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Quiet days

Perle cotton flat braid

Perle cotton flat braid

It’s been very quiet around here since we euthanized Mac. Aneira finally knows what happened, primarily because the humane society called me the next afternoon to tell me they hadn’t euthanized him yet. They needed me to come down and fill out forms about rabies testing, and Aneira walked in during that conversation. So he was actually euthanized on the 14th, not the 13th, as we’d been told.

10 strand satin cord bracelet

10 strand satin cord bracelet

So, to spend time with Aneira that didn’t involve talking about Mac and making her cry, we pulled out the kumihimo supplies again, because it’s something she knows how to do and using the disks are pretty easy for a kid. It didn’t last long, as her attention span for things like this is very short, but I’ve kept going.

The first braid I did was an 8 strand flat braid, for which I used DMC perle cotton skeins and did on the marudai. I used the cotton the way silk is generally used, so each of the eight ropes contain 20 threads each. What I didn’t account for is the fact that perle cotton is considerably thicker than silk, so take-up was increased, which reduced the length of the braid significantly. Like, really significantly. As in, what started out to be a belt-length piece is now only a belt for an infant. It’s about 18″ long, and 1/4″ thick. So I now know to reduce the number of strands per rope by quite a bit. More than half, I’d say.

Four strand satin cord square braid

Four strand satin cord square braid

As I finished that braid, my order of satin cord, or rattail, came in. I’d found this store online, BB Crafts, that sells 100 yard spools of satin cord for $1.85 per spool. That’s a whole lot cheaper than I’ve found it anywhere else, so I bought eight spools in different colors, and did the next braid in satin cord.

For that one, I wanted a bracelet, and since the only thread I currently have for whipping the ends together is black, I went with black cord, and a ten strand flat braid pattern. That one has a couple of mistakes too. For one thing, it’s a bit larger than I had planned, and I haven’t even bought findings for it yet. For another, on one side the whipping is visible beneath the ribbon clamp. Oops. Better luck next time.

Four strand braid. You can see how thin it is.

Four strand braid. You can see how thin it is.

The third braid is a very simple one, and still on the marudai. Two strands of gold, two strands of ivory. I’m not sure I really like it much, as it’s very thin for a square braid, but I’ll keep going till it’s done and see how I feel about it then. It’s the first time I’m using the marudai for satin cord; I usually use the cord with the disks. It’s interesting to see how the marudai works with cord as opposed to thread, and how the cord itself works with the marudai as opposed to a kumihimo disk. Currently, the braid is much tighter on the marudai than it was on the disk. The tamas weigh more than the plastic bobbins I use with the disk, so the counterweight bag had to have more weight added to it than what I use for the disk. I actually prefer for this particular braid to be looser, so some experimentation with the counterweights will need to be done for the next time.

And while I haven’t been tatting over the last few days, I have been watching Karen Cabrera’s series of tatting tutorials on YouTube. I have a lot to learn!!! She has well over 130 video lessons on her channel, and I think I’ve only made it as far as 29 so far! I can’t wait to really get into the lessons further on!

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Malayko 6/6/07 – 7/13/16

The house feels a little bit emptier tonight. Today, Malayko, Aneira’s German Shepherd mix, crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

It wasn’t something anyone wanted to do. It was something we had to do, as responsible dog owners. You see, on July 4th, Mac nipped at our Bryony, but later that day also went after the Malamute twice. Each time, fireworks had sounded off, so we figured that was the problem. We told Bryony to leave him alone, that he was an older dog (nine), and not to approach him anymore. Let him approach her if he wanted attention. She said okay, and actually followed the new rule. We kept a close eye on them both. Once fireworks ceased going off constantly, all was well, and we thought we knew the problem.

Until today. Today he went after her again, only this time, he left a puncture wound in her scalp. We didn’t find it until much later (we thought he snapped at her and missed), but we immediately knew that we couldn’t continue to keep him in the house. It was just too dangerous for the kids. So we discussed it with a devastated Aneira, and decided it was time. She wanted to go with me, but we didn’t think it was a good idea. She’s only eleven, and once you see that, you can’t unsee it. It will happen eventually, of course, because we will always have dogs, and they just don’t live as long as we do. But we didn’t think her first time should be with her own dog. So I took him alone.

He had no idea what was coming, of course, while I felt like a failure as a dog mom. He sat beside me in the truck, smiling, tail wagging, happy as can be, watching everything out the window. He’s never been a bad dog. Everyone that visits our house loves him. He was always the one to sit quietly beside you, place a paw on your hand or your leg to request attention, and stay there as long as you were willing to pet him.

