Sunday, July 27, 2008

Something Special

Once again the forces that be have stalled my posting this week, just after I vowed to be more frequent for all our sakes. And again, at the last minute I am getting to this weeks "This is...". Angela has given us a freebie this week, allowing us to pick our own topic. Though a chosen topic would have occupied my mind, this actually allows me to get to what was going on this week, killing 2 birds with one stone. And away we go.

This is something special to me...

That right, Bertha, or my feline companion as she liked to be called. Doug got Bertha about 14 years ago. She is a Maine Coon mix. He picked her at the shelter because she was the only kitten that didn't fight for his affections, she just hung back chillin' in her cage. Early in Bertha's life she had some troubles, shelter cats often do. She had a hard time around other animals, something that lasted her whole life. *Below is a photo of Bertha as a kitten, along with the cat Magnetic poetry I gave Doug for Christmas.

One time there was a loud dog next door which stressed her out and scared her. As with many of us when we are under extreme stress, she lost control and attacked Doug and his then girlfriend, drawing blood. For several days they had to hop around the house in sleeping bags. They took her to the vet who put her on an anti psychotic/anxiety drug which helped calm her nerves. Doug's girlfriend wasn't convinced though, afraid it would happen again and wanted Doug to have her put down, which did not go over well with him at all. She was his baby. Although I am sure that wasn't the only reason, the girl left not too long after that and Doug and Bertha lived alone for several years until I came along.

She was very nervous around strangers and wouldn't allow them to touch her. Doug and she had an understanding with the touching but she let him know when she didn't want it. About a year before I moved in a few roommates and I adopted a grown cat. When we parted ways no one wanted her so I took her. When I moved in I had to give her to a cat loving friend because Bertha couldn't have other animals around her, plus Doug had had her 9 years and I had mine just under a year.

We got along ok because I left her alone. I never tried to touch her and gave her her space. It took 2 years for her to let me touch her. She was very specific about it though. For instance I would have to be on a certain couch under a certain blanket, laying down. She never got on our laps on the other couch, and never (until very recently) while we were sitting. Eventually the bed counted as well, but that took time. It was when I got sick and had to stop working about 3 years ago that we started to bond. Doug started noticing that she acted different when I wasn't feeling good or on my period. In fact, she knew sometimes before I did. She became very in tune with me and started training me. Soon we had all these funny routines.

She would either try to wake me up in the morning by sitting on my hip or wait at the end of the bed. When I woke up she would run and sit next to the bathroom, since that was my first stop. When I came out she would run next to her food and wait until I turned on the water, not before, then eat. Eventually every time we went to the bathroom she would be right outside so we could go into the kitchen with her. Sometimes, if I was too tired, I would just run the water, but she soon caught on to that. At least I was caught up on the dishes.

She became my best little buddy. She would sit next to me all day in one of her special boxes or blankets placed strategically all over the house. She was such a huge part of our lives. Doug's longest female relationship and my first long term pet/friend. I didn't grow up around animals so this was new to me. Doug and I called each other to different parts of the apartment all the time to look at how cute she was. Luckily, when I got my digital camera a 1 1/2 years ago I started taking tons of pictures of her. *Here she stayed long enough for a picture!

In the last 6 months I have been working with her to sit with me without a blanket and while sitting, bribing her with treats of course. We became even closer as she began to trust me enough to sit for even 5 min. at times, though mostly around 30-60 sec. I'll take what I can get!

A few months ago she started hacking/coughing a bit, like she was coughing up a hair ball but none would come. Then in the last few weeks she stopped many of our routines, laying around a lot more. She seemed ok though and we knew as she got older she would slow down(she turned 14 in April). Last Sunday we decided we should make an appointment to take her in to get a check up, just make sure everything was all right.

