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Happy Thanksgiving from the kitties, the bunny, and me

Oliver bunny wants his dandelions, Elizabeth RuffingOliver Bunny wishes you all a happy Thanksgiving, and he wants to know where his dandelion greens are. We have been having at least three days of rain, and I haven’t been outside to hunt for them in the yard yet. We all hope you enjoy your holiday, or partial holiday, if you have to go into work today.

While I was having breakfast this morning, I saw the huge pile of sale flyers on the table, and thought, “I am not participating in this!” I don’t usually participate in the big shopping event that follows the holiday. I often work, work, work, trying to get toys ready for Christmas. One year, my hands were all taped and Band-Aid-ed, from needle punctures, or maybe that was more than one year. I can remember hurting and my fingers and arms being all prickly.

So, I had this crazy idea…I think I will not participate. I won’t change my pace. I will keep working. I am here. I am available. But I’m going to hold steady instead. I am more a tortoise than a hare.

Jojo kitty cat on boxes of fabric, Elizabeth RuffingI am sewing and getting orders ready. If any of you would like something, I am still happy to help out. I’m just not going to try to get my toy shop stocked up any sooner than is reasonable. I have lots of Hug Me Slug bodies sewn, as you can see from this photo of Jojo sitting on top of my boxes. I have lots of fabric colors, and I am adding more all the time.

I also decided to reintroduce another size. I will have 7, 8, 9, and 12 inch Hug Me Slugs. Why? I couldn’t decide if I should, and so I thought I would try them all.

Some people get crazy when the holiday season starts, and I don’t want to be one of them. I can remember last-minute semi-frantic shoppers who wanted toys right now, and I tried really hard to do that. I will still do my best for anyone who asks.

I am hanging out here, staying out of the fray. The other day, my mom and I almost got hit by a car. A kid missed us by only four inches I believe, pulling in front of us without even turning his head. I see that every year, as soon as the holidays begin. I want to stay out of it.

Henrietta kitty cat takes over my office chair, Elizabeth RuffingIn other news, I found out yesterday that we made it to Buzzfeed! I see that site show up on Facebook all the time. I say we, but it was really Henrietta pussy cat here, above. She is number 15 on this 17 Crafty Cats That Will Make Your Heart Purr Buzzfeed post. She is famous. She steals my chair every day now. She was already stealing my chair that I have at the computer, but she has taken to marching into my workroom in the morning, to steal that chair too. Oliver Bunny doesn’t think she should be there, but she doesn’t care.

I am going to sew some slug eyes today, and I will have to fit on that chair with her. She doesn’t make that easy.

Jojo kitty cat exploring my boxes of fabric, Elizabeth RuffingThis morning, I also decided that I need to try harder to focus on the good and stop taking things other people do or say personally. I actually tell myself this a lot. I always say I am compulsively conscientious, and I try so hard to do right by everyone. I tend to think about other people all the time. That can wear me out. I do my best, and that is all I can do. Most people appreciate that, and I am glad for that. My attention needs to go in that direction. I like to help people and I like to try to help them feel better. Still, I’m not responsible for other people’s happiness, and I don’t want to be down over things I can’t change. Lately, I have been down over things I can’t change, things I know aren’t my fault, which is hard on me.

I would like the sun to come out. It is raining again, and Oliver needs those dandelions. I cater to animals too. 🙂

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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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I made some slug plushies, a toad softie, and I feel like talking, maybe

Assorted Hug Me Slugs stuffed animal plush art toys by Elizabeth RuffingI’ve been missing from my blog for a long time, or disappearing in increments. November seemed like a good time to get going again, as a lot of people blog each day of this month for NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Up until about five years ago, I was writing here about my daily life and my creative projects, where I went and how I felt. Then I became self-conscious. There were people I felt looking over my shoulder, specific people with whom I didn’t want to share the details of my life. So, I began just posting toys as I finished them, and some stories about my pets, and I faded into the background. I didn’t even want to paint anymore.

As the years passed, I realized those people got bored with me and left, which was a relief.

Blue and Green Hug Me Slugs stuffed animal plush art toys by Elizabeth RuffingMy toys were doing really well, and then I ran out of them before Christmas 2013. I kept taking on custom orders, which got in the way of my restocking my shop, and because I hate to disappoint anyone, I kept accepting more custom orders. My toy shop started to fade into the background too.

At the beginning of 2014, I found out my beloved kitty assistant, Mr Bear, had cancer, and I stopped most everything to try to keep him going for as long as he seemed he wanted to go. He wasn’t able to eat enough on his own, and there was constant cleanup to do because he had poor mobility from being weak. Some days, he would rally, and take himself for a journey outdoors. I wanted to be with him while I could. He deserves his own post, and so I will save a tribute to him for when I feel I can do it.

Not long after he was gone, I found a little white bunny in the backyard, shortly after Easter. I felt Mr Bear had sent me a bunny, a pet he would surely have wanted more than any other, although not for the right reasons. He had a sense of humor. I named the bunny Oliver, and he has been a great comfort to me. I set him up in my workroom, where Mr Bear used to help me, and that helped make it okay for me to be in there again.

Hug Me Slug and Toad stuffed animal plush softie art toys by Elizabeth RuffingI had great plans to redo my workroom, had lumber cut for shelves and a table, but those have been harder to make than I thought. I’m trying. My workroom is still in shambles. Once it was done, I was going to work on learning to paint digitally, write, and possibly try another children’s book. My other book projects are unpublished. I was thinking of printing up a simple one myself. I have updated my shop as I could, and the toys pictured above are my most recent additions. They are over in my Etsy toy shop, I will add more as soon as I can.

Most recently, I have had three nights in a row where I have slept most of the night, after a week and a half of sporadic sleep, not enough, and sometimes none, each night.

Five years ago, I felt so shaken over the way I was treated by someone I dated, that I didn’t want to try that again, and have been saying since then that I didn’t know if I would ever like anyone. Then I did, which surprised me. Unfortunately, in a matter of days, he went from wanting me around as much as he could, to saying he couldn’t commit to anything further, than friendship I think, or talking to me again. I’m not sure what he meant. And I don’t really know why. I’ve been trying to process that in the middle of my sleep deprivation. I will be much better with some rest.

Black kitty cat at the door, trick or treat, photo by Elizabeth RuffingYesterday was Halloween. We had two kids, one baby too young to eat candy, and a cat show up at the door. The cat didn’t want candy either. That is the cat above. He, and others, come to the door for snacks. I have been eating the candy myself. I have to be careful about that because, during those past few years, my weight went up and now, at long last, has settled back to where it was before.

Queen kitty cat, wearing a crown, photo by Elizabeth RuffingI tried to do something festive for the holiday, but none of my pets wanted to dress up. Henrietta tried to be cooperative and let my place this crown on her head. She is the queen cat of the house, and I thought that would be fitting. I didn’t have a cape for her.

White bunny rabbit, snuggling with my hand, photo by Elizabeth RuffingI tried to get Oliver to wear the crown first, but he would have none of it. He lets me balance empty toilet paper rolls on his head (he likes to play with those), but a crown made no sense to him. He prefers to have his head petted. He will sit for a long time, with his chin resting on my chest or on the floor, while I stroke his forehead. If I stop, he nudges my hand to get me to do it some more, which is what he is doing in this photo.

I can’t decide if I should backdate my blog posts, to cover things that have happened, that I never talked about on my blog. I have been on Facebook, sharing things, and was considering taking posts from there and putting them here, or at least the photos with descriptions. I kind of like the idea, for now, that no one is reading what I write, because they left when I stopped saying much of anything. But I am also sad I don’t have a record here.