Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Casper the Friendly Cat

Today, I received sad news. My long-time companion, Casper the cat, is starting the downhill slide. He is almost 16 years old and absolutely one of the sweetest, most docile cats I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Casper came to live with me when he was about 4 years old. His previous owner was tired of him. He was neutered and declawed when I adopted him, so I’ve always felt very protective of him. This was also the reason he had never spent any time outside in his previous home.
Not long after Casper moved in, he discovered our back deck. Casper is very dignified and maybe just a little snooty. But he loved sitting out on the back deck soaking in the sun. After he gained some confidence in the safety of the deck, he started strolling the perimeter of our small fenced backyard. Soon after that, he discovered the front porch. He loves our porch swing!
Casper has been my protector in his own quiet way. When my dear hubby, Steve, and I were dating, Casper gave Steve the ultimate, “are you going to stick around?” test. Steve had put his suitcase in the guestroom. We were going out that night so he had brought dress clothes. Not used to being around cats, Steve left his suitcase open. Casper decided to inspect it. Apparently, he didn’t like what he found whether it was Steve’s taste in clothes and shoes, we will never know. Casper sprinkled Steve’s shirt and just flooded his shoes! I knew Steve loved me at that point, he didn’t kill Casper and he didn’t leave without ever seeing us again. After four years, Steve and Casper are great pals. They watch TV in the recliner together several nights a week.
Casper’s meow and paw are his way of letting me know he needs something. He will touch my leg with his paw very gently and then proceed to speak. I swear this cat is talking to me in sentences. He says what he needs and then just sits down and stares at me with those big blue eyes. He knows I’ll stop whatever I’m doing to make sure he either has food or milk in his bowl or let him outside for his daily stroll around the borders of our yard.
I know I’m rambling on and after all, to some people, Casper is just a big old furry white cat, but he has been my friend for many years. He has seen me through some very lonely times. He has been through a couple of dogs’ lives with us, watched the bird business grow, “helped” in my romance with Steve, moved to three new homes, and seen the children leave home. He is comfortable today and eating well. I am praying that he gains some of his previous weight back. He had lost 7 pounds between vet visits this time. Right now, he is sitting on the top step at the back door foyer overseeing the Christmas decorating and bathing himself. This is the first bath I’ve seen him do in a couple of weeks so I have a glimmer of hope that he will not only see this Christmas but maybe a couple more.
Growing old is hard on all of us, but it is especially hard to watch a dear friend and family member, not only enter the twilight years, but know that his final light is shining.
When you cross to the rainbow bridge, please wait for us! We love you, Casper!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Doors open and doors

Doors open and doors close.  Some doors close gently and others just slam right in one’s face, smashing the old fingers in the process. My retail quilting business has just such a door.  It has taken on several personas through the years, but mostly it has been a revolving door.  I’ve come in and gone out of it several times for various reasons, but now the revolving door has finally closed on the retail quilting side of Patchwork Parrot.

Closing the quilt shop is so hard.  Quilting and retail has been a part of my life for 25 years.  Gosh, time flies!  I’ve seen lots of changes and even more new techniques.  It’s so inspiring to have sales reps visit with all the new fabrics coming in the next season.  The preview books from the two major publishers are always like a big box of chocolates!  The quilters I’ve met during the quilt show/guild meetings where we have setup tables and rooms are just the greatest.  

My life has changed a lot in the last four years.  The bird business has grown; the designing has increased as well.  The hardest thing for me is to set something free that I love.  I tend to hang on till I choke the life out of the things I love. After all, whatever coming around the next bend is scary as all get out!  But like a wild bird, I’m letting the retail business go free so I can pursue and explore all the exciting and new opportunities that seem to be comin’ round the mountain! I think I’ll meet Mr. Opportunity in a pair of red jammies!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Two for One

Measure twice, cut once?   Errr…… read directions first!

