Friday, October 6, 2017

Bedlam Farm Open-House Invitation

What happened to Jane McMillen and Little House Home Arts? They seem to have disappeared for many weeks. Their absence is easily explained:

Jane has been on a sew-a-thon, first finishing a quilt for a friend (the 9 patch/9 patch one started a very long time ago). Well, the dedication of this memory quilt is now finished, and only the border is left to do,  (picture forthcoming in a future blog), but is being post-poned for Jane to create pincushions for Jon Katz and Maria Wulf's  Bedlam Farm Open-House to be held October 7th and 8th. They are located on Route 22 heading south just before you get to Cambridge, New York. You can't miss the big signs in front of their home and country estate, advertising their open-house and belly dancers that will be performing on Saturday, the 7th. Jane plans to be there the afternoon of the 8th. No matter which date is best for you, do treat yourself to a great country fall event, and meet their fans along with their dogs, cats and farm animals and get in on the celebration and art show!*
Owls are the new pincushion for this season, big or small.

Here is a sneak peak of what has been created for this fun event. Jane has deemed it "the year of the owl"...something about gaining wisdom and sewing pincushions and felted wool items part of the year while she spends the other part of the year creating quilts, an art form that she is pursuing once again!

Jane has created her many other designer pincushions that she is famous for as well: various fruits and vegetables, chickens, candy corn, ice cream sundaes, flower pots and strawberry pots, penny rug, and two tones button pincushions as well as  button coin purses, and needle books. If you don't sew, it doesn't matter as these felted wool sculptures add much color to whatever space you want to decorate. They also make affordable and unusual gifts for discerning friends.

Once Jane gets started working with felted wool she cannot stop however, and so she has created all sorts of various items for Maria's art show as well as two other holiday sales in November and December! She hasn't stopped sewing in weeks...except for naps and snacks!! Her family hasn't seen much of her either.
I can't seem to stop creating felted wool items, simple but colorful!

Her tiny kitty has grown up suddenly and is going a bit bizerk trying to convince her to take a break to play with him...He may be a large cat now, but he is still a kitty at heart!

My Addie Rose is really Addie Roe and has grown to be a very big boy!

*Jane will be only one of the many artists featured at this event. See Maria Wulf's blog at http://www.fullmoonfiberart.com/events/ for more details about this event. Many artists, belly dancers, poetry readings, art demonstrations, as well as Jon's dog Red, herding their flock of sheep will be there to entertain all who come. Jon will share the details of sheep herding and also talk about their dogs and their ways of serving their community. Jon Katz is a New York Times Best Selling Author and their show will include some of his books and prints of his photos that you can  purchase and have autographed while you are there! Please feel free to stop by and take in this fun fall event!

He is my sewing buddy for sure and tries to get into the action quite literally!

Friday, August 11, 2017

What's in a Name


I took Addie Rose to the vet a  few weeks ago now and learned that our little girl kitty named after my grandmother is really a boy! I immediately questioned whether or not to change our kitty's name. I didn't want to cause identity issues for our kitty as he had just begun to respond to his name and yet neither did I want to create gender identity issues by giving him a girl's name while telling him what a good boy he is (as in A Boy Named Sue?!) We have had some laughs about all this, but clearly I have lots to learn about gender and personality traits!

What's in a name? I believe that Shakespeare answered this question in his famous play, Romeo and Juliet* . In Juliet's soliloquy she asks herself the same question after finding out that Romeo, the young boy she had just met and fallen in love with belonged to the family of her family's arch rival. And then she answers, "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." And so it is with our "Addie Rose", now "Mr. Addie Roe". We had been taken with this kitty from the time we met him and just because he wasn't a girl, would that change our affection for him? 

Not ever! Nonetheless it was a shock to find out that our  pretty little kitty was not a girl kitty at all! He has very long hair which helped to hide his sex. I have since learned that when kitties are very young it is very hard to tell the difference and I hadn't bothered to double check since we got him through a vet's office and all the experts claimed he was a she?

Our pretty little "girl kitty"?  or NOT!
I had named our kitty after my grandmother, Rose Addie and simply reversed the order and at the time we first met her, we thought she had a perfect name for that pretty little face. It was an affectionate kitty, and very sweet, albeit a rather un-shy kitty who quickly adopted us. I am hoping that he wasn't figuring "there is a sucker born every minute" and had us pegged as he worked hard to charm us!! He did just that, though we were set on adopting a female and not a male kitten. We had heard that males spray and mark their territory and wanted to avoid that!

My partner in all that I do!

My grandmother,  Rose "Addie" Kiechel had been a Nebraska pioneer woman, named with the same initials as her older brother who died in early childhood.  He had been Robert Albert and so her initials, my great grandmother decided, needed to be R.A. as well.  My grandmother was never fond of her name, but I was, though at the time I named my children, I hadn't realized how much. "Addie" to me is a very strong name and I like strong names.

