Friday, May 29, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 5

There are several groups of movies that I refer to as the holy trinity. For the 80's, it would be Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club, but in Disney terms, it is Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella. Last night I found myself totally engrossed in Disney heaven.

First up was, of course, the most important of the three, Sleeping Beauty. I don't care what anyone says, this is by far the most stunning of any Disney movie ever made and will probably always be so. They set the bar so high with this one, there was no where to go but down. It may be a movie you have seen dozens of times or never, but I challenge you to watch it in a different way than you're used to...watch it for the artistry of it instead of the content, i.e. don't watch the action or the storyline...look around at the beautiful backgrounds of Eyvind Earle (with obvious inspirations from Mary Blair), pay attention to the amazingly fluid movements of Aurora and Maleficent as drawn by Marc Davis, just look at it for the work of art it actually is. Even to this day, having seen that movie probably hundreds of times, I am still moved to tears at it's beauty. Can you imagine if the people at Disney Animation today were told they needed to create thousands of hand-painted, gigantic, diorama panels for backgrounds? Yeah, there would be a revolt!

The Diamond Edition also has even more "Backstage Disney" than ever before (what they call their behind the scenes features). I honestly thought I wouldn't have time to watch the other two because I get lost in hours of special features (that again, I've probably seen lots of times).

Sleeping Beauty also has the best looking prince (and the first time a prince actually had a name), the best villain of ALL-TIME, the best score, do I really need to go on? Speaking of villains, have you ever noticed that even the worst of villains have a "scaredy cat" moment? The Evil Queen runs from the Dwarfs in Snow, Scar from The Lion King is outwardly cowardly, even during his darkest moments, even my beloved Hades cowers at both Zeus and Hercules's feet, and the list goes on. Maleficent never shows weakness, she charges at her foe until the bitter end, never surrendering...that's a true villain! There is no salvation for her, no chance for change and, despite the movie Maleficent's horrible attempts at creating a backstory to explain why she is the way she is, the animated Maleficent still creates that desire to know why she is the way she is.

Speaking of Maleficent, I didn't bother to watch it as a sequel (or prequel as the case may be) simply because I didn't want my lasting glee over the beauty of Sleeping Beauty to be tainted. I'll save that movie for another night.

But enough talk, on with the trailer:


Once I did finally let go of Sleeping Beauty for the night, I moved on to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This is one you can't really look too much at from an artist's standpoint because, considering it was the very first full-length animation film, it is a bit "creaky" artistically, but that is more than made up for in characterizations and storylines. Granted, my beloved Marc Davis animated some of Snow as well, but she doesn't have the fluidity the other two princesses have. I do often find myself just watching the dwarfs butts in the dance scene because the attention to detail they put into "cheek" movement is just short of brilliance! I would say my only real complaint with Snow White has always been her voice...it's like a chipmunk's and it drives me mad if I focus too much on it (and I have to work to not do that when I'm watching it).

Since Snow was the first, it's also the first out of the "vault", so when a new edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs comes out, you know you've come full Disney movie circle. When the last version came out, I happened to be in Disney World on the day and was able to buy the movie and a set of Dwarfs plush. It's one of my favorite collectibles. Of all my Disney movies, I specifically remember the ones that were purchased in Disney World and that makes them that much more special.


I did Cinderella last, mainly because she has two sequels (although I'm not really sure why she was chosen for sequels and not the other two) and I didn't know if I would have time to watch them. Of course, there is also a live-action of it, but it hasn't come out on DVD just yet (I might save Maleficent for the day Cinderella comes in).

It's obvious the animators have perfected their craft with this one because, although not the quality of Sleeping Beauty, there are moments that I find myself getting lost in the backgrounds. Any hiccups with finding their footing in the graphics of the background had long passed. Lady Tremaine (also drawn by Marc Davis (along with Cinderella) and also voiced by Eleanor Audley) is another one of those beautifully imagined characters whose movements are as fluid and graceful as the most elegant princess. And, I'm not a cat person, but Lucifer is one of my favorite Disney animals of all-time.


For those that might be interested, one of my favorite Marc Davis documentaries is one YouTube, but it doesn't have an embedding feature, so you'll have to click HERE to see it.

DISNEY MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action - 4
Full-Length Animation - 12
Animated Shorts - 23

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 4

By the time I left work yesterday, I had decided on my movie preference for the night, the underdogs. But unfortunately, I got a late start DVD watching because I had quite a backlog in my Hulu queue that I needed to clear out first, so I only made it through one movie last night.

Before Disney officially merged animation studios with Pixar, they put out quite a few CG movies that, in a word, bombed. But not all of them were bad, they just didn't get a fair chance. Last night's selection, The Wild, was one of them, but I think it's unfairly discriminated against. Disney was embroiled in a turf war with Dreamworks at the time, so The Wild was released almost a year after Madagascar, which had a very similar storyline (technically, even though most people think that The Wild rips off Madagascar, actually, it went into production long before Madagascar, so Dreamworks actually did the ripping and just rushed theirs through to come out first, same with Antz and A Bug's Life, but that's another story for another day).

