Mini Thoughts

I have been so inspired by all the bloggers at Clear River, I decided to give it a try.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

In the mean time.....

Well, I got my fabric yesterday, and it was well worth the money and the wait! I still need to get a frame together. Will probably do that this weekend, then get started on stitching next week.

In the mean time....I've started another, easier project. The violin to the left. This is smaller, with only 24,735 stitches and 34 colors. I have a habit of working on more than one project at a time. That way I don't get too bored with any one project. Plus I really wanted to get started stitching something, and I had all the materials I needed for this one. I'll get some pictures up of it soon.

And once I have the big project framed and ready to start, I'll post pictures of that, also.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Evangelist update

I'm chomping at the bit to get started on this project, but there have been a few delays. First, the fabric I originally bought to stitch this on had a few problems. One, it wasn't quite big enough. And two, it had a lot of flaws in it, which would have made the stitching come out very uneven. So, I've had to special order some fabric, which will take a while to get.

The second delay is I'm having trouble finding a frame large enough for the fabric. This piece of fabric will be 30 inches x 25 inches, so I need a frame (the picture to the right is of a floor stand, which I also need, and a scroll frame). So far, all the commercial frames I've found have not been wide enough. So it looks like I'll have to make my own, which is no big deal really. Getting the floor stand also isn't a big deal, they have the one pictured at Michael's.

Once I have all the equipment I need, I can get started. In the mean time, it's not like I don't have something to keep me busy. I have several projects in the works, such as a 1" scale dollhouse, a crochet beaded purse I'm working on, (two, actually), a few other crochet projects, a roombox that's waiting for the final touches, and several (like about 20) smaller scale houses to put together as I want to make a quarter scale village, with landscaping and even possibly a train. Oh, and let's not forget that I work and I'm going to school. And, of course, my violin.

Once I'm going on the Evangelists I'll post pictures of my progress!

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Monday, July 17, 2006

The Four Evangelists

Finally!! I have something I can blog about on a (hopefully) regular basis. I am embarking on what probably will be most challenging thing I've ever to raising my kids. The painting to the left is by Peter Paul Rubens,"The Four Evangelists". (Can you figure out who is supposed to be who?) Rubens was a Flemish Baroque painter, lived from 1577-1640, and is often called the Prince of Baroque Painting. "The Four Evangelists" was painted around 1614.

What I will be doing is reproducing this cross stitch. In fact, the image that you see is actually an image generated from the cross stitch pattern, NOT from the original painting.

I will be working on linen fabric with a stitch count of 28 stitches per inch. The size of the piece is 600 stitches wide x 495 stitches tall. That will make the finished project 21.42 inches x 17.68 inches....approximately. That also means there are a total of 297,000 stitches. Believe it or not, that is not what makes this project challenging. The challenging part is it uses 106 different colors, some used alone, some are blended together to make the right color needed.

I got this idea, and the pattern, from the web site Golden Kite. They have literally 750 patterns on their site...and yes, I looked at each and every one of them before deciding to do "The Four Evangelists". There is a fella on this site that is working on a project and posting updates on his work as he goes along. He started the project March 6, 2001, and his latest update says he has completed 95,507 stitches, worked 3,011 hours and is 56.5% complete. His project uses 110 colors and has 169,000 stitches total. This update is dated April 10, 2006.

Why, you ask? Well, I love to cross stich, but have never found anything that has really challenged me. Until now. I do believe this will be challenging! More than I can handle? No, I don't think so. I believe if I don't finish this piece, it will be because I got lazy and/or lost motivation. It won't be because it was too hard.

So, what I plan on doing is posting pictures of my progress on my blog, with updates, similar to the above project. Except I don't think I'll keep track of the hours I spend working on it. That might get a little daunting, doncha think? I'll be using this blog as part of my motivation, especially if it seems I have some people interested and "demand" updates!

I hope you look forward to following me on this journey, and please feel free to post any comments (I already know I'm crazy, so don't bother posting that!) or encourgement along the way! Pray the Lord blesses my hands, and my eyesight!

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Friday, February 03, 2006

I got a new toy.....'s sounds's's a Yamaha SV120. And it's NOT a motorcycle! It's an electric violin. I'm having so much fun with it!! Several years ago, probably more like 10, I took my kids to Mars. (It was a music store in Raleigh. But it was fun to say "Hey, let's to go Mars!) In the strings section one day they had what was called a "silent violin." It was electric, and you hooked it up to headphones to play. Initially intended (I thought) for people who didn't want to disturb their neighbors or roommates when they practiced. I remember making the comment to my son, Matthew, that I would never be caught dead playing "one of those things." I was a true "real violin" violinist. To play anything other than a traditional violin was just.....well, lame!!