My grandmother was a strong person, though when I knew her, she was a quiet grandmother, who temporarily resided with her many children. She would come to stay with us for a couple of months at a time. She was a sweet grandmother who would sit quietly within our house and write in her diary every day. Unlike my diaries that are filled with all the things I wasn't allowed to say, her diaries became factual logs of all things good about her children and their families and were as sweet as she was.  She would note the good things of the day and many of them read like the infamous "Little House" books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She had nine children, one of which died in utero. She had her babies at home and most were assisted into the world by her mother, Alvina, who was called "Viney" by those closest to her. She was another strong pioneer woman.

We still confuse our pronouns where Addie is concerned, and I laughingly have spoken about our little girl kitty who turned into a boy, but my husband reminds me that this is only a reality in my brain, as our kitty has always been a boy and he is turning out to be an alpha male at that! I now talk about what a handsome kitty he is, though I had truly thought him beautiful before! I also am trying to reinforce his sexual identity by telling him that he is a good boy. We will have him neutered when he is old enough, just as we would have had a female kitty spayed.
What happened to this sweet baby with the big paws?!!

We were so insistent about having a female kitty but apparently  the facts are different than what we thought. The truth is that all cats, when threatened may mark their territory and hopefully neutering our cat will decrease any such tendencies. He is both athletic as well as affectionate and  is growing like a weed, and, knock on wood, so far has been a very easy kitty to teach and train. He has a special scratching box and has taken to it and so far has left my curtains and furniture alone, though I do note that he is getting more bold and masterful about leaping and jumping every day. He loves his ever-growing big paws and flexes his claws just to scare me and sometimes forgets that our legs are not trees, as he tries to climb them and he loves to "get wild" about his play and is quite the acrobat! He is a keeper, no matter that he isn't a she!
As a baby, Addie was fearless in facing off with our dog, Cassie!

Check the size difference! Oh my!!

Addie, come to find out, is also a boy's name and so no problem there and I announced this news to my husband by adding "Mr. Addie Rose" to his birthday card the same day as the vet appointment that deemed it so.

I am thinking that perhaps it should be "Mr. Addie Roe" instead of Rose.  Roe means deer and this kitty is truly "a dear" to me (play on words intended). I am still adjusting to our sweet little baby girl kitty being a bold a daring and very athletic male kitten, and from what we have read about his possible breed, he should grow much bigger than the female counterpart. Nebelung (Russian gray long-haired) male cats could become as big as sixteen pounds. I just met an eight week old Bernese Mountain pup whose big paws were smaller than Addie's and they were told that he would likely reach at least one hundred pounds! I do hope that Addie won't be that size, but as cats go, I think Addie may well be a very large full grown male kitty.
"Sooooo Big and my dog sister's,Cassie's bed is just right! "I can stretch out"!!

"What's in a name?... That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet." While I still think we have a sweet kitty, albeit, one that is more confident and bold than what I had thought. He isn't afraid to chase our 65 pound lab/coon-hound dog out of her bed when he wants a bigger bed to sleep in...and more than once I have stopped to ask myself who is getting trained?... Is our Addie "getting trained" or is he training us and in this case, dog sister as well?
The little bed on the right is mine? Really? Time for a bigger bed and to
trade my baby Kong with the dog's that is just my size!


*Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/williamsha125207.html

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dream Big

I have loved quilts every since I was a young woman. I even worked in Bonnie Lehman's Quilts and Other Comforts store in Colorado when my health necessitated that I step out of my chosen career of nursing for a time as I wasn't tolerating rotating shift work. I had taken a quilting class at Bonnie's Store before she and her daughter started their quilting magazine, Quilter's Newsletter. Her quilt shop was a very spacious and well-filled store and her daughter had a special office there to design quilt patterns that they sold through their catalog and later in their magazines. That was in the 70's, a good many years ago now. I returned to my career(s) but all the while I still dreamed of sewing and quilting while I worked as both a special education teacher and as a nurse to help support my family! How far my dreams have carried me!
My next-to-new Simply Sixteen Quilting Machine with The Little Foot frame.
My sewing was merely a side-line hobby,  though my real talents were not so much in nursing or teaching but rather in art and home arts. My dad was a practical man and had all of us kids go to college! His choices became my alternatives and included becoming a secretary, teacher or a nurse and somehow I got "programmed into becoming a nurse". I became a Candy Stripe Volunteer first so I could have a sneak peek into the medical world and then off I went to college at the University of Colorado's School of Nursing.

