Welcome to my blog

If you enjoy finding a lot of different outlets for your creativity, then we may just be kindred spirits.
This blog is an outlet for my interest in miniatures, crochet, plastic canvas, and many other various arts and crafts.

I also love walking, taking digital photos, and most recently, have rediscovered an old love...bike riding! I purchased an amazing new bike, a comfy Townie by Electra this summer, and have been having a grand time exploring the area as though for the first time. It's like being a kid again!

If you enjoy any of these things too, pour a cup of coffee and tea, sit down, and join me.

Take care!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Day Late and a Dollar Short...

Donny and Marie Osmond used to sing a song called "A Day Late and a Dollar Short".
I've always empathized with the songwriter.
I've been trying to keep my mind occupied because I took Annie's death hard.
I know some people will say "She was just a dog; get over it!", but she was my baby girl for 20 years, and I miss her.  I've been feeling guilty for putting her down even though the vet told me it was the kind thing to do.  I didn't want her to suffer, but I didn't want to make that decision either.  I was hoping she would go peacefully in her sleep, but that didn't happen.
Anyway, I have a lot to keep me busy. I have my little independent publishing company, and the website Magic & Make-Believe press to keep up.
I have the big job of learning how to market, and the bigger job (to me) of trying to promote myself and my book.. I'm very shy and while I'm good with words...usually...I do better in writing than I do in person because I don't feel anxious while writing.  I'm alone in my house, sitting on my couch with my laptop propped on my knees, with music from the 70's and 80's playing in the background, courtesy of  Jango .
My big fluffy baby boy, Mac (a 6 year old black standard poodle), is sitting on the couch next to me, looking out the window, hoping that someone will walk by so he can bark. My other little guy, Ben (a white toy poodle) is bringing mouthfuls of dog kibble into the living room so he can eat in front of the TV.
I'm drinking  hot chocolate, and I'm wrapped in a comforter.  I'm...comforted.  Comfortable.
I've been working on a story for the local paper, too, and while the writing portion is easy, the extracting of information from government types is painful.
Despite all of this, I decided to look into writing contests, and discovered I've missed the deadline (by days) of all of the ones I would have liked to take part in.
I also noticed...again, that many writing contests are expensive.  One contest that I haven't missed the deadline for sounds good, but they want $75.00 to enter, plus $50.00 extra for each category that you choose to list your book in.  My gosh, that's a lot of money for a contest. I can't afford that.
So, I'm a day late (or more) for some contests, and a dollar short (or more) for others.
I should go dig out my old album and listen to that song, lol.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Tribute to My Best Furry Friend

Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life.  I had to put my little Annie down, after over 20 years together.

Annie is...was, a miniature poodle; a lovable, friendly, bouncy girl while in her youth.
She was the best walker; we walked for hours and hours at a time, and covered so many miles along the various ravines and waterfronts in the Toronto area.
She saw me through my first teaching job, and she was there when my teaching career ended due to being beaten up by a student.
She saw me through birthdays where she was the only party goer...just me and Annie together, with my family and friends 800 km away.
She lived in apartments, townhouses, highrises, and basement apartments with me.  I always promised her that "one day" we'd have a house with a big back yard, and thankfully, I was able to keep that promise.
Annie saw me through happiness and heartache. She was there for me when I ended my engagement.  Annie was the first furperson I saw when I woke up and the last furperson I saw when I went to sleep, for over 20 years.

I was 26 years old when I first saw the then 6 week old Annie.  She was alone in a cage in a petstore, being left to die because she had been weaned too early and wasn't eating solid foods.  They had sold her mother and they weren't bothering to bottle feed her. She fit into the palm of my hand; a little ball of white fluff with alert brown eyes and a tiny black nose.

I brought her home with me, even though they told me she'd never live.  I brought her to the vet who proclaimed her malnourished and told me she wouldn't live to see her 7th week.
She wouldn't take a bottle so I fed her human baby pablum off the tip of my finger.  It was a slow process, one fingertip at a time, but she ate and grew strong enough for me to mix the pablum with wet dog food.
She beat the odds and died 4 months before her 21st birthday, which would have been January 13th.
Pretty good for a dog who wasn't expected to see her 7th week.

