First things first–

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My nephew graduated high school!

And he put the sweater I made him on just long enough for me to snap one (not very good) photo:

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The important thing, though, is that (1) he seemed to like it, (2) he definitely seemed to appreciate it, and (3) it fits! The rest is out of my hands.

As to other knitting, I’m almost done with my EZ Green Cardigan. I’m working on the neckband and when that’s done, the only thing left will be to sew on the buttons and to add loops to hold them. So … which buttons do YOU like for this almost-finished sweater?

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I asked Chappy, his opinion and this is what HE said:

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Not particularly helpful.

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Speaking of green–I made this lovely green yarn out of those three bobbins of singles–two dark olive, one light olive–and am thrilled with the way it came out.

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I also turned my Autumn Dreams sweater (which never fit right) into a purse. I tried so many things to try to salvage it as a garment, but none of them worked, so finally … I just cut off the top altogether, added a lining and some leather handles I picked up at Rhinebeck, and here we go.

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Actually, I was really proud of myself for coming up with a way to attach those handles. They had a loop at the end that couldn’t be opened, so I took the neckband of the felted sweater and threaded it through all four handle-ends and then sewed it to the top of the bag (which is actually the bottom ribbing of the sweater) and tucked it in behind the lining. Those handles aren’t going anywhere!

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Didn’t my nephew look handsome in his tux for the prom?

Let’s see, what else?

My sister enjoyed her birthday present:

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Homemade Vanilla extract by yours truly.

Oh, and it’s entirely possible that I might have put my tax refund (which I didn’t expect to get in the first place) toward a new camera. (Cough)

Chappy had a rough night the other night. We had some big thunderstorms and instead of being stoic like usual, he sat in his crate PANTING at me, nudging the latch every now and again because he so badly wanted to be OUT of the crate. I figured he would quiet down after the worst of them passed overhead, but no. So after about an hour and a half of pant!pant!pant!, I got out of bed (about 4:30, this was) and petted him for a while. He was so GRATEFUL to be out of that crate! I still can’t figure out what made him react that strongly. I mean, I know he hates thunderstorms, but to pant nonstop for over two hours in the middle of the night? When he usually is so calm about it? What was it about this storm that set him off so?

Still, other than that, I swear Chappy spends most of his time laughing at me.

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What can I tell you? Life is just a bowl of …

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Did I tell you that I finished my Celtic Dreams Cardigan?

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You’ll remember that this is a cardigan version of Beth Brown-Reinsel’s wonderful “Celtic Dreams,” knit out of my CSA-share yarn (Cormo/mohair blend) from Juniper Moon Farm. I even had the perfect buttons all ready. I think I’m going to run a ribbon along the inside behind the buttons to make it look tidier inside, but otherwise … done. I finished it almost exactly a year after I finished my last Aran cardigan which I made out of the yarn I recycled from my original Celtic Dreams pullover.

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Did I tell you I need to buy a zipper?

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For something I can’t entirely show you in case a family member who’s not supposed to know about it sees the blog?

Did I tell you that Chappy still has a tick embedded in his face, poor boy?

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He picked up a little, sesame-seed-sized tick a month or so ago and I started to pull it out with one of our “Ticked Off” spoon gadgets–which have never failed me–except the stupid tick was so tiny that instead of coming out, it stripped, with the head left in place. I called my vet to ask what I should do and they said to just leave it alone, which was backed up by the JMF group on Ravelry. So … I’ve tried very hard not to touch it, but I’ve kept an eye on the spot. It’s conveniently located just under an inch from his eye, so the little lump of callous that’s formed around it is easy to spot. (If this were on his back somewhere, you can just forget it. I’d never have found it again in all that fluffy brown fur!

May I just say here what a wonderful dog I have? Because, with that tick an inch from his eye, attached to his sensitive facial skin, he let me poke and prod and pull with tweezers and such without a single complaint. It never fails to amaze me how GOOD he is when I need to do stuff like this.

Did I tell you I’ve been spinning?

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After lots of emails back and forth with Majacraft, I finally got the spinning head on my new Aura replaced. They sent a replacement for it right away when I told them about the crack, but I couldn’t–really Could Not–get the whorls off the original one. I got the little plumb screws out and then … no amount of pulling or twisting would budge the whorls, so they had to send me replacements for those, TOO, which is just crazy but much appreciated. Their customer service is awesome.

So, I’ve just finished spinning my third bobbin of singles. This is corriedale from the Sheep Shed that we picked up at Rhinebeck a couple years ago. (Technically Mom picked it up because it was my birthday present exactly 1.5 years ago.)

Anyway, I’d always planned on these three lots of roving would make a 3-ply yarn. Two plies of the olive green, one ply of the lighter green. And how awesome are these bobbins that they HOLD 8 ounces of yarn?

Of course the plying will be challenging because I only have one other bobbin, so once it’s filled with plied yarn, I’ll have to wind all the yarn off before I can continue. Not ideal, but … hey, I’m still happy that I got all of each color on ONE bobbin.

