Thursday, March 5, 2015

It's An Art

I have recently come to the conclusion that I am losing touch with 
my arsty-fartsy side.
This is a travesty.
No, actually I've just been super lazy for about four years.
When I was a teenager, my aunt and I used to make fun of my sister because she really enjoyed arts and crafts.  I honestly don't even recall what exactly it was that she did.  I remember some latch hook projects...but other than that, no clue.
We would call her "crafto."
I realize how ludicrous this is now, because I was actually the one who was all crafty and ridiculous.
In middle school...macrame was my passion.
I made so many damn plant holders and wall hangings, I didn't know what to do with them all.
I eventually graduated to fancy patterns, and recall a lovely light blue circular thing with a ceramic teddy bear in the middle.
And my most prized piece: a lovely red fish.
(I am a pisces.  Fish are my thing.)
I rocked the macramé.  I was a true child of the 70's.
I also painted and cross-stitched, and tried my hand at sewing.
In fact, one summer, I decided to skip the family vacation to the lake, and instead, spend the week at my aunt Betty's learning how to make dolls and doll clothes.
My goal was to make "cabbage patch-esque" dolls.
I had the iron on eyes, and had to hand stitch the fingers and toes, belly buttons, as well as the nose and mouth.
Needless to say, all of my dolls looked like they were those unfortunate children featured in ads that asked for your donations so they could be brought to the United States for some life altering plastic surgery.
Sewing the clothing didn't go much better.  I would inevitably end up with one sleeve sewn on inside out, or the seams wouldn't line up.
It was a miracle I didn't sew my finger into any of my attempts at doll fashion.
I walked away from the world of arts and crafts for many years.
(I, rather, just made fun of my sister for doing it instead.)
The magic of homeownership was what brought me back to my "creative roots." really forced me back, since we were always too broke to actually purchase nice things, or to hire anyone to do the work for if I wanted anything to look pretty, it was up to me to make it happen.
I could spend the entire day writing about my trials and errors with all of my projects in our many homes. (Luckily...most were successes.)
It was unfortunate that we lived through the eras that included some rather hideous stenciling. (I stenciled our second house like there was no tomorrow.  It was ridiculous.) And wallpaper.  (I am all for some statement wallpaper here and there...but that second house got some serious wallpaper, along with the stenciling.  We are talking apples in the kitchen, and a huge overabundance of fish in one of the bedrooms.  Completely obnoxious.)
Those were the days when more was more.
I cringe at the memories.
Luckily, I have now acquired some abilities that are actually somewhat beneficial.
Since I hadn't retained any of those sewing skills I attempted to acquire back in 5th grade, my daughter and I took some classes, and learned the basics.  
I just wanted to be able to make my own pillows and curtains.
That was one of the best things I've ever done.
I still don't really know what I'm doing, but I fake it quite well.
And, ever since my sweet friend Lori stopped over the other day with her handmade goodies, I have been inspired to sew again.
Here are a couple of projects I have been working on.

Sewing machine cover. (It looks wonky in the pic...but it is actually nicely shaped.) My first time following written directions.  (I usually just make stuff up as I go along.)

The start of a quilt that I began yesterday.

Shamrock pillow front

And back....b-day gift for a very Irish friend. ;)

We will not even talk about that stupid button on the front.
I had to sew it on THREE times to get it in the PERFECT spot.
And I HATE sewing buttons.
I am not sure what my problem was, but my "lining up" skills were on the fritz today, and that button took almost as long as that darn shamrock!


Another wonderful thing about spending the day in the sewing room is that I can't see the disaster that the rest of my house is from there.
I am tempted to just move down there permanently.
There is a mini fridge just down the hall from that room, and a microwave, so there really is no reason why I couldn't live down there.
I may have to spend today plotting my relocation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Holding on to Hope

If there has been one thing that has changed (quite drastically) in my life over the past year, it would be my heightened awareness and despair over the unbelievable amount of animal abuse and inhumane treatment that occurs in our country and around the world.
(Sorry....I just saw another post about the horrendous dog trade in Asia...which ignites such rage and agony in me, I can hardly function after even seeing so much as a picture of those poor babies being piled on top of each other in the cages they shove them into.)