I was 26 when I first brought Annie into my life, and I am 46 years old now, saying goodbye to her.
She was just the best dog a girl could have.

She was obsessive compulsive about retrieving and would bark at me (or anyone) until we'd throw the ball/stick/squeaky toy.  Over and over and over again.

That little dog had the heart of a lion and she would snarl at any other dog that tried to steal her stick...once she even growled at a doberman.  I don't think she knew her own size.

She loved apples and grapes.  I learned waaay later that grapes aren't good for dogs, but she ate a lot of grapes over her life, and she lived a long, healthy life.

She loved spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, and hotdogs.

And she loved Christmas.  Oh, how she loved Christmas.  I bought her a stocking that very first year, and filled it with dog treats and goodies and toys, and for each and every one of the years that followed, Annie became excited as soon as we started decorating the house for Christmas.  She absolutely loved her stocking.
She used to wake me up throughout the night on Christmas Eve, eager to go downstairs to open her stocking.
We always used to spend the night at my Mom and Dad's, and Annie would try to get us all up at 6 AM on Christmas morning.  I think it was pure torture for her to have to wait until 8 AM, when we'd finally give in and get up so she could open her stocking.  She'd race down the stairs to the basement and leap at the fireplace mantle, trying to reach her stocking.  We'd let her open her stocking first, lol.  We all watched as she  dive head first into her stocking, pulling out her Christmas gifts.  Christmas is going to feel strange without her this year.  My dogs Mac and Ben love getting gifts, but they don't go nuts over the stocking the way Annie did, every year for 20 years.

She was the smartest dog I've ever met.  One time we went for a walk in the woods, and there were so many intersecting trails that I couldn't find my way out again.  We walked for 4 hours without seeing another soul, and I could not remember which trail led back to my car.  I said, "Annie, do you want to go for a car ride? Go see Gramma and Grampa in the car?"  She jumped up and down and barked, which was her way of saying "Alright!  Let's go!"  I said "Where's car?  Let's go find the car and go for a car ride!"  And I followed her and she led me back to the car...in half an hour.  I had been going in circles and kept missing the trail that led back to the park.  She knew exactly where to go.

She was a good little girl, but a stubborn one, and she loved to bark when people came to the door.

She was the bounciest dog I've ever met; I swear, there were springs in her legs.  She just bounced everywhere.

One time she dug up an ant hill, and that was a real mess.  She was covered with ants.  I had to bring her for an emergency grooming session.

Another time, we went for a long walk, and she found a dead salmon and rolled in it...boy, did she stink!

One time she got into my makeup while I was out, and I came home to find a pink poodle, covered with blush and lipstick.

When she was a puppy she chewed everything in sight.  She once chewed each and every strip of leather off my friend's sandals, leaving only the sole of the shoe.  I hadn't realized that my friend had slipped her shoes off   under the table.

When my Auntie Shirley came to stay with me while Annie was still a pup, I warned her about the chewing.  She assured me that she would make sure to keep her belongings "above dog level".
I went off to work, and when I came back, my aunt greeted me at the door, looking very unhappy.  She also looked strange.  Her cheeks seemed sunken in.  There was a good reason for that.  Annie had found and chewed up my aunts false teeth!  I laughed so hard!  When I calmed down, I apologized, offered to pay to replace the teeth, and asked if my aunt had reprimanded Annie.  She said "I didn't say anything."
I said "I can't say anything now; she won't understand why I'm reprimanding her."
We left it at that and went out for a few hours.
When we came home, I opened the door and was greeted by the sight of my new shoes, chewed to bits.
"Annie!"  I yelled.
"Stupid F&*&g DOG!"  My parrot, Smokey, yelled, mimicking my aunt's voice perfectly.
I looked at my aunt.
Red faced, she said, "Maybe I did say a few things."
I told my aunt I wouldn't tell anyone about it, but the story was just too good so I submitted it to a funny pet story contest held by the Toronto star.  I won first place.
My aunt loved that story, when she was alive.  She passed away a few years ago, and I miss her a lot.