Finally, I got the studio unpacked and organized enough to actually get to do some cutting and stitching!  This was the optimum time to get my nephew’s graduation quilts done!  Sam is only a junior in college now–this quilt is for his high school graduation!  Yikes!  Time flies!  Well, with new babies, I have three years to do their baby quilt, so surely I have until the graduate declares his major to complete the graduation quilt, right?

Anyway….I started cutting and stitching strips last Wednesday.  Great progress has been made in that yesterday the final strips were sewn together and ready for subcutting into 2” and 5” units.  The design for this quilt is a simple rail fence block with several 9-patch blocks thrown in for flavor.  I was so excited about getting to the subcutting of this quilt!  Yay!  The colors were coming into play beautifully!  All strips pressed and stacked neatly on the cutting table –ready, set, go!  I began to cut the 2” units happily!  What pretty units!

After my granddaughter left for the day, I trotted back down the path to the studio for more cutting.  I wanted to have all the cutting down by supper so that this afternoon, I could begin sewing up the quilt top!  After spending quite a while cutting, my dear husband came down to the studio to chat.  All of a sudden, I recovered from my happy cutting trance and realized that I only needed 25 2” units but I had cut over 100!  All my beautiful strips and I only had enough left to cut 64 5” units and I needed 112!  GULP!  

Thankfully, I have enough of each of the batiks to re-cut the strips and make the rest of the 5” units.  In fact, the silver lining to this saga is that I will have enough to actually piece two quilts instead of one.  So the die has been cast…my niece who just graduated this past spring is getting a quilt that is very similar to her brother’s graduation quilt!  

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Avian Emergency and After life Care

My dh and i were talking about what to do in case of a tornado this morning. We live in rural central Georgia with lots of sweetgum and pine trees around our home and aviary. We do not have a basement so that isn't an option for us. Most of my birds are in an outside aviary so trees and bad weather are a very real danger for them. An evacuation plan to move or secure the birds is very needed. This is likened to the home and school fire drills for our children. We need to know exactly what we are going to do to make our birds safe during a storm, whether it is a hurricane or tornado. I know that realistically, we cannot actually perform a storm drill; however, i do think we need to prepare for storms by having a written plan and checklist.
When we are in a hurry and worried is not the time to try to remember what supplies and our intentions to protect our birds. A written plan and checklist will provide us with a calm, clear plan of action to depend on when our thoughts are flooded with panic.
Most of us are required through our individual state licensure bureau to keep a bird log. Place your checklist and plan in your bird log. This will make it easy to find during the initial hurry and scurry of preparing to move the birds.
Put together an avian medical box for your birds. In situations like this, you will likely have a blood feather that requires your attention.
During the stormie season for your area, keep enough food bagged in gallon bags for several days so you can grab it and go. Cycle this food periodically to keep it fresh or freeze it.
Walk through your plan several times a year so that it is not new to you when you grab your bird log and initiate the evacuation and securing procedures.
Another dark subject to consider is the after our life care of your bird(s). If you are in our situation, our children are not interested in avian culture at this point in their lives. They have all said to make sure we have the "disposal" of the birds taken care of in our will or there will be a giant feather garage sale if something happens to the two of us.
I think this is a personal choice for each of us and all of us are unique. Our birds have different personalities, some pleasant, some not so friendly; some of us are breeders, some of us have just pets. Please take some time to consider who will take care of your birds in case of your death or illness.
Donate the birds to an avian santuary in your will.
State in your will a friend who will inherit your birds
Write up a care plan for your birds so that anyone can step in and care for them on a short term basis.
brand of food
supplier information and phone number
description of bird's personality
picture of each bird attached to above description
recipes for homemade foods and directions on how often to give it

Setup a care trust for said friend to help with costs after you are gone. This could be done with a certain amount of cash from your life insurance policy.
Talk with other breeders about setting up a care co-op in case of long term illness. Put it in writing so your family will know who to contact -- names, phone numbers, addresses.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Spring & Summer have Sprung on me!

Gosh, the spring and summer just seem to fly by!  It has been three months since I blogged!  So much has been happening, I really don’t know where to start so I’ll try to summarize in this blog today and maybe expand on some particular events later.  