The plan was simple: euthanasia. If I couldn’t risk my kids, I certainly can’t risk his being adopted out to another family with kids. I had a hard time explaining that to one of the PIP’s friends, who wanted to take him down as a stray. It would save me money, she argued, and give him time to find a new home. But it wasn’t about the money, although I really couldn’t afford to spend it. It was about being responsible, not just to whoever might adopt him, but to him. He’s never been a bad dog, and I felt that I owed it to him to do the right thing for him, and I owed it to him to be there when it happened. I’ve always hated when someone comes in to euthanize a pet that they’ve had forever, and they drop the animal off and refuse to stay. I get that they may be grieving, but their final act for their pet shouldn’t be leaving it in the hands of strangers, scared and alone, with no idea of what’s coming. That’s how you want to repay however many years of loyalty and unconditional love? That seems pretty cowardly to me.

Initially, the humane society thought they could still adopt him out. The two incidents were isolated (remember, I still didn’t know he’d actually bitten her at this point), and he could be adopted to a family with older or no children. You can’t imagine my relief. We couldn’t keep him anymore, and that hurt, but at least I wouldn’t have to go home and tell my daughter he was dead. In fact, when the PIP called, I told him to tell her he was in the clear.

I said my very tearful goodbyes and let them walk him out to the back. I didn’t want him to see me leave and feel abandoned. Call me stupid, but that was my thought. Mac had been dumped near our rural home in Arizona almost seven years ago, by someone who didn’t want him anymore, and now here I was, doing the same thing to him.

I drove home, only to find out when I got there that I was taking Bryony to the hospital. He’d bitten her, all right, right at the top of her head. It was very superficial, it turned out, and no stitches were needed, but now, once again, I had to do the right thing and call the humane society back again.

Now things were different. Because he had bitten her, even though his rabies vaccine was up to date, he would have to be euthanized, unless I was willing to take him back for a ten day quarantine at the house, something that wasn’t an option. I have two children and three other dogs that live in the house. I couldn’t take him back. Well, the lady told me, she was sorry, but that was the only way to avoid it. Even with up-to-date vaccinations, they would have to do the rabies check.

I hung up, feeling horrible. I know I did the right thing, rationally, but my heart isn’t so sure. I love Mac as much as I love my kids and my other pets. Until recently, he was a sweet, affectionate dog. I have to admit, though, that of all our dogs, if I had to pick the one that was most likely to bite, he was at the top of my list. But we’d never, until recently, had reason to expect it.

Did I fail him somehow? Did I miss some signal? I don’t know. I only know that tonight, one of our pack is at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for the day we come to get him,  we still haven’t told our daughter that he is gone, and our hearts are much heavier.

Rest in peace, Mac, Malayko, Miggity-Mac. I’m so sorry. We love you, and we miss you.

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Precious Memory

Once upon a time, I was a huge sports fan. I grew up in the era of Joe Namath on the Jets, Lee Mazzilli on the Mets, Bucky Dent on the Yankees, and the Islanders were awesome. But I also grew up with a dad who had very definite ideas on what girls did and didn’t do, and girls didn’t take auto shop at school, and they didn’t go to ball games. Admittedly, football was not my thing, and if Namath wasn’t playing, I wasn’t watching. But baseball was a god in our house every summer, and I watched pretty religiously. I had deep crushes on both Mazzilli and Dent, and deep resentment against the Yankees and Mets for trading away both my boys. I forgave the Mets, eventually, in favor of loyalty to a Long Island team, but never forgave the Yankees. Yes, to this day.

Anyway, as a result of my upbringing, I never went to a sports event. Ever. Until last November, when I took Aneira to the WWE. It’s one of the few things we connect on. Both the girls and I are huge fans of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, the Usos, and the New Day. The PIP wasn’t happy, as he doesn’t like wrestling, but he okayed Aneira’s going to this with me. Because I subscribe to the WWE Network, I had advance notice on ticket sales, and got to order tickets a week before they went on sale to the general public. At the time, Roman was known to come to the ring through the crowd, and I messed around on the World Arena website until I got front row seats right where he would come down. Front row seats are expensive, and this wasn’t something I’d be able to afford to do often, so I was going to make it count in case it never happened again. Aneira was in seventh heaven. We both wore Roman Reigns tees, she had a Roman Reigns ball cap on her head, and we were set and ready to go!