After Sunday she stopped eating though, making us nervous then Monday night I noticed she was struggling a bit to breathe. Tues. morning Doug woke me up early saying her breathing was worse and he would take the day off to take her to the vet. Still I didn't worry. I just felt we had more time with her. He was able to get her in in the afternoon, all day her breathing a little worse, though she just seemed exhausted, not in pain. We only had this tiny carrier for her, that fit her 10-12 years ago, but was much too small now, but it was only a short drive and we had no choice. By the time they got to the vet, 1/2 mile away, her heart was racing so fast they had to put a little oxygen mask on her for 2 hours, just so the Doc could listen to her chest.

I was not feeling well that day myself, in fact I had passed out earlier in the kitched, dropping my coffee all over, so Doug went to the vet alone. About 2 hours later, when the Doc finally got a listen, he said she had fluid in her lungs that he could give a shot to help with but without an x-ray couldn't say beyond that. Doug called me and we decided we had to take her to the ER, praying for the small chance that it was just an infection. We decided I better come in case. As soon as we got there, after a very stressful ride (though our clinic did loan us a larger carrier), she was whisked away to an oxygen tank in the ICU. Soon the Doc came back and it wasn't good. She said it was either heart disease or cancer. Grim choices. She would have to stay 3-4 days minimum just to find out which one it was, after which she had a max of about 3-4 months left with daily medication and distress, all for just 4000.00$. We both knew we had no choice. It was made a bit easier when she came back to say Bertha had taken a turn for the worse and did we want them to revive her if she arrested. They let us go in and see her. We could have stayed as long as we wanted but we lasted about 30 sec. before we both broke down. She barely knew we were there. It was the right thing.

Both the clinic and hospital were wonderful. They were so kind and caring, as well as very professional. When we walked out, we felt so empty. I have known close friends who have gone through this before and felt bad for them but I didn't understand. I still saw them as pets, not very special members of the family. I know many of you know what I mean which is why I can talk about it here. We didn't make a step without checking for her. She was there to talk to, care for, smile and laugh at. Whenever I was down, Doug always said the he and Bertha loved me, and he was right. When I wanted to talk about kids he would say that Bertha was our kid for now, until the time is right. He was right about that too, at least emotionally. I know human babies aren't as hairy.
I had no idea how hard this was going to be. Everything feels so empty. But I know keeping her going for a few more months would have been for us, not for her. It was time, we just weren't ready. At first thinking about getting a new cat felt like betrayal, but now it feels like survival. Yesterday, to get out of the house, we drove up to the North Shore to visit some friends and stopped into a few cat shelters. We had no idea what we wanted, a cat or a kitten or both. There are so many beautiful cats that need homes. I wish I could take them all. We are giving ourselves a little more time though, to get things ready. Bertha ran the house and it was very much organized around her, so we need to straighten things up. She was a very special little creature and will always be with us.

Thanks for hanging with me if you did. I wanted to get this down. I want to be able to remember. I may have posted some of the photos before. The one above is just last week, and the last one is one of my favorites. If everyone had a little friend like Bertha, the world would be better...not lying. I am starting to perk up again(up and down, up and down....) and will hopefully get all I wanted to do last week done this week. Have a great week everyone! Love Stacy

(Thanks for the freedom of the theme this week Angela. You can find all playing "This Is" on Angela's blog, Three Buttons)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

a few happy things...

Hello Friends! To help give me post ideas and share some quick things about my world I have decided to join a few meme's. There are many going a round and I can't do all of them but there are a few I always enjoy reading, including "This Is..." by Three Buttons way over in Melbourne Australia. Each week someone on the list picks a new theme (on Wed. I think) and then you post about it on Sundays. It is fun with the Aussies because they are pretty much a day ahead of us so really we get two days of posts. Notice I waited til the last second, but at least I got it in instead of just scratching it and trying for next week. Progress!

This weeks theme is, This is what makes me Happy....

Many things make me happy, not just one thank goodness. That would be a lonely life.

Vintage images and clothing make me happy. I love the history of things. Learning about them, imagining things about them. I would love these dresses, labeled as "casual day wear". See history, as in wearing big fancy dresses as casual day wear is history.

Mi Familia makes me happy. I have a very...ummm... unique (read strange) family and I love them to bits. I have been able to really get to know them in the past few years and that has been priceless.