I was anything but a "natural nurse", unless you count "the art of hand-holding" when patients needed a firm hand to grab when hurt or scared! I went onto became a special education teacher, as I had already mastered the art of learning skills and knowledge that were difficult and had to be learned incrementally in tiny steps. My dad taught me that you don't have to be smart, you only have to work hard, and from this I gathered that I wasn't smart and had better work hard! But when you work hard and still aren't "fitting your round peg into a square hole", I came to realize that neither of my careers, were a good fit, especially with my failing health!

Art, my father taught me, was important in making a house a home, but until I married rich, I would need a career like nursing to support myself. I did crafts and held craft shows but it was only a side-line-fun-thing-to-do, more than it was financially lucrative. It did feed my soul and supported my dreams of a nice home and family, and all the usual sorts of things that women wanted in my day, when high tech careers for women weren't so prolific. I never did marry rich, and so I worked to help support my family for a very long time.

Nursing wasn't the same as it is today. It was practical knowledge and skills that would serve me well in what I envisioned women were to be: housewives, mothers, supporters and comforters. Little did I know then that it would lead me into making actual comforters and quilts and other domestic arts to make a creative sort of home with comfort to spare. It would help me take care of myself and my family, though instead of applying bandaids to superficial wounds, I would look for concussions and serious diseases! I am now back to my love of designing and creating pretty and useful home arts, and my nursing is used strictly to take care of myself and my family.

We moved to Vermont when our kids were little.  My husband was seeking better employment and I had become a special education teacher and I figured, I could easily transfer my work to Vermont though I didn't know then, that my career aspirations had peaked and were soon to take a turn for the worse. Vermont seemed to be leading the nation in limiting special ed services and competing with younger and more energetic educators pushed me into doing a refresher course in nursing so I could return to office nursing instead. I tied fishing leaders on the side when work was minimal but one thing remained constant...my dreams of being creative and wanting to do it full time.
A magnetic strip attachment makes it so I can stitch
straight lines up and down and horizontal.

It wasn't long after our move that I learned about the The Vermont Quilt Festival...the greatest quilt show in the northeast. It was always in June and for a few years we drove to Norwich, Vermont to see it. The show was not in air conditioned buildings and no matter how hot and humid the weather, I would see all there was to see! My husband took me every year and our daughters eventually joined us. We were delighted when the guild relocated their show to the convention center in Colchester, Vermont where air-conditioning made the shows easier and more comfortable!
Simply attach your quilt with special clamps to attach it to
The Little Foot five foot frame, like you would a quilting hoop.

Attending The Vermont Quilt Festival nurtured my big dreams of creating crafts and quilting. Dreams, I learned, come first and their fulfillment later. When nursing became too much for me physically, I put together a studio in my basement and organized my collection of unfinished projects, materials, notions and machines, started a blog and created designer pincushions. I gathered with other artists for craft shows and little by little, Little House became a reality. I continued to dream big and imagined my little house as a home filled with sewing stations and studio space for creating traditional home arts!

Participating in local craft markets wasn't just about creating, selling and profitting, though that has helped my collection of materials and patterns grow, but it has brought me together with some delightfully creative people. Continuing to dream big has also brought me back to quilting and "magically and miraculously" transformed my life and my home.

Instead of scouting out new fabric, notions, books and patterns at the quilt show this year, I decided to try different longarm quilting machines. I didn't know when or how I would get one, but I thought refining my dream as to which sort I would want would be the first step. I hoped to one day afford a well-loved used machine and low and behold I found one so reasonably priced that my husband agreed that we needed to check it out at a quilt shop about forty minutes from our home. I thought I was wanting a long arm free motion table top quilting machine that I had tried at the quilt show. I called first to be sure that it was still available.

My husband was comparing prices between different machines available and realized sooner than I did that The HQ Simply Sixteen Machine seemed to offer more of what I was looking for in a longarm quilting machine at a similar price to The HQ Sweet Sixteen table model. The Simply Sixteen quilting machine is attached to a five foot frame so instead of moving the quilt,  the machine moves across the quilt. Despite its small size, its frame works much like an old-fashioned quilting hoop. Simple clamps attach the quilt to the frame, allowing you to quilt a large section and then  simply move the quilt  to a different location, reattach it to the frame and quilt another section.

Practicing some free motion designs with variegated quilting thread.

With an added magnetic bar, this machine will do straight line quilting, perpendicular or horizontal, but clamp your quilt at an angle and it offers straight line quilting done at an angle. It is a quilting machine designed to quilt any sized quilt, and like a home machine can use different sized quilting threads, providing you use the right sized needle. Its five-foot frame is designed to be a more convenient size to fit in smaller spaces than the large twelve foot quilting machines that are often featured. It even has a laser attachment that you can use to trace pantograph designs to be stitched where you want such designs.
The laser light will allow me to stitch pantograph designs like these.

