Saturday, June 30, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Although I don't often read my horoscope, today it said:
'Know when to part ways,as often you don't get clear signals, or you refuse to identify them. If this is the case, change gears and head in a more positive, upbeat direction. Do what you must, but then do for yourself.'
How appropriate on day like today. So I will do what I must - do the laundry - then do for myself - finish up the top of my doll quilt. Maybe this is the way I should organize the next few months?
Monday, June 25, 2007
I got my retirement package on Saturday and I must say its a little bit more generous that I expected when it came to benefits. There will be no cash payments for a while but I need to figure out what to do with my retirement plan and 401(k) funds before my severance runs out next year. Although I've been talking about tomorrow being my last day for a while, getting that package really brought it home.
Now I will be unable to put anything in that box on applications for employer or work phone number. I will not be defining myself as a finance technology geek. I am still a lot of things from poor house keeper to inveterate experimenter but when someone asks the question 'what do you do for a living?' will retired be enough or will I need another response? I kind of like explorer or inventor or celebrity guest? I'll let you know what works.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
The Sopranos was about a mob boss in New Jersey. In some ways it was entertaining especially when Tony, the boss, was talking to his therapist. It was also very disturbing as it was sometimes very violent. Human life seemed to have no value except as it pleased Tony. The show finished up with the screen going black on the family eating in a diner. The audience had no idea if the family was blown up at the diner or if things would continue to go on as they had since the beginning. I was totally unsatisfied and had no sense of closure.
Stargate:SG-1 is about a military team that uses an alien artifact called a Stargate to visit other parts of the galaxy where they thwart the forces of evil. It began on a premium channel (I think Showtime) and transitioned to the Sci-Fi channel. It ended with the team entering the Stargate one more time to do what they do. Even though many issues were unresolved, this series finale left me with a smile my face. Maybe the producers are hoping for movies since the series is over?
I ended up doing a lot of knitting this week as the Sci-Fi channel played lots of re-runs of Stargate:SG-1 - somehow lots of knitting only translates into getting the back of a simple sweater completed but it took a lot of time without many problems. If I'm lucky I will get it finisihed before the next millenium.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
- knitting for a felted bag is done on needles about 2 sizes larger than normal, more than that can leave holes in your final product
- before machine felting in hot water, you should probably run the item you want to machine felt through a cold delicate cycle first so that any unevenness or holes will be revealed and can be fixed before felting.
- use waxed dental floss to close the top of your purse, as a for instance, before felting so that the top edges will match up perfectly after felting.... it is easily removed after felting
- beaded yarn should not be used during knitting as some will inevitably end up on the inside no matter how carefully you position them before felting ... hand apply beads after felting.
- never dry a machine felted article in the dryer, always block with something that will mimic the final shape desired.
- make sure all the yarns ends are securely woven into the knitting or they will felt into the opposite side of the bag.
- machine felted knitting can be treated like ordinary felt - that is it can be cut into pieces that don't fray and used in other projects.
- linings should be applied to all machine felted handbags to help the bag keep its shape.
Too soon old, too late smart.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Call The Trashmen for Pick-up and Recycle
We got the call on Friday afternoon. Two Dachshunds to be rescued from animal control. Both around five years old, neither spayed nor neutered and heartworm positive. If we don’t pick-up Saturday they will be euthanized. Always the same story. Come now or they die.
Saturday morning at eleven we wait outside the shelter for the doors to open. No special treatment for rescue groups. Get in line and wait. The doors open at exactly eleven and we go in with a multitude of people, some not speaking English, some speaking in whispers.
One person says, “My dog is here for biting somebody, but my dog don’t bite.”
Another says, “My dog got out. He keeps getting out and running away. I don’t know why he does that. He got a good place in the backyard under a tree. He don’t even hardly get wet when it rains, but he keeps running away.”
An attendant asks, “Is he neutered?” The answer is quick. “Hell no! Ain’t nobody doing that to my dog. Hell no.”
It’s always the same. We used to try to educate those waiting in line, but it’s futile. So we wait quietly as the people move closer to the check-in counter.
Finally one of the attendants who has seen us before recognizes us. “You here for the Dachshunds?,” he asks.
