update on Gibbs

About time I gave you an update on Gibbs, isn’t it!  This is what he looked like before all the medical visits, with severe facial paralysis on the left side.

After the MRI on 17th May which revealed a grey “mass” inside his middle ear, we booked him in for surgery on 24th.  Surgeon performed a TECABO (total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy) and sent a sample away to be biopsied.

Biopsy results took 2 weeks to come through. It was, as the specialist suspected, a cholosteatoma (I’ll let you google that, if you’re interested) therefore not cancer.  That was the good news.  Bad news: it’s very rare in dogs and when it does occur, it frequently grows back, despite surgical removal.  So . . . we have gained time for Gibbs, but there’s no knowing how long.

In the meantime . . . After 3 weeks of wearing the cone, he now looks like this.

We think the drooping has improved slightly, around the eye . . . but he’s still very lop-sided and is likely to remain that way forever.  However, he’s full of beans! From a distance, and seeing only his right side, he looks like a perfectly healthy Flat-coated retriever.  He’s regained his balance, and trots along in the typical Flat gait (tail fanning out horizontally and head held proudly).   We’ve been warned to keep an eye on him and check regularly for any swelling (which will mean the thing is growing back). But for now, we’re just happy to see Gibbs happy and more or less back to his normal self.

needed new pjs

Before I begin about pjs . . . a quick update on Gibbs. He went in for surgery on Tuesday 24th May.  The grey mass  was removed and he also underwent a TECABO (total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy). Yes, it’s as serious as it sounds and is only done as last ressort surgery.  Anyhow . . . Gibbs came through surgery okay. We picked him up on the Wednesday evening.  He looks a sorry sight:  shaved ear, shaved face, droopy eye, lop-sided head . . . and having to wear the cone of shame for 2 weeks until the stitches come out.   He’s got lots of meds to take.  Biopsy results should take around 10 days.   I’m thinking I might have to make him an eye patch for when the cone comes off.  Facial paralysis (which is permanent) means he can’t blink/shut left eyelid . . . which means he’ll be prone to hurting/scratching his eye in future when walking in long grasses, etc.

In the meantime, I was trying to keep my mind on other things, and distract me from Gibbs’ medical problems  so I did some sewing.   Had been meaning to make myself a couple of new pairs of PJs.  I favour shortie PJs, even in the winter.  I pulled out two well-used patterns: New Look 6871 for the tunic (not really a PJ top but it works for me) and Butterick B4532 for the shorts.

And used two different fabrics I’ve had in my stash for almost 10 years.  Next job is to make myself a couple of day-wear tunics for this summer, using the same pattern. I have the fabric. Just need to find the time.



a bit of this & that

Time for a bit of this and that . . .  not all good.

Crafting has been on a go-slow recently because of family gatherings. That’s good!  I was very busy in April doing lots of sorting and clearing because Mr & Mrs Tattoo are having a change of direction in life.  We told them we would support them in any way we could. They lived in the south east of France, but have moved up to live with us temporarily . . . the time it takes to sell the flat and buy a house. Knowing this, I wanted to make sure they had their own space, so that we’re not living on top of each other.  I emptied things out of the master bedroom (with ensuite shower and little loggia) which is almost as big as the flat they were living in before.

so they can have some of their own furniture in there. And I also organised half the attic space.

They moved here on 21st April, so it’s been a month already. Mr Tattoo has started a new job, and we’re crossing fingers the flat sells quickly so they can start house-hunting.

We also had a lovely visit from Lindashee & Mr Lindashee (whose wedding we were unable to attend in February).  We therefore organised a family gathering for that: BBQ in the garden, with other family members.  We hadn’t seen Lindashee since Sept 2019 so the family reunion was well overdue!

Lindashee came bearing gifts for her old Mum (ie me)

fabrics, DVDs, a gorgeous bag (made by teacakemake on etsy)

and Mr & Mrs Tattoo brought a belated b’day present for me too.

That’s the good happy things going on in life.  The not so good is.

What on earth is that? you ask.  It’s MRI pictures of the inside of Gibbs’ head!

