Thursday, August 29, 2013

Time to Say Good bye

I've been writing this blog for several years now. I've covered everything from Climate Change to Love and Loss. I have run out of things to blog about. Or at least run out of things I care to blog about. It is time to close the shop, lock the doors, and turn out the lights. Until something in me changes I will no longer be updating this blog. Even if something does change in me and I feel the need to write again, I will start a new blog with a new title and most likely a new focus.

I will not delete this blog as I think it has some interesting stuff that someone, some when may find useful. I am shutting down comments though. Most of the comments I have received over the years were nothing but spam anyways. It has been a good run and I hope I touched a few people, made some one think beyond their own realm of influence, and maybe even taught someone something new.

Goodnight and Good bye.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Loss

This last week has been very hard on us and the local SCA community as a whole. A well liked woman was taken from us. She was a good person. She was friendly, compassionate, and enthusiastic. She shared of her time, her knowledge, and herself with any and all. She was, in short, a lovely person.

At first we thought she was simply lost. The community came together and searched the roads in and around the town she lived in. We, the people, were of one mind and one thought. Find her, bring her home, and make sure she is safe. Many of the searcher knew her personally and considered her a friend. Others simply heard that someone was in need and so they made themselves available to help in any way possible.

Hope turned to dismay when she was found dead in a ditch. Through no fault of her own her flame was snuffed out. And, as with many of these kinds of things her body was simply thrown away and discarded as so much trash. The nature of her loss has left many feeling angry, annoyed, disappointed, and sad. Some blame themselves for not being there. Others blame the Divine for taking her out of time. Others, blame those around her who were unusual or different in some way.

The blame does not lie with any of these. The blame lies with the human or humans who chose to take her life and leave her dead in a ditch. At times like this it is hard for people to have compassion. Anger simmers just under the surface, ready to explode with the slightest touch. And, it only takes the very slightest touch to make that anger break the surface. A course word, and unthinking comment, and even the act of staying silent can be enough to break that slight tension on the surface to reveal the roiling, seething, and in some ways astonishingly raw anger.

Loss, of this nature, is hard for people to deal with. It is also hard to get over. We can not expect to get over it quickly but we can try to minimize the damage we do to ourselves and to each other. We must stand together in strength, unity, and a shared moment of rgrief.

I am no different. I am human, after all. I surround myself with darkness and blame myself for not seeing some premonition that would have saved her life. I think to myself, "Why wasn't I there" and "Why did this have to happen?" In the early more hours of a sleepless night, tears leak from my eyes and I feel the need to lash out. Only there is nothing to lash out at. So I, and I expect everyone touched by this situation, try to control the primal need to lash out which makes me feel even more lost and confused.





Saturday, July 13, 2013

Customer Service

One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses making is a lack of respect for the customer and poor customer service. In reality these are two halves to the same problem. I call it "You Owe ME" attitude. I can name off several examples but the most recent one will illustrate the idea nicely.

During a recent bout of rain and wind one of our larger trees fell across the fence that separates us from our neighbours. It fell on the fence in such a way that their dogs could get into our yard and our chickens could get into their yard. Either way a bad situation. Being responsible home owners we called a tree service listed in the phone book.

The owner of the company came out, looked at the damage and the size of the tree, and quoted us a price for removing the tree. He also made an appointment for the next day to get the tree off the fence, so we could go about repairing the rest of the damage. Well, appointment time came and went with no tree service and no phone call. PeterC called them again and the said "Oh, we didn't have time today but we'll be there at 7:00 am tomorrow." Fair enough, they were busy but they could have called to tell us they couldn't make their appointment especially since PeterC had to take time off from work to be here.

The next day rolled around and again no one showed up or called. PeterC had to take the day off to make sure he was here to deal with the tree service guys. At 9:00 am he called their office. The receptionist had no idea who he was or when the tree guys would be out. The while PeterC was on the phone she says "Oh, he just walked in. Let me asked him." He, the person who had made these appointments and owned the business replies, "OH, just tell him we'll be there tomorrow."

And that is the trouble with most businesses. They do not care about the customer, the customer's time, or anything else. All they had to do was ask the receptionist to call to move the appointment and that would have at least been one step to showing some respect for the customer. A simple voice message telling us they were running behind would have allowed PeterC to go in to work an hour late as opposed to 4 hours late. And, we would have been willing to work with them to make a new appointment that was better for both us and them.