Our seats were ringside, right next to the announce table. We joked with the security guards, and all evening they kept telling us that Roman wasn’t there, wasn’t scheduled to fight, we weren’t going to see him. That was a little discouraging, as he was the main wrestler we wanted to see!

It was an awesome night, and I was shocked at how much my daughter already knew about wrestling in general, and specific wrestlers, other than the ones we both liked. I probably shouldn’t have been. She’s in school, after all, and what do school kids watch? WWE. And then they discuss it in detail the next day. I know this. I was a kid watching the WWE once, too, except it was the WWF then, and the stars were Rowdy Roddy Piper (RIP), Hulk Hogan, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. So I shouldn’t have been surprised.

We had a ball. Despite the disappointment that we weren’t going to see the one person we wanted to see, his cousins, the Usos, were there, and so was his best friend, Dean Ambrose. We hollered and screamed like lunatics, danced through the Usos theme song, had a blast. Dean’s fight was the last of the night, versus Kevin Owens. When the fight was over and the taping stopped, the Wyatt Family came out and ambushed Dean, and who came running to the rescue? None other than Roman. Not through the crowd, but from the ramp, so we didn’t get that experience, but after the rescue was done and Roman speared Bray Wyatt, the fight was over, and Roman came right to the barricade and called my daughter and I over. Oh. My. God. I looked around, thinking he was looking for someone else, and didn’t move. He smiled, looking right at me, held out his hand, and said “Come here!”

Definitely an OMG moment. We walked over and he took my hand, thanking us for coming and buying his merchandise. This would have been the perfect time to ask to take pictures with him, but our brains had gone to mush and were leaking out our ears, and we didn’t think to ask.

I knew he was huge; we’d seen him on tv, but the camera doesn’t do him any justice. In person, he is massive. If I were an idiot bent on causing trouble, I would not want to meet him in a dark alley. He is 265 pounds of solid muscle…and he has gentle hands. I doubt that he knew who we were, although we send messages to his text account regularly, and he generally answers when he has time, but wow, did he ever cap the night for us!!

Of course, after he left was when our brains started functioning again, and we realized we should have taken pictures, and that was a missed opportunity, but we were grinning like we’d never stop as we trooped out to the truck, and once we were in it, we squealed like two teenagers.

Two days later, we were able to see ourselves on TV and grin at each other again. I see now why people go to games and get rabid over their teams. There’s a whole atmosphere that doesn’t convey over a tv screen, even if you’re having a tailgate party or something like that. You have to go, at least once.

I’d love to go to the WWE again, the next time they come to town. I doubt I can, but oh, how I’d like to! The night–and the memory–was worth every single penny I spent to do it. The joy on my daughter’s face is not something I’ll ever forget.

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Quick project and studio SOS

Kumihimo choker

Kumihimo choker

That’s what I was in the mood for tonight, something I could start and finish in a matter of thirty minutes. I haven’t touched my kumihimo supplies in a good, long while, but I had a pattern I wanted to try out. I know where my marudai is, and the thread, and the weighted tamas, but this pattern called for rattail, and I knew I had two spools, but I didn’t have the faintest idea where they were! This sent me on a manhunt through my little studio, and as I’m hunting for the rattail, other things I haven’t seen in awhile pop into my head. The fishing swivels I bought for tablet weaving, where are they? I wouldn’t have thrown them out… Where are those extra little scissors I bought months ago; those would be perfect for the little box of tatting shuttles that go in my purse… And yes, that little green storage box I bought worked out perfectly for dragging my tatting around with me!

When your area is cluttered, it’s all the tiny things that vanish into the ether! Eventually I found the rattail, the scissors, the fishing swivels…and honestly, they were actually in places it was logical for them to be. Once upon a time, I really was organized. But over time, as my supplies and tools increased, but the space didn’t, my organization dropped off. As a matter of fact, I really haven’t spent much time in my studio in the last year. Go in, grab whatever I’m using, go work somewhere else. I’m going to have to choose one of several things to get the place in order again:

A. Stop finding new fiber arts interests. Yeah, because that’s likely to happen.

B. Downsize. See the comment accompanying A.

C. Get in there and clean, and add some more organizational tools. Pinterest is lovely for that.

I’m thinking C is really my only choice, because the first two don’t bear thinking about.

Anyway, I found the rattail, buried deep in one of the tubs of yarn. Woohoo!! I also re-discovered a ton of yarn I didn’t remember I had, and found space in the tubs for the yarn that had been in languishing in the bags I had originally brought it home in. Then, having made at least a small stride in the direction of cleaning up the room, I pulled out my square foam kumihimo plate and started cutting strands of rattail.