First and foremost, I’ve been babysitting my granddaughter during the work week.  When I first agreed to do this my thoughts were I’ve raised two children, have a teenager stepson, this six-month old adorable creature is going to be a piece of cake!  Why, she and her grandmommie Lala are going to just have a fine old time!  I’ll just introduce her into the world of art, writing, and gardening at a very young age.  NOT!  

She hates sitting in the stroller or the jumpy seat for very long.  The floor is tolerated better but not more than half an hour at a time.  My work time is now limited to nap times which mean that I’m only getting in about 4 hours of work every day and that includes housework.  My house, studio, and aviary are in shambles!  Maddie, on the other hand, is thriving!  She is the cutest thing in the world and she loves Lala.  I’m hoping that eventually, she will also love my work and gardening.

Three weeks ago, I went to Raleigh, NC, for my first bird show and competition.  It was so exciting!  I even won a pair of the cutest spectacle parrotlets you have ever seen!  I need to get them setup with a nestbox but they are so cute in my breakfast room that I haven’t wanted to move them out to the aviary just yet.  

Peach season is in full swing now too!  This means I’m baking and canning for the next 3 months!  I sell my jellies, pickles, and peach bread at the peach stand, so daily cooking and baking have to now be worked into the schedule on top of designing, writing, and just trying to have creative time.  Remember, all this is now being done during nap time.  

I really haven’t figured out how I did it when my children were small.  There were two of them!  I look at my daughter with Connor, age 2, in amazement!  She is a wonder!  Her house sparkles, Connor is happy and well adjusted, and she has makeup on!  How does she do that?  I think I’ve gotten too old to handle it all, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything…. The dust bunnies will just have to keep residing under the sofa and chairs.  I’ll get the mopping done as soon as I shovel the dust off the TV.  But when Maddie is sitting and playing in the middle of the floor with her toys and smiles up at me, I know that everything else will wait until naptime.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Organization Asset or Liability?

Organization –an Asset or Liability?

Hmmm… I’ve been trying to organize my home and my life so that I will have more time for creative work.  However, the more organized I strive to be, the less time I seem to have for creativity.  Is there something wrong with this picture?  Is being organized really going to be a time-saving asset for my creativity or is it really a time-eating liability?  Should I just throw in the towel, a dirty one at that, and forget having a sparkling clean home that is ready for company at any moment so that I can go to the studio and create my art?  

I grew up amongst immaculate housekeepers.  The women on one side of my family worked outside the home, kept an immaculate house and managed a delicious meal every night after work.  These women cleaned their homes, planted a garden, and canned on the weekends.  On the other side of the family, my grandmother loved her animals, letting them roam the house.  She had beautiful flowers in her gardens and probably never canned a day in her life.  Heaven forbid, she bought canned veggies and store-bought jellies, but she wore something new almost every Sunday!  Kom enjoyed her creativity in both her yard and her needlework.  Was she better organized?  Nope, I doubt it.  In fact, I think it can be said that no one came to her house for her cooking or her interior design.  She did however, know how to entertain with fun family stories, ice cold coca-cola and some sort of dessert, even if it was bought at the grocery store.  

Maybe I will let that dust bunny live yet another day… I’m going to the studio for some stitching!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Not a Routine Person

Not a Routine Person….

They (who ever they are) say that it takes 21 days of repeating an activity to make it a habit…NOT!  

I have spent the first few weeks this year on trying to establish a daily routine for myself.   I have it all printed and in sheet protectors in a very organized fashion in my dayrunner.  Very careful, hour by hour I have planned out my workday schedule and I have tried, truly I have, to follow the schedule hour by hour each day.  It isn’t working!  

I have realized that I am not a routine schedule personality, nor am I lazy, even though I do enjoy working sometimes in my jammies.  I am a productive person but not one who works on a regular routine.  I need flexibility and change in my daily life to stay motivated and interested.  Routines are boring!  I’ve thrown out set in stone hour by hour daily routine.  (This is prolly why I married my DH – he is not a time-oriented person either.)

