Being Crafty – Zombie Cross Stitch Project #1

I mentioned in my post last week that I was going to start a zombie cross-stitch project.  I have added one person to the list of recipients, so I have four projects to complete by the end of October. I’m not sure how realistic that is, but whatever.

So I made a post last week about all the rain we were expecting.  It actually was not THAT bad.  I’ve seen and driven through much worse.  But I went on weather.com and saw that the area I’m in was projected to get really heavy rain.  Like, dark red on the radar.  So I was like, “Nope,” and decided to work from home.  Then I found out that we had a flash flood warning and felt validated…for maybe all of twenty minutes, when I realized that our area was not getting any of the heavy rain.  In fact, it had stopped raining by the afternoon.

I felt stupid about leaving work early…but the bonus is I was able to work on my first project, which is for my brother Patrick:

Half of a zombie...ooo SCARY

Half of a zombie…ooo SCARY

The end result is a zombie dressing like he’s from Office Space or something.  Get it?  “Work bites,”  hur hur.  You can tell where my hoop has been since it looks really wrinkled.

I have some quibbles with this kit.  First, the patterns are really small and it’s hard to differentiate between the symbology for some of the colors.  For instance, with this pattern, I apparently was supposed to be using a dark gray for some of the stitches, but it was virtually indistinguishable from the black in some areas.  Also, even though the front of the kit declares that it has enough materials for three projects, it neglects to mention that it has material for three SELECTED projects.  For instance, this particular pattern does not come with all the grays that the chart says you need.

So, instead of using dark gray, I’m just stitching black. Whatever. At the end of the day, no one will know that, except for me (and you guys).

To give you all some inspiration:

Breaking Bad

The detailing in this is AMAZING!  I was in awe when I first saw it.  You might as well be looking at a photograph of Bryan Cranston.  Now this is definitely cross-stitching done right.

Half Marathon Training – Week 5

I did not want to wake up on Saturday morning.

But my alarm went off at 5:50, and I lay in bed for five minutes.  The run was not to be canceled unless it was thundering or lightening outside.  I listened hopefully for any sound of thunder.  I just wanted to sleep.  But besides wind, I did not hear any ominous signs of an approaching storm.

The group organizer had promised to update the page about the status of the morning’s run. I checked it.  The organizer had posted a cartoon of someone in bed.  “Rise and shine, it’s time to run!” the text read.

Damn it.

After letting Puppy stretch his little legs sufficiently and eat a little breakfast, I left my apartment.  This time, there weren’t endless stretches of roads closed downtown.  I arrived early enough to hear the seminar, which never happens.

The seminar talk was about body image.  At first I was skeptical about the topic; it just seemed too heavy for 7 am, I thought.  But it ended up being a really good talk.  The speaker, a coach for one of the pace groups, is a counselor and talked about her patients who have eating disorders.  She said that as endurance athletes, we are prone to overexercising since we want to maintain a certain body image.  This really resonated with me, since that is what had been happening to me after my marathon.  The speaker said the body image in America is one of the most unforgiving in the world, and mentioned how Abercrombie and Fitch’s release of size 00 clothing gave her anorexic patients a dubious new goal to strive to (I KNEW there was a reason why I hated Abercrombie and Fitch).

After the short but informative talk, the group organizer stood up and talked about how close the issue was to her heart.  She had been a competitive runner in college and had friends who dealt with eating disorders.  She mentioned that she had also developed body image problems since she was weighed every single week in front of her teammates, and it wasn’t until she had her two children that she learned to accept and love her body. She got really emotional saying this, and I found myself getting a little emotional, too.

The organizer brushed away her tears and then had us organize into our color groups.  The Yellow half-marathoners had five miles to run.  “It’s going to be hilly,” the organizer warned. “The first mile is all uphill.”  Great, I thought.

