STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another "Must Read"

For you book lovers, I have a suggestion for your Must Read List. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Swedish author Stieg Larsson is the first of a trilogy. Mystery is not the genre I read most often, but this one is a real page turner. It is well written and easy to read, and has all the components of a good mystery. Although the first hundred pages or so contain many Swedish place names and character names, I followed the advice given to me by a friend - Don't get bogged down trying to remember or sort out all the unfamiliar names- it doesn't matter later on. Good advice to remember.
There are two well developed protagonists in this book, each with their own "story to tell": Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has written something he cannot prove and has been charged with criminal libel, and Lisbeth Salander, a young tattooed and pierced rebellious computer hacker who had a tough upbringing and is fighting to get "control" of her own life. The novel would be interesting enough just with the development of these two characters, but add in the mystery of a young girl's disappearance without a trace 40 years ago, and some dark secrets long hidden by her large wealthy family, and you have the recipe for a winner! The unlikely pair of Mikael and Lisbeth team up to unravel the mystery of Harriet Vanger's disappearance, uncovering some skeletons in the family closet along the way.... You must read this book!
I am now well into the second book of this Millennium Trilogy- The Girl Who Played With Fire - another gripping "edge of your seat" story, and number three awaits - The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest...
What a shame that author Larsson died in 2004 of a heart attack, he would surely have had a stellar career as a novelist...


"Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting me at the end of a long day makes that day happier." ~ Kathleen Norris

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Law of the Garbage Truck

No doubt like me you receive many stories and jokes in your inbox from friends. I always enjoy the smiles, and sometimes I pass on any that are really funny. This one arrived a few days ago from my friend Marsha and I decided to post it here. I like stories that have a message or lesson and I thought this was a good reminder to us all. I hope you like it. Feel free to pass it on.

The Law of the Garbage Truck

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off to the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by mere inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. I mean he was really friendly! So I asked " Why did you do that? That guy almost ruined your car and sent us both to the hospital!" This is when the taxi driver taught me what I now call "The Law of the Garbage Truck".
He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up they need a place to dump it, and sometimes they'll dump it on you,. Don't take it personally! Just smile, wave, wish them well and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home or on the streets.
The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So - love the people who treat you right and pray for the ones who don't.


Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What next?

Well the last few days have been "interesting" to say the least. I'll start with brother Wayne. He was so happy to get home last week after his 8 day stay in hospital...but it was short-lived. The second day home he broke out in hives on face, head and hands. They were somewhat kept in check with doses of Benadryl, but after 24 hours they were worse rather than better, so off to the hospital again. It was decided that he was having an allergic reaction to the meds he was on, so they have been changed. He receives the antibiotics via an IV pump and a PICC line (a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter). The point of entry is located in his upper arm, and the long slender flexible tubing runs through a peripheral vein to a large chest vein near his heart. This is fairly common for prolonged IV antibiotic treatment. We're hoping that things will now run smoothly with no further complications. He returns to Saint John tomorrow for another "check-in" with his surgeon. We are hoping the Dr. will decide it's time for the other pins to be removed from his foot. He's into the 10th week now, and is getting pretty tired of this whole thing... I think he's got a long road ahead; certainly he's not going to be walking any time soon.

This past weekend I drove DD Laura and her BFF Angela to Halifax so they could attend the Black Eyed Peas concert on the Halifax Commons. They planned to stay in Laura's "new" apartment, and I was anxious to see it for the first time. We were not at all impressed to find that the two young men who are subletting have little knowledge or understanding of kitchen hygiene practises, and the kitchen has become home to thousands of fruit flies. And trust me "thousands" is NOT an exaggeration. Needless to say the girls did not stay there, and after returning with some cider vinegar and saran wrap to set up some traps, and letting the guys know just how unimpressed we were, we left and did not return. Hopefully they will get it under control quickly. We don't want it to lead to further "buggy " problems... The girls stayed with me, and had a blast at the Concert. I made a quick trip to the Valley on Saturday evening to attend a visitation for a friend who had passed away. Driving in through Grand Pre, Wolfville, Greenwich and Kentville just reminded me how beautiful the Valley is at this time of year and how much I miss it. The vegetable stands and markets were overflowing with fresh local produce. Many memories of good times flashed through my mind as I passed University Hall at Acadia. Those were the days.... Ahhh, why can't we stay young forever?
I've picked about 5 quarts of raspberries since getting home last night, and they are all in the freezer now, waiting to become pies! And I'm tired and off to bed. Goodnight!


"Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us."
~ Thomas L. Holdcroft

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday

I thought I would share some photos of the Canada Lily (lilium canadense) with you today. This plant, also known as the Meadow Lily, is common to eastern North America, growing in moist meadows and woodland margins. It can grow to around 5 feet tall with a number of nodding bell-shaped blooms which range from yellow to orange-red, with darker spots. This one was my height, about five and a half feet tall with a good number of blooms. The Canada Lily is on the endangered species list so I am always excited to see a number of them growing downriver from Fredericton. Last year there seemed to be very few of them, this year there are many more. Apparently the buds and roots of this plant were once gathered and eaten by the North American natives.


"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks". ~ John Muir

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Sweet Tastes of Summer

What are your favourite summer tastes? Of course I would have to say ice cream..... fresh veggies straight from the garden (raw peas being my fav, with carrots and beets running a close second)... but one of my most fav tasty treats would be fresh raspberry pie.. Oh yummmyyy. Give me raspberry pie over strawberry shortcake ANY day... My mouth salivates just thinking about it. We have our own raspberry patch; Wayne and I share it, and since he won't be doing any picking this year, I'm going to be busy. I have already picked a few quarts, and made the first pie. It looks to be a bumper crop, so I'm going to be kept busy the next few weeks trying to keep ahead of the picking... I'll do one more pie and then the rest will go in the freezer. I sent 2 pieces of pie down to Wayne on Sunday with my sister-in-law who has faithfully been traveling down to SJ to visit him every day - she said he just inhaled them... maybe that's why he's feeling better and is coming home today!
Another garden favourite in our house is fresh leaf lettuce dressed with cream and vinegar. I don't know if this is something my mother "invented", or if it's an old Maritime thing, or what... I've never come across anyone else who does this when I've talked about it. Here's the "recipe" : fresh leaf lettuce, washed and dried - I pick about 40 good sized leaves. After washing, place in salad bowl, tearing leaves in half or more, if large. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and white sugar, then drizzle with cream and white vinegar. Toss and serve. It is sooo good... We're having some for supper.
This evening I have to do some berry picking, then plan to work on my NYC wallhanging.. Tata for now.


To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ahhh summer...

First things first- my brother Wayne is somewhat better. He is still in hospital, and will be until the first of next week, at least. The antibiotics by IV seem to be working and the swelling is going down. He is feeling a bit better and his appetite is returning. The surgeon removed three of the pins from his foot, as that seemed to be the site (and the cause?) of the infection, but he is hoping to be able to leave the other 7 pins in place for at least 2-3 more weeks. It has been 8 weeks now since the accident, and Wayne has dropped 20 pounds...
Summer continues... hot humid weather.... gardens are growing. My vegetable garden is coming along, some things doing better than others. Can anyone tell me why insects love to eat the growing veggies, but they won't even sample the weeds???? My perennials are 2-3 weeks ahead of "normal" - I don't think there will be anything left to bloom by August. I guess the early spring start and all the rain has pushed things way ahead. My lilies are nearly done, and in a normal year they are just starting to bloom about now.... I continue my ongoing nightly battle with earwigs and slugs....ugh...
One of my favourite things about summer is more time to read. I just totally ignore the television (not that I watch much anyway) but once darkness falls and I'm finished watering, I curl up on the couch with the windows open and read for a few hours before bed. I'm currently reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I recently finished Gap Creek: The Story of a Marriage by Robert Morgan, one of Oprah's Book Club choices; and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I really enjoyed the latter, written as a series of letters between a young journalist (Juliet) in London and the members of a Book Club of sorts on Guernsey Island. As they relate their experiences during the German occupation of their island during WWII, Juliet becomes fascinated with this varied group of "characters" and decides she must journey to Guernsey to meet them. It is a story of warmth, humour and great courage under adverse war-time conditions, a great read. A big thumbs up!!
I have a stack of books waiting for me to get to them.. The Pillars of the Earth, No Great Mischief, House of Sand and Fog, The Heart of a Woman, Dewey, among others, plus of course I'll have to read Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest ... I truly NEED more hours in my day!!! I picked up Diana Gabaldon's newest book, An Echo in the Bone, in paperback yesterday, when I was at Costco in Moncton. I was in Moncton for the Celtic Woman concert which was fabulous by the way. Beautiful women, incredible voices, wonderful music (LOVE those Irish pipes!) and awesome lighting. I think I enjoyed the wonderful color combinations of the lighting effects almost as much as I did the music. Of course no photos or videoing was allowed during the concert. :(
Just FYI, I AM working on the wallhanging from NYC - hope to have the top done in another few days... lots of little pieces...