There were many times, back when I was teaching in the greater Toronto area, where I'd send Annie home to my parents in the Sault a week or two before I went myself.  Things were always so hectic at school ar those times, and I always had to stay late for meeting after meeting, and it just wasn't fair to Annie.  So I'd put her on the plane and she'd fly home, and I'd follow later.

While we were at the vet, saying our goodbye's, I asked Annie if she remembered those times where I'd put her on the plane and send her home, and I'd follow later.  She was looking into my eyes, and I like to think she understood what I was saying.  I told her, "I'm sending you on another trip, now.  You're going home to God.  I can't come now, but I'll follow later, just like before."
I gazed into those once alert eyes, now clouded with glaucoma, until the light went out of them and i knew she was gone.
"She's gone now,"  The vet said.
I knew.

The vet said that I did the right thing; the kind thing.  Annie had doggy dementia and the night before I put her down she had been running in tight circles, frantically.  Then she'd fall, struggle to get up, and keep running.
I tried hugging her, holding her, rocking her, talking to her, petting her, and nothing seemed to calm her down. She wanted to run in circles.  She did relax for about half an hour when I lay down with her on my chest, but then she was up again, wanting to run in tight little circles.  Whenever she fell, she had a harder and harder time getting up, until she couldn't get up, without my help.  She looked at me as if to tell me, "It's time."
I told her I love her, and that God loves her, and that he wants her to come home to Him.  I told her that soon she'd be like a young dog again, able to see clearly, hear clearly, run, jump, and play.  I told her that her sisters, Sandie and Popsicle, would be waiting for her, and that Auntie Shirley would be there too.  I told her that I'd ask Auntie Shirley to throw the ball for her, in heaven.
I hope that's true; I hope that she's there now, young again, with clear eyes and ears, driving everyone in heaven crazy  by barking at them until they throw the stick or ball or squeaky toy.

I put her little yellow duck in her coffin...a plastic container...with her.  I put a comforter on the bottom of the container, and I wrapped Annie in a blanket, and put the little yellow duck toy beside her, and it looked like she was sleeping.  She looked peaceful.

I found a pet cemetery and she was to be buried either last night or today.

I am going to either make or buy a memorial to mark her grave, and I am going to plant tulip bulbs so she'll have flowers in the spring.
I know she's not really there; that her soul is free of her body, but it is nice to have a place to go, to place flowers, to honour her memory.

I loved that little dog with all of my heart, and I still love her.

Goodbye for now, Annie.  I'll see you again, one day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Links to my writing

I've written a lot of articles, and I keep stumbling across them online.  I thought it would be neat to put links to my articles here, in one place.
I'll add them as I find them.  The weird thing is, I've written dozens of articles on air quality and I can't find any of them online.  I'm just finding some of the general interest articles.



Friday, September 17, 2010

Book signing set for Coles Book Store in October

 I made this poster to help advertise my upcoming book signing!
This is so exciting.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More pics

Sewing swap pics

I joined a sewing swap, where we had to make silly dolls for one another.  The pattern was a simple dog bone shape, with braided arms and legs, and big eyes.
I added eyelids, hair, slippers, and a coat or housecoat.  I named her "Sleepy Sally" because the eyelids make her look sleepy.
She seemed lonely, so I crocheted her a kitty cat.  I named the cat "Bitty Buddy", after my swap partner's cat, Buddy.  I hope she'll like the doll and cat.
The hairstyle is cool because it can be worn up or down or in ponytails.Here she is, with her hair up in a ponytail.
(I didn't like the braided legs...they seemed too small, so I stuffed some baby slippers and attached them with bracelet elastic.  That way, my swap partner can remove them if she doesn't care for them.  I think they're cute.)