Did I tell you I had a guest post at Susan’s Juniper Moon Farm blog?

Yep, and doing one of my favorite things–reviewing a knitting book.

For that matter, Juniper Moon Farm is coming out with a commercial line of yarn in the Fall and I can’t wait to see it. Mom and I are seriously hoping Susan comes to NJ on her promotional tour and that we get to see her.

Did I tell you I’ve been doing some writing?

I unofficially participated in Script Frenzy last month–the screenwriting version of NaNoWriMo, only instead of writing a 50,000 word novel, you write a 100-page script. I took one of my unpublished novels–one I’ve always vividly pictured as a movie anyway–and converted it to a script. Of course, I’ve never written a script before, so I’m sure there are all sorts of things I’m missing, or structure things I got wrong, but … that was fun! In fact, I think the story is much stronger as a screenplay than as a novel, so good for that.

Did I tell you that my niece and nephew are getting too grown up?

My nephew is graduating high school next month. How did this happen? My little baby nephew is almost a foot taller than me, turning 18, and finishing his basic education. He’ll be heading to community college for the next two years which I don’t think he’s particularly thrilled with, but at college prices these days, it’s the only option he’s got for higher-education (grin). He’s having a hard time finding a summer job because there just really aren’t that many available where they live (or anywhere?), but we all hope he finds something. Not only for gas money (!), but because he gets bored so easily.

My niece is finishing up her senior year at college–though she has one more semester to go. She’s also working at the Merry-go-Round theater in NY state this summer, building and painting sets, which is exactly what she wants to do for a living. We won’t get so see her all summer, therefore, but we’re happy for her anyway.

Did I tell you I bought some yarn?

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Not a lot of yarn, but enough for a sweater. It’s Spud & Chloe “Fine” in this gorgeous gold-yellow color. I used the $50 gift card I got when I bought my new cell phone last November, so only had to pay $5 for the whole thing. I was thinking that Kate Davie’s “Deco” might be perfect for it.

Did I tell you I’m making EZ’s Green Cardigan?

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(Yes, the yarn really IS green.)

You know, the cardigan that was recreated last year? (You might have read about it in Twist.) I bought the kit from Schoolhouse Press which came with the yarn … though I’m not crazy about the yarn. It also skews because it’s a singles yarn, but … hey, it came with it, right? And I don’t have anything I like better, so …

Did I tell you I have a Chocolate-Mint Plant? Sort of?

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A Ravelry friend sent me a seedling to grow, but apparently the trip from Oklahoma was tough on it. Almost all the leaves came off and I’m left with pretty much just a stem. But, I put it in a pot and am hoping for the best. It’s meant to be an outside plant, but it doesn’t seem sporting to put it out there before it’s got its roots settled, don’t you think?

Did I tell you I think Chappy’s top-knot is coming back?

So far as his other health issues, he seems fine. We stopped going for platelet counts at the vet a few months ago, finally, and I haven’t seen any signs of a recurrence of the problem. Whatever caused it is a mystery. His fur has finally grown back–he lost massive amounts just as he came off the prednisone and my feeling is that it was all a reaction to the medicine. That and having any blow to your system can make your hair fall out months later when what would have been the new growth fails to come in.

Chappy used to have this adorable “top knot,” a tuft of unruly fur on top of his head that I adored.

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But, since the Prednisone last fall and the flaky skin/seborrhea/bald spot thing of the last month or so … his top-knot is gone. The top of his head is sleek and smooth.

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But I think he’s starting to get a little crimp to the fur on top of his head, so I’ve got hopes for his top-knot to return. Handsome though he looks with a smooth head, I kind of miss the top-knot.

Let’s see, what’s new?

Well, we’ve got some snow outside. Lots of snow.

And icicles! Some truly monster icicles. Chappy’s kind of living in fear of going outside to his bathroom.

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Seriously, I am NOT complaining about the snow, though. I’ve said before that I think a person can complain about summer heat or about winter cold, but not about both. (Who wants to be friends with someone who complains about the weather practically year-round? And I’m willing to make exceptions for really extreme weather. “Boy, I usually love the winter, but 20-below for two weeks straight is too much even for me.”)

It is getting tricky to drive around, though, because the piles of snow are so darn big. I think the folks up in tractor trailers are the only ones who can really see around the corners at this point.

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I got to see my best friend this weekend, which is always good, even if the reason’s not. Her mother fell in one of the storms two weeks ago and broke her hip, so Dawn came home from California to help out for the first couple weeks she’s home. I’m so glad for all their sakes that it’s not more serious. They put a pin in her hip and she’s doing rehab, but she should have a complete recovery.

Mom and I got to see her on Saturday, too, because there was some kind of mix-up at the car rental place and Dawn was stranded Saturday morning and called to ask if we could give her a ride. Of course! We’ll be there in 10 minutes! (She said later that when her brother suggested calling me for a ride—since he lives about half an hour away—that she said, “But she’s so efficient.” I’m still not sure how that’s a bad thing.)

