Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Header Photo

No, the new header photo is not of me and my family,(I'm not THAT old!) but it IS of my family. Well, part of it anyway, but way before my little branch sprouted on the family tree!

The year is approximately 1912, and that is my paternal grandparents in the middle, flanked by my Great Grandmother, and one of my Aunts! I love old photos, especially ones that mean so much to me, either of people that I knew, people that are part of my heritage, or places that are familiar to me, but in earlier times.

This photo covers not only my fondness for past generations of my family, but the locale is special as well. The park that they are in, is the very same park that my hubby and I frequent throughout the Spring through Fall, going to monthly antique markets, art fairs, and the weekly band concert in the park on Sundays, that has been a weekly happening that I remember going to from the time I was able to walk. Actually, the concerts have been taking place long before that!

But I remember those summer evenings, having gotten an ice cream cone from a local parlor where they still made their own, and walking over to the park, high above L. Michigan, and the river that flows into it, and finding an empty spot on a shady park bench to listen to the concert. And how they would have to stop playing when the train went through on the tracks below the bluff because it would drown out the music! And how lovely it was to watch the sunset out over the lake, and watch the lights come on, outlining the path of the roller coaster and the orb of the Ferris wheel that were a part of the amusement park that was perched on the edge of the beach.

It touches my heart that even though the band shell was torn down, and is now in a different spot in the park, and that the amusement park rides changed over time, since my grandparents rode them, as did my parents, and I, and then became so old, they were eventually torn down, that we can still go and listen to the municipal band play in the same park as my grandparents once did, and still get an ice cream cone that is made by hand.
While time and man has altered some things, others still continue on in a quiet, but rich tradition. In all of these years, each concert begins with Strike Up The Band, and my heart still races a little faster when I hear it, especially if we aren't to our seats yet, because it is a signal that you don't want to miss!

I can't help but wonder what my ancestors would think to see their photo, taken at a time when photography was just coming into availability for the common person, on something called a blog, that is part of the greater internet. Tying the past with the present. Progress and new inventions continue, but the principals remain the same.

There is something very special about being able to still enjoy things that you did as a child, and to know that generations before you, enjoyed the same thing, in the same place. I hope that each of you can find that same piece of magic for yourself, too.

Wishing everyone a joyous May Day!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Link To Beautiful Fabric Drawing!

I just went to Daffycat's (Sharon's) Blog and signed up for one of two drawings for some custom dyed fabric that she created with her own two talented hands! They are all so pretty, (I love the names she chose!) and she is generously giving them away!!

Just click on her blog name above, and check them out for yourself!

Everyone have a beautiful evening!

Friday, April 24, 2009

New Moon Posting For The TUSAL

No, no. . .I'm not trying to type by the available moonlight, about that city in Oklahoma! I'm referring to the Totally Useless Stitch A Long, that YoYo started on her blog, Dragon My Needle. The first link will take you to the SAL info page, and the second, to YoYo's current blog which tells more about her fun project!

The only requirements are to save all of your orts, scraps, floss wrappers, whatever, in a jar, or in some cases, jarS, and to post your "progress" on each New Moon! Now how difficult is that! lol

So here is my contribution for this month. .and please note that I have yet to frog all of those stitches from my Giving Sisters fiasco. (ALTHOUGH, a couple of helpful people have suggested that I try glueing the fibers together, and I figure it won't hurt to try! I'll post my success. .I'm thinking positive!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Petey & The Mousie

Ah yes, how could I forget! Shame on me. The "Co-Authors" of this blog have alerted me to my faux pas. Before I get swatted with a clawed velvet paw, I must make amends, by sharing this quick story.

We had a little excitement this morning a little after 5:00 a.m. when I normally get up and started for the day.

It is amazing to me to have found that we have a breed of Kamikaze mice living in our area. I had never heard of such a thing, but have witnessed them with my own eyes. They must make dares and take bets as to who will go into a home with multiple cats, and come out unscathed, with side bets of having human aid, or doing it all on their own. That has to be it. .no sane, ordinary mouse would be so foolish.

Now that we have lived here for a number of years, the "regulars" have figured out that while our kitties may chase and occasionally may trap a mousie or horrors, rarely injure one, they really don't know what to do with one. Hence, the challenge of the game.

