What The Hay

Crafty Hayseed Goodness!

Dragonfly Cloth August 29, 2007

Filed under: Alabama,projects — clothespin @ 3:58 pm

Ah, Alabama. Yes indeed, I can profess great love of the state that claims heritage to both the first and third world. Much around Auburn has been a pleasant surprise. A lovely dog park, much lower traffic in the town, access to national forests a short drive away and a few other things that I can’t remember right now. These are the happy first world things.

The third world things though, well, they nearly take away all of the points earned by the first world. In fact, the drivers license folks very nearly take the cake for the most asinine system ever conceived in all of organized intelligent humanity. A process that in other states takes at most an hour, maybe two… took all day for me yesterday.

After arriving at 6:30am (yes, in the morning!) to get into line outside of the office, which, by the way, is no where near a government building and is in a strip mall of moldering outlet stores, I began knitting. I came prepared, knowing that I would be there a long time… a little project that would take my mind off of the long line and produce something I can use. Plus, it had a dragonfly on it…
After making it inside of the office at 8 am, the nice little girl at the desk said that hubby and I had mis-read the requirements and I would not be able to get a license with the papers that I had. Did I mention that I got up at 6am for this? So, loosing my place in line, I drive home, looked for the birth certificate still in a box, and decided that lines at neighboring counties couldn’t be as long. Right?

The neighboring county that had an office open yesterday said that indeed, their line was short, come on down. So, a 45 minute drive in the scenic Alabama hills later, I arrived at this tiny ratty mobile home in a huge lot behind something that resembled a government building. As soon as I entered, a lady in a blue uniform informed us that any new folks that had arrived (at 10am) would most likely not be seen today as there were too many other folks in line ahead of us. There were 6 people. It was 10am. So, I left.

I then went shopping and ate lunch, then went by hubby’s office to show him the pretty new purse that I had bought (still not sure about it) to replace my not as grown up purse… He then told me that the line at the place I started at in the morning was reportedly shrinking, so go back and see how it was.

I arrived, got my name on the list, and sat, knitting on the same cloth, for another 2 hours. Some of the folks in there had been there since 8am and were still there. There was no guarantee that I would get a new license that day, but my options were sit and hope or go home and get up again at 6 and sit for at least another 2 1/2 hours – AGAIN. So, I stayed and knit, and jokingly offered the dishcloth as a bribe to the cute girl at the desk… (though, I’m not sure that I was kidding…)


I did get the license and I still have my cloth. I found the pattern at the Purple Duckie. It’s made with hemp yarn, which made it a bit stiff to work up, but should hold up well to daily use. I like it pretty well, it was easy to make and didn’t take too long… I may even make another. Hmm… I wonder if my knitting needles fit into that new purse?


Too Short a Time August 26, 2007

Filed under: Family & Critters — clothespin @ 10:41 am

It truly was too short a time that we got to know and love our little Delilah girl. Though she had been improving and even more energetic and alert than in the days before, things did not work out as hoped. I sat with her all evening as we gave her the IV drip, fed her, loved her.   In the afternoon, she’d had a terrible coughing fit, bringing up a lot of goo from the pneumonia in her lungs.  It weakened her terribly and while concerned we didn’t know what to do about it.  After an accident on the couch and continued potty break out side, she came trotting into the house, full of energy. She went straight to her crate and then vomited the meal that she’d eaten hours ago… at that point she was unconscious. Hubby lifted her out and put her on the couch, trying to help her, where she died. Thankfully, we had the pink juice and administered it to her to help with the final stages of death.   The vet thought that she’d thrown a clot from her lungs and died from that… It was horrible and sad and we are devastated. We will bury her in the morning and hopefully she will find more peace in death than she did in life. At least at the end, she knew that we loved her, that we fought hard to keep her and that we were with her through to the end. It is all anyone can ask, I suppose, when that time comes.

While two weeks is a short time, it seems that it is enough time to fall in love.

We love you Miss D and we will always remember you.


Comfort in the Pink Juice August 23, 2007

Filed under: Family & Critters — clothespin @ 12:42 pm

Yesterday was a hard day for Delilah. The vets said that her lungs were doing worse and while there was still hope, there wasn’t much of it. Still, in the two other distemper cases that they’d had in the past years, both had made it through this phase… but it was touch and go the entire time.

