Jan 17, 2018


I guess they didn't hear the line as "Nobody puts Spinster in a corner":

They keep changing things up on me, Dearies...my chair time, my techs, my needle size, and now the pod in which I sit.  I used to be on the opposite side of things overlooking the pond.  Now I'm in a far corner overlooking...well...not much.

Hmmmmm.  Wonder if it was something I said?

(I'm sure the crashing and upchucking and infiltrating and whatnot hasn't helped matters any, but Geeze Louise...I'm still new at this and am still learning the proverbial ropes!)

As a matter of fact...I think I've been downright damn delightful!  I don't fidget, I don't do things I'm not supposed to do, and when I come in here after I've lived my life like a marathon running nun on an organic kale farm I'm pleasant, determined, respectful, and compliant.


Maybe that's the problem.

To get the concierge level upgrade, you need to be a squeaky wheel and demand all sorts of special attention or something.


Not gonna do it.  I am perfectly happy to sit here and behave myself because I have a secret weapon that (to my knowledge) nobody else has.

I watch the Flosstube.  

And I visit your blogs and respond to your emails and, as the kids say, I "manage my brand".

So Baby can go dance her socks off out there in front of God and everybody.  Me and MY peeps will be here in the corner doing our thing.

Ciao for now!


I get it, I really do.

It's just a day planner.

Paper and two covers and a metail coil.

A place in which to write appointments and such.

But this particular day planner just made my heart leap right out of my chest, and I cried pitiful tears of sweet hot joy.

Here is the official 2018 Spinster Stitcher Erin Condren Life Planner with custom front and back covers:

And...because I just couldn't leave well enough alone...a sheet of custom stickers.

Aaaaaahhhhhhhh.....I don't think I've loved something this much since Stewey Himself was here to make every day wonderful.  Now I get to have that feeling every time I plan.  (And yes...those covers are interchangeable from year to year.  I have several different moteefs, but nothing quite this special.)

I don't know if you're interested in this kind of thing, but here's the inside layout that I selected:
I was always a vertical girl, but this year decided to go horizontal.

So now we know what I'll be doing when I get home from dialysis today, if I'm able...moving into this year's book and planning all of my adventures!

I hope your very own Futzingday is expqually as blissful and that something is making your very own skirt blow right up!

Jan 16, 2018


Watching Miss Nicole on the Flosstube.

(Am I wrong, or is the ability to watch it on a TeeVee screen the very best thing...ever?!)

Last night's progress on Frosty Forest:

Cold, quiet, restful day today, Dearies.  I am going to have a hot scrubby shower, done some fresh jams and fuzzy socks, and settle in for the duration.  Hope your very own Tuesday is completely swell!

Jan 15, 2018


Tee hee hee...I just realized that the hooves of the deer (yet to be stitched) look like bunny pooh! 😬

Jan 14, 2018


The Sunday papers...complete with ads and coupons from the Michael's:

A notebook from Erin Condren with my name on it that I found during the re-org and in which I am now keeping stitchy notes... Hello, Flsstube inspiration!

And my progress on Forest Snowfall...coming along nicely, I think:

So that's my morning thus far.  A little punk, but methinks that is to be expected on Sundays.  Either that or I've picked something up again...ick.

The sun is shining, and the birds are tweeting sweetly elsewhere (somewhere warm, I presume).  I hope your corner of the world is full of everything you love and that your needles are flying!

Jan 13, 2018


Yesterday's session went well enough, but I felt decidedly unwell for the entire evening afterwards.  I graduated to larger needles, thus giving me a better cleaning, but the session was the equivalent of running a marathon instead of taking a leisurely stroll.

I. Was. Tired.

But today is a new day, and I am in the Happy Chair with a cup of damn good and the paper while Rich does a grocery shop.  He is very good at doing so, God love him, and the nice people at the Martins take very good care of him.  The unpacking is always a little adventure for me, since he is very much like my dear dad was, and always manages to buy fun treats in addition to the necessities.

Today is going to be a stitchy day, but I am not sure which of the two cross stitch pieces I will play with.  After the second cup of damn good, though, I will probably decide to stitch both...simultaneously!

So that's the Saturday report from CS2 today, Dearies!  A little hungover and banged up, but here and very happy about it.

Do something fun...blah blah blah.

Jan 12, 2018


Last night's progress on Forest Snowfall...I completed the top line of the verse while binge watching Flosstube videos:

After a marathon clean-out and re-org of the cube room studio/JB work headquarters, I finally looked around and thought "There.  Now it looks more like home."

I am going to get a desk from the house this weekend and put it across the wall under the Sam Toft print and this will become my new planning/bill paying/book writing cockpit (as opposed to the dining room table):

And the view to the left of Spinster Central HQ:

On Monday, JB will pick up all of the pieces from the exhibit and I'm going to bring them home and hang them.  Enough of this crazy business of not having any of my stitching on the walls.

Today is a Chair Day, so I need to scoot and get my bag packed.  In addition to my pillows and blankets, I need to pack my snack bag and activity bag.

Well, at least now I know what it's like to leave the house with a toddler in tow! (More like a herd of them, given the size if my bag!)

TGIF, Dearies!  Do something fun and come tell me all about it!

