ernie’s death day. On that day, Wednesday, he was moved to the rehab center here at Charlestown. The doctor told me it could take three to five days. Ernie was barely responsive, inert, still on “comfort care” only–oxygen, but no medication or nutrition whatsoever.

At home I was already thinking this is no longer “our” apartment; it is “my” apartment.

But on Thursday he began to talk a little, and when food was brought (soft diet), he ate some of it.

When the nurse practitioner saw him on Friday, she said they had to try some therapy, required for Medicare coverage. It would be gentle, and if it didn’t do any good, the next step would be hospice. However, he clearly wasn’t at death’s door. Then I was wondering whether he would stay alive, but unable to function much, like so many of the residents I see when I visit at the Care Center. Meanwhile, he continued to show small signs of improvement.

A week after his admission to the Dorsey Center, on palliative care and mild therapy only, the social worker came to meet us and do her admission procedure. By this time, Ernie was able to sit up for short periods. He could answer her questions about what day is this, and so on. At the end of the meeting she said that in two weeks, the team there would decide whether Ernie would go home or to the Care Center. After she left, I told Ernie what she had said. He was silent for a few minutes, then he said, “Is today the 7th?” Yes. Pause. “So I have until the 21st to pass all the therapy tests.” Knowing that he might be sent to live in the Care Center motivated him.

Ever since that realization, he has been pushing himself to get stronger. As I write, it is two weeks since we spent seven hours in the Emergency Room. Today Ernie bathed and dressed himself without assistance, and, using a walker, walked from his room to the dining room for breakfast. He walked there again for a mid-day dinner. He read a bit of the newspaper, and he can talk with me almost as well as he could before the brain attack.

It looks as though he will be coming home. I meet with the team tomorrow.

In my next post I will fill in the details and write about the effects this episode has had on me. I told Ernie that what I post will be “all about me.” He hates having anyone know about him.

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Stitching the patch

Covering the tan chain stitching with cream chain stitching is really hard work.


First of all, the fabric is tightly woven and very firm, tough to pierce with a needle–at least, with the needle I need for this thread. Second, I’m now stitching through layers of threads.

See the back:


While I’m doing this, I’m thinking about Neki’s comment that I might try fusing the patch to the jacket instead of stitching it. I had expressed my uncertainty about doing that. Well, fusing appeals, as it would allow me to cover more than the stitched area with the fusible material and that would mean I could cut the patch right at the edges of the stitching. It could make for a crisper, neater look than having to turn under the edges.

But how will this acrylic wool blend thread take to heat? You can be sure I will be doing some trials elsewhere.

Since I happen to have this product


which says it can be used on leather and that it doesn’t require high heat, I’m thinking ever more seriously about the fusing idea. But I am definitely going to have to find some way to do a test before I put an iron to the patch and the back of the jacket.

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My friend in Croatia does the most amazing gold and silver stitchery, mostly on velvet. Recently her work, with that of a few other Croatian artists, was exhibited in the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb. Here’s a picture of Goranka with her exhibit there.


Previously, she has exhibited at the Croatian National Theatre.  Here’s a shot from that exhibit.

Goranka's exhibit


Once she wrote to  me about being intimidated by being in the same show as Japanese embroiderers, renowned for their exquisite silk and gold metal embroidery. But the Japanese exhibitors and visitors were astounded by her work.

To really see this fabulous work, you must go to her website www.handmade-golden-embroidery.com. To tempt you to go there, I’m showing one of her velvet evening purses.



We have been corresponding for many months, maybe more than a year. Once Goranka sent me a sample of a popular seasoning mix widely used by European cooks so I could try it. Turns out it is available here, too. We write about our families, where we live, food. What we haven’t written about is the threads she uses and how she stitches. The only gold and silver threads I have used cannot be stitched through fabric. They have to be couched to the surface. Maybe she will leave a comment here with that information.

At present she is working on a gold and silver rendition of the American eagle, our national symbol. I’m eager to see that!

So let me introduce you to my friend Goranka’s beautiful work.

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Ellicott City

To be a comfortable, competent driver, I’ve decided, I need to drive every day. Since I’m not naturally a spontaneous person, this means I have to plan to go somewhere every day. I started making a list of places to go. So far, I’ve gone to Fort McHenry, where the Star-Spangled Banner was written while Baltimore was under attack by the British. I’ve gone to the Baltimore Museum of Art. On Sunday I went to the black Pentecostal church where I was on Good Friday. Yesterday I drove to Ellicott City, about five miles away.

This little village, founded as Ellicott Mills in 1771, has retained its original buildings, built into the steep hills. On Main Street and some of the side streets and alleys are thriving shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s a tourist, eating-and-drinking, and shopping destination. Lots of antique and decorator shops. Again I was without my camera, but I used my mobile phone to get some shots to show you. Here’s the back of a house built right into the stream that runs behind Main Street.

Creek house

Here’s a view of Main Street. Notice the steeple in the background.


From Main Street I got this view of a house built on an enormous rock out-cropping.

House on rock 2

At Tiber Alley and Main Street is the Tiber Tea Shop where they serve afternoon teas.

Tiber Alley

Back on Tiber Alley is a bar and restaurant called The Rumor Mill. It is housed in an old mill, right on the stream. Notice the cobblestone alley.


Here’s the restaurant entrance at right angle to the bar entrance.

Rumor Mill 2

And here’s the rear view of this old mill. The boarded openings go right down to the creek. Note the steeple.

Rumor Mill rear_edited-1

Many church steeples can be seen far up and beyond Main Street. For example, here’s one behind the house built on the rock.

House on rock

This is the florist!


Here’s another shot of Main Street. See the brick sidewalk? The building with the balcony has apartments for rent.

Main Street

From the parking lot behind Main Street, I saw these houses built on the steep hill.

Hillside houses

The red house is a shop of some kind. The dark posts along the white fence are topped with carved women’s heads, about six of them.

The railroad runs right through town on elevated tracks. Here you can see a passing freight train. The historic train station is now a railroad museum. The original fire station is another museum.

Train 2

Okay. That was my destination yesterday. I drove further out Frederick Road, which is Main Street in town, into the countryside. It quickly becomes rural. Then I turned around and went back home.

I’ve started listing places to go, but it’s actually hard for me to think of places where I really want to go. Ernie says that’s because I don’t like shopping.

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On Monday I had my car inspected for Maryland title and tags.

On Wednesday my husband fell and injured himself. We spent six hours in the Emergency Room.  I succeeded in not having him admitted to the hospital. Fortunately, his doctor, who knows me, backed me up.

So I have a car and a falling, failing husband. What a coincidence.

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