The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Full Pink Moon Dreamboard...and more

I think today is perfect…the perfect time to unveil both this month’s Full Moon Dreamboard and to engage in this week’s wish as well.

Well, see, thanks to Jamie and the crew, it’s not that I am wishing to invest in anything.  I am investing in things, like my children, my family, my relationship w R, my self, my art.  Everything I want to invest in has been started.  We have a patio garden that has leaked over into the yard.  We have rabbits as a start to the farm.  We are heavy into the real estate investment venue.  Everything may be moving in small increments, but everything is moving.  So, we’re happy.

I am actually proud of myself w this dreamboard.  I haven’t done a large scale one, or a very collaged one, since, eons ago…I think it was last year actually.  I still keep my old dreamboards, the ones not in a notebook, up on a wall so I can see them. 
This one is a bit different.  It’s a plain piece of poster board.  I did not feel a need to paint it at all.  There was a need to keep the background white, and to make sure there was plenty of space, plenty of open space, in between the various images.
Now, the way I chose the images is interesting.  I have piles of magazine pages, and piles of already cut out images…we went to the very wet and rainy Earth Day event in Forest Park this past week-end…and we stayed for maybe 10 or 15 minutes.  Long enough for E to actually hold a crayfish at one demonstration…we had all sorts of fliers and leaflets…and hey, maybe I will win that trip to Bali…but…the images in the one mini-magazine we had been handed really caught my eye.  Add in a solar energy magazine…and boom, there is the majority of my project.  I did allow myself to grab one sheaf of ripped out magazine pages.  I allowed myself to use images from those pages and nothing else.
I decided to rip out the images, even if they had been previously cut out…they needed to be ripped and torn for this project…the use of words surprised me…especially given the words themselves…and where some of them came from…
Only one image did not make it onto the board…I tore a picture of a woman doing eagle pose…right through the legs.  The pose would not work without the foundation.  Although I did use other pictures that had ripped in the wrong places, I didn’t feel as if the eagle pose could be salvaged and still retain the meaning of the entire piece.
I still did the same old thing I do…I closed off my conscious mind…I stopped analyzing…I stopped judging…I let it go.  I let my hands and my heart move.
I am not about to sit here and try to figure out what it says or what it is telling me.  I sort of have an idea—per usual—without having any clue as to the details…but there is enough there for me to move forward and be happy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Slight Update

Well, I meant to sit down yesterday and set out all my goals for the week.
I have finished my diotima shell.  I have started the poncho for my friend.  I had three shipments of books, not all knitting related, come in this week-end.
I am currently lost in the wit and tragedy of ‘The Midwife’ written by Jennifer Worth at the moment.  I started it last night and am already 100 pages into it.  Whereas I am still struggling through ‘Mr Darcy, Vamppyre’ by Amanda Grange. 
I finally did get all our little veg planted yesterday.  Now we have only, only, three types of basil growing…plus, I have seeds to plant for two more varieties that I am planning to plant come May.  Our spinach is now happily ensconced into two pots.  I think our stevia plant needs a bit more rabbit manure…but they are just rabbits…and even though they are poop machines, they only poop so much.
The storms of this past week-end did not go over well with the bunny twins.  They didn’t eat as much.  They preferred to hide most of the time.  We bought them a little cat cave thing.  It’s a circular thing made of wood, covered w fabric.  They will both hide inside it, but charley will jump on top of it and play King of the World.  It’s very funny.  R still seems to be their most favorite person and chew toy…which is just hysterical.  Since I groom them, they do not always like me…no matter how gentle I am.  It’s the I will hold you to brush you thing…I have to…I have no choice…I can’t let them get full of mats.  Although they do love it when I come to feed them…both will pop up and try to get to the scoop in my hand before the other one…and it doesn’t matter if I fill the feeder, they still want to see what I have in the scoop.  I have not tried any other ‘treats’ or greens yet…especially not w the weather as frothy as it has been lately…
I have had some ‘stuff’—there is no other term—brewing in the back of my head for days…more like weeks…now. 
I decided a few days ago that I am doing the big huge full-sized poster board Full Moon Dreamer dream board this month.  In the past, when I first started doing the dream boards w Jamie and her crew, when I made dream boards, they were not one month long journeys…my larger dream boards are always far reaching.  The smaller dream boards that I made…the ones I tended to frame, the ones I call my doorways, are more short-term goals.  I need a more broad and general view of what I am trying to accomplish.  I know there is a great deal of subconscious ‘stuff’ going on.  I need to have a more conscious view of things.
I had my Liev Schreiber dream the other night.  It’s not as if it is the same dream every single time I have this dream, but it is the same theme.  I do not know why my brain settled upon Liev Schreiber all those years ago, but when my dream mind needed a champion, Liev was the man my mind chose.  I could examine this all day and all night, but I won’t.  I understand theoretically why Liev is the best choice for this particular … occurrence?  Dream?  Whatever.  That I remember the dream at all is a miracle, any of them.  But there is a reason Liev shows up…since I remember quite a bit of the dream (no, I won’t share it, apologies, not until I figure out all the details and the wherefores and the whys and the hows), there is a great deal of work for me to do on this side…and I know it.
That dream was merely one trigger.  I am grateful for it.  I see the wisdom in it.  I see the hope and the magnificence of it.  I also see the potential in it as well.
Add into that, and the email I got today from Creative Every Day.  And I simply get an email every time the website is updated…it’s not as if Leah emailed me personally or directly or anything.  CED is one of those things I have been meaning to be more involved w this year, but that I sort of let sit at the side of the road while I found my footing.  Apparently, my footing is returning…because when I opened this email, rather than moving it to my CED box unread, which has been my norm, I was touched.  I felt the Universe reach out and either touch my heart…or poke me in the chest, depending upon how you look at it.  Maybe it was a little of both.
Intuition…which brings me back to the whole needing to access the subconscious, the unspoken, the inner workings, of my own heart, mind and soul…I need to bring them to the surface.
My artist …drive…has been slowly building up.  I cut back my work hours yet again, with surprisingly good results…I can’t quite believe that…but I have the time to do the other work in my life…and I am more ready now then I was a year ago.  I am very proud of the changes in my life…I know I have other roads to travel and I am excited and grateful for the opportunities.
More to come soon…I am sure there is much to reveal…

