Friday, December 14, 2012

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

This past year or so, one of the new things I've been trying is painting.  My friends and I have taken a few classes over at Painting with a Twist, a chain that specializes in making painting a fun experience by encouraging you to bring a friend and a bottle of wine.  I skip the wine -- painting is fun enough.

My friend, Jennifer, is such a good help at the shop all year, and a great personal confidant and supporter.  She loves Santas, and I painted her this canvas as part of her Christmas present this year.  I love the way he turned out, and he was really fun to do.

Lindy at The Silver Needle was bugging me earlier this year to NOT STOP DESIGNING towards the end of the year.  There typically isn't a lot that comes out during December, so I promised her I'd have a few new releases.  The previous blog post showcased "Christmas is Coming."  Here is "Jolly Joy Jingle," another new release for December.  Jennifer stitched this one for me, and she did an awesome and QUICK job.  The fabric is 32 ct. Swamp by Picture This Plus, and the buttons are by Just Another Button Company, of course.

We're down to just four kittens at home right now.  Birdie (above) is a fantastic little cat.  She's happy, intelligent, independent but loving, well-adjusted, and very pretty.  We had her for around a month.  She was easy to have around, and we were pleased to save her life.

Greyfell was Grasshopper's brother (Grasshopper had to be put to sleep over a month ago due to a digestive system malformation).  We just called him "Grey," and he is earnestly loving and always wanting to be held.  He'll make someone a great lap cat.  He's had his surgery and is going over to PetSmart this afternoon to find his new family.

Yes, Halloween seems like eons ago, even though it's only been six weeks or so.  I was tickled to see the above Halloween display on the Shepherd's Bush web site showcasing a Halloween display.  If you look at the top left corner of the display, you'll see two of my designs...Boo Scurry Yum and the old standard...Witchy Washy.  I always love seeing my pieces in other environments.

I've spent the last week or so with the stomach flu/gastroenteritis.  No, it wasn't food poisoning.  And you'd think after a week of eating almost nothing but Saltine Crackers, oatmeal, rice and bananas that I'd be going INSANE for something like ice cream.  But nothing sounds good, still, and I'm hoping to feel much better in the next few days.  The Internet tells me a good bout of what I've got can last ten days.

Hope y'all are enjoying a fantastic Christmas season so far.  I am getting caught up with preparations, and may brave setting up the tree tonight.  I will have a LOT of wide-eyed cats at home.  And while we look at our pretty glass ornaments...they go back in the storage box.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas is Coming ...

Christmas is Coming, don't you know, and so I have some new news to share with you -- a brand new design by me, and some COOL offerings from Just Another Button Company...but first, a word from the kittens.

"The nice lady made this delicious and (smack) juicy turkey-bird for Thanksgiving, and she cutted it up some and we eat-ed it, and it went into our bellies, and then our eyes got really blinky, and then there was some sunshine, and we collapsed-ed in a pile and we sleeped-ed.  We are growing and happy, and our names are Pumpkin, Jack, Wolfgang, Super Cat and Salem.  Birdie was sleeping somewhere else when the nice lady tooked this picture."

This is a nice shot of Pumpkin with Super Cat and Jack in the background.  Pumpkin is a pretty girl...she had five orange brothers.  We have Jack (who was the runt).  Three of the kittens did not make it, and the other one is in another foster home.  Pumpkin is independent and has a gorgeous round face.  She's smart and VERY soft.

You may remember Super Cat -- his siblings were eaten by a 'possum, and he was the lone survivor of the group.  I took him in about six weeks ago, and he is growing nicely.  But, the vet and I have discovered he is vision-impaired.  We think he has a narrow field of vision and doesn't see detail well.  But he can play with toys and other cats, and he finds his way around the house, sometimes by feeling his way along the walls.  I am hoping to place him directly into his new home without having him go back to the shelter or PetSmart.  If you know anyone who is interested in a VERY sweet and loving cat, let me know.  He is not going to be big, but he is otherwise healthy.  He will need a patient new mom or dad to help him learn his way around a new house.

And I did want to let y'all know that our cat Boo did find a new home with a family with two children. I have been in contact with Boo's new mom, and she is doing fine.  She has a pretty new pink collar, and she got to keep her name.  The family was concerned about Boo wanting to be UNDER blankets, but I told them she LOVES that.  We do miss her, but I get photograph updates from her new family, and they love her!

Here's my new piece: Christmas is Coming.  It's stitched on 35 count Cappuccino linen by Weeks Dye Works (yes, 30 would work just as well) in Weeks Dye Works flosses Linen, Parchment, Havana, Rum Raisin, Bark, Charcoal, Stepping Stone, Bullfrog, Hazelnut, Brick and Kohl.  It uses a button pack from Just Another Button Company, and if you buy the button pack, you get the Figgy Pudding pattern by Cecile at JABCo for free!  Shops and customers may order this chart directly from me, but the distributors will have these in short order.