And this is what he looks from the outside.  It all started out with what local vet thought was a simple ear infection.  But after seeing a specialist the other day, we now know it’s much more serious. Gibbs is suffering from facial paralysis: loss of muscle, drooping of ear, eyebrow, face & mouth.  Due to a growth (a very large growth) in his left middle ear.  We’re waiting for a call back with a second opinion and date for surgery, but specialist thinks it’s a cholesteatoma.  In theory, not malignant (biopsy will confirm) but it’s eating away at bone inside his skull and needs to be removed completely. We’ve already been warned that facial paralysis is going to be permanent and that Gibbs will be deaf in left ear, and possibly blind in left eye.  He’s not 6 years old yet, so he’s still quite a young dog.  We’re crossing fingers surgery will sort him out.  He’s young enough to adjust to living with a slight handicap, and we’re not bothered about having a lop-sided dog, as long as he’s happy and in general good health!

happy birthday Le Bleu

Way way back, in 2008, my local vet entrusted me with a litter of 4 kittens to raise.  Their mother had had to have emergency surgery and could no longer feed them. The 4 kittens were 3 weeks old when they came into my care, born on 8th April 2008.   It was a night & day job for the first couple of weeks. And try as I might not to get emotionally attached to the kittens, knowing the vet would be able to find new homes for all when they were weaned . . . I couldn’t stop myself having a favourite.

So as not to get attached to the kittens, we didn’t give them proper names. Just called them “la petite” (a female & runt of the litter), “le grand” (the largest male), “ruban” (= ribbon placed as a collar to differentiate him from his larger brother), and “le bleu” (= blue, because of his almost Russian Blue coluring).  The weeks passed. The kittens were weaned and returned to the vet aged 8 weeks.  Within a few days, 3 of the 4 had been adopted.  But one remained. And yes, you know the rest of the story!

I dashed to the vets and officially adopted Le Bleu, who already felt like part of the family anyway.

So used to calling him “Le Bleu”, the name stuck (and is actually a reference to NCIS – one of our favourite TV series, a French translation meaning “probie”).

He almost didn’t make it to his second birthday though!  In 2009 he was hit by a car and his left femoral bone was smashed to pieces.  Surgeon managed to repair that with metal plate & screws, but only days after the operation, the knee joint became dislocated.  This couldn’t be put back in place for several months, because of the repaired femoral bone that needed several months to consolidate.  And even then, the vet said we only had a 50/50 chance of the knee not popping back out again, in which case the only solution would be amputation.

Here’s a photo to show the left leg sticking out at an improbable angle, before the knee was put back into place.  And stayed in place.   After approxmiately 6 months of convalesence and exercising, Le Bleu was back on all four feet, and (touch wood) hasn’t had any serious health issues since.

Anyway, Le Bleu was promoted to Special Agent years ago lol . . . he’s the oldest member of our 4-legged menagerie (consisting of Ducky, Abby, and Gibbs).  And he celebrates his 14th birthday today!

He’s lost some weight this past year, and his “bionic leg” means his limp is more noticeable as time goes on, but doesn’t stop him living a normal active life.

He sleeps wrapped around my head every night.  Takes over the husband’s computer chair whenever possible. And here, is enjoying the warmth of the sun in the veranda . . . and making sure he looks his best for the occasion.

F2F3 2018-2019 finally coming together!

From June 2018 to February 2019, I took part in a patchwork block swap, organised by Kate.  Link to the F2F blog is here.  I was Miss August and the colours I chose for my blocks were: black, turquoise & grey on white.  I received some beauties but they were put away in a drawer, waiting for inspiration.

You’ll be pleased to hear, I got them out of the drawer the other day, and laid them all out on the bed to remind myself of all the lovely blocks I received.  Cats were only too pleased to help

Just as well I was only trying to remember what all blocks looked like and not actually trying to decide on a proper layout, eh?  Abby made it her job to deposit a little cat fluff on a few, while Le Bleu was in charge of removing a few stickers (one member had labelled her blocks with stickers so I’d know the name of her blocks but they seem to have lost their “stick”lol).

Anyway . . . I actually have a total of 32 blocks in my colours.  Should only have ended up with 27 at the end of the swap but I made 4, Nanette made 4, and my friend Avis sent me 3 as well. Which makes 32.  After some umming and ahhing.  Do I make I  a big 5 x 6 quilt with 30 and then make 2 cushions?  Or do I try to use all 32 and make two smaller quilts?  I finally decided to go for two quilts: 4 x 4 each, and to make them “sister quilts”, ie I’ll be using the same fabrics for sashing, backing & binding, so they’ll be like unidentical twins.

After a check in my stash, and a measure up of my options the assembly began.

This is as far as I’ve got so far.  Only 16 of my 32 blocks here, but they make a nice size.  Not finished yet, obviously, because I need to add outer border, quilt and bind, but this gives you a general idea of how the blocks all play nicely together.  I sashed with plain white and used a dark turquoise to give me 1″ cornerstones.   I’m very motivated to get both finished by the end of August . . . so that it’ll only have been 2 years from start to finish.  Watch this space!

a bit of this & that

I’ve been doing a bit of this & that of late. Some sewing, some patchworking and some crochet.  Sometimes though, we are sent a little sign to say: it’s time to take a break.  This was mine.