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Dog With A Bone Today

I told you I was trolling along the internet today, checking out different blogs and sources and whatnot.  I am a bit ticky.  I have certain places I check, and I frequently read the feedback and comments left by others. 
          If you go to Wishcasting Wednesday, you will see the Mr Linky gadget there, so you can input your name and your link to your direct post.  The point of putting your link directly to the post you want to be read is more than a courtesy to people who may come along and want to read what you’ve written.  Wishcasting is only one of many examples.  Specifically with Wishcasting here, you want people to come to your wishing post so that they can comment and wish along with you.
          I travel to many other sites, where you can comment and post, and leave your link to your direct post.  I was trying to do that this morning.  I had read the synopsis not only of the first post, but of the commenting post as well.  It took me too darn long to find the first post, so long that I nearly didn’t bother.  It was a bit easier to find the second post, but only because her posting had been more recent and she hadn't posted a great deal more since her supposedly linked post.  There was no way to comment on the second post without reading the first post…because without that first post, the second one didn’t really make much sense.  It did, but there were too many details unsaid if you didn’t read the first post.
          I understand that the point of this online meandering here is to get people to come to your blog, to read what you’ve written.  I do understand wanting to have more traffic, more exposure, more people who are interested in what you are doing.  But I came to your blog to read one specific post…I did not come to wade through a great many other posts, fighting to figure out where your post that I would like to read went off to.  Now, I do tend to stick around on blogs after I read an initial post, to read more, to learn more, to see what else there is being offered.  But, if I come for one thing, I want to read that one thing first.  I do not want to be frustrated by trying to figure out when did they write this, when did they post this, where do I go in order to find this.
          It is merely a courtesy to the people who are trying to accept your invitation into your world, to link them to the correct post you want them to read, to link them to the post they are wanting to read, rather than linking them to your main blog and hoping they can flounder their way through things to get to what they want.  Rarely do I bother on to find what I was interested in in the first place when things like this happen.  Which is terrible, because the premise of these two posts above were worth the effort to read so that I could include them in the post I was planning to write anyway.  If I can turn a spotlight on someone else and say, hey, check out what this person is saying, I love to do that, whether I receive credit for it or not.

          Sometimes in the grand scheme of trying so hard to find yourself and to show others how you have found yourself so that they too might benefit from your hard work, it is a good thing to keep the other people in mind, rather than selfishly focusing entirely upon yourself and your own process.  It is the little things, like linking directly to a particular post, that creates the conducive atmosphere of a continued journey together.

Having vented about this, I have utterly forgotten the post I was going to write.  Jamie has been so beneficial for me, I was wanting to give out some other powerful resources to help people help themselves. 
Maybe once I get something to eat and I can calm down again, I will come back and revisit the idea of these posts.  Are you the master of your own life?  Whose life are you living?  Are you in control of your own life?