The settings are simple and easy to learn.
It has two settings: manual or regulated. I knew that I wanted stitch regulation as that means that the stitch length is not according to the speed at which I sew but rather the setting as to how many stitches per inch, whether I stitch fast or slow. Stitch regulation will give me nice even stitches, despite being a beginner longarm quilter!

How much easier to guide the machine instead of the quilt. Big quilts are not easy to manipulate! The only catch in sewing on this machine is perhaps getting the tension set correctly which they claim isn't so difficult, though I think it an art that may take some time to perfect!

The owners of the shop delivered it to our house, set it up and then gave us all a lesson as to how to operate the machine. We learned that the tension setting is done by adjusting the tension on the bobbin case, which is something I had learned as I quilted on my home domestic machine, and the upper tension is set with a tension setting knob, like on regular home machines of old and all that I learned about adjusting tension when doing quilting with a walking foot is the same. Good stitches are to meet in the middle and not on the top or back of your quilt.

It will take some time to develop "the art of getting the correct tension as well as learning to do free motion designs", but the machine definitely makes it easier to accomplish! Each time I practice it gets easier and I am determined to practice as often as I can to become successful!

...but so much more to learn!
My machine was almost new and had only been gently used and came with nearly a full warranty. The previous owner had traded-up for a bigger quilting machine. I definitely don't have room for a twelve foot longarm quilting machine and so this one I think is quite perfect for me. I am still a hand quilter at heart and intimidate easily by big and complicated machines. This one seems relatively simple and how nice it will be to have a quilting machine that can be easily used to quilt my quilts, without trying to fit an entire quilt under the short arm of a domestic sewing machine.

I know that sometimes dreams take a long time to be realized, but it does seem that my big dream of a little house filled with machines of different sorts, materials, threads, and patterns has in fact come to be. I am truly amazed that little by little hard work and big dreams have paid off, though I give credit to God for all my fabrics, machines and notions for they have all come at the right time and at the right price! I am pinching myself and find it all hard to believe!

I must warn you that even when dreams come true, it is easy to feel some stress. Good stress is called eustress and the excitement of it can wear me out! I am still taking time to adjust to being the proud owner of such an extravagant addition to my Little House studio, like it is too good to be true! Surely there must be a catch..and I have learned that there is: it will take me some time before I master this different-sort-of-machine and stitching! I have been assured that it is simply a matter of practice, and it does seem that what little I have done so far, has confirmed this to be true.

I have pulled fabrics that are not ear-marked for special projects and or quilts and will make many "quilt sandwiches" to practice quilting. We are going to call them "cat and dog quilts", not unlike moving quilts that will provide some comfort to our animals and or stored delicate objects. Their purpose is to help me learn to adjust the thread tension, steer the needle with a handle bar and and use the control buttons until they become automatic and then onto my bucket list of quilt tops to quilt! It is a rather meditative art that requires full concentration. Time passes quickly and for now I am content with learning and having fun with it as I practice and continue to create my pincushions and fleece socks for this coming craft season's sales.

Once again I have learned that God is not to be limited. Dreaming Big is what I did and God has indeed blessed me with all that I need to be a successful machine quilter! I am pleased and grateful!

(My machine was purchased at Adirondack Quilts, a Handi Quilter and Pfaff official retail shop in South Glens Falls, NY,  owned by Bill and Shannon Duell (www.AdirondackQuilts.com). They offer a wide variety of sewing and quilting machines, some that are well-loved and gently used, like mine, making their prices even more affordable! They also offer accessories, notions, quilting fabrics and threads, along with classes. They personally delivered my machine, set it up and offered us instruction. Bill comes with "hand-holding support" for people like myself that are nervous about doing good machine work and freely offers his card with his home phone number and his sincere message to call him BEFORE I get frustrated! Service doesn't come better than this!)



Sunday, July 16, 2017

The 2017 Vermont Quilt Festival

Best of Show Quilt "Floral Treasures" by Janice Cunningham. .
My oldest daughter and I celebrate our birthdays each year by attending The Vermont Quilt Festival. No need to shop for a gift for either of us as we select our own gift when we shop in the wide variety of vendor booths while there. My husband goes with us each year to photograph the quilts and this year we went on Sunday, June 25th.  It was the last day of the show and is always a shorter day, but often that better matches our energy levels. It is over an hour away from home and so going for about 6 hours, makes for an eight hour day total, by the time we return home and that seems to be sufficient challenge for my body! There is a lot of walking and this is the one time of year that I use a walker, though in truth I take it mostly as it makes a wonderful shopping cart with its large basket!
Detail of the center motif. This is all hand-appliqued,embroidered and quilted.


