Tuesday, September 30, 2008

~The Cost of Unconditional Love~

Every pet owner adores their pet…be it dog, cat, goat, bird, etc. We say they love us unconditionally. And they do. I believe pets are God’s gift to mankind to show us what unconditional love is all about.

I used to kid around and say I love my puppies as much as I love my kids…but that I’m glad I don’t have the expense of sending these babies to college. I spoke too soon.

When children beg for a dog, parents try to explain to them that it’s a responsibility. A comitment. So with the best of intentions, they buy or adopt a dog. In the beginning, it goes perfectly well: each child is responsible for some little job in caring for the new family pet. But…..before too long, it’s the mother who is the sole caretaker of the animal. She’s the one who makes sure the water bowl is filled with fresh water. That the pet is fed. And she’s the one that cleans up the ‘accidents’. Even an animal knows who the ‘mother’ in the household is. She’s the cook. The ‘rule-maker’. The nurturer. And before long, it’s not the ‘family’ pet….but the ‘mom’s’.

Everything goes along well in the early days. The pet is trained. Taken to obedience school. Taught tricks that he can perform on cue for anyone who is willing to stand still long enough to praise him and offer him a treat. After all, he’s so cute, isn’t he?? And yes, he is loved, and he loves back, with that unconditional love we read about.

But as the years go on, much like the aging human, he develops health problems: arthritis, liver mal-function, low thyroid, incontinence, stomach upsets, skin problems. And the vet bills begin. Pet insurance is very common today, and a good idea, much like ‘people’ insurance, if you take it out when the pet is young. By the time the problems begin….it’s too late.

My younger puppy, Fawn, who is 13, jumped off the couch last week, and knocked his hip out of the joint. He’s done this before. The vet taught me how to ‘bounce’ him to put it back into place…and it usually works. Unfortunately, not this time. By the time we got him to the vet’s on Saturday, we found out that he not only had hip dysplacia, , but that he had a ruptured anterior cruciated ligament…or ACL.

Today he goes in for surgery, to the tune of $1500. Sat’s bill was $75 for the office visit and pain pills. And he will need to be crated and given tlc for 2 months. The vet already warned that once this happens to one limb, not to be surprised if a year-or-so down the road, it happens to another one. Add all this to their $90 a month grooming fees and the special ($$$) dog food they need because of their slowed-down liver function, Coconut's chemo pills, and there goes my "at least we don't have to send them to college" theory!

So…as I head into my first big show in 6 years, my stomach is queasy for yet another reason: I will not be here to hold him, stroke his brow, and just be his ‘mom’. I have precious neighbors who will check in on him on Thursday, and my sister will take both the puppies on Friday…so I’m sure he will survive. I’m just not sure I will.

Monday, September 29, 2008

~Amish Innovations~

My little Amish friend, Katie, spent last Thursday with me. I find myself constantly marveling at how she can walk into a situation, size it up, and begin re-prioritizing and re-organizing the most mundane tasks in order to work more efficiently. And the good Lord knows with upcoming shows on the horizon, I could use all the help I can get on that front! The studio had managed to explode into most rooms of the house!

With only 8 grades of formal education, I used to think that the Amish were not as bright as the ‘average’ schooled American. Boy was I wrong! I continue learning that not only do they think everything through before acting on it, they do it with passion. That’s a totally ‘win-win’ prescription for Life 101.

By the time I drove Katie back to Middlefield, my home and studio was in tip-top shape…..and so was my soul. We talked about everything: Caroline’s recent passing and her widowed husband's struggle to continue on, her group of “Travel Girls” who get together monthly for pot-luck dinners, how the canning and wood-chopping is coming along for the upcoming winter months, the differences between her and her siblings….just everything. No topic is off-limits, and emotions flow along with the unending chatter and laughter.

She was excited for me to see her newly-sided house. Her brothers got together and not only sided the home Katie bought recently with two of her sisters, but also built the girls a spacious back porch, complete with railings, rockers, and planters filled with colorful flowers.

When we arrived, I could see why she was excited. The ‘almost’ century house now looked brand new. Her sisters, Fannie and Emma, were sewing in the huge great room. Fannie, working on a quilt, Emma, on doll clothes for her neighbor’s little girls. No matter how intense the task at hand, when they talk about them, their faces ‘light up’. Chores to us, but acts of love to them.

After chatting about our recent loss of power, my upcoming shows, how many dolls I’ve completed, how my Mom is faring, etc, my escape from the world was over, and I was ready for the 30 minute ride back to ‘my’ life.

As the girls waved good-bye, I rolled down the window when I noticed three cows in the pasture behind their house. Hmmm. I knew about Socks, the horse they recently purchased along with an Amish buggy, but cows??

