Saturday, April 26, 2008

Going "Home" Again

What was that Thomas Wolfe said? Something about not being able to go home again? Today, for awhile at least, I tried.

Many of you know that I went to a private high school in Rome, Darlington School. Darlington is a well known prep school in the southeast with a long and proud tradition. I'm proud of my Darlington education; I think back fondly of my time there and I'm thankful to the teachers who took an interest in me and encouraged me to do my best. With only 110 people in my graduating class, it wasn't the kind of place where you get lost. When I take people there, they can't believe it's a high school; it looks like a small college campus. Richard and I got married in the chapel there, because the first time I set foot in it, I said that if I ever got married, it was going to be there. The place is that important to me.

However, before I hit the Darlington campus in fall of 1973, I spent four years at a girls school across town known as Thornwood. I'll let you link to the web page to get the history of the place; it is quite a fascinating story, as in 1958 folks in Rome decided that women needed an equivalent opportunity for private education as the men had had at Darlington (which had been all male until fall of 1973). So from the 6th grade through the 9th grade, I attended Thornwood. The boys and girls schools merged in 1973, and Darlington was the surviving entity. Thornwood became the newly formed Lower School, with Pre-K through 5th grade invading the antebellum house we had previously called our school.

Today Thornwood celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the school, and all the "Thornwood ladies" who had ever attended were invited back along with faculty and staff who had worked there. I decided, with some trepidation, to attend. You see, when I was an adolescent, I was a pretty grim, pimply faced, nerdy little girl. Seriously. Those of you who know me today wouldn't recognize me. But then, I fear I was a bit of a target, considering teenage girls can be rather cruel. So some of my memories of Thornwood weren't exactly pleasant... as a matter of fact I think the merger with Darlington was probably one of the best things to happen to me, as I was able to make *friends* with *boys*. I got along much better with them than many of the girls with whom I had previously been in school. One other benefit was that our grades weren't as segregated as they had been, and I got to make friends with girls who were either older or younger than I was.

But I wanted to see how they had remodeled the house.... see if there was any sign of the ghost who used to live there (or if the little buggars had scared it off), and I wanted to show Richard that part of my life that he'd heard me talk about.

And it turns out, I had a better time than I thought. I was able to see my French teacher, Mrs. James, and wish her a hearty "Bonjour!" and let her know that because of her capable teaching I was able to skip several quarters of French in college. I saw Mrs. Berry, my 6th grade English teacher, who had my class for two hours a day for a year (and I can't even begin to imagine the trauma my class must have caused her... some folks had some behavior issues), and I got to thank her for the good foundation in grammar that all that sentence diagramming has had to this day. I got to see Mr. Kirkpatrick, who was the headmaster, who probably didn't remember me, but as I said to Mom, I didn't spend as much time in his office as a lot of other people did.... and that was a good thing.

We spent the day with my friend Karen and her mother, Mrs. Candler, who was my biology teacher. Mrs. Candler's not doing well these days, but I think she enjoyed coming, and it was great to see how many of the girls remembered her fondly and came to tell her so. Karen was a year ahead of me but is only a month older... one of the quirks of having a January birthday meant I was really a lot older than most people in my class. (Came in handy when I got my driver's license first!) Karen's birthday is in December, and in Georgia, December 31 was the cutoff for school, so she got to go into school at a younger age. At any rate, we were good friends once we got together after the schools merged; we were in each other's weddings, and we've kept in touch on and off over the years. It was really good to see her again and be able to talk.

There was a luncheon in the gym. At that point, it became apparent that the day was to be geared toward the girls who had actually graduated from Thornwood. There were tables for all the classes from 1962 to 1973. Then there was an unidentified table for the rest of us who had technically graduated from Darlington but happened to attend school at Thornwood for awhile. That's ok. It really wasn't our time, after all.... it was theirs. And while Thornwood was a stopover for me, it wasn't my "home" -- Darlington was.

I did get to see a couple of people from my class that I hadn't seen in awhile. It was nice to spend a few minutes catching up.

Only one pic from the event... it was the memory I wanted to take with me:Me and Karen -- we're a little older and a little greyer (or at least I am), but what's important hasn't changed.

Oh... and I didn't see the ghost. But then, they still wouldn't let us in the attic of the house either.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


One of the things I'm enjoying about Ravelry (haven't we discussed this already? So go sign up!) is participating in swaps in some of the groups I'm in . So far, I've been in two.