We are familiar with the lay-out and scope and know how to time ourselves to see all the new quilts, some of the antique ones and visit the vendors' shops.  My husband's pictures give me all the time I want to spend studying the contest quilts at home on my computer while sitting in my comfortable desk chair.  It is my inspiration for the year ahead and we have learned that the many vendors provide a hands-on experience with new fabrics and patterns and though we limit our shopping there, it guides our shopping for the year ahead as most vendors provide shopping on-line as well. For a quilter, one can never have enough fabric, notions or patterns! Need has little to do with our choices!
Check out the quilting, done with silk thread and by hand. Beautiful detail!


I hope you will enjoy but a few of the pictures my husband took. I am not sure if you can enlarge or view these close up on your computer, but if you can, you will find the details simply amazing!) They represent but a few I randomly chose for this blog. Lighting can be difficult in such a setting, but I think my husband does these quilts justice in his photos. All credit goes to the brilliant home fabric artists that live in Vermont and the surrounding states and Canada.  If you like what you see, consider that this is an an annual event held the third weekend in June and plan to come to it next year. Details can be found on-line at The Vermont Quilt Festival web site. It usually lasts three days and they feature guest artists every year that teach special classes.

I have never taken full advantage of all that The Vermont Quilt Festival has to offer. Besides classes, there are wonderful events and drawings for gifts that all quilters and sewers would love. To "do it right" means going all three days and taking advantage of local lodging and transportation for the event, carefully selecting classes and special events to attend all with a three day pass. They have a wonderful display of contest quilts as well as their guild's own collection of antique quilts. Their vendors are specially selected to display the latest in materials, notions, patterns and threads, all related to quilting and fabric arts. I simply love it and can't imagine NOT having such a stimulating event to attend each year to keep me inspired! (Thank you Tom McMillen for the photos!)
"Tribute to Mary Mannakee" by Leslie Cook, Greenfield, MA.
Domestic and Longarm Quilted.
"Metropolis" by Mary Schilke, Wells River, Vt. Longarm Quilted.

"Patience" by Susan Tamulaitis,Winthrop, MA.Domestic and Longarm Quilted.
"Counting Stars" by Susan Rivers, Burlington, Vermont. Longarm quilted.
"Field of Flowers" by Mamie Rabida,Broad Brook,CT.Home Machine Quilted.
"Dahlia, Go Big" by Candi Reed, Douglas, GA. Long-arm quilted.

Friday, July 7, 2017

L'chiam; To Life!


Our new little Addie Rose, a very sweet kitty!
I awoke early and patted Cassie's head on my way back to bed and told her that today's the day that Addie Rose comes home.  My husband, just waking, cautioned me not to wake her and get her going unless I planned to get up with her. Cassie only rolled one eye open, but I let her go back to sleep. She had eyed me with suspicion as I am only her babysitter and not her master/mistress. While out of town for my colonoscopy, she spent a night and part of a day staying at my daughter's house terrorizing her new cat who now needs therapy after a heroic, or was it a suicidal jump to save her life, or kill herself (we will never know)? She landed 12 feet below in their entry doorway, a jump serious enough to break my legs, if I tried it. The cat was still able to seek shelter from Cassie, though there was no need as our dog wasn't really interested in her.  Maybe my daughter will learn to anticipate and plan versus living totally in the spontaneous "now", but she has no time to anticipate, but only to deal with the immediate crisis of the moment these days.  Her new step-mom role in addition to adding a new cat to their busy household has left her a bit ragged!

My colonoscopy is over.  To follow is possible treatment or not?  I will see my primary doctor in July but before I do, my husband and I are going to get our new kitten and several days later go to The Vermont Quilt Festival, our annual birthday celebration for me and my daughter.  Meanwhile I will soon return to my usual diet, abandoned for my colon test.

The dinner to celebrate it all being over wasn't sticking to my diet as it included ketchup and 2 slices of bread which means sugar and yeast! Oh my!! This dinner followed my day and a half fast and drastic colon cleanse. For once I could claim I wasn't full of "BS", but planned to keep my blood sugars from crashing and so we went out to eat on the way home.  I was furious with our young and inexperienced space-cadet waiter who let our meal grow cold under the "warming lights"...It wasn't so tasty after sitting for eight minutes while he lost himself in what was obviously a new summer job. He would never make a good waiter, but clearly he didn't know that about himself yet and my judgement was perhaps too harsh and hasty?

I think he sensed I was hostile and perhaps not so clueless to his spaciness, though he clearly had no idea that I was so ravenously hungry, I could have perhaps gnawed off his arm and eaten it raw on the spot! I tried to appreciate my meal albeit, too cold for ultimate satisfaction.  I ate it like it was delicious, even though it was a disappointment. Food, it seems, these days is a necessity more than the ultimate pleasure it used to be.  I hate being diabetic! Now I consume what I must, when I must and without dessert, instead of waiting for the best restaurant and eating just what I want with a generous slice of cheesecake with sliced strawberries and whipped cream on the side before and during my dinner!