Before sending us home for the night, one vet agreed to ease my concerns … When Carbon was so very sick, the night before we helped him across the bridge, I was all alone with him. It was horribly hard and he was in such extreme pain and discomfort… and there was nothing that I could do. I did NOT want to repeat that experience with D. So, the vet sent us home with a shot of enough sedative to either completely knock her out or hopefully end the pain all together. She has an IV catheter in her leg, so administration would be easy, and we’ve had lots of experience with IVs with Carbon. This comfort of pink juice is what made me OK with bringing her home. I didn’t want to watch her go through a very painful final stage where she couldn’t breath and slowly die in agony. It wouldn’t be fair to either one of us and this way, if that moment ever came, I could help her to the bridge, too.

Happily, while close by, the bridge stayed far enough away as to not warrant the need of the pink. D struggled a bit with her breathing, pneumonia does that to a dog, but the meds and nose drops and my constantly wiping the sticky yellow snot out of her nostrils (despite her annoyance with that) seems to have done the trick. She ate a TINY amount of baby food, drank water and pottied outside. She growled once at Monster as he approached her couch and wagged her tail at hubby and I as we came close to her. She seems to have been more alert and herself than she has been in days. Slowly, hope began to build in me, even as the quality of late night/early morning TV lessened.

The vet called after I dropped her off this morning – she was pleasantly surprised. It is good to know that one of the new antibiotics is helping and that her lungs are starting to kick out the gunk that is in them. She is also getting much thinner – and that is not a good thing. Already very skinny when we got her, I can see her continue to shrink – the ingestion of food is critically important as she has nothing in reserve to draw upon. Hopefully, the baby food is more appetizing tonight. I think that we’ve graduated from “extremely cautiously optimistic” to just “cautiously optimistic” – but we’ll have to wait and see what the night brings. No matter how well she is doing now, there is also the grim reality that of all dogs who survive this mucosal phase, 50% will still enter the neurological phase and have to be put down. Hopefully, we will not be in that particular half of the statistic.

So, we are tired, poor and hopeful… it could be worse and it still might be. She seems to be a strong little dog … at least today, there is a wee bit more hope.


It is better to have loved and lost… August 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — clothespin @ 5:25 pm

than to never have loved at all.

I’m not entirely sure that I buy that. It sounds to me like a platitude told to the people who are suffering a great loss in a vain attempt at making them feel better. Basically, I think that it is crap. The reality is that it is better to have loved and been able to love many years and have your love grow old and pass away after a long and happy life rather than catch some stupid disease and die the first month that you knew her.

It isn’t confirmed, but Delilah probably has distemper. Only 50% of dogs infected with the disease live… and we are early in the game right now. She is feeling better right now, the fever is under control though the vomiting is not… She was on an IV antibiotic this afternoon, got fluids and nutritional support. The vet wanted to leave her at the clinic over night – but she would be all alone, and I couldn’t do that. How horrible would it be for her to have something happen, problems breathing or seizures and have no one there to comfort her. She doesn’t know me well yet, but at least she knows me and maybe loves me. I know that I love her.

Maybe I”m putting Monster at risk but after how many days together, isn’t he already exposed? Hopefully his vaccinations work, I’ve checked the records and he’s had all of the shots that cover this… hopefully this futile attempt at love won’t endanger the other love of my life. I don’t know. I’m keeping them separated but apparently the virus persists on clothes and floors and in the air… how do I sanitize the entire house? What if I’ve killed Monster, too?  But isn’t it too late?  Isn’t the virus already in the house?  I could go on a cleaning frenzy with the little bit of energy that I have left and would it do any good?  Or would it only make me feel better?

Please keep us in your thoughts… and please vaccinate your dog and love on them while you can.   And, thank you for all of the support… hopefully we’ll make it through …


Sick Little Girl

Filed under: Family & Critters — clothespin @ 6:35 am

So, Delilah is REALLY sick. She came from the shelter with a cough/vomiting phlegm stuff but it had gotten better over the weekend. She was perky and growling at everyone and starting to act like what might be her normal self.

