Monday, September 2, 2019

Losing Paul Simon

Paul Simon didn't return home as usual one Friday morning in August.  As it had been a full moon, and the weather was unusually warm, I didn't worry too much at first.  He was the wanderer, and enjoyed being in and out of the house on warm nights.
When he was missing for more than two days, we began to look for him in earnest.  We asked around the neighborhood, filed a lost cat report with the humane society, put up flyers; and I began posting religiously on many lost pets pages everywhere -- on social media, Craigslist, etc. -- and spent all of my free time looking up posts.  I went twice to the animal shelter to look at cats that were not Paul, and kept track of another cat that a neighbor was spotting that also turned out not to be Paul.  I went outside every hour or so and called for him.  He was wearing a collar and was micro-chipped, so we were hopeful we could locate him.
We were so worried.  Everyone I talked to had an idea about what had happened to him: he met a she-cat, he took up with another family that's feeding him, he got locked inside someone's shed... Everyone knew, though, that he would come back soon.  I got all kinds of advice on how to find him and followed it all -- we put his litter-box in front of the house, put out our clothing for him to smell, searched for him before for dawn and at dusk.  I couldn't sleep for days.  I was so afraid he was hurt somewhere, or stolen, or starving, or dehydrated, or drinking algae-water and getting sick.  Of course I worried he'd been hit by a car.
On the 10th day after he went missing, we confirmed that a cat that had been killed in the street one block over and disposed of was, after all, Paul.  We had seen a photo of the deceased cat several days before, but it wasn't wearing a collar and we thought it couldn't be him.  The neighbor found Paul's collar days later in the bushes, next to where she'd found his body, and sent us a photo of it. We took another, close look at the photo of the deceased cat and that was when I knew it was him, even though the first time I'd seen the photo I hadn't been able to see it.
Paul had been killed by a neighbor's vicious dog, in a way that was violent enough for his collar to have been ripped off and damaged in the process.  No one saw it happen, but all the neighbors believe it to be true.  We'll never know for sure.  We are devastated that instead of taking him to be checked for micro-chipping, the person who found him discarded him with the trash, which lead to 10 days of worrying and wondering when really he had died the first day he was missing; and also, of course, meant we couldn't give him the burial we would have wanted.
I can't even put into words how awful I feel about all of this.  I've lost many beloved pets before, but never to violence, and it makes for a new kind of pain in the loss.  It was heartbreaking to tell Ben, because he was so bonded with Paul from day one.
I really can't wait until summer is behind us, now.  The warm weather just brings to mind those hot August nights I spent worrying about Paul; sitting out on the patio on warm mornings hurts because I keep looking for him to come over and sit with me like he always did.  Art Garfunkel is confused and lonely; he walks around the house meowing whenever he comes inside and there's nothing I can do for him except commiserate, and pet him and talk to him about how much I miss Paul, too.  I just want time to pass, even though it means wishing away the warm weather and season that I normally love.
Rest in peace, Paul Simon.  I will miss you forever.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Artisan therapy

I spent some time making some tags, to clear my head.  I enjoyed it so much, and it worked wonders.  I started by sewing together some fabric and paper scraps into tags.  That was a few days ago, and then last night I started embellishing them.

There was not theme -- unless "use whatever I have at arms reach" can be considered a theme!  Besides vintage ephemera, I used new flowers and scrapbook embellishments that I've had for quite some time.

Even just looking at them now makes me sigh in satisfaction and happiness!  I think my favorites are the ones that I used vintage photographs in.  How about you?
Besides that, I'm working on this fabric collage.  Here it is just pinned together; so far I've stitched some edges and details, but it's long from finished.
I also made this simple embellished runner, using new printed fabric, trim and then some vintage lace and crochet.  It was a gift for a friend, and she liked it!
I find it even harder to create in the summer, do you?  I just always feel bad about being indoors when I'm free and it's so beautiful out.  I try to do stuff out of doors, but there always seem to be just enough things to make that difficult (wind, bugs, not enough shade...)

I hope you are enjoying your summer!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Charleston, Charleston

Wow, how quickly did June pass by?  We hadn't had a real vacation in a while, so Dennis and I decided to celebrate year 28 anniversary with a trip to the beach.  But, unlike our last tropical vacation, I wasn't in the mood for just we chose Charleston, South Carolina.  I'd never been there but I knew there was a lot of history and culture, besides the beaches.  It ended up being the most wonderful trip!
The beaches did not disappoint, and we lucked into the most wonderful weather that week!  Even though it was VERY humid and felt hotter than we were comfortable with, the locals told us it is normally much worse at that time.  So we were happy!  The beach we went to most was Folly, but we also visited Edisto and Isle of Palms.  All of them were amazing and the water was perfect for swimming!
We stayed at an Air bnb (our first time doing that) and it was a wonderful experience.  Hunter Hall Lodge was a historical, older building that once housed Civil War militia.  It was like a studio apartment and we had it all to ourselves.  The location was perfect because it was, like, a 10 minute drive to the beach in one direction and a 10 minute drive into the heart of Charleston in another direction.  I can't say enough about how much we enjoyed the accommodations!
You know how I feel about history and antiques -- well there is so much of that to enjoy in the Charleston area.  And natural beauty, friendly people, and great food -- especially if you are as starved for fresh seafood as we always are!
Beneigts with marmalade and honey dipping sauce
I could not get enough of all the beautiful old buildings...