I saw Madagascar on video before The Wild ever came out and frankly, I didn't care much for it. If I'm honest, part of it probably was because I knew the history of the production and had preconceived prejudices towards it, but a good chunk of my dislike of it was the quality of the animation on Madagascar. Disney had made real strides in CG animation by that point (the hair on the lions is so realistic it's almost scary), and it really does show throughout the entire movie, including the backgrounds (which often get overlooked, even in the Pixar movies). There were lags in the story of Madagascar and I often found myself not paying attention. I have seen the Madagascar sequels as well, but again, they never got better (but I do tend to look at the animation visually instead of paying attention to the story, so I'm easily distracted/annoyed if the visuals are bad). The Wild is just a better movie in both storyline, humor, and animation (and I don't think I'm saying that from my prejudice Disney mind...I'm pretty sure I'm not anyway!).

Plus, I absolutely ADORE Eddie Izzard, and he literally MAKES the entire movie! Eddie's done a few voices for Disney, but seriously? A Koala named Nigel? Bloody flippin' brilliant!!

Here is the trailer for The Wild


And I found a copy of the behind the scenes footage of Eddie Izzard in action, so be sure to put on your "party hats of death" and enjoy!


Here's another compilation of some of the Nigel parts..."oh, the hor-ror!":


MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action - 4
Full-Length Animation - 9
Animated Shorts - 23

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 3

Continuing on with the challenge to watch every single Disney movie in my collection, my OCD is running strong. The original plan was one movie a night, but I've been watching them continuously since I started.

Since I fell asleep during Planes Monday night, I figured I needed to rewatch it. I did make it through it last night, but it wasn't easy! That movie is just bad on just about all levels. It wasn't the first time I had ever seen it, but I think it gets worse the more you watch it. There is really no need in even discussing it.


The only highlight of that disc, was the special features and the profiles of the characters, specifically Ashani. I LOVED this clip! I'm not a Bollywood fan per se, but how they animated this short was pretty darn cool. I managed to find it on YouTube for your enjoyment:

I counted the character profiles as one short and they portrayed a deleted scene as a short, so I counted it also, meaning there were two shorts on the Planes disc.

Expecting the worst from Planes: Fire and Rescue, I piddled quite a bit before putting that disc in and even debated skipping it all together considering. But I'm glad I did decide to watch it, because this movie is how the first Planes should have been! It had gripping storylines, good action, and I actually started liking Dusty Crophopper by the end of the movie.

There were actually more shorts on this sequel disc than the original movies and I'm going to say there were four total.

Once I finished the Planes series though, I kind of realized I had been living in boy-centric Disney movie-land, so I decided I needed a heavy dose of girly Disney. I've been craving Tangled for a while anyway, and considering it is my second all-time favorite Disney movie, I was more than happy to watch it. Again, I'm not going to rehash my gripes with computer vs hand-drawn animation, but Tangled is the exception to the CG rule. They actually made an effort to make the backgrounds look like hand-drawn and it shows. There hasn't been an equivalent since and, trust me, I'm watching.

I'm also often quoted saying that Frozen is no Tangled and I mean it. For me, Frozen just doesn't have the depth that Tangled does (and I like the music in Tangled better, blasphemy, I know). As I've said many times, I'm old school...I prefer the boy-girl romance dynamic to the girl-power dynamic any day. The guy/prince element in movies today is just to serve as arm-candy. Granted, I get the whole "teach girls to be strong and independent" theory, but in actuality, what is it teaching boys? IF they aren't needed because we can take care of ourselves, then why should they even bother being chivalrous? I kind of like chivalry and I hope it sticks around for a long time although I can't honestly remember the last time I met an honorable man (I'm sure they exist, just not in my neck of the woods). But enough soapbox and on with the trailer:


The icing on the Tangled cake is Tangled Ever After, a short sequel to the movie. Although it was shown before the remastered Beauty and the Beast, it's on the Diamond Edition Cinderella Blu-Ray. I think Disney does shorts better than any other company and this is a prime example. I actually managed to find the entire clip on YouTube (for those that haven't seen it).


I'm not sure where my challenge will take me tonight, I'm not in the mood for any specific genre right now. Hopefully I will have a plan by the time work is done!

TOTAL MOVIES WATCHED:
Live Action - 4
Full-Length Animated - 8
Animated Shorts - 23

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 1 & 2 (5-24 & 5-25)

This is going to be a long one, but I kind of got gung-ho on Disney movie watching and didn't really stop for the weekend, so I'm afraid there will be no reviews of each, just some basic thoughts and maybe a video clip or two (or ten).

I have been a member of the Disney Movie Club since it's inception. You do pay more for the movies from the DMC, but with all the benefits (i.e. PINS!), it makes it worth it. I started off with VHS, moved them all to DVD, and I'm now in the process of replacing the DVD's with Blu-Ray's. Every switch, I swear "never again", and yet I always seem to do it eventually.

Disney movies (the animated kind) are vaulted for seven years, brought out for a limited time, then vaulted back up again until the next release (which gets upgraded every incarnation...most movies coming out of the vault now are "Diamond Editions"). Some movies never get unvaulted (i.e. Song of the South), or worse, they are "edited" to take out the "offensive" bits. I get the point in this, no need to corrupt the younger generation, but to my artist's mind, it's blasphemy to ruin the original animation. Those movies were created in a different time and should be regarded as such, but treasured just the same. If they feel the need to edit them, release the originals for diehard animation fans like myself who watched the originals as a child and, believe it or not, weren't corrupted by their stereotypic messages. Soapbox dismount (for now).

