Farewell Ruby

Ruby Lila Stits H******


Farewell George


George Washington H****, Jr.
1926 – 2015


Claire Thunderpaws

Claire Thunderpaws


The end of an era has arrived.  Claire crossed over into a better place this morning.  She is the last of the original Thunderpaws Tribe.  She graced our lives for 18 wonderful years.

Muppet Nose: Claire was not the swiftest of cats.  It was our notion that Jim Henson was inside, pulling the strings that made her move…frequently he was on sabbatical.  Claire had the ability to sit, staring down any wall with great finesse.

Claire 286:  Some people think cats are from another universe, and only on Earth to observe and report back to the Mother Ship.  If so, Claire had the slowest connection of all: 286 baud.  We think she often dropped her connection, leading to her lost and slightly bemused expression.

Mademoiselle Moonbeam: Besides having the plushest of grey coats, Claire was our space cadet.  She saw things none of the other cats did.  Chasing dust motes, anyone?

Claire the Nibbler: Claire bit.  But it was never a problem.  Her nibbles were telegraphed so early, and so well, it was the humans’ fault if they didn’t move their fingers.  She had the sharpest, whitest teeth, even at the graceful age of 19.

Claire loved her catnip-stuffed mousies, and would often wander the house, meowing at the top of her voice, mouse firmly held in her jaws.  We miss you Claire.  To the end, you were sweet, gentle and kind, never any trouble or mischief.  Vale Claire.

La Fred: Europa Blouse

I pretty much had this write-up completed, then I heard that Fred Bloebaum, of La Fred patterns passed away this weekend.  I, along with the rest of the sewing community, mourn the loss of this talented and generous designer and educator.

She had sold off her fabric venture earlier in the year, and I read that she was battling cancer.  No idea what will happen to her patterns, if they will continue production, or follow the hard-to-find vintage route.

I found it a bit disconcerting that I was working on one of her patterns over the weekend, then heard this news.

OK, back to the sewing.  A couple of posts back, I made mention that I stitched up a muslin of the Europa blouse.  I’ve liked this pattern for a long time, and thought the sleeveless version would make a nice, non-knit top to wear during the Summer.  This being Cactusville, Summer continues far beyond the Labor Day holiday, so the style is still wearable.

At the right, is the final muslin.  This is a very close-fitting type of shirt, at least on me.  Still, it has good bones and the pattern itself has excellent instructions – especially for moving the bust point and making a full bust adjustment (FBA).

I did a couple of alterations:

  • adjust for forward shoulder (this is now routine with me)
  • took in the princess seams a under bust, and under shoulder blades for a bit more shaping.
  • lengthened the body.  This top is truly high-hip length, and I felt it would be a too short on me once hemmed.  I may lengthen in another 1/2 inch.

Then came the onerous task of copying my fitting changes to the pattern.  I wish there were a magic wand to do this part.  It’s just such a chore.

You can see the forward shoulder adjustment in the photo at left.  I had originally made it almost an inch, then got the bright idea (hey, I get them every now and then) to cut away the armhole seam allowance, and see if that changed the fit.

Yup!  It certainly did.  That let me reduce the forward shoulder adjustment to 1/2 inch.  I was relieved, as altering it a full inch, I think, would have created other wonkiness (that’s a technical term) down the line.

One more item of note – the facings are very deep on this pattern, nearly 3 inches for the sleeveless version.

Next up was cutting out the fashion fabric, which is a bright white cotton print with sparsely scattered red flowers.  Of course, it being a white fabric, I had some more decisions to make.  What’s that?  Yes, this was supposed to be quick and easy. It really was, until I waffled.

First, I cut out the facings from a quasi-skin toned cotton…but I didn’t like that they still showed through.  Guess it wasn’t close enough to my skin tone.  In the end, I lined the whole thing with a very light (almost voile) cotton.  That seemed to do the trick.

Last but not least, red buttons!

Otto Thunderpaws

Otto “Mr. Attitudinous” Thunderpaws


This morning we took Otto on his last trip to the vet.  He is now pain free.  Otto graced (some might say controlled) our lives for sixteen wonderful years.  He was always there to meow an opinion, knowing full well that all household decisions depended on his likes and dislikes.

Otto was a red head.  Red headed cats are different.  They have attitude, and Otto did, much more than such a small furry creature could contain.  Neither other cats, nor dogs, nor people 10 times his size fazed him.  He was red.  He was fluffy.  He was Otto.

There is an emptiness to the house, but we know he is now at peace.  He survived much longer than anyone, us, or the vet expected.  9 months with cancer – that’s a long time by the cat chronograph.  Farewell Otto.

Empress Minnie Moo-Chee Thunderpaws

1993 – 2007

Empress Minnie Moo-Chee Thunderpaws.  First cat.

Minnie, named originally for Minnie the Moocher, was our very first Tribe member.  She’s the one who started it all.  6 pounds of feline refinement, she ruled the house with a velvet paw and titanium claw.  It made no difference to her –  large, small, dog or cat,she let everyone know: She was boss.

The Empress, as she was often called, was very selective.  Strangers were not tolerated.  Many was the time she would run to the door, growling, then turn to see if we were watching.  If so, her job was done.  She’d warned us of intruders, and went to hide in the back of the closet.

If, however, she decided she liked you, then there was purring and head butts and cat drool.  The fine paw on your face, to check if you were awake for pets.

I’ve often thought that Minnie, or perhaps one of  her relatives was the model for the “Tournee du Chat Noir” poster.  It captures her personality so strongly.  Small.  Solid.  Prickly but classy at the same time.  Very certain of who she was and what she wanted.  She reminded us often that her ancestors had been worshiped as Gods for thousands of years.

Minnie came from the Humane Society.  Small golden eyes peering out from the back of the pen.  Minnie paved the way for everyone else.  She taught the dogs, who were 10 times her size, proper etiquette, as well as the other cats.

She eventually succumbed to some sort of internal illness.  We don’t know exactly what, as it didn’t lend itself to diagnosis, and doing a necropsy was out of the question.

Minnie, you taught us well, and we are forever grateful.