30 April 2016

PTSD Support Dog

Ben is really good for me. 

He has come a long way in his training since he came to live with us in January of 2014. He still gets wound up when new people come to the house, but he is starting to believe that I am the boss, not him, and if I say it's okay then it's okay.  He is way more confident and content. 

I've been taking Ben with me on errands to town all this past winter: he has a car seat and a safety harness and has had outings to the pet store and to pick up the kids from school. It's getting warmer, though, so I can't leave him in the car now... But I feel so much better when he is with me.

So... today I decided we would see how he does in public places. 

Legally, he is a support dog, not a service dog (there is a difference, and the regulations are a little outdated, but anyway..). This means that he isn't guaranteed public access, but it's kind of a grey zone and as long as a dog acts like a service dog in public, problems are unlikely. I don't want to push the envelope or be rude or complicate things for others with more serious disabilities, so if challenged, we'd just leave, no problem. 


If Ben can accompany me to more places, I can do more at less of a personal cost. I don't know why, but having him with me helps.

So today we stopped first at the pet store and got a blaze orange vest for Ben. Then we went to West Edmonton Mall... on a Saturday. 

Normally I'd avoid this at all costs, but my new lenses were in and I had to go pick up the Organic Box anyway, so off we went. I figured if Ben had trouble at the mall I could always take him back to the car, which I'd parked in the shade just in case.

We got gear sorted, left the car, and Ben  trotted along beside me, through the mall doors, up the steps, and into LensCrafters. Nobody seemed to think it odd. Ben sat down right at my side as soon as I stopped at the counter, and didn't make a peep. 

While the glasses were being fixed Ben and I walked the mall: up and down escalators (pretty tricky, but he figured it out!), past people eating, by fountains and shops and the ice rink and over the bridge in Phase 3. There were lots of "ahhh! Look at the cute dog!" comments, and a little kid in a stroller saying "PUPPY!!!", but overall everyone seemed to think it was no big deal.

Ben was clearly stressed by the experience but his behaviour was fantastic. Absolutely excellent. He sat beside me on the bench on Bourbon Street (even with all those food smells!), lay nicely at my feet when asked (in the bathroom and at various spots where I sat awhile), stopped and sat in heel position (usually without being asked) whenever I stopped walking.

What a good dog. 

I ordered a patch for his vest, now that I know he can handle public access: it says PTSD Support Dog

This summer we are travelling to BC for a family meet up and Benny is coming along. I don't want to just leave him crated while we go do fun things, so I need to work on his training and give him the skills to join us on our adventures... Because sleeping without him is very hard, so he needs to come along, and doing busy things is somehow easier when he is beside me. Usually a trip to WEM on a weekend would do me in, but it took a lot less out of me today. And that's a good thing.

For the record, I would like to see broader and clearer regulations for people with support / service animals: right now, access is legally available for dogs that provide Substantial Services for People with Substantial Needs... but for people like me who do better with a dog but can cope without if necessary, there's no clear guidelines. Ben and I are in a grey zone governed by good will and common sense, which is not too tough in Canada, thankfully. But still. I'd go through testing or get a license if there was a way to do so. 

In the meantime, Ben and I will practice behaving politely in public. Next adventure: a restaurant. :)

29 April 2016

Journal Table Cleanup

The Journaling Table got tidied today.

I saw a neat idea that I decided to implement: six pack bottle carrier as pen and art supply organizer. 

I covered it with paper and pretty tape, used paper clips to attach envelopes to the sides for stickers and such, and voila. 

Now I can get back to writing... I am currently making pages and adding them to a thrift store photo album. 

It's good for me. 

28 April 2016

Upcycled bucket bag

I found myself in a sewing mood. 

I pulled out my bin of reusable fabrics (cut from old clothing and prepared for use then rolled and stored in an under bed container) and found some denim and parts of two old sheets. 

Here's what I ended up with :

Construction is simple. 

Trace a plate on your fabric for the base. Then mark a "starting point" on the edge of the plate and roll it along a straight edge of fabric to measure the length of  the side - add enough for your seam allowance then cut a rectangle that long and as tall as you want the bucket side to be.

Make another set the same from lining fabric. 

For outside pockets, cut another rectangle only shorter, I used flannel folded in half with the fold as the top edge. Stitch it to the right side of the side piece, top stitching at intervals to make multiple pockets. You could do the same on the lining for interior pockets, though I didn't on this one. 

Sew the side seam to make a big tube, then stitch the bottom to the sides, right sides together - just go slowly and ease around the curves. 

Make the lining the same, then slide it into the outer bucket. My lining was a little taller than the outside piece so I folded it over and stitched it down like a hem - if they are equal height, just fold both in and press then stitch together -  blanket stitch with embroidery floss makes a great edge. 

After that, decorate!

I appliqu├ęd hearts, and made a little bag for my thimble (which I really don't want to lose, it was my Gram's)...

And I made a needle book with two layers of fabric machine stitched together then a slim roll of tshirt fabric basted along the middle for stabbing through:

The strap is a piece of heavy binding of had, with thrift store ribbon stitched along the centre, then hand basted to the side of the bucket. 