I love my dayrunner and put absolutely everything in it – from notes on creative ideas, my address book, birthdays, and my calendar.  I even have my weekly TUIT list (TUIT = around to it) and monthly TUIT list in there.  But to have that hour by hour schedule staring at me just knots my stomach up into a big ball!  

I purchased a legal pad and have started outlining my basic TUIT list on it for each day.  I put about 5 or 6 jobs on each day.  As I cross each one off with my bright blue highlighter, I get a sense of satisfaction that my list is being done.  At the end of the week, whatever didn’t get a bright blue line thru it goes back on the next week’s list.  I don’t have to worry about what time I’m doing a job, I just do the job for however long it takes until I’m finished.  Then I get to stand back and smile about a completed job!  

Both my husband and I work from home so our days are not the typical workday to begin with.  We get up, drink our coffee, eat our breakfast, and begin our day.  Our days don’t stop at 5 pm either, some of them continue on into the night but we like our lifestyle and it works for us!  

While Flylady seems to work for some, I find that her less than gently reminders throughout the day make me nervous!  I have taken what works for me from flylady and have had much fun flinging the rest!   I don’t wear shoes in the house.  I keep a pair of rubber gardening clogs by my backdoor so I can slip them on when I take the dogs out or if I need to go to the aviary.  So no, flylady, I don’t dress down to the shoes and my sink isn’t always shining but my house is tidy and my creative juices are flowing again!  I would much rather have a couple of dishes in my sink than have my creative pipes all stopped up because I’m trying to work on someone else’s schedule!  

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Double or nothing

Murphy, Harley, and Buffet on the back of dh's chair --waiting for a snack, snack, mommie!
Double or nothing?

Having birds is like having a bunch of kids….some days, I feel like I run birdie day care. We have three adorable macaws: Murphy, the B&G, Buffet, the Greenwing, and Harley, the Harlequin. Today’s tale belongs to Buffet.

One of my bird clients was visiting her baby sun conure. She enjoys my macaws so they were all out to visit in the den that afternoon. They had a popcorn and peanut butter sandwich party, so all three macaws were excited and happy. Buffet has such a sweet personality. He loves everyone and everyone loves him! He just melts before your very eyes when someone wants to pet him. He’ll roll over and raise his left wing for a good scratching. Well, Karin knew this and went to visit Buffet. She rubbed his head and under his wing. Did I mention that Buffet is a jewelry nut? He grabbed her engagement ring with that mighty beak and gave one good twist. Karen had the most startled look on her face! “He got my diamond!” Buffet just looked at me with those big eyes and said, “Ark!” Immediately I tried to look in Buffet’s mouth, nothing. Karin, her son, and I dropped to our knees and proceeded to crawl around the floor looking for her diamond. Nothing…. Did I mention I had not swept or vacuumed after the popcorn party? Yikes!

As soon as Karin left, I got on the phone calling our local vet. No, he is not an avian vet but he has an x-ray machine. I wanted an x-ray to see if Buffet had indeed swallowed that diamond! Dr. Curtis Crawford told me to hang on; he would do some calling and see how urgent an emergency this was. Of course, this is after 5 pm on a Friday! How fast could a diamond go from a bird’s crop to his gizzard and then into the intestines? Could Buffet pass this ½ ct. round diamond?

Dr. Crawford called me back about an hour later. He had spoken to a couple of avian professionals and the consensus was that a greenwing macaw could and prolly would pass a ½ carat diamond with no problem. I called Karin and assured her that all was well. I went through the poopy papers for a couple of days without finding the diamond. Either Buffet passed it and I missed it in the paper; he didn’t pass it and is still carrying it around, or he never ate it to begin with.

