Guest Post: Creating Happiness by Tara Fox Hall

Snake cat bed

If you would like to win this beautiful ‘snake’ cat bed, please leave a comment for Tara (US only). The winner will be chosen at random next week

A would like to extend a very warm welcome to my guest, Tara Fox Hall. Tara’s love of cats comes over very strongly here as she tells how she came to make cat beds for animal shelters. Tara has been a frequent guest on my blog over the past year, and always manages to surprise with her caring and generosity.

Tara Fox Hall at LetchworthThere are those that say that happiness can’t be bought. Godiva chocolate aside, I believe that is likely right. But it can be brought forth with the gift of creation. Some people have talents for fundraising, or for organizing people to achieve a common goal. Others are innovators and problem solvers, able to find answers to complex issues that plague our society. Still others are caregivers, donating their time and love in a physical sense. And some—like me—are crafters, using our fondness and skill for creation to bring a little more happiness into the world.

Maine Coon on a cat bed

Enjoying the moment!

It started simply: I was taking time off to help my mom—and subsequently poorer than I’d ever been since getting out of college—and it was coming up on Christmas. So I took my grandmother’s sewing machine I’d inherited and taught myself to sew, beginning with tablecloths and placemats and pillows that were easy. After the holidays, I noticed that my couch style dog beds I’d bought years ago were all close to needing replacing, but I didn’t have the money to replace them (think 75-100$ each). So instead, I decided to make new covers. With a lot of trial and error, I made new covers for a fraction of the cost. Better yet, I made a pattern so I could continually make new ones.

With my dogs taken care of, I turned my attention my cats. I’d never really had cat beds per se; the cats that called my home their home just slept wherever they chose. Intrigued, I tried a few different styles and got some real-time cat feedback, finally settling on the most popular design; an oval bed with a detachable center cushion. After seeing how much my cats liked them, I began making them for family and friends. Then it occurred to me that animal shelters might appreciate some donated beds, also.

I have been making cat and dog beds of various designs for shelters now for five years. At first, I made them for SPEAK, Inc, a local shelter that I had been doing volunteer work for since 1992. But I enjoyed making them so much that I

Cat on green floral bed

One very cosy cat on her new bed

contacted other rescues and also offered my beds to them. To date, I have made beds, cage pads and crate pads for the Binghamton Humane Society, Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary, SPEAK, Inc., Animal Care Council, Lifelong Tails, Springfarm CARES, ECMCR (East Coast Maine Coon Rescue) and now OMCR (Only Maine Coon Rescue). Total, I would guess I have made over 300 large beds and 200 cage/crate pads to date.

The beds aren’t hard to make, but they are time-consuming. I have been questioned several times as to why I don’t make them for profit, as they are so popular with cats. The reason is that the material and stuffing costs so much that I’d have to charge a high price, and even then, the margin would be a small one, considering the time they take to make. So instead, I opt to continue donating them. The shelters win, as they get high quality beds that stand

up to many washings. I win, as donating these beds instead of selling them allows me to write off the cost of the materials

while letting me enjoy my sewing hobby. And the cats win, as they have a little more joy in their worlds, especially the

December the cat

Testing for softness!

ones that are very old, or have serious health ailments that are not adoptable. It’s my small way of buying happiness and giving it to others in need.

If you have a talent for something, consider trying to use it to benefit a charity of your choosing. Everyone can always use a little more happiness in his or her world.

I am happy to donate a snake pattern cat bed in honour of Shadow Man, Book 2 of the Lash series, to one lucky commenter.

If you would rather not trust to luck, I am donating a bunch of cat beds to Only Maine Coons Rescue They will be selling them at:

The Meadowlands Expo Center
355 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ 07094
Nov 16th-18th Fri. 4 pm – 8 pm Sat. 10 am – 7 pm Sun. 10 am – 5 pm.   AS well as putting a few online in their Facebook auction which opens 11-7-12

Shadow Man by Tara Fox Hall - Book coverShadow Man – The Blurb                                                                                                                                                                                                        The renegade vampire Eli begins amassing a flock of true believers, threatening America’s vampire hierarchy. Weresnake Lash partners with old enemy Danial and new allies Burl and Spiderboy to track down and annihilate them. Betrayed and left for dead, Lash re-emerges the victor, edging ever upward in the Assassin’s Ranking, and catching the eye of the sultry nightclub singer Cassandra Nile. Drawn into drugs by Cassie, Lash begins to doubt himself, yearning to leave his life of violence, even as enemies close in from every side.

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Read an excerpt

Weeks passed as we pursued Eli all over the Southwest. We had some close scrapes, but we managed to come out with us still alive, even as we killed more and more vampires.

Then, on May 30th, we got the break we’d been waiting for. We’d been chasing Eli through Nevada for the past two days, trimming his last batch of vampires from him, until now the force was little more than seventy. Some vampires had even broken with him, but according to Devlin’s wishes, we killed them too, even when they surrendered to us on their knees, begging for their lives.

I wish I could say I felt something for them, but I didn’t. I thought of my sister at home, her children missing their father, and I killed them with a song of vengeance in my heart. I killed some of them for Jeanna, too; she’d never wanted any of this, and not gotten even one night in warm water beneath clear sky and stars before meeting her doom.

We finally cornered Eli and his remaining forces in a small town just before daybreak. They had abandoned their trucks outside the town near a wide river. Burl burnt the one bridge leading out of town and disabled their trucks, while I went house to house using my sense of smell to find out where they’d holed up for the day. At just about six p.m., I found them.

Eli and his remaining force were holed up in a burnt-out school. The place was falling down; the bricks over one window had cracked apart to spill like toppled cards onto the weedy lawn below, all of the windows were broken, and a small section of the roof was missing. The fucking place looked condemned, like it might fall down at any moment. It was filled with shadows, and in those shadows, seventy-some vampires were waiting for us, knowing this shitpile would be their grave if they didn’t succeed in killing us. Burl and I looked at each other; neither one of us was eager to go in. We were both sure to get wounded badly, if not killed.

But daylight was waning. And so we went in.

The halls were filled with dust and the charred remains of desks. Burl went first, picking his way through the debris holding a globe that glowed. He’d used it before; it was some kind of magical object he’d picked up over in Asia. I grumbled at him, saying it ruined my night vision, but Burl countered that it ruined the vampires’ night vision too, and that was better than nothing.

We checked the basement first, and killed about ten vampires, mostly in one-on-two skirmishes. But the majority were not there. It wasn’t until we reached the second floor that we were attacked in earnest.

Burl was just rounding the corner when a vampire dropped onto his back silently. And then they were everywhere, snarling, their fangs gleaming. I felt at least three pairs of sharp fangs sink into me, and then I was shooting, blowing them away from me, and before I could breathe twice, I was out of bullets.

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For info on my recently published series books, click on the titles.

Lash: Shadow Man     Broken Promise