I had been a little concerned about this run, since I hadn’t felt motivation throughout the week to complete my runs.  But this run was perfection.  The storms from the day before had brought in cooler weather, and it was beautiful. I felt strong on this run and felt like I could have finished another five before stopping. The hill training I’d done with my Wednesday group really helped. I barely felt winded with the hills.

At the end of the race, I make a kick to the finish.  My coach said that she thinks I can move up another pace group, but I don’t think I will.  I tried running with a faster pace group when I trained for the marathon two years ago, and I didn’t really enjoy it then.  I enjoy training at a slightly slower pace – besides, I ended up passing up some of the people in the faster group at the actual marathon.  So I know it’s not vital that I do my training runs thirty seconds per mile faster than what I’m doing now.

Week 6’s run – six miles? I don’t really know.

Being Crafty – Cross-Stitching

So, I like crafting.  But historically, I’m terrible about starting projects and then never finishing them.  This year, I’ve decided to finish a project if I start it.  That’s how I finished three puzzles, for instance,  which I’ll cover in a future post. Not that anyone cares.  “OOO, A PUZZLE!  PLEASE BLOG MORE ABOUT YOUR THRILLING LIFE, JENNY!”

Anyway, I’ve decided to finish a cross-stitch project that I’ve been meaning to finish for an entire year.  This is for my cousin Amanda:

 

He's not perfect...but you can tell it's a robin, right?

He’s not perfect…but you can tell it’s a robin, right?

 

This kit came in the October 2012 issue of Cross Stitcher magazine.  I love this magazine! Each magazine always comes with a free stitching kit.  They have beautiful designs in there…not the gaudy designs that are sometimes associated with cross-stitching, but really cool designs that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to display in my home, lest people think I’m four decades older than I actually am.

I started this little guy last year and then put him away in my craft drawer, neglected.  But this summer, I was determined to finish the project, especially since I had promised Mandy a homemade gift, um, a year ago.  The directions in the magazine suggested that this project would take four hours.  Four hours, my ass.  This project got me through Seasons 3 and 4 of Breaking Bad.

While I definitely see errors in my work, overall I’m happy with the finished product and proud that I’ve actually completed the project.  I can’t wait to send it to Mandy.

My next project will be this:

Zombie Cross Stitch

So several years ago, I saw this at Barnes and Noble and said, “Zombies and cross-stitch?  AWESOME.”  It was totally an impulse buy.  I’m not even into zombies.  At all.  So naturally, this kit has been sitting in my craft drawer for three years.  I am tired of it taking up space, so I opened the kit and looked at the designs.  The designs are not terribly exciting, but they are amusing and simple enough.  There’s enough material for three projects and with Halloween around the corner, I thought it would be a fun gift for my favorite dudes, who are actually into zombies.

So, that’s one of the things I do with my free time.  I’m clearly practicing for retirement, but I LIKE IT, OKAY?

 

 

 

Weather Girl

Up until about four months ago, I didn’t care about weather.  I generally didn’t have any idea of what the forecast was until it fell on my face.

Since I never checked the weather, I’ve been hit with a couple of surprises.  There were times I got caught in heavy rain.  One time I got caught in a tropical storm that was rolling in town.  That was one of the scariest drives of my life, because it was at night and I was on a freeway when it hit.  The freeway flooded quickly. I managed to get home in one piece, and I marveled that I did.  I think I got lucky because I was already on my way home right when it rolled in.  That tropical storm did some damage to our city – roads were torn apart, parks were heavily flooded.  One person even died.

But this really did not impact me in any way, so I continued being very uninterested in weather.

But this spring, that all changed.  I got caught driving in storms that were both flash flood warnings. I was going to see Boyfriend on both of these trips, and both of these storms were within 2 weeks of each other.  I don’t know why these two storms scared me more than the tropical storm. I think it’s because the tropical storm hit when I was about ten minutes from home, not while I was on a longer distance trip.

The first storm was not THAT bad, now that I think back on it.  I got caught in the storm out of sheer ignorance; my mom had warned me earlier in the day that my town was expecting severe weather, but I brushed it off.  About twenty minutes into my trip, it started raining so heavily that I couldn’t see anything.   I wasn’t the only driver to take refuge under a bridge.  It started hailing, and the wind shook my truck.

