Doing Good for Kona – February Progress

I was really feeling like February was not a great month for my 2013 resolution to Do Good.  It’s comforting to look back over my photos from the month and see that I did more than I remembered.

I destashed some of my vintage linens to raise some money to donate toward Cooper & Lego’s veterinary bills.  You can read the story of these two sweet pups if you like.  I even had one sweet friend donate even though she didn’t buy anything from the destash!

Again this month, I made lots of promotional “fliers” for adoption meet & greets for the Humane Society.

I had the honor of making two extra January blocks for Do. Good Stitches for Amber (Ambernoel!) was finally blessed with the baby she’s been waiting to adopt for three years.

I felt called to make a donation to FITCO Cares, the charity started by Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal who was killed attempting to help a fellow veteran with PTSD.  As a Navy and Air Force granddaughter, and a Marine Corps sister, charities serving our veterans are very close to my heart.

I ordered a bulk back of leashes and collars to be sent to the local animal shelter for use in their Dog Walk/Adopt-a-thon event

I traveled to Norfolk, VA to visit my younger brother.  While he and I were eating at a Panera, I handed my debit card to the cashier and asked her to use my card to pay for the lunch of all the sailors that came in to eat.  It was easily the most fun I had all month – seriously, if you ever get the chance, do this!  It feels amazing.

I wrote countless handwritten notes to local businesses asking them to sponsor the Humane Society’s golf tournament.  I think I’m up to about 40 notes right now.

I drove my first transport leg, carrying Lennox (who you see there riding shotgun) and two other dogs (crated in the backseat) on one stretch of their journey north to rescue organizations who were waiting for them.  The dogs were so sweet and it felt great carrying them a little closer to their new homes.

I finished another shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.  That particular one is for a 2-4 year old boy.

Volunteered at the animal shelter’s Adopt-A-Thon.  I largely did laundry – washing all those dogs before an event uses up a lot of towels!  20 dogs and 2 cats were adopted that day alone, which is HUGE for this area.  One couple even drove 200 miles to adopt one of the cats they saw on the website1

I’ve sewed one February block for Do. Good Stitches this month, and then I came down with a serious headcold, so the other two (one for me and one for Amber) will be in next month’s tally.

I’m really enjoying keeping track through pictures like this.  I think it even spurs me on to do more.

 

 

Doing Good for Kona – January Progress

I posted back at New Year’s that my Word for 2013 was Do Good, in honor of my sweet dog who did so much good for me.

I wanted to kind of wrap up the month of January with my progress, not in a prideful way but because I find it comforting to look back and know that I am honoring my sweet boy.  The photo collage above are pictures that I snapped with my phone to record them for my own sake.  Among them are:

Ordered a handmade sock bear from Etsy to be sent to a child victim of Hurricane Sandy through Craft Hope.  I wanted to contribute, but didn’t have time to make a stuffed toy myself, so I “outsourced” the crafting.

Made my first two blocks for the Trust Circle of the  do.Good Stitches charity quilt bee.

Filled three shoeboxes full of gifts for children in third world countries to be distributed through Operation Christmas Child.

Became the page manager for the Franklin County Humane Society Facebook Page (if you’re an NC local, I’d be honored if you’d visit and “like” the page).

Began creating fliers for adoption events being held by the Franklin County Humane Society.

Attended an adoption event and took photos of the dogs currently up for adoption.

Gave the toys that were meant to be Kona’s Christmas gifts to the foster dogs (that was an extremely emotional experience).

Destashed my mini charm packs from Quilt Market to raise money to help pay medical bills for two dogs that the Humane Society took on with extensive injuries.

In many ways, although I know the work that went into all this, I feel like I didn’t do enough.  I just keep reminding myself of this quote, which i love.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”  Desmond Tutu

And I’ll keep on

2013 {My Word}

 

I’m heartbroken to share with you that on December 23, I lost my beloved baby Kona.  He was attacked by a German Shepherd belonging to my middle brother and his wife.  He died before we were able to get him to the emergency department at the Cornell University Vet School.  They did everything they could to save him, but it was too late.

I’m still haunted by the scream he let out as the dog attacked him, and by the way he looked on the way to the veterinary hospital.  I’ve been going through photos of him from our two years together, trying to forget, but some things just can’t be unseen.

Many of those who are closest to me, myself included, thought that I wouldn’t make it through this.  Kona carried me through some of the darkest days of my life – days when there was no way I could make it on my own.  In many ways, he saved my life.  He was the reason I got out of bed in the morning and the reason I couldn’t wait to get home from work in the evening.  He was a faithful companion and a source of hope.