Cecile designed a kit to go along with the release -- it's Kissing Ball Ornament/Scissor Fob and it retails for $24.00.  You get everything but the cording in the kit.  I want to make one to hang on my tree!!!
This is the Figgy Pudding design, which you can finish as an ornament if you please.  The button pack retails for $7.60, but the chart is free with the purchase of the button pack for Figgy Pudding AND the button pack for Christmas is Coming.  AND, Cecile is gifting my customers the chart for free with ANY purchase from me.  I'll be handing them out until the end of the year with any order.

The Kissing Ball kit comes in Cranberry (as shown further up) and in Snow, shown here.  I love, love, love this kit.  And it was a ton o' fun to work with Cecile, who is such a nice and creative lady.

I'm not done for the year -- I have several new designs that I'm shooting to release next week.  So stay tuned, dear readers.  And have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Grasshopper and a neat old sampler

Grasshopper and his brother, Greyfell, came to us a few weeks ago.  They had been hanging out in the exam room at the shelter...but that's not a healthy place for small kittens, so we took them home.  This little Siamese mix moved right in and showed such a unique personality.  Like a little old an ancient Samurai he would suddenly appear on my lap.  I never heard him or felt him; he would just be there, magically, quiet and calm.

But Grasshopper was having stomach issues.  He had problems using the litter box, and I was having to bathe him every day (which he hated).  But he didn't hold it against me.  He'd just climb back on my lap, or my shoulder, and sit.

His stomach felt lumpy to me, so I took him to the vet, convinced he was constipated.  It turned out he had a malformed digestive system, one that wouldn't allow him to pass waste easily, one that could not be fixed.  The vet and I decided to put him to sleep.  He was under the gas, but they lifted the mask off, so I could talk to him one last time.  I kissed him, told him I loved him, and that I was so sorry.  He's gone now, but he had several weeks with a very loving family and lots of playmates.  I want to say that he would have been a great cat...but in reality, he WAS a great cat.  He just didn't get to be a cat for very long.  (The picture above is the last picture I took of him on my cell phone before we went to the vet, not knowing I was going to have to have him put down.)

Sorry these pictures aren't very clear.  I doctored them up a little, but the originals were low-quality.  But would you look at this sampler!  It's on eBay as of this writing, but only for a couple of more hours.  It's one I've been watching, but I'm afraid it's going to sell for more than it's worth, based on the condition it's in.  It's from 1792 by Isabella Henderson and is English, most likely.  I put a bid in on it a few days back, then called Diane Williams from Little House Needleworks to have her look at it -- she thought it was great.  I told her that I thought the tree and Adam & Eve figures in the middle looked like something she'd design.  But she told me to be careful to not get excited and spend too much.  It's easy to do that with something this unique.

One of the things I really like most about it is that border.  How unkempt mess of nature.  It looks like it'd be super-fun to stitch, and although I do not copy pictures like this when I'm designing my own samplers, I do use them as inspiration.  This teaches me that it's okay to mix a variety of flowers and leaves on a border, and leave larger open spaces.  I like that there are different colors in the leaves, on the berries, and the weedy-looking flowers.  Again, that kind of thing is fun to stitch.

Another super-awesome element of this sampler is the over-one bushes to the left and right of Adam & Eve.  The birds are over-one as well, and her name is in an over-one cartouche below the main scene.  The bushes look wild, too -- not too evenly spaced or designed.  Just like nature!

The verse is an old one:

You whose fond wishes do to heaven aspire,
who make those blest abodes your sole desire;
if you are wise, and hope that bliss to gain
use well your time, live not an hour in vain
let not the morrow your vain thoughts employ,
But think this day the last you shall enjoy.

I found a web site that listed the sayings on old gravestones in their churchyard in the UK, and this was listed as the inscription on the stone of Mary Manchester who died in 1811 at the age of 81.  You may have seen this verse usually starts with: "Fragrant the rose, but it fades in time./The violet sweet, but quickly past its prime...."

Anyway, I can't get them all, but this one was special enough that I thought I should share it with you before it goes into someone's private collection.  I so enjoy these "old girls."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween and a story about a real-life angel

This is Salem -- she's our newest foster kitty.  SHE IS SO AWESOME!  Very independent, brave, fuzzy, sassy, and she walks with such attitude.  Two of her siblings (Pugsley and Wednesday) are being fostered by an employee at the shelter.  Salem is MOSTLY fur.  She's going to need a good six weeks to come up to surgery weight, which means she'd make a great Christmas gift for someone...hint, hint.  Want to adopt her?  Let me know!  (Yes, we think she has some Persian in her.)