For larger kumihimo projects, I like to use the marudai and the tamas, but I knew this project wasn’t going to take long. Also, the marudai isn’t really portable when there’s a project on it. It’s too easy to mess up the order of the braid strands, because they aren’t anchored the way they are with the foam plate. Without a project on it, it’s perfectly portable!

Another thing I’d like to do is get my PIP to make me another couple of marudai. The one I currently have is really only for round braids. I can make flat ones on it, as long as they are narrow. I’d like to try wider ones, so I’d need a marudai with a square top and a rectangular opening. And my current marudai is short, so longer projects wind up needing to be folded up as they progress. I’d like a taller one. The designs for marudai are fairly simple; I’m pretty sure the PIP can handle the requests pretty easily.

An hour and change later, maybe two, I had the choker pictured above. It’s not done yet, as I need jewelry findings for the ends, but the main work is done, and I like it. And I’m thinking that I need to buy some more rattail. Right now, I only have two colors: silver and purple. I think I need a few more, maybe some red, golden yellow, and white. Oh, yeah, and a selection of jewelry findings.

See? There I go again, adding more stuff to a room that’s already overstuffed!!


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Cloisonné shuttles

Cloisonné shuttles loaded and working!

Cloisonné shuttles loaded and working!

After the ugliness of today and the tears that I’ve shed, and now the shooting of the eleven police officers in Dallas (how does that fix anything?? Two wrongs do not make a right!! Am I the only one whose parents beat that into my head?!), I have decided I need a break from it. I needed something fun, so I loaded up my two cloisonné shuttles to try them out.

Let me first say, I love them. They are absolutely gorgeous. And there is a bit of a learning curve.

First of all, though they are by far my smallest shuttles, they are also my heaviest. There is a heft to them that you don’t notice on picking them up, unloaded. Once loaded and dangling from your hands if you’re working with two shuttles, you definitely notice the pull of the extra weight. This is not a bad thing at all, nor is it a good thing. It’s just a thing, and one you aren’t prepared for because they’re so small. I actually like it for when I’m making a chain of double stitches, because dangling the second shuttle off of my pinky is generally how I do that, and my lighter weight shuttles don’t really do the job that well. With them, I have to wrap the working thread around my pinky at least twice and more usually three times, then let the shuttle dangle to keep the thread tautness where I want it. With the cloisonné shuttles, I can wrap the thread once and let it dangle and I’m good!

The other part of the learning curve is that these are my first open-ended shuttles. All of my other shuttles are closed at both ends, and when I’m tatting, I don’t get caught on the thread as I’m weaving the shuttle back and forth. With these, I do get caught. I’m not used to that wide open end yet. Again, not a bad thing, not a good thing, just a thing. It’s a different type of shuttle, so I have to simply get used to its idiosyncrasies.

It’s kind of like kids. No, really, hear me out! You have two children. They’re both yours, they both have the same parents, but they’re not two of the same person. They’re individuals. What works on one kid is not necessarily going to work for the other, and so you have to handle them differently to achieve the results you want, which is to raise two productive, happy members of society. Shuttles are the same way. There are so many variations in shuttles, but they all do the same thing, essentially. The Aerlits have a hook tip, the shuttle tips are completely closed, and they make use of a bobbin. The Moonlits have a hook tip as well, but the end tips are open and touching, using a pillar to carry the thread. Other shuttles have tips like the Moonlits, but lack the hook. They will either have a pick or nothing at all. Then there are these open-ended shuttles like the cloisonné. It’s just a matter of figuring out what works with whatever shuttle you’re using.

So there you are. Now I have another shop to watch on Etsy for more shuttles. Jeez. The trouble I get myself into.

Have a good night, all. Hugs and love to you and yours from me and mine.

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No crafts tonight. Tonight, I want to address something very serious that  affects many, many people in recent weeks.


In the wake of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s shooting deaths at the hands of the police this week, and the growing number of other unjustified black killings, both male and female, that is what I feel. A soul deep, all pervasive, mind numbing fear.

As most of you know who read this blog regularly, I am a black woman with a gay white husband and two beautiful biracial girls. The climate in this country right now is very racially charged, and the overall view of the police by black people is frighteningly negative. This post is not a rant about police in general, not by any means. I grew up with a few people who became police officers, and there isn’t one of them I wouldn’t trust with my life or the lives of my family.

