Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dog Names

When I named my dog Bean Sidhe, I thought of banshees as a well-known myth. Turns out I was wrong. People would ask me her name, and even after I repeated it twice, they didn't know what I was saying. They thought she was Benji or Bouncy or Bandit.

And the spelling... well, people didn't know what to make of that at all. (Can't blame them; Gaelic rarely makes an appearance in the U.S.) I'd fill out paperwork, and her name would get typed in as "Bean Sidle" or "Bean Sigh". I quickly switched to using "Banshee" on any kind of paperwork.

So... lesson learned! I decided that any future dogs would be given simpler names.

I'd been contemplating names for a while, particularly paired names because I thought I'd eventually get two dogs. One pair that stayed in my mind was Indigo and Violet (the places on a rainbow where my favorite colors are found).

As it turns out, even though I did adopt two dogs, they are so different that paired names didn't seem to fit. I needed to choose their names individually.

Little brown dog was difficult to name. She's timid and horribly thin, and she doesn't display much personality beyond wanting to be in my lap at all times. I think that will change as she gets healthier and more secure, but of course she needed a name sooner rather than later. I decided to go with one of the names that had been rolling around in my head for a while and call her Indigo.

As for little black dog... she loves cozy, den-like spaces. She was following me around the house, and every time I opened a closet door, she immediately ran in to explore all the dark corners. In my big walk-in closet, she liked the comfy spot behind my dresses. In my tiny linen closet, she happily curled up on a stack of towels. She's always looking for a cozy little nook... so I named her Nook.

I took both dogs to the vet today for a check-up. Their names were immediately understood and spelled correctly. Success!  :D

Nook got a clean bill of health. The vet agreed with the shelter's assessment that she's about three years old.

Indigo has a few missing teeth, and the vet thinks she is older than the shelter's estimate - probably six or seven years old. She is obviously underweight, and she doesn't show much interest in food. It's imperative we find out why. I have been tasked with collecting urine and stool samples (ah, the joys of pet ownership!), and I'll be taking her back in for bloodwork tomorrow.

I'm afraid getting her to a healthy weight will be challenging. I have to coax her to eat... so far, I've managed to get her to eat sliced turkey and scrambled eggs. The vet suggested baby food, and I did coax her into eating some this evening. Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Dog Owner Again

You may recall my 17-year-old dog Bean Sidhe died eight months ago. I felt a profound sense of loss, and I missed her terribly. For whatever reason, I grieved in spurts. I'd be okay for a while, then suddenly I'd be hit with a wave of grief, and I'd start sobbing.

Time does help heal, and eventually the episodes became less frequent. Finally, about a month ago, I began to think that maybe I was ready to get another dog. I periodically searched online for adoptable dogs. Two caught my eye; coincidentally, they were at the same shelter.

I went to the shelter this morning to meet the dogs. I liked both, and they seemed to get along with each other, so I adopted both of them. :)

One is a nine-pound Chihuahua mix estimated to be about three years old. She is black with a white stripe on her chest and three white feet.

The shelter staff said she'd come in with some behavior issues but had come a long way in the six weeks she'd been there. When I met her, she did not show any fear or aggression; she was immediately friendly with me.

When we got home, she was timid at first. She stayed in the kennel where she felt safe. But within a couple of hours, she was trotting all around the house carrying her little pink elephant toy. In fact, she was so active, I had trouble getting more pictures of her.

The second dog is a brown and tan Miniature Pinscher estimated to be about four years old. After my beloved Bean Sidhe, I have a soft spot for Min Pins. I saw this little girl on the shelter website, and I just had to meet her.

She was described as timid, so I wasn't sure what to expect. A shelter volunteer brought her into the room, and the instant he took off her leash, she leaped right into my lap. Within two seconds, I knew I wanted to take her home.

She had come to the shelter through the night drop, so the staff didn't have any background on her. It's heartbreaking how thin she is. She's an absolute bag of bones. She weighs only 5.5 pounds, half the weight of my similarly sized Min Pin Bean Sidhe.