Jan 9, 2018



The conversation pre-dialysis:

JB: What are you doing on your iPad, Honey?
SS: Looking at pretty pictures of stitching and puppies.

The conversation post-dialysis:

JB: What are you doing on your iPad, Honey?
SS: I'm managing my brand across multiple platforms by optimizing the key demographic response rate by engaging the core constituency of my message.

(And no...before you ask...I haven't one single solitary clue as to what any of that meant, but getting out if bed today (as compared to yesterday) is comparable to getting into a 1971 Ford Pinto with three wheels and a cinder block carrying a trunk full of match books to climbing into the cockpit of a Virgin Atlantic super sonic jet loaded with champagne and Jeffrey Dean Morgan impersonators.)

Holy. Crap.

Jan 8, 2018


I had what could have been one of the better weekends ever.  I felt well, slept, stitched, cooked, putzed, and rested for two whole days.  I'm grounded to the confines of CS2 because of all if the flu out there, but that's just perfect for this Happy Chair-loving hermit.

Today I am in the other chair...settled in for a full Jiffy Lube.  We are so far running right according to plan, and if Friday and today are any indication, the trauma portion of this adventure is over.

God, I hope so.

Many of you have asked me about the mechanics of dialysis, so I thought I would answer you here.  For those of you who aren't interested, I will bid you adieu here and tell you to have a wonderful Monday.  Do something swell and come tell me all about it!  Tomorrow, I promise to have some stitchy updates for you.


The first thing that happens when I enter the dialysis unit is that I weigh in.  This is important because kidney failure often causes a lot of fluid retention, and major changes in weight need to be addressed by the amount of treatment that needs to be done that day.

My techs tell me which chair I'll be in that day (there are about 40 in my unit in Mishawaka), and I head there and get situated.  This basically means I get my seat cushion, blanket, pillow, snack bag, drink, and "toys" all unpacked and easily accessible.  I also kick my shoes off, get my fuzzy socks pulled up, and unzip the left arm of my sweatshirt.

(I made a couple of dialysis sweatshirts by taking sherpa sweatshirts from Woman Within that I had in the closet...undoing the seam in the inner arm, and then sewing in a full-length zipper.  This has turned out to be a Godsend, since my left arm has to be totally exposed but I tend to get a little chilly during treatment and the sweatshirt keeps me cozy.)

(I also discovered that I am more comfortable if I wear leggings and just a soft white tshirt...no underpants or bra to pinch or poke.)

(And yes...in case you're wondering...I've kind of made crazy patterened leggings "my thing" that the staff get a kick out of, so I plan on going on the amazons to get some more to keep them entertained.)

Once I'm situated in the chair, it's time to stand up and get a standing blood pressure, and once that's complete...it's Buzzy time.

The tech inserrts two needles into Buzzy about an inch or so apart.  The needles go into a different spot each time, but are always somewhere on my upper arm.  We've discovered that Buzzy is very deep in the arm the higher we go, so if at all possible we try to stay somewhere in the middle.

Once the needles are in and secure and flushed, we get attached to the dialysis machine next to my chair.  This machine is basically the size of a small refridgerator, and it functions as an artificial kidney.

(I haven't come up with a name for it yet, but I'm leaning toward Beepy...since she tends to do that.  A lot.)

Beepy's job is to pull blood from my body and clean it of toxins and excess minerals and stuff that my own kidneys are too busted to do.  Beepy also is responsible for pulling fluid...but in my case we don't do to much of this, because I am on the "dry" side and not retaining hardly any at all.

All of this is done with a computer and the help of a tech, who monitors and checks and adjusts and futzes with things throughout the entire course of treatment.

As for me?  Well, this is only my second trouble-free session (knock wood), but I can tell you that it seems to have a pretty consistent pattern.  The getting here, situating, and insertion of the needles are a bit nerve-wracking for me.  The best way that I can describe it is that it's somehow claustrobic...that I know I'm going to be tethered, vulnerable, and out of control for the better part of six hours.

(Betty, let me save you the time of pointing out that this is a life-saving requirement for me and that I should stop my bitching and whining about trivial things.  I'm not bitching or whining...just trying to describe what I feel at various stages of this thing.)

The first hour or so is usually when I feel sleepy and drained and maybe just a little woozy.  My eyes feel very heavy and all I want to do is lean back, put the music on, and semi-snooze.

The second and third hours I seem to perk up a bit.  I snack and sip my Vitamin water and play on the ipad...reading/writing emails, blogging, looking at Pinterest and Instagram, texting Rich, or watching Flosstube.  Through it all, I have really enjoyed listening to music, and have discovered that there's a whole world of stuff out there that I like (hello, Coldplay!).

Occasionally, a staff member will come over to chat, or a nurse will come over with meds or to check in.  I have met both the dietician and social worker and will probably have more in depth meetings with them later, but for the most part I just kick back and try to behave myself.

The last hour is the one that we're still working out.  Because of the small size of the needles we're using, and because this requires the machine to run slowly, my blood is clotting.  A drug called heparin prevents this, but we're still finding the right dose.

Once Beepy is done doing her thing and all of the tubes and such have been flushed and disconnected one of the needles is removed and I hold a dressing over the poke to make sure it's done for the day...usually about ten minutes or so.  Then the second needle is pulled and I hold again.

