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A little stuffed slug toy shop update, and some gardens

Stuffed toy Hug Me Slugs, red, watermelon pink, bright yellow, and banana yellow by Elizabeth RuffingI have four new Hug Me Slugs over in my toy shop at the moment. They are red, watermelon pink, bright yellow, and banana yellow fleece, in my 9-inch size. I will continue to add more. Even though it is July, I know the Christmas season will be upon me before I know it, and I hope to have more toys ready this time around.

I have also been trying to make a dent in the yard work I have to do here, more tree planting and cleaning up of gardens that have become overrun with blackberries and weeds and, in some cases, flowers that multiplied profusely.

Raleigh City Garden, Vimeo screenshotI met a horticulture student, who showed me around Raleigh City Farm, pictured above and in the two photos below. I didn’t have a camera and so I took these from the Internet.

Raleigh City Garden, Twitter screenshotHe has been out planting tomatoes in all the heat we have been having, and the people at Raleigh City Farm have been keeping it doing well in spite of this weather too.

Raleigh City GardenThe plants all looked healthy. I felt I should be able to do something more myself. So, I worked on cleaning out one of my garden beds, and cutting out some saplings that had sprouted up.

Oliver Bunny, looking serious by Elizabeth RuffingI don’t have vegetables like they do, which is too bad, because Oliver Bunny would enjoy some of the ones they had there, I am sure. They sell their produce to local restaurants.

Gardeners' World BBC, screenshot, pale blue irisesI was also introduced to BBC’s show, Gardeners’ World, which is on YouTube. They have my favorite kinds of gardens, the old English cottage style gardens. The photo above, and the two below are screenshots from the show.

Gardeners' World BBC, screenshot, soft pink foxglovesI think they look like watercolor paintings. Very beautiful and inspiring. I used to have our yard, where I grew up, planted with such pretty flowers, in big beds and borders, under trees and flowering bushes. I miss it.

Gardeners' World BBC, screenshot, pale lavender blue irisesI brought some of my plants with me when we moved. I want to clear out those beds before everything gets choked out. My irises have been getting smaller each year, because the blackberries have joined them and are doing much too well.

Jubilee by Elizabeth Ruffing, Iris and blue flax watercolor with a decorative borderThese are paintings of mine, of flowers I had growing in my yard, irises, blue flax, and foxgloves, some of my favorites. This is “Jubilee” above, and “Iris and Foxgloves” below. I have seen this orange and mauve one bloom by our back door in recent years, but this year I don’t think it did. I see it hiding in there with some other plants. I intend to dig it up and plant it in a new bed. I am sorry I wilt in the heat. Summers are my winters now, the time when I stay inside more. But, I am going to try to go out when I can take the temperature and get more done.

Iris and Foxgloves by Elizabeth Ruffing, watercolor with a decorative border

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I’m grateful for my customers

Kitty assistant on top of Uline boxes, Elizabeth RuffingThis is one of my pretty kitty assistants, ready for business. She is occupying our stack of shipping boxes that came in recently. We have print mailers, doll boxes, toy boxes. She also likes this vantage point so she can reach over and try to pat the bunny. I discourage this. He doesn’t care to be patted on the behind either, and grunts his disapproval. I gave her a nail trim, to be safe.

I received the nicest email today from a customer. I can’t share it, but sometimes my customers really make my day. They melt my heart, and break my heart at the same time. People send my toys as gifts, often with notes attached. I love seeing people being kind to each other and expressing their love for each other. It touches me and at the same time makes me wish I had that for myself. Maybe someday I will.

Herman, Blue Persian anthropomorphic kitty cat art print by artist Max BaileyWe posted another kitty cat print over in our Ruffing’s Etsy art shop and on our Ruffing’s blog. This is Herman the Blue Persian by Max Bailey. I love these. I think they are so cute.

Neighbor's cat visiting our front porch, Elizabeth RuffingI’m being stalked by my neighbor’s cat. The other day, he was at kitchen window, my bedroom window, the back door, and the front, all before breakfast. He is around all the time. I think we have at least three kitty visitors, in addition to this guy’s brethren. I had another at my bedroom window when I woke up this morning. I thought they would stop visiting when Mr Bear passed away, but they keep coming. Maybe he is there in spirit, inviting them.

I’m trying to get myself to go out and be sociable. That is not the easiest thing for me, but I am tired of hiding myself away, in different ways. I need to start doing my artwork again too. That quote about not hiding your light under a bushel keeps coming into my mind. I don’t want to be someone who avoids experiences out of fear or discouragement. Moving to this area has been personally discouraging for me in a lot of ways, but I have to be who I am and pursue what is important to me, even if it means rejection from some. There are people who do appreciate me and what I do, and that means a lot to me. I am thankful for everyone who has supported me. Even if you don’t realize it, every time you reach out to me, share your stories or photos, or purchase something I made, I appreciate it very much. Thank you.

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Cats in clothes, and kitty and bunny assistants

Alice the White Cat, fine art kitty cat in pink dress with a doll print by artist Max BaileyI posted the first two anthropomorphic kitty cat art prints by Max Bailey over on our Ruffing’s art blog, and in our Ruffing’s Etsy art shop yesterday. These are “Alice the White Cat” and “Louisa the Himalayan Cat“, two girls in pink dresses.

Please go have a better look at them. I think they came out really pretty. I finished editing and printing another today, which I will post soon, and we have a bunch more to add. I’m doing so many revisions, trying to get them just right, that we are going to have to order more ink today.

