Before The World Became Smaller

I had a thought a few moments ago.

Letters. Letters are awesome. Handwritten, filled with the smell, feeling, sound and visual treasure of someone taking the time to put pen to paper specifically for YOU. Or you, taking the time to do the same for someone else. Making spelling mistakes, trying to stay neat and tidy and legible, trying to write with a flow and ease that makes sense to the story you are telling.

So personal. Special. A treasure.

So, while I know that it will be hard, and that there will be times when I think “I can’t do this” or I feel guilt for abandoning my charities and rescue organisations and awesome groups of like-minded people – I am removing my Facebook account. Once and for all.

It’s time.

I will, of course, keep my email open, and since G+ is so wrapped up in everything else, it will remain simply because I cannot remove it – so I will have chat too.

So if you need me, come find me on G+, or better yet, send me an email – if you know me, you know my email address (or at least ONE of them!) by now.

Best ever – write me a letter, or send me a postcard.

We don’t take the time to enjoy these simple joys – I plan on doing just that.

With the new year, everyone also chants the mantra “new year, new me” – but I am going for somewhat of an _old_ me – before the world became so small, and everyone knew what everyone else had for breakfast.

The world, OUTSIDE, is still so beautifully FILLED with awesome things to see, and taste, and smell and DO – I want to get OUT there.

I will, most likely, remove my twitter account, and other peripheral “social media” accounts – there are just too many, I feel.

I will, however, also keep my blog going – it’s been a hard slog to get here, and I don’t relish losing the access I have to vent and rant and air my views on things.

This is just my opinion, my choice and who knows, I might be dragged into the next social media “new thing” by my “friends in the know” as I’ve been a “beta” tester for so many of these before – but for now, I want simplicity. I want old school. 

I want hard copy and tactile communications. I want to throw myself into MY LIFE, not watch other people’s and wish I could do the same. I want to put my efforts back into things that make ME happy – my photography, my health and fitness, my sewing, my baking and cooking, my amazing husband, my incredible dogs. I want to LIVE LIFE, not sit and watch it pass by!

We do, truly, LIVE ONCE – I don’t want to regret the “I should have” moments.

 

*tthhbbbbbt*

 

A

My Friend Lizzie

My New Zealand friend Lizzie (aka Elizabeth Charleston) has been through hell and back. We met many many years ago in Cape Town, and for many reasons (our mutual love of horses, the outdoors and being awesome) we became friends, despite all the crap going on in our lives.

A few years after my massive head injury, she suffered one herself (her horse fell on top of her, causing many injuries, including the head injury that basically stopped her life in its tracks) and we found ourselves consoling, complaining and comparing reactions and stress factors and triggers. Her friendship helped me overcome some terrible psychological issues thanks to the PTSD from my head injury. When she came back to Cape Town for a short visit, we spent quite a few mornings sitting on the stoep (porch) of the house on the farm I was watching for a friend – sipping tea and watching the early morning mists rise off the grass paddocks and the Guinea Fowl flapping and dancing in the dew covered grass. These quiet mornings were therapeutic for both of us.

She’s been through some rough times since then (a secondary knock on the head set her back quite a bit) but she bounced back, and is slowly (as all head injury sufferers will understand – slowly is the best way, or the wheels fall off) climbing back on the (proverbial!) horse of life. She is a staunch advocate and spokeswoman for  THINK! Head Injury Awareness in New Zealand and has made huge ground breaking steps in both removing the stigma of this “invisible” injury and making people more aware of the help they can get, and the steps they can take to live a “normal” life.

She just started a blog and I wanted everyone to check it out – she’s only written one post so far, but that’s the way it goes :)

She is an interesting and clever woman – just give her a chance to “recharge” :) – not to mention one of the most beautiful women I know :)

 

Leaving behind passwords

These days, with the all powerful social media dug into everyone’s life like a burrowed tick – gorging on information: the blood of the internet – there are some “moments” and some awkward issues that you don’t really think about until they appear in your life.