She mentioned, though, between thanking us for giving her a ride … and, really, her timing was excellent. Mom and I had just gone out to coffee, but hadn’t placed our order yet. Dawn mentioned that she was particularly upset with the car rental place because she had hoped to visit her Mom today. Um, we can go to Chester! So the three of us went into Chester for coffee and then headed over to visit with her Mom, which was actually kind of fun. She’s not in pain and tells great stories and I’ve always liked her, so it was really pretty enjoyable, except for her being stuck in a wheelchair and all.

Sunday, I moved (well, Dad and I) two pieces of furniture in my room and what a difference it makes. I swapped the cedar chest which had been under the window with the table which had been near the door, and suddenly the room feels more open. The table is a little deeper than the cedar chest (10” to be exact), but it can be pushed right against the window sill because it doesn’t have a lid that needs room to open, so it only comes an inch or so further out into the room.

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Something about the way the light streams in UNDER the table makes it look roomier. And the cedar chest by the door actually provides something like a seat for when Mom or Dad come by my room. Before, they needed to pick their way past me, around the computer, past the spinning wheel and the computer cables … mostly they lurked near the doorway. It’s just a shame the edges of the (cheap) filing cabinets look so crappy, from where the tape that held them closed when we moved tore off the laminate.

I’m even going to try using the table as a desk, kind of—at least I can spread stuff out a little more when I do things like book reviews. Right now, sitting on the floor in the corner between my red chair and its ottoman, I need to either lean things against the spinning wheel treadles or prop them on the chair and then get a crick in my neck. (Because the computer itself is in my lap.) I’ll need some kind of nice, tall desk lamp, though, because it’s kind of dark over there at night.

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Now, about the spinning wheel. I was sitting in my usual place Friday night and glanced, as I often do, at the wheel and … was that a crack?? It IS. My brand new, two-month-old Aura has a crack in the Spinning Head.

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I sent an email to Majacraft and (naturally things like this always happen on weekends), they’re sending me a replacement. Isn’t that nice of them? Not only are their wheels stunning and efficient, but their customer service is great.

What else? Chappy got to romp in the snow a little yesterday at the playground up the hill. It’s full of snow (not surprisingly) and he LOVED bounding through it like a puppy. He told me I called it quits way before he was ready, but I had thought we were only going for a walk, not a romp, so he didn’t have his coat on. His fur keeps him plenty warm for walks (if it’s warm enough for us to want to brave the cold, it’s warm enough for him), but the snow gets him WET and so when we play in snow, he usually has his water-resistant fleecy coat on. I didn’t hear him complaining, though.

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He did have one of those odd little “events” Sunday. Sometimes it just seems like his back leg locks up and some massaging helps ease it away, but a couple times it’s been very much like a seizure. Yesterday’s was sort of in between—something about his hips was bothering him, but he sat UP instead of lying down, and was very much mentally present (and looking kind of worried). No drool. No shudders. Just “Mommy, I don’t like this!” And—don’t tell him I told you this—he had an accident all over my lap, poor little guy. But in about 5 minutes he was licking his paws and asking what we were doing for lunch, and did we want to go for a walk? (Because yes, it was AFTER this that we romped in the snow.)

As to his blood work issues and the prednisone? We’re almost done! His blood counts have been excellent (knock on wood) and we’re down to half a pill every other day. This involves some extra mental gymnastics for me (“today-not-tomorrow” or “tomorrow-not-today,” and keeping it straight), but he’s worth it. This is the last decrease before he’s DONE, which also hopefully means I’ll be done with the monthly $100 vet visits.

This winter sure is keeping us busy, though. I got to work at 8:00 one morning last week and the parking lot looked like this.

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Completely empty except for my car, though luckily one of the other people (who comes in from Pennsylvania) was in, dropped off by her husband, so the doors were open and the alarm was off. (This last bit is important because I don’t have an outside-door key.) Usually there are about 8-10 people when I get there in the morning.

Today, though? In the ice storm? The office was open, but … I got there at 8:00 and NOBODY was there. At all! And it wasn’t until about 8:15 that Gail arrived. She does have a key, but she was nervous about the alarm because it had been so long since she entered the code.

It turns out that we should have been nervous because, she hit the wrong button while entering her code so that, somehow, we sent a distress signal to the police department. Not just the “alarm is going off” alert, but an actual alert as if we were being robbed. Oops! I don’t know how we managed that but we felt absolutely terrible! Thankfully the three officers who arrived were very nice and forgiving, but … talk about embarrassing.

By 9:30 this morning, there were three of us at the office (there’s usually a full complement of about 35 by then). Around 10:00 there were four. And that was it. At noon, Gail went home and our part-time person showed up, holding the number at four. This was kind of ridiculous, I thought. Essentially nobody came to work today, but I was there, doing other people’s work because I was caught up with my own, so I decided that I’d come home for lunch and take the rest of the afternoon off. Reasonable, don’t you think?