"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it." ~ Russel Baker

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Carpe Diem

Just a brief reminder to live each day to the fullest, for we never know what's around the corner... My brother is back in hospital, with infection in his foot. We are worried, and hope and pray that this does not lead to further complications. Everything was going so well... Please remember him in your prayers...
I lost another friend to cancer today. A family man, in the prime of his life, only 48. He leaves behind a young wife and 2 children, ages 15 and 19. Dana was a great guy, a salt of the earth type. A real family man, a hard worker, active in his church and community.... He will be missed by many. Life just isn't fair sometimes.
Don't be afraid to say "I love you" to those who matter in your life...


"You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now. " ~ Joan Baez

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New York City, Part 4

As I said earlier, you just never know what you're going to see in NYC. I guess the best plan when there is to somewhat "go with the flow". As usual, I had many things on my "want to do" list, more than I would ever be able to accomplish. One of my major "plans" was some time exploring the Fashion/Garment District. Armed with a list of shops to visit, thanks to Paula Nadelstern's website, I had big plans. Well as Robert Burns told us, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. There just weren't enough hours in the day to accomplish half of what I had planned...
I did however make it to several of the shops I really wanted to see, one being a visit to
The City Quilter on West 25th Street in Chelsea. It is always interesting to visit a quilt shop in another area, as there always seem to be different lines of fabric and things you do not find in your local shops. I had two things on my "look for" list and was pleased to get them both- one was a few yards of a particular NYC print for backing for a large wallhanging, the other was a kit for a small piece with a NYC theme. I haven't spent any time at my machine lately and am itching to get back to it, so I'm hoping that this fairly quick little project, with most fabrics supplied, will spur me on to "get back at it". I'll be sure to show it to you when it's together, this coming week if I'm really lucky. Chelsea is an interesting part of the city, with many Art Galleries, antique shops, specialty stores and just a lot of interesting little shops to poke around in. Also nearby is the FIT- Fashion Institute of Technology. Next time I'll check out what exhibition is on in their museum.
Mokuba New York on West 39th was also on my list of "must see" spots. This wholesale and retail shop features 43,00 exquisite ribbons and trims, designed and manufactured by Mokuba in Japan. I treated myself to a few of their narrow silk ribbons for SRE (above right), and also found a few trim sample cards in their clearance area. I was overwhelmed by the variety of ribbon choices - this was certainly the veritable "candy store for adults".... Wow! is an understatement...
M&J Trimming on Sixth Avenue was my third must visit. "Overwhelming" doesn't even come close to describing this 5000 sq. foot shop full of every kind of ribbon, trim, braid, tassel, button, applique, lace, rhinestone and crystal, sequin or buckle you could ever imagine. I could not make a decision to save my soul! This is definitely a "must have a project in mind" destination. Next time I'll come with list in hand, but it sure was fun to browse just to see their wide range of goodies. Oh how wonderful it would be to have a spot like this closeby to visit whenever you needed something for a current project. These two photos will give you an idea of the huge range of items - this is just a small area of the cordings (above left), and at right the ribbon trims.
I also got into four or five great bead shops, but didn't take any photos. The selection was again amazing, bordering on overload.....
I guess that would be a good word for NYC in general... "overload". After a few days your brain is just in overdrive. SO much to see and do. SO many people. SO MUCH FUN! One of the reasons I didn't have as much time to explore the Garment District (besides being hot, tired and needing a new pair of feet) was that my roomie and I spent one morning at the King Tut exhibit. I have always wanted to see it, and when we learned it was at the Discovery Center just a few blocks from our hotel, well it was just too good an opportunity to miss. (I knew the Garment District would still be there next time, but King Tut wouldn't.) We spent several hours viewing over 130 artifacts in this incredible exhibition which focuses on the 18th Dynasty, a 100 year period when Egypt was at the height of it's power, and the "golden age" of Egyptian artistry. This was the era when Tutankhamun and his ancestors reigned. I enjoyed every minute! You can go here for a preview of the exhibit.
So did I enjoy my visit to Gotham City? You bet! Would I go back again? Yes, in a New York minute!! I've already started a list for next time....
My end quote for today is taken from the Discovery Times Square Exposition foyer.. and how true it is!