As whiny as I was when this happened, that was really the worst part of it.  Boyfriend suggested I should go home, but I had decided (perhaps ill-advisedly) to continue with the rest of my trip.  There was still a steady rain, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  It was dark, and it was kind of cozy.  And there was also a small thrill that I was doing something dangerous and really stupid, especially since my cell phone battery was about dead and I was driving through a rather isolated stretch of road.

But the second trip, two weeks later, was not fun at all.  I should have known better.  This time, I knew the storm was coming, and I tried to beat it.  I did not beat it.  When it hit, I was stuck on a one-lane road without a shoulder.  Rain pounded my car heavily and I could not see anything, even when I slowed down to 30 mph.  I took refuge in the median for a couple of minutes before I realized that this was a stupid idea.  I tried driving again, attempting to pull over in areas that weren’t flooded, but was unsuccessful.  Finally, the road turned back into two lanes and the shoulder continued, and I gratefully pulled over until the rain cleared a little.

When I finally reached my destination, Boyfriend was worried and upset that I had continued traveling under such bad conditions.

That same night, San Antonio had a historic flood event.  The city flooded like it never had before.  People were stranded.  One person was killed.  I thought, what if that had been me?  Out on that country road, flooded, with no one nearby to help?

And so began a deep-seated fear of rain that lasted several months.

It was a little embarrassing. I don’t like being afraid of things.  Everyone has fears, that is true, and I am certainly not an exception.  But rain? I was never scared of rain. I can’t even remember being afraid of rain when I was little.  Now I cowered when I saw a menacing cloud.  I was constantly on weather.com, reviewing the radar. If I had to drive to see Boyfriend for the weekend, I would begin my radar stalking about five days in advance, then babble to Boyfriend and my mother about how there was a thirty percent chance of rain for Friday, and WHAT IF IT RAINED?

They were both very patient during my Meteorologist-On-Crack phase.

Thankfully, I no longer stalk weather.com.  Rain still makes me a little nervous if it gets heavy, but it doesn’t freak me out quite as much as it might have.  I had to drive through some semi-heavy rain when I was out in the field in July, and while I was definitely nervous, I was okay.  Everything turned out fine.  Driving through rain is fine, as long as I’m not driving through flash flood warnings again like a dumbass.

But I’ll never go back to being blithely ignorant of the weather.  I just can’t now, especially since I’ve been doing field work for the past eight weeks – I have to know if it will rain so I can plan ahead (field work gets ridiculously annoying when it rains, because it slows down EVERYTHING).

And since I have been keeping up with the weather, I now know that, because of the cold front moving in from the north and the remnants of a tropical storm in Mexico moving in from the south, we are going to get a shit ton of heavy rain tomorrow and I likely won’t get to see Boyfriend until Saturday.

BOO.

It is only one more night, and I’d much rather that he is cozy at home, playing his guitar or watching TV, than driving in that bad rain in the dark.  I never want to drive in that kind of heavy rain again, and I definitely don’t want him to.

So I’ll be patient at home and keep an eye on the weather…but only because I don’t want to get soaked during Saturday’s run.

The Prodigal Student Returns (Again)

I returned to drum lessons two weeks ago.   No more drumming on my steering wheel at red lights; it was time to get back on a kit.  I was so excited.  I was happy to see my teacher Michael, too, since he’s a great teacher and we’ve always gotten along well.  He told me that he was glad his favorite student was back, so I guess the feeling was mutual.

Michael asked what I wanted to work on, and I told him this:

Songs for the Deaf is easily one of my favorite albums of all time.  Every song on there is terrific, and the drum beats get stuck in my head after each listen.  Dave’s beats are so awesome on this album.  People who doubt his formidable skills as a drummer need to listen to his work with Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures.  His work with Nirvana is solid and accessible, but his work with QotSA and Them Crooked Vultures is a lot more technical.  He adds so much texture to the songs with his fills and grooves, making them sound badass.  For instance, seeing him play this song live left such an impression that I signed up for drum lessons months later:

Anyway, “Go With the Flow” is one of the more accessible songs on the album for me to play for the level I’m currently at.  While I eventually want to learn all the songs on the album (especially “No One Knows”), I need to get a better grasp at my rudiments before I do.

Michael quickly produced the tab for the verse and chorus, and had me try the song.

And I faltered.

Image

So, the top line should have been super easy.  Like, I probably learned that beat during my second or third lesson ever.  But – and here’s where my technique is crap – the beat opens with an open hi hat (snare only, no kick drum), then closes immediately on the second beat.

And for some reason, this was so hard to me.  I just sat there and scratched my sticks against each other, which is what I do when a beat is frustrating me.  When I finally did try, I played the hi hat, the snare, AND the kick drum all together, which was wrong.

My sticks got scratched a lot that lesson. Michael did tell me that my speed for the kick drum improved a lot, which I’m not sure how since I didn’t practice too much during my hiatus – maybe all the fake drumming I did while sitting at my desk helped.

Humbled, I took the piece home and practiced.  Two weeks later, I can’t play the piece perfectly, but I’m much better off than I was two weeks ago.  Michael and I played the beats along with the song today.  That song is so much fun and so fast.  I made a lot of mistakes, but I didn’t care. I was having too much fun.

After the lesson was over, Michael asked me if I’ve played in public with one of my musician friends. I told him it had been awhile since I had played at one of my friend’s parties, but that I missed it and wanted to play again.  “Well, you should,” he said.  “You can play.”

I can play.

I felt a warm glow when he said that, but my brain immediately tempered it with, “You kind of need to learn your rudiments better before you feel too triumphant over this compliment.”

Still, it was hard not to feel joy as I went home.  Knowing that I don’t completely suck as a drummer is incredibly motivating.  And that’s why I’ve been watching Dave Grohl drumming videos tonight instead of going to sleep.

Weekend Retrospective – Being Nerdy Instead of Watching Football

On Saturday, there was a huge game on campus.  Last year, my college team had beaten the #1 team.  This year, they were scheduled for a rematch at my alma mater.

I didn’t go.  I really don’t care about football.  I mean, I’ve attended football games as an undergrad, but watching a football game is generally not something I’ll set aside time for.

The town was neerily empty, which I didn’t mind. I’ve been in severe “Get Off My Lawn” mode every weekend that I visit Boyfriend, because the town is teeming with undergrads who don’t know how to drive, and out-of-towners who are lost and drive 10 miles below the speed limit.

I went to Barnes and Noble during the game, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so empty.  The coffee shop, which is usually full of students studying, was deserted.  I am still searching for the new edition of Cross Stitcher magazine (I want the owl that comes with it!)  I was searching through the racks (no overstock drawers at this Barnes and Noble, unfortunately) when a woman, also browsing the crafty magazines, looked at me. “You don’t care about football, either,” she said.  I laughed and said, “Nope.”

This weekend I also unlocked a nerd achievement – I tried Dungeons and Dragons for the first time. I never thought I would play and I wasn’t even sure if I would enjoy it, but it was actually a lot of fun.  My character is an Eladrin cleric named Elmendorf.  Elmendorf is actually a small town right outside of San Antonio and my brother and I used to say “ELMENDORF!” in Lord of the Rings voices every time we drove by it.  (He said he was jealous that he didn’t think of that name for his character first).  Boyfriend was dungeon master, even though he had never played before.  But he had done a lot of research before the game and did a great job.  We played with some coworkers of his from his lab.  I’m looking forward to the next game.

I also nearly finished my cross-stitch project for Mandy (which I will show in another post).

Oh, and got really depressed watching the new Breaking Bad episode.

It’s only Tuesday but I already feel like I need another weekend tomorrow…is that bad?