Existing or Subsisting...and Everywhere In Between

So, I have been out trolling online today…trying to find interesting things to keep me busy while I wait the last few minutes before I can feed my daughter’s cyber dog on Farmville via facebook.  Please note…although I have been sending gifts for other facebook games, I don’t think I’ll be doing it anymore.
The deal w the games has always been my daughter can play whatever she wants on my facebook, so long as her schoolwork is done.  Well, schoolwork has been suffering of late…so, no games on facebook.  I’ve been sending gifts out, simply to make sure E was still in the loop when she came back to the games.  It doesn’t look as if she’ll be coming back any time soon.
Now, I do like to play Farmville myself now and then.  It’s mindless and stupid …and lets me stop thinking about everything, most of the time.  This is the only reason I am keeping it.
I really like this post by Nikki Matthews.  It struck a cord with me, with everything I have been writing about this morning.   It also intersects with the conversation I have been having off and on with R this morning as well.  Let’s just say it has something to do with loyalty between lovers and friends. 
But, as with all things, there are other things to see online.  My friend sent me this link first thing this morning.  Talk about people finding their bliss in their very own individual ways.  My friend and I have been having way too much fun at someone else’s expense via regretsy for the past few days.
It is however always nice to see when someone else can roll with the punches when they see the mistake they have made.  For example, this lovely lady.
I think I would prefer to stay with the whole Life Is Golden experience, via Nikki Matthews though.
Life is all about living.  Not about suffering.  Not about forcing yourself to do things day after day after day.  It’s not about allowing others to beat you down or put you in a box.  There are options.  You may not like the options.  You may not even be able to see them as options.  But they are out there.
A teacher of mine gave us an interesting example once, and I am SO paraphrasing and extrapolating on my own with this here.  Basically, a man has a job that he hates.  He feels he has to work this job because he has bills to pay.  He has kids to feed.  He has a wife.  He has the mortgage, the car payment.  He has responsibilities.  The thing is, he has chosen to accept these responsibilities.
No one says you have to keep paying for that house.  You can sell that house, buy another one.  Or rent an apartment.  Or live in your car.  You could give the house back to the bank and call it even.
You can turn off that phone, the internet, the satellite or cable television.  You can downsize.  You can sell all your stuff.  You can give it away.
You can take a lower paying job.  You can leave your wife.  You can stop paying all your bills.  You can call your credit card companies and make lower payment arrangements.  You can cut up all your credit cards.  You can do so many other things.
But every single morning, you wake up and you make your choice.  You decide, I am going to work today.  I am feeding the cat today.  I am paying for this house that is too big/too small/too whatever.  The weight of the world is on my shoulders.  That is your choice.
Did I say there would not be consequences for your actions?  No.  Your wife could take the kids and leave you if you quit keeping up the current style of living.  Credit card companies can come after you for what you owe them.  So on and so forth.   
But, there are so many other ways of doing things.  You do not have to be stuck where you are.  You can make other choices.
Instead of one full time job you hate, you could take two part time jobs you can deal with, or even love.  You can start your own business.  You can buy land and build your own house.  You can move far far away, or go back home. 
You have to decide, every minute of every day, is this what I want to do?  Is this what makes me happy?  Is this my only option?  Can I move forward from here?  Do I feel trapped?  Do I feel free?
Sometimes you really do need to throw all caution to the wind and just let fly.  Live your life.  If you don’t, no one else will.

I not only have ADHD in real life, I have it in the blogging world as well.

            I was reading this post…not because it had ADHD in the title…although that may have been one reason I chose to read this post before some others…but because I find these sorts of posts interesting.

            Let me see if I can go through this in a decent sequence so I am not running around and round in circles in order to catch up w myself.

            Why did I start a blog?  Honestly…I don’t remember the exact reason *why*.  I wanted to be a part of something.  I wanted to reach out to people.  I wanted to share my own experiences with homeschooling, with cooking, with raising my family, with knitting, with raising dogs…and it was a place to vent about all and sundry should I so desire.  My blog…my life…my opinions.  Period.

            I’ve run through a number of blogs.  I have had work blogs…that I have worked and reworked.  I have had a blog for each ‘topic’ involved in my work, be it counseling, knitting, sewing, art work, whatever.   I had blogs for my writing, one for this writing group, one for this writing scenario, one for this writing adventure.
 I hated it.  I hate having to tell people, this blog is for this, this blog is for that.  I hated having an email signature that had so many links and suggestions.  I hated having to set up sidebars on each and every blog that pointed everyone to this blog for this and this blog for that.

Am I saying this gentleman is wrong when he says you need to focus?  Actually, I am not.  I do agree that having focus and knowing where you are going w things is a very good thing.  But, I am saying, this is not for me.
            I am not saying follow me, do what I say.  Then again, I am also not saying follow that guy, or that lady, do what they tell you to do.  I am saying…finding your own niche is all you.  It is up to you. 

            I still have my personal blog, my writing blog (all my writing blogs condensed into one), my counseling blog (only because I am not yet done setting up my other blog, which will make this blog obsolete), and my sales blog (for lack of a better term).
            Now, ideally, when I am done, the writing blog will (as it pretty much is now) remain an archive…my writing has taken some different turns since October 2009 (the date of the last post there) and I am liking the new direction.  I don’t want to take everything off the net, simply because I am proud to have been associated with SoulFoodCafe and the TextyLadies.  Among other things.  When I am done, the counseling blog will be let go of…I am not sure if that means leaving it as an archive or what at the moment…and everything will move over to the currently called ‘sales blog’.

