"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, January 27, 2011

DID I TELL YOU MY HUSBAND LOVES TO SKI?

In spite of blowing an aortic aneurysm in 2003, Dave bravely forges on with the typical lack of wisdom demonstrated by most men throughout their lives.  He is on Coumadin, this also doesn't stop him.  

Last weekend while skiing through the glades at Stowe Mountain in Vermont, he bashed the back of his hand on a tree.  I'm so glad I don't ski anymore, I'd go mental to see him flying through the glades with total abandon.  

I should have taken this picture a couple of days ago, it was a much better scene then.  But, here it is, you get the general idea.  

That is the remnants of the bruising, not a sun tan. 

OLD QUILTS

During our daily phone call, Denise mentioned she'd like to make a hexagon quilt.  I wasn't sure what she was talking about, did she mean a bee hive, and finally she got me to understanding and it is what I would call a Honeycomb Quilt.  I told her she must be mental.  To which she responded, "you're the one making Diagonal Madness for somebody else."  Good point.  

Anyway, we talked about that for a bit, because we can talk the daylights out of any topic, and partway through I remembered that I have a Honeycomb Quilt among those from Dave's Mom's farm quilts.  I promised Denise some pictures, and here they are.  
This quilt was probably made in the early 1900's.  All hand-sewed, it is very worn and tired. 

I'm sure when it was made, the colors were amazing.  Now some of the hexagons are simply worn away. 

Oh, how I love these fabrics!!

Here's some of plain blocks that surround the colored.
When I went into the cedar chest to pull out the hexagon quilt, I came across another very tired quilt from the farm.  I'm not sure what the pattern is, at first I thought it was a Snowball, but that's not it.  Anyone recognize it?  

 

WHAT'S UP IN THE SEWING ROOM?

Diagonal Madness is what's up in the sewing room..... again!  I had put it to the side around December 1, and pulled it back out last week.  I've got about 4 more rows on the inner part of the quilt, and then it'll be time to build the border, with is ten million 9 patch blocks of 2.5" squares.  

 Also, I have finished another cuddle blanket for a child baptized at our church.  
 

PICTURES ON A SNOW DAY

We are getting our lion's share of snow here north of Boston, and it makes for some very pretty photos.  We got another foot of snow last night.  This morning the sun came out and it is a simply gorgeous day out now.  

We are hoping our gutters do not get ripped off the house by the weight of the ice and snow. 


Miss Cassy in her Xmas coat, on the path that Dave cuts across the deck to the yard. 

Misty on the path in the yard, snow blown by Dave--we call it the "poop loop." 

The fence you see at the far edge of our property is 4 feet tall. 

This picture should make it pretty obvious why we are so silly as to blow a path for the dogs. 


It's all so lovely and stunning until the gutters get ripped off the house, or an ice dam forms and water pours into the house. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

REST IN PEACE, DEAR LUCY

Lucy and Haley When They First Were Rescued from the Puppy Mill
  


There was a child named Bernadette
I heard the story long ago
She saw the Queen of Heaven once
And kept the vision in her soul
No one believed what she had seen
No one believed what she heard
That there were sorrows to be healed
And mercy, mercy in this world








      

Photo courtesy of Shelly Graziano




Lucy Learning to Be a Blind Dog at Denise's Home


So many hearts I find
Broke like yours and mine
Torn by what we've done and can't undo
I just want to hold you
Won't you let me hold you
Like Bernadette would do






Photo courtesy of Denise Mongeau


Lucy Camping As a Dog with Sight, Following Surgery




We've been around, we fall, we fly
We mostly fall, we mostly run
And every now and then we try
To mend the damage that we've done
Tonight, tonight I cannot rest
I've got this joy inside my breast
To think that I did not forget
That child, that song of Bernadette


Leonard Cohen






Photo Courtesy of Denise Mongeau





It is difficult this morning to tell Lucy's story, and so above I've told much of it with pictures and song.  Hers is a life worth recording so that we will all hold her in her hearts and minds as we go forward.  