Another standing blood pressure is taken, and then I head back to the scale to weigh in.  The goal is to to leave with the same weight as when I entered...i.e., not too juicy with extra fluid or not too dry with too much pulled off.

And then it's time to head back to CS2...get a smooch from my Jersey Boy, have dinner, and call it a day.  I seem to feel just a bit woozy and a little wiped out for the rest of the evening, but I think that will change as I have more and more good sessions.

Like I said...this is only my second session in which I haven't had all hell break loose...also known as a crash.  It was looking pretty grim there for a minute, kids, and I am really surprised (but profoundly grateful) that I survived it.  I'm sure that surgery, the flu, and everything else didn't help matters any, but I can sit here today and tell you that those crashes were the hardest, scariest, and most terrifying things i've ever had happen to me.

Needless to say, we are NOT going to be hitting the "repeat" button on that one.  No way.  No how.

(Pause for PopTart insertion, please)

(See?  Told ya I get a little snacky...)

I'm not sure what my new normal is going to be now, if there really is such a thing.  I know that eventually I will be able to return to things like Guild meetings and Mass and hockey games, but at the moment the flu has me grounded.  I was lucky to have only had a bit of a stomach bug for a few days, but catching the other crud that's out there would be catastrophic.

My hopes of stitching my eyeballs out while in this chair haven't been completely dashed, and the staff here assures me that as Buzzy and Beepy get better at their date nights I will be able to do so, but for now I need to relax on that front.  It will come.

What has come is the knowledge that I will somehow find a way to stay in this as a tech or a nurse or as a mentor or advocate in some way when this is over.  I don't have a single clue how I'm going to do that or what it even means, but if I can help one person navigate it or just give somebody a little pat and assure them that it will get better...then I'm all in.

For now, though, I just need to concentrate on being a patient.  My sister is awaiting the kit from IU that will send us through the next step.  I pray that she is well and able enough to continue, and that we can head to Indy soon.  

So that's the big whole story for the day, my Dearies.  I see that the Chicken Sisters have introduced themselves to you and have started goofing around.  Thank you for the warm welcome you've given them...they can be quite a handful, but Stewey trained me well, and methinks I'm ready with whatever they're going to throw at me.

I'll close with my heartfelt thanks for coming on the ride with me.  I didn't expect to have so much company, but your love and support and encouragement are well worth the ride!

Take good care, do something fun, and please come tell me all about it!


Jan 7, 2018


Oh, dear, oh dear, oh dear...it would seem that we did make a little mess of it.

Our intention with the calendar is to celebrate the male persuiasions of your species that are in any way related to the stitchy community writ large.

This could mean a man who cross stitches, needlepoints, hardangers, embroiders, or sews.

It could be a spouse, boyfriend, significant other, life partner, rooster, or friend who doesn't ply needle and thread per se, but who sits quietly while we do...or who never utters a word of disappointment that the size of our stashes is only outdone by the size of our WIP baskets.

Any and all are welcome...no exceptions, exclusions, or rules apply.  All we need is a nice photo, and if at all possible, a brief statement to accompany the photo that introduces said person to all of us chickens.

(And yes, Beefcake is always welcome.)

As for this being a money-making or fundraising venture...we don't expect it to be much of either.  The truth of the matter is that we are a couple of lonely, yet fiesty old gals who enjoy a little man candy as much as the next.  And man candy affiliated with "this thing of ours"... as The Spinster likes to say?

Makes our feathers blow right up!

We'll be back later next week with more.  In the meantime, it looks like Spinster is in her chair stitching and Mister is on the couch TeeVeeing.  As for us...we're heading out for Bourbons and Bingo at the Senior Center!

Happy Sunday!
Josephine and Eleanor
The Chicken Sisters

Add caption

Jan 6, 2018


Forgive us, please if we're stepping on any toes and this is already under way, but we read somewhere that a "Men of Cross Stitch" pinup calendar was afoot.

Has anybody taken the reigns of this and started printing yet?

If not, we would hereby like to offer our services as the supplier of such.  We have about a hundred years' worth of experience in the promotional products industry and can provide anything you can imagine with a name or logo on it.

For the calendar...all we need are the images and we'll go from there.  We can do either a pinup wall-type calendar or a journal book-like one...you all get to choose.

Pricing will depend on the total quantity that we produce, but we think we can do this in the $10 per piece range and have a little left over for our next adventure or to start a little fund to help get more men stitching.

What do you think, kids....anybody game?

Please send any/all potential candidates to the email address below and, if you have it, an email address for them so that we can secure their photos.  We'll take it from there.

Hope you're enjoying your Saturday and that we'll cluck at you again soon!

Eleanor and Josephine
The Chicken Sisters

Jan 5, 2018


I've been thinking about you all day today and wanted to write to say something that I think got lost in my last note to you.

Thank you.

You came at me with guns a blazing, girlfriend, and sent a very good and much needed warning shot across my rather prodigious bow.

It took me a hot minute, but I finally found a new hat.  My mistake with the new hat was that I thought it was going to have to be a 24/7 thing and thus stapled to my forehead.  And the one that's there now...i.e., hapless funny screwball idiot spinster fits me so darn nicely that I hated to give it up.

But that hat needs to come off on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and I need to understand that it's OK for a girl to have more than one hat in her wardrobe.

