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Hook's progress

For someone not stitching much (pretty much only on the weekends), I'm making pretty good progress, especially on the projects I claim to hate so much! I left off on Hook here last week:
Hook-010
And, as much as I was dreading the white, I couldn't stop once I started! I was only going to do two rows this week and move back to his head, but two rows turned into two more, which turned into "well, I'm already halfway down", which turned into, "well, there's only a couple more rows left" and, before I knew it, I had all the left side of the white done!
Hook-015
It also meant that, instead of the two days I had "planned" for the white, I ended up spending almost the entire holiday on it, which also meant that there was barely any time left for his head. Plus, by the time I got to his head, I was just tired of him, so I'm thinking it's time to move on again, but that will depend on how I feel when I get home tonight. Because of all the white, my arm is also incredibly sore. Those side bars are long, so I have to reach in weird ways to get to both the top and, the deeper I go to the inside, to the middle of the canvas. I think I need to switch just to give my arm a break (and not to break my arm!).

I also had to buy a new iPad this week. The one I had was several years old, was owned by the lab, and was giving out on me really quickly. I didn't want to get in a situation where I lost it because I have a LOT of important cross stitch (and game) information on there. My boss told me over a year ago to get a new one, but I didn't and, now that things aren't in a good place for us, I don't want to ask for a new one, I only use it for personal reasons anyway (unlike my laptop), and I really don't like feeling guilty that I only use it for personal reasons, so I splurged. "Supposedly", once this whole mess is over with and the grant money we got clears an expiration hurtle, I'm going to get that so-called bonus I was promised all those months ago for doing all that work on building that new computer system, so I dipped into my savings with that potential (I'll believe it when I see it) bonus money in mind. In true "me" fashion, of course I went for the best, but I'm starting to want to get into digital art myself (if I can't find good art to turn into cross stitch patterns, I'll just learn to create my own!), so I need the tools to do so! But also, since it was so last minute, I don't have a case (and they are incredibly hard to find for the new models...took me forever and it's going to take a while to come in) and I had to order a pencil online because they didn't have one in the stores. Normally, with a purchase like this, I have the case and even the screen protector before I even start talking to AT&T. For now, I'm still carrying it around in the box to keep it safe. It also means it will be on my phone bill now instead of the company's...that will take some getting used to!

I wish it was the only "bad" thing I did this week, but it wasn't. I've already ordered more masks than one person will ever need (I just think it will be a way of life from now on, especially in the medical field), which isn't cheap if you're ordering specialized Disney masks, but because food is going up exponentially in price as well, instead of buying less of it, I seem to be buying more (and eating more as well). I'm not sure why. To make matters worse, I also broke down and bought my "Regina bowls"...for anyone that has watched Once Upon A Time, you probably know what I'm talking about, the coral white bowls that Regina ALWAYS kept apples in. She had one in her office and one in her house and you would be hard-pressed to find a single screen shot of Regina's office where you don't see that apple bowl. I've wanted those bowls for-ev-ah...they will go with the decor of my new house (you know, the house I'll NEVER be able to afford because I keep buying things to go in it and charging up my credit cards so I can never afford said house?). This particular decor I'm calling "Once Upon A Time Chic"....subtle nods to the show without being overt, little touches here and there, but the piece-de-resistance has ALWAYS been those apple bowls. For a long time, Amazon has been out of stock and I thought I'd lost the chance to get them, but they got more in and, although they went rather quickly, I got the very last one. I wish I could say they were cheap (they weren't), but oh well. At least they aren't the version Pier One used to carry! Bloody hell, they were proud of those! Maybe someday, my bowls will sit on the desk/table/whatever of the room I decide to make Regina-themed (or maybe they will stay in the box with all the other "future house" decorations that seem to now be cluttering up my Duck Room more than it's already cluttered!).

This is also a HUGE week because, not only is it the final season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but we are also going to launch Americans into space this week from American soil for the first time in almost 10 years! That's pretty frickin cool! I'm not sure what I'm more worried about, Shield killing off Fitz, or how the Dragon capsule will perform with real humans aboard (I'm only half kidding about the Fitz versus real humans there, fyi). I think the Falcon 9 has already proven itself as a stable rocket, but the capsule itself...ugh. I am old enough to remember the Challenger disaster as well as numerous other launch failures and I know what a delicate procedure it is, but I also know the future of space flight depends on them nailing this. I've watched every launch that SpaceX has done so far and watched the progression of each iteration of the Falcon line, so I'm pretty excited about it and I think it will be OK, but you never know. If we ever want to get to the Moon again or even to Mars, we have to get this this first trial right (if not perfect). Coincidentally, both the launch and Shield happen on the same day. I'm going to be useless on Wednesday (which I just realized is TOMORROW)!