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This way, I got to watch Chappy barking as the icicles fell.

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I also sat at the table in the window this afternoon, which worked very nicely. It’s a little drafty by the window, but my cute little handspun lap blanket worked wonderfully. It might get awfully hot in the summer, though, but I’ll deal with that when I get there, right?

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And, lastly in this very long post—current knitting.

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Here are the fronts of my Celtic Dreams cardigan, with that center cable broken in half.

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This is what the back looks like, as a reminder.

Man, I love these cables!

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One last look at the icicles before I go.

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This is what my first bobbin of totally-Aura-spun yarn looks like. That’s a full 8 ounces of 2-ply yarn and is half of my “sweater lot” corriedale from Spunky Eclectic.

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Here are the singles of the second half, spun in record time.

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And those singles plied and wound off onto my skein winder.

All in all, I have something like 850 yards of yarn here, though I need to wash the second skein.

BIG skeins, too. I’m loving that the Aura has such huge bobbins!

I got a lot of spinning done today, too. Kim came over and brought her new Schacht Matchless and we and our new wheels hung out and spun for a few hours this morning, which was so much fun. Chappy was delighted too, not least because he got to eat the crumbs from our coffeecake.

Just in case you folks were wondering, I just got the results for Chappy’s latest blood platelet count, and they’re excellent! You’d never know he’d been sick … although he’s still on prednisone, as we wean him off. He’s down to one pill a day, which will drop to half a pill in about two weeks, and presumably none at all a month after that. The vet yesterday said that you’d never know he was on prednisone at all, he looked so good.

Actually, he was adorable at the vet yesterday. When we took him for his last checkup/blood test a month ago, he was impatient. He didn’t want to be there, and he fidgeted through the exam, squirming to get off the table. Not in an out-of-control kind of way, or desperate, just … making sure we all knew that he did NOT want to be there. The vet said that that’s not uncommon with dogs who come frequently, because of course, they really don’t want to be there and seem to think, “But, I was just here, why do I have to do this again?”

Well, Friday, it was like Chappy wanted to show the vet how mature he really is. He sat nicely in the waiting room instead of pacing. (Though I could see his fur vibrating a little from nerves, and of course, he did suggest a few times that we could just go back out the door we came in.) When they called us in to the exam room, he went straight to the scale to be weighed (35.4 lbs, which is perfect for him) and was good while the technician took his temperature. After she left and we were waiting for the actual vet, he sat and just watched the door, waiting. There were some out-of-control kids running around out in the waiting area and he would turn his head every time they ran past the door (I don’t know what their mother was thinking), but mostly, he just SAT, watching the door the vet would come in. When she did come in, he stayed seated, instead of darting away or acting scared or immature. He was so GOOD through the whole exam. A little protest when they drew the blood, but otherwise … such a GOOD boy!

While there, I asked about his eyes, because they always seem dilated (something the vet had mentioned in passing a few visits ago, but when we were more concerned with the blood platelets). I don’t remember what she called it, but apparently there’s something not uncommon to older dogs that make the muscles in the eye unable to contract all the way around the pupil? Her description of it was funny. “Well, he can’t read the newspaper any more.” I just love that analogy for how good/bad his vision is … because, naturally, it’s only puppies who read newspapers every day!

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One more look at my pretty yarn. I haven’t counted the wpi, but I’d say it’s about sport/DK weight. All worsted spun, for strength and wear. Love the colors.

And, folks, I know there are still problems with my blog. It still keeps ignoring all my recent posts and putting that October “Weekender” post at the top … but only some of the time. And things are still running slowly, and I have NO idea why. I wish I did. I’m living in fear that they’re going to shut the blog down on me again for exceeding my bandwidth when I have no idea how to fix things. I’m trying not to freak out about it, though.

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I think Chappy is feeling better. He stole Mom’s slipper the other day for the first time in weeks, and he fluffed Mom and Dad’s pillows tonight. Something he’s technically not allowed to do, but that he feels obliged to do every once in a while.

But mostly, he’s been playing.

Specifically with this toy. Mom and I pulled it out of his toy basket Monday and played “Chappy in the middle” for a while at lunch. But last night, he decided to play with it. To really play with it.

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He started squeaking it around 8:15 while we were watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special. (He even missed Snoopy’s dance on Schroeder’s piano, he was so involved.) Around 8:45, though, the squeak started to die out, but it didn’t stop him. Something about the flavor, smell, and texture of this toy just had him captivated.

He chewed on this toy for almost two hours straight. I stayed downstairs an hour longer than usual to give him a chance to play, but he surprised me and carried it upstairs at bedtime. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen him carry a toy up the stairs. Ever. And then he played with it for another hour or so, took a little nap, and then played for another 20 minutes before bed.