The new hat needs to sit up in the buggy, pay fierce attention to what's going on around her, and quit trying to make light of what has turned out to be a pretty horrific car crash.  Dialysis is absolutely no joke, and to minimize it because I thought it would make me feel brave was the wrong thing to do.

The wrong thing to do.

Today, as I type this, I am in the chair with two seventeen guage stainkess steel six inch needles in my arm removing my blood, filtering it through a machine, and returning it.  My fluid, mineral, and hemoglobin levels, as well as my blood pressure need to be monitored and calibrated precisely or I go into what's known as a full blown crash.

I've crashed six times so far and did so because I didn't want to stop clowning around, admit that I am positively terrified the moment I walk in the place, and then finally and most importantly...speak the heck up when I felt myself going sideways down the damn drain.

I read and re-read your email a few dozen times yesterday and today, donned my new hat, walked in the door, and took control.

Thank you for the fashion advice, my friend.  My prayer is that the next time I get it I won't waste a single second before hearing and taking it to heart.

Blessings on you and your house...



I'm Josephine Fox.

And I'm Eleanor Kelly:

We've been part of this crazy spinster ride for quite a while now, and thought we'd take a moment to introduce ourselves.  It looks like we might be stepping in every now and then to fill the proverbial editorial gap here on the blog now that Stewey has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, so we've been practicing our very best witty banter and reporting skills to get up to the task. So with our very best effort, we'll see what we can do to keep you all informed and entertained with all things Spinster Stitcher. 

It might take us a few days to complete Orientation. After all, we have one tiny brain and no workable fingers between us (giggle giggle), so bear with us while we learn the ropes and interview a suitable administrative assistant.  There's a handsome fellow here that we've ruffled our feathers at a few times, but he seems very unlikely to take on a pair of geriatric talking chickens as a new project.

(But, just a tiny bit of gossip...because that's what we chickens are known for...this fellow does seem to be quite smitten with our spinster and seems to cater to her every silly whim.  The affection is definitely mutual, since she is in the habit of sitting in her Happy Chair...gazing at him adoringly.)

(It's enough to make ordinary chickens toss their nuggets, but we two are very old hopefully romantic chickens...so we don't mind at all.)

We'll write more later, but wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year, all Glad Tidings, and Blessings to you and yours for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2018!

With love and chicken kisses,
Josephine and Eleanor
The Chicken Sisters

Jan 4, 2018


Hello, Dearies.

As much as I would love to tell you that my Futzingday was perfectly swell...it was not.

I awoke at 6am to text JB a hearty "Good Morning'" along with a few kissy faces, and just as I was falling back to sleep, the dialysis unit called to see if I wanted to come in early.  I was supposed to go at 4:40 in the pm, but a chair opened up and off I went.

I won't gross you out with the gory details, but it was definitely not pretty,  We lost my blood pressure again, I spent a good amount of time on my head, and then, just for good measure, I upchucked all over everything right there in front of God and everybody.

( Which is my very worst nightmare come true, by the way.)

It came pretty close to me getting a ride in an ambulance to the ER, but it was determined that this might very well be a touch of the flu, combined with an intolerance of dialysis.  Unfortunately, kids, I am just not doing as well on it as I would have hoped between the clotting, the blood pressure drops, the arm, and now this...so keep those prayers coming that I get over the hump.

This, I am loathe to tell you, is pretty rough stuff.

But I also really need to say it again and again...I've got this.  I really do.  I'm not saying that I've got it with any modicum of success at this point, but I really am giving it everything I've got.

One thing I do need to do, though, is address the kidney donation situation.

Many if you have commented or emailed me asking how you can get tested to be a living donor.  I pray that you are never in a position to have to say this, but is it OK for me to admit that I don't even know how to wrap my brain around that kind of love?  Psychologically, I'm just not equipped to say "Cool!  Thanks!  Here's how you do it!"  But medically, I know that it might be the only way to save my life.

So...for those of you who have asked...I am currently enrolled in the Indiana University Health Transplant program. My coordinator is Jane Kinkelaar and she can be reached at 800-382-4602.  You can also visit their website at iuhealth.org to learn more about living donation.  I believe that they will ask you my details as the patient, so here they are:  Coni J Rich.  Date of birth is 4-14-1966.

Finally, I need to share with you that my sister is still very much in the picture as a potential donor for me, but I cannot give you any more details than that.  Her story is not mine to tell, but it's important to me that you not think ill of her...but rather keep her (and Bosco) in your prayers, please.

Geeze, Louise...will you look at me with all of the asking neediness already?  I really don't like this feeling of being flat on my shell at the mercy of the world...but I can promise you that once I'm up again we are going to have the Mo-ther of all parties to celebrate it.

I'm picking out the color scheme now...

If you're in these here parts and are at the wrath of Old Man Winter today, please stay warm and safe and dry.  I'm going to attempt a little upright and a cup of damn good, and then maybe watch the snow fall until Rich gets home tonight.

Cheers, dears!

Jan 2, 2018


I took Rich to the South Bend International Airport and Transportation Center at 6:00 this morning for a quick trip down to Orlando for a trade show.  The thingie on the car said it was minus eleven degrees.  I think it's supposed to be sixty in Orlando today.

Jersey Boy didn't want to go.

Silly, silly, Jersey Boy.