On Sunday, I opted to not start in the animation genre, but instead went with live action. I decided on a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon, starting with The Curse Of The Black Pearl.

Of the three original Pirate movies, this is by far my favorite and the franchise would have been just fine had they stopped at the first one. I often wonder what Walt would think of sequels. It's not something they did in his day and I honestly think he would scoff at the premise of it. But alas, it's not only common place nowadays, it's expected, so endure we must. As a huge fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (it is #2 next to Haunted Mansion), there are dozens of nods to the ride in the movie, so that makes the Disney geek in me rather giddy!



Then there is the second movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. This is where the franchise starts to wain. I do love the Davy Jones storyline, but even that cannot save the path that the Will Turner/Elizabeth Swann storyline starts to take in movie 2. There are also quite a bit of ride nods in this one as well.


With movie 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the story arch is complete. I don't want to spoil anything, but the way they end the Will/Elizabeth storyline makes me want to cringe every single time. The ride links in this one are even less than 2, most are just ride quotes from Barbossa.


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, takes a different turn, no more Will and Elizabeth. Despite my disappointment with movie 3, movie 4 was worse. If it wasn't for Barbossa (who I like better than Captain Jack, he's more of a true pirate), this one would be a total loss. The ride links are even less, most are pretty cryptic to even the most diehard ride fan.


Of course, they are making a fifth Pirates movie, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Will Turner will be back for that one, so I still have hope that it will be better (although they still won't be able to "fix" their mistakes with 3 because there is no Elizabeth Swann in this one).

They did modify the rides with elements of the movies, adding Jack and Barbossa (but not Will and Elizabeth). As realistic as Capt'n Jack's audioanimatronics are (there is more than one), I'm offended at the quality of the Barbossa (at least at Disney World's...I haven't seen Disneyland's yet).

Monday, I went in a lighter direction, down the Pixar way. I'm not going to rehash my gripes about computer animation versus hand-drawn animation, so don't worry. I started first with the Toy Story series, 1, 2, 3, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Toy Story of Terror, and the various Toy Story shorts.

Toy Story is one of those rare sequel series where #1 is not the best one. It's OK, but if I wasn't a total Disney geek and had to have every single movie in the franchise, I probably would have stopped at 1.


Again, Toy Story 2 isn't the best sequel either. As sequels go it fit, but there was so much drag time, I often find myself getting easily distracted by other things around the house when I should be watching the movie.


Toy Story 3, on the other hand, is an amazing sequel and, no matter how many times I watch it, I end up bawling like a baby during several key moments throughout the movie. And, as someone who still has "toys", this movie hits home more than the others. It's also the only Toy Story movie I actually saw in the theater.


Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins is just a useless cartoon (not 3-D animation, well, other than the opening sequence where the Toy Story gang pop in the video to watch Buzz's new movie). Is it necessary for the group...no, but it is part of the group, so therefore I own it. Honestly, watching it yesterday was the very first time I had even cracked the case open, let alone watched the movie. I really don't see the need to ever watch it again.

Toy Story Of Terror was a short that they showed on regular television first on year during the Halloween season. It's OK, but nothing to write home about either.

As far as I know, there are only four other Toy Story toons, Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, Partysaurus Rex (my favorite one), and Toy Story That Time Forgot (which is not available on DVD yet, but is on YouTube). Since Partysaurus Rex is my favorite, how about a clip from it:


When it comes to the Toy Story series, I'm a LGM (Little Green Men) super-fan. I'm not sure what it is about them, but I literally go all doe-eyed when I see LGM merchandise. Another favorite of mine is Mr. Pricklepants...I mean, come on, who wouldn't love a lederhosen-wearing porcupine voiced by Timothy Dalton? Surprisingly, I'm pretty good with voices and can usually tell the actors portraying characters (I do it all the time with commercials), but I honestly had no idea that Ken was voiced by Michael Keaton until I read the credits.

And, as per Disney usual, there will be a Toy Story 4.

Then I moved on to the Cars series. If it wasn't for Mater, I wouldn't even bother with these. I'm more of a Princess kind of girl than a Cars kind of girl. The first Cars is my least favorite, probably because there isn't as much Mater. But the "vistas" in the movie make me extremely excited for Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure.


Cars 2, however, is completely Mater-centric, so I'm all about it!


Of course there are Cars Toons like Mater and the Ghostlight (my personal favorite):

but most of those are included in the set, Mater's Tall Tales..."if I'm lyin, I'm cryin!". I'm not a Larry the Cable Guy fan per-se, but there is just something about Mater.


I did start Planes, but I fell asleep in the middle of it (yes, it's that bad), so I'll rewatch it tonight alone with Planes 2: Fire and Rescue (which I haven't seen yet). Hopefully, I'll be able to stay awake during both.

TOTAL MOVIES WATCHED: 4 Live Action + 5 Full-length Animated + 16 Shorts (I think...shorts tend to blend together)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Weekly Stitching

Thanks to the holiday, I got in an entire extra day of stitching. I worked on 35th Anniversary Celebration for the first time in over a year. I left off here March of 2014:
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and, even though I worked all day on it, this is as far as I got:
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After all that dark fabric work, I was more than happy to go back to Maleficent. I worked on her for most of the week anyway, but she is getting boring. I left off on her here last week:
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And got here, stopping at 178 hrs:
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For the past two days, I switched back to Alice and the B's. I left off here:
alice042
and finished here tonight for a total of 149.23 hrs:
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I think I'm going to focus on Alice and the B's for a while...I really want to finish the row.