Louisa the Himalayan Cat, fine art kitty cat in pink dress with a library book print by artist Max BaileyI am back to doing as much work as I can do each day. I enlisted my crew of kitty and bunny helpers yesterday, while I trimmed address labels and miscellaneous stationery.

Oliver Bunny likes to pick the scrap papers up in his teeth and move them around for me. When I stop petting him, sometimes he tries to pick up one of my fingers with his teeth, to make it move again.

Elizabeth Ruffing with kitty cat and bunny rabbit helpersWe were surprised early yesterday morning, after getting an email saying the power company wasn’t coming to mark the lines in our yard, by a phone call at 7:15am. It was the guy who marks the lines, calling from our driveway. So, I went out, got some flags to mark the power and phone lines, and we picked up a tree too. My tree-planting project is back on track, as soon as the temperature goes above the thirties, provided I have the energy.

Elizabeth Ruffing with kitty cat and bunny rabbit helpersWe also just set up cataract surgeries for both of my parents. That will be four trips to the hospital for surgery, and eight follow-up exams. That feels like a lot to get through, but it would be wonderful if they could both see again. Their vision has been terribly impaired, which makes a lot of things difficult. I warned my mom that she will have to trim some labels and stationery and prints once she can see. She said she would be happy to be able to see to do it.

Elizabeth Ruffing with kitty cat and bunny rabbit helpersI stuffed some Hug Me Slugs and worked on their bottoms this morning. I picked up some pretty new colors last week. Right now I am working on the ones I have sewn and trimmed already, but I would love to add to the colors. I have lots of fabrics that aren’t sewn into bodies yet. I keep going until I get too tired.

My insomnia is still a problem, but I did stay in bed last night, mostly because it was too chilly to get up. Sooner or later, my sleep pattern will have to even out.

Elizabeth Ruffing with kitty cat and bunny rabbit helpersIn a recent blog postI was talking about how I became self-conscious about talking about myself in my blog, and I said that I was relieved that a couple of people were no longer reading it. I hope I didn’t offend anyone by saying that. I realize people sometimes think I am talking about them, when I mean someone else, since I don’t like to identify people, unless it is to say something nice, or warn other people about them. I feel like I should clarify that a little. I meant a couple of people I knew, one who was negative about things I was trying to do, who was hanging around, but had disappeared. I also mentioned being shaken by an experience with someone I went out with five years ago. That person’s mom read my blog, the whole thing, and so I never mentioned him, in part because he didn’t want me to, but also because I didn’t want to upset his parents.

His sister had, at that time, befriended me on Facebook, and his mom used her account to read what I said there too. His mom knew me better than he did, and would tell him everything I said. She would ask him who people were in photos I posted on Facebook, and correct him when he said something about me and she knew otherwise. He told me she had a crush on me. She had a photo of us together, which she hung up, and he told me that was the first time in his life he made it to the refrigerator door. I decided to think of her as a fan. I thought she must have been getting some enjoyment out of reading about what I was doing.

Elizabeth Ruffing with kitty cat and bunny rabbit helpersHer husband was in the final stages of cancer when I went out with their son, and he passed away two months after we broke up. Their son had been staying with them on the other side of the country, and moved here to be near me, although I did not ask him to. He frightened me, and when his sister wrote to me to tell me their dad had died, she said she understood what I did was best for my own happiness. I sent my sympathies, and told her I hadn’t said anything because I didn’t know if they knew what had happened. After I stopped communicating with him, he ordered a bunch of my toys, one or two a day for weeks, for friends and family, with gift notes, some that mentioned me. I didn’t know if he was trying to make amends or if he wanted to give the impression we were together because he didn’t want to upset the people close him. It made me more uncomfortable, and I worried for a long time that he was going to show up again, even though I told him not to. I said nothing about any it, not on my blog, not on Facebook, not to most of my friends.

Then, after posting about how people were no longer reading my blog, I looked his mom up last week, and found out she passed away two months ago. I felt sorry and sad about it, thought of expressing my condolences to his sister, for the family, but then thought better of it. I am sure I am of no interest to them now, which also means no one will know who I am talking about. So, it seems strange to say it here, but I hope she rests in peace. I never spoke to her. I did get a call from her Skype account once, after I’d broken off communication, but I was too alarmed to answer it. Still, I saw her show up on my feed for a long time, and I feel like I should say farewell somehow.

Communicating over the Internet can be strange and awkward sometimes. I’m trying to talk about my life again, and not just post my finished work. We’ll see how that goes.

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Printing prints, cards, and tags

Angel, fairy, and cat art prints by Elizabeth RuffingI spent my day printing, trimming, signing, and bagging my art prints, and my mom’s. The ones above are mine. I still have more printing to do. I printed until I ran out of art paper and had to order some more. We ordered more of the same archival-quality heavyweight cotton rag art paper I was using. We get ours from I’ll have to wait for it to get here before I can resume my print-printing project.

Hug Me Slug greeting cards by Elizabeth RuffingI made up these Hug Me Slug cards to include with my toys, along with my business cards. I printed these greeting cards on card stock, with our website information on the back. I printed my business cards on Epson watercolor paper.

Hug Me Slug greeting cards by Elizabeth RuffingI trim everything I print by hand, with a pair of scissors, including my hang tags, which I then glue onto scrapbook paper and trim again.

Hug Me Bugs and Hug Me Slug with hang tags by Elizabeth RuffingWe have rain on and off this week, which is a nice break from the record heat. These two found another use for our umbrella. They’ve made it into a boat. They must be planning on going sailing.

Kitty cats playing in an umbrella, photo by Elizabeth Ruffing