My plan for the day is rather extensive.  I'm going to sit in the Happy Chair and ice my arm, drink damn good, read the paper, watch all of the TeeVee, stitch, and eat.  

(Grueling, I know, but I've been training for this for years, Kids, so don't try this at home.)

Life is actually pretty swell in these here parts.  Buzzy is stiff and sore as a matter of natural course, and I have another day and a half of healing time before heading back for dialysis.  New Years Day falling on a Monday prompted me switching to a Sunday, Wednesday, Friday rotation this week, and I think this extra day us really a blessing.

So that's it for me and the chickens.  Rumor has it that they will have something to say in the very near future so stay tuned!

Jan 1, 2018


The Prairie Schooler
January...Book #177
stitching on 28ct unknown linen from stash
all DMC threads


This is an email that I received from Anne.  My response to her is below:

Hi Coni,
I've commented on your blog a few times as Spendsister, but reading your post today I felt a private email might be more suitable.
Coni, you need to get your shit together. Excuse my bluntness, but you are a mess and you are seemingly oblivious to the consequences. You can joke and make funny snappy comebacks but it is way past the time for you to get serious. This is your life at stake. Not a missed stitch, not a lost house, not an asshole sister - your life. Does anything else even matter? Or come close? Stop calling your port by a silly little name. It is not a silly little personality, it's a medical intervention to help save your life. It doesn't have moods or feelings, if it's hurting, something is wrong, fix it and move on with your treatments.
You know, I love your blog. I see a lot of myself in you. But right now I am upset with you because you aren't being careful enough. How on earth can you be stitching with your arm as messed up as it is? Girl, you haven't stitched in MONTHS! I mean MONTHS! Why are you insisting on doing it now with an arm all bruised and swollen? Read a damn book! You read books, right?

I think the comment someone made that perhaps you were not quite as ready to accept dialysis as you thought hit the big ol' nail on the big ol' head. I couldn't figure out why you didn't start dialysis months ago, get into it before there was more deterioration, before you couldn't get out of bed - I couldn't understand why you were so stubborn about resisting something that would actually help you (again, there's a lot of me in that sentence). Well, your blog today hit me right between the eyes. 
You're still looking for someone to blame. To give you an excuse not to face dialysis. Today it was "buzzy" being "bad". It wasn't enough that you deliberately BENT YOUR ELBOW during treatment? You had to continue to irritate the hell out of it stitching last night? Before that it was your sister not making a decision. Excuse me, but isn't your life YOUR freakin' decision? 
Somewhere along the way, you decided that a quick and clean transplant from a perfectly matched sibling was a hell of a lot easier than long term dialysis for the rest of your life tethering you ( literally) to a chair 3 times a week. Of course it is. If she matched. If you didn't reject it. If she was healthy enough to give up a kidney. Even with all those ifs, you decided that's what you wanted. But you didn't get what you wanted. Life's funny that way, isn't it?
So now you're doing your best to sabotage dialysis. See? It doesn't work. I can't do it. I tried. Except, as some famous guy said, Failure is not an option. At least not for you right now.
When I had stage 3B breast cancer, people kept asking me how I stayed so calm. Why aren't you freaking out? Why aren't you hysterical? Why aren't you crying? Well I did all those things. Then I said ok, that didn't help. I still have cancer. So I stopped all that, and found out what I needed to do, because I did know that this was NOT what's going to kill me.
And then (and this was the hard part) I did it. No one did it for me. I couldn't cry or whine or buy my way out of it. My parents, my siblings, my friends, my enemies, could. not. do. it. for. me. I was alone at that wall and had to get over it all by myself.
Put your big girl pants on and start climbing, Coni. You've got a long way to go. Only you know if you've got what it takes.
Good luck.

Sent from my iPad

Dear Anne.

Wow.  What a note.  Thank you for writing it.  First, let me say Happy New Year.  I confess that this hit me square in the solar plexis, and at first I was a little winded but now I've got my wits about me a bit and I'd like to respond...thoughtfully.

My blog and the "character" of The Spinster Stitcher are just that....a blog and a character.  I started wrtiting it as a means to re-engage with a particular corner of the world, because I was a new stitcher and had just spent the better part of several long years inside my house battling some pretty horrific demons.

At first, the character was jusr a portly, hapless, dog-loving oaf who bumblefucked her way through a funny little life.   The comments from readers were light-hearted and esoteric and about simple easy things, and I used the blog, a talking dog wearing a smoking jacket, and a cast of other goofy characters to escape into a little fantasy world.

Over the course of the last few years, though, I've ventured into unknown territory a bit by talking about (often making fun of) the big hard things going on around me.  Foreclosure, financial ruin, the loss of my sister, Stewey's illness and death, and then finally, my own poor health....all big hard things that are insanely difficult, unpleasant, and challenging to be sure.

The Spinster Stitcher deals with this things with a squirting flower, big floppy shoes, and a lot of exaggeration and self-deprocation.  She kind of stumbles and giggles and ends up floundering her way through this life of ours because it makes for a much better story than does that cold hard reality.

My emails are now filled with notes from friends across the world that reveal big hard things in their own lives.  What started as a light-hearted attempt to be in the community has now become (in my head, anyway) a very serious responsibility.  I feel compelled to issue forth with humor and wit and sarcasm and fantasy as a means of assuring myself and others that we're going to be OK and that we've got a soft place to fall in each other's company.