I'm really dreading going back to work tomorrow. Bam and I have enjoyed just hanging out together. We have officially moved back to sleeping in the bed instead of the couch, but I can't say that either one of us is sleeping well. But it's time to forgo the gloom and doom and get back to normal, so we're trying. It helped that we spent the past two days watching nothing but Disney movies. I'm not sure if I'm gonna do my planned reviews or not. Considering I've cleared about 12 movies in two days, it might be hard to catch up review-wise. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Brothers re-united

Yeah, I didn't start my Disney movie challenge last night because I received a delivery...my boys are back together again:
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Forever in my heart rest my two little men:
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Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekly Stitching and TUSAL

First things first...I have once again forgotten to post my ORT jar for the month. This month, it found it's way to my Disney DVD shelf:
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There was a specific reason why I chose this location for my TUSAL pic...but more on that later, let's get on with the stitching.

It wasn't a very good week, but I did try to stitch as much as possible. I left off on Maleficent here:
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And finished here tonight:
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It's hard to tell there are probably about twelve colors in there so far, they all look the same. I've now spent 163.17 hrs on her. I really like breaking it down in time frames versus days or weeks. It shows exactly how much time I'm spending on them (and how slow of a stitcher I am).

I did manage a bit of work on the OUAT Sampler as well, but I'm having to force myself to work on it...I might be a bit Once Upon A Time cross-stitched out. But I've promised myself that I won't start another project I've had my eye on lately until I finish this one. I left Once off here:
OUAT02
and only made it to here in 10.17 hrs:
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On the home front, we're doing good considering. It's been storming here a lot lately, so Bam hasn't been that happy and he's been sticking very close.
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Poor little guy!

As an aside, I tend to see Hidden Mickeys everywhere, but I saw a blatant one Friday on the wall of my work:
IMG_1200
I knew one of my co-workers had a Mickey golf antenna topper on their vehicle, but I've never noticed it in this particular "light" before.

Now, back to the videos. Before Zach passed, I had just started watching Disney movies in preparation for Disneyland. I vowed to not stitch or get distracted, just watch the movie. But, Zach got sick and I stopped and, afterwards, it just didn't seem right to watch Disney movies with my baby dead. My friend Kate over at The Suddenly Kate Show has issued a kind of blogging challenge. She's doing lists, specifically top 10 ones. I'm not much of a top 10 type person, so I was trying to think of another outlet. Then it occurred to me...Disney movies! I could go back to watching one a night, same rules, but following it with a blog post/review about the movie. Honestly, I don't know how many Disney movies I have, at least a couple of hundred or so, as well as several TV shows, documentaries, etc, but for the purpose of this challenge, I'm only going to stick with movies. It will be interesting to see how far I can get and/or how long it will take me to finish, but I think now that might be a nice distraction. So, starting Monday night, I will start watching them again and my first post will be Tuesday at some point. At least that is the plan now. I thought about this all last week and I think I'm ready, but when the time actually comes and I'm absorbed in Disney happiness, I might not be able to take it. If so, I'll start either next week or June 1st. I'll let you know.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Stitching

The days are dragging on bit by bit and I have managed some stitching, but considering this update consists of two weeks instead of one, my progress should be a lot better. I've been trying to stitch as normal, but my attention span is next to nil and instead I stitch a bit, play with Bam a bit, eat, play with Bam some more and sometimes I stitch again, sometimes I don't. For the first week, I was unable to get back in my chair, Zach's presence still weighs heavily, so stitching had to be limited to those projects easily stitched on the couch, without proper lighting or the set up to stitch "right". That means the two projects on 18ct Aida, Tartan B and the Once Upon A Time Sampler were my only options.

Up first, Tartan B...we left off here:
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and I'm now here:
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I was really happy with changing out the blue for a brighter color, but it's now kicking me...the green and the new blue don't meld as well as the black and the blue. It's too late to start over (again) though, so I'll just live with it.

The OUAT Sampler left off here:
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and got to here:
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Again, I'm heading into failure territory. I had the bright idea to "sparkle up their fairytale outfits with Light Effects thread, but it's backfiring on me horribly. Again, I'm too far gone to start over, so deal I must.

I did finally regain custody of my chair, but I figure it's why I'm so restless, I feel like I don't belong in it. Kind of like sleeping in the bed again...we did try the bed one night, but promptly moved back to the couch. When I wasn't waking up every five minutes thinking Zach needed help getting on the bed, then I was having nightmares about his death. So I decided I'm just not ready to sleep in the bed just yet. The couch is tolerable and I keep my house comfortable enough that a light blanket is fine (I don't like sheets anyway and only use a bottom sheet on the bed...I tangle easily). At least chair means I could go back to the 28ct projects. I would have never believed it before, but I do much prefer stitching on 28ct.

