Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Little Surge of Hope For My Serger

It's a sad week in my sewing room.  On that messy table, which you'd think I'd clean up at this point, there's an empty spot where my Bernina Funlock serger usually sits.  I say usually because while I was threading it to make this:



it broke.  In this diagram,#13 should be in front of #14 at all times as they move back and forth like scissors opening and closing.  As I was almost done threading, the only part of serger use that makes me want to throw it out the window, #13 suddenly smashed into #14 and nothing would move.  It's like it completely jumped the track!

I was so shocked and immediately devastated that I just sat and looked at it for a few minutes, speechless.  When I started really looking, I was beyond mystified.  I still don't know what happened.

It could be the fact that in almost 20 years of ownership, I've never had it serviced.  Because if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Who can be bothered with yearly cleanings?

Once I collected myself, I called the nearest store that has a repair person and they put me in touch with the repair woman herself.  She was so nice on the phone and seemed to know exactly what I was saying.  She said that over time, the vibrations from use make things loosen and they can slide around and it sounded like that was what happened.

She thought she could just unscrew things and put them back where they belonged.

So, I trudged out on an hour long trip to leave it with the hope that I'd have it back within the week.

I have 22 of these to make, after all.
After 5 days of waiting with baited breath, she called to say that the looper  is broken but for $30 she can replace it and all should be well.  But that means ordering it.  And waiting some more.

And I have 22 of these to make!

After my trip to drop off the machine, I had collected myself enough that I sat down to make the prototype of the costume to pass it by the judges.

I should have cleaned up my serger area, but who has time for that?

It's a long sleeve t-shirt, minus one sleeve, with gold, silver and red.  And then a terrible hood that I can't convince them to get rid of.

My grand plan involved cutting the side and shoulder seam so I could open the shirt and sew on all of the accoutrements with ease.  Then I'd sew the side and shoulder seam back up.  The hood would always be a separate piece and if I proved that I couldn't make it work, maybe they'd drop that idea.

And when all was said and done, the only thing I'd used the serger for would be the side and shoulder seams.  Everything is stretchy costume/bathing suit material so none of it needs serging.  It's so funny to use a material that doesn't fray!  I can't sew them to the shirt with the serger.  And really, I could just use my regular machine to sew up the seams, which is what I did in this case.

Having using a serger for seams since 1996, it seemed like a raw, crass way to sew when I did it with  my good old Bernina 1001, but I suppose those less fortunate souls who don't own sergers get by just fine, and so will I.

But I sure would love to just whip out those seams with my serger and tidy them up.  I'm losing my mind with all of the stray threads and jagged seams.

Oh, and that hood.  That is simply one piece of material with a seam to join it and they managed to do a double wrap so the hood did what they wanted and it stayed on.  Again, a beautifully serged seam would make that sooooo much better.

The costumes are due in February.  The serger might be another week in the infirmary.  I'm not one to leave things to the last minute.

So, I'm currently chewing on my options.

And in the process, this is what I did.

Not too shabby, I'd say.


 Of course, a black unitard would have saved the day but they don't want that. 

Linking here:
http://www.withablast.net/2015/01/freedom-fridays-64.html

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Penny Trifecta

The big day has finally arrived.  I know all 3 of my readers have been DROOLING with anticipation.

What could these two sisters have come up with????

If you've had a chance to visit my sister www.callajaire.com 's website over the years, you'll see that she sews.  A lot. 

Almost everything in beanster's wardrobe is self made. 

And sometimes, she takes the time to make herself some clothes too.  This is how I discovered kitschycoo and the marvelous pleasure that is sewing with knits.  She told me to get one of kitschycoo's patterns and try it out for myself.

And now, I'm a dangerous knit-sewing machine.  Just when I thought I had exhausted the knit options at Joann fabrics, I've managed to make a few more things.

AND, I ventured into the world of altering patterns and mashing up two patterns together to create the ideal top for myself.