The finished bucket holds a stash of thrift store ribbon, thread, and embroidery floss, there's a pocket for scissors and one for a pencil or two... It should serve to contain my stitching mess a little bit better. 

And it was so much fun in expect to make several more - perhaps with quilted sides next time. :)

21 April 2016

It's a good ache.

I ache all over. 

But the fountain looks nice and there are rocks by the retaining wall and I pulled out a bunch of dead grass and the clematis vines are all growing and I put the water cube by my downspout (though it still needs a connector) and the firewood is all restacked so I can move the pallets and level that area and there's butter made from the cream that was turning and holy crap I need more sedatives in my life.

17 April 2016

Next Project: McClary Kootenay Range restoration

So I woke up this morning and saw this posted on our local buy & sell page:

Yes, it’s very dirty and rusty … but it’s got potential! And it’s 36”x30”, which will fit in the space where the Bakers Oven is presently located – if the restoration goes well, anyhow. I love that it has a warming cupboard … and aren’t those little flip down shelves just calling out for a teapot?

Plus, I got it for $175.

The inside of the firebox was originally plumbed with pipes for hot water, but the block containing the pipes had cracked … got that out, and there will be a little bit of mending required to patch up the remaining holes, but that’s the only structural issue.
The rest comes down to elbow grease.

It’s actually a lot nicer than it looks at first glance … here are the doors for the warming cupboard, one that’s had a quick scrub and one that’s untouched:

It’s shiny! And the little circle contains a mirror – one is missing, and the other is losing some of it’s silver, but I can get a new one cut at a local glass place, and probably re-silver the other one myself.
I didn’t even realize that the doors and trim were shiny until I started cleaning … I’ll need to pick up a wire wheel for the drill (aka a “whappity thing”) tomorrow so that I can really get the rust off of things, but with just steel wool and some bathroom scrubby stuff I got far enough to have high hopes for the finished stove.

And this is the oven rack – fancy!

I’m quite excited to see how this project turns out … when we were originally getting a wood stove, we looked at these old ones, but most were too wide for the space we have and the reproduction ones are REALLY expensive. We settled on a Baker’s Oven (from Australia) which I really like, but if I can have an actual antique instead? Oh yeah.

Near as I can tell this model is from around 1910 – it’s a McClary Kootenay Range, which was made up until the 1920s, but the later models had more enamelling, so I’m thinking it’s in the older time frame.

This is going to be fun.

16 April 2016

Is this real? Am I awake?

Last night I had strange and frightening dreams that were so real... people in the yard... A trio of mountain cats on the deck, my friend and her son here for the night, my own son trapped under falling scrap wood while a big cat stalked him...

Yeah, not realistic in the light of day, but in the terror of the dream it was all so real. 

The worst part was that I dreamed that I woke up... Then more weird things followed. 

This meant that when I finally did wake up, I couldn't be sure that I was really awake. I kept yelling "help!" and my husband tried, but how do you help someone trapped in their own head? 

I made him go check the house, to be sure the electrical fire I had seen wasn't real... Then I had to go check it myself, and wake my son to convince myself he was OK. I insisted on taking one of The Boy's shoes back to my room so that I could see it and convince myself that I'd really truly seen him and he was home safe. Not sure why I was so fixated on the shoe, but it helped. I sat on the bed, breathing hard, holding his shoe, saying "I'm awake.. I'm awake.."

I was acting so strangely that Ben was scared. He did come lie on my chest after some convincing, and calming him seemed to calm me too. Yay for support animals. 

I eventually slept again... More unpleasant dreams but thankfully not the full on trauma nightmares. Oi. 

I'm in the midst of a drug dose change, which might explain the timing... But yeow, I don't want to do that again. 

Being awake but unsure of reality is terrifying. I have so much more empathy for people who suffer breaks from reality.. I knew I wasn't all there, but anchoring myself was extraordinarily difficult. And I had help. 

I'm so tired. 

PTSD is real. 

08 April 2016

Permaculture inspired landscape : evergreens

Today the Younger Boy and I went over the creek and through the woods and dug up some trees. 

We don't have many evergreens, but they've been slowly reproducing back in the area by the creek - which is just left natural, so, zone 5 in permaculture terms. There are some nice little trees back there, many of which are crowded close together so thinning them out a little doesn't seem like a bad thing... And then we get trees for the yard!

We now have the beginnings of a corner of the driveway planting group - which should help with snow drifting across the driveway..

We have trees along the retaining wall  / berm / water soaking spot...

As well as a nice tall one over by the shed, and another over by the chicken coop fence.

We added some mossy logs to the retaining wall, in hopes of propagating some additional types of greenery in the shaded part.

I also planted some wheat and flower seeds in the barrel that is around the well - should be about time for them to be planted, and as it's raised and metal, it ought to warm up fairly well. 

It's amazing how much difference a few trees makes to the yard... Suddenly, it looks like someone actually paid attention to the layout, instead of just making do. Which, of course, is exactly what happened.

Oh, and there's one extra tree in a pot to go to the Small People's other household, where there is also a shortage of evergreens!