But, your note tells me that it's now important that you know a bit of the ugly truth.  Let me first say that I'm sorry if you feel let down or frustrated with me and my response to dialysis.  Here, therefore, is the real truth wih the hope that it will assure you that I am not, as you say, a mess.

From the time of diagnosis, I have been a ridiculously informed, compliant, amd determined patient.  Like all kidney patients, I have managed an enormous flow chart of possible pathways that would lead to a long, healthy, productive, happy life.

The most positive outcome for me would have been a pre-emptive transplant from my sister.  To that end, I spent the bette part of two years working very hard to accomplish this.  I was given an intensive and long list of things to complete to get ready, and I did so.  With some complaining and fuss, I will admit, but nonethess I did so and looked forward to that pathway.

My team and I made the decision to postpone dialysis as long as we did because that was the best decision medically.  Period.  It was never and will never be within my thought process to just ignore it or put it off because it was going to be scary or inconvenient or anything else for that matter.  Dialysis was always the last and least desirable resort.

Now that it's here, I chose to blog about it by naming the fistula Buzzy and by taking what has been a scary, painful, miserable few weeks into a place where I could sprinkle a bit of glitter on it and make lemonade.  The first session was overwhelming, to be sure, but the second (in which I infiltrated) was horrific.  For the record...the infiltration happened because I instinctively bent my arm to get more comfortable in the chair.  The subsequent fistulagram, angioplasty, and stent were probably more extreme than was  necessary, but again, my team and I are approaching this with caution and the very best medical advice available.

I'm not sure if I can convince you or not, and to be honest, I don't know if I am actually required to, but I promise you that I have my big girl panties firmly in place and that I am handling this entire situation with as mich grace, dignity, courage, and intelligence that I can muster.

The Spinster Stitcher is whining about not being able to stitch or bend her arm for eighteen hours a week.  She's also missing her little dog and mourning the loss of her dream house...wrenching her guts over her sister, and swooning over the entry of a man into her world.  She's still cluess, but loveable...hopeful and happy...but more than anything...profoundly grateful that she has a place to exist and make a small dofference in the world.

Coni Rich is  fifty-one year old end stage renal patient who is in the initial stages of dialysis.  She is calm, measured, careful, and extremely capable of handling whatever comes at her.  She has been through wars much bigger than this and come out of them dented but detemined.  She's pretty fierce and can be a major major bitch, but she is, if nothing else, a bull-headed fighter that knows when to show up.

My wish for you, dear Anne, is that you will have a wonderful New Year.  Thank you again for your note.  I hope that your corner of the world is swell and that you'll continue to be part of my own little corner of it.  That, is, after all, what it's all about.

With mich love,
Coni Rich
The Spinster Stitcher

Dec 31, 2017



I'm fine, but Buzzy has been a screaming mimi and had to be put in time out with a big fat Valium.  We arrived at the dialysis center at 7:15 his morning and he was either grumpy from the cold and being woken up at the crack of dawn, or he's still sore and puffy from surgery.

Either way it made for a stupidly dramatic morning again.

Damn Buzzy.

I swear, all this fuss is Stewey Little coming back to haunt me for being such a bad Mo-ther.  Given the similarities in personalities between the two, I won't be at all surprised if we get home and Buzzy decides to pee on the ottoman.

A new stitchy start last night!  I decided to play along with all of you stitching Forest Snowfall by Little House Needleworks.  I think I'm supposed to hashtag or something, but this is me we're talking about, Kids, and I haven't a clue.

Not much progress, but progress nonetheless:

So that's the report for now.  I'll leave you with a little glimpse of my view today.  Only three more hours to go!

Dec 30, 2017


These are fuzzy socks from the JoAnns.  I think they were about three bucks for a pack of two pair, and all I know is that they are changing my life.  They are warm and fuzzy and stupid stupid soft, and the designs are whimsical and making me happy.

I am determined to stitch today, but I need to get my wits about me.  Last night's dialysis session was rather drama-filled because I clotted and then decided to lose my blood pressure.  Let me tell you, kids, if you ever want to see a trauma team in action, let your blood pressure drop to 60/40.  I've never had that experience before, and I'm not sure I ever want to have it again, but the team was well-prepared and I lived to tell the tale.  Just a little worse for wear today about the head and arm, but nothing a Tylenol and a few ice packs won't remedy, I'm sure.

Today is bitterly cold and snowy outside, so the Jersey Boy and I are hunkered down with sports on the TeeVee and a pot roast for dinner.  I had hoped to be with my stitchy sisters today, but alas, methinks it will be the Happy Chair and the big girl sleigh bed until tomorrow morning when I venture out into the tundra for the next adventure.

Thank you, as always, for your notes and love and support and encouragement.  Please forgive my negligence in responding to you properly....I am fretting over the lapse of etiquette but know that you will all understand.

I hope that your very own Saturday is warm and safe and dry, Dearies.  Let's see what fun we can get into and then come tell each other all about it!

Dec 29, 2017


Today's post is brought to you from the cozy confines of the big girl sleigh bed at CS2.  Buzzy and I had surgery this morning and are now home recovering for a bit before heading to dialysis later this afternoon.  Turns out he had a bit of a blockage that was causing a fuss, as well as a few errant branches, so some angioplasty, a stent, and a couple of coils laters and we're all set.