He motions us to go with him into the back where the animals are housed. We take a deep breath of the stagnant air that smells of death and follow behind the attendant. We try to look straight ahead. Don’t lock eyes with the hundreds of dogs who are standing on their hind legs, front paws entwined in the steel mesh. They are all barking at us, begging to be released. The numbers are overwhelming. Most are Pitbulls. Many are mutts. Some are purebreds. The cries echo in our ears. For days they will still be echoing in our minds.
In a cage at the far end of where the animals are warehoused we see two very small and frightened Dachshunds. They are nearly identical. We can see she has obviously had pups. “Where did they come from?,” we ask. Usually we get the standard, “strays, picked up downtown.” This time it’s different. “Owner turn-in. Their names are Rocket and Angel. Said they are moving and can’t take them to the new house.”
We look at them. They are a breeding pair. There is no doubt in our minds. A breeding pair who are heartworm positive and left at animal control to die. A dog picked up on the street is given seventy-two hours for the owner to come and claim him. Dogs that are turned in by their owners are scheduled for euthanasia immediately. No one is coming to claim them so why wait? Moreover, if they are HW positive that locks their sentence in tighter. It costs too much to treat them.
We go back to the front counter and fill out the paperwork. We pay the adoption fee and a few minutes later Angel and Rocket are brought out. We take the ropes from around their necks and replace them with new collars and leashes. Angel is interested, but Rocket is very frightened. Angel is his rock. We decide right then that they will be kept as a pair. Once they are finished with their treatment we will adopt them out together.
We leave the shelter and walk across the parking lot. Angel is happy to be outside. Rocket stays very close to her.
At the vet’s office people with dogs dressed in near human attire, ooooh, and ahhhh, then look at us as if we are horrible people. “We rescued these guys from the county this morning,” we say loud enough for all to hear. The nasty looks disappear followed by a barrage of questions. We answer each one as we wait in line again.
“Oh, I just could never work in rescue. I would be too attached to the dogs. I couldn’t do that.” The word, “I,” dominates the conversation. We wonder what it would be like to have the “I” word for an excuse as we watch our Saturday disappear.
Finally, we are at the front desk. Angel is excited, looking everywhere, seeing everything as if for the first time. Rocket is shaking and starting to pant. We need to get them into a kennel so they can relax.
We hand over the rabies certificates we got at animal control. The girl signs us in. Two kennel attendants come from the back room and take the dogs from us. We smell very bad from holding them, but it doesn’t matter. We got them out. They are saved. We can go home and bathe and they can live. It’s more than a decent trade.
Monday morning the vet’s office calls to tell us that Rocket has been neutered and Angel has been spayed. Their lives of making puppies to be sold at flea markets and roadside stands are over. We thank the girl for letting us know. The following Monday they start their heartworm treatment. Although animal control tested them, we always have them re-tested. HW treatment is too intense to proceed with unless we are sure. The vet’s office tells us they are both a very strong positive. We have to get them into a home as fast as we can. They have to be in a quiet setting while they convalesce.
On Tuesday, we check on their progress. Both are doing okay. They will have to undergo two treatments each. The dosages will be diluted and spread out over six to eight weeks. We start canvassing our list of fosters. It is imperative we get them into a home quickly.
Friday morning the phone rings. It’s the vet’s office. Something is wrong. “We just called to tell you we found Angel dead this morning," the girl says. "We’re moving Rocket to a smaller cage.”
At five years old, after probably giving birth to numerous puppies Angel is struck down by heartworms. Rocket is lost. He is frantic. We put the news of Angel out on the web. Rocket needs a home. We wait. Our fosters are overwhelmed with dogs. Some have as many as twelve in their homes. Finally, in the late afternoon we get a call from a couple who have adopted four from us. They will take Rocket. “Where can we pick him up?” Rocket goes home with them. He is very withdrawn. He eats little. He is undergoing treatment for a severe case of heartworms and grieving for his mate at the same time. We cry for him and for all the dogs like him.
Two months have passed and Rocket is coming around. He is filling out nicely and has joined in play with his foster brothers although he still stays in the background much of the time. Some day Rocket will be adopted and his memories of Angel will fade, as do all memories. For us, we wait for the phone calls that start the process over again. We are the trash men for the breeders who profit and for the buyers who don’t stop to think about what they are getting into. And for the owners who say, “Hell no. You ain't doing that to my dog,”
Hell is a relative word.