“Hey…..when did you get the cows?” I asked.

“They’re not ours. We ‘borrowed’ them from our brother”, was the reply…..grins of delight and mischief evident on each of their ‘plain’ little faces.

“Why?” I asked.

“Oh….we got tired of mowing the pasture. They’ll eat the grass so we don’t have to mow it!”. I must say that the giggles erupting from those three sweet girls tickled me to the core.

Can you just picture Brother Daniel, hooking up his team of horses to the flat-bed wagon loaded with his three cows, traveling the 2 miles down the dirt roads to deliver those human lawn mowers to his sisters? Priceless!

Have a gloriously innovative Monday, wherever you are in the world!

**This post was nominated as Post Of the Day over at David's authorblog. Take a peak at the other winners!** Thank you, David!

Friday, September 26, 2008

~Fingerprint Friday~

There is a song by Steven Curtis Chapman that says:
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
Youre a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God.

My son, Tom, made me a CD for my car that has that song on it. It's one of my favorites.

This photo shows my son, Jeff, introducing Ella to her baby brother, Jackson, for the very first time. Fingerprints of God at its finest!

Stop by Pampering Beki's blog
to read other interpretations of FingerPrint Friday!

Look for God's Fingerprints throughout your Friday, wherever you are in the world!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

~Just A Little Behind~

I got up this morning and glanced at the calendar on my desk. Yup....I'm a little behind. I'd be happy if it actually WAS Sept. 13th or 14th. But it's not. sigh. I guess I'd better pour a cup of coffee and head to the studio. I heard a noise earlier. I'm sure those dolls had a party last nite. sigh. I'd better go see what havoc they raised. I hope they're still in their boxes ready to go to Ohio Mart next week or there's gonna be some trouble at RoseCreekCottage, you can be sure!

Have a good Thursday wherever you are~

P.S. I just checked the studio, and they're all in different boxes...and 'someone' has gotten into my jar of Hershey's Kisses and she has a chocolate-smeared smile!

Do they REALLY think I don't notice??!!~

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

~Pajama Party At RoseCreekCottage~

Place: RoseCreekCottage Studio

Time: Friday Nite!

Bring: Your pillow. Your bunny slippers. Your nightie. A favorite stuffed animal. An empty tummy. Lots of giggles and stories to share.

RSVP: Regrets Only.

The girls are all ready to party. They're all dressed in their girly flannel nighties, their bunny slippers, and each one is carrying their eyelet-edged, pink-ticking pillow. Each of my Ragamuffin Dolls have one of my original poems.
This one begins:

"Giggles & Laughter & Secrets & Tears....We'll be friends forever (at LEAST for 3 years!). Pizza and Pepsi all over the place......".

They're totally hand-made from my original design. I use all new materials. Stuffing is new polyester fiberfill.

These sweeties stand 20" tall, look adorable seated or hanging on a wall....and promise to bring lots of smiles and years of love and laughter to any little princess....tot, tween or teen....you may know.

This auburn-haired dolly is listed on Etsy. She's $45.00, calorie-free, non-fat, and guaranteed not to talk back!

I'm taking 12 with me to Stan Hywet's Ohio Mart next week! I'm off to the Studio to work on long-legged, vintage-clothed rabbits. They're pretty 'hairy' to work with. (Sorry...I couldn't resist!) Have a spectacular Wednesday in your little corner of the world.

Friday, September 19, 2008

~A Letter To Heaven~

Dear Danny,

Your oldest son, Jonathan, got married on Saturday.
I know you are very proud of him. He married an angel. Her name is Ashley. She sparkles. All the time. And she really loves your son. You must have had some hand in their meeting, as I believe they are a 'match made in heaven', to be sure.

The wedding was perfect. Ashley's Great Uncle is a priest, so he said the mass. She's Italian, Dan. Isn't that something? And your wife, Kay. Well...she sparkled too, but there was a sadness I could see behind her eyes. She misses you. We all miss you, Dan.

I particularly felt your presence in that beautiful church. Joshua (youngest son) felt it too. We talked about it afterwards. There was a point during the ceremony that Jonathan caught Joshua's eye.....just for a second.....and Joshua said he was certain you were there. Watching. From heaven.

They missed their honeymoon in St. Lucia because of the winds driven by Hurricane Ike. They were really bummed. Did you have a hand in that, too, to keep your son and his new little bride safe? I bet you did!

All four of your step-children were there. With their own kids. They're all beautiful Dan, and doing so well. It's because of you, ya know. You stepped into their lives when they were all small. You raised them like they were your own. They all talked about you. They all acknowledge what you did for them.