            I would like to say I sat down and worked all these things out in a logical manner.  Not me.  It all started with these nagging ideas in the back of my head that I pretty much ignored.  Then, my friend Kerry triggered something with one of her nicknames for me.  Things began to slip and slide mentally for me, behind the scenes, until I took up the gauntlet…and I am still waiting to see what I am going to do with it.
            The premise is everything I do has a common thread:  spirituality.  Every day in my life there is that common thread to everything I do, whether it is making the bed in the morning or brushing my daughter’s hair or making dinner or chiding the rabbits for being so messy or taking a shower or watering the plants…no matter what is going on with me, there is a string of spirituality and spiritual connection that runs through everything.  All the time. 
            Please do note…I said SPIRITUAL…not religious.  Religion to me means something organized and run by man.  I am not a religious person.  I am, however, an extremely spiritual person.  There is a reason for this…and I won’t be getting into that now.
            My ‘sales blog’ (calling it a sales blog bothers me, yes, although this will be where I hawk my wares, yes) is a work in progress…obviously.  But it is also becoming a more accurate picture of who and what I am as a business entity?  For lack of a better term here as well. 
            I don’t want to be known merely as the Priest who knits.  Nor do I care to be known as the seamstress who also performs weddings and/or handfastings either.  I do a great many things.  I should be able to have everything I do…from the counseling to the knitting to the weddings to the sewing to the painting to the pottery to the doll making to the funerals to the writing all in the same place, even though to the majority of people, known of that is related in any way.
            Yes, it is all related.  It’s all me.
            I do have ADHD, as a matter of fact.  I have more than one interest.  I am strong enough in myself and of myself to say, I am ok with this.  I don’t want to be like anyone else.  I don’t want to do things the way everyone else does.  Not that I don’t want my name out there.  Not that I don’t want people to know what I do.  I just want to do it my way.
            History, even the history being made today, is full of people who did it their own way and they succeeded.  I can be one of those people. Even if I am not, I can at least be happy with who and what I am, the way I am.
            Some days, that means more to me than anything else.


     I meant to write this yesterday, what with it being wishcasting Wednesday and all.  Too many things kept cropping up and I let it go until today instead.  So here we are.
     Jamie Ridler is the most amazing WishMaster I have ever ‘met’.  Every week she brings us a single question with which to challenge ourselves.  Questions like:
These questions, and the so many other questions she has asked since I have ‘known’ her, are all so deceptively simple.  Until you sit down, until you sit with the question, until that question begins to nibble at your heart and at your brain.  Every week, for two years, perhaps more, I would sit down and I would chisel away at my Self, someone with whom I am not always that familiar, not after having been on the run emotionally for so long, after one divorce, two children, a break-up of the magnitude of a divorce, moving across country, and back again…
     Every week, Jamie drew things out of me.  Some I knew were there, buried and hidden.  Some were complete surprises to me.
     In the past few months, I have found a new footing.  I have found a new grace, a new surety in and with myself.  I have Jamie to thank for this.
     And it is not just Jamie.  It is the incredible and wonderful crew of wishcasters who every week would wish along with me, as I wished along with them.  I have ‘met’ some very beautiful people.  I have made some incredible friends.  This I also thank Jamie for having brought into my life.
     If it weren’t for Jamie, I would have never found the TextyLadies, even though they are currently on hiatus.
     If it weren’t for Jamie, I would never have found the encouragement and muse superb of Sarah.
     If it weren’t for Jamie, I would never have found out about Eric Maisel via Hybrid J, or zentangle, or a myriad of other things…thanks to Hybrid J.
     I could go on and on about the beautiful people, the inspiring experiences, you name it…these above are barely a drop in the bucket.
     Lately, I have not been participating as much online, with the group.  Please do not get me wrong.  Even if I do not post, I still light a candle and say a prayer for every wishcaster who makes a wish, whether online or not.  I have always done this, simply because at times there is no way to get to everyone’s blog and read and post and still manage to get my own things done.  And many, like me, do not always post on Wednesday, and I frequently do not remember to go back on Thursday or Friday to see who posted after I did.
     For the past few weeks, every time I have sat down with the intention of answering this week’s questions…I have been stymied in a way…but in a beautiful and brilliant way…I’ve not been able to say I wish to do this…every time of late I’ve been able to say I am doing this…
     If it weren’t for Jamie and for all the other wishcasters, I would never have stopped long enough to examine how I feel, what I want, where I want to go.
     I would never have gotten into collage quite so deeply.  I would not have allowed myself to start drawing…or painting…or open an etsy store…or set up my own anything
     If it weren’t for wishcasting, I don’t think I would have dared to stop working for some other company and strike out on my own.  I wouldn’t be living my life on my own terms, to the extent that I am doing now.  I wouldn’t be so convinced that I am doing the right thing, or heading the right direction.
     I wouldn’t have allowed myself to look deep enough inside, to bring these things up and to the surface.  I wouldn’t have had the strength to bring them into this world and bring them to fruition.
     I am truly humbled and eternally grateful.  Not just to Jamie.  But to each and every single wishcaster out there.
     Know that every week, I light a candle and say my prayer, for each and every one of you, each and every one of us, whether I am visible online or not.
     Thank you.  All of you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Is Not The Post I Meant To Write