So, Sunday morning, we took her on a short walk with Monster at the local park. I thought she was just tired and really out of shape… Sunday night, I had to hand feed her dry food. Monday morning, she would only eat a little bit of canned ID dog food…

The lethargy became really bad and she no longer followed me from room to room. So, I called the vet that had spayed her and we went in at 5 yesterday. The vet is nice enough but I have some serious concerns about her competency. They never took her temperature for one. She’s sick and may have Kennel Cough and no one thinks to take a temperature? They did blood work to make sure that she didn’t have an infection and sure enough, her white blood counts were well within normal range. The vet did decide to listen to her heart and lungs before leaving, and after a 10 minute conversation with me… Delilah’s lungs were full and she was having a hard time breathing in and out. Still, the vet wanted to wait until this morning for x-rays and then think about putting her on some sort of antibiotics. She kept saying that it is probably something chronic but never thinking that perhaps it is advanced stage kennel cough? Especially with the green/yellow oock coming out of her nose and eyes?

With her condition worsening at home, we finally managed to find the thermometer. Normal dog temp is 101-102.5… and hers was 107.2. We didn’t know what to do. By this point, I was crying and really upset… I called the local vet school and the lady on the phone said that her fever was “scarey high” – but no indication if it was critical or just serious. After some serious thought, we decided that we would try to control the fever on our own for a few hours first – the vet school would be there all night if we were unsuccessful. Plus, aside from an IV, we thought that we could provide nearly everything on our own…

We gave her some guaifenesin (the recommendation of the lousy vet after my pleading for something to help) for her lungs, which did seem to help, some aspirin for the fever and lots of gallon plastic bags of ice all over her body. I was up all night, taking her temperature every hour and writing it all down. Replacing the ice bags on her body periodically… I gave her droppers full of water and some high calorie goo that PetCo sells for convalescing dogs.

Her temperature slowly came down through the night and a couple of hours into it, dropped below 107. Right now, we’re hovering around 104 so while still very sick, I don’t think that the fever isn’t life threatening. She has to be carried out to the yard to potty and then she was only able to stand long enough to pee. That she’s peeing at all is a good sign – I keep squirting the water into her mouth. I’m waiting for the vet office to open so that I can get her in this morning. We will be using a different vet this time, one who hopefully got her degree at a vet school and not a cracker jack box. This vet was recommended by a local friend… I only hope that they will work us in. If not, off to the vet school we go…

I will post more as we know more, but for now she is OK. The joys of adopting a shelter dog… while she is very very ill at this point she is also very lucky – I hope.


Spotted Dog Bed August 18, 2007

Filed under: Family & Critters,projects,thrifted — clothespin @ 4:15 pm

Delilah needed a bed for her crate. Every dog needs their own bed, so I decided to make hers multi-purpose. Plus, it needed to be girly enough for my first girl dog, kinda match who she is and be very functional. Dog beds in stores are expensive and in my experience, not very well made, so I opted for a not so quick but easy homemade version.


For the materials for the bed, I went thrift store shopping and found a blue bedspread in a nice heavy cotton blend for $1.50. Also at the store was an old comforter that had definitely seen better days, also $1.50. And, last weekend at a garage sale, a lady was parting with some fabric and I got four fat quarters of complimentary fabric for $1. So, for $4.00 I had the makings of a personalized doggie bed that didn’t require any new materials!


I started by measuring the crate and then adding an inch to the length and width for the seam allowances. Then, using the bedspread, I cut out one piece of that size and two others the same width and 3/4 of the length making sure to include the already finished edge for one short side. I calculated the distance around the edges and cut strips 6 inches wide to total that length (that’s the width of the rotary cutting ruler =). Then, I went to my kitchen and gathered random round objects of different sizes and traced those on the 4 fat quarters. A bit Wonder Under and then I cut them out and ironed them on to the largest part in a random pattern (and a couple along the edge covered up a tiny hole in the fabric that I didn’t notice until after I’d cut it out).