When we moved into the bedroom at 11:45, he gave some serious thought about bringing the toy with him, but decided to leave it behind. But this morning? It was his first stop, running in here to get the toy before heading down the hallway to say good morning to his grandparents. Dad found him napping with the toy between his paws.

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I can’t tell you how enchanting we all think this is. Except for sleeping or walking in a park, I can’t remember the last time Chappy spent three hours doing ANYTHING. Even as a puppy, he rarely chewed on a toy for more than a half an hour or so, and he’s never really been an obsessive dog about toys. This is ADORABLE. Endearing. It’s just so darn cute.

Of course, all this adoration is taking its toll.

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Not only has he torn strips out of this toy, but he’s swallowed some of it, which is why I’ve currently taken it away from him. The latex pieces won’t hurt him, but still … there’s a limit to how much he should swallow in 24 hours, right? Especially considering he’s been under the weather and all.

Still, all this playing is very encouraging in regard to his general state of health. We dropped his prednisone dose last week so now he’s getting one pill a day. (He started at two a day in October, and dropped to one and a half a month ago, and down to one last week.) He’s still thirstier than usual, though nothing like how he had been in October. But … it’s good to see him playing again. I mean, he’s a mature, pretty mellow 9-year old, so it’s not like he plays all the time, or anything, but … it’s good to see.

Now, about knitting.

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I finished that sweater I was making but haven’t bothered to sew the buttons on it, yet. It’s done, the ends are woven in, and it’s okay and all, but … Eh. I feel so neutral about this sweater, I completely forget about it for days at a time, which means I might end up frogging the thing and reusing the yarn (whose color, difficult though it is to photograph, is just lovely).

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I started this the other night, using the 5-year handspun I finished last month.

Blue Square Shawl

It’ll be similar to this old shawl of mine (this was my very first attempt at lace, something like 15 years ago), but probably bigger, with the intent that it will be more like a blanket than a shawl. And, well, my handspun!

Speaking of…

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I told you the Aura bobbins were big, right? The same size as a Majacraft jumbo plying bobbin? Five inch diameter? Well, believe me, because this is 4 ounces of fiber, and the bobbin barely looks half full.

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I love the colors of this fiber.

Now, I might have been able to fit the entire 8 ounces on one bobbin, but since I only have three bobbins (that I can use), I’m only putting 4 on each, and crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to fit all of it to ply onto the third bobbin. At which point I’ll have two more free bobbins for the other 8 ounces I’ve got.

Have I mentioned today that I love my new Majacraft Aura?

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Here’s the yarn I plied on it the other day. This was actually soft-spun using some kind of “I’m still figuring this out” long draw, which is why it’s so uneven. The plying though? Really consistent because, again, the Aura … love it.

Okay, time for bed for me!

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It’s not like that’s a long time, or anything, right? The fact that it took me FIVE YEARS to finish spinning this fiber? Remember, I got three pounds of the stuff at my first Rhinebeck, five years ago. It took me five months to fill the first bobbin, and it wasn’t until August 2006 that I finished the first pound of it.

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It’s really such pretty fiber. Half merino, half silk, in a gorgeous dark gray that looks like purple in direct light. It’s really lovely.

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I finished spinning the last pound last night. November 17th … just over five years after I started. Granted, I took a couple long, deliberate breaks in there, but still!

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I finished my “Faraway, So Close” shawl, too, though I haven’t blocked it yet.

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This should give you a better idea of its current size. Wasn’t it nice of Chappy to model it for me?

Chappy, incidentally, is doing well. We got the results from his most recent blood test back, and his platelet count was right around 400. He’s losing weight, still, though because of the prednisone. It eats away muscle, you know, so he doesn’t have quite his usual stamina, and with his usual amount of food, he’s losing weight. (Thankfully he’s stopped drinking such excessive amounts of water.) He dropped another half-pound since our last vet visit, though, bringing him down to 33.5, which is light for him, so … I’ve been giving him extra treats. He is really upset about that, as you can imagine.

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He’s still extra-hungry, though. And whenever any of us has a snack these days, he sits very, very close in case we drop anything. My mild-mannered little boy has quite a piercing stare, I have to say!

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Anyway, the shawl’s color is really hard to photograph, but it came out beautifully.

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I laughed when I saw this snippet in Time the other day–in the 50-best-inventions article they had, recapping 2010. Um … since when is FELTING to fill in a hole a hot, new invention?

My next spinning project? A small one, as a breather. 4 oz of Finnish Humbug from International Fleeces.

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It looks like caramel.

Speaking of International Fleeces, did you see the new, custom Cooper spinning wheels they’re offering for sale??

Oh, and that sweater I’m making? (Yawn.) It’s coming along. I’ve got about a sleeve and a quarter left to go but am so bored. I thought a primarily garter-stitch sweater would be easy and quick but it turns out that my brain interprets that as “boring” so it’s anything BUT quick because I keep losing interest. No fault of the pattern or the actual sweater. I’m sure it will be lovely when it’s finally done, it’s just … I can’t stop yawning!