The project that got the bulk of my attention was Alice and the Bouguereau Princesses. I tried hard to finish the row, but got no where near it. I left off here:
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and got to here yesterday:
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Today I gave up on Alice and the B's and moved back to Maleficent. If you remember, I finished the row last time:
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And in an entire day, this is all I managed to get done:
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but you might notice a familiar shape starting to appear in the middle, so not an entirely wasted day.

I've been trying to get back to normal. T and I went to see Avengers yesterday and it was AH-MAZ-ING! Not only was it three and a half hours of a complete brain shut down, but it was really one hell of a movie...quite possibly my favorite of the entire bunch so far. It was nice to get out although I was really anxious to get back to Bammers. Now that we are in storm season, his days are even more stressful (he's terrified of them). I can sneak him into work sometimes, but not all the time and I he needs to learn to fend for himself somewhat (although I did find myself on Petfinder more than once last week and that's something neither of us really need right now...for now, we just need each other). I think Bam is really enjoying having all the attention to himself now. Zach never was the "loving" sort and it was hard to snuggle with him...Bam is the snuggle king, even more than Zander was. I think he'll just react badly to expanding our family, at least right now.

I did get a massive shock when I went to our pet page at our vet's office and Zach has been removed from my account. How dare they. Once I have my real self back, they are going to hear about it. Once I find another vet in town that takes CareCredit, they are getting dumped.

But enough whining...it's time to try to get back to normal (or as normal as I can be). I'm still not ready for Disney Reviews though, just not yet.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Well...

I'd like to say the days are getting better, but it's not happening yet. For all those who left such amazingly kind and sweet comments, thank you so very much. They mean a lot because a lot of you guys understand. I've gotten a lot of those "looks" this week from co-workers...you know, the ones that say "it was just a dog, get over it". Not one of my kids have ever hurt me, stabbed me in the back, or made fun of me. I can't say the same about humans, so why should I give preferential treatment to them? I know I say a lot that to an Asper perception is everything even if it's a bit skewed, but I don't understand why I should give priority to those who have made most of my life a living hell for one reason or the other. I don't have to fake "normal" to my pups...they love me exactly as I am, weirdness, obsessions, mental conditions, and all.

But enough soap-boxing...Bam is doing better than I thought he would be. Monday I had to go back to work, so I went home at lunch to check on him and ended up bringing him back up to work with me for the afternoon. Tuesday, we did a trial by fire and I left him for the day (partly because I knew if I went home to check on him I'd end up bringing him back with me and partly because I honestly don't have enough gas to get me through the week if I kept running back and forth home). He did better yesterday being on his own than me interrupting his day by dragging him out, so today we're trying it again, only this time, he's going Xanax free (I wish I could say the same, but I'm not ready to give them up just yet).

I turned the TV on last night for the first time since Friday night. It didn't stay on long, but I did try. We're still sitting and sleeping on the couch because I just can't face the bed yet. I would constantly be waking up expecting to hear Zach whine to be picked up (he could jump down by himself, but he refused to use the bench at the end of the bed like Bam does, so I had to pick him up to get him on the bed).

I haven't touched a stitch project all week either. I can't see well enough to stitch on the couch, I need my chair for that, and I still can't sit there. Zach and I had a constant contest over the chair. I normally sat there when I was home, but the second I got up, for whatever reason, he'd jump up there and just stare at me in his best grumpy cat-eyed look and dare me to make him move (which I always did and he'd go over to one of the pet beds or the couch and resume the death stare). He really was more cat-like than dog-like. He can have the chair now (at least for a while longer).

I haven't been doing a lot of blog reading either, so I have to apologize. I'll get around to them, especially the reflections post. But thankfully, I get my comments via email, so I've been keeping up with some stuff. Apparently, Nagzilla gave me a Star of Excellence award for my Challenge posts! I'm really not sure why, I'm not a good writer and my cross stitch skills are quite lacking. Cross stitching has always been more about reading the pattern and the repetitiveness of it all versus a craft for me...I don't have a crafty bone in my entire body, but apparently I did something right. Not only am I honored, but I think I smiled for the first time in a week, so thanks!

I'm not sure I'll have any stitch progress to show come Sunday night, but I'm aiming to try to start again tonight, one way or the other. Then there is the matter of urns, which I have been putting off all week...must pick one out. Ugh. I don't have the gumption to start back on my Disney World reviews, at least not yet.

I'm also thinking that work Needle Club will have to be retired. I can't see spending an extra 3 hours a week away from Bam, at least not now, so I guess Rainy Wedding is going home for a while.

Please bear with me for a while. I probably won't go radio silence because I need my blog to express myself (and right now, I feel the need to express a lot), but hopefully my posts won't be so depressing forever. I made it through Zander's passing, and I shall with Zach's too, but I made Bam swear to me that he can NEVER die! New house rule...no more puppy deaths until I'm gone.

Monday, May 4, 2015

April A to Z Challenge Reflections Post

As a forward, this piece was written before the events of this weekend. I can't proof-read over this because I just can't handle the happiness I felt when I wrote this, so forgive any glaring errors in writing, grammar, etc. Sticking a warning at the top of the piece is about all I can do right now.

Before we get in the thick of things, let's first get a bit of admin done, i.e. the finished pieces in their entirety (with grid lines removed).