She was born in a puppy mill in 2006, and she was blind.  That is all we know of her life until December of 2009, when she and 3 other miniature schnauzers arrived at Schnauzer Paws Rescue following the raid and closing of a puppy mill.  So very damaged were these dogs, but in Lucy there was a glimmer of hope, a spark that spoke and said "this is a life worth saving," and so it was.  


She was so very lucky to land into the loving arms of her foster mother, Denise.  It was at Denise's home that Lucy started to shed some of her fear.  It was there that she showed us how much she loved the outdoors and how she loved her crate and, even more, her food.  So, she had those simple joys, and it was enough for her, it was a life with all she wanted and needed.  

After 8 months at Denise's home, where Lucy took steps towards the healing of her soul, it was time to heal her vision.  A generous, loving, veterinary ophthalmologist donated her skills and Lucy's sight was mostly restored, and she embarked upon a life as a dog with sight.   

We knew she would never be what one may consider a "normal dog," whatever that is, but that she could be her Lucy self.  Her delight in the outdoors only grew as her vision improved.  With Denise, Lucy enjoyed camping trips, a vacation on Nantucket, lengthy excursions in a fenced in yard, along with the joyful destruction of paper and all things stuffed, and, of course, food.    It was good enough for Lucy, and so good enough for us.  


In October, she was adopted, and embarked on what we hoped and prayed for, a family life where she would be allowed to be Lucy and would be loved and cared for in the unique way one must care for a puppy mill rescue. Lucy, and most puppy mill dogs, are not creatures that can be loved and hugged into what we humans define as "normal" for a dog.  They are often intolerant and terribly afraid of hugs and kisses and too much touching, all those things that a human will typically do to soothe a soul.  The only human touch that Lucy knew for the first 2.5 years of her life was that of a puppy mill owner grabbing her by her scruff to slam her from one cage to another, to force her to breed, and then to scruff her to the side to take her puppies away from her.  In her life after the puppy mill, she had to be allowed to be who she was and to be understood, that the life she was leading was a happy one, a peaceful one, even though the tail didn't wag often and that her heart didn't visibly soar. 

In the post previous to this one, I welcomed Lucy back into our home and hearts, when her adopters returned her to our rescue.  Our plan then became to again allow Lucy to be her Lucy self.  She loved her crate, and our fenced in back yard.... and her food.  She did not want us to touch her.  Unfortunately, I had to touch her, she was still on a regiment of eye drops three times a day.  Additionally, her eyes were infected and encrusted, and that I had to deal with also. 


She was so very afraid, we all cried so very much, for this Lucy girl who had stolen our hearts.  She had regressed and became so fearful of touching that she did what her mind told her to do, rebel.  I could see it in her eyes, that she was going to rebel against any form of touch, and especially any care of her eyes.  And so she did rebel, using her teeth, as a dog will.  I did not blame her, I would have done the same thing if I were Lucy.  That she was using her teeth to communicate told me that her brain had gone into a different mode than that of the Lucy who lived with us for a short while last August. 


A very wise shelter director spoke once with me about what it is like for a red zone fearful dog to live in our human world.  She said imagine that the thing you are most terrified of in the world is spiders, and that just the sight of one makes your mind reel and your insides turn.  Now, imagine that you are sentenced to a life inside a box with one million spiders in it.  Imagine that.  Now, understand that feeling and know that there are some dogs who live in that box of spiders every day of their lives, because we can not remove their fears with our love or our training.  These are the dogs that we must let go, no matter how painful it is for us.  


When I reported to the co-directors of Schnauzer Paws (Shelly and Denise) that Lucy was now living in a box of spiders, they knew what I meant, as that term has become part of our language.  And, when that fear became the button that pushed Lucy into communicating with her teeth, then we knew it was time to let Lucy go.... and so we did.  




Lucy Mongeau--September 2006-January 2011
Photo Courtesy of Denise Mongeau

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here,
that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. 

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. 

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. 

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....






Photo Courtesy of Denise Mongeau


The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy; 

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Monday, January 24, 2011

AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS

In some postings from last summer, I introduced a friend, Lucy
A year ago, Lucy came to Schnauzer Paws Rescue from a puppy mill that was raided and shut down.  She was blind and in very bad shape when she arrived.  We decided there was hope for her, so had surgery done to restore her sight.  Her blindness was caused by juvenile cataracts.  