Which reminds me of another rant...why aren't there any good (or just ANY) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cross stitch patterns out there? Granted, there isn't even a lot of good fan art out there, but still. You got promo posters, there is actual comic material to pull from, Disney itself sells fan art, so I know there is some material out there that someone could make a cross stitch pattern from! Is it because it's mainly considered a "guy's show" and it's hard to find patterns for the guy genre of stuff? But it's also Marvel, so that should count as any gender, right? I've had a lot of people tell me they are surprised that someone like me (aka, a girl), likes AOS. There is nothing masculine about Shield to me, it's all about the characters and it has one of the best couple ships on TV...that is totally a girl thing, right? Or do guys ship too? I choose reactioners on YouTube first by a) if you're a guy, I want to see you watch Once and b) if you're a girl, I want to see you watch Shield. I might cross those paths if I really like the reactor on what brought me to their channel, but I come for the gender mashup...I like seeing guys enjoy Once and girls enjoying Shield just because I think both of those shows are often stereotyped and I don't think they should be.

But anyway, have a good week, watch the sky on Wednesday, and keep your fingers crossed for my beloved Fitz! He only has to make it for 13 episodes (and I guess Jemma needs to make it with him, there is no Fitz without Simmons). Stay safe everyone!

It's Hook's turn

I decided to give up on Sleepy Hollow because it was just too much trouble and I was getting bored. Maybe by next go-round, I will be in a better head space with it. Since I only have three more of my "bottom of the barrel" projects, Hook was next in line. He's my first monochrome pattern ever (I have four in the set BTWs, Hook, Graham, August and Jefferson, all from Tilton Crafts, which I thank immensely for creating)...I just didn't think ahead about the difficulties of a black and white pattern, I was only thinking "ONCE PATTERNS!". For you pattern makers out there, there are still fans of Once Upon A Time out there (I can't be the only one, there are too many YouTube videos for Once, so I know it's not just me), but we Once stitchers go NUTS for patterns and there just aren't enough quality ones out there! I have seen some on Etsy that just aren't that great, but when I do run across a good one, I suck it right up in a heartbeat! My access is limited to pretty much just Etsy and the stores like Tilton or others who rely on artists that created Once fan art, so it's kind of sad pickins' folks.

And I think I've mentioned my interaction with the artist that created these black and white monstrosities (as well as several other pieces of Once artwork that Tilton has turned to patterns, which, I do happen to own almost all of...I'm a glutton for punishment, but at least the others are colored!), so I'm not particularly a fan of him personally, but I am a huge fan of his work, even if, while claiming to be a Oncer too, was EXTREMELY rude to me about why he didn't draw Charming (although it STILL drives me insane that there is no Charming to complete this set). I can't wrap my head around the fact that he didn't complete the male lead character set without THE main character (which, at the time the other three were "active", Charming was still the lead character...Hook technically doesn't belong in a series with Jefferson, Graham and August for reasons that fans will know, he should be in a second series with maybe Neal, Robin and possibly Dr. Whale, or a case could be made for Peter Pan). I think that's probably why I don't usually tag his name like I do all the other artists who make the charts I stitch. It's a constant reminder of how rude he was to me in that email. I have a sneaky suspicion that he did actually tried to draw David/Prince Charming and it turned out bad, so he didn't include it. Happens to the best of us. If that was the case (and I'm not saying it was, I just kind of feel that way), I wish he would have said that instead of what he did say, I would respect him more for it. Some people just have features that are just hard to draw. I used to be an artist too, so I know that's a fact (and I also know it's hard to admit it sometimes). But I also know that a character study is a character study, and whether you like characters or not, if they are part of the canon, you draw them, personal feelings aside. I don't particularly care for Emma or Belle, but if I were doing a female version of these, I would draw both of them, whether I enjoyed it or not, because they BELONG in the group. I have a few other non-Once drawings that Tilton turned into stitches of his, so every time I see his name, all I'm going to think of is that rude email that I interpreted as "Josh Dallas sucks, now f'off". Never meet (or email) your idols people. Lesson learned. His work is so good, it even got me to buy the Once version of Sleeping Beauty, who is my FAVORITE princess, but I HATED that interpretation of her on the show (in their defense, it was a very high bar to reach in the first place, so it was doubtful they could have done better...don't get me started on Phillip, my favorite Prince)! But it's a nice piece of artwork, it's purple, and it reminds me of the show...I couldn't help myself! I guess I can play Snow and hold out "hope" of a Charming someday (considering his response, I SERIOUSLY doubt it). Oh well, that's old news and I'm getting off track here (shock).