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This may look familiar.

I adore this picture from last year, Chappy bounding through the grass, chasing a toy. It never fails to make me smile.

Well, now I’ve turned it into a cross-stitch chart. Just because it’s fun. Even though I pretty much never do counted cross-stitch any more. But … like I said, it makes me smile! Maybe it’s worth pulling out some embroidery supplies … stitched onto a green fabric … how long could it take?

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Or maybe a white background?

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Either way, it makes me smile.

(Oh, and happy anniversary, Patty and Mike!)

Brought to you by:

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Because nothing makes you feel better when you’re under the weather than a new toy.

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This box from SitStay.com arrived at our house today.

They have the BEST shipping material.

Really.

Check out what it says on the top:

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“WARNING: For your own sake, please do not stand between this box and your dog. Dogs have been known to go through just about anything to get to their SitStay box. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

Then, on the side:

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“NOTE TO DELIVERY PERSON FROM DOG: The humans that live at this house haven’t figured out that I can use the computer. I couldn’t wait any longer for my favorite treats from SitStay.com. Please place package where I can get at it. There will be an extra treat for you during the holidays if you follow these instructions. –The Dog.”

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And look how happy!

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It’s really hard to see, but that’s a little sheep-shaped squeak toy that Chappy’s been playing with this afternoon.

* And, really, it’s not so much that he’s under the weather. He doesn’t seem like he’s feeling ill at all. Maybe a little quieter than usual, but even there, only on about every third day. As long as the blood platelet counts stay steady so that he can get off the prednisone, I’m optimistic. But, really, new toys can’t hurt, right? And it’s been MONTHS since he had one!

First up, an update on Chappy:

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His blood-platelet counts from Friday’s visit … 301! (Normal is 170-400; first visit was 63; second visit was 183.) This is great, because we can start reducing the prednisone … slooooowly. The problem is that she wants to see him about every two weeks for more blood work to make sure the counts stay good as the prednisone drops … but that’s about $100 a visit. Yikes!

Is there any real reason–as long as we don’t see any frightening symptoms–that we couldn’t wait the full month until the next dosage-drop is imminent to go for the blood work? I mean, if he seems healthy, is that interim visit really necessary? Confirming the counts are good before dropping the dose, I understand, but going next week, just to be sure things are still good? This is getting VERY pricey!

Mind you, Chappy’s totally worth it, but since he seems perfectly fine except for medicine side effects (thirsty, panting, weak leg) … as a loving but cash-strapped Mom, is the extra $100 visit in-between REALLY necessary?

Here’s an odd thing, though–the tip of his nose has gotten darker. Like, almost black instead of its usual, matches-the-chocolate-fur shade of brown. The vet says she’s never heard of such a thing!

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Of course, it doesn’t help that I fell down the Buy More Yarn hole. All those reports from Rhinebeck about the Sanguine Gryphon yarns finally got to me.

I bought three skeins of sock yarn–all with incredible yardage, and all on sale (which eases the guilt). I WAS only going to buy one, to scratch that new-yarn itch, but …

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First there was this one, Caelus, in a gorgeous, impossible-to-photograph combination of blues and greens, but which I love.

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Then there was this one … perfect colors for me, with that golden-brown, autumn thing, BUT it was the color name that finally sold it … Scorpio. Because you know of course that i am a Scorpio, and with my birthday just a week away, well…

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Then I figured … why not? And went for the pot-luck option and had her add another skein in a surprise-to-me color, and got this beauty. A subtle blend of gray, blue, and green, and really just lovely.

Of course, I ordered all this BEFORE all the expensive follow-up vet visits reared their collective head, but it’s not like yarn goes bad or anything, right? Gorgeous sock yarn is good forever, so it’s just something nice for my stash.

Actually, I really need new socks. I love wearing handknit socks, but tend to get bored making them. I carry an in-progress pair in my purse for spare moments of knitting, but those moments tend to be about half an hour while out for coffee with Mom on Saturday mornings. So, it takes FOREVER to get through a pair. My current sock project dates back to something like March or May or some far-distant date, and I’m not even done with the first sock yet.

This is only a problem because too many of my current socks have holes in them and I stink at mending and, anyway … new socks would be VERY useful. Especially, you know, since I have all this lovely yarn.

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The sweater I’m making is boring me, too. It’s all garter-stitch (except for a small embellishment on the fronts) and … yawn. Pretty and all, but not exciting to knit.

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The shawl is coming along, too, but not exactly speeding. It’s pretty enough, though the color is kind of dull.

I’ve barely sat at my spinning wheel since we got home from MV, either, so it’s languishing with the being-plied silk/merino blend just sitting there. I’m feeling guilty about that. That yarn is never going to be convinced that I love it (and I do) … not when it’s taken me 5 years to get it this far.