The dreaded test was over and I was hoping it was all the treatment I would need as well. Only one polyp removed and that is likely as good as it gets at my age, and one more "itis" to add to my list of all the others.  I am surprised that my middle name isn't "Itis" for inflammation rules my body. It is part of what goes with chronic Lyme Disease. My husband complained before my test, "If only you didn't get so upset with small things"! Small things, indeed, become big things when there is such a large concentration of them! Life is less than spontaneous these days...too many hard-learned lessons and now I take life in bits and segments. It is easier that way!

Working hard to settle in, make herself comfortable, and pose for a picture!
Today I am biting off more--a new kitty companion...I need one now, a furry friend to replace some of the action that has gone too quiet after my dear Zeldie passed. I need to continue loving and being loved. Why isn't my husband enough for me? He is still working and too busy, and I am only Cassie's babysitter.  She picked her favorites some time ago and I wasn't on the list. I need more love to "keep on keeping-on".  If it is too quiet, I become a diminished version of myself.

Addie Rose is my prize for weathering the loss of my dear Zeldie as well as for continuing to battle my health issues, and create more quilts, along with finishing my bucket list of UFOs.  I am taking on another craft season as well for that is what I do. I get tired of persevering and lose my enthusiasm for tackling my do-list everyday, but know that living life to the full means ever challenging myself! I am aging and slowing down, taking more time for smelling flowers and listening to songbirds outside my patio door and snuggling a kitty is high on my list too, each an important part of loving life. It will soon be time to pick up little Addie Rose at the SPCA shelter and she will remind me every day to pause for love, for that is what life is all about--to love and be loved and share my life with others.
My owners are catching on, pampering me with toys.What I have to smile too?

Zeldie loved my home studio and she even collected some of my smaller projects carrying them off to her little nest spaces not missed much by me, except to wonder why the numbers didn't add up...but at my age, life is an "ever wondrous thing".  I once wished for a Grandma Moses-sort-of-life-style and I have it now! Instead of new paintings, I have new pincushions and quilts to make and Addie Rose will hopefully enjoy Little House with all its bits of sewing clutter!
My own cat perch in the sunshine and what are these silly strips of material?
Life is more than sufficient, but sharing it will make it better. I am excited for this day and the days to follow.  Great expectations? Is there any other way to live? A life with Addie Rose will soon begin and my life will never be the same again. Love changes everything! Here's to life!  L'chiam!
Time to take a serious nap, it's been an intense day!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Shopping for a Pet is Not Without Peril

Our dear little Addie Rose, still too little to come home yet.
Our search for a kitten was not without peril and pain. It is a different day and age and our hunt for a new kitty started on line. After my long term dearest cat companion died, friends sent me names and numbers of those that had adoptable cats and kittens. Being in the country, barn cats are often with kittens, though over the years we have used the SPCA Rescue Shelters instead as they come with "care package deals" including needed physical exams, de-worming, immunizations and neutering or spaying. We learned the hard way about adopting kittens and not having them spayed. Unspayed cats numbers can grow exponentially almost overnight, and health care is as essential to pets as it is for us!

Petfinders.com is an available service on-line and helped us locate kittens through local adoption agencies.  Both my daughter and I found prospective pets in this manner.  It worked well for my daughter, but less well for me. Kittens, we learned are seasonal and at the beginning of our search, few were available. To make a long story short, I was unprepared for what I encountered, and hope that my blog will inform others so as to avoid the pain that I went through.

My daughter offered transportation and her day off to take me with her to meet her desired cat as well as my own. Her's was at an animal hospital that also acted as an SPCA shelter.  They had only a few kittens, including the one that I ended up adopting.  The staff of this vet clinic and shelter were welcoming and took much time to bring us each animal that was available for adoption, allowing us to spend time with each individual animal.  My daughter had seen her's on line and thought by her picture and description of her disposition, she would be a perfect match and used a credit card as down payment to reserve this cat for her.  Their service was very respectful to us as well as each adoptable kitty and cat.
Addie Rose, our special little kitty!

We then went to a cat clinic at a Petsmart Store a good distance from us to meet the kitty that I wanted to meet. We were there a few minutes late and I was concerned that perhaps my selected kitten would be gone. She was gone alright, as she hadn't even been brought to that particular cat clinic at all.  We were not warmly greeted, but quite the opposite. It seemed that first and foremost in their minds, was whether or not I had filled out their questionnaire.  I replied that I had just that morning, about five hours before our arrival. This is apparently the policy of Whiskers Adoption Agency. All potential adopters are screened first before being allowed to visit the animals.

