Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy news from Pennsylvania students

Back in June, I posted a blog entry about a school teacher in Pennsylvania who uses needlework in her art classes.  The school is in a poorer district, so art supplies are often scarce, but the students LOVE to learn how to cross stitch.  Jo supplements what the school can afford to give her with items from her own needlework supplies, and needless to say, 1,000 students a week can really stretch resources.

Well, a good number of you out there were extremely generous, and Jo says she received boxes and boxes of cross stitch patterns, fabrics, threads, accessories (needles, scissors), and even some art supplies for her other lessons.  (Some of the stash can be seen in the picture below...right under a Thank You from the students.)

Here's what Jo had to say recently:

....I was able to take a few photos of a tiny bit of THE STASH to send. Will do more as time permits as I don't want all of the kids to see it all yet because I want them to do their Indian Medicine Skins first. If they see the cross stitch then they will be after me to do that. And I need to do this seasonal project for the curriculum first.  The way it is, they know the boxes are cross stitch, and the few kids that helped unpack went crazy, and the word went out like wildfire. Of course they all are excited and want to cross stitch right now. 
I did tell them that kids younger than they are did cross stitch samplers and alphabets to keep track of their laundry because in Plymouth, Mass., their laundry was all done together and everyone wore the same sized shirt/dress. They listen and are just amazed that people lived like this in the 1600's. Ha.  Roughing it.  
What also amazes them is the generosity of the ladies that sent the care packages for us. The kids can't believe all the charts that were sent!!!  ...we were using a lot of the free charts you can copy, so when they saw the big box of charts it was amazing.  There are many many boxes that came and there are threads, charts, fabric, and needles. Also some ladies sent glue glue sticks paint and enough crayons for me to fill up the crayon boxes on every table.  
Our deepest thanks go out to everyone. Because of your kindness and generosity the kids will have a lot more than the two yards of Aida and the six packs of thread and the needles I ordered on my supply order. Bless you all. Thank you thank you thank you.  
Oh. This was cute. I asked them to sign their name to the thank you and one boy asked if he signed it does that mean he would get to cross stitch?  THEY ARE EXCITED.  Thanks so much for everything  I have to have the patience of a saint to get thru this first project. Thank goodness the 6th grade already knows how to stitch. I will only have to teach the 5th grade with the smaller stuff.  Thanks again....The beginning of school is so hectic. Love, Jo

Two other cute stories... one of the girls had questions about the donations.  She wondered if we were all rich....or did they have to stitch the needlework and send it back to the donors?  Why would strangers send such treasures to kids they didn't even know?  Jo explained that everyone was just being generous with what they had that was extra, and the girl was wide-eyed and amazed at it all.

Another girl looked through the kits and came up to Jo with TWO of them.  The students are allowed to work on only one kit, and if they finish that one, they can pick out another.  This girl said she really liked BOTH kits, so she was going to stitch as quickly as she could on the first one and hope that the second one was left.  (Jo said she stuck this second kit aside for the girl for when she was finished.)

Jo isn't able to send us pictures of the children, for confidentiality reasons, you know.  But when I get any updates, I'll let you all know how they're doing.  If you would like to contribute needlework supplies and/or art supplies to Jo and her art program, send to:

Joanne Edwards -- Elementary Art Teacher
c/o Lakeland Elementary School
1569 Lakeland Drive
Scott Township, PA 18433

Thanks for helping those in need, guys!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So long, good friend

I adopted Boo right around the time I started this blog -- she grabbed my heart while I walked past the cat cages at PetSmart, and I knew she had to come home with me.  We had only one other cat at the time, Kitty, who tolerated Boo, barely.  Boo ran around the house, stealing my floss and stashing it in a pile in the corner under our computer desk.  She waited for me to get out of the shower every morning. She came with me to work for a while (to give poor Kitty a break).  She slept in my hair at night.  And she loved me.