I'm participating in a community Halloween parade this evening, and will be dressed as a hipster witch. If the weather stays warm, I'm going to take Miss Salem with me, and we're going to throw candy to the kids.  Steve is out of town, but Harrison and Christiana are all enthused, because they love Halloween.  They're coming in costume, too, and I'm going to see if I can talk the shy and reserved Mr. Graham into coming with us as well.


Hey, do you believe in angels?  I DO!  Let me tell you kind of a cool story about something that happened to Harrison and me yesterday.

Earlier this year, we paid for my husband's grandmother's car to be transported to Hattiesburg.  She doesn't drive anymore, so the family decided Harrison could have her 20-year-old Ford Taurus, with only 35,000 or so "little old lady" miles on it.  Toots is a dear, and she was happy the car could stay in the family.

He had been driving my 13-year-old Ford Taurus with 135,000 "mom" miles.  We told Harrison's sweet girlfriend that we'd sell her the car, which needs some work, for a song.  The problem was, Harrison had lost the last key to the car a few months back, so yesterday, FINALLY, I called a locksmith to come and make us a new key.  The locksmith is a retired police officer who drove his cool van over to where the car was sitting...and had been sitting all this time.  He made a few keys while I waited in the parking lot (he had a neat little workshop in his van.)  And then he helped me jump the car, as it was dead.  Super-dead.  Like, couldn't-even-pop-the-trunk dead.

Now, as I mentioned, the car needs some work, and we figured the alternator was the first repair needed.  The alternator helps keep the battery charged, so Harrison was having to continually have someone help him jump-start the car.  The car was also nearly out of gas, so as soon as we had a key, and the car was started, we drove over to the closest gas station for some gas.  Harrison shut off the car, put some gas in, then went to re-start it and...nothing!  The silly thing was dead, dead, dead.  Again, again, again.

I went into the convenience store and told the clerks our car was dead and we'd need to run and get some jumper cables.  One woman scowled and said, "You can't just leave your car there blocking the pump!" The other one said, "I think I have jumper cables in my car!" (There are two kinds of people in this world....)  Miss Sunshine went and got us her jumper cables, and we said we'd be right back.

So, we get out to the car, I pull my Rogue around, and I say to Harrison: "Have you ever jump-started a car?" "I've seen it done," he says.  Okay, so, we have no idea what we're doing, and I pull out my iPhone and Google "how to jump start a car" to make sure we didn't blow up the entire block.

I start reading the directions out loud to Harrison, and I'm sure we look like a couple of morons out there trying to figure out which end is the plus-sy end, and which end is the minus-sy end.

Enter: our angel.

"Hi," says a kind-looking man in a stocking cap.  "I'm a such-and-such certified mechanic.  Can I help you?" (I have no idea what kind of certification he was talking about...I am an automotive idiot!)

I tell him, excited now, that we're trying to jump start the car.  He goes back and gets a battery tester from his truck, and as we chat about the condition of the car, he tells me that yes, it sounds like the alternator is dead.  "How about I replace it for you right now," he says.  "I've been sick with the flu all week, and I'm starting to get bored anyway.  Oh, don't worry, I'm not contagious anymore."

He calls the parts shop and has them hold a shiny new alternator for us at his discount.  We pushed the old Taurus to the side and left the mechanic, whose nickname is "ROADSIDE" of all things, to take out the old alternator.

I'll spare you all of this middle stuff, but let me tell you, that sweet man replaced our alternator IN THE PARKING LOT of the gas station IN FRONT OF CAMPUS for the cost of the alternator ($99.00 and tax) and $35.00 for installation.  AND, while we were gone getting the part, he "tightened up a few wires and checked out a few other things" to just kind of look the car over for other problems.

He tells me he works at one of the local dealerships, but he also owns his own little fix-it shop and does everything. ("We even do glass," he says.)  So I ask him about the tune-up Christiana is going to need on the Taurus.  "Oh," he says, "that's fifty bucks and then whatever supplies we need.  You can stand there and watch us fix it and see exactly what we put into it if you like."

So then, I tell him my husband needs something fixed on his 2005 Mustang, a job we had researched and knew would be about $700-$800 at the dealership.  "Oh, yeah," Roadside says, "Those Mustangs have that problem all the time.  That's kind of expensive, because you have to take off the dashboard."

"How much are we talking?" I ask.

"Whew, about $150.00 or so."

I tell him that he is our new mechanic, that he was exactly the angel we needed to run into yesterday.  He writes down his cell phone number for me, and makes sure to give me a receipt for his small fee. ("Don't worry, I report all of this on my taxes," he says.)  We parted ways with a smile and a handshake.