We toured one mansion that had a large collection of Charles Fraser miniatures, some of which we saw later in the Gibbs Art Museum.  They are so precious!
We also did a ghost tour late at night downtown, for some spooky summer fun!  If you are into old graveyards and ghost stories -- Charleston is your town!

But mostly, it was all about the sun and surf.  We had a fabulous time!
And it's a good thing, because the rest of the summer is going to be a challenge for sure.  You see, the day before we left on our trip, Dennis was laid off from his job.  It came completely out of left field.  Of course, they were well aware he was about to go on vacation.  He was given just 2 weeks severance, and our health insurance ended in June, too.  Of course he's hard at work looking for the next gig.

But, what a shock.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you know we've been through it more times than I can even count at this point.
Kudos to Dennis for being able to relax and enjoy the trip despite knowing what was waiting for us at home!  I hope your summer is full of wonderful highs and no lows at all!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Modern Stitching at Art & Soul

I enjoyed myself at the Modern Stitching class I took last month; it was the only one I got to attend at the Colorado Springs Art & Soul Retreat.  Taught by Ruth Chandler, it followed her book on the same subject.
There were only four of us in the class, which went on for two nights, 3 hours each evening.  We were working on a book of stitches, which I've always wanted to do, and we went stitch by stitch through a whole bunch of them.  I already knew many, but it had been a while since I'd done them.

We weren't able to complete the entire book in class, and I am looking forward to finishing it on my own.  It was so relaxing to learn from Ruth...
and I got a lot of inspiration for using some of the stitches in the future on my fabric collages!  I never know how to go about with "free style"-ing stitches, but Ruth had tons of examples for us to admire:

She had some beautiful, high quality threads and fibers for us to try; I fell in love with some of the silk ones!

My favorite stitch of all we did was "ricing" -- I could just do that all day!
As much as I loved my class, I have to say it was very expensive.  In addition to the 6 hour class costing $150, I had to pay a $25 materials fee, as well as a $50 registration fee to the Retreat.  Personally, I think the registration fee should be waived for people who take just one (or two) courses out of all that are available.  The event wasn't well-publicized locally and it would 've made a huge impact if it had been.  I understand it was held here last year as well, and, as plugged-in as I am to this art community, I didn't hear about it!  It will be held next year here, too, so there's time to plan and make improvements.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Amid May

Precious time is flying away, here we are almost at mid-May!  Lots of happenings:
Ben has graduated from college and is getting ready to move once more to a new apartment (his fifth move in as many years!)
This graduation was more enjoyable for me than his high school graduation, but less comfortable as it was out in the blaring hot sun!  We were all happy when it was over, and had sunburns to go with our smiles!
Dennis and I spent a couple of days in Ben's college town and had a few meals and visits with him, which were a delight!  The campus is very pretty.

Above, I'm making fun of his stiff photo stance.  Just teasing him -- he gave us lots of "real" smiles during this visit.

In other news...
My friend Wendy and I have gone in together on a booth in a section of an antique store called, Citywide Garage Sale; we are sharing a table to sell off odds-and-ends, random antiques and vintage stuff we've collected that doesn't really go on Etsy.  I hope it's fun and profitable -- I have been wanting to try this for a while and it's so much better when you do it with someone else, I think.
(Those big pink block-like things are the back of table of the person behind us...)
We had an unseasonably cold, snowy April that I was glad to see the end of; unfortunately, the snow has continued in May; although, today and tomorrow we are having weather in the 70's.   I can hardly keep up with it and I really, really get my nose out of joint going back and forth between sweaters, socks and boots, and skirts and sandals!  I will be so happy when it is finally, and dependably, summer!
I have occupied myself with a few creative projects since I last posted: this one is a fabric collage that I put together with abandon, choosing bright colors and making lots of random, free form stitches.

I am pleased with how it turned out and will likely be selling it in my Etsy shop soon!
I made some Easter decorations for my co-workers, and then they sweetly surprised me with an Easter basket!
I had explained to them that I don't really get "into" Easter because we didn't celebrate it much when I was a child, and I'd never had a basket!

I want you to know that I tried very, very hard this year, once again, to "get into" Easter decorating and crafting, but I've come to the conclusion that it is just NOT my holiday.  Whew, now that I've admitted that I think I can go straight from Valentine's Day to July 4 without feeling guilty for not getting into the spirit!
I also bought these two drawer units from the Habitat for Humanity thrift store; they are made of plastic, which used to hold contact lenses...
I covered them with vintage wallpaper!  I love how they came out!
The drawers are sitting on my dining room table right now as I'm taking spare moments to fill the compartments with BUTTONS!
As you know, playing with my buttons always makes me happy!
The exciting news, though, is that I am going to treat myself: I managed to get registered for one class during the Art and Soul Art Retreat when it is in town at the end of the month!  The class I'm taking is called Modern Hand Stitching.  I can hardly wait for the time to indulge in creativity with other students!  Have you ever been to an Art and Soul event?  Apparently they've been going on for years and years...but I think this is the first time one is being held in Colorado Springs!
What are you going to do for yourself this month?