Instead their listing in the phone book has a mark next to it. A mark that reminds us that this company failed to show for appointments or call to tell us what was happening. A mark that will remind us to never use them again. A mark that tells us and everyone we know that this company can not be trusted, is unreliable, and a waste of a phone call. In other words, an all around bad experience.

In the end we contacted another tree service who arrived that afternoon and started removing the tree. They told us up front that they would have to finish it the next day and they did not require PeterC to be on hand for them to finish the work. And, they did exactly as promised and the bill ended up being less than they estimated on top of all that. If we need more trees removed, or even some trimming done, guess who we are going to call first. And, all it took was doing what they said they would do.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trials and Tribulations

This has been, for the record, one of the worst months yet. We have had a tree fall on a neighbours fence, nearly taking out their daughters trampoline in the process. We have had temperatures that swing as much as 20 degrees in a matter of hours. There has been so much rain that we had a swamp in the back yard for days, and the mosquito population exploded out of control of course. And most recently, one of our ferrets had to be take in for an emergency vet visit and surgery.

Grendl, the most recent addition to the gang was not paying attention to where he was and fell down the stairs. He was stunned for several hours so we rushed him to the vet to make sure he was not injured. Turned out he was fine except he snapped a canine tooth far enough up to expose the pulp, the blood and nerve centre of the tooth.

Of course we couldn't take the chance that the tooth would become infected and start hurting. If you have ever had a tooth ache you know it is one of the worst pains in the world. We were not going to let our little boy suffer so we booked an appointment to have the tooth removed. Unfortunately, it was not until the following week. Yesterday as a matter of fact.

Like most ferrets, he came out of it like a trooper with bounds and smiles all around. He also charmed the entire vets staff with his happy smile and silly antics. We included a toy in his carrier so he would not be bored and would have some smell of home with him. Apparently, he would pick it up and throw it out of the cage just to have someone come over to pick it up and of course visit with him.

We picked him up early yesterday afternoon and brought him home. He was so happy to see home again. He immediately crawled into the ferret pile and tried to get one of his adopted brothers to play, but that didn't last very long. The long day won out and he fell deeply asleep, along with the rest of the gang.

This morning, when I opened their cage for the daily game of tag, chase, and hording Grendl came out all bounds and giggles. Don't let anyone tell you ferrets can't laugh because this little boy can. It comes out as repeating rapid, nasal, short hisses when he is playing with is brothers or me. For all the world sounding like a little laugh.

The only worry Grendl seems to have is without both his upper fangs it is very difficult to grab another ferret or even a cat and drag them around the house. He was having some trouble with his kiddle but once he figured out how to shift it to the other side of his mouth he eats with gusto and no discomfort. Ferrets are amazingly tough little creatures.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Recognition and Awards

As many of you know I am a member, albeit fairly new, of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA is first and foremost a group of people who enjoy playing dress up in Medieval clothing. Beyond that though there is a great deal more to the SCA.

The SCA is supposed to be a vehicle for education. The members themselves can, and sometimes do, spend huge numbers of hours researching culture, costume, fighting styles, cooking, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. The members of the SCA, or at least some groups within the SCA, also spend time every year doing School Demos where they share their knowledge with school children and adults.

Then of course there is the awards system within the SCA. This system is used to recognize those who go above and beyond in their attempts to make the game more enjoyable for everyone; present more authentic looking kit; and share their knowledge freely. Each Kingdom has its own awards system usually in three streams. Service, Arts and Sciences, and Fighting Prowess. I found out this weekend that many Baronies also have awards to give out.

This weekend was Summer Siege, an event put on by my own Canton. It is usually a pretty laid back event with fighting, equestrian, and archery. This year we also hosted the Baronial Championships in Thrown Weapons, Fencing, and Archery. During court, held after a very large potluck Feast, I was called forward before the Baron and Baroness who presented me with the award "The Hare Salient", the Baronial Service award.