The spring after we adopted Boo, we adopted Ruby.  Then Giblet.  Then Zero and Dottie.  By that time we were fostering kittens who came and went like leaves on the breeze.  With every addition, Boo became more anxious, less sure of herself, and more prone to swiping at the other cats in the house.

We tried pheromone wall plug-ins, Prozac, extra play time, and even visited the vet a few times to make sure she was healthy.  But our vet said some cats really just need to be one-and-only's.  Boo is a smart girl, and that, our vet said, can be a problem.  She just never was used to the idea of sharing a house with lots (and lots...and lots) of other cats and kittens.

So, as much as I love her, I had to let her go this week.  I took her to the shelter for a check-up and surrender, then carried her to PetSmart to look for a new home.  It was hard for me.  It was hard for her.    And although I have tears in my eyes and look around corners at home for her beautiful face, I know that she is on a journey to a new chance at happiness and love and peace and security.  Yes, I posted that she needs to be an only cat.  Yes, I posted that she is smart, and loyal, and that she has been well-loved.

Sometimes when you really love someone, you have to let her go on her own journey.  I hope she is happy, and I hope she knows I love her.

I'll miss you, Boo.  Always.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ann Womack graphs ready

You may remember that back in June, I asked y'all to vote for one of three samplers that would be the next one I would reproduce.  Miss Ann Womack was the winner, and now I have the graphs ready for sale to customers and shops.  The retail price on this chart is $11.00.  I'm recommending Lakeside Linens' 40 count Exemplar and Needlepoint Silk 207 to complete this design.

This graph does have a few specialty stitches -- eyelet, four-sided stitch, and over-one (cross stitch).  The eyelets and four-sided stitches can be done in full cross stitch, but please be aware that the verse and one line of alphabets are over-one thread...and that is hard to do any other way but that.

Time is always moving on
Time, we soon may say is gone,
Time is fleeting, and we know,
Time, at last, will disappear.
Ann Womack. Aged 8 years

A very appropriate sentiment as we get ready for fall.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Finally, a check-in with the kittens

It's not that we don't HAVE kittens.  In fact, this morning, there were ELEVEN of them running around our house.  But some of them went back to the shelter today, so I snapped a few graduation photos, and thought I'd introduce you to a few of the little ladies and gentlemen who take up much of our free time.

Above is Sadie.  She was found in the parking lot at Target four or five weeks ago.  Would you believe gorgeous little kittens like this have trouble finding homes at the shelter?  A lot of people consider black dogs and cats to be "common" or "uninteresting," but this is the swagger-iest kitten, and one of the smarter ones we've had come through our house in a while.  She's got very soft fur, and her eyes are going to be bright green.  She's now surgery weight, so she'll be fixed, then taken to PetSmart for adoption.

Finn was one of two sisters my son Harrison took in a while back.  These two weren't big enough to be at the shelter yet, so he saved them by letting them crash at his place.  Harrison moved back home this last week, and brought these girls with him.  Finn is a little shy, but really, really nice, and happy.  He is pretty sad they'll have to go, but he's so happy he could help.

Pearl is Finn's sister, and she is outgoing and brave.  I think both of these sisters are going to be big cats (look at the EARS on this one!)  I'm so proud that my son loves animals enough to take some under his wing to nourish and love.

These two are adorable -- do you recognize Gumbo (on the right?)  He almost died about six weeks ago, and had become just skin and bones.  Now he's a little sand bag with a round, warm belly and a lot of love to give.  His eyes are still big, and he's such a lover.  Holly (left) is going to be adopted along with Gumbo by a reader, and they are going to go live in Alabama!  They actually really love each other -- I often catch them napping together, playing together, or giving each other baths.  It's a great big brother/little sister relationship.  Holly was found in a holly tree when she was teenie.  She has grown, too, and has such a winning personality.

