Sunday, July 30, 2006

bunny woes

It has been a rough couple weeks here at Chez Petula. Our angora houserabbit Isadora is really sick, so I've been dividing my time between taking care of her, worrying about her, and periodically bursting into tears. I'm sure this atmosphere of gloom and doom I'm creating is very helpful to her spirits.

Warning: This is going to be long. If you don't like listening to people carrying on about their pets, you might want to skip this post. I hate it when people discuss their pets in far less detail than I'm about to, so I won't hold it against you.

We adopted Isadora a little over two years ago when she was six months old. We had her spayed shortly afterward, and after that she was a model citizen. She trained herself to use a litterbox, and was allowed free range 0f the house. With the exception of chewing on a couple plants, and the occasional snack of wires, she has always been a very good bunny. She has provided us with hours of entertainment and lots of lap time. She has even, on occasion, accompanied me to knitting group where she snuggled with strangers and allowed young children to pet her in that overzealous way that kids have.
About a year ago she started to have little "accidents" just outside of her litterbox. It didn't happen often, and the quantity was so small that I wasn't sure if it was pee or if it was just some drinking water that had sloshed out, however over time the problem grew more pronounced. Around the same time she started to become less active. She didn't roam the house as much as she used to, but rather spent most of her time sitting in her favorite spots observing the household. When she did go exploring she seemed a little stiff. I was worried and took her to the vet (twice) to make sure nothing was wrong, but they seemed pretty unconcerned.
The peeing I wrote off to her acting out (we did have her tested for a UTI, but it came back negative). I convinced myself that maybe the slowing down was normal for a two year old rabbit, especially an angora since they're bred to be mellow. We got her a friend, Morris, and they hit it off almost immediately. He litter trained himself right away, but her litter habbits continued to worsen. I read all the litter training info I could find, and finally decided to retrain her by confining her to a cage with daily periods of supervised freedom. The plan was that as she proved herself to be reliable once again, she would slowly be allowed more and more out-and-about time until she was back to her original impeccable ways. Unfortunately, that never happened.
Her stiffness seemed to be increasing. I wrote it off to her not exercising much due to her confinement. Davis kept saying he thought something was wrong with her legs, but I did my best to dismiss that negative line of thought by reminding myself that he thinks fluoridated water is a plot by The Man to keep us all down. Finally the day came when I had to admit he was right. She was practically dragging her hind legs, and I knew I had to find a vet who would look into it.
A rabbit-loving friend of mine knew I was desperate to find a veterinarian who might be able to help (I think the tip off was when, much to my horror, I started to cry at knitting group while discussing it with her), and she let me know about the recent arrival of a vet who specializes in exotics (that's what rabbits are considered to be).
I'm happy to say I absolutely LOVE the new vet (and so does Is). She was really caring and immediately took the problem seriously, taking x-rays and blood tests (all the while checking to make sure that was what I wanted). Unfortunately, Isadora's x-rays showed lots of bone growths that are extremely unusual in a rabbit her age, and the vet doesn't know what is causing them. At this point, Isadora can only moves a couple steps at a time, she's completely incontinent, and if she is lying on her side she can't get up without help. We have several hop-through "bunny stations" set up that are lined with towels and have bumpers on each side to keep her from tipping over that she actually voluntarily puts herself in (I couldn't get her to use the call button we got her for when she's fallen and she can't get up, so this was the next best thing).
It's a total longshot, but we're currently treating her for lyme disease with the hope that that's what caused the bone growths (I think the vet figured that at this point, why not? There isn't much to lose and it's the only curable thing that explains her symptoms and test results - plus Isadora thinks the antibiotics are deeeeelicious!). She seems to be in pretty good spirits now (apparently she's made of tougher stuff than I), but obviously this situation can't go on indefinitely. If we're able to arrest the bone situation, there are things that can be done to make her more comfortable and able-bodied. If she continues to decline it doesn't seem kind to allow to her to suffer.
I'm a little surprised that I'm taking this whole thing so hard. I'm not exactly considered a bleeding-heart animal lover (friends have been known to place bets over how long I'd keep a pet before I decided it was too much work and found it a new home). There's just something about Isadora that completely won me over. I feel terrible that I had been angry with her on some level for the past 6 months for becoming un-litter-trained. I'm just sick over the fact that she had to spend several weeks being semi-isolated as I was trying to retrain her when I mistakenly thought it was a behavioural problem. At this point I'd line her bunny-station with my cashmere sweaters if I thought it would make her feel better.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Yes, the correct answer to the previous post is six - five regular sewing machines and one serger, so Robin has some books on the way. On the left is a picture of my sewing area (well, part of it anyway - I've already shown you my fabric stash monstrosity).
The table (actually it's a door), is left set up with two regular machines plus my beloved Husqvarna serger. In the adorable green case on the floor is a machine given to me by Alanonymison. I also have two machines in the barn, one is the kind that has its own table (no room for it at the moment), and the other one is a heavy duty number that I was trying to fix and then sort of forgot about (I can't remember if it's now working or if it's in pieces, and I'm too scared to look). Davis also came with a sewing machine as part of his dowry, but I don't actually count that as mine. You have to love a man with a sewing machine!
The picture also shows a bunch of my sewing books, part of my collection of buttons and sewing notions (jars and tins on the top right), and my folding sewing box (the thing with the handle under the table). As cluttered as this may seem, this is as tidy as it gets.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My name is Petula, and I'm a shopaholic