Mom is doing 'okay'. She misses you terribly. We talk about you often. Her alzheimer's flares badly at times. But you already know that. Kathy took her pictures from the wedding on Sunday. Even yesterday when I visited her, we talked about Jonathan and Ashley, Kay, the kids.....you.

Do you hear me when I'm driving and praying and talking to you out loud? Do you see me cry when I think of you? Please know that we are all okay. Oh.....I'm a grandmother now!! I don't 'feel' old enough to be one. But I am. Who knew it would be so amazing? Jeff and Jackie have two beautiful children. You'd love them. They'd adore you.

Please say hello to dad. Let him know that I 'smell' his cigarette smoke every-once-in-a-while and I smile. I just know he's playing a lot of golf, and still cheering for the Browns and his beloved Indians. Tell him Kathy and I still sing, "Today Is Monday" and giggle. I miss him.

I love you, Dan. Kiss the angels for me, 'kay? And if God lends you his laptop....do ya think you can shoot me just one itty bitty email to let me know you're okay? Tell Him I'd really appreciate it.

Love 'From Here All The Way to Heaven',

Your Sister Carol

P.S. If there are any elves running around up there with nothing to do....can you please ask God to send them here for just 2 weeks. I could really use them, and would be ever grateful! xoxoxo

***Stop over at Pampering Beki's Blog to read other blogger's interpretations of FingerPrint Friday, that echos Stephen Curtis Chapman's song!***

Thursday, September 18, 2008

~Calm After the Storm~

Once again, we have lights, water and phones, although there are still many homes in our county without power. They are now saying some of them may be out for 3 weeks. Not good.

The generator, cords and flashlights are stored safely away 'til next time'. It's so good to have a steamy cup of coffee in the morning, water to shower, and toilets that flush. We are all SO spoiled. I am very aware of that with every turn of the faucet!
I was surprised at how much I accomplished while the power was out: finished 35 more little Ragamuffin dolls, completed lots more jewelry, and began packing dolls, etc. for my first show.

My friend, Pat Reynolds, who makes the most beautiful quilted jackets and children's wear, will be doing some of the same shows I will. She called yesterday to remind me that in exactly 2 weeks, we'll be setting up for Stan Hywet's Ohio Mart. That old feeling of panic creeped back in. She has that same feeling, so I know I'm not alone!

Along with the inevitable, "Will people still buy my things?" is the oxymoron of, "Will I have enough?". It's a never-ending plethora of emotions that won't quit until the show is over....and then I'll start worrying about the next one!
Wish Upon A Star Angels are seen here, ready to be taken to Ohio Mart.

I'm off to my light-filled studio....very happy not to be sewing by candlelight! Have a glorious, 'light-filled" Thursday, in your little corner of the world!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

~Pray for the People of Galveston~

I'm typing this from the library in another city. We have been without power, water and phones since Sunday.....a mere inconvenience compared to what the poor people of Texas have endured. They sent our linemen to Texas to help out. They will be back sometime this coming weekend.

We received 80 mph winds on Sunday. Our yard looks like a tornado went through it. Again, nothing compared to what Texas got. I'm certainly not complaining.

We have a generator we hook up to the sump pump, the freezer, the frig, and one lamp. I unplug the lamp to plug in the sewing machine and have gotten quite creative in finding new ways to jump all the extension cords all over the house! I had my first shower this morning at a friend's house. It felt mahhhhvelous!

So....I'm busily cutting, sewing and stuffing doll bodies. My first big show is in 2 weeks, and I can't afford to stop production now!! Not having electricity is a nuisance....but no water?? Yikes! We have to carry buckets of water from Rose Creek to flush the toilets. It takes 4 buckets to fill the bowl and tank for 1 flush. Yup....I use bathrooms elsewhere whenever I can!!

The puppies and I just visited Mom. I'll shower at her assisted living place tomorrow. Jim is showering at the health club on his way to week AFTER he heads to the gas station to fill the cans so I can keep the generator running!

So....no pictures today. Just please keep Galveston in your prayers.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

~Enchanting Windows~

For a real treat, stop by Cielo's blog, The House in the Roses, today, to see all the enchanted windows other bloggers have submitted. The entries are truly enchanting. Every woman should have one place in her home she can look out, and be enchanted. Not only in her house, but in her soul. The window in my living room is my favorite. When we built this house, we had the builder box-out a double window to hold the cobalt, fenton art glass, and amber depression glass I've collected over 38 years of marriage. This is just a small part of it. I rotate the glass between windows and rooms all over the house. Mixed in are a few Royal Copenhagen and Hummel pieces. You can see that the sofa print echoes the colors of the glass.