My selected kitty was in a nearby foster home. I was told most curtly that she wasn't available for adoption without adopting her sibling though their add on line had indicated that they preferred to have this kitty and her sibling stay together. Whisker's policy states however that each potential adoptive parent would be free to choose the best pet for them and no pressure would be applied by the adoption agency to adopt a particular animal for the sake of saving an animal?

"Blazing Star", the kitty I was not allowed to see or adopt.
It was unclear to me as to which cats would be at particular cat clinic, though I had emailed a note that I would be there that evening to meet little Blazing Star, the kitten of my choice. I assumed that all adoptable cats would be there. Distance was certainly an issue for us, but no one answered their phone to confirm this and we took our chances. My daughter was so angry about the rude manner in which we were treated, she rightfully chose NOT to consider any of the cats that were there, though she was still looking for another cat or kitten to adopt.

I returned home confused and disappointed and  posted an email indicating that I had traveled a great distance to meet this animal and inquired as to how I could arrange to meet her. The next morning, I received an email back from Whisker's agency to inform me that based on the questionnaire, I had filled out, I was found to "NOT be considered a humane animal owner" and was not allowed to adopt an animal through them. This online questionnaire included the name of my vet as a personal reference, but their decision was based solely on a checklist regarding what I might consider in treating any behavioral issues the adopted cat might have and I had checked off "declawing" along with many other options.

Sadly no one talked to me or get to know me before deciding me "inhumane", as declawing would have been a last choice versus a first choice.  I take adoption seriously and have had both easy and difficult animals to train, and always consult my vet as to how to best handle a particular problem. They also included information regarding declawing, and information about another procedure where claws can now be covered with rubber coatings to soften the sharpness to prevent clawing damage of your home and furniture, should your animal display clawing behaviors.

I later talked to my friends as I was devastated by their decision and blown away by their assessment of me. I was and still am grieving the loss of Zeldie. She was my mostly companion and her absence is no small loss, especially as I am mostly house-bound and except for my furry friends, I am often alone. I was vulnerable but anxious to adopt another kitty, but was not prepared for a negative, albeit, superficial evaluation of myself as a pet owner. My friends let me know that most of them had been "black-balled" as prospective pet owners as well. One wasn't allowed to adopt an animal as she worked full time.  Another was refused as she indicated that she let her cats outdoors.  That is considered unsafe for cats now. Other's told me that they have lied or are less than honest and open when filling out such forms, as often they expect to experience such negative judgments, and some have had a relatives adopt animals for them to get around being "black balled".

Already Addie can do tricks and look at you upside down!
I had found our dear little Addie Rose at the SPCA Center where my daughter took us first to get the cat that she desired. She is not only a beautiful kitty is very affectionate and comfortable with us. She literally adopted us! This SPCA shelter has been so welcoming and has allowed us to visit our kitty until she is big enough to go home. This has not only afforded us more time to get to know our kitty, but has also given them the opportunity to view and interact with us. I think actions speak louder than questionnaires. We have also learned more about kitty care, though we have had kitties before. It is sad that Whiskers Adoption Agency doesn't do the same.

While I can't change the world, I did want to speak up regarding how I was treated at Petsmart and by the Whiskers Adoption Agency. Only days later, when I went to show my other daughter a picture of Blazing Star, we noted that she had been adopted without her sibling. Clearly, we weren't just treated rudely as well as dismissed as cruel and inhumane pet owners, but the rules of adoption weren't equal for everyone despite their policy's pledge.

No one deserves to be treated as I was treated and I am writing this blog to warn others in search of a future pet. I will follow up with Petfinders.com to let them know that this particular store advertised this kitten as available, when I think she wasn't available at all. They also need to know about the rude manner, and personally discriminating fashion of this agency and store. They were beyond impersonal but unfair and cruel to me in my vulnerable grieving state!  I will also complain to the Whisker Adoption Agency. I appreciate that they are looking for good adoptive pet parents, but judging me based on their questionnaire and honest answer re "declawing" doesn't educate in a positive manner.  This issue  would better be taken up with vets versus the people who seek their professional advice.
"In a world where you can be anything, chose to be kind". (from FB)

I have adopted two other pets from Petsmart and this was the first time that I was treated in such a manner and so I will inform them as well. Meanwhile, I took my business elsewhere and am happy I did. I warn my readers of my treatment in hopes that they will take care to not find themselves in a similar situation. I sincerely hope that others will not expose themselves to superficial paper/pencil tests, without being warned that you may well be judged harshly when answering hypothetical questions, that should only be confidentially addressed with consultation with your trusted vet. I hope that you find shelters that treat people as humanely as they treat animals. Most of us are wanting to be the best pet owners we can be, and such superficial judgement of responsible pet ownership isn't best done through impersonal questionnaires.