But then, I’ve also had my eye on a new one and have been putting money aside to save up for it … until, you know, all these vet bills. Chappy’s vet has pretty much stolen my new-wheel fund, since we’re at about the $600 mark and still counting. Obviously it’s going to be a while before I get a closer look at a Majacraft Aura, huh? Even I can’t justify spending $900 on a new spinning wheel when (1) I’ve got Chappy’s health to think about and (2) am not even spending serious time on the wheel I HAVE.

One thing I HAVE been spending time with? Sherlock over on PBS. Did you see it? It’s a re-imaging of the Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson story, but set in modern-day London. (I have no trouble picturing a current Sherlock sending text messages instead of telegrams, do you?) Last week was the first episode (available free online until December 7th if you missed it), and tonight is part 2. I can’t wait. The actors are perfect for their roles (even if Benedict Cumberpatch’s Sherlock speaks rather too fast sometimes, but then, I imagine the “real” Sherlock did, too). I love the friendship between the two of them, and am tickled that the Victorian-era Watson was newly returned from military action in Afghanistan, and so is this one. Some things never change.

Not that I love it more than Chuck, of course. Chuck is still my favorite show on TV.

For those keeping score at home–it was 11 years ago yesterday that I brought Katy home. This is notable because–well, other than that I love her–the days of the week this year are the same as they were in 1999 when I got her. So Thursday night I was thinking about getting the news that her breeder hadn’t received his check. Friday I was thinking about all the phone calls we made back and forth between them and UPS, and her new travel plans, to come on Saturday instead of Sunday. Yesterday, I kept remembering about the trip to the airport (singing “K-K-K-Katy” with Mom in the car), and everybody’s reaction when they saw her. (“Awwww!”)

Not to mention how very weird she must have thought New Jerseyans were on this, her first full day here, with all the very, very odd people ringing the doorbell!

And then, of course, there was this weekend LAST year … movers came on Halloween to pack up my library, and then on Sunday Mom and I packed up the kitchen and all the other odds and ends, all in preparation for the Move-That-Wouldn’t-End on Monday. (Here’s the recap with photos.)

You realize that means that we’ve been here for almost a year now, right? Wow.

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Update on Chappy (because you all want to know, right?)
We went back to the vet yesterday for follow-up blood work to see how the prednisone was doing. Well, the vet called today and said she had “wonderful fantastic news.” His platelet count was 183–inside the “normal” range of 170-400–after being 67 on Thursday. She said she’d never seen ANY dog bounce back this quickly.
She wants to be cautious, though. Before even thinking about reducing the prednisone dose, she wants to make sure his platelet counts stays normal for at least two weeks, which means that Chappy’s going to be thirsty for a while.
He’s been drinking a LOT the last few days! As in, he’s emptied out his water dish, even with refills, when he’s never drunk more than half of it before. This morning, he sat and pined for his water dish before breakfast. I never put it down before his breakfast because he tends to drink a lot all at once, and on an empty stomach it almost always comes right back up. (Ew, slimy!) But this morning, after 12 hours without a drink, he was so thirsty! I even gave him a short drink to whet his whistle, as it were, while I was making my breakfast, but apparently that just made it worse. He looked so darn pathetic! I felt like a cruel, mean mother making him wait those extra 10 minutes until I had a chance to make his breakfast.

The hardest part (other than getting up so early) was tearing myself away from Chappy for the day–not only because it’s the most we’ve been apart since my vacation started last week, but because he hasn’t been feeling well and he gets clingy when he’s not feeling well.

But, still, it was Rhinebeck, so …

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Mom and I went anyway!

It turned out to be a gorgeous day, too. Maybe a little on the cool side, but there were times when I was too warm in my (newly, if badly, mended) Aran cardigan and orange wool cap. There were also times I was too cold, too, so really, I figure I hit the clothing layer lottery just about right.

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Ramble had a great time–he met Bob (really http://ysolda.com/) at the Ravelry meet-up.
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He also got to congratulate my favorite, newest pair of newlyweds, Jessalu and RR.

(This isn’t to imply that I’m any less thrilled for Jessica and HWJF. It’s just that we didn’t manage to see them yesterday. And, besides, their wedding was two weeks ago now … old news.) (grin)

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Ramble enjoyed the Juniper Moon Farm meet-up, too. One thing I’ve noticed about him, on this visit during his rambles? He’s grown to LOVE being the center of attention! (And, thank you Susan for letting me use your picture.)

I know–your next burning question. What did I buy?

Well, what with the $450-and-counting in vet bills the other day.. TWO blood tests, with another to come tomorrow, which will be at least $100 more…. I didn’t buy much. In fact, this is the first Rhinebeck EVER that I came home without any new spinning fiber.

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I DID buy three skeins of really pretty blue Acero yarn from Brooks Farm, though. It’s about exactly my favorite shade of blue, kind of a Wedgewood blue, the color of my old Saturn, and the perfect shade to wear with jeans. I don’t know what I’ll turn it into, but it’s lovely.