Granted, I could just buy stitching software and make my own Once patterns, but I've had some of that software the past and it never worked out well for me, and then there is the whole copyright issue that I don't even want to think about tackling. Nowadays, spending that kind of money on cross stitch software seems frivolous (but apparently buying the equivalent in patterns doesn't?). I'm not on Facebook, so all those patterns in the cool groups I don't have access to, aren't enough to lure me back into the hell that was Facebook for me, although I still have to thank my amazing friend who gifted me Snow and Charming from there...that is my absolute favorite of all my Once patterns (and why I whipped it out in four months!). I can never remember if she wanted to be named, so I don't name her, but that project hangs in my office, so I will be eternally grateful (and she knows who she is)! Despite my hatred for Jennifer Morrison, I still want an Emma and Hook pattern that matches Snow and Charming, which, I have "technically found" where the Snow and Charming picture originated and therefore "can get" an Emma and Hook that matches, but I would have to make it into a pattern myself and again, we are talking copyright issues. Ugh!

Okay, dismounting soapbox and back to the topic at hand, Killian Jones...I did debate doing them on white fabric and just not stitching the white, but I felt like that would be "cheating" since white is in the pattern. I'm just the type that follows the pattern. I can't help it! I wish I was the type that could modify or change patterns to suit my will or to make it look better, but I'm a) not that creative, b) a total chicken and c) too OCD to mess with a set pattern anyway. I'm still debating on restarting it on white fabric, even now (I'm only 25 hrs in, so it's not a big loss, but I need to make a decision soon before I get too much further), but I seriously doubt I will (again, not to beat a dead horse, but it's probably why I think a character study should contain ALL the main characters, I like rules...it's probably why Captain America is my favorite superhero, I like his code of honor).

Anyhoo...here's what he'll look like done:
Hook-000b
But once I got him remounted with the American Dream tape versus the "supposed" super-strong velcro I bought from Amazon (and then had to resupport with the tape I used to use on projects back in the day that STILL wouldn't hold him to the scroll rods...I guess he hated being strung up, typical Hook!), he's been a lot easier to work with than I remembered. I'm still not enjoying the continuous (and monotonous) massive count of white, but I've decided to just do a row at a time and then move on to the top of his head and surrounding areas to break up the time. Here's where I left off back in March of 2018 (bad me!) and you can tell how bad he's sagging there...it was a constant struggle to keep him attached to the rods:
Hook-007
And, I didn't stitch a lot this week, but there is some movement:
Hook-010
You can't tell because a lot of the colors are close to the fabric color, but I got a LOT filled in on his head and the surrounding area, so here's a close up (although, since I didn't do a close up before, I guess it's moot, but oh well, here you go anyway):
Hook-011
Since I'm still not in hatesville with him, I think I might keep on going this week, starting with another row of white (since it's getting shorter with every row...although I do have to do the right side too...ugh). Once I get the third row done, I'll move back to the head. Then I'll reassess next weekend. I don't want to finish the head and surrounding "swish" though, because that leaves only white, and that puts me in Night Wish moon territory. I may have to do two or three rows of white as they get shorter. It's really only long at the very top.

Another ironic thing about Hook is his needle minder. When I started him, I had the Once storybook which I moved to Snow and Charming while I was doing them, so I had to get a new one for Hook. I went with a white swan (obviously...those who have seen the show will get it), but on the fabric, that swan does not look white at all! If I take it off...snow white, but on the fabric, it's dull and almost yellow (not just in photos, but to the naked eye as well)! Go figure! I guess, now that I'm done with Snow and Charming, I could put the storybook back, but I like the idea of the swan. Oh well, I'll just keep in the back of my mind that I know it's white and hopefully that will be enough (but I keep getting distracted by it). Or, I could get a black swan (again, if you've seen the show you'll get that too), but that's not my favorite season, which is why I went with white in the first place. Besides, if I finish another one, my actual storybook patterns are next up, so I will need the storybook bookmark for them.

Oh well, enough rambling and ranting (and I was a bit ranty on this one, sorry!). Hope everyone is staying safe and happy stitching!

Still having trouble stitching

I think I'm going to move on from Sleepy Hollow this week. I just don't have the motivation to work on it. I think it's partially work's fault...I get home and I'm just too worn out to do anything but watch TV and zone out, but still, I think that Sleepy Hollow just isn't the right project for me right now. I can't really tell that it's even moving, although I only worked on it two days (and barely even that because I kept getting distracted). Here is where I left off last week:
Hollow029
And, now that they are side-by-side, I can see it moved a bit, which makes me feel a bit better, but not enough to keep on it:
Hollow031
And, for the record, it is kind of hard to stitch on this long frame with this little monkey in his usual position underneath me...on the old frame with the shorter scroll rods, it's not a problem, but he gives me the evil eye when I elbow him in the head a lot!
Untitled
I think the confetti is just wearing me out. I'm not sure where I'm going to next. I need to work on something that I haven't worked on in a while to keep up the rotation, but the pickins are gettin slim. I think all I have left are Hook (black and white hell), Suteki (more confetti hell) and Faces 167 (which is 32ct and, considering the state of my eyes right now, I'm not sure that's the best way to go either). But no more new projects until I finish one and I don't want to restart the rotation until I move through them all. I think I'm leaning toward Hook...we'll see.