I was rather shocked to say the least. I don't help people out and volunteer for positions because I want an award. I do it because it needs to be done. Turns out that is exactly why I was nominated for this award. I help out because it is the right thing to do and because the help I provide is help that all new people need. I do because I can.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Of Gardens and Woodworking

It has been quite cool and damp here this weekend. Which is great! It means my peas, kohlrabi, and kale will have a chance to put on some growth before it gets to hot for them. It also means the pole beans will be a little late coming up, which is fine since I still haven't been able to get the poles for them.

Instead, I have taken advantage of the cool weather to stay inside and work on my next batch of tafl pieces. I initially made 9 new pieces but the ever destructive Dora decided she was going to eat one and destroy another. Even with a muzzle on at night, Dora knocks stuff onto the floor and does her best to absolutely destroy everything. Sigh!

But, 7 pieces survived Dora's night time onslaught and I spent the evening on Friday and a good portion of the afternoon yesterday sanding each piece carefully. I had to be rather more diligent than usual since there were a few nicks and dings from being used as dog chews. Once they were sanded smooth I game them my customary coat of tung oil to really highlight the grains of the wood.

I'm quite taken with the maple piece sporting the copper crown. The crown is made up of a copper rondelle bead with a copper bead cap glue on upside down. I think it looks quite nice and balances the colour of the wood and the height.

I think I will try to make a few more pieces in this shape just to add crowns to them. Somehow I feel they are more appropriate for King pieces that the standard pieces I've been making so far. A little regal, a little classy, a little posh.







I am finding that I have starting to make pieces more complex as I get to know the capabilities of each of the tools I have. I also found I had more tools than I originally thought. Years ago I purchased a set of carving tools from Canadian Tire, that turned out to be useless for hand carving because of the thickness of the edges.

While working on the latest turned pieces I suddenly remember that set and pulled it out. Several of the pieces in that set work very well for wood turning. The V gouges, the spoon gouges, and even the straight edge chisels seemed to work well for creating interesting shapes in the spinning wood.

I think if the sun comes out tomorrow I will go outside and turn a few more pieces. Maybe I'll pull out some exotic woods I have in storage and see how well they turn. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll rummage through the yard looking for some cast off branches of Chestnut, Cedar, Apple, and more. See how green wood turns and what kind of lovely pieces I cam make from it.



Friday, May 03, 2013

Accomplishments

The weather has been decent the last few days. The days have been sunny but just cool enough to discourage the bugs and encourage a sweater at sun down. The sun has been staying up giving us enough light to work or play outside until 8:30 pm. All in all, the perfect day if a little dry.

I've been taking advantage of this near perfect outdoor weather, too. Sunday I built a tall, narrow table just the perfect height and width to accommodate my two lathes. Not at the same time of course. With the table built I moved my large spindle lathe out of the garage and practised spindle turning on Monday.

I started out trying to create a small hollow cup, from some horse chestnut wood I saved from last year, but I figured out pretty quickly that I did not purchase the correct tools for cup turning. I bought several gouges but they are all designed for face plate work, the setup you use for making shallow bowls and plates. The piece turned into a rather lovely chess piece. Unfortunately, I don't need chess pieces and I am not good enough to make each piece look the same.

This of course gave me an idea. I contacted a friend of mine in the SCA who makes period game boards. One of the games he makes is Tafl, a Norse and Saxon board game that is played with several pieces that look the same and one piece that does not look the same. This is the King piece. All the other pieces on the board are either trying to protect the King or capture the king.

I explained that I needed to practise turning but that I wasn't able to make a full set that looked the same, but that I could make pieces that could be used for the King piece. He was very interested in receiving my practise pieces which makes me happy. I hate making things that have no purpose just because I have to spend time learning techniques and tool use.

The large lathe was purchased used from a coworker. From the beginning I have been a little afraid of it because my first attempt to use it last year resulted in the clamp giving way and a 8 inch diameter chunk of log flew up and hit me in the face. The bolt holding the sliding end to the rail had stripped out. After that experience I've been somewhat concerned that other pieces would fail. Sure enough the spike on the sliding pieces is not free spinning like it should, resulting in a god awful whine from the friction of the wood against the centre.

Earlier this year I purchased a small lathe from Canadian Tire. I chose it because it was small, had a faceplate attachment, and best of all was on sale for half of it's normal cost. Canadian Tire also just happened to be the only place in town that carried a lathe. My other option was a order one in from Lee Valley or Grizzly. To costly at the time, and in all honesty I didn't want to fork out money for something I may decide I dislike working with.

