Archive for the ‘The Dog House’ Category

Zeke Dyes Fabric, Ellen Dyes Bird: Notes from the Dog House

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I’m Ezekiel, the new studio dog at Thread Magic Studio. I’m learning the fine points of being Ellen’s studio dog. We have three at the studio.I’m here at the studio door. Mom spends a lot of time at the computer in the living room, so I was shocked when we went to the studio.

It appears a studio dog has a lot of things to do.

I didn’t know which way to look.


Mom dyed a lot of fabric. I ate a lot of cookies.Then Mom accidently dyed Bird. I guess you should think first before you demand to be petted in the studio.

Pat Winter (The Dye Cup Fairy) came and got Mom to open the cookie jar again.Pat dyes fabulous silk ribbons, and since it takes just a little dye for that, she likes to use the ends of the dye in the cups. Works all around.You can see Pat’s amazing dyed ribbon and the astonishing things she does with it on her blog at Pat Winter Gatherings.

You’ll find more blogs about her on this site at

Technology and the Dye Cup Fairy

And Pat Winter: It’s always the Quiet Ones.

Finnie says the secret is to keep your head down and nap a lot. He seems to have that down to a science.

Here’s what the fabric looked like.

Will I dye more fabric? Well, it’s a big cookie jar out there.

Waiting for Ezekiel: My Dog got out of Jail!

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Earlier this year we lost Cara Candice Canis, to bone cancer. Cara was a spectacular 11 year old greyhound girl and if you came to the studio she would carefully bark to announce your arrival. Her highest accolade for everyone was to come behind and sniff.

It takes a time to register a loss like that. Greyhounds are strong pack animals and I too am part of the pack. So changes like that affect us all strongly. And take a while for adjustment. But it appears two dogs do not make a pack. Bird at 10 thinks running anywhere except after loose rabbits is beneath her. Fin is suffering the prickles of boredom  and caught ( and tried to take home) a baby squirrel from the park. So much for Carry Out.

So we went to Gems, Greyhounds of Eastern Michigan, where both Cara and Finn had come from and asked about  new dogs. A number of their dogs go through a prison program for 10 weeks where they learn all the basic civilities.

For those of you who don’t know greyhounds, it’s not who they normally are. All of mine sit, after a fashion. It’s better than jumping up and taking a visitor’s eye out. But they don’t normally do sit, down stay stuff overwell. So if you have a greyhound who does, it’s sort of the canine  version of Einstein. They understand what you’re asking. They just can’t figure out why you should think it that important. And how it relates to them.

So  we’re waited for the dogs to get out of Jail! Hence the Steve Goodman song. Any greyhound who actually comes when called is an astonishment as well.

TGIE is The Greyhound Inmate Experience.Teams of two inmates are given  a greyhound to love and train for 2-3 months. The combination is a miracle in itself. These men work 24/7  with the dogs and earn their love and trust. The dogs come out knowing basic commands and their first caring relationship with people. It’s a win win win situation, at it’s very best.

Unfortunately we couldn’t find the right cat safe dog with Gems. They told me about the other groups involved in  the program.

Last night the wait is over. We adopted a fabulous 3 year old boy from the program. His racing name was Craigie Ruston. But a racing name means almost nothing to a  dog. They called him Rusty at the prison. We’re calling him Ezekiel.

 Ezekiel came from Allies for Greyhounds in Western

Michigan. All greyhound groups are treasures. They protect and place the oldest breed on the planet. But Allies was particularly kind and helpful. You can find them on facebook as well. 




 Zeek loves to chew, loves belly rubs and will have whatever you’re having. I’m in love.

Finnie and Bird are a bit out of joint, but Finn particularly liked someone to yard crawl with him. 

Hercule and Momo have already explained that they are holy people, not to be spoken to, watched, chased, scared or eaten. I wouldn’t have wanted to be hissed at that way.

So come to the studio, come meet my new boy. We’re all studio bound this afternoon to dye a big batch of fabric.


And love some animal and let it love you. We are all here for a reason.

Odd Neighbors

Monday, October 1st, 2012


I’ve just discovered I have new neighbors. Like most neighbors nowadays, they really didn’t exactly come up and introduce themselves. It’s just too busy a world for that. But they did come to visit and they did leave little gifts.

First we had a night where the neighbor dog Diesel wouldn’t stop barking. Diesel announces everything. It’s good or bad, however you look at it. But  it’s never like you weren’t told. We were unsure why, but it was his definition of a real invasion.

Secondly, I found a little gift on my porch. Just sitting there. It was there one night when I came home late and I spent some time trying to tell myself it was an odd leaf that just looked bone like. No, I didn’t touch it.  But it was clearly a bone. The speculation about who would bring me a bone of my own was quite strange. The neighbor boys? Really really odd friends? Someone into natural history? It was too high up for the dogs.