In other words....I am sitting here in tears....wondering why there is such cruelty in the world.
Let me preface this by saying that I certainly don't sit around all day, and search for this information.  Nor do I attempt to make myself miserable by inundating my day with nothing but sad stories of the horrors that occur.
It's actually quite the opposite.
I look for videos of animals being rescued and saved.
I look for stories where unlikely pairs (perhaps, a kitten and a bird) end up being the best of friends.
I intentionally search out everything GOOD that I can find...because we are so surrounded by the NOT good, I feel like it has gotten completely out of control.
I grew up on a there were realities that I was definitely aware of.
I fell madly in love with every kitten that was born...and my heart was broken each time something happened to those cats.
And something ALWAYS happened to our cats. 
The dogs seemed to fare a bit better...but I lost several of my "best friends" through the years, as they got old, or got too close to the highway.
One day, the calf you had been bottle feeding was there...the next day, he wasn't.  It is a pretty rough reality for a sensitive girl like me.
However...I never saw any animal be mistreated.
Accidents happened...but all of our animals were loved, and treated with respect.
Silly me...I assumed that is how it was on every farm.
Of course, we just had a small farm, and we certainly weren't in it for the money.
And that is where the problem lies, right there.

It sickens me how the almighty dollar has become more important and more valuable than anything. 
It certainly is more important than the well-being of any living creature...because apparently they were put on this earth for humans to make a quick buck off of.
It goes beyond the animals as well.  
These mega farms are not only creating horrendous living environments for the animals, but they are also polluting and destroying the land around them.
I was reading about a pig farm that emptied the pig's waste into huge pools outside the giant barns the pigs were housed in.  Then, when the pools were full, they would spray this waste onto the fields, land and HOMES beyond these "farms".
The people living in the near-by homes, of course, were low-income, and this was the only place they could afford to live.  They had to keep their windows and doors shut because of the overwhelming stench...and, because they would get pig urine and feces sprayed INTO THEIR HOMES if they left them open.
And these big ag farmers can get away with this...and think it's OKAY to do this!!!
There is a high rate of lung related illness and disease in this area, and cancer.
 What ever happened to farm animals frolicking happily on the grassy hillside?
Instead, they are condemned to a life inside a cage where they can't even turn around, much less breathe any fresh air or see the sun shine.

I would venture a guess that a high percentage of these animals (especially the pigs) have IQ's significantly higher than the people who are "taking care" of them....and in SO many cases, abusing them. 

It is disgusting.  It is wrong.  I lose sleep over it.
I wish I was really smart, because more than anything....I wish I could do something to CHANGE THIS!
Why aren't people harshly punished for abusing animals?
As far as I'm concerned...any monster who has the capacity to inflict harm upon an animal has the capacity to inflict harm upon another human.
In fact, I would go so far as to say, they are even WORSE for harming an animal..because they can not defend themselves.
Animal abuse should have the same punishment as child abuse.
In my's equally as vicious.
And what should that punishment be?
An eye for an eye.
No second chances.
Anyone who is that evil doesn't deserve to see the light of day again.

Yes....I am standing SO high up on my soap box today.
I spent a lot of time thinking about all of this over the past couple of days...and I think my frustration with the state of our world right now is why I choose to just keep myself wrapped in the safety of my house.
No one is getting hurt here.  The animals are spoiled rotten and loved beyond measure here.  The kids are respectful, and are fun to be around...and they know they have two parents who would die for them.
Money is not important here.
We make sure we have enough to pay the bills...and we hope that we can get our kids through college, and MAYBE someday we will be able to retire...but money will NEVER be our driving force.  We view it as a food, I guess....but not as a motivator.  Sure, it would be great to never have to worry about finances...but I would rather live a simpler, less frivolous life, rather than miss out on life because I was too busy trying to get rich.  Or compromising my values, because I didn't think I could be happy until I had a bundle in the bank.
When I look around me...I see so many people who are so GOOD.  So many friends and families that give me so much hope for the future.
It's the big picture that is scary.  
Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better to just stay in my little bubble of ignorance....better to not be aware of all of the horrible things that are taking place every single day.
However, if I did could I ever change anything?  Even if I can't make a huge impact...maybe just bringing awareness to enough people can start a ripple that will eventually turn into a wave.
Someone has to be the voice for those who can't speak for themselves, right?

So, even though it rips my heart into a million pieces every time I read about it or force myself to look at pictures....I am going to keep educating myself, when it comes to the truth about what is really happening to these animals. They have done nothing to deserve their fate, and can only hope that there are people out there who will find a way to end their suffering.

I know that if the tables were turned, I would sure hope that someone out there was trying to help me.

I promise I will watch something funny and happy before I start to write tomorrow's blog!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Time to Dream

I'm baaaack!
This past week felt like a month.
I have no idea why, but it did.  
I am sure you are just dying to know what exciting things I did during my hiatus.
Well, like I said in my previous post, I decided to get in shape.

Phew....that was a lot of work.
I'm so glad that my torso finally stretched out too.
It's amazing what a treadmill can do.