So, my sister thought it would be fun to do a mashup together, with the same patterns, but with our own versions of putting two patterns together and seeing what we'd get.

 TA DA!!

We took kitschycoo's Trifecta Top and mashed it with the Penny Pinafore.  I planned to do the exact same thing my sister did, but I just didn't understand how to do what she so carefully explained.  We even put our heads together over my parents' kitchen island, and she moved the pattern pieces this way and that and showed me where things would line up but I just didn't get it.  Now that I've done both patterns, I might be able to understand the plan better, if she reexplained.

So, my mashup is the V neckline of the Trifecta Top with the tunic style of the Penny Pinafore.



I used a very lightweight, but not see through knit.  I liked the colors a lot but had no idea how staticy it would be.  The bottom picture shows  how it clings 99% of the time.

I had the best plans for this. Instead of a tunic, I wanted to make a long dress like I did here with the Lady Skater.  For that one, I had used every inch of the 3 yards I bought, so I assumed this would do the same thing.

When I found the fabric, it was the only bolt of it in the store and didn't measure 3 yards.

It's brown with all kinds of colors running through.  It's either neat or it looks like a dirty rug.  You decide.

I took it anyway and figured I'd do a tunic if I had to, but maybe I could squeeze out a dress.  It wouldn't have such a full skirt, so it might work.

Said sparkling as she fell into a trance.

I did something I've never done, and laid out the pieces as best I could imagine before I cut anything.  I had the grainline right every single time.  The stretch was marvelous.

And to my shock and amazement, I had just enough to do what I wanted, so I busied myself with figuring out how to extend the pattern to make the dress.

And then my serger bit the dust.  I'll blame the rest of the post on the dying of my serger.  And I will explain the latest with that tomorrow.

That meant that I had to go back to my regular machine, which isn't the way I like to do knits.  And even though I do a very careful 3/8 inch seam on  my machine, I think the reality is that it's even smaller than that on my serger.  So, this  might end up tighter than  my original Penny Pinafore.

The seams have nothing to do with why there is a tunic in the above pictures and not a dress.  The seams have to do with the snugness of the top.

But I came undone when the serger croaked and didn't think clearly again for the rest of the day.

Or the week.

See, when I laid it out, I must have done something different than when I laid it out for real.  So after cutting everything except the two last pieces, I discovered I didn't have enough length to do what I so desperately want to do.  I was just slightly short on fabric.

So that meant cutting the other pieces back to tunic length, because that was just the right length for my remaining fabric.  BUT, it also meant that I had to cut two back pieces because there wasn't enough to make a fold.

Thus, a back seam that isn't really meant to be in the pattern.

Honestly, if I made one pattern to its specifications just once it would be a miracle.

Because I didn't mention that one half of that back is going in the wrong direction because that was all I had left.

No one would notice, possibly not even the trained eye.

The overall effect is snuger than my Penny and Trifecta by themselves, but not so tight that I won't enjoy wearing it.

The V neck is once again not quite how it should be, but I have come to accept that I am defective in this arena and rounded Vs are my thing.
I did a lettuce edge on the hem because I didn't want it to go any shorter and this knit was light enough that a lettuce edge was totally appropriate.

And I love how the princess seams line up on this one, like I did in the Penny Pinafore.  I don't have a good butt shot, so I'll show you my boobolas instead.

Princess seams intrigue me.  Patterns always make them sound so hard because you have to ease the seams, but on of my first dresses when I had no skills involved princess seams and I managed to do them well.  The one compliment I got on my pink Penny is that someone liked the way the seams fell.


So, while I expected this to have the swing of the Penny Pinafore, it missed the mark a little because of my spontaneous seam in the back.  And possibly my 3/8 inch seams. 

If you've ever thought of putting the best of two patterns together, I totally recommend it.  If you like each part, there must be a reason, so that pleasure will make merging them together that much more pleasant!