Finally I was sitting at night with my neighbor kids and something rustled through the bushes. I’ve watched way too much Criminal Minds and CSI. They looked at me like I’d dropped all my marbles on the floor when I whisked us all inside and locked the door. In truth it was stupid. Any house with a window is about as safe as an open brown box on the sidewalk.  They humored me over cookies.

The next morning, I walked out, and looked up the tree. All was revealed.

My new neighbor works nights. I doubt we’ll see each other much.  I’m  just hoping she doesn’t corrupt my dogs with new hobbies.

We’re going to put the cool bone she dropped out of her nest in Cara’s grave, as a little love gift. I’m sure it was how it was meant.

I do love a mystery well ended. I hope all your mysteries end with understanding.  I hope all your neighbors mean well, whether they live differently than you do. And I celebrate the nature around me, though at the same time, I hope it doesn’t come too close.

Of Bandits and Bullies

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

In my travels, I got to stay with my dear  friend Kathy Semone in Maryland. I was teaching at The Bears Paw in Baltimore.  Kathy and I have  been friends for almost 20 years when she came into my class and wanted to do gargoyles. It was before the gargoyle cliche hit. I loved her immediately. She is one of the original Lunatic Fringe.



Bandit the Bully

One of the many gifts Kathy has given me is the friendship of her dogs. I was not raised with dogs and I really didn’t have doggie friends. No. I don’t mean friends that have dogs. I mean friends that are dogs. One is not the other. But she had a darling Havanise  named Bobbin who would stand on his back legs and clap for you. What’s not to like? Of course I adored him.

So when we were talking about my visit, she said I needed to know about her new dog Bandit. Unlike all of her dogs, Bandit has lived his whole life on his looks. He’s a retired show dog. He acts a bit like a male version of a rock star with a hangover looking for his latest drug of choice. Lots of barking and displays with the occasional nip for emphasis. He really only knows how to behave in a show circle or at the groomers. And he hates crates.

I was a bit daunted. I did what I do whenever I’m really nervous. I went and found a book. 

Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog was a book already in my library. But I went to it for information. If you yawn and look the other way, you’re saying, “Oh for heaven’s sake, calm down. It’s not a threat.”

We did that a lot. I watched Bandit nip at several folk during my visit. But he eventually fell asleep on my feet.

All life is a tutorial. I came home to my bully neighbors. My heavens! Bark bark bark bark bark.  I do wish it was the dogs and not them. This time they insisted on their rights to powerwash their house. Of course they got the building inspector involved. For the day, they had three carloads of visitors to whom they gave tours of my yard, they just power washed the side of the house on my side, and they squashed hostas with abandon. I called the police for the second time when they tried to scream a friend of mine off the property. They called the building inspector to whine three times before the day was over. Bark bark bark bark bark.

It’s a really hard thing to yawn and look the other way. I didn’t manage it, quite. 

What makes a bully? I’ve suffered from them my whole life long and I do think that there needs to be a transformational act. Are they like Bandit, scared and unable to respond in any other way? What would they do if I yawned? If everyone yawned and what they wanted didn’t work? I can’t say I know but I can’t help but think there’s something there.

Bark bark bark bark! Oh calm down.

You’ll find The Bears Paw on their site and at their shop at

8812 Orchard Tree Lane
Towson, MD  21286

It’s a delightful shop, full of all kinds of fabrics, threads and great ideas.

You’ll find The Awful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicals in Cats and in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, by T. S. Eliot and Canine Body Language  on Amazon.

You’ll find bullies everywhere. Practice your yawning.

Cara Speaks from the Dog House: Gardening Projects:The Big Hole

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012


Cara Candis Canis

Every dog wants a special sitting spot this time of year in the garden. With a little stealth and effort you can dig a lovely hole that will cool and soothe you all summer long.


  • Look for a place where the ground is soft.
  • Watch closely to see that your mom isn’t looking. She’s not broad minded, and she probably won’t approve.

  • Dig a large luxurious hole that fits you even when you stretch out.


Refuse to sit in it in front of mom. No need to let her know for a certainty you dug it. There are other dogs in the house. It could have been someone else, right?


  • Don’t let her fill it with plants or chips. Training people takes years. You need them to understand you are in charge and that, in the end, you’ll get your way.

Ellen’s not over bright, but we all take care of her. I regularly garden with her, digging holes that are lovely structures and making sure that they stay perfectly fresh, for the perfectly fresh dog.





Bird Speaks from the Dog House: Studio Miracles

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

As always, it’s my job to care for the social well being of all people who come to the studio. I think they lack proper dogs who kiss them enough. I always help with that.