The framed piece in the center, was a housewarming gift from my sister. She picked flowers from the perennial gardens in our previous home, preserved them and framed them under glass. It is something I treasure.

This window overlooks a beautiful room that holds several cherished antique tables, a secretary desk with all the little cubby-holes, and a baby grand piano that is played by me and both our sons....and now Ella. There are french doors separating this room from the family room. It's my favorite room here....a perfect place to curl up with a cup of coffee or tea, and a favorite book.

May you each see some kind of 'enchantment' through the window of your soul today.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

~Saturday Ramblings~

~An Enchanted Window Party~

If you get a chance, stop in to Cielo's beautiful blog, The House In the Roses. She's hosting an Enchanted Window Party on Monday, September 8th. Stop by her blog to read the details.

If you're not familiar with her blog, you're missing out on seeing her gorgeous rose garden and home. Just beautiful! The photo on the left is just a small glimpse of what you'll find there.

My booth is set up in the garage right now. It's been pulled out of storage, scrubbed, and painted. It's ready for the lighting to be added and tested, as well as for all the fabrics, vintage quilts and displays to be arranged. It's like setting up a giant doll house! I always dread it....but in the end, it's so nice to know that once I arrive at a show on set-up day, I know where everything goes. Fabrics have to be treated with non-flammable solution per most show's fire regulations. There's lots to do!

A week ago today, Ella and Jackson were here. It seems like an eternity ago! The last thing we did as a family before they left, was to have a Chocolate Fondue Party. Ella adores it, and favors the strawberries and pound cake! They're her Grandma's favorites, too, although the bananas, pretzels, marshmellows, and graham crackers aren't bad either!

The coffee's brewed and the booth is a-callin'. Have a joyous weekend.....whatever you do in your little corner of the world.

Friday, September 5, 2008

~Ohio Mart at Stan Hywet Hall ~

I'm working on Halloween things this week in the studio, and creating things for Ohio Mart, which is October 2-5 at Stan Hywet Hall in Akron. It is a juried show of all hand-crafted art featuring 120 artisans. Held on the magnificent grounds of Stan Hywet Hall, in huge white tents which are strategically placed between the gardens, it's one of the finest shows in Ohio

In the past, it was one of my biggest shows....so I'm hoping I will run into lots of my past customers. I'm very excited and honored to have been invited. The jury process for this show is in person, and takes place in February.
I've listed some of them in my Etsy shop. Take a peak!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

~Black Abyss~

! Yes. I’m screaming. I HATE it and all it brings with it. HATE it. It’s a never-ending black abyss. A hole. One that leaves a void in your heart. And in a loved-one's brain.

The phone rang last nite at 6 pm. Mom’s number on the caller ID. Oh no. I had just seen her. She seldom calls. OH NO.

“Hello, Carol? I’m so glad you’re home. You know, I’m feeling so guilty. I haven’t spoken to Mom in a while, and I can’t find her number. Do you have it?”.

I gently remind her that her Mom, my Nona, passed away 32 years ago. When I was pregnant with Jeff.


“You’re kidding!”

I reassure her that I’m not kidding. I would never do that. And I reassure her that she’s just very very tired. And that she just loves her Mother and wishes she was still here.

I wish my Mom was still here. The mom who taught me to ride a bike, how to sew, how to drive a car. The one who sewed til very late into the nite doing alterations so I could have piano lessons. The one who made all my clothes because there wasn't much money.The one who sent the three of us to college because she wanted the best for us. The mom who held my babies and cried. That one. I want her back.

For now, I will take the Mom she is now. The 'Imposter Mom'. The 'Child Mom'. The one I now have to 'mother'.

And I cry.

Please pray that they figure out what causes this dreadful abyss that is taking away people’s minds and making them into strangers to themselves and to those who love them.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

~Sunflower Days~

The sunflower fields all over Ohio are magnificent this time of year. The birds are busy feasting on the nutritious seeds, filling up for their trip south, or nourishing their little bodies for the cold winter that will inevitably descend upon the Midwest.

The above photograph was taken by Meryl, My Bit of Earth , who was gracious enough to allow me to use it here on my blog. Thank you, Meryl! They're simply breathtaking!
I've created several Sunflower pieces, and Meryl gets first pick before I list them in my Etsy shop!! They were such beautiful photos to work with, that I had a difficult time deciding what to make first! I think you'll agree that the pieces are just fabulous!

The sun is just coming up behind RoseCreekCottage, and I'm heading out to a walk in the woods with my cup of coffee before heading to the studio to work on angels. Whatever corner of the world you're in, I wish you a day filled with sunflowers!