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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Saturday, May 3, 2014

This should come as no surprise


Where we last left me, on the edge I live on and frequently sew from, I was volunteering at a dog refuge shelter.


Yesterday afternoon I brought home this two year old poodle Schnauzer mix. Her name on her cage said Heidi but the family quickly figured that since Miss Heidi at home is heavily invested in the Terrible Twos and painting her body with stuff you shouldn't use for that and trying to make rules for things like who gets to open the doors or else - many events that prompt "No Heidi!" that this would be counter productive.

So since this new dog likes to stop and smell the flowers Miss Scarlett has phoned in the name Daisy, which is who she is now. And she doesn't know she has a name anyway.

The thing is Miss Daisy was abandoned after her time in a rabbit cage at a puppy mill. She was picked up and sent to be euthanized but ended up with the group that tries to save those dogs, and ended up being walked by me.

These puppy mill dogs really have had a hard time. The ones I have tried to walk won't, they have never been out of cages and don't know how to do it. These are animals that often have not walked on grass, played, being patted, or even had names. 

This little dog really loved to walk however and was the only dog I ever have seen who actually stopped and smelled the flowers. I was told to expect that she would stay in her crate for a long time and I would need patience.

This is a long way from Mr. R the terrier chutzpah king.

But I figured I wasn't going to go home and leave her behind not knowing what would happen to her.

So we came home and she did hide in the crate. She looked at a ball and didn't know what it was. She doesn't know what Good Girl means and looks worried when we say Come. I still have not heard her bark.

But I took her out for a walk and we walked and walked and she was so happy. And she ate so well and I felt her bony back and wondered how many meals it would take to fill her out.

The sound of the dishwasher, the washing machine, the beep of the iPhone, the sound of garlic being chopped at the chopping block startled her.

And last night she was put in her crate but started to fuss and when she came out she tried to get up on the bed. 

And she slept all night, quiet and relaxed, between us.

We will see how we go.

She is a good girl. 

Just doesn't know it yet.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

As requested

Here is Vanessa. Other dogs in the shelter can be seen here.

Vacation report

We are going into our third week here in Florida. Monday I go back to work online with two courses and I am looking forward to it. My classes are interactive and I enjoy talking with my students.

I have been doing a whole lot of knitting and some sewing. The sewing is a dress I will post pictures of, but to be really honest I have sort of downshifted right now and getting that organized is not something I am going to get to today. 

The knitting is a sweater for my youngest son. I am in the search for a generic knit in the round pattern I can adjust to different folks and basic stitch patterns and this was a version of that. Sort of a knitting TNT. Not sure if I am there with this one. 

I got it into my head that since he is tall and slim I should make a long thin sweater but I may of overdone it. We will see when I get home. If it doesn't fit him it may fit Lowly Worm, an entity that Richard Scary readers will recognize:

The other thing I have been doing has been therapeutic.

I am a big walker. I should have self-identified that with the last shoe post. If you can't walk in it, it is of no use to me.

When I first got here I went on my usual morning beach walk along the route Mr. R and I used to take. 

I also did my annual thinking and at one point that even included serious consideration of going to a place here called The Electric Chair and getting Rascal tattooed on my wrist. 

But then I figured that wouldn't be fair to the other dogs that proceeded him, and then how could I do the dogs and not the grandkids, and then there was the love of my life, and my children and by the time I figured I would be a 60 year old with sleeves I decided to pull myself back over the saner part of the line.

And my feet took me one morning past the local shelter that takes in animals other shelters were about to put down.

I decided me walking by myself every morning was the waste of a good dog walker. So every morning since I spend about two hours walking dogs from the shelter.

I really enjoy it a lot.

My own dogs have always been of the purebred carefully cared for type and I have had my eyes opened here. There are some terrible stories. I am not taking my husband with me because he is a sweet soft-hearted man and would be teary at what some people have done in a few of the situations. I have worked for politicians and am of course better prepared for this kind of stuff.

The thing is that even with a few bad stories there are not bad dogs. Overwhelmingly these are lovely, lovely dogs and being in contact with them, walking them as opposed to just looking at them in the pen where no one would be at their best, I have let lose of some of my preconceived ideas on refuge animals.

These would be:

  • You don't know what you are getting. Actually neither do you with any dog but with the dogs that are a little older than puppies, - teens, adults and even seniors, you do know exactly what you are getting, particularly if you spend some time walking and getting to know the dog.
  • These dogs have behavioural problems. Actually few of them seem to. You have to remember that in many cases these were pets that were owner surrendered because of non animal issues - the owner died, got sick, or had to move away from a pet friendly housing situation. These dogs are trained, loving, and ready to fit into a home.
Of course the puppies are more adoptable but the older dogs are wonderful and many have 3/4 of their lives ahead of them and have the advantage of already being trained and socialized.

If I could I would write a few new cards on some of the pens if I had a chance. This is what they would read.

My name is Vanessa. My owner passed away and when I came here I was despondent. Wouldn't even move. However after some attention I got my perk back. All I want is to go around the block once a day and spend the rest of the time smiling and watching you.

My name is Arthur. I am two and lived on the streets and then in shelters my whole life. I should be a mess but I am not. I am calm and happy, cheerful and sturdy. I am an optimist.

It gives me a lift every day to see these guys.

Project photos later.