Technically, I do still have Tartan B, A Summer Ball (the project I hate the most) and Disney's 35th Anniversary (which is still hilarious considering Disney World is coming up on it's 50th now), waiting in the wings, but I doubt those projects will ever get touched again or, if they do, it won't be for more than the 5 minute intervals that they get every couple of years. I just HATE them SOOOO much! Tartan B is SOOO tiny, I should have finished it in like two hours, why it's taken me years I have NO CLUE! A Summer Ball is going to look fabulous when finished, but I despise it SOOO much, all those partial stitches that HAEDs have spoiled me against, I just can't imagine going back to it. And poor 35th Anniversary. That project is doomed simply because of the dark fabric and my bad eyes. I do use a lightbox when I stitch it, but that in itself kills my eyes and gives me a headache. I'm not really a fan of inducing a headache if I can help it. Had to learn that lesson the hard way I guess.

Speaking of disliking things, what do you guys think of the changes to Blogger? I worked with it for about two hours a couple of posts ago before I switched back to Classic. Either they don't have the bugs worked out, I'm just stupid (although I'm gonna give myself the benefit of the doubt on that one), or it just sucks! I like the look of it visually, it's just not good in practical use. I hope they get it ironed out before they decide to do away with Classic! I haven't played with it since, so if it's gotten better, or if it does, let me know (or if you guys have figured out the trick to it where it's not mixing in the HTML code, I'd love to know!).

Stitch Switch

I tried really hard to stay with Maleficent, but after a week of just staring at her and not stitching a bit, by Saturday morning, I knew I had to switch to keep my stitchy mojo moving. I'll get her finished, just not now. At first though, I had trouble deciding which project work on next. I wanted to work on one that I haven't touched yet this year, but the pickins' are gettin' slim kids. One of the reasons I don't work on Sleepy Hollow Mural much is because it's in a Q-Snap...mainly because it's a horizontal piece and I didn't have scroll rods long enough, but also because I very quickly realized that I hate working with Q-Snaps! They are just square hoops for me, I have to work one-handed again, which seems like a reversal back to childhood stitching. It slows me down because I can't use two hands to stitch since one has to hold the frame. I also tend to hold on too tightly with my right hand (since I'm a dominant leftie) and I end up with a cramped right hand that has to be pried off the edges of the frame after a few hours and then it's a useless piece of flesh for days afterwards. Major props to you guys who can use them though, they just aren't for me!

Another major mistake I've made with this project is that I never take it out of the Q-Snaps, so it's been wrinkled up all this time. I HATE trying to get it set and centered, which is hard for me to do with the Snaps (I'm just really bad with them), so I just left it and hoped it wouldn't get too squished. But I also didn't plan to take a year off stitching and all the other life hurtles I've had the past couple of years, so I wasn't planning on leaving in the state it's been in all this time.

But back to Saturday morning, I pulled it out, took it off the Q-Snap and it looked really good, all things considered...no squishing, despite some of the stitched area being under the framed area (for a very long time) and, as I started to examine the length of it, I remembered I had a set of scroll rods that were long, but not quite long enough. I had plan to buy longer ones, but the American Dream ones are SOOO expensive, I just never did. I also planned to go to Lowe's or Home Depot or somewhere and just buy long wooden poles and make my own, but since I never go anywhere (and now I can't, literally), that will probably never happen either.

A while ago, I did buy just some really strong velcro from Amazon that I "thought" would work better than the American Dream scroll rod velcro, which is expensive (considering the amount you get for the price). I literally bought this "supposed" strong velcro for both sides in HUGE rolls for the same price that one tiny roll of one side of the AD stuff is (you have to buy the fabric side and the rod side separate). But, as per how Hook turned out, the velcro wasn't as "strong" as it claimed to be. I even went back on Hook and added the old tape I used to use to attach projects to rods on top of the velcro and it STILL wouldn't hold (more on Hook in a minute).

I went ahead and gridded out the rest of the pattern horizontally, just to see how long it actually was, and I had my usual three inch border on either side. I realized, I could cut that down to two inches, fold it in and, since these were the American Dream scroll rods that use the velcro-type tape stuff, I could just tape it down with the folded edges (although I would have to be careful when I stitched the edges and made sure I didn't stitch the folded down parts into the project. I also had to put it on my American Dream lap stand, which again, I'm not a fan of because it's too short for me (although I adore their scroll rods), but the stand can hold the weight of the longer rods better than mine and it has a stabilizer bar that goes across the top to balance them. But at least now Sleepy Hollow is in scroll rods!