Ok, here it is, 10-some years later and I want to play in my church's praise band. Christmas Eve we gave it a shot. Our praise band consists of a lead acoustic guitar, lead electric guitar, electric bass, keyboards, drums, three singers and worship leader (on lead acoustic guitar). Everyone is plugged in and amplified in some way. They set up a microphone for me. But no matter how good the microphone or how loud I played, no one could hear me. I couldn't even hear myself!

Jeff, our pastor, suggested I get a pick up or microphone for my violin. My research came up with plenty of pick ups and amplifiers.....which you either had to stick on (with tape), glue on, attach on or even completely change the bridge! NO WAY! My violin is about 200 years old, and I was not willing to make any kind of change to it, sticking or gluing was totally out of the question, and attaching anything to the violin itself compromises the tone and quality. (It inhibits the vibration of the wood, which is essential to the tone. Which is another reason why the stain and varnish used is so important. The secret behind a Stradivarius is in the varnish and stain he used, which to this day has been unable to be reproduced.) So, before I even knew what I was doing, I was discussing with Jeff the possibility of getting an electric violin. Initially it was going to be an acoustic/electronic. I figured I could deal with that. An acoustic/electric actually looks like a traditional violin, and even plays like one. But it
also has the electronics to be able to amplify it. Very similar to an acoustic/electric guitar.

In doing very in depth research, I found that an a/e violin was either a very cheap student violin modified with the electronics needed, or $5000+......just a bit out of my price range. So, I bit the bullet and started looking at straight electronic. I had no idea the variety that was out there!! They range from ones that come as close to a traditional violin without actually being one, to some very weird and cosmic-looking shapes that just freaked me out. Bob and I decided I should try for one that is as close to a "real" violin as possible, so as not to be a distraction to the congregation during worship. And, believe it or not, the one I could afford and wound up getting was the Yamaha SV-120! The very one that I had picked up 10 or so years ago and said I would not be caught dead playing! Well, I put it this way....when I finally got it and played it, I was dead....I had died and gone to Heaven because it was SO COOL!!!

So now I'm just getting freaky with my new toy. There are a bunch of accessories I can get, the first of which will be a carbon fiber bow made specifically for electric violins. With my renewed enthusiasm about my violin, Bob and I have done a lot of talking. See, ever since I was 10 years old my dream was to be a solo violinist. I would not be happy being just a part of the orchestra.....I had to be in front of the orchestra. The spot light had to be on me. Decisions and circumstances in my life, however, took me off that path. The other night Bob and I got to talking about that dream. He seems to think it can still come true. Ok, yeah, if I quit my job, practice 8-10 hours a day, get a teacher who is actually better than I am, and, as a good friend put it, become married to the violin instead of Bob. No thanks. I don't want the dream that badly, not any more. But it got me to thinking what would I be happy with. Playing in the praise band. I'm so excited about that! Flow of thoughts continued.....playing for God. Oh, yeah, that's what its all about! My thoughts didn't stop there, though.

I fell in love with the violin the very first time I saw someone play one, my fourth grade teacher. From that point on, that was all I wanted to do. And I was actually good, surprise, surprise. But is that such a surprise? For me to have fallen in love at first sight with this instrument, that love had to have been there from birth. No, wait......from conception. Nooooo, almost.......from BEFORE conception. Then the awesome realization: When God created me, He put that love and talent for the
violin in my make up. Why did He do that? Because HE wanted me to play for HIM. He wasn't thinking about me playing for an audience, an orchestra, or really
even in a praise band. He purposely did it so I would play for HIM. And He doesn't care how good (or bad) I am. He loves music, and he just wants me to play FOR HIM!!! That was his plan from the very beginning!! If my playing happened to take me to super stardom in the concert world, or playing in a small church praise band, that didn't matter.

I mean, it's one thing to dedicate your life to the Lord, praise and worship Him, and love Him, which we should all do. But it's an entirely different thing to realize the reason you have a talent or gift is because God gave it to you so He could enjoy you using that talent or gift! I may be pushing this point a little hard, but I really want people to "get" this. Imagine....there's God, thinking about his next creation. He thinks, hmmmm, I'll create another human. Yeah, that sounds good. And I'll make it a girl, give her brown hair, hazel eyes, she'll grow to be about 5'5". And, I know....what I would really like is for her to play the violin for me! So, I'll give her the love and talent of the violin, then when she grows up I can sit and enjoy listening to her play! Just for me!!