The person who lived here previously, drilled huge holes in the hardwood floors to run his multiple computer cables all over the place. He was renting from us, and he never asked if he could do that. I guess he figured that the place was over 100 years old, so it didn't matter.. but that is another issue.

The mice use these holes as their entrance and escape routes, popping up one hole dashing across the floor, bouncing from one shelter to another, much like a ball in the pin ball machine, with a massive monster of fur hot on his tiny little heels. . Oh, and the squeaking! A high pitched counterpoint to the strange mewing sounds. .and that is just from me!

I jest. Fortunately, I'm not afraid of mice, and have rescued more than I can even remember. I take them outside, to the back of the garden, and release them, in a leafy shelter, where they have another sporting event, timing how fast they can beat me back inside the house, running both against me, and against the clock. I've heard the awards ceremonies held late at night in the basement. .which is where Petey happened to be early this morning, having drawn the shortest catnip stem, for the basement patrol.

And so it was that he happened to break up the post awards gala, causing the master of ceremonies to make what he thought was a monumental escape up a different hole, and was met with the greatest challenge of his little life, when he made his grand entrance in the dining room, while Smokey, Mysti & Magic were all mulling over the breakfast menu.

Enter Suzie, quietly and innocently padding down the stairs, and through the living room, headed towards the bathroom and kitchen. Nearly blind without her contacts in, only being guided by the candle lamps glow.

She in meditative reverie, savoring the early morning calm and peace before the rest of the world awakes floats right into the middle of chaos that chose that very minute to erupt with a vengeance!! What a jarring awakening!!

Three cats, jostling and shoving for prime position to make that slap shot, and the mousie doing an excellent Argentine Tango (he must be watching DWTS from a dark corner on Monday nights), perfectly timing his holds, dips and precise turns, alluding flaying paws with a professionalism that I haven't seen in a long time. One would have though that he would have chosen the quickstep, considering the circumstances, but he is a mousie with a flare for the dramatic, I guess.

He finally made a mad dash for the relative safety of a cabinet that comes all of the way down to the floor, with the exception of cut-outs on three sides. Just perfect for three kitties to each position themselves on a side, and take turns extending their front paws under the cabinet as far as they can. I should have thanked them for sweeping out the dust bunnies, but had more urgent matters on my mind. I'm surprised that they haven't thought of that, and handed me a cleaning bill.

I'm quickly running around like a maniac, turning on lights, and gathering anything heavy and large enough to cover the portholes. .the cats were not pleased. I then threw on my clothes, stabbed my lenses into my eyes, and ran upstairs to get reinforcements. .or at least one. .my dh.

Half awake, but enough to follow a hasty synopsis, he managed to help me round up the cats, and close them off from the main arena. With skillful precision and timing, we managed to move furniture, and capture that clever mousie, while laying on the floor bending into unnatural, tight contortions. I then made a quick trip out into the early morning stillness, with protected mousie in a disposable lidded bowl, where the rest of the Mouse Ilympic Committee Executives (MICE) were waiting.

Our little instigator was awarded a gold, because of difficulty, but didn't get a perfect score, because of execution. .he required my help at the very end. I tried to get a medal for my form in the rescue, but was disqualified because I have opposable thumbs.

I saw the look in his eye when I turned to leave. .he is going into training for a re-match, I just know it.

In the meantime, on his way back to his warm cozy bed, my dh let the cats back out into the scene of the encounter, where I was promptly informed that I had officially ruined the best time that they had had in a long time, and was therefore assigned to the litterbox rotation, and that there WOULD be inspections. And, that I was to post Petey's photo on the blog because he was instrumental in starting the whole sequence, so he is deemed a hero. Sigh.

Turning abruptly, tails plumed out and aloft, they then followed the path of my hubby, to burrow under and snuggle in the warm blankies. AFTER they had handed me the litter scoop, their empty food bowls, and their menu requests for lunch and dinner.

So, what is a person to do. .they won't let me sleep, or eat, or worse yet, stitch in peace. .so, here is Petey. .just one of our handsome boys. I won't bother to show you the litter boxes. Just take my word for it, that they are in their usual pristine condition.

Stitching Progress

Having already told my sad tale of my Halloween project, I can relay happier news regarding my other two projects!