You can link up your own mashup here!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Making A Trifecta

Leading up to the wild fun my sister and I are revealing on Thursday, I made my first attempt at a Trifecta top by, of course, kitschycoo.  Before you think I've become a puppet for Miss Kitschycoo, I'll tell you that I tried another online pattern company.  And compared to the details in the kitschycoo patterns, it was like watching a black and white tv vs. color tv.

And if you're wondering what a black and white tv is, you're too young to be reading my blog and I'm going to tell your mom if you don't go away right now.

Anypattern, I've just about exhausted kitschycoo's collection now that I've completed the Trifecta top.  I hear there's another one in the works, so we all have something to look forward to.

The biggest change in the Trifecta from the million Lady Skaters and the Penny Pinafore I've been doing is the sleeve.  The Trifecta has a raglan sleeve.


Like a baseball shirt, which is exactly what k-ster said upon first viewing this top.

Working with a raglan sleeve is totally different from the regular set-in sleeve of her other patterns, but as with everything she does, she explained in detail with pictures and words and the markings on the patterns were a tremendous help.

As I said in my Penny Pinafore post, I don't like to mix up fabrics in my clothes.  BUT, my sister strongly suggested I make a trial Trifecta Top before embarking on the plan we are revealing tomorrow, so I went through what I had for fabrics.  I didn't think I'd like this top, so I didn't want to invest in more fabric.

I almost used some completely ridiculous fabrics because I didn't think I'd wear it in public.

I was pleasantly shocked to find that I had two complimentary grey fabrics from these two dresses that I made.  I had just enough of each.

The scary part of this pattern was the v-neck.  As with all of kitschycoo's patterns, there are many options with sleeve length and there were some interesting features for extra fun that I didn't care to try.  But I liked the idea of a v-neck.  There are other neckline options if the V isn't for you.

I'm fine with how the V itself came out, but to the trained eye, it's obvious that my topstitching didn't match the V.  And try as I might, because I had to do it twice because I'm grain of the fabric blind, it just couldn't make it follow the V.

To the untrained eye, it's fine.  Right?  I like to tell myself that it's fine.  Right???

The sleeves were easier to do than I imagined.  However, I'm not  a huge fan of the look on me.  Maybe it's the two toned feature.  Or maybe it's that the seams make me feel like my bra straps have fallen down.  I never wear shirts that have seams where these are, so it was very odd for me.

As usual, I made a major faux pas that seems to be OK but I will have to pay attention not to do it  next time.  When I used the center grey, once again, I didn't lay the pattern with the stretch properly, so it's not so giving.  It's fine and I have to be a little careful when I put it on. It's not skin tight.

One of these days, I will learn.

And since we all know how I feel about leggings pretending to be pants, I found it hysterical that I thought I could wear leggings with this top for the pictures.

It's all because I was modeling some tunics and had leggings and then remembered I needed some pictures of the Trifecta.

Enjoy the ever present butt shot.

And come back Thursday to find out what the big deal is!!

p.s. for the experts who keep noticing that my back views show a lot of weird fabric displacement across the middle of my back:  I'm sure it's driving you crazy but I think it's the way I stand rather than a flaw in what I did.  K-ster says I jam my shoulders back but that's my natural stance, so I think I'm just a freak.   I apologize if you wish I could straighten it out.

Plus, I'd rather show some wrinkles in the fabric than a tight knit across the back.  I never find that look flattering!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Penny Details

As promised yesterday, more pictures and better details of the penny pinafore from kitschycoo.


Many of the pennies I've seen on instagram and all over the internet involved two fabric choices to really highlight the princess seaming.  That's not my style.  Rather than pick two fabrics, I clearly prefer to pick a color that borders on Madame of the Bordello.  I really thought this pink would add some pep into the otherwise sad color scheme that is January in Massachusetts.


Yep, let's stick with "pep".