While I was at it, I went ahead and used the last of my American Dream tape to stick Hook back down to his scroll rods too. It's why I didn't get much stitching done on Saturday. Between all the work getting Sleepy Hollow reset and remounting Hook, a good chunk of the day was gone.

Anyway, on with the pics! Keep in mind, this is only two days worth of work and I didn't work that much because I was too busy on Saturday trying to figure out plans and then switching to the stand and then trying to get the stand stable and then trying to get comfortable with the stand (and then dealing with Hook which I don't know when I'll work on again...why I EVER bought a black and white pattern, let alone four, I'll never know!). But, first things first, here is where I left off back in December of 2017 (WOW...seriously?)...and, of course part of it is cut off because of the Q-Snap:
Hollow027
And again, only barely two days work, but here we are (and at least you can see the whole thing again), you can also see the folded edges here on either side...I really hope that doesn't bite me in the butt:
Hollow029
It is a bit "bend" at the front corner and that is a side effect of the Q-Snaps, but I think I can fix that when I frame it...hopefully. To add to the crappy stitching excuses (I'm apparently full of them this time), I didn't take my Ritalin on Sunday for some reason, and I didn't have the motivation for ANYTHING! It's amazing how quickly that drug changes your production value. How I managed my entire life up to my 30's without it, I have no clue! I had also forgotten that, for a non-dithered piece, how confetti'ed it is! I'm not sure if the whole piece is this way, or if it's just the sky, but I have to change colors a LOT! I wish I could park, but a) the hanging strings, even with "cord management" would drive me insane and b) I couldn't keep track of all that hanging string anyway. I'm just not that talented. But if I could park, this would be the project for it.

I also didn't have a good needle minder to match this project (gotta work on that), but I thought a sleepy Stitch was an interesting match, so it will work for now. And just to show how long this thing is...it takes up my entire sofa table, which also shows how it is a bit uncomfortable to stitch on the couch. I probably should move back to the chair, but I've sat on the couch (and slept, and lived) for so long now, I wouldn't know how to function in the chair again. Plus, the pups prefer me stitching on the couch because they can snuggle on me better while I'm stitching (which also hinders my work, but makes them happy, so I can't really complain about that). Here is my very junky coffee table and Sleepy Hollow Mural taking up the width of the entire thing:
Untitled
But, since it's so long, I might also have to change how I take pictures of this thing. Maybe a whole shot and then a close up of the actual stitched area. I might try that next week. Today is Wednesday, and I haven't stitched a single day this week, but this has been a really CRAPPY work week, so I haven't been in the mood to stitch. And whoopsy on showing the pattern, but if anyone can tell ANYTHING from that one page, good on ya!

Stitching and vacay time

Well, I took a week off work. Of course, I still had to go in to work every single day and do the things that only I can do, so it "technically" wasn't a vacation", but that's just the way it is. Suffice it to say, the time off just kind of made me madder at the state of my situation I've gotten myself into. Yes, I should be grateful I have a job, but if said job is killing me, then should I really be grateful? I've decided things have to change, or else. And knowing my employer, it will be or else.

I also decided that California is out of the question too. I don't think, considering my interactions with them, that would be the right environment for me either. The the complete 360 of my current situation and I don't work well in that kind of environment either. I need challenges and a good balance of structure and workload and one gives no challenges and too much load and the other gives challenges, but no load and possibly no structure.

So what to do? School is probably out. I've already determined I suck at programming and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. And with the state of the world right now, it's hard to even go to school at all (although it might make it easier to do my science basics...the only basics I have left, online instead of in class).

Short story long, all taking time off accomplished was really just really pissing me off at the state of my life overall and I really don't know what to do to change it. If Hobby Lobby didn't have such sucky personal practices (and wasn't closed right now anyway), I'd just go to work there and say screw it!

But anyhoo, I did get some stitching done (although I was really bad about keeping myself focused on it). I left off on Maleficent here a few weeks ago:
Maleficent139
And, keep in mind I was home for an entire week (minus the hour or so a day I had to go into the lab), but here is where I am now:
Maleficent150
It's getting really hard to stay focused on her...I want to take a break, but another part of me wants to finish the row, which will hopefully spurn me on to finish the last row as well and finish her up entirely. It's another tug-and-pull situation I seem to have gotten myself into!

As a side note, the hippies got haircuts! Honestly, I don't know how the groomers didn't get hit by the tornado! The field literally 10 feet from her got demolished and the vet's office she is connected to lost its roof, but she was unharmed! So here's another before:
Untitled
And after:
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I can't get my own hair cut or colored, but they can apparently! But the groomer is taking the same precautions the vet is...one client at a time, full cleanup afterwards, etc. I gave her a bit more tip than usual just because she was so thorough and careful!