Project #1: Once Upon A Time which took 94.2 hrs to complete:
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Project #2: Veronica Mars which only took 21.88 hrs to complete:
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Luckily, the Once chart turned out to be a "normal" frame size, so I will framing it myself. Not so luckily, VM is an odd size which means I will have to pay to get it framed which probably means it will be a LONG time before that's done. I still haven't gotten my Princess and the Pea stitch framed yet and I've had it finished since the end of last year. Framing is an expense I typically can't justify. I've never understood why it costs so much to get something framed anyway, it's not like the supplies cost a lot and I mount them myself, so they are not doing anything in particular with the actual stitch work. But that's an argument for another day.

Stitch-wise, I got lazy toward the end and skimped a bit, especially with the backstitching on Once (I often skip over one or two blocks instead of stitching every single block). I've been known to do that with backstitching before, so I don't feel too bad about it. I didn't expect work to be such a pain this month, so I tended to get behind (a lot) and needed a short cut or two. I also debated stitching "April A to Z Challenge 2015" at the bottom of both pieces, but poo-poo'ed that idea due to exhaustion. There were some nights I had to stay up until 3 or 4 am to finish but, in my world, failure is not an option, so I had no other choice. And ironing off the grid lines totally screwed up my French knots (which were crappy at best anyway). By framing time, I'll have to either redo them all or just replace them with beads (at least I have time to work that out).

On to the reflections! I must say a big huge thanks to the moderators this year. This was no pressuring to "pimp your blog" as there has been in previous years (a HUGE pet peeve of mine). I think not being pushed to pimp took quite a bit of pressure off of me (I do recognize it's a self-imposed pressure, but there is really nothing I can do to change my perceptions...I was born an Aspie and I'll die as one, so I readily accept the things I cannot change). I was also surprised at the number of moderators that did the rounds and visited my little neck of the woods. That hasn't happened before. Likewise, some of my favorite challenge posts were done by the moderators, so well done mods!

Speaking of favorite challenge posts, I did have quite a few favorites this year. Stitching and Disney were big and I loved it! But I must give major props to Fangirl Stitches, who not only created the two charts I stitched this year, but also did two of her own for the challenge! Congrats to my "Once Stitching Sister" Katy over at Just A Little Stitchin' for also completing the Once chart. Linda over at Stitching with My Furbabies did two projects as well and made it out the other side...good goin! Tama over at Stitching Daze likewise did a Fangirl Stitch...she went with the Whedon's Alphabet. Kate at Stitches, Scraps, and Sparkles in the Sun stitched like mad all month making progress on 26 separate projects (the thought of that many WIPs makes me shake!). Alyssa at Brownie's Chair did stitching with her stash and her wishlist...girl better have four lifetimes to finish all that! Then there was Fireflies & Cats in the Garden, and I can't forget Caitlin's Naughts and Cross Stitches general craft A to Z.

On the Disney front, Morgan at Writer's Block did a character retrospective which I loved. Connie at Bookwormia had a bit of a smorgasbord, but Disney popped up a time or two! And the wonder that is Jeremy over at Hollywood Nuts covered Disney movies and even one I'd never heard of before (did anyone think THAT was possible?).

Other notable favorites: Stephen Tremp did an amazing series about the supernatural and got me to leave the longest comment I think I ever have on a challenge post...dude has mad skills! Anabel's Travel Blog had a beautiful tour around Glasgow including some stunning photos, whereas my friend EvalinaMaria over at This and That did her heroes (and it's a variety, I tell ya!). I really liked The Adventures of Nagzilla's Nerdgasm because it covered a wide range of nerd-tastic subjects. Charity's Writing Journey covered movies of the 80's...brought back a TON of memories! And speaking of movies, Pensuasion had a face off between two movies per letter which also tickled my cerebrum a bit!

There were also quite a few educational posts which I adored: Senk Photography showed me quite a few tips about photography (my current obsession). Falling Toward Mythopoesis covered mythologies from various places and times. Family History Fun taught me how to delve into genealogy. Last, but definitely not least, Magical World helped me a bit on my crappy grammar skills (although obviously not a lot of it sunk in).

I hope I didn't forget anyone. I followed so many blogs this year (more than previous years), it was hard to keep up! There was another absolute favorite of mine, Zen and Pi, who covered my other current obsession, Astronomy, but life kind of kicked her in the butt a bit this month and she was unable to finish. I understood, but I hated to see her go.

I did learn a major lesson from this year's challenge...pushing to out-do last year is just stupid. There were times this month were I didn't enjoy myself at all and considering I spend all my home time stitching, that is saying something. I think that I will back off a bit next year and try another area (but I can assure you there will be some Disney in there, I can't focus in any other direction). Besides, this makes the completion of challenge #4 for me, so I proud enough of that. I will definitely need to take my "outside life" more into consideration next time, especially work, because I can't count on it to be as settled as my "real life" (what I call my home time where I don't have to pretend to be "normal"). The powers that be didn't grace me with financial independence (well, or even financial stability for that matter), so sitting at home all day and cross stitching will never be in my cards although I'll never give up the dream! Never leaving the house (except maybe to go to Disney every once and while) and not having any social interaction is an Asper's wet dream, right? Well, at least it is for me!