One of these: the death of someone in your family who also happened to be active on social media and online in general raises its multifaceted head quite a bit in my life.
My father passed away over 2 years ago now, and he was a big geek: very active online with multiple projects going on and lots of group involvement. He had a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account and probably many others, but these are the two that I interacted with him on. Knowing my father as I did, I know for a fact that he was highly secretive. There was no way he would let anyone know his passwords – especially to social media.

So now he’s gone: his Facebook account is still “active” and so is his LinkedIn account. His birthday still appears as a Facebook reminder, he still gets “endorsed” on LinkedIn and invited to various groups (I’ve seen him included in various mass invites that I seem to be included in as well) and told to Like pages. People still leave him messages on his wall and leave comments on his photos or anything else he had posted before he died.
My question is: who do you trust with your keys? Who do you tell where all the bodies are buried? You do not know when you will go. You simply do NOT. It could happen any time. We are never prepared for it, really. So at what point do you tell your best friend/partner/spouse/brother/lawyer that in the case of your death, there’s this brown envelope in your desk that has all your passwords. “Please clear my browser history, bro.”

Also – if you ARE entrusted with someone’s passwords, when is the time right to delete their accounts? When do you mark them as “gone” or put an end date on their timeline?
I understand a last will and testament for your possessions, money, etc – but what about your online life? Your gaming avatars? Steam? Your Xbox live account? Your email account?
What about those?
When do you let go? When, and how, do you let their online friends know that you are deleting the character? Or do you just leave it alone? What needs to go, what can stay as a reminder in the ether of the person lost?

Mohawks, robots, suits, hairy dogs and country roads.

Thought I’d do an update post as I’ve done lots in the last few weeks.

Firstly – I shaved myself a Mohawk  Why? Because I can. It’s hair, it grows back – and mine grows like a weed :) Plus I thought it would look cool with the blond ends and dark roots…

Here’s the process: Did it all myself with no mirror, so it was a little hectic. At one point I asked my husband for help (as he is the one who kept suggesting the hair cut!) but when he started clipping and then stopped and said “I have no idea what I just did…” I said thanks, but I’ll take it from here :)

 

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Secondly: I completed TWO sewing projects successfully!

I finished the entire 1940′s suit (jacket, pants, skirt and blouse) and sent it off to the client – she LOVES it and is very happy with it! I was so relieved as it was my first major project for someone!

 

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I also finished the skirt for another client – 1950′s style soft pleated skirt. Buttery soft linen, which she chose, from a pattern that she also sent me.

It took me only 3 days – and that’s because of various interruptions. I could probably complete one of those in 2 days if I worked flat out.

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I was pretty proud of myself – and pleased with my work.  I would have worn any of the pieces, so I think that’s a sign that they are well made, as I am very critical of my own stuff.

Waiting on word from the lady who ordered the skirt… but she has been very busy recently, so I am sure she will let me know when it arrives!

 

Thirdly, we got a Roomba! We’ve waited a long time and did lots of research on which one to get, and finally Ronald arrived last week.

He has been put to work and is diligently dealing with dog hair and bird seed – he gets cleaned every time he is used and, as they state in their guidelines, kept on power when not in use.

He’s awesome :)

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Fourthly – Spring/Summer has finally arrived in Germany (in our area, anyway – floods everywhere else :/)

It went from 3C/12C to 23C/35C in a matter of days. The dogs are shedding like mad to cope, so we are grooming almost daily and the fur just keeps coming…

Also trying to find a combination of tick collar/tick spray/drops to counter the rather nasty ticks they have here in our area. We have lots of forest and natural undergrowth, plus lots of deer and other wild animals… so the ticks are rampant, no matter where you go.

Even sticking to the roads and just letting the dogs sniff the edges, I still find ticks on them – despite having tick collars and (natural) spot drops on them. So now I am going to try the tick collar combined with a tick spray that will hopefully sit in their fur and stop the ticks from staying on.