Now that I'm having to spread my allotted stitching time between three patterns, none of them are making great progress, but I'm having fun just stitching. Oh yeah, sometimes I look and think that I've been working at them for a long time, and have little to show for it, but that only happens when I'm working on a particular part, and am anxious to see how it is going to look!

I also have a garden that is full of plants screaming at me to save them from the army of weeds that has already invaded their territories. I know. .a weed is a plant that comes up in a place where it isn't wanted, but to me crab grass is never wanted, along with a few other invasives. But that is a whole soapbox that I don't want to get into here.

Every year, I want to get a head start on them, and every year, something happens to prevent me from doing so. It is tradition. I don't even know why I try and fight it anymore. Like my stitching, I guess I should just relax and enjoy the time I spend out there weeding. It truly does get me back in touch with Mother Earth, and I love all of the plants so much.

Then there is the outside painting that needs doing, and, and, and. . .I'm sure you all have your own similar lists.

But rainy days, and when it gets too hot and humid, which seems to be upon us all of sudden this year, are good stitching days. so I will be able to keep at it!

Here is Agneatha. She is a dream to work on for some reason. The colors are so enticing to use. I could easily just work on this project and be perfectly happy.

And my "biggie", that I've actually only started. But it seems like it has taken me forever to get this far, so this is a huge success to me! This is the third fabric change, and now I'm trying to figure out if I like the two threads, like the pattern indicates, or if I should do the single, which is recommended for the fabric.

I'm FINALLY getting some threads stitched for the HAED QS Iris!! This is what I accomplished earlier this week, and since today and tonight is the official SAL night, and my sweet darlin' is neck deep in basketball playoffs, and ignoring any foreseen and unforeseen circumstances that may arise, I should get some more completed tonight! I'd cross my fingers, but that would make it harder to stitch.

So that is where I am right now. And I have more patterns waiting in the wings, especially my HAED Seaside Victorian.

But why did I get so excited to find a new site to me, that has some glorious patterns and kits, and I'm salivating to buy this one special one? It is the heat. It has to be the sudden heat. It has made me delirious! That's my story!!

This Sunday is the first outdoor Antique Market of the season, and I am SO excited to be going. This is another one of my passions. I have to go through withdrawal every Autumn when the last one is over for the year. We have indoor antique malls, but it just isn't the same. The anticipation of discovery is the big draw, capped when you find that one perfect item! It doesn't always happen, but that is what makes it extra special when it does.

So whether you are going to be enjoying the outdoors, or snuggled in with your stitching or a good cozy mystery book, I hope that you are doing something that makes you feel great!!

With BIG Hugs!

Another Award!!! Unlucky Me!!

Another Award!!! Whoopee. . . .

Usually when I get an award, I begin my story by sharing how excited I am to be getting it, which is always true. This one, to be honest, I'm not totally thrilled with, especially since I rightfully earned it. Confused? Please read on. But I should warn you. Have a hanky ready.

What is this timely, but unwelcome accolade, you ask? The Golden Boot Award, that's what! Not to be confused with the professional soccer award by the same name, nor the awards given to the technical folks who bring us our cinemas. .no, this humble award is given to people who want to give themselves a regal kick in the seat of the pants. Frogs may nor may not be involved, but they are not a requirement.

This is the result of one of those moments, that maybe you have had, where something that you just did, makes you, in quick succession, and not necessarily in this order; a.) wish that you could turn back the clock just a few seconds earlier b.) utter something in a variety of volumes, that you wouldn't want your grandchildren to ever hear you say, even though they hear a lot worse at school and from their friends, and c.) burst into tears, or come close to it, depending upon the severity of your most recent disaster.

This stage is quickly followed by a blank staring of disbelief and continual self-beratement of the quality and functioning of one's mind.

At this point, the award comes into play. By graciously accepting and acknowledging it, one can then move on to the next stage of calming assessing the damages, and arriving at the most logical and comfortable solution.

So. . . .I now accept this award for my most recent short-circuited-brain-cell-moment of ruining my stitching project, and having to start all over again.

I wish to thank myself for bestowing this honor upon me, and I will do my best to never ever earn it again, although in my heart of hearts, I know that I should keep room open on the mantle.

Ahhhh, I feel SO refreshed now! I can finally move on.