I'm never the most organized of people, but I feel like I'm even worse than usual right now. My to-do list seems to be growing exponentially each day as I look on helplessly, wringing my hands. Of course, it might help if I actually wrote down the to-do list, rather than just watching it run endlessly through my head as I'm trying to fall asleep at night. I think I'll add "make list" to tonight's show.
I aim to be a 3-times a week poster, but that's another thing I've fallen behind on recently. Of course, since I haven't been completing many projects to post about either, the bright side is at least I don't have a backlog of finished projects nagging me to be photographed and shown off!
Anyway, to make up for my lack of posts containing crafty goodness, I'm going to liven things up by giving away two early 1960s sewing books.
The first one is a 1960 edition of Sewing Made Easy (403 pages). The pictures are so appealing that I somehow ended up with 5 copies of it! Actually, I only have two copies of this edition - the other three are from the 1952 printing and have different pictures (that's only slightly less compulsive, isn't it?). Not only is it filled with sewing information, but it has a very entertaining section about fashion dos and don'ts (see image on left).

The second book is Better Homes & Gardens Sewing Book from 1961 (320 pages). I should warn you, this one is a bit musty smelling. I bought it because, once again, the pictures won me over. And, once again, I realized when I got home that I already had another copy (but just one this time!).

If you would like me to send you these books, you just need to guess how many sewing machines I currently own. The first person to guess correctly will receive a lovely bundle of retro crafty goodness. Make sure you give your email address when you leave your comment (I'm the only one who can see it) so I can contact the correct guesser. I'll pay for the shipping if you live in the U.S.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Beauchamp Point Blank

An invitation arrived in the mail this week for my high school reunion. I'm not going to give out the number of years that this one marks, but I will say that I graduated the same year as Martin Blank (left).
I knew it was coming up, and yet I'd quite happily managed to keep the enormity of it from truly entering my consciousness. Until now.
The whole thing is making me feel very, very old.
According to the high school me, people who attend reunions with numbers like mine do so in cheesy Cadillacs, wearing toupees and banker's suits (the women's version involves bad perms and dresses with sequins that reach midway down their thick calves). It does help a little that I'm aware that the high school me was an idiot.
Fortunately, Cadillacs, sequins and suits are likely to be in short supply due to the fact that the reunion is being held at a rather casual location - THE BEAVER LODGE!!!!
(I can't even say that name without smirking and making off-color remarks - I do hope I'm able to move beyond that by the time the big day rolls around.)
To be honest, I actually think it might be pretty fun. There are numerous people I'm looking forward to seeing who I haven't kept in touch with. Plus, the Beaver Lodge (snort!) is on a lake, so a good portion of the festivities will be outside, making it easy to avoid the unrepentantly evil.

So does anyone have any suggestions on how I should fill out the what-have-I-been-up-to questionaire? At the last reunion I said I was a bean sprout farmer.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Immortal blooms...ummm...immortalized

I have a vivid memory of going to a cemetery when I was a little kid and being amazed by all the beautiful (to me) plastic flowers that people had left there - just laying there! - on the ground!
They wouldn't have been left there if people still wanted them, I reasoned, so clearly they were mine for the taking.
I joyfully ran around "picking" the gaudy brightly colored blooms - this was almost as good as being set loose in Candyland! Imagine my shock when I wandered back to my mother with my bouquet, and, rather than being hailed as a great forager, I was in trouble.
I never again desecrated any gravesites (unless you count sitting on them and smoking pot as desecration - I may have done that a couple times several years later), but my deep regard for those flowers has remained. The Consortium of Faux Florists long ago made the unfortunate choice of switching from plastic to silk flowers, but I still love them. Lucky for me I have a friend who lives near a cemetary who occasionally gives me the ones the groundskeepers remove. But where does one put such treasures?
Well, as we're lacking a crypt in the yard, I decked out their styrovase to resemble Eleanor Roosevelt and now they're framed and on the wall.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Petula's Helpful Hints

While it may seem like a good idea to reshape a vintage hat by plunging it into a sinkful of water, I would not actually advise it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

buttericks are free
(if you're lucky)

The pattern above is a 1960s adaptation of the 1950s wrap dress I mentioned previously. It's pretty darn fabulous, no? Sadly, I don't think they've reprinted this one, although I do think there's a tutorial out there that tells you how to modify the reprinted pattern to make this one.
I took the picture from a post on Craftster. A girl found the pattern at the dump (or "the free store" as we call it around our house), and made the dress out of a vintage sheet. You should definitely check it out, because she did a great job and it's almost as cute as a basket of kittens .

In other news, all of our moths have successfully emerged from their cocoons. They came out at all different times, so it wasn't quite the experience we were expecting but it was still pretty interesting. We let three of them go when it was obvious they wouldn't have a mate (hey, they might as well find some love somewhere). A couple others were given the opportunity to leave when it seemed like they weren't interested in their potential partners, but they stuck around anyway.
We had read that luna moths stay paired up for 24 hours after mating, but we didn't see anything like that going on. We did have a male and a female luna in close proximity to each other, though, and the female laid about 50 eggs. It's unlikely that they're fertile, but I'll let you know if we have any little ones arriving in the near future.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sew Marvelous or Sew Mortifying?

I recently joined a new group blog - Sew Retro. From their site:

Sew Retro is a sewing group for those interested in making vintage or retro style clothing. We're not limiting ourselves to only truly vintage patterns and/or fabric, but embracing retro and vintage styles in all forms.
We will be having various sew-alongs but with quite general inclusive themes (i.e. a Simplicity pattern, a flowered fabric, a 50's pattern, that kind of thing) which members will be able to join in with if they so wish.

I've collected vintage patterns for years, but I've never actually made anything from them because I was worried they would be too complicated and that I'd never manage to get the fit that those garments require. After my most recent vintage garment overhaul, however, I started thinking that maybe it would actually just be easier to make a vintage style dress from scratch. Then, as if by magic, I heard about Sew Retro a couple days later and signed up.

Many people there have been discussing how easy the incredibly fabulous looking Butterick 4790 pattern is to make (it's a reprint of one from 1952). I took the bait and ordered it online, and now I'm just waiting for it to get here.

Easy pattern or not, I often have a hard time choosing suitable fabric for a garment. I never know when to focus on drapability and when to choose cloth that is stiffer and more stable. I also have a rather poor track record where the application of bias tape is concerned, and this dress calls for three packages of the stuff. Hopefully it will come out well, but I suppose if it doesn't it might still make entertaining reading.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The one where you find out I'm really a little old lady

Since it's been a slow week for crafty stuff, I thought I'd show you some of my clutter. On the left are some hats I recently found while doing our usual junk/flea circuit. I rarely wear hats (although I do go all-out on Easter), but I love to look at them. These ones seem like they belong in one of those boxes of candies are really pretty, but that no one actually likes eating because they're anise flavored (or something equally unlike chocolate).
The birds on the bottom are salt and pepper shakers that we got a month or two ago. We had absolutely no need for them (plus, the salt shaker is far too small for my enormous sodium cravings), but they just had too much personality to resist.
The same goes for the creatures in the other two pictures, which were passed down to me from my parents (or maybe it was grandparents?). I can totally imagine how they behave when no one is looking and they come alive. The ones in the middle look like they should be in a 1940s cartoon. I have no idea why the squirrel has his arm up like that, but I like to pretend he's in an anti-perspirant ad and is displaying his confidence. The snail looks like he should be in Disney's Fantasia, and the worm cracks me up mostly just because someone actually made a porcelain worm.

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