Now I Am Ready

            This is a post I have been meaning to write for approximately a month now.
            When I first began to plan this post, Shadow was alive, but ill, and I was pondering the validity of writing a post about caring for your aging pet.  Since R and I frequently joked about the dog we would get to replace Shadow once he passed, I also pondered writing a post about picking out a new puppy, or a new pet.
            It’s also about the time we were waiting for our bunnies to be old enough to come home to us, so, again, the picking out a new pet theme seemed a good idea.
            But Shadow was sick.  I do have a post I could not publish, still cannot publish, a post that wandered through the intricacies of how do you know when to let go of your pet, when is it the right time to say good-bye and put your friend and family member to sleep.  I strongly believe in euthanasia, for animals and for humans.  I have worked w the elderly and the infirm too long, doing in-home care and working in nursing homes, to not believe in it for humans.  Deciding where that right point is, however, is a huge decision, no matter what species you look at for this event.
            Honestly, I cannot tell you where this post is going this morning.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss Shadow here.  I know he is in a much better place.  I know he is happier and free from pain.  I know the poor old guy finally has his dignity back.  I can still wake up in the morning w the urgency that I have to get up and let him outside, since he was too infirm to walk up and down the basement stairs to the dog door, much less able to climb up the stairs to outside.
I still drive up to the house, when we take both Kendall and Princess to my house for the day, expecting to hear him bark, or expecting to try to open the front door and being unable to do so until he moves his great big fluffy butt since he spent the day sleeping in front of the door until we came back.  I keep worrying about did he take his meds, did he eat enough…things the poor guy no longer needs to worry about these days.
            I look at Princess, who is ten, eleven years old.  I know her issues, just as I knew Shadow’s.  These dogs have been in my life for ten years plus now.  They’ve been friends and protectors and guardians and test subjects.  I took a canine/feline massage therapy course just for Shadow during the year I was in massage therapy school.  During my confinement while I was pregnant w N, when I was unable and unwilling to go to school to perform hands on massages on people, so my instructor let me practice at home…on the dogs.  These dogs are the reason, for the most part, that I was able to graduate from massage school.  If I hadn’t finished before I had N, I never would have.

            So, since I started out here, let’s look at Kendall and Princess after Shadow’s passing.
            Poor R was very upset that once Shadow did pass Princess would not go near the body.  I cannot say that I blame her.  Princess’s job for so long was to watch after and take care of the old man.  As soon as he passed, a huge burden lifted off of her shoulders.  You could see it in her whole body.  She had been released.  A year earlier, R’s ex-girlfriend had taken away the third dog in what had been a consistent live-in arrangement.  Princess had been crushed.  She had mourned.  She had sat at the door, or at the window, staring out, waiting for her third pack mate to return.  There are a great many internal human issues at work here…most revolve around the lack of communication from the ex, and her inability to think of anyone other than herself.  She did not take the dog when they broke up.  She waited a few weeks, then burst into the house, screaming about wanting to take back everything that belonged to her.  The dog was among these items; there had never been any conversation during the years the dog had lived w R about specifics as to whom Taylor belonged, despite the fact that he was listed as R’s at the vet, his collar had R’s information, and his ID chip had R’s information.  That passing Princess mourned.  Princess did not mourn for Shadow.  She rejoiced.  Not only was she free from her guilt about being unable to do anything for him, she knew he was better off and was happier.  Her attitude is the one I prefer to emulate.
            Princess spent the three days after Shadow’s passing grinning like a maniac, as happy as a puppy, getting used to her role as queen of the domain again.  She even took over some of Shadow’s old duties.  Like walking behind my son and hoovering up anything he dropped, or slightly knocking N’s tv tray to see if she could knock some more food off the edges.
            How Princess got over Taylor’s leaving was w Kendall.  Princess and Kendall really hit it off, much more than R or I could have foreseen actually.  Princess was always a bit disgruntled and miffed about Kendall.  Ken turns two next month.  She is a big fluffy goofy Pest, capital P.  She thinks everyone in the world is here to pet her and to play w her.  Princess has been Ken’s hero since the moment they met.  Ken has practiced her Princess bark from the moment Ken first heard it.  Ken is a border collie mix.  Princess is a German shepherd/chow mix.  Ken has a high pitched yippy yuppie bark.  Princess has a deep full-throated growly I will eat you alive bark.  Ken pretends to have Princess’s bark…she’s finally starting to get good at it.  Ken is one of the creatures that honestly cannot and will not take no for an answer, until she gets rolled across the yard.  It took a bit, but now she and Princess will play like puppies, romping and wrestling through the grass, playing chase, finding icky stinky things to roll in together. 
            Ken is the one who was visibly upset when Shadow passed.  In the weeks before he passed, Ken had been helping Princess take care of him.  She would lie next to him.  She would keep an eye on him.  She would try to get him to play.  She would do her I’m the puppy here suck up thing that she does.  When Kendall starting to lay down close enough to Shadow to touch him, I knew the end was coming.  Ken is a fruit loop, but she is a very sensitive fruit loop.  Kendall has hopes of being a familiar one day; she is that sensitive.  She’s too fruit loopy though.  She is not keyed onto humans, the way Princess is.  Kendall is keyed onto dogs.  She came that way.  We come home and both dogs are outside, rest assured Princess will make a beeline for her humans to love on them.  Kendall may not even notice anyone is home if she’s playing tag w the dog next door.  Although once she notices humans are home, she is all over them to get petted and to be loved.  It’s not the same thing. 
            Kendall didn’t know what to do w herself the night Shadow passed.  She walked the house, lost, for a couple days afterwards.  She wasn’t really sure what was happening.  You could tell by the look on her face.  She would sit and whine, then run outside and walk all over the place, sniffing and wandering.  She’d come back in, pace the house.  She was looking for Shadow.  She’d sit at the window and stare out, whimpering in her annoyingly subsonic way that drives me to the brink of wanting a good stiff drink or three.  After about three days, she started to do what Princess was doing.  That first week after his passing, those dogs rough-housed and wrestled and rolled more than they had in the months before his passing.  No small feat w Kendall the energizer bunny dog as a partner.
            Now, it’s business as usual here w the dogs. They were off their feed for a couple days.  Then, no issues there.  Although I think everyone is waiting for that time when the last of the food bought w Shadow’s infirmities in mind is all done…and we can go on to the low protein diet that Princess and her aging liver now require.
            Now here we are.  Two dogs living in one house.  Two rabbits living in another house. Not to mention a fish tank full of fish, most of whom I do not really think ought to be living together.