Books of all kinds make me happy. I love to be surrounded by them. This is a poetry medley set from the 1950's that my aunt, who got them from my grandmother gave to me for my birthday. We have 8 small to ginormous full book cases in our one bedroom apartment. I love the knowledge and adventure reading brings. I love being able to travel through space and time without leaving my house. I love Books.

I love fabric and crafts. The touch, smell and experience of crafting is hard to beat. It is a quest to surround oneself with beautiful things while exercising our minds and creative power. The therapeutic value of crafting is unmatched by most things.

Food makes me really happy, especially in pie cake and cookie dough form, but all food. I don't like to mix my sweet with my savory much, though I am making an effort. This pie made me so happy I stood in front of the fridge with a spoon and ate the whole thing. Only 1 piece ever made it to the plate. I love cooking food as well. And cake, mmmm, did I mention that already?

Finally, My husband and my cat make my whole life happy. He really is the best friend/companion one could ever have. He only looks mean in this photo because he is wearing a du-rag and trying to look tough. We are at the lake as well, only smiles there. Bertha is a little bundle of untouchable love. Well we can touch her a bit but there are guidelines. That makes sense. I have boundaries when people touch me too. She is getting old though and slowing down a lot. We love her to pieces.

This is just a few things, of course there are others like rain and good friends but you get the idea. Thank you Jacinta for a lovely theme. You can see what makes others happy at Three Buttons. I haven't had her put me on the list yet, but I will tomorrow. Have a great week everyone. Love Stacy

Friday, July 18, 2008

Again and Again

I don't know why I have such a hard time doing the things I enjoy sometimes. I know it has to do with my health and anxiety. For a long time, once I got anxiety over something, I would leave it and not look back. This includes relationships, hobbies, food etc. The food one I can live with but the others aren't so healthy, especially in trying to find a balance in my life.

My relationship with Doug is the longest I have ever had, 5 1/2 years now. I know there were times when it was tough that I could have just walked away but 1. He wasn't going to let that happen easily 2. I knew rationally what a loss that would be. So I let him love me and stuck it out. Big accomplishment for me.

I think a big part of the problem is my illness. I get interested in something and really enjoy it, then I have a bad spell. I then relate that activity I enjoy (or food, friendship etc.) with being sick. So instead of it being something to look forward to, it becomes the cause of anxiety because my mind relates it to being ill. Does that make any sense?

Then there is the issue of actually going through a bad spell, when doing anything becomes difficult. I am trying so hard to slowly overcome some of these issues. For instance, the last few weeks have been very hard, thus the no blogging. There were moments when, I "knew" I would fail at continuing to blog regularly so I thought it best to just stop and erase it completely. I wanted so bad to be able to write something but due to lack of sleep(which always makes things worse) and going through difficulties anyway, I couldn't get my mind to slow down enough to compose a coherent post.

There is some good news though...

1. My insurance finally came through this week.

2. I am back on all my meds at the correct dosages, it will just take a week or so for all my levels to level out again.
3. I didn't erase my blog after reminding myself how positive it has been for me.

4. I have slowly been able to push past some of the anxiety and start crafting again.

5. I got 24 hours of sleep in 2 days and am beginning to think straight again.

6. I went to 2 yard sales last week and made a vintage killing for 12$ Here is a sneak preview, I will show the whole kit and kaboodle soon!

A 6 piece box of glasses, never opened, in original box
Various vintage kitchen do dads, including my first ever pyrex.

A fantastic vintage cookbook, complete with many stellar photos

7. Ten minutes ago I got a delivery of some beautiful fabric I got at a great price from here. Now I just need to get myself to do something with it. At least it is here to look at and stroke with love. Here is one of the charm packs I got, Flutterby by Tula Pink. I have been waiting for this one for a while, I just love it!

8. I found the greatest food blog ever, A Year of Crockpotting! This woman has challenged herself to use her crock pot every day for the entire year. She is very clear with instructions and always gives a verdict explaining if her family liked it, if the kids liked it etc.