Like Bean Sidhe, loves heating pads and blankets.

To help keep her warm, I made a little coat for her out of a sweatshirt sleeve.

So far, the two are getting along well. Little black dog did not want little brown dog in her kennel, and little black dog was a bit possessive of her squeaky toy... but otherwise, they seem okay together.

I'll take them both to the vet in a couple days for a checkup. I want his advice on helping little brown dog get up to a healthy weight.

In the meantime, I need to decide on names for them.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hello, I'm Grumpy

I wish I could write an interesting post about all the interesting things I've been doing lately. But I'm too darn grumpy.

I'm grumpy because it is too hot in my area at work. Last winter, I was comfortable. I was even able to wear long-sleeve shirts! (Cotton t-shirts, but still... they had sleeves!) I should have known that was a fluke.

I was, of course, hot during the summer. Now it's winter, and I'm hot because buildings are overheated. I'm too hot at work, too hot at the grocery store, too hot at the mall... if I'm inside a building, I'm too hot.

When leaving a heated building to go outside in the ice and snow...

Reaction of normal people:
I need more layers! I'm freezing!
Reaction of me:
Glorious relief! Oh, ice, how I loooove you!

There was once a remarkable exception: I was comfortable at the Mall of America. I was there during a frigid Minnesota winter, and I was amazed not because of the enormous size or the indoor amusement park, but because I was there all day without being too hot. I was actually able to enjoy looking around without feeling like I was going to melt or burst into flames. How is such a thing possible?

The Mall of America has no central heating system. And they recognize that the 70F/21C achieved with skylights and body heat is plenty warm enough... because when it's ten below (-23C) outside, people are probably going to show up wearing a sweater.

But outside of making a long trip to Minnesota, I'm only comfortable when I'm at home. I heat my house to about 66F/19C (lower if I'm moving around a lot, and only to 60F while I'm sleeping). Yes, I know that's not what normal people consider comfortable.

I am insanely jealous of normal people who run at normal temperatures. People who don't have to linger in the frozen food section to cool down before facing the canned goods aisles. People who don't have to shower upon returning from a sweltering 10-minute visit to the pharmacy. People who can actually wear something other than a short-sleeve cotton t-shirt in the middle of winter.

I am tired of being trapped at home knowing I'll be miserably hot if I go anywhere else.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Holiday Bazaar

My workplace is involved in a few charity events throughout the year, such as collecting groceries for the local foodshare and working with Habitat for Humanity. For the holidays, they usually set up a "giving tree" with requests from children. Of course, these days, kids want electronics such as gaming systems and iPads... expensive items that not everyone can (or wants to) give.

This year, they decided to try something new. One, the giving tree now holds requests from elderly people at a local low-income retirement home. Some of those requests will bring a tear to your eye -- washcloths, socks, hair conditioner. You could fulfill the wishes of probably 10 people for the price of one iPad.

Two, they held a holiday craft bazaar yesterday. This was a bit of an experiment as my employer is a technical company largely populated with male engineers -- not the usual clientele at a craft bazaar. There were two main charities supporting women and children in Africa, and tables were available to other vendors.

I helped set up for the bazaar, which was held in one of the conference rooms. We hung a blizzard of paper snowflakes from the ceiling and moved the tables into place.

There were 10 vendors total, some employees and some family or friends of employees. Not a huge number, but not too bad for the first year at a tech company.

The Batty Crafter had a table. :)

I had decided to make roll-up totes and gift bags for bottles of wine. I intended to get three fabrics for each, but I found so many fun fabrics that I ended up with five for each. :)

The totes are shown below, plus the red with black paw prints you can see in the photos above.