But I also get to see the miracles that happen when you have a creative space. A creative space doesn’t just make objects. It makes people creative. And bless them, we know they need help.

Liams machine

Several years ago, a lady left a sewing machine for my mom. It was an  awfully old Pfaff, before the walking foot mechanism. She said at the time, she’d find it a home. It’s home seemed to be under the counter.




Then her neighbor Liam, who is 11 told her he wanted a sewing machine. Liam is a great neighbor. He comes over, tells great stories, rubs dog tummies, watches Mom sew and has helped make a great new garden bed for Mom. He even helps her find camera and glasses.

There’s a readiness to learning to sew, just like there is for reading. When a kid wants to, that’s the time. Thank God we had that machine ready and waiting. It’s perfect. It’s all metal, tough, strong and solid. And Liam loves to oil and maintain it. To make him feel better I stuck my nose right up his back while he was stitching. You know, I think he needs that kind of support. But it was good his foot was off the pedal.

But that’s what a good studio does. There’s a lady who needed a place to give her machine to. There’s a little boy sewing his heart out. There’s Mom with great and lovely people around her. A studio is a place to create things. But it also creates happy people.

Can you come to our studio? Well, of course. Call Mom first so she knows or you may find her upside down in a dye sink. If you wish to see a clean studio you can make an appointment for 3 years from now. If you to come play, well just come over.

Finny Speaks! You aren’t going to eat that, are you? Notes from the Dog House

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Being the largest dog in my mother’s studio is, of course, a large responsibility.

But I bear it well. I’m also the youngest dog, so I’m cheer leader, mom motivator and the head greeter here.

I just had a dental yesterday. Boy are those people weird. You go in back, someone hits you with a needle and when you wake up it’s definitely different. Thank God they had liver treats. The day wasn’t a total waste. And I did come home to mom with special hamburger pill treats. Yes, I know about the pill inside. It’s hamburger, so I put up with it.

So I’m putting it out there. Does your mom give you treats in the studio? Chewy fix your teeth treats? I’m lobbying for a movement here. There’s a no-food law in mom’s studio. But I’ve caught her with tangerines and candy in there. I think if she let me have chewy bones there my teeth might be better. If nothing else, it makes me a happier greeter dog. After all, she let the mice eat the crayons.

Perhaps if I developed an art form for bone arrangement? Or a coloring system? Everything I color turns a shade of brown, but it’s very earthy. Perhaps I can start a movement?

After all, every dog has his day.

Art outside the Box: Persistance

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Nobody ever made the last mistake or bounced back one too many times.” Claudia Schmidt, Happy Hearts

I love this dog! Talk about life lessons!

I regularly get myself in hopeless projects. I want to do something no one has ever done quite that way. Sometimes it’s kind of clear that perhaps no one should have done that. Hard to know.

But I get a bee in my bonnet and go for it. Somewhere in the middle of all of that there’s this moment where you’re looking at a very large pile of something. A stupendous, why did you do that, way tooooooo large a pile.

There’s this urge to go for the happy nappy. Sometimes I do. There’s nothing wrong with refueling oneself in every sense of the word. It’s when I find the pile (literal or metaphysical) three weeks later and still in the middle of the room that I realize I just have to go for it. Through the leaves. With my tale wagging or dragging, one way or the other.

No one ever tells me no but me. Everyone else can tell me that they don’t think so, or that they don’t want to hear it, or be involved. But I am the only one who ever really stops me. Everyone else is a delay at worst.

It goes for telling me what to do as well. The last time someone told me I must do a particular topic it was the Sears Tower. I did the Sears Tower. No one told me not to do it encircled by Pteradons with an eat sign. It’s never smart to tell me what do do.

I must go. I have a huge pile of undyed fabric on the table and a ball someone tossed in that I know is at the bottom, somewhere.

Studio dogs, Studio mice

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Ellen and Bird


Ellen has never been the only one who works in the studio. I am Bedelia Birdy Buttercup, known to my fans and aquaintences as Birdy for short. I’ve held my job as a studio dog for over 4 years now, and as head dog I keep everything in line.

But today it went wrong. I’m very good at bossing other dogs. Fin and Cara do just what I say. I’m very good at bossing Ellen as well. She’s not very good at reading clocks and my diet demands very close attention to schedules.

But mice…….. We found not the mice but what the mice had left.  Being studio mice they had left little droppings in colors. Amazing colors. While Ellen was trying to figure it out, I sniffed out a set of completely chewed up crayons. Who knew mice pooped in color? Do only studio mice do that?

Further observation is obviously called for. Thank god, she has not suggested that we dogs need to follow in form. My personal art form is dancing while sleeping.

View Cart | Check Out