We tried a tick/flea shampoo as well – didn’t work. I don’t WANT to use the nasty chemical ones, but clearly that’s all that works on these mean little suckers!

We did discover two gorgeous new and interesting walks in our attempts to avoid the long grass etc – so that’s a bonus. We also sorted their kiddie pool out – although Gina managed to make a hole or two in the sides, so the water doesn’t really stay in for long!

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Procrastination, my old friend.

It’s amazing how many things you can find to do, to avoid doing something that needs to be done.

I even do laundry, clean the kitchen, and plan out dinner or bake something.

What am I avoiding?

Crepe de Chine.

It’s a magnificent fabric – soft to the touch, smooth and silky. And that’s the problem. It’s slippery and slinky and it HATES needles.

Luckily I ordered extra, just in case – as I have had to re-cut the sleeves. Their shape was completely off when I had finished.

I’ve never had to sew a silk fabric before. This is all a learning curve of massive proportions. I’ve done loads of research on tips and tricks when dealing with silk and other slippery fabrics – another way to put off actually DOING the sewing of it!

I now feel more ready… but of course, we are MOVING tomorrow. Of course. The wonderful military life.

Will take me another couple of days to set myself up again. At least I have a couple of weeks to do this. I want to do it RIGHT, first time around.

 

I’m such a damn perfectionist that I am driving myself nuts here.

 

Today Is A New Day

Everyone has mantras. Things we say to get us through a difficult day.

Yesterday was a pretty crappy day – not all for me, but mostly for my husband – and thus, for me. I feel everything he feels. I honestly do. We’re connected.

 

So today, when I had a quiet moment to myself, I came up with this one:

Today is a new day – start fresh

Today is life – it’s happening now

Yesterday is gone – you can’t change it

Tomorrow does not exist yet – you can’t worry about it

Go out and Live, damnit.

Furry mom moment #656372

We got up at some terribly early hour this morning and got everyone ready to go.

Azzie was THRILLED to go for a car ride – Gina was her usual serene self.

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Open windows for the slow parts of the ride and then we were on the autobahn and on our way.

It’s about a 35 to 40 minute drive and Azzie was finally settled by the time we were 5 minutes out, of course :)

She’s my wild child.

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So we got there early (as suggested) and waited for them to open the doors. Got in first, first in line, so we sat in the waiting room and filled out forms and Azzie and Gina said hi to the other waiting patients and then _kinda_ settled a bit.

I was then asked to go to the exam room with Azzie for her quick vitals check. Gina gave her a nose kiss before she headed off.

Azzie calmed down enough for the tech to check her pulse, but her heart was still pounding from all the excitement. I did tell them she gets very excited and they just need to give her a moment to settle…

I said they need to do all the finicky stuff when she’s out, otherwise they will have a crazy little bear on their hands!

Only thing they can’t do while she is sedated is taking blood… Good luck with that, I told them.

Luckily, they are true professionals with years of experience and the vet herself was taking the blood, so I am not worried. Hopefully they can give her something to calm her before they start all that kind of stuff.

The vet finally arrived (she had been stuck in traffic) and she checked Azzie over quickly and explained what she was going to do, etc.

Azzie was very respectful of Dr Gundel – a little unsure as well. But I have heard great things about the Dr and I was very happy to hear we would have her as our vet. Then Dr G said it was time for me to go and for them to go take blood and get Azzie ready for her surgery. My heart nearly squished its way out of my mouth I had such a sudden rush of fear/worry/anxiety for my precious little furry child. Is that what moms feel like? As Dr G led her away and I walked off down the corridor I felt like crying! It was crazy! I felt so bad for the poor little tyke – head down, tail down, slinking along. She went semi-willingly – there was no lead tugging – so I am hoping she is not too traumatised. My poor baby.

So today I will be keeping my phone close, but hoping that I hear nothing – because that means it’s all good.

We will see her again later this afternoon.

Hope she forgives us!

 

 

 

fabricmartfabrics dot com rocks

Just a little update on the whole mood fabrics vs me:

I got no response from them – waited most of the day, checked my spam, checked the site (in case they responded on my account) but nada.

They lose, as I found the most amazing store EVER – Fabric Mart Fabrics!

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Not ONLY do they ship to APO, offer payment via PayPal and have huge discounts for account holders – they have a gigantic range of fabrics for anything you need, and they are at exceptionally good prices EVEN when they are not on sale! They ALSO give you a FREE bundle of 6 yards of “mystery” fabrics! 2 Dark, 1 light, 2 yards each. Isn’t that AWESOME?

I am thrilled with them! The suit fabric for the 1940′s suit is all ordered, along with lining and the gorgeous Italian silk crepe de chine for the blouse. So excited!

 

So thanks, Fabric Mart – I am now a LOYAL customer!

 

 

Complications and frustrations

There I was, soaring high on the new project that came in from another potentially long term client – the gorgeous 1940′s inspired suit  - when, unfortunately, my little feathery self hit a wall.

This wall is partly because of where we are stationed (and the fact that we are military) and some strange issue with the website that would not allow me to actually MAKE the payment!

I tried two different credit cards (both with adequate funds) and I tried 3 different browsers (in case the extensions/plugins on my Firefox or Chrome were creating the issue) and I tried 3 different delivery addresses – as it kept vehemently yelling at me in bright red block letters that they “DO NOT SHIP TO POST OFFICE BOXES”

Well, Mood Fabrics, my address is APO, not PO and you really should offer the option of alternate addresses in your billing and shipping forms!!

 

I tried calling them on their customer service number, but alas, also due to my location it just wouldn’t connect properly. So I had to resort to sending them a message via their in-page comment system. Hopefully they will reply soon. I need to get this fabric shipped ASAP so I can start on this massive undertaking and get it done in the time I have allotted for it.

I also had issues with the website timing out and LOSING MY ENTIRE SHOPPING LIST – it happened at least 5 times. At least. 

In order to keep the list of the matching thread to fabric colours, I mailed myself my shopping list.

shopping bag list

If they don’t respond tomorrow (my time) I will be incredibly peeved as the fabrics I chose were absolutely gorgeous and PERFECT for this project. I’ve been wading through hundreds (chrome was straining under the number of tabs open) of online fabric stores and so far I haven’t really found anything as good as mood, OR as well priced! That gets my goat!

So please, mood fabrics, get your butts in gear and get back to me!

 

 

Strangers in a Strange Land.

I am an Army wife. I live on an Army post with my Army husband.

He is American. I am not. We live in Europe. We are both foreigners here, except when we are on our little “piece of the USA” which is the little post up in the mountains where we live. Then I am the foreigner. It’s a strange concept to me sometimes, but not a terrible thing. I like being different, and I don’t really need social interaction much, as I live with my best friend anyway! :)

If we were living in the USA, I think this would be more of an issue than it is here. Here, there are many “foreign” wives – wives who are not American, I mean. I have met many German spouses living here – so they are only foreigners when they are on post, like me – and I have met many Russian, Spanish, French, Italian and other European spouses. We (the “foreign” wives) seem to be drawn to each other in many ways. The language issue – not so much in my case, as I do speak English as a first language – seems to be the biggest barrier for making friends with the American wives. Another major thing is the cultural issue. Americans are very different to the rest of the world – it’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a fact of life – and this stands out very clearly in a place like this. They stick with each other and tend to gravitate toward each other in the same way us “Ausländers” do. Perfectly natural, anthropologically. Trying to explain these cultural differences is very difficult when you can’t see it in person. It’s little things and big things.

