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Study hall

We’re waiting for our new computer to arrive, and I’m taking classes on how to use it. Most of my time is going toward making the switch right now. Our old computer isn’t up for the job of getting all our photos edited, and so they’ll be a bit of a delay in getting our new work up online. Hopefully, I’ll be able to jump right in and get things moving along again soon.

I’ve still got to address the move to using WordPress as well. I expect the ride will be a little bumpy at first, but I’m actually looking forward to taking off in a new direction, or two new directions, as the case may be. We might have waited and taken on one thing at a time, but our computer had other ideas. It’s still running, thankfully.

It looks like our country might be taking a step in a new direction as well. I hope people will eventually calm down about the idea of health care reform. I’m sure there is a long way to go, but I’m hopeful it will turn into a good thing. I get a bit disheartened that so many people are so negative about any change, after having, myself, been in situations at both ends of the health care spectrum. I know from my own experience, that you can become incapacitated by illness when you don’t expect it, through no fault of your own. I also know that insurance has been something that could be taken away as soon as you could no longer pay for it, making even “affordable” catastrophic health insurance useless, if you couldn’t continue to work. That is often the case when you’ve reached a point where you need to use catastrophic insurance. Insurance has also been taken away from people just for being sick.

I know no one likes the idea of mandatory anything, but you don’t get too many choices about getting sick either. I don’t think people realize how precarious everyone currently is, whether you are insured or uninsured, healthy or sick, rich or poor. I’m sorry some of the aspects of the reform package have been removed, and I’m concerned about some people’s insurance costs being increased, like the cost of Medicare Advantage insurance plans for seniors. I’m encouraged by there being subsidies for the middle class and the poor, to help them afford insurance. I’m also hopeful that competition to attract new customers, will lead to the creation of new insurance companies with competitive prices. I’m just hoping that affordable, useful health insurance, that you get to keep when you need it, is the end result of all this debate.

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Before I forget to mention it, I finally figured out how to add one of those “Follow my blog” boxes over on the sidebars of each of our blogs, if anyone is interested in joining in. There’s one over on the Ruffing’s blog too. Everyone who uses Blogger seems to have one, and if you host on Blogger, it’s easy to add one by going to your settings. I just don’t happen to have our blogs hosted on Blogger, which made it a little trickier. The “Follow” boxes allow you to easily add blogs to your reader list in Google or in Blogger, so you can check all the updates on your favorites in one place.

I just finished up a small batch of “Hug Me! Slugs” and sent two along their way, off to their new homes. Two others are up for adoption in my Etsy shop,

including this soft orange one, and the turquoise-blue one below. I’m letting their new slug parents name them this time around. I still don’t know which people prefer, naming them themselves, or having me name them. I’ve been asked to name a slug here and there, and that’s okay with me too.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been trying out some ideas for children’s stories, something I used to work at much more, when I had just gotten out of college. I put that on hold for a long time, but I’ve been exploring the idea again. I had thought that once I had children of my own, I would be better able to relate, but since I don’t, I’ve decided it’s just time for me to regress 😉 I’m trying to find my way.

I hit a bonanza of children’s books at the local used book store, after Christmas. People must have dropped off books of which they already had copies. I found quite a few that are very charming. I wanted to see what other people were creating, and I do pick up ideas that don’t always occur to me when I write, like adding dialogue and action! I tend to do a lot of describing when I write, and so it is good for me to be reminded to take off in different directions like that sometimes.

I’m also very much enjoying reading The Gormenghast Novels by Mervyn Peake right now. I just finished the first one, Titus Groan. There was a wonderful miniseries, also called Gormenghast, based on the books on PBS years ago. They are surreal, imaginative fantasy-type novels, but not the kind with magic in them. They are wonderfully odd.

While reading the Gormenghast trilogy, I started thinking of another fantasy novel I read a couple of years ago, Stardust. It had been a Valentine’s Day gift that was, well, ungifted. You know how sometimes people get you a gift that is really for themselves? Well, I decided to just get my own copy on eBay. It’s not new like “my” other one, but I’m pretty sure I get to keep it. It’s also illustrated, kind of like a children’s book, but it’s more for adults.

And, I have two new friends. These are my new hamster and my new owl. They’re watching over my pile of fleece that I use to make hearts and eyes for my own creatures. I think the hamster loves me. That’s what he says anyway.

I have a few new fabrics on my table waiting to be prewashed too. My sewing machine is still…can you believe it?…in the repair shop. It took the Husqvarna Viking company two months just to send the part that needed to be replaced, and now the man who repairs the machines is sick. This isn’t making me happy with the Viking company at all. I’ve written to them about that, and about some problems with my warranty, which they aren’t honoring since I bought my machine over the Internet, even though there’s nothing about that in the language of the warranty. I’ve had some questions for them about Internet sales, and where sellers are getting their supply of machines to sell, if they aren’t sanctioned by the company. I’ve gotten nothing but a very apathetic response from them, which is giving me a bad impression of them.

