Oh, my--is it really the end of September already? I am finally managing to squeeze in one last post for the month. I really do try to post twice a month, but I tend to procrastinate now that I'm retired and tell myself, "Oh, I'll do that tomorrow." Can you believe I have now been retired for a year? It's been a mixture of relaxation, changes, and sadness, to be honest with you. I still really miss my old coworkers and many (not all!!) of the patrons who used to stop by the Reference Desk to chat. But, most of my fellow librarians have also retired within this past year so I know it wouldn't be the same even if I were still working. On the other hand, I relish those lazy mornings when I can lounge in bed "just a bit longer" and not have to wake to an alarm and get myself off to work. I am still struggling with making the best use of my time and feel guilty when I don't accomplish as much as I would like in any given day. But, I try to remind myself that I've earned the right to relax--I raised three wonderful sons and spent 29 years serving the public at the library, right?
I did manage to get a lot of stitching in this month and have caught up with my monthly Christmas ornaments. First of all, I'd love to share this gorgeous Prairie Schooler fall finish with you. It is called "Autumn Leaves" (Book No. 132) and is stitched on 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle linen with the suggested threads. For some reason, I rarely feel the need to change colors when I'm stitching Prairie Schooler pieces. I'm not sure if I'll frame this one or finish it off in some other way. On 40 ct. it really isn't that big so I'll have to think about it for a while.
|Prairie Schooler's "Autumn Leaves" finish|
I really love everything about this finish--the fabulous fall colors, the cute little black kitty, and that funny gray squirrel scampering to the top of the oak tree on the right. Did you know the wording is actually based on a poem "Come Little Leaves" by George Cooper? Later on, music was added... Now, when I was younger, I probably would have been able to play this piece on the piano. I took lessons for a few years in elementary school and then quit at the age of 12 when I thought playing piano wasn't "cool" anymore! My mother always told me I would regret it--and you know what, mom--you were right! Are any of you piano lesson drop-outs, too?
|"Come Little Leaves"|
Here are a couple of close-ups of the piece for you.
|The center square pictures a barn, but you can pick other motifs to stitch instead. After the fact, I wish I had picked the pumpkin motif to stitch. Oh well, I can always make a small pillow with the pumpkin design and display them together, right?|
|Most of you know just how much I love black cats!|
For my long-time readers, the bottom portion of this sampler might look a wee bit familiar. Well, that's because I actually stitched it way back in 2012 when I was doing my "Bowl Of the Month" stitching and did this one for the October theme of black cats. I finished it into a little pin pillow which you can read about right here. There are lots of other cute black cat ideas in that post, too, if you are a black cat fan like me!
|My small pillow finish of the lower portion of "Autumn Leaves" from 2012.|
For my August ornament, I stitched another of the Little House Needleworks Farmhouse Christmas series. Let's see if you recognize it! I stitched it over one on 28ct. black Monaco and it really changed the look of "Grandma's Quilt." What do you think?
|"Grandma's Quilt" by Little House Needleworks|
And then to finish it off, I turned it on the diagonal, added some greenery, a small red bell, and my handmade cording. I just love it!
|My ornament for August.|
September's ornament is from the new 2018 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue and is called "My Christmas Song" by MTV Designs. You know my love of cardinals (you can read about the special feelings I have for those beautiful red birds in this post) so I couldn't resist this one. I forgot to take a "before finish" photo, but this was charted as a rectangular design with red notes. I decided to make the notes black and I added more of them along with additional snowflakes so I could make an oval ornament. It almost looks like the fabric is printed that way, doesn't it? But no, it just started off as plain old 36 ct. pearl gray Edinburgh linen! I ruched some black and white gingham ribbon and added it to the edge along with some red pins. What do you think? So, on to my last three ornaments of the year--can you believe we are 3/4 done with 2018?
|"My Christmas Song" finish for September's ornament|
On to my final installment of my Panama holiday... No, you won't be reading about any harrowing hikes this time... one was enough to last a lifetime! Today, I'm going to focus on the arts and the history of the country. One of our most pleasant afternoons was spent in Panama Viejo which is the original site of Panama City and has been a World Heritage Site since 1997. Shortly after it was founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador, Pedro Arias de Ávila, it became an important stop in the route used to transport gold and silver from Peru to Spain. For over 150 years, the original city thrived and grew to resemble the village shown in the diorama below.
|A diorama of what Panama Viejo probably looked like before it was destroyed in 1671|
However, in 1671, Welsh pirate, Henry Morgan, attacked the city, fires broke out, and thousands died. The survivors fled to a more protected area which is now the site of Casco Viejo (which I talked about in my first Panama post and where our Airbnb was located). Today, all that remains of the oldest part of Panama City are a few crumbling buildings.