And what did I do to earn this latest badge of honor? Why, this is what I did!! I have been in a Halloween mood ever since the first day of Spring. .don't ask. .I'm just a "Fall Person", through and through. But I digress.

I'm happily stitching away on my latest Halloween project, "The Giving Sisters", and am just about to end my stitching session (WHY do these things always seem to happen when we are getting ready to quit? We should just follow our gut instincts), but I didn't like the color of the thread against the fabric that I had gotten from Silk Weavers, and wanted to remove it, so that I could start fresh with a new color, when I started my new stitching session.

I was aware not to rush, (because I KNOW what happens when you do) so I was staying relaxed and calm, but somehow, the tiniest thread of the fabric got frayed, and it snowballed from there. You know where I'm going with this. . yes, I wound up with a tiny hole, and when I tried to carefully stitch over it, hoping it would hold, you know as well as I do, and did, that it wouldn't work. All I earned was a bigger hole. So now, I've had to start all over again. That blemish that you see in the lower right corner is not a shadow or color on the fabric. It is the dreaded orafice.

On the plus side, at least I wasn't further along. I will at some point soon, ultra carefully remove the rest of the threads, cut off the ruined portion of fabric, and save the rest for another project. The threads will go into my ort jar for my entry in the Totally Useless SAL. I'm gaining fast!!

I know that it is tradition to share Blog Awards with people that you deem worthy, but I'm changing the rules a bit on this one. I most certainly don't want to bestow this award on anyone, nor do I want anyone to need it, but I'm happy to share it with anyone who feels that they would like to have it "just in case" they would ever have the remotest chance of needing it one day. It is rather cleansing to acknowledge the acceptance of such an award, and to then be able to laugh about it.

So, if you would like to save it, be my guest. Just right click on it, to copy and save on your own computer.

I hope that everyone has a stitchingly beautiful day!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Giving My Cats Credit?

Yesterday morning presented me with a very nice start to my day! Well it was really Sue, who resides in Australia who provided the surprise, by sending me this award.

The mission behind this award is as follows:
"This blog invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space,time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut,even more friendships are propagated."

Isn't that a wonderful sentiment? No wonder I felt all warm and fuzzy inside! Then I read the fine print, and she included my kitty-cats in the reason that I got this honor. .now, does that mean that I have to share this with them? If so, that is going to create a BIG problem for me.

I tell them that, and there is just not going to be any point in trying to live in the same house with them anymore! (Unless I agree to move into a nanny suite and to eat nothing but tuna and chicken left overs) They are arrogant, and conceited, and already think that they have me wrapped around their furry little paws. I can understand cat language better than I can speak English, and I know that they think that my whole purpose here on earth is to make sure that their little creature comforts are met with the highest standards. And now that I think about it, maybe they are right, but I'm sure not going to admit that to them!

And now I get an award because of them? No, no way am I going to tell them about this. I'd never have a moment's peace to contemplate life's meaning. Although, they could probably lay that out for me in a span of a few minutes. They tell me that I have a tendency to over think these things anyway. But you get my point.

So I do thank you, Sue, for bestowing this award on me, and I do hope that you'll forgive me for not sharing it with my favorite felines. I know that they would be head-over-tails thrilled with the honor if they knew. So I'll give them a little extra freshly grown catnip to help compensate for my exclusion.

As tradition holds, I'm supposed to pass this along to people that I think are worthy of this accolade. To be honest, this is the absolute hardest part of getting these awards. I always feel heart felt warmth in receiving them, but boy, I hate choosing from among all of the wonderful blogs that I read. .they are all winners in my book.

So, I'm going to send this out to all of you!! Copy and paste it, then add it to your own blog! You DO deserve it!!

Now, I see that Sue has moved on to start a new blog. Do you suppose she KNEW the problems that she was going to cause, and is on the run, trying to hide from me? Naaaah, she'd never do that to me.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Needle Threader Arrived!

My beaded needle threader that is hand made by Michele Sayetta, and part of my HAED prize from the drawing on the Our Friends of HAED SAL, arrived yesterday, and I thought that I'd share a photo of what it looks like, plus the adorable drawstring bag that the cute box was tucked into!

This photo doesn't show the true beauty of the main bead. .the intricacies are too tiny for my meager digital camera to capture, but suffice to say that I'm VERY pleased with it! It is too beautiful to use!!