I wanted to go with a length that was longer than the typical tops I see people wearing with leggings, but not knowing for sure how long the pattern would be, I kept it at the  length of the actual pattern for this first trial run.


The length is fine.  It covers my butt, which is the cardinal rule with leggings and tops.

But I'd like it about 1 inch longer just for a little more security.  With winter comes static and I hate the look of bunched fabric riding one people's butt shelves.

Don't tell me you've never  noticed that before.   Butt shelves totally exist.

A slightly longer length lets me think it would be able to withstand any static that might come its way.

I like the princess seaming and in my opinion, it hits right where it should on the bust.

Or at least, that's where any princess seams I've worn have always hit me.

Want to see it again?

I also really like the neckline.  It's very similar, and might even be the same as the Lady Skater I am so fond of.  It's low but not too low.

As always, I didn't lay the pattern piece out for the neckband properly so there was no stretch and I had to do it twice.  That might be my new signature:  always doing a complete neckband TWICE.  Doing when it's already been serged is even more fun.

Now, as for the fabric, I will never use crushed panne again.  It drove me crazy because as soon as I tugged on it, it curled, so I spent twice as much time uncurling and flattening the the curled edges.

Before you tell me the easy to fix that would be to iron it, for the first time, I IRONED AS I WENT.  And it didn't help with the curling one bit.

The one redeeming feature of the fabric is that it is stretchy.
I really like the cuffs in the long sleeve penny too.  It's the same kind of cuff I raved about with the Lady Skater.  I tried making a narrower version and it was horrid, so I went with this and ended up really liking it.

While some of you are on a quest for the most perfect fit on self made clothing, I am OK with the slight looseness of this pattern.  I don't like anything snug, especially in the middle area because I can only suck it in for so long.  The slight swing to this is something that really pleases me.

The one thing I want to fix is my issue with the tunneling on the hemline.


It lets you see the very specific line of the hem and I want that to disappear.  I've tried the tricks mentioned in the pattern and I've played with the tension but on all but one of my pieces, I haven't managed to escape that look.  It could be the fabrics I keep using but I suspect it's the operator.

I know you come here every day and I have some great stuff to show this week, but you MUST come back Thursday to see what my sister and I area up to.  You can even play with us!

Linking up here:
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2015/01/clever-chicks-blog-hop-122-with-chicken.html
http://www.sewcando.com/2015/01/share-your-crafts-its-craftastic-monday.html
http://www.skiptomylou.org/2015/01/19/made-monday-10/

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Couple of Pennies

Continuing my newfound enjoyment of sewing with knits, I've attempted a different pattern from kitschycoo:  The Penny Pinafore.  It comes with 3 length suggestions and 3 different sleeve lengths.

Since it's winter, I've been making long sleeved tops.  And since it's winter, I've been looking for tunics to wear with leggings.  I like a tunic that goes further than just below the butt.  I don't like looking at people's butts when they wear leggings but pretend they are pants.  In fact, I did a whole post on this a couple of years ago.  Click here to share in my outrage.

So, I planned to make these tunics in a length about 3 inches from the bottom of my butt.


The pink was my first attempt, so I wasn't quite sure how the length would be.  It's OK, but not really where I wanted it.

The brown was meant to be a dress, but there was a terrible fabric layout disaster and it soon became a tunic, of almost the same length as the first one.  There will be many more details about the brown one on Thursday, because it's slightly different from the pink, so I'll just tell you about the pink today.

First of all, it's crushed panne and I will never use it again.  It has a velvet-like texture which means that it has a nap that has to go all the same way or there could be a weird thing happening that would make me crazy all day.

But that's not why I don't like it.  I managed to get it laid out properly and all of the nap goes the right way.

It's got fantastic stretch, which is what drew me to it.

But with that stretch, it also loves to curl the cut edges with the slightest tug, so I spent a lot of time flattening curled edges.  That's what I didn't like about it.