It’s just so sad, depressing really, that companies don’t seem to try to do right by consumers anymore, or to protect them. We’ve been talking about getting another sewing machine, for backup, but it’s so hard to decide what brand to even go with anymore. You pay more for the “top of the line” machine brands, and then, when they don’t really give you better service than you’d get anywhere else, you just feel like everyone is trying to take advantage of you.

I guess you just try to do the right thing yourself, and the best you can do. I know it’s not enough for me to not do my best with anything that I make or sell, and I know it’s important to me that people who receive things I’ve made are happy with them. I just wish we could all feel like we’re being treated fairly, and with respect, in every interaction we have with other people, business or personal. I get very discouraged sometimes about things like this. I’m so glad I have the opportunity to work on my own, and have as much control as possible over what I do.

Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti right now too, and to their families wherever they may be.

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I just got my slugs and toads up on Etsy. I think I am up-to-date now on my available soft dolls and toys, for the moment. I am so tired! We’ve been taking advantage of the nice weather here to do some yard work, and a little home repair, using lots of muscles we aren’t used to using.

We had some cold weather just before this string of really lovely days, and so we aren’t taking them for granted. I thought I’d better take some photos of our chrysanthemums before the chill comes back. I had wanted to photograph our Pixie Kittens with them, but I’ve been so swamped, I haven’t finished their tutus yet.

I still have to draw a toad for my “Hug Me! Toad” hang tags. I’m going to try to do that this weekend, but I’d also like to take some time to just hang out and read. I’ve been very slowly journeying through The World According to Garp by John Irving, not for lack of interest at all, only for lack of time.

This toad looks much wiser than mine, but then, mine are probably just pretending to be innocent and naive so I won’t catch them getting into trouble.

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your weekends!

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So many things to be inspired by today

I came out on the porch this morning, and realized I’ve been taking these pretty morning glories for granted. I went back in an grabbed my camera.

The morning glories have been blooming here since we moved in, and we’ve never planted any new ones.

I love to see what flowers look like from behind. You never see those views in the garden books. The sun is shining through this one.

I had another custom “Name your own slug” order, and I noticed I didn’t have all that many pinks or purples in my fabric stash. Well, now I do! Hehe. I just ironed all of these.

I had some trouble finding pinks I liked. The last place we stopped was at my favorite Raleigh quilt shop, Carolina Sew-n-Vac, and they had plenty of pinks. Yay! When we got to the counter, the couple who owns the shop started joking about how he tells her she buys too much pink. She was happy to hear she’d filled a need. She told us to tell everyone she has pink!

I added some pink, purple, and blue to my embroidery floss collection too. I’ve been trying to sort my fabric and my floss by color so I can keep better track of what I have. Before I did that, I kept thinking I was short on yellow fabric, and then I’d buy more yellow fabric. After a while, I wasn’t short on yellow fabric, but I had no idea. Having everything organized by color makes coordinating fabrics for projects much easier too.

I picked up some more yarn and socks as well. I must be ready for anything now. I get excited just looking at all these supplies.

And with perfect timing, just after I amassed my new pile of socks, Stray Sock Sewing Too: More Super-cute Softies to Make and Love by Daniel, arrived in the mail. I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard it was coming out, because I love his first Stray Sock Sewing: Making One-of-a-kind Creatures from Socks book. I got mine on sale from Crafter’s Choice book club.

Both books are adorable. The dolls, the photography by Liao Chia Wei, and the narratives in each are clever, sweet, and charming. Even if you don’t sew, it’s just so much fun to look at them. I can imagine children would enjoy them also. But if you do sew…there are great tips in each one. This new book has instructions for fourteen new sock creatures, and I can see any one of them as such a nice handmade gift. The instructions don’t require the use of a sewing machine either.

Most of all, for me, they are full of wonderful stepping off points to create my own creatures. I find once I try one technique, before I am even finished with a doll, I have tried something else that came to mind. There is so much room for being creative with these.

In other creature news, this is a meeting of Ducks Against Pills. Some time around Labor Day weekend, Mr Duck decided he’d about had enough of antibiotics. What a challenge! I had a terrible time trying to catch him, falling gracelessly to the ground, nearly hitting my head on the fence, very humiliating! Ha! I did my best and we did manage to get that last pill in him. For his part, he did plenty of wiggling and spitting his pill out. I noticed someone came over to the blog looking for directions on how to give a duck a pill. An avian vet is the best at showing you how to do it, and of course, you wouldn’t want to give medication to any animal without consulting a vet first anyway. It’s a lot like giving a pill to a cat, only you really need to wrap the duck’s body carefully in a towel first. Their beaks open just like your cat’s mouth opens, when you reach over the top of the head, pressing gently behind the corners of the mouth/beak, while tilting the head gently back. And, just like your cat, they can push their pills out with their tongues, and they learn to wiggle too. It takes some patience!