Tuesday, November 29, 2011

16 Years

After 16 years, its time to say good bye.  Good bye to the moves every 3 or 4 years, to having my privacy totally invaded every 5 years for security investigations, to being on call 24-7, to getting called in at all hours of the night for exercises, and so many other things.  For 16 years I served in the Air Force, doing what my country needed, living where they told me to go, and giving up much of my personal freedom to serve, and doing it knowing it was the right thing.

Now I'm not needed anymore, and being told good bye and left with nothing.  Oh wait, I'm left with medical conditions from spending time down in ICBM launch control centers and breathing in absolutely horrible air, hearing loss from extended exposure to high levels of ambient background noise, and a bum ankle due to a fall down the stairs at the Pentagon and a misdiagnosis.  It took 5 years to realize I had a fracture and not a sprain, 3 surgeries, a fused joint, and now I'm left with a limp, unable to run, an abnormal walking gait, and constant pain.

I understand the military is bloated in certain areas and needs to downsize.  157 Air Force Majors (myself included) were victims of this.  All of us had between 14 to 17 years of service.  But, every single day I ask myself what about the 900 people that requested release and 600 of those were denied?  We have 600 people serving in the military that want to leave, and are kicking out 157 that wanted to stay, and were so close to getting the pension they'd worked for.  In the 1990s there were drawbacks as well, but they didn't kick out the people that were so close to getting their pension.  They were allowed to serve their 20, then get out, and not allowed to serve past 20.  But most importantly, they got the pension they'd worked for.

This isn't something that can be blamed on Congress, or President Obama, or the Republicans, or the Democrats.  The blame rests solely with Air Force leadership.  They were told they needed to draw down to XXX number of people, not how to do it or who to cut.  The decision to keep people in that want out, and to kick people out close to their pension was solely that of Air Force leaders.

The military pension system is out-dated, and like Social Security, needs an overhaul.  That's been known for years, but nothing has been done.  Its an all or nothing system.  You work for 20 years, and you get lifetime pension and medical benefits.  You work for anything less and you get nothing.  We don't have a 401k that can transfer with us, there isn't any sort of matching investing.

The last several months have been hard.  A lot of tears, bitterness, hopelessness, anger, and more recently, St John's Wort.  I still have a lot of bitterness.  I can't help feeling that I've wasted 16 years of my life, and it meant nothing.  After 16 years of giving my life, I've been told I'm not good enough.

What are my plans now?  Moving to San Diego, and taking advantage of this free time that was forced on me.  My parents have some work that needs done around their house.  There's a cruise they want to go on, so I get to be dog-house-grandma sitter.  I'm going to start working on my Masters (again).  Thank you Montgomery GI Bill and my forethought to sign up for it and pay into it (this was before the post-9/11 bill that didn't require any contributions from the member).  Most importantly, I'm going to be looking for a job.  I'm thinking maybe Oregon, there aren't any military bases in Oregon.

There's going to be a lot of lifestyle adjustments.  I was used to having a very comfortable salary.  I came so close to signing up for the 2012 CCN monthly SAL Vonna is hosting, then had to stop myself.  That's a chart a month I'd be needing to buy.  With no paycheck, that's just not something I can do right now.  2012 is going to be the years of trying to work on all my WIPs (there's plenty) and some of the charts in my stash (even more than the WIPs).

Sorry for such a rant of a post, but I needed to get this out.  Writing letters to Congressmen didn't help, so maybe I can purge some of my bitterness in the blog.  Its not like I can burn my uniform, I'd more than likely asphyxiate from the toxic smoke from the flight suit (its supposed to be flame retardant, but that washes about after about 10 washes).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Snip, Snip

Thank you for saved, but not posted posts.  This has been sitting as a saved post for almost 2 months, waiting for either a time when I didn't have much else to post about, or until I could get some better pictures of what I made.  Right now I'm so swamped with packers, moving, and not being able to find a camera, that I'm glad I had this saved post.

What do you do when you have a stitched piece you're not happy with?

Cut it up into little pieces!

Then get some jewelry frames from Hobby Lobby and raid your bead stash.