Also, the color is really ridiculous.  In the doldrums of winter in New England, I tend to get sucked into the black and grey in my wardrobe, so I thought a fun, pink tunic with a little texture would be great.

Now I think it will just make me look like a total fruitcake.  Like I need to wear very loud makeup with it and do something silly with my hair,  while thinking I am ultra chic.

And people will want to touch me all day because it looks so soft and touchable.

Fantastic.

If you haven't used any patterns by kitshycoo, you really should explore her options and try one for yourself.  She really 'gets' how important it is to have very clear directions and lots of options.  My favorite thing about her patterns is that she includes very specific pictures within the PDF so for people like me who are very visual, it really makes a big difference.

I hadn't ever printed a pattern on my own printer and pieced it together until I did my first kitschycoo pattern this summer.  I never want to use another tissue paper pattern again!  It's so great to just reprint if I need it and I can make changes without worrying about the original pattern.

She also offers great tips for troubleshooting or making things faster.

Because my sister www.callajaire.com is also a huge fan of these patterns, she has a little plan up her sleeve that will be revealed this week, which is why you need to come back on Thursday.  We're doing something together with very different twists. 

Kitschycoo generously gave me this Penny Pinafore pattern so I could play along with my sister.

Come back tomorrow, when I'll have better pictures, taken in daylight and wearing it so you can see it for yourself.

Linking here:
http://www.lovebakesgoodcakes.com/2015/01/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy_15.html
http://www.flamingotoes.com/category/think-pink-sundays/
http://www.thesitsgirls.com/diy/pattern-ear-warmer/
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2015/01/clever-chicks-blog-hop-122-with-chicken.html 

Monday, January 12, 2015

No Dignity For the Human

As you might have read yesterday, I had to put my cat to sleep.  Before you get sad and start thinking about leaving comments about how sorry you are, I'll tell you that it wasn't as tragic for me as it would have been if she was only 5 or 10.  Or if she had cancer.  Or she was injured.

She was 18.  Which in human years is unimaginable. And she had a good life, even at the end.  She was allowed to sleep in a chair she'd been forbidden from her whole life, on a sweatshirt that smelled like k-ster, her favorite person in her senior years.  She was fed top notch food.  And given treats that were clearly the highlight of her day.

Let me share with you the ridiculous story of the end of her life.  I'd like to share the bumbling experience I had at the vet.  Bumbling.  Because not once, not ever, can something go smoothly, normally or just quietly.  Everything must have a twist of "we've never seen this before" or "well, that's never happened before" or someone always has to be involved that doesn't need to be.

It's never simple.

Because I thought she was going to die almost a year ago, I had already spent my time being sad for her and thinking about what it would be like when she was gone, so the final weeks were not particularly sad for me.  If may sound awful, but when it was time, it just needed to be done because there was no way she'd bounce back this time.  She wasn't eating and all she did was drink, which with failing kidneys was a sign that she was getting no nutrients.  No medication was going to solve this.

And it didn't need to:  She'd lived way past her time, given the fact that she probably would have been put outside and left to be a stray cat if I had not taken her when I did.  She did her job and did it well.

For about a week after Christmas, I knew she was deteriorating.  She was getting skinnier and and had no energy.  Food sat in her bowl.  Chicken broth was a wonder for one day but even that lost its appeal.  

So, being prepared even as death approached, I started thinking about what we would do with her.  I wanted to bury her somewhere here in the yard, but it was December.  The ground was getting colder by the day.  And that would mean we couldn't dig a hole.

I spent my evenings first wondering where I would put her and second, wondering if I should dig a hole early, in anticipation of the end, since it would  be frozen pretty soon.  Maybe she'd go on her own just before the ground froze. 

I really wanted her to go on her own.  But, she was persistent.

I knew I wanted her in a spot that I would see often, but wouldn't possibly be a space I would want to expand my garden or greenhouse at any time.

I spent a lot of time debating this, rather than being sad that her final hour was drawing near.