I made the wine gift bags in Christmas/holiday fabrics. I included a pretty gift tag and a cute little ornament with each one. (The two on the right look a little wonky because they contain Coke bottles. :P I don't drink wine and had only two empty wine bottles a coworker gave me for display.) People liked the bags, and I sold 15 of the 19 I made. :)

In total, I made $295, which I will donate to the local Humane Society. I think that's pretty good for a short (only two hours), first-year event. :)

I heard that the vendors for the two main charities (one selling jewelry and one selling children's books) did well. Overall, I think the bazaar was pretty successful for its first year. We already have some ideas for making it bigger and better next year.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Costume Ideas from 1887

While perusing the web for Halloween costume ideas, I came across this fabulous hornet costume from an 1887 book.
From "Fancy Dresses Described"
It is at least 2,000 times more awesome than any of this year's 30 versions of the "sexy bee" costume (including and most especially the tween versions).
Bee costume complete with wings, tutu, stockings... everything except dignity.
WTH is with the platform spike heels on this kid? At least her bare backside isn't hanging out.

The book is titled "Fancy Dresses Described or What to Wear at Fancy Balls." It is considered public domain and available here.

Along with the hornet, several other costumes are illustrated. My favorite is the magpie. I would love to make a somewhat simplified version of this for everyday wear.
From "Fancy Dresses Described"
2015 has much that 1887 didn't have (the internet, for one)... but when it comes to classy costumes, 1887 is the clear winner.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Halloween Quilt

I bought this Halloween quilt years ago. After a while, it became sort of fragile, so I stopped using it because my dog might have snagged it with her nails. Yesterday I pulled it out of the closet and found the colors coordinate nicely with my purple walls. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October Homework

For October's homework assignment on The Curious Professor Z, The Professor says to "show us what you love about this time of year." Hmm... It's hard to narrow it down. I love many things about this time of year.

I love to see the leaves change colors in autumn. Here in Colorado, they mostly turn gold. They are pretty...
but I prefer the riot of golds, yellows, oranges, and reds back east.

Usually, I love that the weather is getting cooler. This year, summer is hanging on tenaciously. Except for a couple of cooler days last week, temperatures are still climbing to around 80F/27C. Begone with you, heat!

No matter what the weather, I love the abundance of bat merchandise available at this time of year. Bat decals:

Bat fabrics:
Bat jewelry:

Bat kitchen goods such as salt and pepper shakers:

Bat shirts:

And because this is America... processed foods shaped like bats. :D


Friday, October 9, 2015

Shoe Shopping. Ugh.

Since I got a height-adjustable desk and now stand for much of the workday, I need comfortable shoes. My old black flats finally wore out, which means I have to find new shoes.

Shopping for shoes is a task I dread. I have wide feet. With rare exception, stores don't carry wide widths, so I have to order shoes online. And the shoes rarely fit properly, which means I have to send them back. Such a hassle!

I ordered four pairs from 6pm.com, my first time ordering from them. One pair - Aravon Maura - almost fit and were pretty cute for a comfort shoe.

They are indeed comfortable to stand in, but they flop up and down on my heel when I walk. The other three pairs did not fit at all. It cost a small fortune to ship them back. :(

So I returned to the trusty Zappos. Free shipping both directions. :D

I ordered seven pairs of shoes from seven different brands, plus one pair of low boots.

Of those, I will be keeping... NONE. :P Two pairs almost fit, which is a better result than usual. I will order those in a different size and hope for the best.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

One Final Cotton... Then Velvet

The sole Halloween fabric I bought this season has now been turned into a skirt. I used my trusty Simplicity 2449. I trimmed the hem with orange grosgrain ribbon and black lace.

Then it was time to put on the ballpoint needles and sew some panne velvet! :D

I love the look of very long, flowing skirts, and I used to wear them frequently. Alas, they are a poor choice when one's job involves sitting in a wheeled office chair. After rolling over my skirt one too many times, I gave up wearing them to work. But I now have a height-adjustable desk at work, and I stand most of the day... so it's time for long skirts to make a comeback.

I used McCall's 6101, a costume pattern for a '50s "poodle" skirt -- basically a very long circle skirt. I made one in purple panne velvet.