Thank you SO much Michele!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Updates & SAL's

Everything has been a little busy around here with extra appointments and such, so I haven't gotten a lot of stitching done. Certainly not what I'd like to do. And admittedly, I would get more done, if I didn't spend as much time enjoying everyone blogs, but that is both fun and inspiring, so it is time well spent!

I'm enjoying all of the updates that everyone is posting on the Our Friends HAED SAL, but feel a little. .no, a lot behind everyone else. I finally bit the bullet and admitted that the fabric that I had purchased for the QS Iris was not making it fun, so I've ordered a different kind, and am waiting for it to arrive. Then I start all over again. But hopefully, this time it will be more fun!

And I'm still whiffling about the fabric for my Monopoly Board pattern. I didn't want to stitch it on white Aida, but the flax that I bought didn't work out at all. So now I'm back to square one. I know there lots of other options, but I need to think it over before making another purchase.

On the plus side, loving Halloween like I do, I joined a Halloween SAL blog, Spooky Stitchers. The members there have posted a lot of cute projects. Halloween is so much fun!! There is something about the "old" primitive Halloween decorations that I love, and collect. So the primitive stitching patterns seem to draw my attention to work on, more than the others. Bu they all make me smile! The one that I just started, The Giving Sisters, is a touch of primitive, and a touch of whimsy, which is just perfect!

I'm having some additional fun with it too, using a custom dyed fabric "Days Gone By", from Silkweavers, and I bought a bunch of custom threads from Weeks Dye Works, Crescent Colours, and The Gentle Art Sampler Threads, to mix in with the DMC threads. I'm just getting started on it!

Then, I had discovered YoYo's blog while back and was enjoying her current entries, but in one of those serendipitous moments, was informed from someone else, just about the time that I was making the same discovery, that YoYo is hosting the Totally Useless SAL. Something that I think is completely do-able for me! I'm just sorry now that I have been tossing all of those snippets of thread and grideline! And all of those DMC bands!!! Ah well, my cats had claimed those as theirs anyway. But now I've got to find a cute jar, and start saving orts. I've joined so late, there isn't any way that I'll catch up to everyone else, but it will be fun to see just how much thread is tossed away!

And so where is Agneatha fitting into all of this? Right now, she is still my pet project. I'm using a larger set of Q-snaps, so it looks like I've gotten even less done that I have completed. This one is still a pleasure to be stitching, and I feel so torn if I pick up my Halloween piece. I wonder if it would be possible to learn to stitch two different projects with each hand at the same time! lol Nah. .plus, this way, my enjoyable stitching time is stretched out longer!
And my final thoughts for now, are on another SAL. I've discovered long ago, that I mainly stitch Autumn/Halloween subjects, or Winter/Holiday patterns, whether by desire, or with the realistic vision to know that it is going to take me months to get a project done! lol I stitch other subjects, mainly for other people, but my own personal preferences seem to fall within those parameters. I've thought about hosting a SAL to encompass those focused interests, but don't know if there are enough other stitchers that share the same passions or not. There are already so many wonderful blog SAL's out there, and I don't want everyone to be stretched so thin that it isn't fun anymore. Something for me to ponder. . . .
I hope that everyone has a wonderful day! Try and do something that you enjoy, just for the fun of it!!

A Cat-astrophe

Ah well, I had the best of intentions, but somehow the whole thing has taken on a life of its own, and I'm now at the mercy of my favorite felines.

Ripley turned his exposure as a scamp into one of celebrity and has let all of the glowing praises go to his sweet little head. Instead of being humbled, he has gloated to the rest of the herd, and now I have a Kitty-Coup on my hands.

To placate them and to save my furniture from being turned into material for making rag bags, and finding fur balls on my bed quilt, I've had to promise each and every one of them to post a photo of them on my blog too. I've pointed out that I couldn't guarantee that just because they would have their picture posted, didn't mean that they would gain the notoriety that Ripley did. After all, Magic had his photo on my blog a couple of months before Ripley did, and no one even noticed. But they're willing to take their chances, and want that one shot at a claim to fame.