She was cared for and loved and rehabilitated by Denise one of the Directors of the rescue.  In October Lucy was adopted by a very loving family.  Unfortunately, the challenges of dealing with a puppy mill rescue proved to be much too daunting for that family, and this past weekend she was surrendered back to our care.  This happens in rescue, it's not a perfect world, and we are actually grateful to families that acknowledge that they are in over their heads and return a dog to us, so that we can continue our work for the dog and some day find a more suitable home.  


Since the adoptive family lived 1/2 hour away from me, our home was the logical one for Lucy to be returned to.  Also, it is very quiet in our home and I maintain a pretty rigid schedule day to day.  Both of these things will help Lucy to decompress and adjust.  


Dogs become very stressed from being re-homed and require some serious TLC and understanding when moved.  When I say TLC, what I mean is "ignore the dog," which is what we are doing.  She needs to get comfortable on her own terms in her own time.  We will know when she is ready for us to touch her, right now she is not.  As a puppy mill rescue, Lucy has a very specific set of needs and requires great understanding by her handlers.  Add to that the fact that she was blind and you've got yourself a package to be treated with kid gloves.  


She is doing well, 3 days in.  She has discovered the joy of our patio doors, which face South and provide the perfect sun bathing area until around noon time.  My critters are a bit put off by the fact that Lucy is in their sun, but they will deal with that and sort it all out on their own.  I'm guessing that by the end of the week, the 4 of them (YES, 4) will be sharing that sun with little fanfare.  That's one of the many things I love about dogs, that they are pack animals and with little interference are able to sort out the rules and order of the pack on their own.  My two dogs are very accustomed to other dogs coming and going from our home, and so are experts at putting all the ducks in a row.  I count on them to do the majority of the rehabilitation of Miss Lucy.  


As you can see, so far, so good. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

WELL, WHAT DO WE HAVE HERE?

Reesie must have initially thought I'd made a bag for her.  Much to her dismay, that's not what this is.  

It is a computer sleeve.  
It is a Christmas gift for daughter Anna, and was put under the tree as a piece of fabric and a note.  I'm not the only one that does that, right?  


These are very simple to make, are heavily padded and if one does the math properly, they fit the computer like a glove.  

Anna chose her fabric from my stash, as she wasn't crazy about the fabric I had put under the tree (an even better reason to not knock yourself out sewing Christmas gifts).  For the outer she chose a neutral that I'd bought yards of in a big closeout sale, and for the inside she chose a vintage fabric that I had on hand.  I'm fairly certain it is a fabric that my sister had somehow saved from our Mom's fabric collection.  

 You have to use velcro for the latch.  I hate velcro, I'd so much prefer a magnetic snap, but it's not a good idea to have a magnet up against a computer.  And, pushing a hard snap against the computer repeatedly would not be a good idea either.  
Anna would have preferred this lovely vintage fabric on the outside, but I had just enough to make the lining out of it and had to piece a bit to make that happen.  

Every one of these I've made, I've done differently.  The pattern calls for home dec fabric, and I did make my son's out of blue ticking.  When I use regular fabric, I use a heavy iron-on interfacing to give it more heft.  Then there are two layers of batting within each panel.  The directions do not call for quilting, and I have no idea what will happen to that floating batting once the sleeve is washed.  I'll find out eventually. 

Here is the one I made for My Friend Sue, that lucky lady got a MacBook Air from Santa, so her envelope looks tiny compared to the one for Anna's giant MacBook Pro. I quilted Sue's, as I didn't want to give her something that very well may turn into a bunchy mess the first time it needs to be washed. 



Friday, January 14, 2011

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE SEWING ROOM

Over the holidays and now in early January, I have been doing more than just cooking, eating and playing with the critters.  I have actually gotten some things done in the sewing room.  Small projects that needed to get done.  