Buffet is not officially for sale but my husband says that everything has a price tag or you will lose it. We figure that the diamond retails around the same thing a Greenwing macaw would sell for…. Hmmmm…buy the bird, get a chance at a diamond….almost as good as double or nothing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Queen of Hysteria?Hysterical? I don’t think so! My DH (dear husband today) has dubbed me the Queen of Hysteria! Don’t get me wrong, I have always wanted to wear a crown, not a tiara, a full fledge crown. I’m the queen of my home. My husband says I rule. I think I would rather rock but will take what I can get. If he thinks I rule then ok, I’ll rule. My scepter is a broom, my robe an unfinished quilt in progress, my lady in waiting will have to be Bailey the cocker spaniel. Wait can a male cocker, no matter how cute, be lady in waiting?, what crown? Where in the world did that crown go?

I can think of any number of kingdoms that I should rule but I’m not sure hysteria is the one. The Queen of Procrastination….The Queen of Stress…. The Queen of Dust Bunnies, but Queen of hysteria? I admit I get a little excited about certain things… company coming when the house has been hit by hurricane Haygood, deadlines that have crept in without giving me ample notice; you get the idea, but to call me hysterical? I really think that is going a little far!

Listen to the pitch of my voice? Of course it goes up a couple of octaves but I’m excited and you have that music so high I can’t hear myself think much less hear myself!

The voice of reason? What in heavens’ name does the voice of reason sound like when 10 dust bunnies have run across that den after I just vacuumed the floor? Those dust bunnies don’t even have names yet and company is due to walk in the door in 15 minutes! Goodness Gracious! Breathe!You want that quilt when? Today? What? You ordered six months ago? Really? Time flies! OH, my, I have about 10 feet of binding left to stitch down on this quilt and company is coming in 10 minutes….. Queen of Hysteria? Where is my crown? I think I will accept my title and wear the crown with pride, just as soon as I make the darn thing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Water water EVERYWHE

Water, water, EVERYWHERE!

I don’t believe in the typical resolutions for a new year, but I do try to set goals and form new habits each year.  This gives me an opportunity to evaluate what I accomplished the year before and what I need to try to change, both personally and professionally.  

My goals this year was to treat my designing as a real job.  I worked for two weeks on setting up my daily routines so that I had studio and bird barn time scheduled during the week.  I don’t mean the everyday stuff, such as email, basic bird care, etc.  

Well, this past week was the first week to implement my new daily routines.  Last week, I kind of just slipped into the new schedule.  This week I got up with a mission set to stick to the routine…. Well, you know the saying, “the best laid plans of men and mice…”  I was rocking along until about 4:00 pm yesterday.  Steve (my DH) had been in and out all day so I wasn’t sure if he was home or not throughout the day.  I had finished cleaning upstairs and was sitting down to spend some time on a new design.  I was actually going to have a couple of hours to sew before supper!  WOW!  Unexpected pleasure!  

All of a sudden I heard water running, you know, like Steve might be in the shower.  I went to investigate after hearing it for a few minutes, thinking that it was really odd for him to be in the shower that time of day unless he had an appointment or meeting.  I went to our bathroom first, no Steve.  Then down the hall, that bathroom door was closed.  Kind of strange that he would shower there, but ok.  I knocked and poked my head in the door.  No Steve but water shooting out horizontally from under the vanity!  The floor was flooded!  When I opened the door, the water just flowed out into the hall!  I tried to turn the water off under the sink.  The knobs were too tight to turn!  I only accomplished being soaked.  When I ran down the stairs to call Steve, I couldn’t believe my eyes!

The ceiling fan in the den looked like an upside down water fountain.  The den floor had at least an inch of water standing and the water was just pouring from the ceiling!  I got the shop number dialed and screamed in the phone – “COME HOME NOW!”  I did manage to get out to him that water was spewing everywhere.

Thankfully, I married a man who is mechanical and pretty handy.  He turned the water off at the street and came inside to help me get buckets, and pots out to try to catch the massive amount of water coming from the ceiling.  We got the water up and the floors dried in about 3 hours.  Steve made a run to Home Depot for new pipes and got busy on replacing the broken one last night.  By bedtime, we had water turned back on in the house, no hot water in the bathroom sink, but at least the shower had water.  