After I lost him, if I could have just laid down and died I’m pretty sure that I would have.

My parents and my youngest brother were by my side the whole way.  At one point on Christmas Eve, I managed to drink three glasses of homebrewed hard cider on an empty stomach and ended up screaming at my mother.  I’m sure the family members who were there to witness it thought it was the alcohol talking, but it wasn’t.  It was me, completely incapable of dealing with the bleeding chest wound where my heart had been ripped out.  I cracked.

I’m sorry, Mom.  I love you.

My friends back home and scattered across the country rushed to my aid from every direction.  One offered to get a ride up to NY and drive my car back to NC so I wouldn’t have to.  Another friend, a girl who hates entertaining, scheduled a breakfast for dinner at her house.  She wanted me to have a place to go where I didn’t have to change out of my pajamas.  I was so touched, but the kindness only made me cry harder.

One particular friend sent me a text message saying “This is probably one of the hardest things you will go through in your life.  But you can’t lose your will to live, Kona wouldn’t want that.”  It was a message I’d recieved dozens of times from my friends and family.  I’m not sure why that particular time it registered, but I think it had to do with the source.  If anyone knew about grief and sudden loss and the Godawful unfairness of life it was Danielle.  And I carried that text with me for the next several days.

On Christmas Day, I knew I had to go to the Sheriff’s department to file a report on the attack.  My brother and his wife weren’t willing to do the right thing and put the dog down or give it up to be rehabbed, and because the dog had shown a pattern of agression, this needed to be on record for the next time it attacks (God willing, next time it won’t be a child).

I didn’t want to shower or even change out of the pajamas I’d been wearing for two straight days.  I forced myself to clean up though, knowing that looking like a basket case wouldn’t help me be taken seriously by the police.  I dragged myself into the shower and was surprised to discover that I was able to shower.  I guess I expected I’d melt like sugar and disappear down the drain.  I promised myself (or rather, promised Kona) that I’d do that one thing, every day.

That afternoon, we opened Christmas presents.  It wasn’t a particularly joyful time, it just seemed like a way to keep our hands busy and maybe have some new things to play with and keep our minds off things.  I got a Kindle and immediately started to chase away the ghosts by reading.  I’m not sure how exactly I ended up downloading My Mother was Nuts by Penny Marshall (of Laverne & Shirley fame).  I’ve never even seen the show and didn’t know who Penny was.

There’s a part in the book where she talks about “giving somebody a life.” Those of us not in the TV industry might call it giving them their big break.  It was a chance to offer someone who was struggling a job that would forever change their life.

Later, she talks about her volunteer work in post-9/11 New York…

My brother had opened my eyes years earlier when he told me that I could give someone a life.  It was true – and it didn’t require much effort.  If you can’t always provide a new life, why not do little things that help simply improve someone’s life?

The passage hit me hard.  Kona had given me a life.  And before that, when he was a six week old puppy, I had given him one.  I got him from a place where he’d have been fed, but kept outside with twenty other puppies in a wire kennel.  He wouldn’t have gotten medical care.  If he hadn’t died from exposure to the cold that winter, he would have died of heartworm or something similar when the ground thawed.  I took him home and loved him and gave him a full but short life.

In his two years, he went to the mountains and the ocean, to the lake and the farm.  He walked the streets of historic Charleston and romped off leash in beautiful Upstate NY.  He had treats and toys and clothes and love.  He slept curled up beside me and got belly rubs every morning before we got out of bed.  He rode around in Target in a little tote bag.  He played at the dog park and at doggy daycare.  I did the best I could for him, to give him a life.

I kept going back and reading that passage.  Over and over, until I understood:  My resolution was right there in front of me.  In order to honor Kona, and in celebration of the lives we gave each other, I want to spend this year doing good.  Giving people a life, or touching lives in some small way, like my sweet buddy did for me.  I’d like to say I’ll do something every single day, but I don’t want to commit to that.  I’m afraid that on those days where I just don’t have the chance to do something, getting on the web and making a donation will feel like cheating, like letting Kona down.  So I’ll just say that I’m going to do the best I can this year.

I’d already signed up, months ago, to be involved with Do. Good Stitches, a charity quilting bee.  Earlier this month, I was notified that there was a space open for me in the TRUST circle.  I’ll be starting in January, 2013.  Something tells me this is not an accident, that God knew I would need to be part of it this year.  A reminder, I guess, that there is a plan.