Because that's what I do.

Eventually, it was time, so I had k-ster call the vet while I was at school and I ran home to get her between school and a meeting.  I knew I didn't need to bring her carrier because she was so feeble, she wouldn't try running anywhere, so I scooped her up in a fleece that she had in her bed and put her on the seat.

I couldn't help thinking about the day I got her, when I didn't have a box or anything and I thought a young kitten would just sit beside me on the seat.  I had had cats my whole life, so I don't know what I was thinking.

Instead, she went bananas, running around my car, having explosive diarrhea everywhere on the 15 minute drive home.

Welcome, Gwennevere.

I was pretty sure she wasn't up to those antics this time around, but I kept my hand near her for most of the ride just in case.

When I walked in, it was 4:30 which is the busiest time of the day for the vet because everyone is running in after work.  The waiting room was pretty crazy.  I almost always see someone I know.  Dogs, cats, people, noise everywhere. 

I stood at the door, with her in my arms, while people looked at me and finally I convinced a kid to open the door for me.   I signed in, one handed and then sat down with her bundled up in my arms.  I couldn't believe how long I sat there before a tech was free to notice me.  People looked over and made frowny faces. 

I wasn't sad because I was so distracted by the commotion and wondering how this would go.

Since k-ster had called, the tech finally noticed me, she knew right away who I was, so she called me in, very solemnly, and we wandered through the secret maze that is the animal hospital.  I could not stop thinking about how odd the whole thing was, instead of how sad I was supposed to be.  I had imagined going into one of the regular exam rooms and seeing my regular vet. 

Instead, we were in the inner sanctum, in a hideous blue room I'd never been in before, with animal prayers on the wall.

Way to set the scene.

And the tech was very sad for me and solemn and asked if I knew what I wanted to do with her.  I knew I wanted to bury her at home, so I had to sign an official form that said "home burial".  For a cat!  Very funeral homesque.  She asked if I wanted her wrapped in the fleece and I said yes, but then picturing walking through the waiting room with a weird bundle, I asked if there was a box or something I could put her in. 

Except in my last minute confusion, I asked if there was "a box we could put me in."

She said they'd see what they could do.  Then she told me a doctor I didn't know would come in, so I could just sit there until then. 

They'd see what they could do?  Had they never put down an animal before?  Don't some people bring home pets to bury?

As I looked around at the prayer for cats and the prayer for dogs, I noticed a prayer about a rainbow bridge.  Basically, all pets are waiting there and when they see their human come, they cross the bridge together and live in bliss.

But this particular poster had a major mistake.  They had typed the same part of the sentence twice in a row.  So, instead of being sad for my cat, I was correcting grammar. 

Good thing they didn't leave me a sharpie.

Eventually, a doctor I had never seen before came in and asked if I wanted to be present.  I told her to take her out back to do it and then I'd take her home.  And she said "now you'd like a box?" 

Well, yes. 

Does anyone in the waiting room really want to watch me walk out with a mysterious purple bundle in my arms?  Thinking back to  my entire life going to this vet, I knew that not once had I seen someone walk out without an animal carrying a bundle instead.

Then she said "now you didn't want her pawprint?"  I didn't even know what that meant, so I said no and she said "oh, they were supposed to ask you".  In my weird mind, I pictured her handing me her paw, like a rabbit's foot keychain, even though I'm sure it would have been a stamp of her paw on paper.  At that point, I just wanted this madness to end.   I didn't need it. 

I think we have her pawprint in some concrete she scuttled through in the back yard anyway.

So, she took her away and instead of being sad, I thought about how weird this whole thing was:

I was led to a blue room with a prayer that had a glaring error.  Has no one ever pointed this out?

The tech and the doctor seemed surprised I wanted a box and they would "see what they could do".

They "forgot" to see if I wanted her pawprint.