"The world is just awesome."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Look Up...Waaaay up...

... and I'll call Rusty. No, that's another story. (How many of you remember the Friendly Giant?)
When I was in NYC gazing up at those towering skyscrapers (probably with my mouth hanging open in awe - dead giveaway that you're a "tourist") I thought of giants more than once. And I don't mean the NYC Giants either. No, I was thinking of King Kong and other oversized creatures who would feel at home among such lofty structures. I guess when you live in a city where the tallest building is 10 stories, you cannot help but be impressed with the stature of the skyscrapers. Our hotel, the Crowne Plaza (right), had 48 floors and it was barely "average height" compared to it's neighbours. The Empire State Building is once again the tallest structure in NYC at 103 stories. The Chrysler Building, the Citycorp Bank Building, the Time Warner Building, Trump Tower and the General Electric Building (left) at Rockefeller Center are all impressive with their designs and lofty heights.
I have long been fascinated by reflections. I can remember as a small child peeking around a corner in the upstairs hall to look into the full length mirror, and there was always a little girl looking back at me. She was always there, no matter how hard I tried to get ahead of her.... I love looking for reflections, whether in puddles, windows or wherever. Following are a few of the reflections I captured in the Big Apple. The first building shown is Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. The second one below shows a reflection of the Empire State Building and Bryant Park Hotel, taken from the corner of Bryant Park. The last photo is of the World Financial Center and Winter Garden, a fairly new complex in the Ground Zero area of Battery Park. Come back tomorrow to hear about my visit to the City Quilter and the Garment District. It will be my last NYC post....


"The sensual mysticism of entire vertical being..." - E.E. Cummings on skyscrapers

Friday, July 9, 2010

New York City Part 2

New York City! The very words stir excitement in my soul! It is quite the city indeed.The sights, the entertainment, the people, the architecture, the food.... You just never know what you are going to experience.
This was my third visit to the Big Apple. I've been twice in the summer, and once at Christmas/New Years, so I'm crossing off a lot of the "Must See and Do" things on the list. I've done 3 of the 4 (excellent!) Grey Line Bus Tours- a must for the New York virgin (first time visitor). I cannot recommend these tours enough- they are SO worth the cost and time, as you learn so much about the city- history, architecture, what's what and what celebrity lives where... They are such a great way to get to ALL the highlights and you can hop on and off to visit whichever ones you choose... I've seen just about all of the "must-see's" on my list and have some great memories: the view from the top of the Empire State Building, visiting Ground Zero and nearby St. Paul's Chapel, the Radio City Music Hall backstage tour and the Christmas Spectacular, the awesome St. Patrick's Cathedral (below right), New Year's Eve in Times Square (never again), an Opera at the Met, the night-time view of the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge, meals at the Stardust Diner (where all the wait staff are Broadway wanna-be's and sing/entertain while you eat), the HardRock Cafe, lunch in Trump Tower and New Year's Eve dining at Top of the Sixes (a classy spot in it's day), strolls through Central Park and Strawberry Fields (the memorial to John Lennon), walking through Tiffany's and Saks Fifth Avenue (alas no purchases!)... the list goes on and on. I've done a few unconventional things too- like Night Court- remember that TV show? Well, I've been to the real NYC Night Court - interesting people there, to say the least... I've seen Lady Liberty from the Staten Island ferry; next time I think I might like to see her closer up! I'm putting that on my "next time" list, along with Grand Central Terminal, which I have yet to visit. Also on my next time list is a Museum visit. The only one I've been to is The Cloisters (again an unusual choice - not MY choice). I think I'll start with the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West, where Night at the Museum was filmed. The Planetarium alone is well worth the visit, and I'm sure I'd have no trouble at all filling a full day there... Yes, I'm starting a list....
The architecture in NYC always fascinates me. When you see that Manhattan skyline, dominated by so many skyscrapers, it's just amazing! I always thought- how come the island of Manhattan doesn't sink? How can a small island support all those huge buildings? I learned that
mica schist and gneiss underlie much of Manhattan. It is these layers of strong durable bedrock that support these tall structures. Where it is closer to the surface, you will see densely clustered skyscrapers as in Midtown and the Financial District, and where it is further beneath the surface like in the Greenwich Village area, the buildings are only a few stories. I love the contrasts of modern towering skyscrapers of steel and glass with the older stone buildings with such intricate detail. Shown here (above left) are the Ansonia, a well known Upper West Side landmark, originally a hotel and now luxury condos and apartments, (former residents include Babe Ruth, Stravinski, Toscanini and Angelina Jolie) and the Bryant Park Hotel (right) with it's Gothic-inspired black brick tower accented with gold terracotta. It's modern lobby features glossy black marble and lipstick-red furnishings.... Yes, there are contrasts at every turn. I love New York!!! The modern towering facades offer interesting reflections too - come back tomorrow to see my "reflection collection"...