The first was the swap for the Purple Rules! Group. This is a group who openly admits their love of all things purple. Naturally I joined as soon as DF Jill pointed me that way. And wouldn't ya know, when swap partners were assigned, Jill got my name! She was incredibly generous with the stash she presented to me before the Annie Modesitt class a couple of weeks ago:
On the left is a skein of Numma Numma superwash merino sock yarn in color Grape Jam. On the right is a skein of laceweight yarn, color lilac fairy, from I have had a difficult time rationing the center during tax season. :) Thank you so much Jill for the lovely yarns and the yummy candy! I'm looking for the perfect sock pattern to show off the Numma Numma, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the laceweight yet, but laceweight is a new addition to my stash because I didn't have any before. Good call. :) I know I wasn't the easiest person to shop for. If you travel over to Jill's blog, you can see the package she got from her swap partner in Norway.

The other swap was titled "Guilty Pleasures/Good Karma". The idea was that you swapped "luxury" items with your partner.... more expensive yarn, tools, patterns, etc. that they normally wouldn't buy for themselves (participants filled out a questionnaire with ideas). The Good Karma part came in because to participate you had to pledge to either knit for or donate money to Warm Woolies. So while you were getting something luxurious for yourself, you helped some folks who had little to nothing, in a lot of cases, not even shoes. (Yeah, that kinda puts silly yarn purchases in perspective, doesn't it??)

My partner was Dawn from Washington state. Wow, wow, and wow....I opened the box and unwrapped all this. Then I read the note she had included with it explaining how and why she had picked all these items. She just blew me away with her generosity and with the thought she put into it. The green and purple yarn was dyed especially for me by The Unique Sheep. The one inch stitch gauge was made especially for me. She hand made the beautiful project bag (the picture seriously doesn't do it justice) and the stitch markers (complete with tiny sheep). I had requested a shawl pin as my luxury item and wow, is it beautiful. I was just about in tears as I looked at all of it and thought that someone who had never met me had gone to so much trouble. So thank you Dawn, for your thoughtfulness and generosity. I hope your swap partner treated you as well.

Update on the accounting software: The guy called today at the assigned time. I tried downloading the updates. The sucker worked the first time. Our operating theory is that changes they've made on their end plus updates to Vista made it work. I'm not arguing. I just wish it had happened back in January.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Turtles under construction

As some of you may know, I have an issue with needlework "smalls" (which to you who are unfamiliar with the term, are stitched needlebooks, scissor fobs, thimble holders, scissor cases... you get the idea). I have a lot of kits for some beautiful sets of smalls. The problem is, I just for the life of me cannot figure how to put them on the cloth.

I see this big huge piece of blank linen, and I know I have to fit 5 or 6 stitched pieces on it. Logically, I know it can be done. But I have this spatial orientation issue that prevents me from "seeing" how it can. Rae says it's because I don't think dimensionally. I'm supposing that's probably true, because I can't see how to arrange furniture in a room either.

In February, Ellen Chester released a wonderful set of Quaker Turtles.Aren't they just the cutest things you've ever seen?? So I called up Drema at Needlecraft Corner and made sure I snagged 'em as soon as they came out.

Tax season is over, so it's time to consider a new project. But how to fix the cloth so I know where to put the turtles?? Fortunately Ellen gave exact dimensions so I was able to baste my linen and know where each piece was supposed to go. I spent last night preparing the linen.You may have to click on the picture to enlarge it to see my basting lines. Turns out my linen was larger than what the pattern called for, so I've got a 4 inch margin at the top. Maybe I can use that for an ornament or something when all is said and done.

I'm hoping to start the turtles tomorrow, after I've had yet another battle with my accounting software company. They're supposed to be calling to fix the problem I had back in January. We'll see.

Wish me luck. With both the turtles and the software.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekends like this make it all allright...

Tax season is over (can I hear a Hallelujah!). Thankfully it ended with a whimper, mostly from me. But immediately afterwards, I got to enjoy a fantastic weekend with some of my most favorite people in the world around me.
I was most blessed to be able to host Rae Iverson (seated with her arms around Debbie on the left and Andy on the right), who owns and designs for Moss Creek Designs for the weekend while she taught classes at the Sampler Guild of Georgia. (If you haven't seen Rae's designs, click on the link *now* and then come back and read the rest of this silly blog later. If you don't, and you do counted thread work on a regular basis, you'll kick yourself because you'll be missing some of the most original and challenging work out on the market today. And yes, I'm a groupie.)