And then I got to thinking more about where we were going to put her.  And lamenting the 20 degree weather we were having and the 4 degrees it was supposed to be that night.  We hadn't dug the hole.  And k-ster would be out of town the whole next day. 

But,  I did decide where I would bury her.

When that would happen became the next question.

It seemed like an extraordinary amount of time before she came back.  I guessed they had trouble finding a box.  What she brought was exactly what I would picture.  Instead of a banana box, or a liquor box,  it was a brand new box that clearly was designed for just this purpose.  It had a lid and handles cut out for carrying.  Surely, an animal hospital of this size has a supply of just this kind of box.

So, she handed me the box, said she was sorry, and off I went.

Not through a secret door out back.  Not under cloak and dagger, escorted to my car.  Not hush hush.

Instead, I wandered through the labyrinth alone, with a box in my hands.  As I entered the very full waiting room, I wondered how to carry her.

Do I carry it like a football, under my arm?

Do I carry it like a tray, in front of me?

Do I smile and act like I'm bringing home a box of food?

Do I look super sad and start weeping as I come out?

Is she now an it?  It she a she?

Does anyone have an idea what's in the box?

Do I have to pay for this?

As I pondered the last question, of course a parent of one of my students was sitting right in front of my with her slaphappy dog yelling 'BONJOUR MADEMOISELLE!!!  HOW ARE YOU?"

"Fine, thanks,"  I said as I put the box with my now dead cat on the counter, so I could inquire about payment.  Was I supposed to tell her what I was doing?  Did she know?

Seriously?  Is this how it's supposed to be?

So, now I found myself whispering to the tech, "ummm, hi, umm, am I supposed to pay for the euthanasia?"

For a moment, I had a fantasy that this is the one free thing at the vet.  That they understand people's attachment to pets and that whipping out a credit card through tears it difficult, so maybe they don't charge.

Ha ha ha ha h ah ahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa haahaaaaa.

"Oh," she said "they didn't have you pay in the room?"

In the gaudy blue room with the grammatically incorrect poem?  "well, no, they didn't" .

"Oh they were supposed to.  Yes, it will be $50".

"Ok great" I said as I handed her my card.  Really?  It's great that I'm paying $50 for this wild ride?

Then she handed me my receipt, again telling me how sorry she was.

So, I scooped up my special box, turned and looked at the waiting room, and out I went.

And I put her on the seat next to me thinking how easy it would be to forget what it means and just leave it there.

I spent the 15 minute drive home thinking about what to do with her.  I had a meeting, k-ster had go somewhere and we would both be gone all day the next day.  There wasn't a hole for her yet and no one was going to do it that night.  Or the next night.

And she would soon start to smell.

So, knowing it would be frigid that night, I decided the box had to stay outside.  But not in my car.  And not outside on the ground because something might find her.

So, into the greenhouse she went.  My theory was that she'd freeze right away in the extreme cold and even if it was sunny the next day, it wouldn't get warm enough to thaw, based on what the weather was predicting.  One more night would be fine and then we could bury her.

My frozen, dead cat, in my greenhouse.  I thought with a smirk.   Not ever a smooth process.  Ever.

I know you're wondering how the ground thawed enough that quickly.  Through the wonders of modern life, we used my father's backhoe to dig the hole.  That was the quickest way to get a good, deep hole where nothing will dig her up.

So, she will forever be near the greenhouse, one of her favorite places.  In a spot I have no intention of ever using for garden space.  Under some bushes.  Where she can always watch what's going on.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What's In A Name

I rarely reveal anyone's real name on my blog, to protect the somewhat innocent, but I believe it's time to reveal a name.

Gwenstopher.  

Really, her  name was Gwennevere.  And, much to everyone's surprise, she lived for 18 years!  I tried to keep her as an indoor cat but for about 3 years we ever saw eye to eye on that matter, so I  eventually gave in and let her come and go as she pleased.

And pleased, she was.