The first one is a new kind of "Baptismal Quilt."  As I showed in earlier posts in this Blog, I make a quilt for every baby that is baptized at our church.  Lovely, fantastic!  Expensive, time consuming!  So, when faced with two baptisms on December 26 (you know, the day after Xmas), I decided the lovely amazing heirloom quilt project was not sustainable in any way.  

So, I sought advice on this dilemma from  Minister Angie, who quickly provided her Mom's recipe for the perfect baby blankie.  And, she is right, this is the perfect baby blankie.  

 It is so simple it's a sin.  You end up with a blankie that any baby or toddler is going to love.  It's not going to get hung on a wall of a nursery, it's going to get loved and played with and dragged around til it's in tatters.  

It's made with one side flannel and the other Minkee or similar fabric.  
The directions stated "cut a 42" square of Minkee."  Okay, I challenge every one of you to find a way to cut a piece of Minkee square.  I sure couldn't.  

Instead, I grabbed a bunch of the flannel yardage, tore off a piece that looked like a good size blankie, and then tore the edge off all 4 sides so it was "cut" on the grain.  After that, I stretched it onto my wall, pinning it in place, wrong side out.  I took the Minkee yardage and whacked off a piece that was somewhat larger than the flannel.  

Next, I sprayed the flannel with 505 Spray, and then stuck the Minkee, right side out, to that flannel, stretching and smoothing as I went along.  Once they were glued in place, I took them off the wall together and onto the cutting table, where I cut even edges all around, and pinned them.  

Next, it was sew around the edges with a 1/4" seam.  Increase your stitch length a bit or your machine will be unhappy about sewing the Minkee.  I sewed around it twice.  I cut a binding 3" (you need that wide of a binding to flip over the bulky seam) from the contrasting flannel, sewed it on using a 1/2" seam and then flipped it and hand sewed it to the back.  TA DA baby blankie.  

It is soft and fun.  When it is washed for the first time, the 505 will wash out and then the child has a blankie that is all crazy soft floppy textures.  Everyone who has touched it thus far has declared it to be the absolute perfect baby blanket.  Wouldn't look good on a wall, but will be a great source of comfort and love for a child.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I LIVE IN NEW ENGLAND, IT SNOWS HERE

I think we got around 2 feet of snow in yesterday's blizzard.  The landscape is simply gorgeous this morning.  I do believe these pictures speak for themselves.  I am trying to rustle up some friends to go out driving along the shore with me today, to capture some photos of the high surf and snow.  Not everyone has my adventurous spirit for such an activity, but perhaps I'll find someone.  

Last Night.  Our Christmas lights will be in place until April. 

View off our back deck.  Over the hill behind that big house is the river that leads to the ocean. 


Miss Cassy stretching and moaning.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A GOOD IDEA?

Reesie Kitten continues to thrive and grow, and is a robust 13 pounds and 8 months old now.  She is by far the most outgoing cat I've ever known, and is afraid of nothing.  The phrase "scaredy cat" is not in her vocabulary.  

I'm a little bit nuts, because when I am given the privilege of being the caretaker of one of God's precious creatures, I do my best to give that critter an environment and life that is interesting and satisfying.  They aren't humans, they are critters, they have different needs than we have.  
For example, cats need to climb and love to be UP.... sorta like this


Lucky Reesie!!  We have cathedral ceilings in our great room.  First she hops up onto the counter, and then onto the top of the fridge.  


From there, it's an easy climb to the top of the cabinets. The next maneuver is a 
 tricky trip over to the top of the window treatment on the patio doors.  

 
 Once she plays with the string and claws the treatment a bit more (we got this delicate netting treatment prior to Reesie), then she has to back up to the cabinet, down to the fridge, and launch herself onto the kitchen table.  
 Or, she may just lounge around in the dust.  

Some may read this an know that I've gone completely 'round the bend, and that's entirely possible.  However, I think that buying a $500 kitty climbing condo for an indoor cat is even more nuts.  And, for those of you that visit my home, please rest assured that my counters and kitchen table are washed with good old fashioned hot soapy water at least twice a day and anti-bacterial once a day.  Really, it's safe, come on over for tea!