I pulled out my little lathe and have spent the last few afternoons turning different pieces from a variety of domestic wood. I have used Maple, Basswood, Cherry, Birch, and of course the Horse Chestnut. All of the pieces look somewhat like pawns from Chess, though they vary wildly in size and shape.

Basswood is extremely easy to turn, but can chip out badly at higher speeds. The Maple wasn't to bad either, though it did take longer than the basswood. I was surprised to find that cherry turns very nicely without putting to much stress on the tool edges. Birch is a lovely wood and as long as I kept my tools honed it turned nicely. The piece of Horse Chestnut was surprisingly easy to turn as well and the wood developed a darkness to it once it was oiled with tung oil.

I decided to oil most of the pieces to highlight to grain and natural colour of the wood. The Maple is the only piece I decided was to plain. I made two pieces in Maple, actually I made two pieces in each of the woods except the chestnut, and left one plain to be painted and the other I oiled. Once I deliver the initial offerings to Olaf Haroldsson I will have a better idea of what it is he wants.

Until then though, I will continue turning pieces and letting the tools and the wood dictate the final outcome of the piece. I think I might even switch over the the faceplate attachment and try my hand at making a small bowl. I have a rather nice piece of chestnut that I saved from last year's pruning and I think it will make a lovely bowl. This will also give me a chance to try out those really expensive gouges that I purchased just for bowl turning.

In hindsight maybe I should have purchased a good quality lathe and a few started tools rather than a bunch of expensive tools but a poor quality lathe. As they say hindsight is 20 / 20, though mine seems to be more limited than that.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

It has been a While

I know it has been a while since my last blog post. Partially it is because I have so many other things going on that I can't seem to take time to write up a decent post, and I hate one or two liners just to fill space. The majority of the reason is because I am lazy and I haven't done anything of interest. I also can't sit down and force myself to write even when I know I should.

I would like to lay the blame on Facebook but truthfully I can not blame Facebook. I put off joining Facebook for years because I knew it would enable me to be even less productive than normal. That and I had no reason to join since my I see my friends more than once a week. PeterC finally convinced me to join by pointing out all these cool and interesting posts by people who I know in passing in the SCA.

I admit, I have seen some interesting articles and posts by people I would not otherwise encounter on a daily basis. But the majority of my time on FB is playing those silly games. I can pretend I don't have work to do and just veg in front of my PC for hours playing useless and mind numbing games. My excuses vary from week to week: "It is cold and wet outside."; " I don't feel well."; and of course the old refrain of "I have to complete level XYorZ."

It is all crap and excuses to make me feel better about not doing anything. I am an addict to stupid time wasting games. Facebook doesn't make me sit in front of my PC and it sure doesn't make me play those games. Enables? Sure. Encourages? Definitely. Forces? No way. I could just turn it all off but I haven't. And it isn't like I don't have plenty to do.

There is garden work. PeterC and I have already planted out earl spring seeds. This year it is snow peas, kale, leeks, and kohlrabi. In another month we will plant our pole beans and fennel. The herb bed needs to be cleaned up and the annual plants seeded or seedlings planted. The blueberry bushes need to be fed and mulched with peat moss. The flower beds need to be cleaned up and coffee grounds scattered around the rose bushes. Weeds need to be pulled. Trellises need to be rebuilt and repaired. Compost bins need to be turned. The chicken coop needs to be cleaned out. And...well you get the idea. There are tons of things to do around the yard and house.

There is also my woodwork. I want to build a pole lathe and forge some specialty tools for it. I want to get some more carvings done for my Etsy shop. I want to create some game boards for Medieval and Dark Ages games to take with me to SCA events. I want to create some turned pieces for those games boards. I want to build a replica of the Mastermyr Chest. I want to create more tools for various fibre arts that I practice, as well as to sell on Etsy.

I want to create an entire set of garb for my SCA events, by hand. I've been working on this project at night in front of the TV. So far I have created a wool hood for winter and am almost done with construction on a linen hood for summer. Next I plan to embroider some cuffs for my medieval dress. After that a tunic and pair of trews, and maybe even some underwear. Then back to the embroidery to decorate my new linen hood and the cuffs and collar of my new tunic. With some luck I will have this project done for Feast of the Hare, the big SCA event in November here in Skraeling Althing.