After sewing over the edges of the circles, I matched up the 3/4 length pieces, with the finished edges in the middle, to be the same size as the big piece so as to make an envelope pillow (basic intructions here, but in dog beds, I’ve found that the bigger the overlap of the edges, the less likely it is to gap open, so if you’re planning on making one, be sure to go with the 3/4 length) and then sewed the 6 inch strips around the edge. I repeated with the top with the circles. Flipped it inside out and I had a great dog bed cover!

Inside, I placed the folded up comforter to act as the stuffing. Everything is removable when it needs to be, easily washable, cheap and totally recycled. Plus, I think it’s fairly nice looking. After we get past the need for the crate (trust is an earned thing, especially for a dog who tends to want to chew on a few things) the bed will still look nice in a corner in the living room.


Home is where your bed is – and Delilah has her bed here with us.


Super Solar Clothes Dryer August 17, 2007

Filed under: environment,house stuf — clothespin @ 11:59 am

I love our bigger house.  More room to spread out and the house quite as full – more breathing space.  But, with more breathing space comes more space to cool and heat, more light-bulbs to power (even when using the CFLs) and more space to clean and a much bigger carbon footprint.

One of the great things about this place is that it has laundry  hookups in the back porch.  After visiting a very nice laundromat for years, it is so nice to be able to throw a load of wash in without having to drive anywhere or turn it into a massive expedition.  However, with the joys of at home laundry comes the pain of energy costs…


According to Consumer Reports, 90% of the energy used in washing clothes is in heating the wash water – not in running the machine itself.  That’s a lot of energy just to get warm water!  Happily, washing clothes in cold water works just as well and will save a ton on the energy costs.

While there is some concern out there that laundry soaps were made for warm water wash only, and while there are commercial detergents being made now for cold water wash, there is a problem with all of that.  They all generally use petroleum (yup, the same black stuff that we’re fighting for in the Middle East) to make the detergent.  Happily, there are laundry soaps being made that use vegetable oils instead of petroleum. Hubby and I have happily been using Seventh Generation for several years and haven’t noticed anything negative with their use – and have a slightly smaller carbon footprint because of it.

However, if you want to give a try at a far cheaper and environmentally friendly method of cleaning clothes… try making your own laundry soap.  It’s not hard and according to everyone I’ve ever known who have used it – works great.  And, for those of you lucky enough to have a High Efficiency laundry machine, this stuff doesn’t suds  and works fine in those fancy machines.


There are two versions out there- the powdered version (which I am planning on making) and the liquid version (and another version of liquid).  Both use the same ingredients, so go with whichever works better for you.  The other thing – nearly all recipes call for Fels Naptha soap.  This is still a petroleum based product, which in my mind, defeats the purpose of making my own soap in the first place.  I am using Dr. Bronners bar soap which is organic and vegetable oil based and should work just fine.

Seventh Generation does make fabric softener, too.  However, I’ve found that it is really not needed.  Instead, I use 1/2 cup of vinegar in the softener part of my washing machine.  Vinegar helps by getting rid of the last little bit of soap in the clothes during the rinse cycle and keeps static cling to a minimum.  Don’t worry about the vinegar smell, it isn’t present after the clothes have dried (hubby still hasn’t noticed if that means anything).  I’ve even heard of folks putting the vinegar into a Downy Ball and using it like normal softner.  Plus, vinegar will help keep your towels super adsorbent.

The last little bit in my laundry efforts was a project that involved hubby and his tools.  We put up a clothesline.  I grew up with one and never thought anything bad about it, but apparently some folks find this a symbol of the “lower class”… whatever.  Who cares what other people think?  It’s laundry – not the scarlet letter for pete’s sake.


Clothes dryers are huge energy hogs, add heat to homes in the summer and help your clothes wear out faster.  Clotheslines use no energy, the sun kills the little germs that are still on your clothes and make your laundry smell great.

Russ and I built this one by putting the posts into concrete in holes… and then using eye screws to string the clothesline through – provided a self tightening system that is working well.  The posts are set 30 feet apart and I’ve hung 3 loads of laundry out at one time on my line.

The best part about the clothesline?  It’s fun.  It reminds me of when I was a kid on the farm and it helps lessen my impact on the planet just a little bit.  I mean, why pay to dry clothes in a dryer when I can let the sun do it for free?