The result is a plethora of easy crock pot recipes, perfect for someone like me. My third use of her recipes is cooking as I speak. She even cooked creme brule' and cheesecake and swears she won't ever cook it another way!

9. There is another fabulous quilt giveaway by the ever talented and generous Dana from Old Red Barn Company. Go to this link to comment before Wed. the 23'd. She really puts a lot of love into her quilts, this one is stunning. She even used a vintage sheet for the backing. There is a link on my side bar as well. Good luck everyone! (The quilt is the pic to the left.)

10. It is Friday so I have 2 days with Doug all to myself! I love being able to stay up late with him and just hang out with no stress. He and Bertha really are the light of my life!

11. Yay, I finished a post. I really want to stay with this. All the inspiration, creativity and friendships the blog world gives me, is worth fighting for. I hope everyone has a great weekend! This photo reminded me of all you blog ladies!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Heat Is On

Indeed it is. And I am sweating like a stuck pig. Heat + Humidity= Me soaking wet! I just had a cold shower and I even shaved my legs! I know, amazing but it does happen at least twice a year, maybe even three times if there is a special occasion. Apparently many women shave all the time...can you believe that. Mumsy shaves every day, she can't stand the stubbly feeling. I told her to just give it a few days or months and it turns soft. When I went home in April, I hadn't shaved since last summer. I mean really, you never even look at your legs in the winter here. In fact the hair acts as a kind of leg coat keeping them warm. Ok, I don't know about that but I do think it's pointless in the winter.
Anyway, when I was home I had capris on one day while mumsy and I were driving and I put my legs up on the dash. Mumsy looked over, gasped and almost crashed the car. Apparently the sun was shining right on my legs, making the hair length quite obvious. To her credit, they were almost an inch but it was the first time of the year I hadn't worn knee highs and at least one pair of pants. As soon as we got to her house, she marched me into the bathroom, handed me a new razor and told me to take care of it before someone else saw them and had a heart attack. LOL

I hadn't shaved them again since then (much to mumsy's dismay I am sure) and I figured it was a good excuse to spend some time in some cool water. We have a wedding coming up in a month so I'll probably do it again then, then get ready to hunker down for the winter. I kind of figure that most things on our body are there for a purpose, so why mess with it (I do shave my arm pits though, don't worry I haven't gone completely hippy yet). Ok, I don't want to scare anyone away so we will move on.

I got a lovely little package from my July mini quilt swap partner, Miniature Quilter, today. Her son has to go in for surgery on Thursday so she got it out early. It is beautiful!

The theme is "triangles" and it certainly has those. The colors are bold and go together so well. She also included a fat quarter and some embroidery transfers. Everything is perfect Lisa, thank you so much. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your son while he goes through such a difficult surgery.

My medication problem along with a few other difficulties have really thrown off my rhythm as far as my swaps go. I have a lot of arm problems sometimes, especially my right shoulder which has made hand sewing difficult lately. I had my June quilt all ready to applique when this happened so have had to change things around in order to do as much by machine as I can. It is coming Jen I promise! I may have gotten a little ahead of myself with the design. I probably should have just pieced it but I think it will be worth it so just hang on another day or so. My insurance should come through next week so doing the rest shouldn't be a problem, this one just happened to hit right in the middle of all this mess.

I have to show you this little trinket I received in the mail from a very good friend of mine that is living in Singapore. Apparently it hangs off of your cell phone, though that seems a bit bulky to me. She put hers on her camera which makes more sense. When she saw it, it reminded her of the stupid sock creatures I made back in Feb so she had to get it for me. Adorable.

Thanks so much for thinking of me Jamie, I love it. When I was 14 we moved to AZ from WIS. Jamie was my first friend in AZ. That first year, 8th grade, was one of the worst years of my life. She was one of the few that gave me a chance and made it bearable. She is one of those people that will always stick up for you, be there when you need someone, never judge you and hang with you through good and bad. Even when we went on different paths, she has always checked up on me and let me know she is there if I needed someone to lean on.

