Thursday, November 17, 2011

1000 Moments

I'm sure we all have those days where more seems to go wrong than right. Recently I've been feeling like I've chalked up more losses than gains this year and it can be overwhelming when the hits just keep on coming. Some of those losses I've shared with you but for the most part it seems my mini life-crises don't need to be plastered around the internet.

That said, the best lessons are usually to be learnt when everything is going wrong and, after a few very tough months, I'm hoping I've hit my "last straw" and am ready to eke out a little wisdom from the floundering.

The last straw of course is the one we nearly all go through at some point - the breakdown of a relationship. It seems they get harder as I get older (aren't I supposed to be wiser by now?!) but the extra twist this time around is new to me. Billy is my first dog, but before there was Billy I met a grumpy old man called Buster and I loved him dearly. Now that his dad and I have parted ways, the loss of a beloved pet is added to the familiar pain of separating from a partner and the family and friends you have learned to care for along the way.

Of course, Buster isn't gone forever and I know that in time I'll get to see him again. But still I find myself regretting the things I didn't do with him when I had the chance. He was always the "good" dog in my life, just wanting a quiet, comfortable existence with none of the daily antics and struggles that I share with Billy. I feel guilty that I haven't written more about him, regretful that I don't have more good photos and videos. In the past few months, after he recovered from his operation he's gradually shown a more playful - sometimes a bit naughty! - side of himself. It's been such a joy to watch it develop and I'm sad to miss out on more. I almost never managed to catch him playing on camera, it was always so unexpected and so joyous - and usually very short. I caught a little on my iphone just a few weeks ago, the last time he stayed at my house.

After I uploaded this to youtube I watched it again. Billy jumped up and stood with his paws on the windowsill for 10 minutes, waiting for his dad and his best buddy to get home. He could always tell the jangle of Buster's collar from any other dog. It made me cry.

If there is something you've been meaning to do with the dog in your life - go and do it now! We often talk of how short life is. How much shorter is the time we have with these furry beings that share our lives and our hearts. Too often I bemoan the fact that I have no decent photos, actually almost none of any quality, of myself with Billy. Before the end of the year we'll be going to a professional photographer to have our mini-family portrait taken, and on my wish list for Christmas is a gift voucher to have a portrait of Buster and Billy created by Yellow Brick Home.

But the larger lesson I've come to accept recently is that sometimes there is very little to be done about the way life runs. If I wait for the "big stuff" to reach some magical stage of perfection, I'll miss an awful lot along the way. And I imagine I'll be pretty miserable while I'm at it.

Today I bought a notebook. It's bound in soft brown leather with 288 pristine ivory pages. It will sit on my coffee table until I have filled it with 1000 moments to be grateful for. Every day it will remind me that the contents of my bank account, the job I do, my relationship status or any of the other trials I meet are not all that make up my life. Because if all I ever focus on is the big picture I will miss the beautiful details that remind me of everything I have that makes me lucky. Sharing a drink with a friend, the color of the leaves in the park, the kindness of a CTA driver who waits to make sure I don't miss my bus, a smile from a little girl on the train or a warm welcome home from my Billy - if these are the moments that make up my day, I'll have a lot to be thankful for. And instead of a blank page, I see a world of possibilities.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeling crafty

Whether it's the inspiration of all the gorgeous fall colors or that fact that, in crafting terms, the holidays are right around the corner I'm becoming increasingly addicted to everything home-made. I'm loving anything you can do with a needle (ok, so that came out wrong), and I'm even reacquainting myself with my long-abandoned kitchen. My favorite cookie and cake recipes are being dug out and dusted off and I've started whipping up giant batches of soup, chili and curry. Some delicious bundles of fabric have been landing on my doorstep and I'm slowly building up my stack of, believe it or not, Christmas presents, which I'm determined will be nearly all handmade this year. I actually started the biggest project back in August!

In the midst of the stitching and baking whirlwind I couldn't quite forget about the pups. With the cold weather coming on my little Flowerpot was starting to get chilly on walks so I took another shot at a jacket pattern. This one's definitely an improvement on the first attempt so I must be learning something. Flower gave it a good test drive in the park, snuffling through the grass chasing bugs! (Excuse the scary looming-giant shadow!)

I'm thinking I might add a love of buttons to my fabric obsession and couldn't resist embellishing her little tweed outfit.

With my exciting new neighbors moving in on Sunday I had to think up some pooch-appropriate housewarming gifts. Poor Fifty's had a bit of a poorly tummy so I'm not sure if he'll actually be able to chomp on his Coconutty Star dog cookies now, but Bilbo went nuts for them and barked and whined his way around the house the whole time they were cooking.

I have to admit they smelled delicious - I even tried one myself - but I'm a sweet-tooth girl so sugar-free goodies didn't quite do it for me. Don't worry, I kept some back for the whining Bilbo too! This recipe did call for flour and rolled oats so although I used mostly rice flour I'm still on the look out for some good grain-free treat recipes. Any ideas?

For Izzy I reached into the fabric stash for some pieces of one of my favorite home-decorator weight prints for a stuffed bone. I bought this one on my first trip to the Needle Shop, a fabulous little store just 20 minutes walk from my house which pretty much single-handedly fanned the flames of my fabric obsession.

Next on the doggy crafting list is a big floor cushion for Bilbo. He loves to lounge across piles of clothes when I'm sorting out laundry so I'm guessing I might get a bit more room on the bed from time to time if I provide him with a bit of comfy floor space. The only problem is, I can't decide on a fabric!

Don't forget to like us on facebook for more pictures of the pups. There are some very cute pooches in Flower's Halloween Fashion Show album so please show them some love and vote for the one you like the best to help them win $ for their favorite animal rescue! 
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