And I feel like I just won a lottery of sorts.  If he hadn't been at that gas station, if Harrison's car hadn't died, if I hadn't waited until YESTERDAY to finally get the whole key situation figured out...we never would have met this capable, experienced, honest and friendly mechanic.  Those guys are worth their weight in gold, don't you think?  He was still hoarse from the flu, but was as pleasant as if he was on vacation at the beach.  He could have ignored us trying to start Harrison's car, but he knew he could help, and so he did.


It's situations like this that I am reminded of Matthew 25, specifically:

"For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invited you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

We have a Christmas ornament that says simply: "Every man shall give as he is able."  I think there are a lot of ways for a person to show spirituality.  I am especially thankful when a person sees someone who needs help and then steps up to get the job done.  What a blessing to live in a world with people like dear Roadside.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Two new graduates

Two more of our dear kittens graduated last week...they went for surgery yesterday, and will soon be up for adoption over at PetSmart.  I thought I'd share pictures, since it's Friday, and don't we all need a good smile?

Twee came in the shelter one Saturday with two brothers and a sister.  The brothers were big enough to stay, but the sisters needed help...quickly...and I just happened to be standing there when they came in. Twee has a really unusual coat -- almost raccoon-like on her body.  She's very independent, but gentle, and I'm happy that we could help.

Above is Leia, Twee's sister.  I don't know what it is about her face, but to me, I always felt like when I looked at her, I was looking at a person.  She's very serene and has fur soft like a rabbit's.  She's a beauty, and she'll make someone a wonderful pet.

And while I was at The Salty Yarns last weekend, Harrison texted me from the shelter to ask if he could bring three more home.  They're very cute, he said.  Above is Carrie.  Um.  She's ridiculously-cute.  And wouldn't you know it, she has the personality to match.  Very bouncy, sweet, and she peeps all the time like a little bird.  Some friends are coming over tomorrow night for drinks, and they are looking for a new cat.  I texted them a picture of dear Carrie, and I think they may be going home with her.

Carrie has two siblings -- Ash and Marion.  Oh, and then Birdie, Grasshopper and Greyfell came home this week, too.  It's a never-ending rotation, but I will say that the kitten cottage right now is at about half-capacity, since things are slowing down.  Super Cat is doing well -- eating food and using the litter box like a big boy.  Han Solo and Chewbacca go for surgery next week.  We've had those two FOREVER.  Steve is so good to put up with my crazy need to help our feline friends.  I'll post more pictures soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Getting ready for Salty Yarn

No, I'm not going to knit sea water-soaked scarves, I'm heading to the Salty Yarns retreat in Ocean City, Maryland, this weekend to teach a class to 54 stitchers.  I'm excited to see a new part of the country and get some more quality time with stitchers.  

It's always difficult to come up with a class idea that isn't just the same old thing...I find a lot of these stitchers at retreats have been to a lot of them.  The class I'm teaching is "Passport Pincushion," which is more of a technique class than a specific design.  Students will get to make the pincushion base, then use scraps of lace, paper, needlework, specialty stitches and pieces of quilting fabric to make the pincushion truly unique.  This was fun to do, and I'm hoping everyone has fun thinking outside the box.

Also, we have had some graduations at our house recently, so I wanted to share a few pictures with you.

The above photo was taken by one of our animal photographer/volunteers at the shelter.  They do a wonderful job capturing the personality of our shelter animals.  This is Chewbacca.  We've had him since he was little bitty, and he is going for surgery soon, so he can go to PetSmart.  It seemed like it took forever for him to grow, and his brother (below) was no better.  They're both sweet dudes, and I will miss him.

Han Solo is still at our house.  HE LOVES ME.  LIKE CRAZY.  He's a really affectionate little guy, and I'm hoping he will go to a house with a woman for him to love on.  I took him back to the shelter with Chewbacca, but Han INSTANTLY became sick with a runny eye.  And of course, I got him home, and it cleared up.  I think he was faking it.  So, I'm keeping him, will schedule his surgery, and take him myself.  It's just too stressful for him to be away from his mom, I guess.

We did not name Ding Bat.  We called him "D.B.," because we felt it was much kinder.  He was a more difficult kitten to get close to...very independent, and he really didn't like me, because he had conjunctivitis and HATED taking his medication.  He really associated me with the unpleasantness of eye drops, but I was happy to take care of him.  He is also on the surgery schedule for this week.  He's going to be huge, and I hope he finds great happiness.  D.B.'s sister, Zephyr, went back, too, and I have posted pictures of her before.  Another striped sweetie.

London was a boomerang kitten.  We took her and her brothers in during the Olympics (they were Oslo and Dublin, long since adopted.)  London was a little sickly, got better, went to the shelter, was there for a few weeks with no luck, got sick again, and came back home with us.  She is much better now, and I'm getting her on the schedule, too.  She's really a nice little lady -- very affectionate and good with other cats.  She was tempestuous when she was smaller, but she mellowed, and is now quite gentle.  I know when I take her to PetSmart, she'll be adopted quickly.  She's really beautiful.