Ok, I know, that's putting a human twist on it. But that's the best way I can describe this revelation. I can't tell you how special, and loved, I felt when I realized this. Amazing. God loves me. He gave me a specific talent with the intention that it would be used to bring Him enjoyment. And through that, playing for GOD and no one else, I can indeed "go forth and prophesy" with my violin.

Praise the Lord!!

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Practice makes perfect

So I'm reading from the Strings magazine web site an article about practicing. Thought I'd pick up a few tips and suggestions on how to better spend my time when I practice. Included in the article was this paragraph:

"So your priorities should include some balance of getting the correct notes down, working out the rhythms and bowings, watching your position and posture, being careful with intonation (more on that later), working on shifting (with a relaxed left thumb, repeat each shift five times or more, up and down), watching bow division and articulation, and paying attention to vibrato and tone, all while developing an interpretation of the piece. That'’s just for starters."

I had to chuckle. See, I've been playing the violin since I was 10 years old. I'm no Heifitz by any means, but playing does seem to come a little more naturally to me than other people I have met. I've never really sat down and thought about what actually goes in to playing....I've always just done what I was told and played. I've read and been told that the violin is the hardest instrument to learn to play. Hmmm, well, ok, if they say so. I never found it difficult. Challenging, sure! But not difficult. Through the years I've tried to explain to people just what is involved in playing the violin, and playing it well. This paragraph (above) seemed to sum it up pretty well! (Thus my chuckle.) Coordinating all of the above, and then some, is what makes the difference between a squeaky-squawky sound and a singing beautiful tone.

Perhaps I've just taken for granted that one must combine so many aspects to play well. Perhaps I've just never thought about it, because if I had I would have realized all that was involved and stopped playing. (.......nah, I doubt it) I don't know. All I know is that I love to play, feel blessed by the gift of talent the Lord has given me, and have no intention of neglecting that gift.

I also know that if anyone doubts how difficult playing the violin is, I can now quote the above passage.......with emphysis on "And that's just for starters!!!"

(picture taken from Family Heirloom Search of a Stradivarius violin that was taken from the author of the web site during WWII and has never been recovered.)

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Did you know.....

.....that most of what Emily Dickinson wrote (and she wrote 1775 poems) can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas? Check it out, and soon you, too, can be singing your favorite Dickinson poem!! Try it!! Here's one of my favorites:

There is no Frigate like a Book

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry --
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll --
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Living with Meniere's

This poem is not mine. If by chance you are the person who wrote this poem and do not want me to publish it here, then please let me know and I will remove it ASAP. I'm posting this today because I'm having a very bad Meniere's day, and with the hopes it will help those who are close to me understand what living inside my head is like. I don't feel cursed with Meniere's.....I feel blessed, especially with so many close friends who care and support me. May God bless you all. And a sincere thank you to the author of this poem.


When the night is dark and no one's around
Why is my head so full of sound
As I lay down for a good nights sleep
I know this night will be a repeat
A hum, a roar and buzzing as well
To me a nightmare, a living hell
No way to stop the sounds I hear
For what I have they call "Meniere's"
And sounds deep within my ears

I used to pray most all the time
For God to clear this head of mine
So many years have passed on by
And many days and nights I'd cry
But still the sounds lives in my head
At times you wish that you were dead
The Doctor's give you pills to take
But most the time you lay awake
I pray to God my soul to take

Now I lay me down to sleep
But most the time I lay and weep
No one knows what it is like
Because I always look so right
I try to do the best I can
But most folks just don't understand
Some can't understand what they cannot see
And at times this causes pain for me
But I can't give up, it's my life you see

Now the early morning hours are here
And the sounds are here within my ears
But I will go and try to sleep
And pray my Lord my soul to keep
Maybe soon it will go away
Who knows? Is what the Doctor's say
I'll always thank the Lord above
For "He" understands and gives me love
I get my strength from up above

Only a person who lives with Meniere's
Or Tinnitus, the pain, the fears and tears
Can really know of what I speak
And a cure for these people is what I seek.

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"In memory of..." corrections

I (finally) made some corrections and additions to my entry "In memory of..." about my dad. I want to thank my mother, my brothers Jim and Scott, and my sister Laurie for helping me with accuracy and adding some of their own thoughts and words to the story. Dad may be gone, but he is by no means forgotten.

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