We pick-up their trash, save the ones we can, and cry for the ones we can’t.
The felted purse that I talked about did not come out as successfully. It is a good size for carrying around a bunch of stuff but the felting came out very lumpy. I used a yarn that was 85% wool and 15% nylon but I used needles that were way bigger than the suggested size. I also added another yarn that is hand spun in a South African aid project. The extra yarn was used for about 6 rows in the lower protion of the bag. It had a metallic thread, beads and a bucle textured angora base yarn. I thnk my next idea will be to dampen the bag again, put something flat in the bottom and then add a bag of rice or beans as a form to block the bag again. I'll also need to get a button for the closure. I do love the colors though and it seems neutral enough for all seasons.
Final score - one project completed, one still on the to be completed list. I'll take those results any day.
I have been finishing projects and watching a lot of movies. I completed a sweater I started a while ago. It is knitted in the round with sleeves added midway through. Its drying right now and I hoped to have it blocked and any fixes completed today. I will post a photo when I think it is ready for prime time. It has not been knitted by the most perfect knitter in the world but I am pretty proud of it . I don't think too many people will die laughing when they see it in person. I also was on a shop hop this weeked and found some wonderful wool/nylon skiens, at half price no less, at the Hen House out on Louetta. I wanted to try to make a felted purse that would be large enough for all the stuff I put in a purse when I carry one. It is also drying right now and after some blocking/steaming I'll post some photos.
On the voice front, it is still not perfect though it seems I can get out 3 or 4 sentences a day right now in a normal tone of voice. Th rest of the time it shifts from inaudible to a faint ruslting in the wind. I did yell at Alex today and actually got some volume going. I don't like to yell at him but read on for his latest exploits.
My little darling has decided that the backyard is just not the place to do his business. He likes the front yard, the little park across the street or any place that is not my backyard like my office or kitchen floors. I give him unrestricted access to the backyard all the time but he does not seem to get it. He has not learned from my son's dogs, when they were here, on how this is supposed to work. Today, I just about sent him back when he got out the front door during a rain storm and led me on a very wet, one hour chase through the neighborhood. I didn't have the energy to actually chase him and ended up following him until he allowed me to get the leash on him. I also had to wave down at least half a dozen cars so that they would not run over him.
Now we are into serious crate training. I had been told that he could not be put into a crate due to his three months spent at a vet after he was found so I tred to do the training without the crate. I hauled out Lady Jane's old crate, which was previously used by a German Shepherd show dog on airplane trips, thinking that Alex could not construe it as vet sized kennel. If he is not at my side, on a walk with me, in obedience sessions with me or outside in the back on his own, he will be in the crate. No more unrestricted access to any room in the house. No more hiding chew toys everywhere. No more playing chase with his shadow indoors. No more sleeping with me at night. I hate having to resort to the crate but we were both getting pretty miserable. I really didn't want a puppy but accepted him because he really needed a home. Sometimes I feel like I got suckered into taking him. Now that he's here we will just have to work harder to come to some mutally beneficial arrangement. Maybe my difficulty with him is that he is a male dog (I've only had females in the past) and that my voice has not been working correctly.
Only time will tell. Have a great week - my last full work week as an employee!
Friday, June 15, 2007
The first stamp was from my Exacto knife experiment. The second stamp is from using the stencil cutting tip and wood burning tip on the Versa Tool. The third image used the cutting blade form the Versa Tool. The pictures seem a little small but I think you get the idea. I have trouble drawing in reverse - that is the outlines should be raised so the background can be removed. I used a pigment ink pad for the ink and 24 hours later the stamps were still damp with the ink.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Oops! better check on Alex as I haven't heard his dog tags in a couple of minutes... you know that can't be good.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Bad news is that my workhorse serger, that has never failed me no matter what I have thrown under the presser foot, gave up the ghost today. A litle metal rod fell out of the needle assembly and the whole thing jammed up. I was using it to finish the seams on the hospital gowns that ASG is donating to the Shriners later this summer. I hope they can fix it quickly because the thought of doing true french seams on these gowns would extend the sewing time by at least a week ot two.