Magic, living off in la-la land as his normal state of mind, hadn't even noticed his lack of comments until I brought it up. It was past my lips before I realized that the excitement of being on the Internet had roused him from his reverie. I tried smoothing it over by explaining that his was more of an off-the-wall candid shot, where he was sharing the image with some stitching, whereas Ripley, being the photogenic hog that he is, any time he sees the camera, liked posing for his mug shots, and wanted more taken in different poses, even when I said enough! I went on to explain that when stitchers are looking at photos, they have a tendency to zoom in on the stitching project, zeroing out anything else in the frame. He failed to comprehend. So, now I have to include another one of Magic too.

I did get them to agree that I don't need to post them all at once. I not want any readers to be overwhelmed with so much cat hair at the same time, so I tried to tactfully point out that if I spread out the use of their images, then they will each get their chance at the sole spotlight, and they won't have to share with anyone else. As conceited and arrogant as they all are, they eagerly and readily accepted, which I knew that they would.

They did demand the final approval on the photos that are posted. They don't want any used that make them look too fluffy (translate that to substantial in size), or any that make their eyes look like they are possessed by dark demons. They don't want embarrassing poses that may set them up for ridicule, or being made sport of. They've seen those messages flying around on the Internet of poor kitties stuffed in drinking glasses, or sleeping in toilets. They have informed me that they are much too classy for that kind of publicity!

So, I'm sneaking in this photo of Mysti. It doesn't show her off to her best, but it is one of my favorites of her. She begged and begged for a sunlamp, saying that all of the best looking felines have one, but I said no. .not only would a sunlamp fade out her beautiful silvery grey coat, but I didn't want her to run the risk of getting skin cancer on her nose! So just to be obstinate, she has taken up the habit of lying on this table, and pressing her face up into the light, letting the warmth of the bulb absorb into her fur. I fully expect that once she sees this photo shared for the world to see, that she will go into one of her snits that she uses to keep all of the other male kitties in line, so I'll have to go into hiding for a while. I'll make sure and grab my stitching before I make myself scarce.

I hope that everyone has a beautiful weekend!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My HAED Win!

I was truly stunned! Speechless! I kept blinking at my monitor, trying to let the reality of the moment sink in, and it just kept bouncing off of me in disbelief!

On the evening of March 31st, I cheerily logged onto my HAED group blog to be instantly inspired by everyone's updates, and what pops up in the middle of my monitor? Cindy's post stating that it is already April 1st in some parts of the world, and with concerns over the worm that had the possibility of unleashing havoc on the computer world on the 1st, she and Wendy decided to post the randomly picked winner for this months drawing. And what made me go simultaneously numb with an adrenaline rush, was my name bouncing back at me off of the screen! I wanted to believe it, but the wild thought of "April Fool's Joke" flashed through my mind too! lol I cannot express how VERY excited I was over this surprise! I never, ever win anything, but now to win this one!

Michele Sayetta, the owner and designer of Heaven & Earth Designs, generously offered one of their patterns, your choice, and a handmade beaded needle threader that she designed.

After much deliberation, I decided to get a pattern that first caught my eye when I visited the HAED website for the first time, last year.

I know in reality, that any home sitting that close to the ocean would be at the mercy of the sea, but the concept is lovely, and I'm not going to let it ruin my romantic image of the perfect place to live! lol And the Tall Ship, racing a storm, for home port just adds to the perfection, for me.

Now I've got to figure out how to reconfigure my stitching schedule because I know that I'm going to want to start on this, the minute it arrives!

Michele also gave me my choice of needle threaders that she makes. In a non-scientific, but fair type of drawing, the Fates chose this needle threader for me. I'm very happy with the choice, because it has an antique feel to it, with just a touch of new flavor, making it an individual in any category! I love it!!

Cindy & Wendy have created a truly magical group, whose members share their talents willingly! Who else would show photos of the backs of their projects? lol They are a fun, supportive group, where I'm SO happy to be a member, even if I never won anything!

While these surprises are the kind that will keep on giving for years go come, and I'll treasure them always, the true gift is the one that I get every day from everyone in that group. They bring smiles to my face, and warmth to my heart, and that will last me forever.

Thank you again, Cindy & Wendy, for offering the drawing, and to Michele, whose talents both artistic and thoughtful, have made this a very special time for me!

And many thanks to everyone on the HAED group, for being so supportive and kind. You are all just absolutely fantastic people!!