I wanted to thank all of you who have sent messages of sympathy or lifted my family up in your prayers.  This has been a very difficult time for me as well as for my family.  Your continued prayers would be so very appreciated as I grieve my beloved best friend and try to adjust to the new “normal.”   This has been so very hard.

Jessica

Summertime

The exciting news here?  I finally got the DSLR I’ve been wanting forever.  Poor Kona has had an assortment of lenses in his face pretty much nonstop since.

Other than that, not much is new with us.  We spent the week of the Fourth in my hometown, where I pretty much ate my way across Upstate NY.  It was fabulous.

I’m trying to make the most of the summer – it always passes all too quickly.  I’m hoping I’ll be around here more often than I have been, though!

My Google Reader shows over 1000 posts that I’m behind on.  I’ll be catching up with those shortly too!

Hope everyone is having an amazing summer.

-Jessica

The Post In Which I Beg For Your Input

Okay, so at work they’re having a “Company Cutie” pet contest to benefit a local community organization. Of course, the company wasn’t willing to assume the liability of having an actual pet parade on the premises, so it’s basically a cutest pet photo contest. You pay your money, submit a photo of your pet, and the top three cutest pets win a Petsmart gift card. Or something. I assume there’s a prize anyway.

I have a competitive streak that’s only about a quarter inch wide, but it runs very deep, so I. Have. To. Win.

Besides, I’m told that when they were debating whether to hold this contest, some people were worried that nobody would enter. Apparently, my name was brought up because “oh my gosh, she dresses her dog up!”

Clearly, I’m expected to bring my A-game.

And so, dear friends, I’m begging for your help here. I have so many pictures of Kona, and being his mama, I think every single one of them is adorable. I need your help deciding which one to submit. I’ve narrowed it down to these:

What do you vote?

My Hard Working Man

Okay, you’re going to have to pardon me while I gloat over share a couple of my Christmas gifts with ya’ll.  I got lots of good stuff, including a Silhouette Machine – YES!!!!!  I’m sure you’ll see many projects from that bad boy in the near future – count on it!

But ya’ll know I love a homemade gift best, so I’ve got to show you this.  But first, a little back story. My Sister-In-Law was admiring this cute purple Carhartt jacket – it’s the perfect thing for walking the dog on a cold winter morning.  My very observant brother noticed her gazing longingly at it and suggested that my Mom get it for Kay for Christmas. While my Mom was at the local workwear store getting the jacket for Kay, she found this little beauty:

It was last year’s color, so it was clearanced out at half off.

Side note:  Who knew there even was a “last year’s color” when it came to Carhartt?  Certainly not me!

Anyway, my Mom grabbed it for me – so awesome!  It’s a gorgeous periwinkle color, one of my favorites.  And it’s got a fleecy, sherpa-like lining that is super warm and cozy (and those of you that know me know I hate to be cold).  This jacket is so comfortable, I fell asleep on the couch wearing it much to my family’s amusement.

Anyway.

So, I’m not exactly sure how the plan was hatched but when you get my Mom and Dad together, magic somehow happens (see my ornament post here if you don’t believe me).  And so, I present you with this:

Somehow, between the two of them, they decided that a) it would be adorable if Kona had his own tiny Carhartt jacket and b) my dad actually knew where there was a discarded, torn, and worn-out Carhartt jacket that could be refashioned  (apparently, an unclaimed one had been sitting around at his workplace for years)

So my Mom (clever fox) “borrowed” Kona’s orange jacket when I wasn’t looking during our Thanksgiving visit.  She snuck it into her bedroom and traced a quick pattern so she knew it would fit him just right.  Then she returned the jacket to wherever Kona I had left it laying around.  I never even noticed.

She used the breast pocket area of the worn-out jacket to make Kona his very own workwear.  It’s got the Carhartt insulation and it’s lined with adorable brown pawprint flannel, so it’s just as warm and cozy as my jacket.  I meant to get a photo of the two of us together, but it didn’t happen over vacation.  I’ll snap one the next time I actually have daylight to work with.

Isn’t it just the cutest?  Now that Kona and I have appropriate workwear, I’m pretty sure we’ll have a lot more “street cred” when we go to Lowe’s.  For some reason, the guys there seem to assume that a blonde with a Chihuahua in a hardware store doesn’t know what she’s doing…

As if!