"Cut off as I am, it is inevitable that I should sometimes feel like a shadow walking in a shadowy world. When this happens, I ask to be taken to New York City. Always I return home weary but I have the comforting certainty that mankind is real and I myself am not a dream." ~ Helen Keller

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New York, New York....

Whew, is it hot enough for you? My outdoor thermometer hit 100F this afternoon. I stayed inside most of the day and got my money's worth out of the air conditioning! haha
I returned from the Big Apple on Sunday evening; I'm sure glad we were there last week and not this week. This heat wave would be a killer in that city! We had a fabulous time; got to know each other much better, saw the sights and some great entertainment, and had lots of laughs. What more could one ask for? As I expected the highlight for me was the Broadway Shows. I'd be hard pressed to choose a favourite as all were excellent. I loved the music in Mamma Mia and was singing along to all the songs. The dancing in Billy Elliot was absolutely awesome, the boy who had the lead role was phenomenal. What talent - he will go far, I'm sure. I can see why it has won 10 Tony Awards. I enjoyed the story of The Four Seasons in Jersey Boys and of course the music took me right back.. There were a few numbers I was not familair with, but most of the songs had me singing along. Remember Sherry? Big Girls Don't Cry? Ragdoll and Walk Like a Man ? I would go back to see any of these shows in a "New York minute" as they say... Of course there are others I want to see too, before I start repeating... I've started my list: Memphis, Wicked, and Come Fly Away are all good possibilities at present. Other temptations would be Cirque de Soleil and Blue Man Group. James Taylor and Carole King were in town, Harry Connick Jr., Ringo Starr and Lady Gaga were all coming next week. Bernadette Peters, Kelsey Grammer and Denzel Washington were all starring in Broadway Shows... Sigh! I think I could stay there a month (I couldn't afford it , but nice to dream...) and still have shows and performances I'd like to see... Oh to have unlimited time and money...
NYC is definitely unique. It is truly "the city that never sleeps". One only has to walk through Times Square to feel the pulse, the energy, the excitement. Our hotel was right on Broadway at Times Square, so to say we were "right in the middle of things" is an understatement! If you have been there, you know of what I speak! As promised, we (well most of us) wore red and white on Canada Day and while waiting for our bus that morning, sang O Canada right on the sidewalk outside the hotel- so we can say "We sang on Broadway"!!! We got lots of looks and even some applause! Our tour guide told us she would try to get us on stage at the Apollo Theatre to sing as well, but it didn't work out as we were running short on time.. Too bad- that would really have been a good story to tell.
Well that's all the NYC stories for tonight. To be continued.....


"I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps...."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day everyone! Know that there are 50 ladies from Fredericton wearing red and white in Manhattan today; we plan to find a spot to stand proudly and sing a rousing version of Oh Canada! I wonder if anyone will stop to listen?

Check out the Fredericton Quilters' Guild here today for a red and white Show and Tell. I thought I'd post my three quilts that are red and white here as well, just to show a little patriotism! I am a proud Canadian!

The top one is a wallhanging I made to display all my quilting pins, and Guild and conference pins (shown here without pins). The small piece on the left is my Bears Paw miniature, measuring 15.5 " square. The last one at bottom is a large lap size quilt, Nine Patch and Rails. It was done as part of a nine patch exchange with a group of friends a few years back. Have a look at the photos on the Guild Blog and see if you can figure out which of those were also part of this exchange...
So what are you doing to celebrate Canada Day today? Going to a community celebration? A parade? Watching fireworks? Eating Strawberry Shortcake? Whatever you are doing to celebrate, do it with pride, for Canada is truly a wonderful place to live.


"We only need to look at what we are really doing in the world and at home and we'll know what it is to be Canadian". ~Adrienne Clarkson
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