This morning, the ceiling looks even worse than it did last night but at least the room has been dried and put back in order…. So much for my new daily routines!  They got thrown out with the dishwater yesterday afternoon…. Back to work on forming my new habits today….

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hershey the Cockatiel!

I would like to introduce you to our newest member of our flock! Hershey is a cinnamon split to pied cockatiel. I’m so pleased with her coloring. It is a dark cinnamon that has a hue of chocolate in it. Not only is she a beautiful baby but she is so sweet! Hershey had a rocky start and some bumps the last couple of days in the journey of growing up to be a Patchwork Parrot bird.

On December 7, she was hatched to Babe and Sunny in our aviary. The first 11 days of her life, things went very well. Then on the morning of December 19, I found her and a sibling very cold in their nestbox. Sunny & Babe had decided they didn’t want to do this parent thing anymore. Grabbing the babies up in my hands, I went running into the house yelling for Steve to come help me. Imagine the look on his face when I pushed this very cold, naked baby cockatiel into his hands and screamed, “Blow!” It took a few seconds for it to sink in that I wanted him to cup his hands around the baby and blow warm air over it to start bringing up its body temperature, but he did a great job!

Later that day, we lost Hershey’s sibling but Hershey persevered. Christmas went off without a hitch even with a naked dinosaur looking baby on top of my refrigerator. No one even seemed to notice she was up there snug and warm on that heating pad.

This past weekend, Hershey gave me a little scare. Her crop filled with air to the point she looked like she had been inflated. I’ve raised birds for 13 years and never had one look like this! I got on the internet and started posting questions and pictures about this condition. I got tons of great advice, lots of caring notes, and support while I did everything I knew to do to help Hershey through this. Was it yeast? No typical symptoms of that. Ruptured air sac? No, not the typical look for that either. What was wrong with Hershey?

After receiving a very supportive and encouraging email from Bridget Aylward of Upsan Downs Aviary in CA, I followed her wonderful instructions on flushing and emptying Hershey’s crop. I was so nervous! I had done similar procedures on humans during my nursing career, but this wasn’t that large a creature! This tiny little bird was depending on me and I wasn’t sure I trusted my abilities. With a lump in my throat, and a prayer (literally) on my lips. I gave Hershey the baking soda/water solution then flipped her upside down and proceeded to push the fluid from her crop. The whole process took a few seconds but it seemed like an eternity. The danger here is to clear the baby’s mouth so no liquid gets sucked into her lungs. Aspiration in cockatiels is deadly! Afterwards, I cleaned Hershey up and gave her some Maalox and pedialyte and tucked her into her warm brooder.

By 5 am this morning, I was through tossing and turning, I wanted to see how Hershey had done through the night. There she was… snuggled up to her whompie, warm and cozy. (image placeholder)What a day! I wouldn’t trade raising birds for all the tea in China!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Creativity overflow!

My goodness! It is the New Year and with it has come an overflow of creativity and inspiration!

I made a birthday cake, chocolate/vanilla swirl with white icing, for our pastor today. Brother Mike is an avid fisherman so I put a fisherman and a clever fish on his cake.

This weekend is the 2nd annual mystery quilt online retreat, sponsored by my studio. This quilt pattern is an original design that I will have published in a pattern later this year. I started doing this mystery quilt retreat last year for my yahoo group members.

Click here to join patchworkparrot
Click to join patchworkparrot

I’ve noticed through the years that whenever my creativity starts flowing after a stagnant period that I seem to also be busier in other areas of my life. It leads me to think there is a definite link between the creative flow, or lack of thereof, and depression. This year, I plan to be more creative, more content with my life, and to tend to the important things and ignore the rest.

Have a marvelous week!
hugs & smiles,
Leigh Anne

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Wishing you a rainbowFor sunlight after showers
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!
(an old Irish blessing. author unknown)
hugs & smiles,
Leigh Anne