This is dear Zephyr.  She isn't quite big enough to go back yet, but I snapped a quick picture of her.  She is one of the gentlest, mildest kittens we've ever had in the house.  She and another one of my tiny kittens (Han Solo) follow me around the house, and whenever I land somewhere, both are up on my lap or on my shoulders.  I also have Zephyr's brother, the unfortunately-named "Ding Bat." (We did not name him.  In fact, we call him "D.B.")  He looks a lot like Zephyr, and I'll post pictures soon.

So, the kittens we have at home in addition to these six in the pictures are: Han Solo, Chewbacca, Twee, Leia, and D.B.  I'll post pictures of these little rascals soon.

And I do get questions about how Brave is doing.  A few weeks ago, I took her back to the shelter. She had some stomach "issues" and I could never catch her to get her medicated.  She was still VERY nervous around people, scared, in fact.  Anthony and Harrison took her in at the Cat Cottage and put her in a cage with a blanket, food and water, and a litter box, and gave her medication every day, and she is now feeling a lot better.

The other thing being isolated did to Brave is it taught her to love people!  She was always looking for affection from my cats at home, but wanted nothing to do with us.  Once people were her only option for love every day, she learned to trust and become comfortable.  A few days ago, I visited her, picked her up, and she purred and let me hold her for a while.  So nice!  She is saved and now up for adoption.  It just goes to show that sometimes all someone needs is a little love and understanding to turn out just great.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

One thing I've learned...

This morning, I made one of my frequent runs to send out a bunch of packages.  I've been standing in lines at the post office for 16 years now, and have seen a lot of different types of people...screaming babies, harried business types, newlyweds, old folks with walkers (and sometimes oxygen tanks), and of course people of just about every color, size, shape, creed and demographic.

I've never been one to put a lot of value on what someone looks like.  I toss on a pair of jeans every morning on my way to work, run my fingers through my hair, rub on a little moisturizer, and "good enough," you know?

Standing behind me this morning (in a very long and slow-moving post-holiday line at the post office), was an older feller.  I call him a feller, because that's kind of what he looked like.  Shorts and a t-shirt with no sleeves, late-70's/early-80's, tennis shoes, a scruff of a very white beard coming in on his chin.  He was wearing thicker glasses, but had sparkly eyes.

Another gentleman behind the two of us seemed to be Arabic and was having trouble understanding his tracking information from the internet.  I offered to take a look at his print-out, and only helped that man discover that he really did need to talk to someone up front.  The older gentleman, sensing my friendly top o' the morning demeanor, struck up a conversation with me, starting, as it usually does, with something along the lines of: "Oh my goodness, those are a lot of packages you're mailing."

I told him I was self-employed, and he said he had a grand-daughter who was, too.  He told me in a thick southern drawl he had worked for public transportation down in New Orleans for a few decades.  Hm, I thought, a bus driver?  Not judging, of course, just sizing him up.  I asked him if he missed it, and he said he didn't.  But before that, you see, he was an engineer, and travelled to many countries, like France, the Philippines, and Indonesia.  He loved the people of the Philippines, but found Indonesia to be an ideal climate.

He had also lived in a number of different areas of the United States, but when his wife became ill (and I'm assuming passed away), he retired.  Of course this was many years after he was a football player for a local community college.  Shortly after that, he received his degree from Harvard in engineering.  "I still play basketball once a week," he said, winking at me.  "I'm eighty-five."

"Good for you!" I said.  "That's awesome!  Cool!"  By this time, we had worked our way to the front and had to part ways.  He told me he hoped I had a great day, and I wished him the same.  Maybe I'll run into him again sometime...maybe I won't.  But he reminded me this morning that it really is unimportant what someone looks like...and not to make assumptions.  On top of every pair of legs, inside every skull resides a person with experiences and value.  You just never know where someone has been, what they've done for their communities.  A bus driver is no less valuable than a Harvard-educated engineer...we are all of us needed to make this world go 'round.

And I was happy to listen for a little while this morning.