Duh!!! I put first sleeve in no problem.  Must have started feeling cocky when I did the second one.  A sure sign it’s time to put down tools and find something else to do for a while.  So I had a cat-hunt wondering what our three cats were up to.  Abby wasn’t hard to find since she’d been keeping me company while I messed up that sleeve.

Le Bleu wasn’t far away either . . . he was in our bedroom, just waiting to strike a pose.

As for Ducky . . . he was fast asleep in the veranda.

and, while I tried to be quiet, and didn’t use the flash, I managed to wake him up.  Sorry Ducky!

Anyway . . . after that quick feline photo session and a fresh mug of coffe, I did head back to my sewing room to unpick the offending sleeve and finish off the Tshirt.  If you want to see how it turned out, you can click here: Claire’s Collections.



change of pace

Life has changed pace.  Staying at home is starting to become second nature. If it goes on for much longer, we’ll probably turn into hermits.  Anyway . . . weather has been gorgeous. Please note the blue skies, as Gibbs and the husband wait (for what?) at the garden gate.

We’re trying to switch off news channels, which just seem to be repeating the same stuff over and over, with no actual new news.  And finding things to do, for example . . . I was in dire need of a hair cut, but since there’s no chance of hairdressers reopening . . . out came the electric shears, and, with the help of the husband, I now look all “neat” again.


it’s a dog’s life!


Photos today of Gibbs, and some crafting for dogs!  First up, a couple of Gibbs during one of our daily walks in the park, where Gibbs burns off all that excess energy . . . either swimming


or simply charging around, enjoying the freedom of wide open spaces



After a good run around,  Gibbs usually zonks out for a nice long nap in the afternoon . . . and, as I showed you recently, I decided he needed a few new bed covers, to allow me to wash & dry regularly.

After the fairly stitch/embroidery intensive bed cover, made using strips of denim from old jeans, which looked like this

dog bed 03

I had a rummage in my boxes of heavy-weight fabrics, and set to work on a second cover.


This one was a lot quicker to make, since I just have one main panel and two bands on one side.  Reverse side is a boring khaki fabric.  I had enough of this “bordeaux” fabric to go ahead and make a second cover.


Zooming in here, to show you a close up of the central panel.  This second cover is going to be for our neighbour’s dog:  Moka, a chocolate labrador.  I’ve got enough of my recycled bed quilts to make a mattress to fit.  There’s no reason why Gibbs should be the only dog to enjoy a comfy bed!

the birthday dog and his new bed

Our lovely glossy Gibbs turned 3 earlier this month (on 6th to be exact) and his birthday went totally unnoticed.  What a terrible dog-owner I am!  To have forgotten such an important event!  So, to make amends . . . I set to cutting and sewing. 

dog bed 03

The cutting was, slicing up of old jean legs, and mainly only being able to use the back panels . . . then sewing together.

dog bed 04

Also being a little bit adventurous with embroidery options on my Juki.  I decided stitch n° 41 was pretty, and an excellent way of reinforcing seams, as well as adding a touch of frivolity & colour to the denims.

To make, a new bed for Gibbs.

dog bed 05

And for the other side:  I chopped into an old curtain.

dog bed 06

dog bed 07

Finished size is approx 100cm x 70cm.  Inside, in case you’re wondering, is half a single duvet:  chopped in half, overlocked, and then folded in half again. 

dog bed 02

I added ties, so it’s easy to stuff into the bed cover.  But also easy to untie, and put in the washing machine for when it needs washing.

dog bed 01

due to popular demand . . . Rio!

A slight exaggeration there, as only a few people enquired or picked up on my mention yesterday of “our parrot Rio”.  I have actually presented him on my blog before, but ‘tis true, I don’t mention him often.


Here he is, and very pleased to meet you all:  Rio, our blue-fronted Amazon.  Rio has been a member of the family since 2004 – he was hatched in May of that year and hand-reared (not by us, but by breeders in Belgium).  That means he’s very sociable and is 15 years old.  Since parrots have a rather long life-expectancy, we could say he’s still in his teens.


Photos are a bit blurry as he wouldn’t sit still and kept on chattering when he saw me with the camera.



I say chattering . . .. his vocabulary is somewhat limited but what he lacks in vocabulary he makes up for in enthusiasm.


Anyway, there he is.  He lives in a corner of my sewing room.  His favourite song is “Pop goes the Weasel”.

And just for fun . . . a few photos from my archives.