Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Well-Trained Journey

It’s Tuesday yet again, and we’re in Salt Lake City to attend an Embroiderers Guild of America regional convention. I’m to be keynote speaker at the banquet, and will take a class on lace making. And will probably made a dent in the stock of any vendors in sight.

We’ve been to Portland, Oregon, where I did an appearance at The Playful Needle, a needlepoint shop downtown that turned into a Monday Bunch-type meeting. Women stitchers sat around a table eating shop-provided snacks (high-end cookies, cheeses, and fruit) while gossiping about local events and exchanging how-to hints on different kinds of stitchery. I got a lovely close-up look at a piece of shadow stitching, which one of the employees, Shirley Albeck, teaches. Needlepoint is done on hand-painted canvas; shadow stitching is doing fancy patterns with thin floss over the picture so it shows through. Regular needlepoint is stitching over the picture with heavier floss or wool yarn so it is completely covered -- which is why most needlepoint paintings are far less complex than counted cross stitch patterns, which can be maddeningly complex.

After Portland we went to Sacramento, where I did three appearances at three public libraries. Two were the usual kind, where I gave a talk to an audience; but the third was an ice cream social to celebrate the refurbishing of Belle Coolidge Public Library. That was held outdoors in a park across the parking lot from the library. They had a DJ, a magician, a face painter who also made animals and flowers out of balloons, an exhibit of model trains, and two tables of big tubs of different flavors of ice cream. I was assigned to the chocolate and was glad of the denim apron they put on me because I discovered I’m a messy ice cream server. My right arm was chocolate to the elbow before I was finished. It was fun.

We got a roomette on the train to Salt Lake City. These are incredibly efficient spaces smaller than a walk-in closet, consisting of two seats that face one another and two narrow carpeted shelves that prove to be a stairway of sorts to the upper bunk, which spends the day flat up against the ceiling and the conductor pulls down when night falls. He also turns the two facing seats into a lower bunk. There is space for a person to stand facing the bunks, but that person has to lie down if a second person needs to stand there. The top bunk is narrow, they put up a kind of net made of sturdy webbing to keep sleepers from rolling out. The train rocks you to sleep, very pleasant. But the story of me trying to change out of my pajamas at three in the morning up in that bunk -- the train arrived in Salt Lake City around 3:30, and I was also not totally awake -- will make hilarious telling in a novel one of these days. That top bunk is not quite far down enough from the ceiling to sit up in. And I don’t bend like I used to. But I still recommend train travel, it is great fun.


Linda O. Johnston said...

I love the ongoing descriptions of your trip, Monica! It sounds like such fun--even the train roomette.

Linda O. Johnston said...
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Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Monica, I recently took the Acela from Washington, DC, to New York City, and I loved every minute of it. By our calculations, the trip was just about as long as what we would have spent going by air, especialy when you consider the cab ride from LaGuardia into Times Square, where our hotel was. Besides that, the cost was the same, the comfort was better, we could buy an okay lunch, and we could use our computers. I'm sold on being in training!

Annette said...

Your train adventure sounds wonderful to me.
Glad you are having such a great time on your travels.
I look forward to reading about your experiences in future novels.

Betty Hechtman said...

Your trip sounds like a real adventure. Thanks for sharing!