Then there is the blacksmithing. I need to forge some tools and parts for the pole lathe project. I want to create replicas of the tools from the Mastermyr Chest. I want to make some iron needles just to see how they work. I want to try to make a lock for the Mastermyr chest. Blacksmithing is not one of those things I absolutely have to do to do the woodworking, but it is one of the many things I would like to do. Besides, it is something I can do with PeterC since he is interested in blacksmithing.

I've recently come across references to "Visby Lenses", viking age or earlier clear rock crystals that have been ground down to create magnifying lenses. Most like used for reading but possibly used to see tiny stitches in embroidery work. This is of course going to be an ongoing research project. It is going to take me months to create the necessary tools and many more months to figure out how to create the lenses using Iron Age technology. No diamond saws or high speed diamond grinding wheels here. Just plain old elbow grease and ....well that is as far in my research as I have gotten. Sand, maybe? Don;t know but it should be interesting to find out.

As you can see, I have plenty to do. Now I just have to turn off the PC and get to work. I think I will mulch the blueberries today and then work on turning some game pieces using my very modern electric lathe. And then, if the weather holds I might even get up enough oomph to take a walk or go for a bike ride.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Spring

Spring is here but the ground is still quite cold and snow stills covers the shadier parts of the yard. The seeds are still in their packages waiting for a warm sunny day when they can be put into the ground. I am content to wait.

My neighbour, who always has a perfect yard, is not as content to wait as I am. I saw him out in his yard both yesterday and today trying to get a jump start on the spring cleanup. He was putting fresh earth in his flower beds and trying very hard to erase the signs of winter as quickly as possible.

I love watching him in his yard. He always seems like he is in deep meditation when he is working in the garden. He truly loves the plants, the grass, and even the birds and bees. His wife, not so much. She loves the way the yard looks but she doesn't appreciate the birds and bees as much as he does.

I always look forward to seeing the yard, mine and the neighbours, in bloom. It is no competition. My yard looks as natural as I can make it except for the vegetable garden. His, reminds me of the beautifully maintained gardens you see on English Estates. Each has its place and makes the people living in them happy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Winter is Still Here

This time last year I had already planted my entire garden. The year before that we had a heat wave of 20º C that caused my lettuce to prematurely go to seed. This year the air is still cold, the ground, is still frozen, and we still have snow coming out of the sky.

Don't get me wrong, I love Winter and I believe the last few years have been abnormal. I don't mind that we still have snow on the ground. I think it is a good thing to get back to something resembling a normal Winter schedule. I just hope that the Summer is normal to. If not then my garden is likely to be in a lot of trouble this year.

I was betting on a cooler summer than the last two so I chose a lot of cooler weather plants. Kale, Snow Peas, Spinach, Fennel, Kohlrabi, and the like. Plants that do well in a area that averages less than 22ºC during the Summer. Unfortunately, the weather casters are predicting a hotter, muggier, and longer Summer than last year. If it is hotter than last year then not only is the garden in trouble but so am I.

I am much like the cooler weather plants. I thrive in dry, cool conditions. It is one of the reasons I prefer Winter to Summer, and Fall to Spring. I love it when the average temperature in the Summer never goes above 23º C. When it is hot and humid, especially the humidity, I will have a chest cough the entire Summer that makes every activity difficult and physical activity is more likely to make me sick than relax me.

So, I am crossing my fingers that once again the weather casters have it wrong. I pray my instincts are correct and that I and my garden will be able to thrive, grow, and enjoy the coming Summer.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Expanding my Horizons

When I formed this blog it was meant to be a way to share information on small scale gardening, canning, cooking, and the joys of a semi-rural home. As I went along I shared a few things outside of that narrow view of me and my life, but it didn't seem appropriate somehow.

PeterC and I were talking last night about where I should go with the blog. He suggested that I have been limiting myself unnecessarily. He thinks I should be sharing my adventures in all aspects of my life since they impact my life here at home.

Thinking about it more today I have to admit that he is correct. I started researching ways to live comfortably with limited, or no, advanced technology because of the doomsday myths surrounding Dec 12, 2012. Joining the SCA, and gaining access to said knowledge was one of the ways I chose to prepare myself.