Good news... well actually funny news. After I dropped off my serger I stopped by the JoAnns next door. I only needed to pick up some twill tape but I cruised the sales as well. I came across a set of nesting fabric containers with the following labels embroidered on them - stuff, junk, misc. and etc. I had to get them as they so clearly reflect much of my sewing room clutter. I couldn't find them on-line so they may not available everywhere but I may have to go back to my local store as my sewing room is not the only place that could use these containers.
Monday, June 11, 2007
- No-one in my family can carry a tune - the men in my immeadiate family all called separately today and sang Happy Birthday to me... once was bearable, twice was torture and the third time was physically painful. My own singing voice is known as making my son's stomach hurt. Definately genetics in action.
- As a teenager I was appalled that I would be 48 when the millenium occured. How could I live so long ... heck I believed my own mother was a wisened old crone at the age of 40! I recently had the opportunity to see some candid shots of Mom at 55 and we look incredibly alike. There are two noticable differences - she was taller than me (5'10" to my 5'7") and she dyed her hair strawberry blonde ( I am au natural at 70% grey).
- Until today, I thought I would be celebrating with some large purchase like a new car or fancy embroidery machine. After walking the dogs this morning I realized that just playing with the dogs all day would be preferable to shopping. How things have changed! Even a few years ago a day shopping would take precedence over any other activity. Am I getting old? I don't think so, probably a little bit wiser on what is important.
- I have a female cousin who was born on June 10, just eight hours before I made my entrance on June 11. I realized that I have not seen her or heard from her directly in about 35 years. How did we loose touch when there should be such a natural connection between us? One thing that may have seperated us was the incredible rivallry between our mothers. These sisters were the last two children in a family of seven kids. After five boys, my mother was child number six, while her sister was number seven. As the first girl in her family my mother probably saw her sister as a johnny come lately and, except for the big events in their lives, they never saw or corresponded with each other. The last decade or so of their lives did see a bit of a thaw in their relationship but, even as they both faced significant medical challenges, the sniping continued. Maybe it is a good thing that my relationship with my cousin is non-existent so that we don't get sucked into the family discord but it does make me a little sad that I have no relationships with any of my cousins, even the one that should be a natural fit.
I wonder what this year will bring? I do hope my voice comes back and that no other health issues rear their ugly heads. If I wake up every morning glad that I am still breahing it will be an excellent year.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
First the sidewalk sale. Sun Flower Quilts in Houston had a sidewalk sale that was pretty good for such a small store. They had tables of fabric scraps, home dec items, kits (or pieces of them) and a bunch of books. I scored right away with some lovely fabric for the sew-in later that day (will post pictures when I complete them), three Christmas stockings made my Jill the store owner, a tin thing for my bedroom wall and a book on making sock monkey toys. The stockings are huge and I intend them for angel tree gifts this coming holiday season. Here's a picture:
Friday, June 8, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Her message is all about control. With some control over those parts of our lives that seem out of control, we will feel better about ourselves. The first baby step in getting more control is to keep your Kitchen sink clean. I thought that was a no brainer until I really looked at my sink. There were no dishes in it but the drain looked like you could grow a whole new species in it. The faucet was spotted and one half of the double sink was full of cleaning supplies. I decided to try to work the first baby step and cleaned my sink including using bleach and stainless steel cleaner. Its been about 3 weeks now and I can say with some confidence that my kitchen sink is clean 98% of the time. Although the counters may be full of dog treats, old mail and discarded papers, my sink is clean. Step one done - yahoo!
The next step is a little more challenging - getting dressed right down to shoes the first thing every morning. This could be a tough step as I spend a lot of time in my bare feet. I'll let you know how it goes.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Today I actually finished a couple of purses that I had started ages ago. One was knitted then felted using a yarn that had many elements to it - little variagted yellow boucle yarn, wool roving in reds and greens, black thread as a binder and some glittery stuff. I used a pattern I found on the web that I can't for the life of me remember where I found it. After felting, the fabric created was very uneven which meant I needed to line it with something sturdy. I used some black ultra-suede that I had on hand and added a snap just below the opening for your hand. It came out to about 9 !/2 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches tall and does not have a gussett. The picture shows all I have left of the two balls of yarn I purchased at the Hen House here in Houston. I may make a couple of crocheted and felted ornaments to attach to it just to use up the yarn and add a little more pizzazz to this purse.