The unfortunate attitude toward family pets is the one that gets to me. It’s not everyone, for sure, but it’s an upsetting amount of the military/American population living here. They don’t seem to understand that dogs need space. Dogs need to interact with other dogs. Dogs need to WALK. Dogs need mental AND physical exercise. Big dogs need physical exercise, small dogs need mental challenges and lots of exercise. A large majority of the people living on this post (and I’m told, generally everywhere) don’t seem to get this idea. They seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to keep a big dog (there are many Golden Retrievers, Labradors, GSD’s that I have seen/heard) in an apartment and only take them out twice a day to pee and poop. And that’s it.

And then they wonder why their Chihuahua is nasty and nippy and attacking visitors, or their Labrador chews on their furniture and shreds their socks, or their poodle is pooping on their bed, even after going outside. It boggles my mind that, despite so much evidence for exercise and social interaction as a correction for this, they just don’t see this correlation. It actually pisses me off. I offered my services, when I first arrived, to walk dogs for people who were just not getting the time (babies, half day jobs, etc) to do it themselves – but I had no responses. It was quite surprising to me! I wasn’t even charging much!

As I said – it’s not all of them! I know quite a few who walk their dogs regularly and take them to the dog park to play almost every day or on the weekends. But they are, sadly, not as many as you’d hope. But, in comparison, I know FAR more “foreign” pet owners (especially the Germans – they love their dogs) who are truly dedicated to the well-being of their pets. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met ONE foreign spouse here with a dog, who I have not seen out walking with them daily.

Of course the rest could just be inside and I’ve never seen them because they never get out! *shrug* I am open to convincing arguments…

The number of pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, you name it!) that are abandoned on army posts when the family leaves, is disgusting. It’s not surprising that the local rescue centres and adoption agencies generally won’t ALLOW Americans to adopt animals from them. They refuse. If you are in any way affiliated with the US military, they won’t let you even look. They’ve had enough of cleaning up after them. This is sad for the wonderful people who DO care for their animals and DO want to make a difference.

The reason I am ranting away is because recently we have been trying to catch a stray dog running around on post. Initially I thought it was a friend’s dog, but thankfully, he is safe and sound still. So this big, stray dog (and he’s most likely a mountain dog, like mine) has been “loose” for about 2 weeks or more now. Sightings have him looking thin, bedraggled, matted and dirty… and very scared. 2 Weeks and there have been no posters put up (and you CAN get permission for a lost dog poster) nor any postings on the local animal support websites or Facebook pages (and there are quite a few) and the MPs have only now gotten involved because someone actually piped up and said she’d seen him digging in the garbage and was worried for the poor boy and she posted this on our local animal support site. So now that more eyes are involved, the search and rescue operation is now in full effect. But, TWO WEEKS? How can any caring soul have just done NOTHING when their dog went missing? They could have told neighbours to be on the look out, or told the MPs, or asked for an email to be sent to their unit to keep an eye out.

If it was intentionally left out, so they didn’t have to deal with the cost of flying him/her home to the US, what does that say about them? How does a HUMAN BEING make a conscious decision to just abandon a trusting, loyal dog? Or their cats (so many are just left in the buildings, or in the stairwells, or just kicked out into the cold completely) and even rabbits? German animal shelters are no-kill shelters. Surely they could have tried taking the dog to one? The Germans won’t refuse any animals if they have space. If they are full, they suggest somewhere else. They _love_ their animals and they are RESPONSIBLE for them through their whole lives. There’s a sad lacking of that in the military community. Everything seems to be disposable. And that’s very sad, to me.

Once again, it’s not all of them – but it’s a scarily large number and it breaks my heart. It gives the good military people (and that’s 90%, seriously) such a bad reputation and it makes things difficult for them to do any good.

Ok. Rant over.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

My thanks to all my friends (foreign and “domestic”) who love and care for their animals – AND other people’s animals – and are trying to do the right thing, always.

I hope we can catch this poor bedraggled pooch before it’s too late.