This was originally the BBD project from the 2010 Shepherd's Bush retreat, but I never fell in love with it.  I didn't really like the colors (I hate baby poop pea green).  There wasn't enough floss provided for some of the colors.  The final thing that sent me over the top was realizing there wasn't enough space for me to stitch my M where it was supposed to go.  Note to designers - if you're providing an alphabet to stitch initials, make sure each letter will fit in the space you charted for it.

I actually made these a few months ago, but finally got around to posting.  I think I actually ended up with 10 to 12 pieces, of assorted sizes.  Quite a lot for such a small piece.  Some of the frames used were antiqued copper, brass, and the chrome pictured here.  I've given a few away, and the rest are down at my parent's house, probably with mom wearing the ones I finished as necklaces.  I'll have to find where she's hidden them, since some of these are meant as Christmas presents.

So, be brave!  Don't hesitate!  If you have a project you really aren't in love with, stop torturing yourself and re-purpose it.

We did this as a project at our November EGA meeting, and people were so scared to cut into a stitched piece it was funny.  But, once they got started, they couldn't be stopped.  I actually got ruthless and went through my stash and took in about 10 different un-loved, un-finished pieces for everyone to use.  Teri (of Shepherd's Bush fame) was amazing, she got on a roll and must have made 5.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Changed Settings

It seems that some people haven't been able to leave comments on my blog, and I was just thinking it was Blogger acting up.  However, I just found out it might have been me that was cutting people off.  I had commenting set to "registered users."  That just got changed to "anyone."  If you end up putting in your own name and URL, your comment comes to me as a no-reply thingy and I can't e-mail back, but at least you can leave a comment.  Hopefully this helps.

Thanks go out to Libbie for letting me know how to fix this.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What is she wasting that coffee on?!?

Sacrilege!  That sacred brown elixir of life should be going into the mug, not a bowl.

Don't worry, it was only 4 pods, and of a brew I didn't really care for anyway.

You're probably wonder what that mass in the bowl is.  I had a brilliant idea.  So that mass is a piece 40 ct Flax linen, 12" x 55".  Now you're wondering what's going to go on such a skinny and long piece of linen.  You know all those absolutely adorable Word Plays designed by Brenda?   Yep, you got it.  I want to do them as one long banner.

No idea when I'll actually start stitching them.  I'm not sure if I want to start with January, and then wait each month, or start with December, and then have to baste all the way up to the top to come back down.  I'm really not a fan of basting, but without it I'd surely mess up the spacing.  Heck, I'll probably mess up the spacing even with it, or drive myself batty trying to count almost 900 stitches.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trying to catch up

Prologue:  This was supposed to get posted 3 days ago, I was just waiting to get good photos and edit them. Didn't happen when I planned.  So the post that was meant for Monday morning was delayed until Wednesday morning.  Read further and it will become a bit more clear.

Ugh, I came home to over 400 entries in Google Reader.  And then there are the 50 or so unanswered comments you kind readers made sitting in my Gmail inbox.   I swear, I was only gone for 5 days.  And packing for a day and a half before driving down to San Diego.  Moving is the pits, but I'm used to it.  The reason for this move is far worse, but I won't get into that now, its too depressing.

In the interest of saving my sanity, and actually getting some of the stuff done I really must before the packers show up, I'm saying I'm sorry.  I sped through those 400 new blog entries last night, and didn't leave a comment on a single one.  I saw some beautiful WIPS, stunning finishes, adorable ornaments, and great 2012 SALs.  This morning I started fresh with another 35 entries in the reader, and I'm really taking the time to enjoy the posts and leave comments.

For all the comments left on my last 2 posts, I've read them, I promise.  I won't get a chance to answer every single one of them.  Please understand I'm treading water right now and not always staying afloat.  I'm sorry, I feel so rude, and it seems horrible that my commenters are the ones suffering from me having to make time trade-offs.

Anway, it was another quick trip down to San Diego, leaving Utah on Tues, and driving back on Fri/Sat.  I still haven't perfected the art of making the 770 mile trip in one day.  The trip down was painful with bright sunlight and my light sensitivity.  The trip back I probably could have, but I had actually made a hotel reservation at a dumpy kitschy place and it was non-refundable.  I can't call it dumpy because the room was actually very clean.  Spartan and dated, but clean.