Actually....I figure that no matter how much I exercise or how well I eat, I will never own a set of abs like that.  I could weigh 90 pounds, and still have a tire.  Why?  Because my torso is 5 inches to short.
If you would chop of her ^torso between where her elbows are and just above her belly button...and glue the two pieces back together...that's about what I've got.
I can look okay standing up...but once I sit down, my chest and hips are instantly attached.
One would think that with all of the advances in plastic surgery, that they would have figured out how to make a "torso extender" by now...wouldn't you?
I realize the spine is a tricky thing....but I'm sure mine would be happy to be stretched and straightened!
I believe that I mentioned that fact that our heat source was in peril before my hiatus.  Well....we enjoyed an entire week of a perfectly brisk house before the repair could be made.  (Maybe that's why it felt like a month?)
Fortunately, we tried a different company this time, and rather than just charging us a ton to patch the problem, they actually replaced the entire system that had been failing year after year.
I'm not looking forward to that bill...but it will definitely pay for itself, considering what we have been shelling out for the past 4 years to get the stupid things repeatedly worked on.
During my week of chilly self-pity (let's face it....I was in the dumps, and that's why I needed a week off.) I was sitting on my couch waiting for the arrival of the heat-fixer-guy.
There was a knock at the door....but to my surprise, it was a woman.
This threw me for a moment, because I didn't expect the heating guy to be an attractive, perfectly put together gal.
(I have a wreath on the door....and it happens to STILL be my Christmas wreath.  Along with all of my Christmas decor that is still gracing my front stoop.  I suppose I should deal with that at some point.) Anyway, the wreath was impeding my ability to clearly see who it was...but when I opened the door, I was very surprised to see a very sweet woman whom I'd only met a year ago, and most of our relationship has been via Facebook and this blog.
Immediately, something very interesting happened.
My chihuahua Riley, ALWAYS barks and goes slightly apeshit whenever someone comes to the door.  Especially someone he has never met before.
He typically goes through a ritual of "I am a ferocious guard dog, and I'm going to attack you...and then, after you pet me, we can be best friends."
However, this time...he quieted, and was docile.
(I ALWAYS pick him up, and "introduce" him that way....or he might try to taste your ankle as way to acquaint himself.)
There was no need to pick him up, because obviously....the dog whisperer had arrived.
The reason for this visit?  To bring me the sweetest care package EVER.
Inside the most beautiful bag (that she had made) were my now two most favorite things.
1. A giant rice pack....that covers my entire lap or shoulders (or lower back, or crampy tummy)....or whatever needs some heating or cooling.
And this book:

First of can you not fall in love with a pig named Christopher Hogwood?
It was the perfect remedy for a girl suffering the winter blues, with a mind altering case of PMS to top it off.
As I finished the last chapter (last night in bed) I literally know, that "I am crying so hard I can't breath, and maybe will never be able to breath freely through my nose again" kind of sobbing...for a good 20 minutes.
Because, as all good animal books go....the star of the show eventually does get old and goes to hog heaven.
If you want to read a wonderful story....the author is quite amazing herself, as she has traveled the world, researching wild animals and their habitats her entire adult life. (She and her husband are both writers) And, if you want to fall madly in love with a 700lb. pig who loves his belly scratched, opens his mouth when visitors stop by and offer him treats, and is picky, as he makes sure to choose the strawberries and other favorites from his "slop" first, and refuses to eat onions and citrus peels, you need to read this book.
It was interesting to me, because the author talked a lot about the fact that she always related to animals better than she did to humans.  She never had kids, because she never felt that maternal urge, nor did she know what to do with them.  Her animals were her babies.  (Ironically, Christopher, her pig, is what brought children, and many now close friends into her life.)
I bring this up, because for quite awhile now, I feel most content when I am home with my dogs. 

 I have no desire to go out and be around a lot of people.
It is such a change in me, because I used to thrive on the chaos and excitement of a crowd.  Now, I avoid it at all cost.
I can't decide if it's a good or bad thing.
I am glad that I can feel so content being alone, and being at home.
I used to have a really hard time with that.  I would get really anxious, and feel like I always had to be doing something, or needed to have someone else around.  I would go crazy if Mark was gone too much.
Now, I love being alone.  I love the quiet.
Part of me worries, however, that I have shut myself off from everything.
That I am missing out on life because I have closed down myself socially.
I also worry that I'm not "doing anything with my life."
I have "jobs" but I don't really feel like I have a purpose I guess?
I used to be a lot more excited, more driven, and had lots of ideas when it came to things I wanted to do.
Now....I have no idea.
I feel kind of stuck.
Spring can't come soon enough.
It's time to create some new habits, and to start conjuring up some new dreams.
That is something I haven't done in a long time.