(Who knew the little guy was so into accessories?!)

Rich is clattering away at the dining room table on his laptop contraption and I have decided to just be a patient today.  No need to solve world peace or recreate the wheel. Just snoozing, happy thoughts, and spaghetti for a late lunch before heading out into the tundra again.

I'm not crazy about the third shift time slot, but as time goes on and space opens up I should be anle to go on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the morning so that I can enjoy my afternoons and evenings with my Jersey Boy.  It's all about routine, kids.  It's all about routine.

My stitching routine has gotten so out of kilter it's not even funny, but I am trying to breathe and reboot and remember that this is just a temporary diversion...not the end of a career.  I have a head like a rock, so the realization that I cannot stitch during my Jiffy Lubes is troublesome, but I need to just chill out and let it come.  Maybe eventually I will get to the point where a lap stand will work.  Now, though, I need to enjoy playing on the ipad thingie and just keep the damn arm still.

So that's it for a blistery Friday, my Dearies.  All is well...all is well.

Please continue to tell me all about your little corners of the world.  I hope that your needles are flying, your hearts are full, and that the weekend is exactly everything you want it to be!

Dec 28, 2017


Jersey Boy is home safe and sound and I am in the Happy Chair with a new project.  This is Forest Snowfall from Country Cottage Needleworks and I am hoping to start it soon.

Buzzy is still very unhappy and will see the doctors tomorrow morning at 7:25.  Then, if all is well dialysis will take place again in the afternoon.

That's the report for the day, Dearies.  I hope that your corner of the world is warm and safe and dry and completely swell.  Come tell me all about it!

Dec 27, 2017



My first dialysis session was a piece of cake...low and slow and about two and a half hours.  I chattered like a circus monkey but got the lay of the land a bit and came home with two small booboos.

The second session was going just fine until I bent my arm (to see if I could stitch), infiltrated, and all hell broke loose.  Three techs and what felt like minor surgery later and I came home with instructions to ice the arm, six booboos and enough tape to circle the globe.

Today?  I thought I was doing fine, but after an hour the nurse pulled the plug.  Literally.  

So I'm home with Buzzy under an ice pack and an appointment at 8am Friday morning to have him checked at the access center and then we'll try again with the dialysis on Friday afternoon.

Greusome, I tell ya.  Just freakin greusome.  Between the eyeball and a now very swollen and black and blue arm, I look like a character in a Stephen King novel.

Dialysis. Sucks.


Buzzy and I got in a bar fight.  He's hooked up to the Jiffy Lube at the moment and I am getting ready to close my eyes for round three.  We're a bit worse for wear kids, but my Jersey Boy will be home at eight tomorrow morning, so...it's all good.

No stitching to report.  I just haven't felt well enough to do so.  I am determined to get into that cube room studio and get a basket together, so stay tuned!  I am thinking that I might join in the Frosty Forest SAL...my very first!  

OK, time to close my eyes and go to my happy place for a bit...back to Chez Spinster with snow softly falling down, the fireplace warm and toasty, Stewey on the ottoman, Jersey Boy in the kitchen making waffles, and all of you hanging out laughing and stitching.

Happy Futzingday!  Do something fun and come tell me all about it!

Dec 24, 2017


Dear Friends,

What a year it's been.  For some, full of heartache and tears.  For others, happiness and laughter.  My own year has been full of blessings and love.  Today is Christmas Eve, but my gifts came all year long from a community of like-minded souls determined to make this a better place by just being kind.

My Christmas wish is that you will all know the peace and love that you so generously gave me, and that your heart is filled with profound joy.

With much much love,
The Spinster Stitcher

Dec 23, 2017


About the time I went for my first dialysis treatment and used a picture of a pregnant woman wearing a Wonder Woman top for inspiration and when I got there and got in my chair a pregnant woman with a Wonder Woman top was my tech.

I swear, you can't make this stuff up.

Dearies, I am in the Happy Chair today with Christmas movies and my stitching.  I feel a bit like I've been in a car crash, but I suppose that's to be expected for a bit.  I'm going to finish my damn good and get on with it.

Love and thanks to all...hope your Saturday is swell!

Dec 22, 2017



This woman is pregnant.

She is running in a race.

She won the race.

While pregnant.

And while wearing a Wonder Woman sports bra and flowers in her hair.

Really, Alysia?  Really?  You manage to do that and still look completely fabulous, and I can't get it together enough to GO SIT IN A FREAKIN CHAIR.  Girlfriend, you just gave me the kick in the heiney I needed to pull up my socks, quit my fretting, and get the heck on with it.  This sitting around catastrophizing is just for the damn birds.  So, I'm a kidney patient.  So, I have to start dialysis.  I'm fifty-one years old and have been through far worse and done it all with far less.


Thank you, dear friends, for cooing gently and stroking my fevered brow while patting my back and propping me up.  I confess that the feeling if sinking into that particular warm blanket has been lovely, but...

I.  Got.  This.

Now let's get on with our Fabulous Fridays and see what trouble we can get into.  Rumor has it that I am going to spend this Christmas holiday planning my stitchy rotation for next year.  Visions of Miras and Red Velvet Cake are dancing in my head!  Maybe a new journal or WIP tracker too.  And threads!  And LJP's!  And lots and lots of laughs and love with all of you and my stitchy guild sisters!