Tom the Turkey is down at Mom's (and Dad's, not sure why I always refer to it as Mom's, they're still married after 40-something years) place now, being enjoyed, and it was left with a very strong warning it wasn't hers.  Once I caught her referring to "my Tom," and I had to ask "who's Tom"?  The response was "our Tom."  Good enough I guess.

The Threadbasket /  C Mon Monde SAL part came in while I was gone, and I didn't take that project with me, so late Sat night and all day Sun was a mad rush to try and get it done, so I'd get the last part.  A totally crappy picture was e-mailed off to Valerie late Sun night.  I took some better ones today in the daylight.

I also found some time somewhere in the last week to stitch and finish another ornament.  This was just a super simple pillow finish, using some silk ribbon as a hanger.  I don't think I used exactly the colors called for, it was more a matter of what I had sitting next to me that looked right.

Good Tidings by the Sampler Girl, from the 2011 JCS
ornament edition, stitched on 36 ct linen
with assorted overdyed floss
You're probably wondering why I'm taking the time to stitch and being rude and not using that time to respond to the comments.  Well, stitching is about the only thing keeping me sane right now.

Deadlines at least keep me up to date and honest.  I haven't touched the last part of my iStitch SAL, even though its just a tiny amount of stitching.  In the back of my mind a little voice keeps whispering "Carol set a deadline of Dec 8, that's weeks and weeks away, plenty of time to finish."  Yeah right.  Anyone want to take the bet that I wait until Dec 7 to e-mail her the picture of my finished piece?  Sorry Carol, after running such a great SAL and putting a lot of time and effort into it, you don't deserve this kind of disrespect.  I'll try to beat that date.  It might not be a finish finish, but at least I can get the stitching done.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cleaning up

This weekend was a clean-up weekend.  You know those projects that you're so close to being finished, but there's either a problem you don't feel like tackling, or you got disgusted with the project, or you just forgot about it?  I've been sorting through all my WIPs for my upcoming move, and I finally got down to the bottom of my basket.

I got one small project finished, so all the flosses could get filed back into the system.  Another project got enough progress that all it needs is filled in with one color, so yet more silks could get un-kitted.

Last thing was major.  I finished Birds of a Feather Happy Hearts Sampler back in 2008 (well really it was January 2 of 2009, but I'm saying it was a 2008 finish).  I was in a relationship at the time and totally in love with the guy.  Yep, I was an idiot and stitched our names on the sampler.  Not just stitched them, but charted the inside of the intertwined hearts with our names over 1 and then filled in around them.  You guess it, we broke up a few months later.

For years that sampler has sat in a pillowcase.  I totally loved it, except for our 2 names.  My mom tried to convince me to just leave it, arguing that we had some good times.  That's very true.  I have more good memories from that 9 month relationship than from my 2 year marriage.  Maybe that's why I still left his initials on the piece.  We actually still chat, so its not like I want to throw darts at a picture of him.  I got past that phase.

Anyway, this weekend I ripped out all that over 1 stitching, re-charted the 2 hearts, and re-stitched the inside of them.  I had to get this done before I leave Utah so I could get it into Jill for framing.  I had some very definite ideas of what I wanted done.  Think Venetian carnival style harlequin diamonds and small checkerboard.  You know Jill, she likes to layer things.  We had a blast today at her studio planning this one out.

Birds of a Feather Happy Hearts Sampler, stitched on 36 ct linen
with HDF silk
I was also able to get another ornament done for the Challenge.  Yep, more collages.  Almost as time-consuming as beaded edges.

Plum Street Samplers Yuletide ornament from the 2011 JCS ornament edition,
stitched on 36 ct linen with assorted overdyed cotton.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Collage Junkie

I admit it, I've become a collage junkie.  But I swear, its for good reasons.  Say I have a few pieces that I want to showcase together, but they aren't finished, or aren't smalls (like my current header).  Collages are the perfect way to link them together.  Or, like with my Threadbasket SAL, I want to draw attention to certain areas, and have a nice grouping of pictures.  Collages, perfect solution.  For now I've just been using the simple (free) collage maker on Picnik.  Beth had no idea what sort of a monster she was creating when she gave me a tip back in August.