I picked her up as a very young kitten in a duplex with a cast of sad sacks that needed to get rid of the litter.  She lived across from the town dump and given her affinity for choosing to rip open trash bags and eat the scraps over nice, clean kibble in a bowl, I always thought she must have come from a scrappy mother whose survival instincts were passed on to her kittens.

She loved bread and anything that had gluten in it.  I discovered this when I made blueberry muffins and set the pan out to cool.  Suddenly, there was a soft thud and I went out to the kitchen to find her knee deep in a muffin, tickled that she had found such a treasure.

She stole bagels from my school bag, rolls off the table and if I dared to leave a bread product on the table or counter, she'd rip into and eat just enough that none of it was consumable by humans. 

She'd get a crazed look in her eye that said there was no way she could control herself.

She was also lactose intolerant.  Discovered when I let her lick the rest of a bowl of pudding and she hosed the house and nearby shoes with the most explosive force I'd ever seen.  And this happened more than once.  No cheese or milk for this one!

There were also a few incidents where she took chicken that was thawing on the counter and dragged it over to a special doormat where she took all of her stolen goods.  It was a joy to discover this as I came home with a bag full of groceries and slid across the mat  on a raw chicken breast as I opened the door.

Eventually I learned what had to be locked up to avoid being stolen by this petty thief.


For most of her 18 years, she wasn't much trouble.  There were a few incidents with wild animals that led her to some minor surgery and bonding time with me applying warm, moist cloths to her wounds, while administering the tastiest antibiotics out there (banana!) but really, given her life span, she wasn't much trouble at all.

In her last couple of years, she was clearly overcome with a sense of entitlement or perhaps curiosity that couldn't be satisfied until she checked out what was calling her attention.  She went into weird cabinets she had never explored.  She licked things (like cheekbones) once or twice and then gave a look like "well, that certainly didn't taste like I always imagined it would" and then she'd walk away.

But mostly, she couldn't get enough of us.  This, from a cat who didn't care about people for at least the first decade of her life.  She wouldn't come greet guests.  She'd make weird noises if strangers tried to pat her.  And she didn't spend too much time sitting on us, especially k-ster.  In fact, she often whacked his hand away or snapped at him if he rubbed her the wrong way.

And then she got old and suddenly, k-ster was the only thing she wanted.  Every moment that he sitting somewhere, she'd try to climb on him and bump his hand and pester him so a refrain of "leave me alone" could be heard while he was watching tv.

The vet said senior cats tend to get like that, wanting lots of companionship even if they never cared about it before.

Our morning ritual for the last year involved shoving half a pill down her throat followed by treats, which she begrudgingly came for every day.  And then promptly spit out 50% of the time or completely hid and then spit out about 20% of the time.  That I know of....

Watching a pet age, especially in the final months, is hard.  She slept most of the day and night and when she slept she was OUT.  She wanted to go out and then went out and looked confused and came right back in, sleeping like she'd been out for days.  She lost interest in food. 

And when I stopped to remember how long it had been since she had jumped on the bed, or come into the sewing room or outside with me, I realized just how old she was. 

In the end, she tried to get into the chair she slept in(one that had been forbidden for most of her life!) and her claw got stuck and she hurt her paw.  She hadn't eaten in over a week. 

And then, it was time.

When you lose a pet in a tragic accident, or as a young animal, or when one disappears, it is very sad. But when I think about her life span and the fact that she wasn't hit by a car or snatched by a coyote or affected by a disease, I think it's pretty remarkable.  A little kitten next to the dump, who probably didn't have a very bright future given the house she lived in, lived an extraordinarily long life and was a great companion to me.  And eventually to k-ster.

I chose the name Gwennevere from Camelot and back then, I thought really weird spellings for names was cool.  Guinevere in the story was wily and conniving.  I don't know how much she lived up to her name.  In my presence, she wasn't very wily or conniving, just persistent.  But, to escape the dangers of outside, she must have been pretty slick, so maybe she lived up to her name after all.