Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Interns are the new butler

I've always wanted a Jeeves to take care of all the little nuisances of my life (while hoping I'm not quite as helpless and clueless as Bertie Wooster). The updated version of the dream, though, is to have an intern, who would do pretty much the same sorts of things that a butler once did: oversee household chores and simplify my life.

At the moment, I can't afford either an intern or a butler, so Todd is stepping up to help. Here he is with his quilting hat on.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Freedom From Junk Mail Day

I'm declaring a new holiday: Freedom From Junk Mail Day.

It would be better if EVERY day was Freedom From Junk Mail Day, but I'll settle for one day a year.

A few years ago, I went on a rampage and got most of the junk mail stopped. At the time, I lived in a multi-family house, and instead of getting three copies of all the junk addressed to "occupant," I was getting four (or more) copies. I researched and studied and read the fine print, and contacted all the senders of the envelopes of coupons that I never used and the newspaper inserts that I never read and the catalogues I'd never requested, and all the other junk. It wasn't easy to get them to stop; one customer service representative was convinced that I was violating someone's constitutional rights to freedom of the press by asking that they not send me their free (and not worth the price) newspaper.

Actually, the most difficult thing to get stopped was one particular free newspaper that didn't go through the post office, but was tossed onto the lawn by delivery people walking through the neighborhood. Calling and asking them to stop delivering it was a waste of time; it was much cheaper for them to tell the delivery people to delivery everywhere, rather than picking and choosing. You'd think the newspaper would get the message that no one wanted it when a week later, you'd see the soggy, decomposing copies on just about everyone's front lawn (except for the neatniks who picked it up so there wouldn't be any litter in the front yard). I did consider filing a small claims action, seeking to have them pay for removal of the litter, perhaps getting my neighbors to be co-plaintiffs, but they went out of business soon enough.

After I'd gotten most of the junk stopped, I became complacent, and my name ended up on mailing lists, and I just tossed everything, unread, into the recycling bin. A few of the catalogs started coming through with the promise (which they thought was a threat) that it was the last one I would receive. The promise was about as reliable as Rachel's from card services ("this is the last chance for this offer"), and the catalogs kept coming.

Today, I'm doing something about it. I've already called two of the companies whose catalogs were in my recycling bin and had my name taken off their list. There are a couple more, but I need to wait until the next issue so I have the phone number to call.

Soon, I shall be celebrating my new holiday.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I'd like to be building (or rebuilding) a house for myself, but that's not an option right now, so instead I'm "building" a house for a character. It's an old farmhouse that hasn't been updated in about forty years, so  it's got the 1970s-1980s sage green and harvest gold color scheme. When I was shopping for my niece's graduation quilt, I struck out on the blue print I was looking for, but I found the fabric that's the background in this picture, and it reminded me of the kind of wallpaper that would have gone with the fictional kitchen's green/gold decor.

Then I started thinking that this character was (she's dead before the story starts) a gregarious person, always welcoming friends and strangers to her farm, so it would be fitting that she have pineapple motifs (a traditional symbol of hospitality) throughout her home.

The brass/pineapple welcome is something I've had for years, and it suits me, but I think Peggy would have had something larger on her front door. Maybe something like this brass door knocker, although I envision it as being larger, maybe twice this size.

Eventually, I'll make a lap quilt or table runner with the pineapple fabric, but I haven't figured out the design yet. For now, it's sitting on my monitor shelf, inspiring me.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Everyone Loved Trixie

Trix (the all-orange on the right) was a bargain cat. The animal shelter was so desperate to get her into her forever home that they charged me less than the usual fee. It seems that she'd been adopted once before, and then returned, because she kept stealing her people's keys. I didn't really believe the story, because, first, cats don't generally steal clinky metallic objects (rather than, say, food or strings or balls or other things they can chase), and, second, I couldn't imagine rejecting a pet for such a silly reason, rather than simply putting the keys where she couldn't get them.

Okay, so as it turned out, she really did have a predilection for stealing stuff. Not keys, in my experience, but she had a whole collection of soda bottle caps that she would chase and then hide for future playing. There was absolutely no way I was going to reject her for that!

Over time, as she came to realize I wouldn't reject her for any reason, she stopped hoarding stuff, and left her toys out in the open. Her favorite thing for the last few years was a piece of fleece that she would drag around the house (doing some of my floor-sweeping for me!) like Linus with his security blanket. It wasn't enough for her to simply knead the blanket, she wanted to knead it in the same room with me.

The people who rejected her will never know what they missed. Trix had the biggest heart of any cat I've ever owned, adopting the two month-old kittens I brought into the house, and raising them to be sweet, well-socialized cats.

Sadly, her big heart was also her undoing. She developed heart disease, which was treated within the limits of modern veterinary expertise, but without any real improvement. She was comfortable and happy during her final weeks, and now she will be missed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Animal therapy

I'm fascinated by the current research into animal therapy. That is: therapy for humans that is undertaken with the use of animals. Like cats and dogs (and llamas!) visiting nursing homes and hospitals.

It goes beyond that, too, with therapists using the animals sort of to distract young patients, get their guard down a bit, to open up to treatment. And there are programs for returning veterans with PTSD too, where shelter dogs are trained to help (or the veterans themselves do the training, which is apparently therapeutic too), and apparently the training is less intense and less breed-specific than for service dogs, so there are more (and less expensive) dogs available for the training.

Nice article here, from NPR: pet therapy.