Alls well that ends well. Our dear little Addie Rose will soon be able to come home with us.  I am busy preparing to set up her temporary nursery, and have been earnestly reading a kitty training book. We have found Amazon.com to be a cheaper way to purchase just what our kitty may need with trees and perches to climb and different types of scratching posts, and behavioral training aides. We look forward to training her as well as spoiling her and we already cherish being with her. I hope that Blazing Star has found an equally good home as well.
"Contentment" for us both!

My search has ended well, but being treated badly on top of losing a dear pet really shouldn't be part of anyone's healing process. Do beware of such questionnaires that attempt to evaluate and potentially label you. Also watch out for potential discrimination in adopting a young pet if you are in your senior years. I wasn't treated favorably from the initial contact, so perhaps my silver hair and limp entered into their decision as well? I will add that planning is important if the animal you adopt could potentially outlive you, so as to not leave your pet(s) without a home, should something happen to you first. Responsible pet parenting means serious consideration of whatever your pet may need. I may well be on my way to becoming a "cat lady"! When I saw how many need homes and how well developed my "cat communication skills" have become thanks to Zeldie, my beloved teacher, Addie Rose may well be only the first to be adopted. I may well have love enough for more than one cat!
From FB: "Even in 1890, one cat is not enough!" (She is my new heroine!)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Taking Time for Visits with Friends

Down home bests: clucking hens and visits with dear friends.
Next to new love in its ability to lift the soul, is a visit with an old and dear friend. There is nothing so sweet as being around someone pleasant and confirming, someone that I love and that loves me back. The warmth of friendship is a soothing balm in these rough waters of life! We are all at least a bit scarred by the ravages of time, but no matter what real friends are there for us through the thick and thin of it all.

It shocks me as I realize, however, that others age just like me, as I am guilty of thinking I am the only one! The adage "What? you too?" is a comforting one.  I really do belong to the same world as everyone else! Such visits with friends confirm that my family and I are not alone in our struggles after all!

My tongue doesn't stop wagging while together with real friends, though I need not worry about the silent pauses either, for we are together and that is enough! My friends are like a ray of spring sunshine, thawing the chill of a late winter day, no matter that our Vermont weather has fewer sunshiny days than other places! We sit together in our houses, their's or mine and look out at the Vermont country-side and the walls that surround us no longer close us in!
Vermont country is beautiful, no matter what season.

Growing older isn't so bad when one is able to experience a uniting of hearts! We listen to each other's concerns regarding the current negative and divisive political world, and appreciate each other's pains and joys as we talk with one another about our life. Sharing the worries we carry about those we love lightens our loads. Friends of friends need a circle of love surrounding them too, so as to not be destroyed by the trials that life brings and we know that we will lift them all in our personal prayers.

On my way out my friend's door, I realized I forgot my cane and she pointed to her own standing ready by the door among her collection of walking sticks from relatives who have passed and no longer need them. "I carry one with me now when I walk these country roads to ward off unfriendly dogs or bees." I knew she was referring to a pet goat that got loose one day and really did attack her and her friend, ramming them with its horns. Both escaped serious injury when they jumped into a nearby parked car. This world, sadly is not always so warm and friendly. Our innocence is not what it used to be!

Special times carved out to spend with friends enable us to push away any gloomy clouds and find warmth and safety in each other's company. I know each friend's heart and they know mine. Wisdom comes with our maturity and our special oases of friendship brighten our days, no matter how seldom we take time for such pleasure.

I remember a piece I wrote 25 years ago when we were living on an old three-hundred acre farm in Orwell, Vermont.  We loved it there, but we also sometimes felt very isolated and visits with friends, I learned then weren't insignificant. The following is a piece I wrote about a heartwarming visit with a friend in 1992! Much has changed but much remains the same.

For Janice 

I had a visit with my friend..
She called one day and had me come with kids and handwork all.
And while the children played and swam, we talked on and on and on.
We talked of kings and queens and presidents,
Of war and crooks and fairs,
Of knitting machines, sick cows and other small town news,
Of a special celery recipe that no one ate,
And relatives that no one liked.
We even talked of healing prayers,
And politics and the spread of evil in this world.
She iced a cake, peeled and sliced carrots and finished making dinner.
I did my handwork, viewed her quilt and drank the rest of my iced tea.
Then I packed my things and called my kids.
As I said goodbye, she pulled some celery from her garden and stuffed it in a bag,
Then carried it with some other things and walked me to my car.
So simple was our pleasure as to seem common,
But it wasn't just an ordinary day, 
I had a visit with my friend. 
1992- Jane McMillen

 A visit with a friend isn't so fancy, but equally as sustaining as a high tea!




Pictures by Tom McMillen.