|All that remains of the old church and its bell tower|
|I love the juxtaposition of the ancient bell tower with the modern skyscrapers in the distance.|
|The stairs of the bell tower have been modernized so we were able to climb them for a 360° view of both the old and the new.|
|You can see more ruins of other buildings in the lower left|
|The tower not only housed the bells of the church, but also served as a lookout post.|
|There was such a relaxed and peaceful air as we walked among the ruins of Panama Viejo.|
|A final look...|
One of the things I was most interested in seeing in Panama were two groups of the indegenous people: the Emberá and the Guna (also called Kuna). Unfortunately, we did not get to visit the Emberá village that my youngest son had so enjoyed, but we were able to see members of the Guna people selling their brightly colored fabric molas at a local market.
|A market stall selling molas which are made from layers of cotton fabric using applique and reverse applique.|
|The quality of a mola is judged by the number of layers of fabric used and the fineness of the stitching. A mola can take from two weeks to six months to make!|
|At the market we also saw piles of what we think of as "Panama hats." Did you know that authentic Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador?|
For some reason, license plates were being sold in many of the booths at the market. I'm not sure if people use them for art projects or just purchase them as souvenirs.
|On our walk back to the Airbnb, I spotted this cute metal creation of a woman seated at a sewing machine!|
My youngest son had to work several of the days we visited so he suggested that we go to see a traditional Panamanian dance show on our own. Since he has lived at the hotel where the show was being held for the past six months, most everyone on the staff knows him--he is almost like a mini-celebrity! So, he made the reservations and they gave us wonderful seats--right up front with great views.
|Oh, the costumes were amazing! The girls wore more colorful, elaborate outfits, while the young men wore simpler costumes consisting of a long white shirt, britches, a crossbody bag, and a sombrero pintado.|
|The girls dresses (called "pollera") can cost $300 to $3000 and are worn for festivals and holidays. They can take up to a year to make! Elaborate headdresses, gold jewelry, and pompoms complete the look.|
I've posted a short video (hope it works!) so you can see and listen to some of the dancers in action. The music is loud and there is a heavy drum presence as you will hear...
|What do you think? Would we make it as Panamanian dancers?|
One of my most traveled friends once told me that it is the unexpected "finds" that you stumble upon during a visit to another country that will often bring you the most joy. Well, on our final night in Panama we just happened to walk into what was described as a restaurant that served "Panamanian traditional food." When we entered the restaurant, we were surprised to find that all but one table was already filled with diners who had made reservations. Luckily, the host gave us the lone remaining table. It turned out that every Saturday night there was a dance show included at no cost! The restaurant was called Diablicos and, as the name suggests, there were scary looking devil masks everywhere... The food was excellent and we had ringside seats to watch the dancers. An unexpected joy for sure!
|Here you can see a close-up of one of the dancers ready to entertain us.|
|Dancing among the devils!|
|And then there were two scary male skull dancers--yikes! I shot a short 30 second video so you can see them in action.|
It seems to be traditional to pull audience members up at the end of the show to perform with the dancers. At the performance at the hotel they pulled my daughter-in-law up and at this show they brought up my youngest son! Thank goodness they didn't ask me!
|Here are the three of us (my oldest son and daughter-in-law had to leave earlier that day for home) with the four dancers. (No, I do not have pink hair--it was just the spotlights shining on us!)|
The following morning we boarded our plane back to the United States with so many wonderful (and one not so wonderful!) memories. I wish we had had a couple more days there to visit some of the memorable sights my son has seen since March. Luckily, we can imagine them through his photos and stories. Undoubtedly, the best part of my trip was spending time and making new memories with four of my favorite people. From hiking in the woods, to playing games at our favorite brew pub, to relaxing on the rooftop, to trying interesting foods and experiencing new cultures--it's so much more fun to have my family along for the ride. I'd say it's time to start planning our next family trip (and this time, I hope our middle son will be joining us, too!). Where should we go next? What was your favorite trip--either internationally or here in the United States? I'd love to hear your recommendations!
|"Families are like quilts: lives pieced together, stitched with smiles and tears, colored with memories, and bound with love and prayers." (Author unknown)|
Thank you for traveling with me once again--I hope you enjoyed it and I hope some of you even get to visit Panama some day. I will be glad to return to mostly stitching posts as these travel posts have taken hours to pull together. I so appreciated the many comments on my last post and your concerns about my safety on that horrid hike. The memory of it is beginning to fade and I'm sleeping better, so that's good! Anyway--happy October everyone! Hope it's a great month filled with that delightful fresh autumn air, crispy leaves, and lots of stitching time. Bye for now...