            We’ll discuss the rabbits first.

            I do not think I shall ever have angora rabbits again.  If it were just Simon, my silver grey bun, I would be saying something completely different.  He’s beautiful.  I could show this guy in rabbit shows and have no issues or worries about him not winning.  He is gorgeous.  But my reddish-brown guy, Charley, I swear he can sit still and become matted somehow.  I know I need to be able to get to his chest and groom him more…for some reason he has taken to loving to mat up his chest fur of late.  That’s not good since he hates to have his chest messed w, not that I blame him for that.
            I love rabbits.  Rabbits are like…fairies.  It really is the best analogy I can come up w.  They are so not anything like dogs.  They are very mildly like cats.  Rabbits are like rabbits.  They like to get into things, just because they can.  They like to take things apart, just because they can.  They do not immediately run over and try the new bit of lettuce I hold out to them -- for the first time, I did this yesterday…neither bun was impressed…although hold out a piece of Hawaiian bread, and they may both take off your hand getting to it.  I will definitely have rabbits again, once these ones pass on, but I don’t think I want angoras again. 
            Now, I did know angoras require grooming, as well as a slightly different diet than other non-wool producing buns, well before I got them.  Talk about a strange way to decide you want a pet.  I got a spinning wheel for my birthday…and sheep or goats…well, they are not backyard in the city friendly.  The animals themselves are fine with it…it’s the city that has problems.  A rabbit seemed a nice middle ground.  Something I can keep in the house, something that will be a pet, and something that will shed out a magnificent fur that can be spun into the warmest fluffiest of yarns.  Never mind that I knew going in that spinning angora is not a good experience for a beginning spinner.  Once I started going, I was more interested in rabbits as pets.
            The majority of the literature available is not necessarily for house rabbits.  The majority of literature is about keeping rabbits to show and/or to eat.  Although I can see how this is a good idea, that is not where I am at the moment.  Later on, maybe, but not right now.  Finding information about actual angoras also proved difficult.  I am lucky.  I have a breeder locally that will answer all my questions.  Right now, my question is…are my bunnies insane, defective, or brain damaged?  Seriously.  I am good on checking for wet poop.  I am good on cage cleaning.  Rabbits are messy messy messy…but I am not as upset over dumb bunnies throwing food and poop all over the place, although I am perturbed by the peeing over the edge of the cage now and then…but it’s not a big thing, since it is infrequent.  I thought rabbits were supposed to be cleaner than these guys…or rather, cleaner than Charley.  He’s the usual suspect.  I am good on their diet and on treating them like newborn human babies when introducing new foods.  To date, new foods include the tiny bits of red lettuce yesterday that immediately were knocked aside and ignored and Hawaiian sweet rolls, which were an amazingly big hit the moment either bun first smelled what I held between my fingers for them.  I am lucky to still have all my fingers after that.  Grooming them is still touch and go, only because I am still trying to make them realize I am going to be brushing and combing them whether they like it or not and one of these days clipping their god awful toenails that are like little kitten claws in their razor sharpness.  We are getting there though.  Simon is still easier to groom though.  If he were a female, I’d say Simon were the Queen.  Even though Charley crawls all over him all the time.  They both do it to one another.
            Bonded rabbits, like our boys, spoon together.  They play chase.  The boys have discovered the toys we have for them.  They especially like the plastic balls.  These are hard plastic baseballs, the kind that are hollow and full of holes.  The rabbits love picking them up and tossing them, then chasing after them and doing it again.  I am waiting to figure out how to toss the ball to one another and start playing catch.  Rabbits are very intelligent and snobby too.  They are not afraid to crawl all over you, yank your hair, yank you jeans, nip your neck, curl up and sit on your lap and clean themselves a bit, then dive off as if cliff diving before streaking up into their cage to try to climb over the top edge of the cage when the upper door is open, and just as suddenly turn and race back down to hide from you as if you poked them w a cattle prod.
            Rabbits are strange.  I like that.  I am joking when I say they are crazy, or brain damaged or defective.  They are sweet and loving and utterly bonkers.  I continue to maintain that had I known how very cool rabbits were, I would not have had cats for the past twenty plus years.

