There are two hobbies that I have that not many people I know share with me. Wait, maybe that is not fair to say. I have two hobbies that I almost never do with anyone else or even outside of my room, which I call my “cave” . For those of you who know me well enough to know my birthday be glad I don’t call this room my crypt and that there is not a corresponding required name for the category containing my thoughts.
Now, where were we? Oh, yes, my hobbies….
I code, and I cross stitch. Now, I know that those sound like two very different hobbies but maybe they are not so different.
Why I Code
There are many reasons that I write code (mostly in the form of WordPress Themes for the Genesis Framework) but the main one is that it is something I can do almost entirely without help. I will admit right now that I do usually have to peek at a tutorial or sometimes ask another coder to figure out why I am “throwing an error”, but I don’t need any help from the people that live in my house. In fact, the people in my house have NO IDEA how code works and so they could not even begin to help. I love watching a Theme come together. Each theme has it’s own personality and, even though they may all have the same basic structure, they all come together just a little differently. When a new contact of mine told me as I was working on this very site that she couldn’t wait to see what I came up with, I had to laugh at my own instantaneous response: “Neither can I!” I knew the base code I was using, I knew the design elements that would be added, I knew the rough layout of the posts, I knew the level of compartmentalization, and I knew the feel I wanted this site to have…I just couldn’t be sure until the last line of code on the theme was written and the first page of posts were entered for layout purposes, that it was going to be the warm, cozy, inviting, open and honest space that I wanted to share with you. I think this site hits all the marks, but I guess that is really up to you. Yes, my ultimate success or failure on this project is up to you, the reader.
There is another reason that I code. I’ll be lucky not to cry as I write this part. I code because, even though we used different languages and had different reasons for working our projects, it is a skill a share with my Grandfather. My Grandfather passed away almost a year ago and I still miss him so badly every day. When I miss him the most I have a good cry and then I sit down to code, not really as a distraction but as a way to feel a connection with him. I know how his hard drives were filled with version after version of his pet project, a program for knowing when to get into and out of certain commodities…just like my hard drives are filled with version after version of each of my themes and snippets of code. I’ve got so many copies of themes, design elements, and code snippets that my computer is an unorganized mess that is nearly filled to its brim. When I can’t seem to figure out a solution for a code issue, I know it’s what my Grandfather called a “PICNIC” and he didn’t mean it should be easy or pleasant. “PICNIC” stood for “Problem in Chair NOT in Computer”…it was his way of reminding me that the code was only doing exactly what we had told it to do. If there was a problem, it was up to the coder to go back through, line by line if necessary, to find out what the issue really was. In my case, it’s USUALLY an errant semi-colon, a missing quotation mark, or an overriding style somewhere else on the style sheet.
It might sound nuts, but I’m assured it’s actually a scientific thing: When I am stuck on a code issue, if I go take a hot shower…I’ll see the code rearrange itself into the needed layout, and if the pesky trouble maker is buried in a file…it highlights itself for me. I can never get out of the shower fast enough so I just keep repeating the key changes to myself while I get out of the tub, get dressed, and race to the keyboard. Yes, it looks and sounds strange, but it works.
Why I Cross-Stitch
If I got coding from my Grandfather, then I got Cross-stitching from my Grandmother.
She cross-stitched many things for me as a child, and as an adult she used her thread collection to mend my most precious teddy bear while I was out getting a coffee. She couldn’t have done it with me in the house, I won’t let anyone touch Brownie the Bear. Not even Grandma.
The reason I cross-stitch is a bit different, though. I DO need physical help from someone in order to cross stitch. More accurately, I need help to cut the fabric and put it on the hoop or frame in order to get started. Before I got a needle threader, I needed help with that as well. The reason I cross-stitch is because I love being able to do something that seems like it should be impossible for me.
Fine motor skills are…not my best skills, but I am able to cross-stitch, go figure. I’m reminded here of a quote by one of my Neurosurgeons when my dad asked why one of my meds didn’t always cause a predictable result…”Ask the door.” By that phrase, he meant that that when it comes to Cerebral Palsy and spasticity…the door is going to have as many answers as the neurosurgeon at times. Why am I tight one day and not the next if nothing is different on the two days? Ask the door. Why can I have such trouble tying my shoes or snapping a shirt and yet I can cross-stitch? Ask the door.
I love starting with a blank canvas and deciding where to place my first stitch. I know that I should use waste thread and create a grid of squares each 10 x 10 and then stitch from the center out. I know that the back of my work should be as neat as the front. Neither of those things is happening, and I’m okay with it! I love seeing the pattern come to life in vivid colors in front of me and I love the moment that a piece is completed. I love knowing how much work and love went into every moment spent on the project. When the project is a gift, I really love hearing or seeing their reactions…if I give a piece as a gift, I’m careful to do the perfect pattern for the perfect person to make sure that each piece goes to the perfect home.
One of the memories I have of my grandmother and cross-stitch is when she was
trying to stitch stitching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for me and my sister…
She and my Grandfather had come for a visit and she was sitting with me on her lap showing me the project before dinner. I was small so, of course, I wanted to help. She knew that if she placed the needle in the appropriate places that I could pull the needle and thread through the holes and so…she let me. The only problem, and the thing that makes this memory so funny and precious to us both is that I would not only pull the thread through the hole…I’d pull the thread until it came out of the needle. One of the many times that Grandma was re-threading that needle I asked an innocent question:
Me: Grandma, will we get it finished before dinner?
Grandma: (laughing as she threads the needle yet again) I’m not sure we’ll get in done in our lifetime.
She did eventually finish it, and now it is framed in my house. It will always be precious to me