Here's my first finished ornament for Becky's Challenge.  As promised, its my Hogmanay design, finished in a very prim manner with felted wool, rusty bells and wire.  Oh, and another collage.

I finished Feast of St. Nicholas in the same manner, since I had all the supplies out, just red wool.  Obviously it won't count for the challenge since I stitched it before the start date.

And here's my second challenge finish, Peace on Earth by JBW Designs, from the 2006 JCS Ornament magazine.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tom came home to roost

I went into Jill and said something really vague, like "I'm thinking of bittersweet and feathers, and maybe some sawtooth detail."  Jill researched bittersweet on the internet, pulled some turkey feathers out of her cabinet of wonders, and then let her artistic talent loose.
Notforgotten Farms Tom the Turkey, stitched on 36 ct linen
with assorted overdyed cotton floss
Here's a detail of the painting.  I'm not sure if you can how she replicated the iridescence on the feathers.  Real turkey feathers have a sheen like peacock feathers, and squared off ends.

Photos courtesy of The Fabulous Jill, since she was kind enough to take them before putting the glass on.

Eye update - Thank you to everyone for you thoughts and kind wishes with my eye problems.  The bad news is it got worse after I saw the corneal specialist on Tuesday.  The good news is when I got in to see him on Thursday it was bad enough he now had enough information to be fairly confident with a diagnosis.  I have Thygeson's superficial punctate keratitis.  I'm on some steroid drops to reduce the inflamation, which will make the eye feel better (which it already does 6 hours later).  But, due to steroids lowering the immune system, I now get to take my antibiotic drops every hour, and set an alarm to wake up at night every 2 hours, just to prevent a bacterial infection from starting.  I'm just grateful that after suffering on and off with this for 3 years, I finally know what it is.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Progress Pics

I've gotten some stitching done, despite the light sensitivity and non-stop tears, but its slow.

Halloween Rules got a bit more work before getting packed up, but not as much as I was wanted.  I was hoping to get the top part finished.  Oh well, after the holidays it can come back out to play.  There are so many mistakes in here, I can't even count them all.  I guess that's what I get for stitching at 2 am.  Luckily, most of them were things I could just work around and adjust the pattern a tiny bit.
L*K Halloween Rules, stitched on 35 ct R&R 18th Century Blackbird,
with assorted overdyed cottons (my conversion).

I finished Part 2 of the Threadbasket / C Mon Monde SAL, finally adding in the green and a bit more red.  All of the colors I picked out are starting to come together.  I'm really enjoying the winter feel this has on the icy blue linen.  I did make a slight modification to the chart, and stitched small Rhodes stitches as the red and white berries, instead of just the plain cross stitches charted.
Threadbasket SAL stitched on  40 ct R&R
 Neptune Blue with HDF silk
Now I have my SAL commitment done, and I know I'll get the 3rd part, I'm doing some ornament stitching for the challenge.  Hopefully I'll have some pictures ready to post soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eyes - Thank you for cooperating, not

The flare up I had in my right eye 2 weeks ago is gone, but my left eye decided to start acting up last night, just in time for my appointment with the corneal specialist this morning.  Thank you for cooperating, but I really am not looking forward to 3 days of feeling like a red hot poker is being stabbed in my eye, and staying in dark rooms because the light hurts.  Not to mention the taste Vigamox drops leave in the back of your throat as its absorbed into the mucous membranes.

So much for getting a good start on the Ornament Challenge, there's minimal stitching going on, and its slow going.  Top priority is the Threadbasket /  C Mon Monde SAL, since there's a short deadline and I'm held hostage for the next part of the chart.  I've heard there will be a second session, starting Nov. 6, if people are still interested and want to join.  More details are here, but that page doesn't reflect the information about the Nov 6 date.

Now for the good news, I stopped by Jill's studio on the way home, and she finished the painting on Tom the Turkey.  OMG, she outdid herself.  No pics for now, since I don't have the piece yet, she literally just finished it and still needs to put the glass in.  She took pics before the glass went in, and is emailing them to me.  So, this is a teaser.  It always amazes me how I can go in, say a few words about what I'm thinking of, and then she comes up with a true work of art.