            Which brings us to cats.  I used to love cats.  I’ve had cats all my life.  Then I had a male that sprayed, even after he was fixed.  In a tiny apartment.  We lived w two cats at first, then three.  I spent more time cleaning out the litter boxes, in an apartment that barely had room for one litter box, than I did cooking for my child.  I think that was when it started, the whole, I am so sick and tired of cats thing.  We had two other cats before I took the sprayer, who happened to be my favorite and beloved lap warmer, to a new home.  Those two cats we brought w us when we moved, across country.  From WV to IL.  Yeah, my tolerance was fast evaporating.  Both cats were climbers.  I lost one too many Mother Mary statues to kitty cat high jinks.  They were very much my daughter’s cats though.  I was already starting to let the cats go in and out of the house, trying to convince them they could live outside and I’d still take care of them.  I just would not keep a litter box in the house.  Then we got Kendall.  She was an extremely sick puppy, we came to find out very quickly.  We adopted her from a local shelter during one of their adoption events at the local Petsmart.  It was love at first sight so badly that N and I saw her first, but I couldn’t get her w N, because he was still in cling mode back then.  I took him back to his dad’s, picked up E, and went back.  She made a beeline for Ken, so it was sort of destiny that we got her, even though I still like to tease I wanted the German shepherd mix in the pen w Ken.  It was always Kenny, from the moment I first saw her.  She was twelve pounds and she should have been closer to twenty-five or thirty.  The shelter woman told me she ‘might have a slight cough’ since all the dogs at the shelter had just been given their bordetella vaccines.  What Ken actually had was a major infection that nearly killed her.  I still tease her and say the fever she had caused brain damage. 
            Once Kendall was feeling good enough to run around, the cats, who were nearly her size at first, made good friends for her in her mind, or rather made good chew toys.  Kendall can be a bit of a bully.  She has no issues using her size to her advantage.  As she rapidly put on weight and more than doubled her original twelve pounds, the cats were not thrilled.  Spooky did his best to stay out of her way.  She’d come towards him, he would not run, always.  Usually he’d get up, saunter away, then jump onto something too high for Ken to reach.  Pumpkin was not so smart.  Pumpkin, the cat that nearly took out Ken’s eye when she was still sick because she was trying to sniff him and figure out what he was.  Pumpkin liked to play.  If Ken hadn’t been so rough, they might have actually gotten along and been really good friends.  As it was, Pumpkin began to develop really nasty sores on his neck from Ken grabbing him and dragging him around.  She wasn’t being mean.  She was only playing.  I put the cats outside for good after that, after doctoring Pumpkin’s neck as well as we could.  I made sure they were fed, had a warm dry place to sleep.  I know what happened to them.  We could have been happy w that arrangement for years, if we hadn’t lived near such nasty people.

            Of course, we did inherit a conure parrot, after the cats were outside.  I know we did well by the bird, but we are not bird people.  I might have to spray things down daily w the rabbits, but at least I am not scraping poop off the wall…and their poop, to date, does not strip paint off of anything.  Birds are very messy.  Birds can be very loud.  Birds can learn to speak and when they are around, uhm, not quite gentile people, they can develop the kind of vocabulary that makes sailors not just blush, but wince and duck their heads.  That’s the bird we inherited.  That bird now has a really good and very interactive home w some friends of ours.  We get to visit her whenever we want.  She’s doing quite well.  I am happy for her.