Massively Overcomitted

I don’t know why, but that always seems to be me at this time of year. It doesn’t seem to matter that I had all my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving just for the purpose of avoiding the last minute chaos. I didn’t count on being asked to work lots of extra shifts (I did end up working Saturday, after all), which has eaten into my getting stuff done time. Oh well, the best laid plans….
I had planned on making little etched treat jars for my brother’s cats and dog for Christmas. I saw a similar project on Pinterest, and it was just too cute not to do. I had bought all the supplies, but today I realized I’d better get cracking.  I think maybe I procrastinated on them because I was afraid they’d be really difficult to get right.

It turns out, they were so easy.  I think they probably took 5 minutes apiece, start to finish.  I cut my stencil out of sheet vinyl.  I actually found it was easiest to trace the design onto the vinyl, and then apply the vinyl to the jar before cutting out the shape.  It kept the inside and outside of the shape nicely aligned.

These are not the easiest thing to photograph, and the design is really subtle.

The little jar was from Dollar Tree (!) and the larger jar was from Michael’s (with a coupon, of course).

You’ll just have to trust me that in person, these are really cute (and you can see the design).  I will definitely be doing more projects with etching creme in the future – you can’t beat a 5 minute gift!  In fact, I was so happy with the way they turned out, that I went to the dollar store and grabbed another of the small jars to make a gift for Kona’s trainer.  Lots quicker than the homemade dog biscuits I (he) was going to give her!

 

Gratitude Friday

Today, I am so grateful that it’s Friday. And that I have the weekend off.

It’s been a heck of a week at the day job, and I’m feeling ready to get some rest.

I’m also grateful that Kona actually wore his reindeer costume long enough for a photo shoot this year. I guess my little muttley is growing up.

He doesn’t look too thrilled about it, but he doesn’t look homicidal either. So that’s good.

Of course, many treats were involved.

That’s all I’ve got. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the Holiday Cookie Link Party!

Gratitude Friday – 12/2/2011

“You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

G.K. Chesterton, from an early notebook (mid-1890s)

I saw this quote in November’s Real Simple magazine, and while it sounded a little bit conceited, at the same time it reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for – I should be saying grace before I cut into a new piece of fabric, before I start a blog post, or before I open a book.  Reading the quote inspired me to be more diligent about my Gratitude Friday posting.

That being said, this week, I’m grateful for:

Kona.  I know ya’ll see a lot of the little guy, because I adore him.  Frankly, I think the sun shines out of his butt.  I love having him around, and he goes almost everywhere with me. He’s not really a pet so much as a sidekick.  There have been some rough days in the past year, and I really, truly don’t know what I’d have done without him.

Family.  Just like everyone else, I think my family is the best.  They love me, they support me, they make me laugh until I puke.  My family is always willing to look silly in order to make people laugh.  Just this past weekend, we taught my parents how to Move it Like Bernie (if you haven’t seen this dance, you’ve got to check it out).   They also tried to learn to Dougie.  I’m so sorry I didn’t get any pictures, but I was laughing (and dancing) too hard.  I am so, so grateful for a family who will bust out in a random dance party for no reason at all.

My Day Job.  A few years ago, I left a great job with a great company to try something new.  I knew I was taking the old job for granted,
but I’d been there since I graduated college and just wanted a change.  Recently, I had an opportunity to return to that job, and I took it.  Every day I’m so grateful to work for this company who appreciates their employees and does their best by them.  My coworkers are
like family there, and we look after each other.  That’s so rare in this day, and I’m thankful to have the opportunities they’ve offered me, not once but twice.

Doggie Birthday Cake Recipe

Here’s the recipe for the Dog Cake.  It’s a variation on a recipe given to me by a friend.  Of course, it’s for a dog, so you can be pretty flexible with the ingredients list!

Doggie Birthday Cake

1-1/2 Cups Flour (white, whole wheat, or a mixture – I did half and half)

1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 Cup Softened Butter

1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

2-1/2 Ounces Canned Dog Food (ground style, not chunky)

4 Eggs

3 Slices Bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled (you could also use jerky)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 Degrees.  Grease and flour a muffin pan

Cream butter until fluffy.  Add oil, dog food, and eggs and blend.

Mix dry ingredients into mixture until the batter is smooth.  Fold in bacon.

Pour into muffin pan.  Bake 20 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool in the pans, or cool on a wire rack.

When cake is cool, frost with Greek Yogurt.  Decorate with treats (or mini Reese’s Piece’s, which your dog will remove and toss aside like refuse).

Enjoy!

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