Lyra wasn't with us very long -- she was just a little bit too small to be at at the shelter.  She needed time to grow.  My kids moaned about having to give her up.  Oh boy, is she sweet.  Very gentle, loving, quiet and calm.  And look at that coat.  She's a gorgeous little lady, and I have no doubt she'll be snapped up quickly.

Swizzle was a kitten with a sad story -- she was found covered in fire ants.  Have you ever been bitten by a fire ant?  It's awful.  The bites are very painful, turn into tiny blisters, and burn and itch for a long time.  You can see all of the bites on her nose, but there are also bites on her ears, her head, her back, her tail, and sadly, about a DOZEN on the BOTTOM of each tiny foot.  One of the employees at the shelter saved her from euthanasia, but couldn't care for her immediately.  She needed me to keep her for about ten days.  So, I got some burn cream and pain killer from my veterinarian, and helped her through that tough first few days.  The bites are healing, but she still has a ways to go.  Jennifer was glad to get her back, and will take good care of Swizzle until she's big enough (and well enough) for surgery.

So, our numbers at home are waning.  I've got Leia and Twee, Han Solo and...

Super Cat.  He's doing well this week, especially after visiting the vet.  He had some tummy troubles and has been teething, so he and I both had a fussy weekend (I was sick with a virus).  He's on probiotics now, and he's already feeling much better.  He'll grow quickly, but we'll have him for probably two more months.  He weighs seven ounces now, but he's growing a little every day.

I'll be out of the office Thursday-Monday for the retreat.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

To the rescue!

This is my newest ward...Super Cat.  I ran to the shelter Saturday to transport some cats to PetSmart, and while I was there, a woman hurried up with a blanket clutched to her chest.  I have learned from experience that there's usually an animal in there.  I asked her to let me see, and she explained (half out of breath) that she had gone out to her yard and found a 'possum eating a litter of week old kittens in her shrubs.  EEK!

Unfortunately, Super Cat was the only one she could save.  But he was in good condition, and she wanted help.  She didn't know what to do.  I scooped him up, and he's been my little buddy since Saturday, coming with me to sleep at the shop between bottle feedings.  He's about ten days to two weeks old or so, smart, strong, and happy.  Those are my hands in the picture, so you can kind of get a feel for how big he can see his back legs coming off the back of my hand.

I'll post more kitten pictures soon -- I have a bunch of good ones in the camera, but am trouble shooting some computer issues today.  Thought I'd do a quick update, so you could see this cutie.

Also, will be sending the newsletter out tomorrow.  I'm working on site updates today, finally, and there are some changes in store.....don't worry.  Not bad ones.  Have a wonderful afternoon!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy news from Pennsylvania students

Back in June, I posted a blog entry about a school teacher in Pennsylvania who uses needlework in her art classes.  The school is in a poorer district, so art supplies are often scarce, but the students LOVE to learn how to cross stitch.  Jo supplements what the school can afford to give her with items from her own needlework supplies, and needless to say, 1,000 students a week can really stretch resources.

Well, a good number of you out there were extremely generous, and Jo says she received boxes and boxes of cross stitch patterns, fabrics, threads, accessories (needles, scissors), and even some art supplies for her other lessons.  (Some of the stash can be seen in the picture below...right under a Thank You from the students.)

Here's what Jo had to say recently:

....I was able to take a few photos of a tiny bit of THE STASH to send. Will do more as time permits as I don't want all of the kids to see it all yet because I want them to do their Indian Medicine Skins first. If they see the cross stitch then they will be after me to do that. And I need to do this seasonal project for the curriculum first.  The way it is, they know the boxes are cross stitch, and the few kids that helped unpack went crazy, and the word went out like wildfire. Of course they all are excited and want to cross stitch right now. 
I did tell them that kids younger than they are did cross stitch samplers and alphabets to keep track of their laundry because in Plymouth, Mass., their laundry was all done together and everyone wore the same sized shirt/dress. They listen and are just amazed that people lived like this in the 1600's. Ha.  Roughing it.  
What also amazes them is the generosity of the ladies that sent the care packages for us. The kids can't believe all the charts that were sent!!!  ...we were using a lot of the free charts you can copy, so when they saw the big box of charts it was amazing.  There are many many boxes that came and there are threads, charts, fabric, and needles. Also some ladies sent glue glue sticks paint and enough crayons for me to fill up the crayon boxes on every table.  
Our deepest thanks go out to everyone. Because of your kindness and generosity the kids will have a lot more than the two yards of Aida and the six packs of thread and the needles I ordered on my supply order. Bless you all. Thank you thank you thank you.  
Oh. This was cute. I asked them to sign their name to the thank you and one boy asked if he signed it does that mean he would get to cross stitch?  THEY ARE EXCITED.  Thanks so much for everything  I have to have the patience of a saint to get thru this first project. Thank goodness the 6th grade already knows how to stitch. I will only have to teach the 5th grade with the smaller stuff.  Thanks again....The beginning of school is so hectic. Love, Jo

Two other cute stories... one of the girls had questions about the donations.  She wondered if we were all rich....or did they have to stitch the needlework and send it back to the donors?  Why would strangers send such treasures to kids they didn't even know?  Jo explained that everyone was just being generous with what they had that was extra, and the girl was wide-eyed and amazed at it all.