The problem is the ones I don’t personally know, and this is what I fear. It is one thing to teach my children about stranger danger, to warn them against predators and pedophiles and the like. Strangers, where my children are concerned, are guilty until proven innocent. Protecting my children trumps your being offended that I am cautious around you, the stranger, because you could be a monster. But I have always taught my children to trust the police. “If you get separated from me, find a police officer.” “If you are in trouble, find a police officer.” Now, I wonder, how can I tell them to do that? The police are supposed to be good men and women who uphold the law and protect the innocent. Yet when a disproportionate number of black people are being killed by members of that same force, the question then becomes “How do I protect my children from the police?” Like a stranger, I have no way of knowing which police officer is good and which one bad. I can’t look at them and tell. When the victim has complied with every order issued by the officer and is still killed by that officer, what do I do? Do I teach my children to avoid the police when they are lost and in trouble? And if I do that, who do I instruct them to turn to? I’ve avoided giving them cell phones. I just don’t like the idea. I think they’re too young to have that responsibility. But I wonder now if I shouldn’t get them phones and tell them to hide when they are in trouble, and I’ll find them by tracking their GPS signals.

As a mother, I am terrified for my children, for my family members, my friends. When you are a person of color in this country, there is no safe haven for you. You can’t decide where you’re going to live based upon whether or not you like a house you’ve just seen. Always, always, you have to think as though you are behind enemy lines. If I move here, will my family be accepted, or will someone burn a cross on my lawn, at the very least?

The saddest part is that this line of thinking is taught in black families from infancy. We don’t even think about it, and we don’t sweat it because we’ve never known any other way. And it’s generational. I was raised to think that way, and I’ve already started preparing my children to think that way.

We live in a world that will always see my children as black because of their darker skin tone, when they are half white. But that part of their heritage will be discounted because of the color of their skin. And it’s my job–and their father’s–to prepare them for how the world will treat them because of that.

It terrifies me to know that they can be shot to death for no apparent reason, just because they are not white enough. The officer who shot Philando Castile discharged his gun several times into a vehicle that contained a four-year-old child. If nothing else, that alone is reprehensible. Where was his concern for possibly injuring or killing that child? All in all, that family was fortunate only one of them was killed. But that child is likely to need therapy for years after what she witnessed.

Let’s be honest here: I didn’t ask to be here. None of us did. We are all descendants of people who were enslaved hundreds of years ago and brought here against their will. That’s fact. And we have nowhere else to go now that we are here. We are no longer actually African. Most of us don’t even know what African tribes we descend from. We have no place there. Our culture is such that we wouldn’t fit in. Yet neither are we fully accepted here. This is made obvious by the injustices visited upon so many of us. Where can we go? What can we do to feel safe? How do we protect our children? I can teach them to comply and be respectful, but Philando Castile was respectful and compliant, and he is still dead today.

We are no different to anyone else in this country. We want the same things for our lives and families. We have the same feelings. And most of the black community has even embraced Christianity, a religion that was foreign to our ancestors. What more can we do to prove that we are no different from anyone else? Why are we so hated? Evil walks amongst every race on this planet, so please don’t point at the few who apparently make the rest of us look bad. Not every white person is a bigot, not every black person is a thug, not every Jewish person is a rich attorney, not every priest is a pedophile…the stereotypes go on and on and on. Please start judging people on their own merits, not what you think you know based upon the color of their skin.

I am scared, the more so because I so believed this country was progressing. There are more interracial couples and families every day. The LGBT community finally got the rights they should have had decades ago. We elected a black president–twice in a row! And all of that progress makes all of this hatred just that much more shocking, that much more alarming, that much more frightening. I have spent this day in tears after seeing those two very graphic videos, wondering if my children or their friends would make it to adulthood intact. How is that fair? Why should anyone have to think that way, and about their police force, for the gods’ sake?

I love my children, the same as anyone else of any other race, and I want the same things for them. Aren’t there enough things out there in the world capable of taking them from me without adding in bigotry?


Joining the family

New thread and cloisonné teardrop shuttles

New thread and cloisonné teardrop shuttles

Joining the tatting shuttle herd today are two beautiful cloisonné shuttles from Etsy. They’re so gorgeous!! These are my first–and only–teardrop shuttles, and I’ve never used this type before. Can’t wait to try them out with the new thread, also from Etsy, which is sitting behind them in the picture. I hope the learning curve isn’t too steep!!! They’re very small, and the back end is wide, and wide-open. We’ll see how this goes!!! No matter what happens, I’ll be happy with them!


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