When Doomsday failed to materialize, which for some reason I take rather personally, I thought the interest in low tech living would disappear. It hasn't. I find myself as interested as ever. Instead of looking at this as a way to survive the future, I now must admit that I am just as interested in learning about society, cultures, and livelihoods in the Bronze Age and Early Post Roman eras England.

Perhaps it is simply because the SCA is my current hobby of interest. Perhaps it is a matter of not know what else to do. Or perhaps, just perhaps, I've always been interested in in ancient technologies and the SCA has finally given me a true direction of study, along with a handful of people who are willing to share what information they have learned along the way.

Regardless of the reasons for my current interests, the fact is the things I learn do play a part in what I grow, what I eat, what I make, and in general what I do here on this little slice of land. For most posts this probably will not make a difference. But there will be some posts that go into more detail and take on the air of a research paper, along with references and examples if they exist.

Hopefully, you will enjoy the journey with me.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Catching Up on Dora

Whew, it has been hectic here and a month has passed since my last post. I'll get you all caught up on things around here in this post and hopefully not let it run behind again.

Dora, as we call her, is doing well. She still thinks she is a lap dog and PeterC is encouraging her every chance he gets. She is a very high energy pup and needs a lot of play time before she can settle down for a nap. But, when it is nap time she wants the lap as well.

Dora also figured out how to open the gate to the outside kennel. She and Dunny, our other much older dog, decided to go walk about for a whole day. Luckily, just as we were giving up hope of finding them they found PeterC. He was sitting in the truck drinking a cup of coffee before he continued the search and these two fugitives walked up to the truck and hopped in as if this was a normal outing. Needless to say the gate got a lock that same day.

Of course that didn't stop Dora. She managed to squeeze under the chainlink fence of the kennel. Luckily, Dunny couldn't fit through so Dora stayed in the yard...well mostly. We came home from work to find doggy prints in the fresh snow, travelling up and down the front hedge and back and forth on the front porch. We checked in the back and Dora was in the yard, but three seconds later she joined us on the front porch as we unlocked the door. Quite the little escape artist. PeterC fixed that problem, too.

As you can imagine, Dora gets bored easily. Unfortunately, it seems to happen only after we have gone to bed. Several days in a row we would wake to find something out of place and heavily chewed upon. It finally came to a head when she pulled one of my carving tools out of its pouch and chewed it up. She had to stand on her hind legs to get this tool and it was only by chance that she grabbed a tool that doesn't have an edge. Otherwise it could have been a deadly experience.

We went to the Pet store and spend quite a bit of money on chew toys that same day. It is absolutely shocking the price of chew toys these days. You know your getting older when even something like a chew toy is far more expensive than you remember from your youth, or even just a few years ago. Back to the story.

Dora of course showed no interest in any of the toys unless PeterC was playing with it or if Dunny showed interest in it. So back to the drawing board we went and came up with the idea of "flavouring" the chew toys with treats. The stinkier the better. She thought that was a great idea but that only lasted as long as it took her to figure out there was no actual treat left.

We bought a Kong , 3 plastic cups on a rope, and a miscellaneous assortment of small stinky treats we could stuff into said toys. Joy of joys, this worked. At least it did for a couple of days. She soon figured out the trick to getting the treats out of the Kong and managed to destroy the cup and rope toy. But, for a whole two days Dora did not chew on something she wasn't supposed to.

Last night Dora got back into the carving bag. This time she only pulled out a few pieces of scrap wood I keep handy for making nalbinding needles. No harm done, but I fear the wood is no better for her than the tools themselves. So we are scratching our heads trying had to figure out a way to keep her entertained when we sleep. If anyone has a solution we are all ears.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Pandora

As most you have already figured out, PeterC and I are suckers for a sob story. More so when that sob story revolves around an animal. Sometimes our better judgment saves us from ourselves, but not very often. I am especially vulnerable to cats and ferrets, while PeterC is especially vulnerable to dogs.

Enter stage left- A friend of a friend has a 10 month old puppy that she can no longer care for. PeterC has been looking for another large breed dog and he has never had a puppy so of course we go have a look see. What we find is a sweet shepherd cross girl in a home with a bullying miniature collie and with an owner who can not walk her or even be at home for her on a regular basis.