At any rate, it was a great excuse to also host all my buddies for two nights of great food and great fun. We were flying in a bit of a missing man formation, because we were desperately missing DFs Ann and Teresa, who weren't able to join us. Having them here would have made a great weekend just perfect. But outside of that bit of a downer, we managed to have a pretty good time. :)

On the second row in the pic you see Jill, Judy, Linda, moi with HRL Oscar (who of course had to be in the middle of everything), and Cathy. In the back are my dear hubby Richard (who, using his Mensa-boy smarts set up a tripod and figured out the timer on the camera to get himself in the picture), Angela, Linda's hubby Big Jim, Heather's hubby Michael, and The Magic That Is Heather herself.

Unfortunately, missing from the shot were DFs Vicky and Ramona, both of whom had to work on Friday night when this picture was taken. They joined us on Saturday night (when, unfortunately, several other people weren't here), so we couldn't get a true "group" shot on either night.

We had food:Richard quite obviously loves the apricot chicken Andy made, as he decided to capture it for posterity. On Saturday night, Vicky treated us to homemade spaghetti and meatballs, with made from scratch (!!!) cheesecake (I still have some in my fridge - don't tell Jenny Craig).

The classes were great. On Friday we took Rae's Blueberries and Cream set:My photo is woefully inadequate, so check Rae's website for a better look. At any rate, we worked on the scissors fob in class. Note that it requires pointe de reprise work and some stumpwork berries. DF Judy has already decided that she wants to use fancy crystals instead of the stumpwork, but considering how stubborn I am, it's a point of honor to make the doggone berries. My work so far:
The little lump in the front is my attempt so far at a berry. Looks a little like a jelly fish. We'll just say it needs some work and leave it at that.

Saturday's class was actually a companion piece to another project we'd had at a previous Stitcher's Gathering called "She Maketh Fine Linen". Note that it contains wonderful little SHEEP made with rhodes stitches. :)Quit stitching on it on Saturday during class. See the brown "worms"? Over one stitching. One thread too far to the left. And if you stitch, you know that the only thing worse that stitching over one is frogging over one...... urgh. Time to let it rest for a couple of days.

On Saturday night we decided to work on some "ort" bags that we'd seen some folks with and that the Sampler Guild had made at their annual retreat. Rae had talked to the lady who had made them, and Ramona, Vicky, and Angela had been at the retreat. We figured we could probably figure out the pattern (since all of us are generally smarter than the average bear), and we think we've actually made some improvements. :) (BTW, if you're not familar with the term, an "ort" is that little bit of thread you have left after you've finished with what's in your needle. It's not big enough to use, and you generally end up with them all over the table. The ort bag gives you a nice tidy place to put them till you're through stitching and you can throw them away.)

Here we are plotting, planning, and stitching...
Yeah, it's blurry. Richard once again set up the timer so he could get this nifty pic of him pondering what Ramona was sewing, so I figured I should put it on the blog. :)

What the ort bag looks like (sorta -- mine's not completely finished as I was documenting the pattern):
But the really kewl thing is how they look "closed":Totally worth the trouble. :)

On Sunday we went to the Sampler Guild meeting, where Rae delivered a fascinating lecture on Mary, Queen of Scots. The current politicos have nothing on that chick! :)

So today I'm exhausted, but it's a good kind of tired. I'm glad to have had such a wonderful weekend and I'm so happy to have so many great friends in my life who have become my extended family. If you've got that, what more can you ask for??

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Less than a week left....

It's April 9.

Believe it or not, people are still throwing tax returns at me. I'm trying to refrain from laughing hysterically.

I have successfully refrained from shouting "screw you, Jenny Craig" as I shovel handfuls of chocolate into my face. It's only a temporary phase, after all.

I have successfully refrained from lecturing people on the importance of me being able to *read* the documents they give me. Fuzzy faxes and receipts that look like they've been through the washing machine don't cut it.

We went to Defcon 2 this morning as the stapler broke. It's amazing how much I rely on a stapler. Fortunately I found a sub without breaking into tears. At least it wasn't as bad as the nail in the tire last week. I was very proud of handling that without breaking out into hives. (Kudos to the Hummer dealer here, btw. They got me in and out quickly. And yes, I figure it's overkill to go to the dealer for a nail in the tire, but it was the only option at the time. )

I'm crawling back into my hole. Hopefully I'll see all of you next week.