Woo to the Hoo, people!  Woo to the Hoo!

Dec 21, 2017


Tomorrow I will start dialysis.

As much as I would love to tell you that I am calm, prepared, and light hearted...the truth is that I'm terrified.

I'm not afraid of the pain or the inconvenience or the side effects or the risks or the...I don't even know. I'm terrified of the fact that this is just not the path I wanted to take.

But, if nothing else, I am learning that sometimes the unexpected is actually...wonderful.  And that the unexpected takes us places and gives us things that we didn't even know we needed.

So I need you to bear with me for a minute, Dearies.  I might not be here as often as I would like the next few days.  I need to get my head around this and fall into a routine before I will be able to regale you with Tales From the Dialysis Unit.

Your cards and gifts and emails and comments and calls and visits and love and support are, as always, completely overwhelming.  I really don't know how I got to be so lucky to find you.  This thing of ours is, and has been, one of the greatest blessings of my life.

Take good care, do something fun, get those needles flying, and come tell me all about it.

With love,
The Spinster Stitcher

Dec 19, 2017

Still feeling poorly, but I'm here, Dearies.  Please don't fret or worry...all will be well.


Dec 17, 2017


Diverticulitis flare up started this morning.

I swear...you just can't make this stuff up.

Dec 16, 2017


Rich is at the Martins securing provisions, and I am in my Happy Chair with my second cup of damn good, the Saturday paper, and the chickens for company.

Yesterday is a bit of a blur to be honest.  I think I slept most of it, but when I was awake, we binge-watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maizel on the Amazon thingie.  

It was wonderful.

(Rich and I have a running joke about me trying to be Donna Reed...with the pearls and pumps and pot roast, and this show was set in the late 1950's New York with a funny housewife who wore pearls and pumps, but who had more moxy and spunk than fifty Donna Reeds.)

(It's created and written by the same folks that brought us Gilmore Girls, so buckle up for lots and lots of snappy dialogue.)

So today I am resting and resting and then resting some more.  Rich will watch all of the sports on the TeeVee and I will try to get a few good stitches in between naps and snoozes.  I am still enjoying the Glendon Place piece, but confess that my woozy head is proving to be a big deterrent.  

On the kidney front, my plans have changed a bit.  Plan A was to hold out for a pre-emptive transplant from my sister.  That is, unfortunately, no longer an option, so I will move on to Plan B...dialysis.  I will still hope for a living donor to come forward, but in the meantime will follow the dialysis protocol and get on with it.  The good news is that dialysis will make me feel much better and I am promised lits of time to read, stitch, blog, and contemplate.

Plan B also involves moving everything out of the house and saying good-bye to it once and for all.  I had been also holding out hope that I could return to it, but alas, the time has come to say goodbye to it as well.  I'll mourn it, I'm sure, and I know that there are going to be a lot of tearful meltdowns every time I go over there to pack up the last remnants and then eventually have an estate sale, but...onward.

Rich and I have talked a lot about what life looks like a year from now.  The happy part of the conversation is that we both see us together and happy...we just don't have too many details as to how or where that will happen.

But I am, for once, very content with that thought.  I might not know where I'll be, but I know wherever it is I will have a hand to hold.

There is another Stewey in our future...that much I know.  For now, though, I dream about my Little and laugh at his antics, and cherish the pictures of him and the love and comfort he gave me.  I think my next Baby Dear will be a girl...most definitely a little Jack Russell, and I think I'll name her Daisy.  Stewey would have liked that, I think.

Wow...so much navel gazing for a Saturday morning!  Wonder what's up with that?

So that's all the news from Lake SpinsterBeGone, my friends.  I hope that you are enjoying a happy, healthy, peaceful weekend and that your very own navels are where they should be.



Dec 15, 2017


I'm so sorry for my absence, Dearies.  I have received a few hundred concerned emails wanting to know my whereabouts and my whatsywhoosits, but just haven't felt well enough to post.  It would seem that I have a bit of the flu that has settled in my left side.  My ear, eye, neck, and jaw are a bit worse for wear, but I have been dispatched to the Happy Chair with fluids, Tylenol, and the care of a very nervous Jersey Boy for company.

All will be well soon, I promise.

There are plans afoot for the weekend and the next few weeks.  The weekend will involve a turkey and lots of Happy Chair time for me, and then next week Rich will head to New Jersey and I will head to the cube room studio to plan the 2018 Spinster Stitcher Year of Fun.

Details soon, I promise.

The weekend is upon us, so let's all do something fun and come tell each other all about it!

Dec 13, 2017

Dec 11, 2017


Despite feeling poorly, I managed a few minutes upright in the Happy Chair yesterday.  I got the bright idea to outline the deer so that I could do all of the filling-in while only half awake.  I don't think I've done that before, but it sure makes sense to me now.

Thank you for all of your loving concern, Dearies.  I will see the doctor tomorrow afternoon for a check-in to make sure that this is just a case of the icks.  I've been behaving myself quite nicely with lots of rest and fluids and Tylenol, so never fear...I'll be back in the proverbial saddle again soon.

Happy Monday to one and all...