Blessed Amid Wreckage

With all of the stress I put myself through over jobs, money, etc. I forget how blessed I am to have what’s in my life already. I am so lucky to have my family and my little ones safe and in my life. This woman finding her dog in the middle of her home’s wreckage serves as a reminder that we should be grateful daily for that which we have not lost.

“Gratitude bestows reverence…..changing forever how we experience life and the world.”
― John Milton

Mice and Headless Penguins

It has been few days since any real posting of mine. My schedule filled up with all kinds of animals to look after this weekend and once I got home and showered off all the accumulated disgusting, I wasn’t exactly focused enough to type things for fun. But I’m back, and here is what I did in my slightly dazed state.

Late last week I decided to try a pattern I found online for a sort of standing/sitting mouse toy for the cats. Since they love their other mice and fish so much I figured why not! But instead of a cute little mouse catnip toy I ended up with this:

The Headless Penguin

The Headless Penguin

THE HEADLESS PENGUIN, as he is now endearingly known in this household, is a big hit with the kittens, but a huge failure when it comes to actually being a mouse (of any recognizable shape or even abstract form).

At that point I threw the Headless Penguin into the cat toy basket and became determined to create a template for a mouse that when sewn together is recognizable. So, while decompressing from taking care of a load of cats all over the city (one of which acts like she needs an exorcist every time I enter her house), I toyed with how to fix the penguin problem and finally came up with this little guy,  and an easy pattern with instructions right on it to share with you.

he's a little goofy looking, but who's not?

He’s a little silly in the face, I realize this, and can definitely be toyed around with a bit (bigger ears, 3D arms, etc), but at least he has a full body and head. I apologize that he’s in all black. I’m running seriously low on anything with color in it. The fabric store is a little difficult to get to, and so is money at this point, so black is back for now.

Here’s the pattern to print in case you want one of these littles all your own.

standing mouse templateHere’s What You Need for the project

  • Felt in whatever color strikes your fancy
  • embroidery thread
  • stuffing of your choice
  • scissors, pins, needle
  • your favorite show to keep your brain busy while you piece it all together. Personally, the mouse took me about an episode of Supernatural. I’m going to miss those boys when it’s over.

It’s that easy. Simmy, my cat, wouldn’t wake up long enough to model it for me, so I used him as a cute platform with which to display my end result.

IMAG3155-1

Don’t feel too bad for him, he threw up in my hair about 2 hours later.

“There are still many more days of failure ahead, whole seasons of failure, things will go terribly wrong, you will have huge disappointments, but you have to prepare for that, you have to expect it and be resolute and follow your own path.”
Anton Chekhov

Patience and Dirty Pennies

It’s a virtue right? I learned them all in third grade (yea parochial school…)Patience-is-a-Virtue

It would be easy to say I know a lot about patience, and then tell you that its development definitely has a payoff, and that I am now at some great job with great opportunities for growth because I’ve spent years gaining experience in something that can only be learned. But it isn’t true. I’m not at that great job I know I could do better than the next guy. I’m not writing copy for a progressive media company or marketing firm. I take care of animals, and not enough of them to meet a basic wage let alone live comfortably. What’s true here is that I have developed a capacity for patience, and it has taken more than just time.

I am not always the greatest of people. I have been mean. I have been stubborn. I have gotten easily frustrated, been quick to anger and neglectful with forgiveness. I don’t sit atop a hill thinking I have something to teach anyone. I’m pretty sure that’s not my role. As of semi-recently, through acquiring patience, I have found that I am here to quietly listen and help.

I know the feeling kid.

I know the feeling kid.

“Why is that homeless man yelling?”

“What the crap are these people talking about?”

“Your stupid dog tried to bite me!”

“That old lady has lost her mind, just ignore what she’s saying.”

“This is outrageously annoying. I hate people. Get me out of here.”

“I’ll always fail, won’t I?”

“I wish she would control her children/ walk faster/ calm down/ speak up.”

The list of things we say, ALL THE TIME, goes on and on. I’m not writing this to make you feel guilty. Far from it. I just think that some things are worth an extra moment of open inspection.

run children!

The Lawrence Welk Show!

In 2007 I began a series of jobs that forced a change in my attitude. I, for no reason whatsoever, became a caregiver at an assisted living facility. My only relevant experience at the time was watching my grandmother go, and seeing the help she received in that process. It was a suck-it-up-these-people-need-you-now-so-learn-fast sort of deal. They need you even if they tell you they don’t, that you are a fat cow, that you stole their money and then threaten or act on physical violence towards you. It doesn’t matter. Fast forward 50 years, and that’s you. Not much use in denying that sort of mental deterioration or that the years will always take their toll.