Another girl looked through the kits and came up to Jo with TWO of them.  The students are allowed to work on only one kit, and if they finish that one, they can pick out another.  This girl said she really liked BOTH kits, so she was going to stitch as quickly as she could on the first one and hope that the second one was left.  (Jo said she stuck this second kit aside for the girl for when she was finished.)

Jo isn't able to send us pictures of the children, for confidentiality reasons, you know.  But when I get any updates, I'll let you all know how they're doing.  If you would like to contribute needlework supplies and/or art supplies to Jo and her art program, send to:

Joanne Edwards -- Elementary Art Teacher
c/o Lakeland Elementary School
1569 Lakeland Drive
Scott Township, PA 18433

Thanks for helping those in need, guys!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So long, good friend

I adopted Boo right around the time I started this blog -- she grabbed my heart while I walked past the cat cages at PetSmart, and I knew she had to come home with me.  We had only one other cat at the time, Kitty, who tolerated Boo, barely.  Boo ran around the house, stealing my floss and stashing it in a pile in the corner under our computer desk.  She waited for me to get out of the shower every morning. She came with me to work for a while (to give poor Kitty a break).  She slept in my hair at night.  And she loved me.

The spring after we adopted Boo, we adopted Ruby.  Then Giblet.  Then Zero and Dottie.  By that time we were fostering kittens who came and went like leaves on the breeze.  With every addition, Boo became more anxious, less sure of herself, and more prone to swiping at the other cats in the house.

We tried pheromone wall plug-ins, Prozac, extra play time, and even visited the vet a few times to make sure she was healthy.  But our vet said some cats really just need to be one-and-only's.  Boo is a smart girl, and that, our vet said, can be a problem.  She just never was used to the idea of sharing a house with lots (and lots...and lots) of other cats and kittens.

So, as much as I love her, I had to let her go this week.  I took her to the shelter for a check-up and surrender, then carried her to PetSmart to look for a new home.  It was hard for me.  It was hard for her.    And although I have tears in my eyes and look around corners at home for her beautiful face, I know that she is on a journey to a new chance at happiness and love and peace and security.  Yes, I posted that she needs to be an only cat.  Yes, I posted that she is smart, and loyal, and that she has been well-loved.

Sometimes when you really love someone, you have to let her go on her own journey.  I hope she is happy, and I hope she knows I love her.

I'll miss you, Boo.  Always.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ann Womack graphs ready

You may remember that back in June, I asked y'all to vote for one of three samplers that would be the next one I would reproduce.  Miss Ann Womack was the winner, and now I have the graphs ready for sale to customers and shops.  The retail price on this chart is $11.00.  I'm recommending Lakeside Linens' 40 count Exemplar and Needlepoint Silk 207 to complete this design.

This graph does have a few specialty stitches -- eyelet, four-sided stitch, and over-one (cross stitch).  The eyelets and four-sided stitches can be done in full cross stitch, but please be aware that the verse and one line of alphabets are over-one thread...and that is hard to do any other way but that.

Time is always moving on
Time, we soon may say is gone,
Time is fleeting, and we know,
Time, at last, will disappear.
Ann Womack. Aged 8 years

A very appropriate sentiment as we get ready for fall.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Finally, a check-in with the kittens

It's not that we don't HAVE kittens.  In fact, this morning, there were ELEVEN of them running around our house.  But some of them went back to the shelter today, so I snapped a few graduation photos, and thought I'd introduce you to a few of the little ladies and gentlemen who take up much of our free time.

Above is Sadie.  She was found in the parking lot at Target four or five weeks ago.  Would you believe gorgeous little kittens like this have trouble finding homes at the shelter?  A lot of people consider black dogs and cats to be "common" or "uninteresting," but this is the swagger-iest kitten, and one of the smarter ones we've had come through our house in a while.  She's got very soft fur, and her eyes are going to be bright green.  She's now surgery weight, so she'll be fixed, then taken to PetSmart for adoption.

Finn was one of two sisters my son Harrison took in a while back.  These two weren't big enough to be at the shelter yet, so he saved them by letting them crash at his place.  Harrison moved back home this last week, and brought these girls with him.  Finn is a little shy, but really, really nice, and happy.  He is pretty sad they'll have to go, but he's so happy he could help.

Pearl is Finn's sister, and she is outgoing and brave.  I think both of these sisters are going to be big cats (look at the EARS on this one!)  I'm so proud that my son loves animals enough to take some under his wing to nourish and love.

These two are adorable -- do you recognize Gumbo (on the right?)  He almost died about six weeks ago, and had become just skin and bones.  Now he's a little sand bag with a round, warm belly and a lot of love to give.  His eyes are still big, and he's such a lover.  Holly (left) is going to be adopted along with Gumbo by a reader, and they are going to go live in Alabama!  They actually really love each other -- I often catch them napping together, playing together, or giving each other baths.  It's a great big brother/little sister relationship.  Holly was found in a holly tree when she was teenie.  She has grown, too, and has such a winning personality.

This is dear Zephyr.  She isn't quite big enough to go back yet, but I snapped a quick picture of her.  She is one of the gentlest, mildest kittens we've ever had in the house.  She and another one of my tiny kittens (Han Solo) follow me around the house, and whenever I land somewhere, both are up on my lap or on my shoulders.  I also have Zephyr's brother, the unfortunately-named "Ding Bat." (We did not name him.  In fact, we call him "D.B.")  He looks a lot like Zephyr, and I'll post pictures soon.

So, the kittens we have at home in addition to these six in the pictures are: Han Solo, Chewbacca, Twee, Leia, and D.B.  I'll post pictures of these little rascals soon.

And I do get questions about how Brave is doing.  A few weeks ago, I took her back to the shelter. She had some stomach "issues" and I could never catch her to get her medicated.  She was still VERY nervous around people, scared, in fact.  Anthony and Harrison took her in at the Cat Cottage and put her in a cage with a blanket, food and water, and a litter box, and gave her medication every day, and she is now feeling a lot better.

The other thing being isolated did to Brave is it taught her to love people!  She was always looking for affection from my cats at home, but wanted nothing to do with us.  Once people were her only option for love every day, she learned to trust and become comfortable.  A few days ago, I visited her, picked her up, and she purred and let me hold her for a while.  So nice!  She is saved and now up for adoption.  It just goes to show that sometimes all someone needs is a little love and understanding to turn out just great.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

One thing I've learned...

This morning, I made one of my frequent runs to send out a bunch of packages.  I've been standing in lines at the post office for 16 years now, and have seen a lot of different types of people...screaming babies, harried business types, newlyweds, old folks with walkers (and sometimes oxygen tanks), and of course people of just about every color, size, shape, creed and demographic.

I've never been one to put a lot of value on what someone looks like.  I toss on a pair of jeans every morning on my way to work, run my fingers through my hair, rub on a little moisturizer, and "good enough," you know?

Standing behind me this morning (in a very long and slow-moving post-holiday line at the post office), was an older feller.  I call him a feller, because that's kind of what he looked like.  Shorts and a t-shirt with no sleeves, late-70's/early-80's, tennis shoes, a scruff of a very white beard coming in on his chin.  He was wearing thicker glasses, but had sparkly eyes.

Another gentleman behind the two of us seemed to be Arabic and was having trouble understanding his tracking information from the internet.  I offered to take a look at his print-out, and only helped that man discover that he really did need to talk to someone up front.  The older gentleman, sensing my friendly top o' the morning demeanor, struck up a conversation with me, starting, as it usually does, with something along the lines of: "Oh my goodness, those are a lot of packages you're mailing."

I told him I was self-employed, and he said he had a grand-daughter who was, too.  He told me in a thick southern drawl he had worked for public transportation down in New Orleans for a few decades.  Hm, I thought, a bus driver?  Not judging, of course, just sizing him up.  I asked him if he missed it, and he said he didn't.  But before that, you see, he was an engineer, and travelled to many countries, like France, the Philippines, and Indonesia.  He loved the people of the Philippines, but found Indonesia to be an ideal climate.

He had also lived in a number of different areas of the United States, but when his wife became ill (and I'm assuming passed away), he retired.  Of course this was many years after he was a football player for a local community college.  Shortly after that, he received his degree from Harvard in engineering.  "I still play basketball once a week," he said, winking at me.  "I'm eighty-five."

"Good for you!" I said.  "That's awesome!  Cool!"  By this time, we had worked our way to the front and had to part ways.  He told me he hoped I had a great day, and I wished him the same.  Maybe I'll run into him again sometime...maybe I won't.  But he reminded me this morning that it really is unimportant what someone looks like...and not to make assumptions.  On top of every pair of legs, inside every skull resides a person with experiences and value.  You just never know where someone has been, what they've done for their communities.  A bus driver is no less valuable than a Harvard-educated engineer...we are all of us needed to make this world go 'round.