In an attempt to let our better judgment kick in we take her for a really long walk around the neighbourhood. Instead of making the decision to wait for another chance, PeterC sees great potential and a lovely pup in need of a good home.

Centre Stage Spotlight - Enter Pandora. 

Pandora is supposedly a Slick Fur King Shepherd. Personally I think that means shepherd crossed with something, or many somethings, but we can only take the work of the previous owner. Unfortunately, she is not housebroken and does not understand that she should use the potty outside or on walks. She is trained to go to the potty papers, and is actually quite good about using them.

Pandora was also not fixed. In fact she was in heat when we picked her up. Luckily for us, she was not bred, though I think the previous owner had though to breed her at some point. She is not a barker, but whimpers and whines when she wants attention. She and Dunny get along great, though she doesn't like Muffet at all. She has also claimed PeterC as her own.

When PeterC gets up to go the bathroom, Pandora is right there by his side. When we go to bed at night she curls up outside the bedroom door. She is attached to his hip in a way that I have never seen in any animal before. He doesn't seem to mind the attention, though she is just a little big to be a lap dog. Don't tell her that though, she would be heartbroken.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Goodbye Minou

Minou and Spot by the Fire

Minou joined our family 10 years ago, when we still lived in Edmonton, Alberta. He was declawed on both the front and back feet at some point in his life. When we found him he was living on the streets and had moved in to a co-workers garage, very much against the will of the co-worker. Our vet in Edmonton guessed that he was between 3 and 5 years old. We took him in and loved him dearly, bringing him with us when we moved to Ontario and making sure he always had everything he needed.

Minou returned the favour by adopting and caring for every kitten we took in after that. As long as the others were smaller than him, he allowed them to chew, snuggle, bite, or simply lay in front of the fire with him. When they got older and were no longer kittens he taught them, gently, that personal space was very important.

A few months ago Minou was diagnosed with Cancer. He was put on a daily regimen of pills and given as much soft cat food as he could eat. The vet said he could drop dead one day, or he would live to be a ripe old age. We just had to keep an eye on him and make sure he was not in pain and continued to eat and drink.

Minou stopped eating Thursday. He had lost all muscle tone and seemed to be loosing weight as we watched. Friday he wouldn't eat or take his pills. Saturday he refused to eat or drink and could barely walk two or three steps without needing to lay down and rest. In other words he was dying slowly, and presumably painlessly.

Minou left us last night at midnight. We had to make the hard decision to have him put down.We called the emergency vet services and found a vet will to come to the office at such a late hour to put Minou down. The cat that hated car rides barely protested as he was driven to the vet's office.

An examination by the vet showed that Minou had developed a large tumour in his abdomen. We are not even sure he would have survived through the night, but we chose to intervene and make his passing quick and painless. He went under quickly and without a struggle on his part.

Now we have a hole in our hearts where he took up residence so many years ago. The other cats are doing their best to fill that hole, or to at least make it fill smaller and less painful. But I will always remember poor toeless Minou and his willingness to love every kitten and human equally.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Taking Stock and Setting Goals

I know I haven't posted since Dec 21, and for that I am sorry. But I have been taking stock of my life and trying to set some reachable goals for myself. It seems that subconsciously I had stopped thinking about the future past Dec 21, 2012 and when that day came and went like any other I found myself floundering in a sea of uncertainty. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life past this point. So I have spent the last month figuring that out.

I have decided to:
  • Continue with my handicraft business on Etsy, and expand my line of fibre art tools and hand made personal items especially those based on historical finds.
  • Learn and start producing bone replicas of historical items.
  • Learn Bronze casting, especially using the last wax method.
  • Create several historically based scrolls to be given to the Barony and Kingdom.
  • Work on my and PeterC's garb to make it more historically accurate; including embroidery, style and cut, and hand sewing.
  • Pay off and close one of my credit cards. 
  • Sign up for a DVD acrylic art course so I can start working on my childhood dream of becoming an artist of the painterly type.
  • Start selling said artwork, since in my mind being an artist means getting paid for the artwork you make.

These are all long term goals that will require some serious research and a lot of work. Some of them can be reached within the year, while others may take several years to reach. But, I think that I will be happier and will feel rewarded for reaching each of these goals.