And I made one in black panne velvet. I could not resist adding black lace at the hem on this one... even though I will almost certainly snag the lace on my boot buckles at some point. :P

In panne velvet, a circle skirt hangs deceptively straight. It's a very full skirt, though, with a lot of fabric. When I sit down... well, you can see why long, flowing skirts and office chairs don't mix. ;)

Tag x 2

I was tagged for quote tag by Aji LaStrange at Cafe LaStrange and for Halloween tag by Meagan Kyla at Coffin Kitsch.

"Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching."
I don't know where that one originated, but it strikes a chord with me. Most people make very different choices and do very different things when others are watching... and I find that disappointing. Is fear of embarrassment or punishment really the only impetus for people to do the right thing? It makes me despair for humanity.

Okay, enough of that. On to the fun stuff!

"We are here because we're not all there." - from an Aerosmith song
Ha ha, punny.  :)

1. Favorite Halloween song?
2. Witch or Vampire?
3. Favorite thing about Halloween?
4. Halloween party or scary movie marathon?
5. Skeletons or Zombies?
6. Favorite Halloween candy?
7. Favorite Halloween movie?
8. Favorite Halloween costume?
9. Favorite Halloween store?
10. Jack-o-lanterns, yes or no?
11. Bats or Black Cats?
12. Is Halloween your favorite holiday?
13. Pumpkin spice latte or hot chocolate?

1. Favorite Halloween song?
"Every Day is Halloween" by Ministry.

2. Witch or Vampire?
Witch. I could conjure up a spell or two to fix my home improvement projects that go awry. :) I like my personal space boundaries too much to be a vampire - I wouldn't want to get close enough to people to drink their blood.

3. Favorite thing about Halloween?
The availability of bat items - bat fabrics, bat towels, bat stickers, bat jewelry, etc. - that I can buy for use year-round.

4. Halloween party or scary movie marathon?
Halloween party. I do not like scary movies.

5. Skeletons or Zombies?
Skeletons. Zombies are filthy, stinky vessels of infectious disease. Ick.

6. Favorite Halloween candy?
I prefer to get my Halloween sugar fix from Franken Berry cereal. Mmmm...

7. Favorite Halloween movie?
The Scary Godmother movies ("Halloween Spooktacular" and "The Revenge of Jimmy").

8. Favorite Halloween costume?
The best costume I ever saw in person was a handmade Optimus Prime costume that actually transformed.

9. Favorite Halloween store?
It varies by year, but Jo-Ann, Michael's, and Home Goods usually have the best Halloween merchandise.

10. Jack-o-lanterns, yes or no?
Yes. I love pumpkins, gourds and jack o'lanterns.

11. Bats or Black Cats?
Bats. I'm all about the bats.

12. Is Halloween your favorite holiday?
Yes. I don't celebrate most holidays... and I practically mourn Christmas for the commercialized assault it has become.

13. Pumpkin spice latte or hot chocolate?
I don't like coffee, so hot chocolate it is. Spiced apple cider is a yummy Autumn drink, too. :)

I'm not going to tag anyone because I'm super late replying. But feel free to self-tag and share your answers!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bats x 3 + Owls = Skirts

Failing to think up a clever introduction for this post, I will simply get to the point: I sewed more cotton skirts.

For one, I used McCall's 5431, a pattern for a simple flared skirt. The fabric is grey with black bats.

I used my go-to pattern Simplicity 2449 for the others. One is purple with black bats and candelabra in a sort of damask-type print.
The others are a grey with black bats and grey moons and a grey with black owls. All four fabrics were purchased last year from fabric.com.

I've now used almost all the cotton fabrics I had on hand. I haven't found many Halloween cottons I like this season. I've ordered only one, a black and white swirl with orange jack o'lanterns from Hancock Fabrics. I'll probably make my usual skirt with it. After that... it's time for something new! I have been stuck in a sewing rut for a while. Essentially, I've made the same skirt many times in different fabrics. Using a familiar pattern allowed me to create without having to be creative; this was good for my mental health when I was feeling stressed or sluggish.

Now that I'm starting to feel better, I want to be more creative. It's time to try some new patterns and work with different fabrics. Lately, I am in the mood for velvet, satin, and lace... trad goth staples. :D