Congrats to everyone for finishing (or, for the ones who didn't finish, for trying) and here's hoping for an even better one next year!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Zachariah Binx Blair

I'm not really sure why I'm doing this now, might be the copious amount of medication in my system, but I feel like if I don't do it now, I might never do it. I may never read this again, not even proofread, so a lot of this won't make sense...I'm doing this for me (I think).

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My little old man Zachary died this morning at about 7:30 am. Why is still a bit of a mystery.

He was fine yesterday morning, even almost took one of my fingers off trying to get at his morning Pupperoni. Where Zander was always sick and his passing was expected, Zach has always been the picture of health (well, except for those three bladder surgeries to remove stones, but he always took them in stride). He was almost 15 yet as happy and playful as a pup (well, that was a lie, he was more of a grumpy cat, independent, sleepy head, but you say tomato...).

Due to work issues getting on my last nerve, I decided to take yesterday afternoon off. Even before I made it home, I got called out to the other hospital for a while, so my afternoon off was more like leaving work a couple of hours early, typical.

When I finally did get home, we went about our same routine...me unlocking the door, Zach barking at me while I turn the keys in each of the numerous locks, door opening, me saying "hey monsters, how was your day?", the 'jump, chase, bark at me by both kids while I walk into the kitchen' routine, the afternoon Pupperoni feeding, and then them usually snacking down while I open the refrigerator and marvel at the lack of food for myself and while I grab their can of food to start their dinner.

Instead, on my way to the fridge, I hear a loud thump. Zach had bad arthritis, he falls sometimes, so I wasn't panicking yet. When I look over, he's laying on his side, all four legs sticking straight out and stiff as a board, he's peeing mid air and he's starting to scream (a dog scream is one of the most terrifying and horrible noises you will ever hear and I've heard more than my fair share). I immediately reach for the phone and before the vet's office can answer, it's all over with and he's getting up. I, however, am in major panic mode, crying my way through the story to the girl, trying to make sense out of what just happened. She was very soothing, told me he probably had a seizure, but bring him in right away.

I am a panic mom...they get a papercut and I'm calling the vet crying (well, they don't get papercuts per se, but you get my meaning). I grabbed the closest towel, wrapped him up, and away we went. My freaking out had him shaking like a leaf, but he seemed OK by then (although still whining a bit).

I had to call my sister on the way there just so I could get across town without having a major wreck. I wasn't ready for this. He's been extremely healthy all his almost 15 years, I wasn't ready to deal with this on a simple Friday afternoon...one I took off early just to spend more time at home with my kids and now I'm rushing one to the vet for who knows what. God hates me. Always has. Always will. And right now, I pretty much hate him too.

Once we got there and I was able to speak enough to tell the new girls at the counter who I was, they took him from me immediately to start testing and I started popping Xanax like Pez. I eventually got called back to a room to wait, but the details are fuzzy. At some point, my mother showed up, but I'm still not sure how she knew I was there.

After an hour of blood work, examination, and x-rays, Zach was back to his normal self, I was swimming in Xanax-land, and I thought we were OK. The vet determined he didn't have a seizure, but rather a small heart attack. I've known for a while he has a heart murmur (what killed Zander), but his last bi-annual was at the end of February and we were still a grade 2, so no worries (or so I was told).

Now, all of a sudden, he's jumped to a grade 5 and his heart was taking up most of his chest cavity. I think I was more mad at what he was saying that the actual fact of the matter that my baby was sick. I think I mentioned he was fine at the end of Feb and how does one jump three grade sizes in less than 2 months, but I'm not sure half of what I was saying, to be honest, so don't get me to lying about what he was saying (not my favorite of the group's vets). Despite my anger/shock/general overall fearfulness, the vet was still very positive and said it might not ever happen again, but loaded us up on drugs anyway. I, once again, walked out of the vet's office with another $300+ plus bill but a happy pup, so I was ok (it's always $300, no matter which dog I take in or for what, I decided long ago it is a conspiracy, I was just glad I had enough space on my CareCredit card to pay for it, otherwise I would have been SOL).

In the middle of the whole ordeal, work had the audacity to call me for a stupid problem! They knew where I was and what was happening, but they continued to push anyway. I may never forgive them for that.

Panic mom-mode continued on once we got home and he was watched constantly. They get prescription food for stones (a Shih-Tzu side effect), but I spurged and ordered pizza and chicken bites for us all. We all ate like kings, recently re-started diet be damned...we had just been through an ordeal and we ALL deserved it, him especially, but me and Bam too! Things settled down and I started my usual nightly routine of stitching and TV watching and he started his of sleeping.

Around 1 am, the shit hit the fan. Another episode, this one really looked like a seizure. He calmed down for a while and then had another one, and another one periodically as the night wore on. None of us slept, we just all huddled together on the couch. I kept trying to heed the vet's advice...my level of calmness will determine his, don't let him see me freak. I failed because I was freaking left and right.

At 4 am, episode #4 started very fast and ended with labored breathing that continued on for the coming hours, worsening as time passed. By this time, every time he tried to stand up and walk, he would just fall over. I already started making preparations to march him right back up to the vet's office when they opened at 8 and a certain vet was going to lose the left side of his ass cheek if I saw him.