At least for now, I'm just going to soldier on and hope that something miraculous falls in my lap to change my current situation. I knew I'd be in a bad mood today, I always am after I've been on an "isolation" kind of vacation...the longer I'm left alone, the more I want to be alone, but this feels different this time. There have already been two instances this morning that, if I didn't need a moving truck to quit, I would have walked out already. Things have to change and I need to find a way to make them listen this time. They never have before, but I need to find a way to approach it differently, because "before" has never worked. Everyone else complains, they are all like "oh yeah, we'll fix that right away, we'd hate to overwork or lose you!". With me, they just go, "no, we have faith in you, you can do it, don't worry, just work more hours or on weekends or something!". I'm just sick of it. And with the possibility that I could get a disease that could kill me rather quickly looming at every corner, I'm beginning to realize that it's just not worth it anymore.

I talked to my Sister quite a bit about it the other day and even debated going back into therapy, but I think I've ruled that out. Obviously, I couldn't go ANYWHERE near those horrible people who locked me up...I'd have panic attacks just going near them, but I could probably find a good therapist somewhere else in town not associated with them if I wanted to. But then again, mentally at least, I'm the happiest I've ever been, which is probably why I'm realizing what a sucky work situation I'm stuck in. When my head is off kilter, I don't typically notice the bad situations around me, I just muddle through them. Now I notice everything that isn't right, and work DEFINITELY isn't right! If I'm not careful, it will start to affect my head, and I can't have that. Consider the pressure I'm under, I don't make enough pay to warrant it, and I can literally live on working at Target or Hobby Lobby or somewhere else quite easily (if I never want to built a house and just stay where I am). I could also work in a factory, I've done that before. There is no job security, but the pay is much better. Then again, considering my age, could I do it?

All the rambling, but once the world settles down and I can get a handle on the state of things, I have some really BIG decisions to make about my future. Question is, am I really brave enough to walk away from here if I can't get them to back down? I guess time will tell because I can guarantee they won't...or, if they do, it won't be for more than a month.

Some of the tornado damage

I drove around town a bit after picking up my groceries on Friday. I didn't go all over town and I didn't go through the affluent neighborhoods that were hit. Most people don't realize that the neighborhood behind the mall, where there are public housing units (project housing), got completely wiped out as well. That NEVER made the news. I couldn't get back there anyway, it is all sanctioned off. I drove through the parts of town that didn't get a lot of coverage, but where there was still damage. Obviously, my route did take me right past the mall, so I did get shots of it and the stores across the street, Ulta and Kirklands being the main two:
tornado-0001
And sorry about the quality of this, it was 6 pm on a Friday, so even with the quarantine, traffic was still a bit heavy:
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And then the mall itself, Target didn't get hit so bad (I had just been in there the Friday before:
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But the further you go, the worse it gets:
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The crushed-in roof was where Barnes and Noble was:
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And this twisted piece of white mess is what "used" to be Best Buy:
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It does continue on to the backside but, like I said, it was closed back there because there were houses. "Were" being the keyword.

Across the street though from about Penney's is where my Vet's office is, it got some damage (no animals were injured), but it looks like they were already progressing well on the rebuild:
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And here is just an empty field that used to be a type of UHaul rental place with all the debris from the mall embedded in the fence:
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I kept going on down to the "poorer" side of town on my way down to airport road. There was so much news coverage about the middle of town, the mall, and all the rich houses that got hit, I wanted to see how Nettleton Ave (which, back in the day, used to be a main strip), looked and was shocked! I knew I'd see a lot of damage on the East side toward the airport, especially towards the factory that burned, but I didn't expect the West side to look like this:
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And yes, this is the SAME train track that runs along the backside of my trailer park (there are two, but they run together)...this is the East side towards the factories and the airport:
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The debris from one side in the ditch of the other:
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These were factories:
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I can't even tell you what this was:
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I really wanted to get a clear picture of this (so sorry I didn't!), because the backside of this building that burned was the horrible toxic smell that I had to endure after the storm...the reason why I couldn't open any windows and it got up to 85 in my house. Ironically, they may clear air machines, air filters, and green products! It was the worst smell ever and it turned the sky this horrible greenish-yellow color.
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The airport is the hardest area of all to photograph. The traffic is heavy, the road is curvy, and it's just hard, but I got a few shots. All the damaged planes at the airport:
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Some of the hangars...all but the biggest building were destroyed:
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The main terminal and more buildings (or what is left of them):
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And the debris field they are piling up:
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And that's about all I got! There is still a lot more damage in town that I might get one night, but I'm not comfortable with driving through the neighborhoods. I just think people need their privacy and I wouldn't like it if people were circling around my house during this time.