I don't think she has any idea how much her friendship has meant to me over the years and how special the memories of our friendship are to me. She is one of the people in my life that I will always look up to and I am a better person because of her example and friendship. She just had her first baby about 7 months ago and she is precious! Thanks for everything Jamie! (I stole this picture of Kieralyn from her blog)

When I went outside to get some photos of the quilt, I did a little experimenting. There are all kinds of neat little things spread around. George is the ultimate recycler! Serious, about half of the stuff I put out for trash he grabs and uses in some way. When he finds something he thinks might look cool in the yard, he snatches it up. Like this old phone and a couple of cool crates. I have no idea where that wok came from, but the birds seem to enjoy it. It looks like the heat is sticking around for a dew days. I hope everyone has a way to keep cool. Have a great week everyone.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Quiet Celebration

I always knew the military wasn't for me. I am so grateful for those that serve our country in the military but I am also grateful I don't have to serve in that way. I won't say it didn't cross my mind at times but I hate getting yelled at. I really do. I get sick with shame if someone yells at me, even if I did nothing to deserve it. From what I have heard there is a lot of yelling in the military.

Both my grandfathers served in WWII. One got in right at the end so he was in Europe helping to clean things up and what not. My Grandpa Smith however served in Okinawa and was in one of the front waves that attacked Sugar Loaf Hill. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions on those pivotal days. The more I learn about that part of the war, in the South Pacific, the more what I have been told about him makes sense. It was a horrible time and very few of those men have ever been able to talk about it let alone come to terms with their experience.

I know those serving in this war are having similar difficult times. Serving in a land and against people of a culture so vastly different than ours. The way they think and act and their beliefs are something very few Americans understand. To be so young and to have to face these bizarre conditions in a hostile manner must be very difficult and I have great appreciation for those serving in this way. Much of the time I just can't understand why war must be. We are all people, wanting to love and protect our families and ourselves. I know sometimes it is necessary but sometimes I think it is caused by the misunderstanding between cultures and it makes me sad. I can only pray that those serving are protected and those in charge lead their soldiers with honor and compassion. These are my thoughts on this day of remembrance. This day of gratitude for the blessing we have as Americans and for those men and women who have risked their lives for these blessings from the birth of our nation until now.

As I mentioned yesterday, we usually are up at the lake during this time. It has been several years since we have been home for the Fourth but we had a nice day. We got up late (at least I did) and took it easy. A few of my neighbors had a big BBQ out back in the courtyard. Because we all share it, we are all invited to any event going on out there. George did the decorating. I have to say, he is quite the domestic. He even had a singing patriotic Teddy Bear.

Here he is setting up a little bad mitten net set up and someone brought a Bocci Ball set, though they had to play it wonky style since the ground is anything but even. I just love all these bright orange Lillies. They really are beautiful.

We went out for a little while and met some new neighbors. I usually talk myself out of joining in, but I have been trying to make an effort. I can't really complain about not knowing anyone when I don't go to things I am invited to. They did have some pretty good cupcakes, though nothing like Nanette's neighbor Laura's I bet. But a cupcake is a cupcake! It was nice to have Doug home an extra day even if we didn't do anything super exciting. Sometimes the quiet days are really the best. I hope you all had a nice holiday and it can continue through the weekend!

A quick side note: Most of you probably are already in the know, but I did want to mentions the Create and Celebrate posts this week over at Sew Mama Sew. There were so many entries they did a second post (there is a link to the first post at the top). I always enjoy this part of their blog, but this one is extra good. Tons of links to tutorials and craftiness from some of my favorite bloggers as well as some great new ones. You won't be disappointed! So go give it a gander already :)

Edit: I forgot to mention that today was day 1 going POO-FREE! I have to say, I am very pleasantly surprised! The baking soda wash felt good and rinsed out well. And the vinegar really acted as a conditioner. It rinsed out completely leaving no vinegar smell and leaving my hair very soft. To start I am going to do it every 3-4 days. After a bit I should only need to use the baking soda once a week and the vinegar every other week. We shall see!