And I was happy to listen for a little while this morning.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The patter of many little feet

"How many kittens do you have at your house right now?" is a question I get regularly from those who know how absolutely crazy I am.  This week?  I'm at eight, which isn't too, too bad.  Here are a few of their stories.

Sunday afternoon, Steve and I went grocery shopping, and on the way home, I asked if we could stop at PetSmart, so I could get a head count on the shelter's cats there (see who had been adopted, and what kind of room I had to fill.)  It was one of those run in/run out kind of things, but in the several minutes we were in the store, a woman came running in with a towel.  We were talking to an employee, and she said to the group of us: "I have a kitten!"

She had found the kitten crying in a holly bush, and she wondered if PetSmart could help her.  They can't take in strays, and of course on Sunday afternoon, the shelter is closed.  We offered to take her in ... her son is very allergic to animals, so she could not have the kitten inside.  But she wondered if we could let her go show her kids the kitten one more time (the kids were waiting in the car out front.)  Of course!

So, we go out to the car, and the two girls (maybe six and three?) are WAILING in the back seat.  They wanted so badly to keep the kitten.  They got to hold her, and I told them all that they can come over in two weeks to see "Holly" the kitten and meet her other kitten friends.  "But we don't know where you live!" the six-year-old said.  I told her I would work it out with her mom.  We exchanged e-mail addresses, so I've been keeping the family updated.  Holly is brave, sassy, funny, and adjusting very well to living in a home.  And she's quite a looker!

 Lex and his three sisters were on the list to be put to sleep last week -- Harrison took two, and I took two.  I've got Lex and Moregan (I don't have a picture of her yet -- she's always a blur and still a little freaked out.)  Lex is, oh my goodness, so, so loving.  What a nice kitten.

This is Brave -- I blogged about her earlier.  She was also on the "PTS" list -- she was un-handleable, because she was terrified of people (she bit through the leather handling gloves at the shelter.)  She's been with us for a few weeks now, and she is doing much better.  Steve and I can feed her with our fingers, she's sleeping on the end of our bed at night, and she roams the house, looking for affection from our adult cats.  She is still skittish, and although I can catch her and handle her about every other day, she has a ways to go until she feels completely comfortable with that.  She does not bite or scratch.  She will hiss and try to get away, though.  I am trying to find her a patient owner who is willing to let Brave become comfortable and ... well, brave in a new home.  A household with laid-back cats would be awesome.  She was worth saving, and she is very, very dear.

Gumbo is doing much, much better after contracting coccidia and almost dying.  He is such a happy little fellow -- and now he's ROUND (he had gotten to be skin and bones, which was very sad.)  Look at those eyes.  He's been spoken for by a nice woman who will drive here from Texas to pick him up after he is neutered.

This is another cute picture of Gumbo with his brother Short Stack in the background.  Everyone who sees this kitten says: "Oh my gosh, look at those eyes!"

Short Stack went for surgery yesterday and will be going over to PetSmart for adoption.  He's TWICE as big as his brother Gumbo.  He only has half a tail, but he's got a great personality and such a pretty white bib.

Oslo is one of those kittens that is too cute to be real.  His fur is fine and very soft.  His coloring is so nice -- a pale peachy orange.  He loves people and is going to make someone a very nice cat.  He would have been put to sleep if we hadn't taken him (and his siblings) in.  They were too small to be at the shelter.

This is Dublin, and he loves me.  I wake up in the night and find him sitting on my chest with his nose about an inch from mine...just looking at me.  He's very affectionate, loves to be held, and is such a pleasant and happy little guy.  Orange cats are always so nice.

This is Dublin's and Oslo's sister "London."  She is hilarious!  Very sassy -- very chatty -- a little demanding.  She's got a ton of personality and has some really cool Blue Ivory coloring (the lighter patches are mainly on her belly, but you can see a little on her leg in this shot.)  She, too, is social and very happy.  She has so much to say.

The only kittens you didn't get to see are Moregan (she's a light grey tabby) and Sadie (a little black kitten found in the Target parking lot.)  She has been sick this week with coccidia, so we've been doing sub-cutaneous fluids and antibiotics.  She's looking a little thin right now, but is on the rebound.  I'll post pictures of her when she's feeling better.  Sadie is smart, talkative, and very social.  I think someone probably dumped her off in the parking lot, because she adjusted to our house immediately -- using the litter box and then wanting to go sleep on the arm of our couch.

Any of these kittens are available for adoption, and there is a summer special of just $25.00, which includes the cat, spay/neuter surgery, a microchip, and all applicable vaccinations.  There are a number of very good animal transport services in the U.S. to get animals to their new homes for a few hundred dollars.  Please contact me if you're interested at