The city estimated there was about $400 million dollars in damage. I thought that was a bit steep at first and couldn't figure it out, but once I thought about it, it made sense. The mall itself cost over $100 million dollars to build, or so the mayor said at the press conference. For po-dunk Arkansas, that is just unheard of (and frankly, I still find it hard to believe)! Now that most of it has to be completely rebuilt, I can guarantee that will go up. The one neighborhood they kept featuring on the news was a million dollar neighborhood on its own. We don't have many of those in this town and since property values have gone up, more money. So maybe it's not such a stretch after all. There have also been two towns hit with tornados since ours, and the news hasn't mentioned a one of them. Just as much damage, only smaller, poorer towns. Considering there was little to no mention of the poor neighborhoods that were hit here, only the rich areas, it makes sense, it's just sad.

A bit of stitching and some more stash (like I need it)

We are still working, although I'm not killing myself like I have been. But I do think it has finally caught up with me...between the work and the stress of the tornado, I actually called in sick with a headache for the first time in over 15 years! And then, the day after, I got sent home from work because, well, I guess I just looked too pitiful and was throwing up too much. Four days this one lasted so, between last week and this one, there hasn't been much stitching.

Speaking of the tornado, I tried to drive down the airport road to survey some of the damage last night and get some pics for you guys, but the traffic was too heavy and I'm just not good with picture-taking on my phone while driving. My camera is a whole other story (I'm a total pro with it and driving), so I dropped one in my purse this morning in case I get the chance to go that way again tonight. I ordered groceries from Wal-Mart on Wednesday, but I couldn't get a pick-up time until today (Friday)! I have literally changed the order seven times since! But it will give me another chance to drive in that direction. I'm kind of weird about my routes home. I don't tend to stray. Last night I had to get my meds, hence the detour. Wal-Mart offers the same route so, unless the traffic is bad again, we'll see what I can come up with!

Stitching-wise though, I switched from Happy Haunts (which isn't very much fun, to be honest) and went back to Maleficent. I had forgotten how close to a finish I am with her, just this row and a partial last row. I left off here on July 7th of 2019:
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And, like I said, I haven't stitched much in the past two weeks, but I'm now here, so there is movement!
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If I can hang in with her, I could finish her before the end of the year, but I'm not sure I can stick with her long enough for two rows, time will tell!

I have also been online shopping again (bad me). I was very good at avoiding the HAED 50% off sale and I thought I had beat the desire for more stitch patterns, well, more time at home means I've been watching Once again so on a whim, I started looking on Etsy for patterns. I picked up the companion Once book "Heroes and Villains" from KPL Creative XStitch. I think she is just about the only one still doing Once charts on Etsy, so I'm grateful to her!
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WitchyKitt Designs also did a Stitch pattern, and I can never pass up a good Stitch (pardon the pun)!
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But then I went REALLY bad! When I initially bought The Bride Dollmaker from GeckoRouge (and just typing that makes me want to stitch on her again), it was a struggle as to whether to buy her or Amour et Vengeance by Dailen Ogden. I had never paid that much for a kit before, so I couldn't afford both. It was a tough struggle, but I eventually went with the Bride, but it has always nagged at me and, every blue moon or so, I'll stare at Hook and get all dreamy-eyed at what "could have been". Lately, I've been afraid that Hook would be disappearing soon since he hasn't been on Dailen's website in a while. Well, despite the desperate times, since I've been good about paying down my bills and had some space on my credit cards, I did the stupid and bought Hook, so Amour et Vengeance (with a delay because of the virus) will be on my way! I'll cry about it later because, as of now, my conscious is clear!
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God knows when I'll ever have time to stitch any of these (although the Bride is going fast, so maybe it won't be but a year or two before I can start Hook, although I do already have another, VERY PAINFUL, Hook already in progress...black and white patterns suck!). The Once books are small and should be quick stitches. But I have promised myself not another start until I finish at least ONE W.I.P. first! Doesn't matter which one, but at least ONE! Thems the rules! So, here's to a headache-free good weekend of stitching to everyone and stay safe out there guys!

Aftermath and Stitching Catchup

Things have been quiet this week. The town is still in COVID mode, so everything is empty (but we are still at work), but at least the roads around me are open. I've been careful to avoid the tornado damaged areas, just out of helpfulness of the cleanup crews and out of considerations of the homeowners, but I did circle around the backside of the trailer park Tuesday morning as I went to drop off my lot rent. I was surprised to see a lot of the trailers in the back had tarps on their roofs, so there was some damage, but I was even more surprised to see the field behind the trailer park.