I learned what they needed, how to talk to them and eventually help some of their worried children understand them too. After less than a year I didn’t have as many residents as I had people dear to me that I still think about and hope the best for. Reality is at least half of them are gone by now, but I appreciate them still. My sweet War Heroes, my devious English Teachers, my Giants of Industry who swooned over Elvis and made me watch reruns of Lawrence Welk (Those short skirts! Scandalous! ) Their basic skills were gone, some of them yelled things like “PURPLE!”  when they were frustrated, but they were somehow aware and very much alive.

Then I moved on to animal care. Patients who couldn’t talk with anything but their body language, claws and  teeth. I love my animals, but sometimes I really hated everyone else’s.

guess which one is closest to what working at an animal hospital is actually like.

Guess which one is more realistic…

Woman Rubbing Noses with PuppyAt best, most were defensive in a hospital environment. Yet who can blame them? They are hurt and/or scared. They are angry because where they come from they were taught to be. Still, without understanding, they are put down and out of mind the moment they have a bit of medical trouble or act out by peeing on a blanket.

I once was asked to “get this done as quickly as possible because there’s only 15 min. on the meter.” Don’t be shocked, more than a few people can’t be bothered to deal with daily shots or weekly sub-q fluids. If their kid got scratched or a neighbor got bit, priorities are weighed.  Sometimes it’s asking too much. So the kid pulled a tail or the neighbor startled the dog by sticking a hand in its face or over its head, and not taking a moment to see how uncomfortable the animal became. It’s an aggressive animal in a fragile environment, period. I get it. There are other options, but I do get it.

Learning patience is trying and difficult to say the least. I have been bitten and scratched by animal and human alike (It hurts more with people if you would believe it. More bacteria too, which means worse infections).


So why am I talking about this? Tomorrow I am headed to an interview that may help shape my future in a way that I have actually hoped for. I have been disappointed before when it comes to over inflated expectations. I get a little gung ho and start planning my entire life after one glimmer of hope ahead. That glimmer often times ends up being a shiny gum wrapper or at best, a worn penny tail side up. I am talking about this because tomorrow as I head down to River North, and even right now as I sit here, I have to remind myself to have patience. This may or may not be it. I may or may not take this path. No matter what, with patience I can still retain hope.
 worse infections). There are countless failures. You find yourself inadequate and judge harshly every time you can’t succeed and feel better, somehow accomplished. Feel you’re making some progress. You start forcing yourself to understand people and things you would never want to. Sometimes you do this only for your mental survival. Those you find to be at their worst, or out of your comprehensive reach, then become much more familiar as understanding goes. That’s your pay off I suppose. Empathy. Not a better situation for yourself, not really, but a window into the separate and solitary minds around you.

I have developed a strange habit. When coming upon a penny in the street tail up, I reach down and turn it over so that someone after me can find it and smile. I know it’s silly, but there is still something in a lucky penny that nostalgia clings to. Patience tells me that even if I don’t end up where I thought, I can believe that with a tiny bit of hopeful patience to keep them going, they might find something even better.

penny

Sad Cat Diary

Dear Diary,
My human captors do not understand that when I pee on their dirty clothing, it is in effort to help them keep it off the floor and in the basket where it belongs. I have only had negative feedback for this action. I fear that they are truly the dirty apes I had suspected them to be.

Kitty Bloger

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Hearts of Felt pt2

So when I said tomorrow, I didn’t really mean 1:30am, but here I am. I watched Castle and some da Vinci’s Demons (pretty fantastic, by the way) and finished stitching together these lovely felt heart designs to show you.

I posted the template in the previous post Heart’s of Felt pt1, so if you need it just visit that post and print away. Then you must come back, because we are not done yet. When I left you we were blanket stitching around everything.

FROM THERE:

-grab some stuffing, cotton balls, batting, beans, rice, whatever’s around and fits inside, your dog’s squeaky toy (could be fun?), and fill that heart up.

-Next, continue with your stitches to close up the side that you left open, and TADA! You have a stuffed felt heart.

-At this point you can leave it, throw it at something, doesn’t matter, but I kept playing with the things. I wanted them to be a little more embellished.

(Note: I have no idea what these things are for, not a clue. So if you have any ideas what I should do with them let me know. They are just sitting there looking like nonsense.)

Here’s a shot of them stuffed and stitched so you can see the direction I ended up going:

aren't they sweet!

aren’t they sweet!

If you want to know anything about the lace or mesh overlays, just ask and I would be happy to help you with those. I work with animals,  so it’s actually nice to talk to real people sometimes instead of holding conversations with cats about their weird banana shaped toys (true story), why their tummy’s are so soft, etc.

The black and blue sparkly one I have yet to stuff and close because I decided to try out my really jenky embroidery skills, and it’s still a work in progress. If you want to know what those flowers are supposed to look like, there’s a really great basic embroidery stitch tutorial at the Needlework Tips and Techniques site. It’s helping me on my baby turtle slow learning curve.

Alright friends, it’s time for sleep to happen. I have an interview tomorrow that I should probably actually care about, so I should be awake for it. I’m pretty excited.

Love and fat kittens.

“Our heart always transcends us.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke