Friday, September 28, 2012

A little therapy, part four...DONE!

Frame project is all done, and I'm very happy with it.  It took much less time than it may appear, from the four posts covering the process.  I stretched it out quite a bit, because I didn't want to rush through it, which is fairly uncommon for me.  I generally suffer from completion anxiety, but not this time.

I used upholstery nails to secure the photo and plexiglass to the frame, which was mounted on the top vs. the underside.  I wanted something a little different and unusual.  I'm happy with how it came together.  I simply snugged the nail up to the edge of the plexiglass, and tapped it in until the edge of the nail head made contact, and held it in place.

Mounting the back boards was fairly straight-forward.  A small square of scrap back board material made a 'base' for the frame.  We cut these pieces such that they would fit right inside the opening in the back of the frames.

Did a little 'dry fit'...looking good.

Measured/drew my lines to mount the scrap board to the back boards.

Added a little hot glue, the scrap board and a little weight, then waited for the glue to dry completely.  Hot glue dries quick, so it didn't take long.

I then ran a bead of glue around the edge of the scrap boards, and set the frames over top.  A light press, and we were set.




I couldn't love them more if I tried.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A little therapy, part three (still not done)

I think this project will have a part four, because I've gone as far as I can without a couple of supplies I'm waiting on, so I thought I would at least add a short post, and move this along for anyone interested in this project.

The back boards are not yet attached to one another, and the frames are not yet attached to the back boards (just sort of laying there, a bit willy-nilly), but the photos are done, with a sepia tone, and they are ready to be mounted. 

When I have the last of my supplies, I will post the final result, hopefully with the frames in their place in our home, vs. just layed out on the table.

I'm very happy with how they look and I know I will enjoy them.  The photos are some of my favorites.

For the love of Bun, September 27, 2012

I found this photo of you today, Bun.  It made me smile.  You were the essence of love and life, and this photo really seems to show those two things.

It goes without saying that I miss you more than any collection of words could convey.  I think I will always miss you.  I don't expect that to ever go away.  As I think of you, and reflect on what you mean to me, I see just how much I needed you: to learn, to grow and to understand things I never understood before.  Understanding is a funny thing, I have learned.  It's no longer something I just acknowledge as a passing thought, or a glance over my shoulder, so to speak, it's become a part of who I am, through thoughtful application of a knowing that washes over me, and finds a place to settle, to become part of my landscape.

I'm embarrassed to admit I needed you, to have you, to love you and to lose you, to come to this place.

There is just nothing that matters more than love and understanding.  There is nothing that matters more than showing myself, through that love and understanding, to magnify joy beyond where I stand.

I thank you for that...I'm sorry it took me your whole life, and your death, to figure that out.  I wish I'd figured it out so much earlier, if for no other reason than to 'walk' that kind of understanding with you.

I love you, Bun.  Your light will shine here forever...

Monday, September 24, 2012

The greenhouse - DONE!

This project started a few weeks ago, with my blog post: DIY Greenhouse.  At that time, we located a 10' x 5' dog run on CL for next to nothing.  The plan was to make a greenhouse using the framework of the run.  We removed the damaged chain link, and moved it to the back-yard.  As we researched materials, we came to one conclusion, while we would definitely save a lot of money doing it ourselves, it was not going to be without some expense.

Before embarking on any journey, I like to know if our investment (time and money) will pay off, at least to the extent it pays for itself.  If not, I'm less inclined to proceed forward.  Because we just weren't sure if a greenhouse would work, much less pay for itself, we decided to start small.

We picked up two rolls of all weather duct tape, a 25' x 10' sheet of 4 mil plastic sheeting, and went to work with our dog run framework.  Total investment to that point:  $36.00.  Figuring a failure would be far easier to stomach with a $36.00 investment vs. a $360.00 investment, we decided it was worth a try.  If we can get the greenhouse through just one season, and prove to ourselves, one way or another, if a greenhouse is really a viable option for us, given our life-style, it would be time and money well spent.

As it turns out, it was pretty easy, and the way we went about covering it, we used all but about 14" of the 25' roll.

It took the both of us several hours, a bit of patience, and a nice, calm day, but our efforts were rewarded with a groovy little, temporary greenhouse.  If reviews of the materials we used can be believed, our greenhouse should easily make it through one growing season, and possibly two.  Good enough!

A fun, impromptu video, shot last night, can be found here.  Feel free to take the 'tour'.

If it proves a viable option, we will build a more permanent, and more suitable greenhouse next fall, or, if the temporary one looks like it's got another year in it, we'll do it the following fall.

The shelving I was considering was on sale today at Lowe's ($34.88, down from $49.88), so I picked it up, and it was a perfect fit.

We found a groovy little thermometer at Restore for $2.00.

With a few 'friends' added: they are soaking up the steamy air, which is about 25 degrees warmer than the outside air temperature.  With the door open, it cools off quite a bit, however, which is good to know.

All in all, a very successful, if temporary, project.  Now it's a matter of seeing just how 'temporary' it will be.  Next step: bubble wrap insulation.  Yep, you heard right!  =)  We will need a little 'help' keeping it warmer from late February through to June.  DIY'ers report interesting results insulating a greenhouse with the bubbly, and we have access to a steady supply.  In the next month I suspect I will have collected enough to do the job.  Stay tuned...

Friday, September 21, 2012

A little 'therapy', part two

This project started yesterday with A little 'therapy', part one.  Because I didn't want to power through the entire project in one day, but rather spread it out over a couple of days, I thought I would spread out the blog posts, as well.

Today I worked on the 'back' boards, which I will mount the smaller frames to.  Two 'back' boards/frame, to make a larger, more visually interesting frame.  I'm making three in total.

These boards were fairly inexpensive at the local lumber yard.  I paid $1.36/board, and one board is enough for two 'back' boards.  I also would need some plexiglass, which I was a little worried about cutting, but I found a tutorial on-line after a quick Google search, and it looked do-able.  One small sheet of plexiglass would be enough for my three frames, and it was $1.98/sheet.

After sanding a rounded edge on each board, which Cliff had cut for me last night, I was ready for the finish.

I really wasn't sure which way to go with these boards.  I had initially thought to paint a layer of white, then a layer of cream, and using the same sanding technique I used on the frames, sand off enough cream to expose the white.  After I got a layer of white on, I noticed that the grayish tone in the wood was coming through the white.  I decided I would just lightly sand off the white, and expose the wood underneath.  It actually turned out well.

Now it was time to cut the plexiglass.  Following the directions on the tutorial I found last night, I scored the plexiglass with a very sharp utility knife (no photos of this part, I was more concerned about my fingers than I was taking photos!).  Then, laying it on a table edge, with the score line on the edge of the table, and my eyes closed, I applied pressure to the edge hanging off the table, and it snapped in half.  Despite my worry, it worked like a charm.

I was left with some pretty sharp edges, but referring back to my tutorial, I proceeded to sand off the edges, putting a very slight bevel on them.  What I had was the perfect piece of plexiglass for my frame.

Cutting and sanding worked exactly as demonstrated on the tutorial I found.  I love the internet.  Frankly, I'm not sure what I did before Google.

So, part two is done.

Stay tuned for part three...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Caprese salad

When I hear someone say "I can't do anything with food", I'm reminded of one of my most favorite summer time dishes: caprese salad.  I will often have it as an appetizer or mid-day snack.

In my *very* simple version, it's just string cheese, sliced on the bias, a sliced tomato, a few leaves of basil, salt/pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  If you have the time, or want to impress, get fresh mozzarella, but for quick, and easy, don't short change string cheese.  It is, after all, mozzarella.

This is so fresh, so flavorful, and if you grow your own tomatoes, and a little basil, it's something you can pull together in just a couple of minutes.  Simple is best, and often easy goes right along with it.


A little 'therapy', part one

For me, projects have an almost cathartic affect, and given our loss of Ty, and the emotions tied up in that loss, the small projects I have done since his passing, have given me a place to capture and re-purpose my grief, and breathe him back into our home, in other ways.

Today I started another project.  This is just part one, parts two and three will come in the next few days, but I thought I would post part one now, just to keep the project flow going, both at home, and here.

This will eventually be a set of photo pieces that will feature my three beloved dogs; two still here with us, and Ty, no longer a part of our physical world, though very much with us, within our hearts.

I found these small, unfinished frame sets at Walmart for $4.00.  I thought they were kind of cute.  I really had nothing in mind, in terms of how I would use them, and if I failed to come up with an idea, a return to the store would be easy enough.

I decided I wasn't crazy about them in their current state, and my developing idea would take me in a different direction, so I disassembled them.

Once I had just the three wood frames, I sanded them down, taking the sharp edge off all the way around.

Then it was time for paint.  First a layer of cream, then a layer of brown, both of which I had leftover from the canvas artwork I had done for the head board.

Once fully dried (and using acrylic paint, it took very little time to dry) I started to sand off the 'shine', lightly removing the brown to reveal the cream underneath.  This technique is very easy.  It's just a matter of creating a rustic look by roughing the surface, and exposing the color layer(s) below.  Because the look I'm going for is rustic, perfection is really not desirable, so small mistakes were really okay.  As a matter of fact, they were better than okay.  They lent much more authenticity to the rustic look I was hoping to achieve.

And thus concludes part one...stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The headboard project is complete

Ever since we moved up to a king size bed, I have had an action item on my 'to-do' list to make a suitable headboard.  I have put it off because there were so many other things that needed attention, and, frankly, it's more decorative than necessary, so it sort of free fell off my list

I'd had an idea in my mind all along, so it was really just a matter of getting it down on paper, and getting down to the business of building, staining/painting, and installing it, but other things seemed more pressing, so it sat in my head, as an idea, and nothing more.  Last weekend it popped to the top of the list, and we commenced work.  As is usually the case around here, I took inventory of what we had on hand before completely settling on my design, but as we made a trip to the lumber yard, my ideas transformed into something a little different.

Because I have been in a heightened emotional state, everything I do seems to carry more meaning than usual, and this project was a perfect example.  Not only did I want a head board, but as the head board came together, so did an art idea, as well, one that tied a few things together for me.

As it happened, my sister and I were both working on head board projects over the weekend, bouncing ideas off of one another.  We both ended up with something nice, fun, and reflective of who we are.  I enjoyed sharing this experience with her, over the was such a big part of the enjoyment of the process for me, and I'm grateful I had the chance to share this with her, as well as with Cliff.

Total price for the head board came in about $60, including the stain, and the artwork was another $20 in canvas and paints I found at Walmart.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  It has very special meaning for us, with each canvas stamped with the first letter of one of our dogs' names, and Ty's leash, which hangs on the head board, as well.

Glass knobs hold the artwork, and add a special touch, all their own.  A small wreath, tied with leftover ribbon from this project, as well as another, tops the shelf.  Other items may find a home there, as well, but for now, I like it.  The simplicity of it appeals to me...

To me, this project felt like love.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A week of loss, as well as beauty...

Today completes one full week without Ty.  There just are no words to describe what one's heart feels like after losing a beloved dog.  Those of you who know, know.

I have gone out a few times, and struggled a bit.  I know it's ridiculous to think the world would stop, even for a moment, but on some level, it feels strange that it doesn't.

I'm so thankful Cliff had last week off.  I truly do not know what I would have done without him here.  It was not the vacation we had planned, but the timing of his time off could not have been better.  Little did we know, when he put in for that week, what would be coming our way.  Thank you, Lord, for helping us choose that week.

Yesterday and today I worked on cleaning the car.  It was time, and while it never gets that dirty, I think I just needed to do something productive.  We are now down to just two dogs, so I took the other crates out of the car.  I took Ty's crate tag off his crate, and set it next to his ashes, and tree.  I think I will put it in the box, with his collar.  That seems the most appropriate place for those items.  I removed his collar tag, and with a small clip I had, I hung it from his tree.  It looks like it belongs there.

This weekend we will move Ty and his tree to the shelf above our bed, where it will stay.  For now, he sits on my desk, where I can see him throughout the day.

Bringing home his ashes was very emotional.  On the one hand, I'm glad to have him home.  On the other hand, they stand as a painful reminder of our loss.  My sister said something to me yesterday, as I sat crying, holding that small box, she said, "remember, he is with you now, through God.  What was left behind was a jacket.  He's warm in your heart now, so he no longer needs his jacket..."  Those words were very comforting, and when I feel the sting of the loss, looking at his small box, I remember her words.

As I look back on one of the most painful experiences of my life, I am in awe of the special people who stood by me, through it all.  Some I know, many I don't.  The outpouring of support was overwhelming.  Emails, instant messages, texts, calls.  Most everyone had something kind to say, or a story to share.  To those who showed love and kindness, compassion and caring, my thanks are yours.  I responded as best I could, and while I'm sure I missed some of you, it was not because I wasn't touched, it was just that sometimes I couldn't come up with the words, or I was just too overcome with emotion.  Please know that your kindnesses mattered more than you can imagine.  I can't begin to tell you just how grateful I am.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you...or as we prefer to say now, TY.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For the love of Bun, September 12, 2012

Today the vet's office called to tell me your ashes were back, and ready to be picked up.  I thought I was ready for that call, though discovered I really wasn't.  Ashes.  I just never thought we would be here, at this point.  I still can't wrap my brain around the fact you are gone, much less exist only in a small box of ashes.

I have made a small tree for the shelf above our bed, and you will lay there, underneath it, just as you did in our yard, on warm summer days.

I find comfort in knowing you will soon be home, where you belong.  I just wish you could come back, as you were, before your disease took you from us...full of love, life and beauty.

I love you, Bun.  See you soon...

Monday, September 10, 2012

For the love of Bun, September 10, 2012

You have been gone for three days, and it hurts as much today as it did the moment your heart stopped beating, as I kissed you and held you, one last time.

I wake up every morning, and remember you are no longer here, and I feel lost.  When you left, you took part of me with you, and I can't figure out how to make a 'whole' with the pieces that are left.

Yesterday I felt insurmountable guilt as I thought of every time I didn't make myself available for you, because I was too busy, preoccupied, or just thought, "later, Bun."  It felt like a horrible burden on my heart, then I was reminded that you were nothing but love, and forgiveness, and would never want me to feel that way, that guilt was a road-block to love, and that in holding onto it, I was making it harder to reach for you, through the love I have for you.

We cry a lot, hold your blanket a lot, and miss you with every breath we take.  Your presence was so large, it's hard not to feel emptiness that you are no longer here.

I would give just about anything to hold you one more time.  To feel your heart beat again.  To see you pounce, or hear you bark.  You had the most beautiful voice.  I will never forget your greetings.  They could soften the most hardened soul.  So full of love and joy.

You were a gift.  I hold that thought every time I feel overcome with grief.  Thank you for choosing me to be your 'mom'.

Friday, September 7, 2012


"I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend." -- Red, Shawshank Redemption

To my beloved Ty:  We let you go, when we knew, without a doubt, you could not recover from the disease you fought so hard to overcome.  I was so unsure, so afraid to make the wrong choice, but the blood work was were completely unresponsive to treatment, and we had done all we could do.  You knew I wouldn't be able to let you go, if there was an unturned stone, or an unanswered question.  You removed all doubt.

I never lost hope, I never stopped fighting for you, always telling you that I would fight until you said "no more", and today you did.

My heart is shattered into a million pieces.  I do not know how to walk into my house, knowing you are not here.  I'm trying so hard to remember what your voice sounds like, how you feel, the way you look, with eyes so full of love.  How do I go on without that?  I guess I just figure it out, because no other way would honor your memory in the way it should be honored.

I shared your story, not for me, but for you.  I wanted people to know you, to feel you, and to understand that you were larger than life.  I wanted them to feel your love, and the love I had for you.  I hope I was successful, for you deserved nothing less.

You simply could not be contained in your mortal body any longer, but I will look for your spirit, in every thing I do.  In every choice I make, I will remember you.

You gave me a poem, through a friend, and I will read it, every day, because it's from you.  These are words I know you would say to me now, if you were still here, and had a voice with which to convey them to me...

I see your heart,
and I show you mine.

Mine is whole, wise, in need of nothing
yours is growing, learning, breaking.

Take what you need from my heart,

for I came to give it all to you.

I did everything I knew how to do to save you, my beautiful boy.  I know that you know that.  If love could have healed you, you would be at my side now.  I love you so...I always will, and I can only say "thank you", because of you, my life was fuller, richer...'larger'.  Fly with those who have gone before you.  Show them how to live with love, always, because it's what you did best.

Good night, my love...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ty, September 5, 2012, morning update

I don't really know how I feel this morning.  I suspect the best word to use is 'emotional'.  Of course, it's not as if this hasn't been a fairly constant theme of late, but it feels more profound this morning.

The last 24 hours have been a bit of an up and down journey, with one rather poignant 'high'.  I don't know what got into him, but he let out a couple of raspy barks, and wagged his tail back and forth just a few times.  It brought immediate tears to our eyes.  It was such a special gift.  It didn't last long, but it sure felt good.  The chance to hear his was very moving, and something I hadn't realized how badly I wanted until his raspy song came forth.  It was so beautiful.  Funny to hear myself say that.  He is a big boy, with a big voice.  There have been many times I have tried to quiet his voice over the years.  Yesterday he could have sang all day, and I wouldn't have cared.

So many visible symptoms seem better this morning, but his weakness is extreme, and weighs heavy on our hearts.  I have felt, so many times over the past several days, that we needed to release him to fly, then he gives us a small sign that says "I'm not done yet," so on we march.

Feeding him the last two days has been such a challenge.  He has become very finicky with the list of foods he will even entertain.  Yesterday he seemed keen on chicken and rice.  Last night he enjoyed a few laps of chicken baby food, and some chicken balls.  Today the baby food and chicken balls have no interest for him, but he is happy with boiled chicken thigh meat, and he loves his Greek yogurt.

He sleeps a lot, and we let him.  If that is what he needs, then that's what he will get.  This morning his feet were twitching while he slept...he must be running free and happy in those dreams.  If he is free from his disease while he sleeps, running free and joyfully, then I hope those dreamy spells of sleep continue for him.

So many have asked me if he is in pain.  I don't know that I can answer that question.  He sleeps restfully, and while weak, pain is not something I see.  Mostly, I just see the toll the disease is taking on him, as though he has been in a race, and can't quite take the lead.

We have truly reached the point of 'minute by minute'.  I do not know if he will be here tonight, tomorrow or Sunday.  I cherish every second he is here, and every second he fights on.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ty, September 4, 2012, morning update

A couple of changes worth noting.  This morning the crease in his nose leather (the one they all have, that runs up/down, between the nostrils, down to the lip line) started to bleed, and there were several spots of blood on the floor.  We took him outside for a hose drink, and he dipped his nose into the water bucket several times.  The bleeding seemed to stop.  I took a couple of photos afterward.  I was so worried when I discovered the blood, I didn't stop to take photos.  It looks better following his drink, and dunk.  Not quite as shocking as it looked with blooding dripping down into his mouth.

And don't think for a minute I did not notice that sweet eye, looking up, full of trust, into Cliff's caring and gentle face.  I believe he knows we are doing everything possible to help him get well.  That sweet eye tells me at least that much...

As for the rest...

Mouth sores continue in a holding pattern.  Nothing new, but no improvement, either. Breathing remains difficult through his nose, and he is continuing to pant very heavily.

He sleeps most all the time.  He needs assistance to get up and down, as he is so weak, but once up, he moves about fairly well.

Overall, we are just not seeing improvement.  The nose is much worse over the past several days, though everything else seems to be holding.

Just so hard...I wish I could take on his pain, so he could be free from it.  I know I speak for Cliff, too, when I say these words.  He is just a shell of his former self.  Come back, baby boy.  Please come back.  Whatever we need to do, we will do, until...well, until you tell me you are done with the fight.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ty, September 3, 2012

Just a short update today...

He remains basically unchanged, in terms of his overall condition.  It has been hard keeping weight on him, so we have been increasing his two daily rations, which are basically doubled from where they were, and he gets a small mid-day snack, as well.  Today he refused his mid-day snack.  This troubles me greatly.  Thus far, his appetite has remained strong.  This is the first refusal of food I have ever seen, in his entire life.

My prayer is that it's simply a one-off thing.

We have also noted frank blood in the stool, daily, for the past two days (today is the third day).  While the vet doesn't see this as troubling, as she feels he may have lesions up/down his digestive tract, I have never seen a time where blood in the stool is a good thing.  Not for dog, nor human.

Today is a worrisome day.  I'm hopeful we will see an upswing soon.  We need it...

I'm going to make some rice and chicken for him, and see if that doesn't help with the blood, and perhaps stimulate his appetite, as well.  He really can't afford to lose more weight.  He is so thin already.

Love is in the little things...

I took this photo this really needs no introduction.

There is a special place in Heaven for my husband.  With every thing he does, he shows love and complete devotion.  This is how Ty prefers his water now.  For as long as he wishes, this is how he will receive it, from loving hands that support him, in every possible way.

When you wish for nothing but the love that surrounds you, you know you have everything you will ever need.

We are blessed to have you in our lives, Cliff.  There simply are no words to tell you just how much you mean to all of us.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Compost tumbler

With fall and winter not too far off, I'm feeling the need to take care of business around the house.  Buttoning everything up, or preparing to do so, always gives me a sense of closure.  With all the troubles with Ty, a little distraction seemed in order.  I think we needed a little mental and emotional break.  We are just exhausted from this journey, and while we will do it for as long as it takes, constantly focusing on it is very difficult.

On my plans for this week was a compost tumbler (and if one turned out, a second one, as well).

Several days ago I found 32 gallon, locking lid trash cans that I thought would make for a great, smaller compost tumbler.  I had found some 55 gallon drums in the local ads, but they didn't have removable lids, and that was really rather important.  These smaller cans were on sale for $9.99/each at my local Bi-Mart, and we picked up two of them.

With some scrap lumber we had on hand, and a few parts from the hardware store, we were ready.

We drilled a hole in the bottom of the can (off center, as we had a slope on one half of the bottom to make way for the wheels, and needed a flat surface).  We fitted it with a 3" plumbing flange (on the outside), and a 2' piece of pipe we had drilled holes into (at about 3" intervals), which slid over the flange, from the inside.

We then capped it with a rubber plumbing cover, and synched it down.  If the ventilation pipe needs cleaning, removing the plumbing cover will be a snap.

We put a piece of screen over the pipe before pushing it onto the flange, which would work as a barrier for pests.  Paired with the perforated pipe, air can find its way inside the can for healthy compost.

Total cost for this project was about $18.00, including the can.  If it works well, we will make another.  Even with two, this will pay for itself in very short order, and continue to do so, for a long time to come.

I like how the lid hangs off the side of the base.  Not something we designed for, it just happened to work out that way.

My can tips forward because my ventilation pipe is off center, but when it starts to fill, I suspect it won't do that any longer.  None the less, if it still tips when full, I really won't care.  The price was right.  That's really all I care about...well, and I'd like it to make compost, as well, but I believe it will.

Another project using a lot of re-purposed material, and things we had here at the house.  It feels good to accomplish something with minimal expense, and know that you will make your money back in fairly short order.

Once the second one is done and in place, we will spread some bark chips through that area.  This is where the shed once stood.