I knew the airport behind us was destroyed, as was the subdivisions all around. As I sat in the tub, basically waiting to die, I distinctly remember hearing the roaring & sounds of destruction it made as it approached, the sound of a train (and I told my Sister "it does sound like a train!" because that's the way they always describe it on TV...it was an actual train I heard, because the train itself got flipped, half on one side of the tracks, half on the other). Then all got quiet for about a minute before the sounds of destruction of roaring started again. I just figured that "quiet" sound was the field behind the trailer park. It was actually the airfield. What I heard the second time was this...the field directly behind the trailer park:
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And a zoomed in view of the destruction in that area, although they had been cleaning it up, you can still see some of one house is still in the yard of the other house, but the pile of tree limbs was removed from the train tracks:
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That, my friends, is how close it got to us! I knew it was close, but not THAT close! I'm not so sure I will be the "steady" one the next time a storm comes rolling through. But, just for fun, here are some shots of my house with the power out. Typically, I've always been a candle queen, but since the invention of Scentsy's (and the fact that Yankee Candle has significantly gone downhill in quality), I couldn't find but two candles in my house and two oil lamps! I did eventually find a gallon-sized ziplock bag of tealights though, so my obsession with Moroccan lights finally served a purpose! So for several hours, this is the view I saw:
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Creepy, but cool, right? One thing about oil lamps though, for asthmatics, they put off a horrible smell! It may have been because they are old, but UGH! I couldn't open the windows or front door because the factory that burned down was putting off toxic chemical smells (ironically, they made air purifiers and green products, so I'm not sure why the air was so toxic), so it got pretty hot...up to 85 degrees! Eventually though, it started raining and dissipated the toxicity of the outside air and I was able to open what few windows I can open and it eventually got better (I have huge furniture in front of most all my windows due to a break-in attempt about 20 years ago), until after they put us on a city-wide curfew and then everyone seemed to come out of their houses for some reason and was standing on the street! Curfew means off the streets and stay in your houses, not stand in the streets, congregating and drinking! Social distancing people! If there wasn't so much alcohol involved, I probably would have yelled out the door "SOCIAL DISTANCING!". Eventually, I just got too freaked out and was afraid everyone would get too riled up and start looting or something and closed the door for the night.

But, by Sunday, everything had calmed down, so the door and window got opened again (and it was a much cooler day anyway). I made a HUGE pot of chili and froze it. I baked a ham, made a red velvet cake (although I should have cleaned up the stand before taking a picture apparently...it looks sloppy!):
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I was stitching the day of the tornado and stitched a bit the day after. I switched from Alice and the B's to Happy Haunts (which I haven't stitched on since April 29, 2019) on March 22nd, but have only stitched on it the 3 days since. My heart hasn't been in it lately. But I left off here back last year:
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And didn't make it very far in the three days I did stitch on it thanks to all the "action":
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Now, since I have to start cataloging my collection (Disney and otherwise), I'm not sure how much stitching I'll be doing at all, unless I keep weekends for stitching (since, at least for now, I'm not working on the weekends) and do the cataloging during the weeknights. We'll see. Or maybe I'll stitch at night and catalog on the weekends? Again, I'll have to see how it goes. I've ordered a photography light box to help take pictures of everything, so I have to wait for that to come in first.

As extra precautions, I've ordered a little lamp that is supposed to last pretty long during a power outage (instead of the oil lamps) and I got it in today...it's pretty bright at it's highest setting! I'm going to get a couple more. I also ordered a phone case that has a built-in battery (so I don't have to go to the car to charge my phone...or in case next time my car gets crushed like most of the ones at the mall). I need to get more candles too, but that's for the next time I can get up the courage to go to the store (if the stores stay open...Target is in the mall, so it is definitely closed!).

But I'm also going to start focusing on getting my credit cards paid off so I can get a "real" house (not that having a "real" house helped some of these people, but still). Granted, I just spent a crap-ton of money to prepare for the next storm and to have stuff to catalog my current stuff with, but does that count? I've settled on a house plan and I will no longer fight my Sister and Brother-in-Law with whatever financial assistance they want to give. It was mentioned once that my Brother-in-Law was just going to give me the lot and I got very upset about that because I wanted to pay for it all myself...now? I'll take it bro! Anything to get me out the trailer park quicker! Unfortunately, the town I'm moving to isn't any safer, tornado-wise, than the one I live in now, and neither can have basements because the water-table is too high (we live in the Mississippi River flood plain), but I will either have a safe room or a storm cellar, that's for sure! Wonder how much it would cost to get the ENTIRE duck room turned into a safe room? Probably more than the entire house cost! Might be cheaper than a lifetime of insurance on the collection though, right?

Thanks for everyone's well wishes, and keep up the wishes because storm season has just begun!