            We have fish.  I am a fish person.  I don’t know why.  Oh, now that is just a blatant lie there. I remember being very young and my dad and I keeping a tank full of black mollies in my room … they were my fish.  My dad has always kept fish.  My grandfather literally had a full wall covered by ten gallon tanks full of fish.  Dad says that was his scaled down version of his guppy enterprises.  Pappap raised guppies.  Dad prefers to raise mollies.  My thing is angel fish…and for awhile tiger barbs, but not in the same tank.
            I found a great deal on a forty gallon tank, top and stand.  It is a tall tank, as opposed to a long tank.  Tall tanks are good for angels.  I still do not have any angel fish.  I probably won’t be getting them for awhile.  My dad has a forty, forty five gallon tall tank.  He also got a very good deal on his tank long ago.  It is not a good tank to keep mollies in.  He always has trouble keeping his mollies alive.  I am beginning to think it has more to do with his collection of bottom dwellers than w the tank itself.  Mollies prefer a long tank.  He warned me our mollies would not do well in a tall tank.  Mollies like to swim at the top to middle range of the water, so a longer tank is more beneficial for them.  If I had a forty gallon long tank, theoretically the fish would have more room to swim and would be happier. 
            Technically, I have very few mollies left in the tank.  I do, however, have an overabundance of swordtails.  Swords are like mollies, but different.  Swords also like to jump out of the tank when they get the chance.  To date, none of our swords have done that.  Yet.  Knock on wood.  We bought two pregnant swordtails.  They gave birth and died.  Now we have about a hundred little swords swimming around.  One molly left, our little Dalmatian girl.  She keeps getting pregnant.  Sometimes her babies even survive.  We have about two of them that I can tell are hers right now.  I am interested in who the father of this last batch could be..since all the male mollies are history. 
            Now, we also have guppies.  Four females and two males.  All the girls are pregnant.  The mollies do not mess with the guppies.  I was certain they would.  I guess Wendy (short for Wendell), our crown tail betta, seems to have everyone trained.  No nipping the slow pretty fish.  Wendy happens to be the biggest, fattest betta I have ever seen or kept.  Once we dropped him into the forty gallon tank, he took on the persona of Jaws.  He slides through that water like a tank.  No one messes w him.  No one even looks at him.  When he comes up to eat, no one bothers him.  I thought for sure he was going to be a goner. 
            The swords and mollies used to be in a ten gallon tank together.  Wendy was in the five gallon tank, w a couple albino corey cats.  Wendy was never that big nor that active in his five gallon tank.
            We also have two botia, to keep the snails at bay.  They are doing a great job at that, but I worry about what will happen once there are no more snails for them to attack.  Botia eat other fish.  We have two types of live bearers.  We may have kissed our new babies good-bye in order to get rid of the snail problem.  We used to have botia in another tank, before we left WV.  It didn’t matter what sort of fish we put into that tank.  They ‘mysteriously’ disappeared.  It took us awhile to figure out the botia were hunting and stalking the other fish.  That’s why we only have two botia right now.   Less to catch to return to the pet shop later.
            We have six albino corey cats, because I love them.  You can always see where they are.  They are friendly and happy industrious little workers.  Plus, they are also quite hardy. 
            And, of course, the plecto, George.  The hidden cleaner who appears as if a ghost at the oddest of moments, striking us blatantly with his ever growing size.  I know he is a necessary cleaner fish, but I hate when plectos get too big.  I buy them as small as I can find them.  I rarely keep them more than a year, before I take them back to the pet store and trade them in for something…smaller.  I usually start with a plecto anywhere from one to three inches long…and end up with an eight to twelve inch long behemoth not even a year later. 
            I have a need to keep fish.  For awhile there, while we were in MD and in WV, I didn’t want any fish.  I didn’t want any added responsibility.  Plus, we could only have a small tank.  I sold my 55 gallon tank when we left for MD in 2006.  Every time I looked at that tank, I thought of the farce that had been the marriage.  I didn’t want to deal w it.  I let it go.  I am actually much happier w my forty gallon now.  It is closer to what I have been wanting, a hexagonal tank that is not actually healthy for fish, although I wanted to do a coral tank, not a fish tank.  The smaller the tank, the more often you need to clean it, and the more thorough a cleaning you need to do.  With the 55 gallon, I could do a 10% water change every week or every other week and be fine.  With the 5 gallon, I was scrubbing algae, changing 20-25% of the water weekly, plus having to change out the filters at least weekly.  We had a betta and some corey cats in the 5 gallon.  It wasn’t as if I had goldfish or something – goldfish are horribly nasty creatures when it comes to cleaning up after them.  I don’t do goldfish.  I don’t like them.  I never have. 
            With my forty gallon, I do a 5-10% water change every couple weeks.  Since I changed up the filtration system, I rinse one part of it every week, so that after three weeks, everything has been rinsed and it’s time to start over again.  Plus, we have guppies and mollies.  You don’t want the water pristinely clear since these fish tend to prefer slightly murky mucky waters.  I refuse to let it get too nasty, but I don’t get upset when the water is a little cloudy.  Live bearers also need a bit of salt in the water to help them carry and release the young.  Right now, we have mostly plastic plants, but I prefer natural plants.  When we moved, it was winter.  The chill killed off most of our plants, aquatic and otherwise.  We have a few plants still thriving in the forty gallon tank.  They are really starting to make a come-back these past few weeks.  When we first got the tank, however, there wasn’t enough cover for everyone.  Especially not with so many pregnant females.  I caved and bought plastic plants to ensure the babies and the mothers had plenty of places to hide.  It seems to have worked.  We have brooded youngsters swimming around healthy and alive these days.  I’m waiting to see how the guppies do.
            Since my dad told me mollies don’t do well in tall tanks, I’ve been waiting for the mollies to die out.  It’s not happening.  My fish are happy and healthy.  When I bought the guppies for my daughter, who has wanted guppies for years because her Auntie loves guppies and she wants to be like her Auntie, I was admitting my defeat…and accepting the knowledge that at some point I will have to buy myself a second tank … not for the first time in my life either… so that I can have a certain type of fish in one tank and a certain type of other fish in another tank.  I keep my eyes open for another tall tank on sale whenever we go out. 
            Which brings me here…we are all waiting for the day when we buy the bigger house, when we have the farm land, when we can have live stock, and a bellows in a shed, and a potting wheel in another shed…when we can have a flock of egg layers, a herd of milk producers and fiber givers, when we can really start to let our hair down and explore breeding options with a variety of species, including keeping and stocking our own pond.  I am quite looking forward to that.