Everyone Needs Clean Water

My newly shaved cat, Sketch, visits the water bowl.

My newly shaved cat, Sketch, visits the water bowl.

I’m about to turn another year old, and once again I’ve chosen to donate my birthday to charity:water (an A-rated fund on Charity Watch), in hopes that people such as yourself will donate to my clean water campaign.

What’s cool about this is that the money we collect is combined with others and then designated for a specific site. Once you donate, you will periodically get updates on how the project is coming.

If you’re curious, check out the project page for the campaign I helped fund two years ago, which helped 320 people in Rwanda get clean water.

Please give generously, if you can.

Crocheting a “Sophie”

I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this pattern, but it was love at first sight. I’m one of those people who thinks the majority of crocheted things lean toward ugly, so this pattern really blew my mind.

Sophie's Garden crochet pattern by Dedri Uys

Sophie’s Garden crochet pattern by Dedri Uys

Sophie’s Garden started off as just the circle part…Sophie’s Mandala. Then after it squared up into a “garden” the designer kept going until she had “Sophie’s Universe“…a blanket up to 6′ square. There’s a CAL (Crochet-Along) happening right now and I’m doing it as best I can.

Here’s my mandala:

Sophie's Mandala with ten different colors of Cascade 220 superwash yarn.

Sophie’s Mandala with ten different colors of Cascade 220 superwash yarn.

If you’d like to try crocheting this yourself, the pattern for the CAL  starts here. If that page overwhelms, the actual instructions begin here.

Cat Stalemate


Max. He's a trouble-making cat, how about that, he'll chew up your houseplants in five seconds flat, then he'll throw them up on your welcome mat, he's nothing but a troublemaking cat.

Max. He’s a trouble-making cat, how about that, he’ll chew up your houseplants in five seconds flat, then he’ll throw them up on your welcome mat, he’s nothing but a troublemaking cat.

You can call me a foolish pet owner if you wish, but some times you just have to learn things the hard way.

As you may recall, my cat Sketch was diagnosed with diabetes last fall, which necessitated the switch to a low carb, canned food diet. This change seemed to be working out well for both cats. But then a few weeks ago I noticed Max was eating less than usual. He would come into the kitchen and meow as if he wanted to be fed, but refused to eat more than a few nibbles of the food. It was almost as if he was eating the bare minimum just so he wouldn’t starve to death. My attitude was, “Well that’s your food now, so eat it.” So the stalemate continued.

After a few days, or maybe it was a week, he began seeming lethargic most of the day and just slept a lot. Considering he is nearly fifteen years old, I began to worry his time with us was drawing to a close. So off to the vet we went…blood tests, urine tests, an abdomen ultrasound, a shot of anti-nausea drug, and an appetite stimulant pill. All the tests came up with nothing.

So what did we learn? Apparently, a cat would rather starve itself than eat food it doesn’t like. Now that I’m tempting him with yummy non-low-carb dry food that I sneak to him while Sketch is out of the room, he’s eating more and is awake more.

Cats. If they weren’t so adorable, soft and warm, I wouldn’t put up with this diva behavior.

Ever had an animal refuse to eat because it didn’t like the food on offer?

Poem: Thread


There is a thread

that reaches back

through the needle-eye of history


and forward

toward tomorrow’s beyond.

It connects all those present

in the now

with the ancient people

who wanted so very much to help us


our best selves

that they left pages and sayings;


for us children.

Now grown, we feel how close the thread’s end

is to our fingertips.

We wake up —


now we know

why our elders spent nights telling yarns by candlelight,

and sunlit days showing us how to tie knots.

Consider how you might take the hand of someone

newer to this world than yourself

and be a guide

for the benefit of


before the end —

worn and frayed

slips through the hole where you once were.

Poem: Quiver

I invented a couple of words for this brief poem, so those misspellings are deliberate. 


This quiver inside my gut

wholds arrows

I draw back my arm


thwing —

nervous laughter

— bullseye to your center.

Vaccination: Why I understand both sides

I vaccinated my child fully when she was a baby/toddler, but there was a period of time when I was worried about doing so, so I can understand, to some degree, the anti-vaxxers’ fears.

Here’s my honest confession about why we did what we did.

These are the things that worried me, and caused me to delay vaccination, at first:

–My cousin’s first daughter apparently had a bad reaction to a Hepatitis A vaccine that resulted in her needing a liver transplant.

–My sister-in-law was not vaccinating her children, and gave me anti-vaccine literature to look at.

–According to The Happiest Baby on the Block philosophy, babies in their first three months are essentially in the fourth trimester. I just couldn’t imagine injecting stuff into my newborn baby. Still, we elected to let her have the Vitamin K injection right at birth (this one helps prevent forceps babies from bleeding to death internally from any bruising that might result from being yanked from Mama with giant tongs). So delaying the two-month shots until four-months made no sense, but pregnancy and baby-moon are not good times for rational decision making.

Here’s why I eventually decided to vaccinate:

When my daughter was born nearly a decade ago, were living in Vancouver, BC, Canada; a busy metropolis. Our family doctor told me that her own parents had not vaccinated her. As an adult, she had also decided not to vaccinate her own children. But working as a doctor made her realize how many cases of measles, tuberculosis, etc. were coursing through our international city, and she decided vaccination was the safer choice. In adulthood, she went through the process of having herself fully vaccinated, and also caught her children up on their vaccinations.

So we did the same with our baby and had her fully vaccinated. There were no complications, and now she’s a happy, healthy kid.

I hope if you are reading this and are on the fence, you will take the time to research thoroughly. It’s not just your own children’s lives and health that are at stake.

Aging in Place

Photo of a PNA Village volunteer helping a member with her computer

PNA Village volunteer helping a member with her computer

Ever think about how things will be when you get to retirement age and beyond? If you are like many, you’ll want to stay in your home as long as you can. But there comes a time when it just becomes harder and harder to do the little things: laundry, vacuuming, changing lightbulbs in high ceilings, grocery shopping. What if you can no longer drive but still need to get to your doctor’s appointments, and want to have a social life outside your own home?

Nationally, there’s a movement toward “Villages,” a volunteer organization geared toward helping folks “Age in Place.” To find out if there’s a village near you (or your parents or grandparents), click the map at the Village To Village Network site.

In my neighborhood, we have the PNA Village, a program run by the Phinney Neighborhood Association. I’ve been volunteering since its inception in 2012. One of the things I do is layout the printed newsletter for members and volunteers. I also write articles, and work in the office as a volunteer. We’re always looking for new volunteers, so this sort of thing resonates with you, please check it out!