This is the second purse I finished up today. It used up a bunch of scraps that had been fused and over-stitched into a 17" square. The construction was based on a pattern in Nancy Shriber's self-published book - Sashiko Handbags 14 on 14. This pattern was based on the origami folds for a Home File Folder Carrier. I lined it with some very bright hand died fabric from Judy Robertson's Just Imagination and used a recycled magnetic snap for a closure. The purple log embellishment was supposed to be just a fabric bead to cover the back of the snap but it got a little out of control as I fell in love with Fabric Tac again. Its about 8 inches wide, 5 inches tall and 2 inches deep at the bottom.
I don't know what I am going to do with these. Although I love them both I just don't see myself using them. I may post them to a craft trading site and see if anyone has something they would like to trade for them. On the other hand, if I can find someone who would like to have them and use them I am more than willing to entertain offers. Chocolate for purses... sounds like a great concept to me! My final option is set them out somewhere (away from Alex!) and admire them and stroke them and, generally, feel good about myself.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Letters from Iwo Jimo is a movie that that I generally don't like to watch. It was 98% in Japanese so the whole thing is subtitled. It was a completely different perspective on the battle and the human stories, as revealed in the letters home and the interactions of the characters on the screen, were fascinating. This is not a war movie per se and I recommend it for an afternoon when you can concentrate on the action and subtitles.
And here is an unusual picture of the little prince himself ... sleeping on the couch after a hard day following me around and getting into trouble. Note the classy zebra striped bedding.
Here is another a few moments later ... he must be thinking I am nuts to be flashing lights all around when he is trying to sleep.
On a purely seflish note, I received the tea towel from my tea towel swap partner. This is the fourth swap I have been in and the first time I can truly say that I am completely disappointed in what I received. I spent most of a Saturday embroidering the towel I sent to receive a mostly polyester one with a piece of purple craft ribbon and three buttons on it. The ribbon was poorly sewn and looks unwashable. I must be a bad person to be so dissappointed. Its either that or I'm pretty down about my voice taking so long to come back. Its probably the latter as I get up every morning expecting to be back to normal and it just isn't. Maybe tomorrow....
Sunday, June 3, 2007
And now I've disappointed myself as I intended to post some pictures today of things I mentioned previously but I can't seem to find the camera to download the pictures. Rats! Maybe tomorrow. Have a good week.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
I am an avid reader of Selvedge, a British quarterly on textiles around the globe. I have been known to spend days just looking at the ads they are so beautiful. As a subsciber, who just renewd for 3 years, I received from them an apron from Habke Construction. It is a typical french cotton canvas apron, about four feet wide and eighteen inches long (very approximate measurements) with two large grommets for attaching twill tapes. The whole thing wraps completely around me to tie in the front. There is one large linen/cotton packet in the front (or where ever it ends up on you) printed with a lovely blue stripe. I love it already but, as I rarely cook, I am looking for alternative uses... maybe mounted on homosote (sic?) board as a bulletin board cover for the sewing room?
Someone who saw the cargo carry-all I made for the travel swap asked me to make one for them. I just sent it off and am feeling very accomplished. It is made of Indian home spuns and some wild cotton based sparkly sheers. I won't post a photo of it until it gets delivered but I'm extremey happy with it. The only down side is that I ran out of buckram at the end so the interior is not as stiff as I would like. I hope she likes it.
Alex has finally settled down on the couch next to me. He seems jealous of the laptop and when I bring it out he loves to distract me by dancing on the key board and licking the mouse. This attention getting activity usually ends up with me getting mad at him and him trying to bite my fingers. Not pleasant but I think we have reached a compromise... he stops getting in the way and I'll let him curl up on me or next to me while I watch movies and scratch his tummy. If he is especially good in the evening he gets to sleep with me but I much prefer he sleep in the bathroom ... his body temperature is about 600 degree Celcius.
Let me know if the links don't work. UPDATE: they don't so I'm back to square one... rats!