At 7, my mother texted asking how he was. Any other 7 a.m. day and she would have gotten her ass chewed for texting me so early...not this time because, by then, I was beginning to realize that if I took him to the vet's office at 8, they were going to make me kill him like they did Zander (aka "put him to sleep"...it's not "putting to sleep", Zander didn't go peacefully or gracefully, he whined and moaned while I was forced to watch. A murderer on death row is one thing, they deserve to suffer as much as possible, not my sweet babies who have done nothing wrong. I wasn't sure if I could do that again ever, I'm still not).

Mother insisted on coming up here and I no more sooner hung up with her than episode #5 happened. His breathing was still bad, but got better and he eventually even got off the couch by himself. I was thinking he was getting better as I heard my mother's vehicle turn into the drive. He suddenly fell over again, whined that horrible noise he had been making most of the night and started sporadically gasping for air. By the time she knocked on the door, he gasped his last breath and my precious child was gone. Just like that. Gone.

I held him for the longest time while he still laid on the floor. I was scared to move him. At one point, my mother tried to take him away from me and almost drew back a bloody stump. I did eventually sit myself up so I could hold him properly. Bam said his goodbyes (I know that was what he was doing despite my mother's baby talking that he didn't understand "did he"). I couldn't stand his head flopping around like it was. His eyes were still opened (which I was OK with because Zander did the same), but once I picked him up, his other eye was drooping badly and his tongue was hanging out weirdly. I tried to close his eyes, to no avail, but I did manage to get his tongue back in, but I was starting to form a not-so-pleasant last picture, so I finally handed him over because I couldn't take it anymore. My biggest regret with Zander was that they took him away from me before I was ready. I can honestly say I was ready with Zach. I needed to "know" he was gone and I knew, rather graphically and vividly, I knew.

Calls were made, arrangements taken care of and, at some point, he was taken away to the vet for cremation. I'm not sure what all happened. I sent out out a general text to those closer co-workers I felt should know and immediately turned off the ringer on my phone. I didn't want to hear it. It's still off now because I still don't. I had to talk to Tony at one point because we were supposed to go see Avengers today. Dude needs a cell phone so I can text him, that was too hard of a call, I could barely speak anyway, but my T-Boo knew and understood. It's why I love him so much and why he'll always be my best friend...only two people "know" me really, T-Boo and my sister Am. I've been too scared to call her. She had conversations with mother, so she knows. I'm not sure I could say the story out loud anyway and I don't want to.

The last picture of my baby was just taken a few days ago, he was the photobomb in my stitch progress:
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They got haircuts a couple of weeks ago and we marveled at his graying eyes:
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A far cry from his very first picture ever where he pretty much lived in "smoky eyeshadow land":
Precious Zach
Or my all-time favorite pup pic of him and Zander in the good 'ole days:
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He wasn't much of a traveller (unlike Zander), but he created a stir with his "choice" of seat (back before the days of doggie seatbelts):
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passing people always noticed THIS bobble head in the back window (he wouldn't stay anywhere else):
Zach in window
Whereas Zander was more of a console kind of guy:
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Bet you guys thought that was Bam, didn't you? Now we do seatbelts, but even on Bam's arrival into our family, Zach was NOT impressed (in case you can't tell by his look):
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He and Bam were just starting to connect as evidenced by this pic, only a couple of weeks ago:
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and I so hoped they would end up as close as Zach was to Zander:
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I keep thinking I hear Zach...that heavy sigh of his that he sounds off numerous times a day "just because", his jumping into my chair and settling in sound, his continuous circling on the couch pillows to find "just the right spot", his eyes constantly fixed on me, boring a hole in my head, even his faint snoring (Bam could take lessons), but I guess I'm not hearing anything but memories. Pictures aren't painful yet because this whole day just isn't real yet. It's probably going to get really real really quick (as soon as these meds wear off...or when I stop taking them, whichever comes first). Even now, I have to move back to the chair to plug my laptop in (I may not have enough battery life left to post this), but I keep thinking I'll have to wake him up. He's not there.

I just hope Bam does ok without him. It's just me and the Bam-meister now. I intend on making every moment count with him. Some of you guys have been along with me since I adopted Bam and I hope you'll stick around for our future adventures, although right now I can't stop holding him long enough to even adventure to the bathroom...he's sitting in the crook of my arm as I type this. Bam was three already when he came into our family, so I've already lost three years with him. I'm scared about our future.

Guess I'll need to change my header at some point too...just not now. It's incredibly hard for me to look at pictures of Zander now, six years later (and, come to think of it, Zan died May 5th, 2009, so their deaths are now as close as they were...May is now my worse month ever).

I'm probably going to regret this post, so I think I won't read it again. I've already scheduled the A to Z Reflections Post, so forgive whatever cheerfulness it holds. I wrote it Friday morning when all was good with my little World. Right now I'm thinking it will never be good again, but it will...someday.

To my Zachary Pooh-Bear, I will love you always...give Zander a huge wet kiss for me and tell them I miss him somethin awful (but, you can do your usual jealous jab and tell him I loved you more, I know you too well my baby boy). My heart is broken. I may not have loved him as hard as I did Zander, but I loved him longer and less obsessively, which made for a much better love in the end, so Zach, no need to poke at your brother, I loved you better. Bam is so much like Zander, it's hard to control that obsessive love, but I'm trying to be an even better mom yet again.

Zachariah Binx Blair
10-18-2000 to 05-02-2015