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I also bought a couple bag handles from Homestead Heirlooms. It’s good to be prepared for the next time I decide to knit myself a bag, right?

And … that was it. (Other than some apple crisp, coffee, and a pretzel, but those don’t count, right?)

As to Chappy? The vet called Friday with the blood test results. His organs and blood sugar, all that, are normal, but his blood platelet count is really low. Normal is (I think she said) 140-400, and his is 67. This can lead to spontaneous bleeds, which is obviously bad, so the first need is to get his blood count back up to normal which she says is done by suppressing his immune-system because it’s presumably working in over-drive mode. (Either because of a genetic thing like ITP whose full name I also don’t remember, or a tick-related disease that didn’t come up on the test for the 3 big ones.) So he’s now on prednisone and an antibiotic for just in case this is a tick-related disease that didn’t come up.

Meanwhile, his eye is looking healthier (thankfully), he’s drinking a lot and therefore going to the bathroom a lot, and is generally still happy to SLEEP, though he enjoyed his walk this morning. (The first real walk he’s had since Tuesday.)

Tomorrow? Back to work, followed by Chappy’s follow-up vet visit. (Sigh.)

Chappy had a really great day today … mostly.

First, we took him to the park for a nice long walk. (Though we didn’t go near the stream this time.) We even walked right behind the building where his best friend lives. We didn’t get to see him, but Chappy very obviously SMELLED him. He was going nuts sniffing the path with much more enthusiasm than his normal walk-sniffing. We just hope that, next time Horatio goes for a walk and goes nuts sniffing Chappy-smells, that his Mom finds it as amusing as we did. Because, really, this is the closest my dog has come to his best friend in almost two years. (Sad, I know.)

Anyway, after, on our way home, we stopped at the farm on the way home.

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This is the farm that’s right up the road from where we used to live, and today was its fund-raising festival. We stopped on the way home and walked around for a while. We even saw Chappy’s favorite former-neighbors, and their daughter Jenny, who I went to school with. I haven’t seen her in ages, so that was really great.

Oh, and if you look at that picture, you can see a woman spinning. She’s wearing a long, period kind of dress, but spinning on a very modern Louet. I told her it was World-Wide Spin in Public Day but she didn’t believe me. Or, was skeptical, anyway. She wasn’t that friendly. She was selling shawls made from her handspun, though (which I neglected to photograph). Dad said in the car on the way home that mine are much nicer looking, which is kind of the way I felt. I think my spinning is a little better, too.

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The woman doing the bobbin lace was much friendlier. I’ve tried bobbin lace, you know, but it gets too complicated for me. Or something. Either way, I think it’s gorgeous, even if I’d rather knit my lace, thank you.

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There was a petting zoo, too, though Chappy wanted nothing to do with the goats. (I don’t blame him, he’s never quite forgiven them for attacking him.)

Anyway, it was a wonderful day. All four of us had a great time. Then we came home, ate lunch, and relaxed … and Chappy had a small seizure. There have been a few of these, though the first couple happened while I was at work so that I only had my parents’ descriptions to go on, and they thought that it was a problem with his hip or leg, not a seizure. The one that I’ve seen happened just before I left for work one morning, and the way his eyes glazed and the excessive drooling made me wonder…

Today, he was lying next to me while I did some editing and suddenly started rubbing his face with his paws, vigorously. My first thought, actually, was that he had picked up a bug of some kind and it had climbed into his ear or something (which certainly could cause that kind of “get it off!” reaction). But then he started drooling and shaking his back legs, too. The whole while, he was sitting up. He didn’t zone out, or fall to the ground. He was aware of what was going on … just … panting, drooling, and shaking.

Poor little guy. He’s fine now, though. And, as I say, in retrospect he’s had a couple of these before, and they’re very minor. I had mentioned this to the vet last month, and she said that as long as they didn’t become worse or more frequent, there wasn’t much that they could do. Or something. I’m just glad that he’s fine now.

And, really, he had a great day. Did I mention I gave him freshly-cooked chicken at supper?

Do you know what nine years ago today was?

Chappy day!

Yes, it’s exactly nine years since we brought this fluffy little boy home.

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He came from a breeder in western Pennsylvania, about a six/six-and-a-half hour’s drive from here. We were both agreed that it wasn’t really a feasible drive to do in one day (especially with a seven-week old puppy), so we drove out the day before, a Friday.

I had actually gone to work on Friday, with the plan for Mom and me to leave around 3:00 in the afternoon. I had such a hard time concentrating on my work, though! I couldn’t sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time, and kept pacing around the office on jittery legs, anxious to get my puppy.

Understand, I was nervous for a bunch of reasons. It was only three months since I’d lost Katy to a car and I wasn’t entirely ready for a new dog quite yet. I would have been happier if Chappy’s litter had been born a month later, to give me just that extra month to finish mourning for Katy. Three months just didn’t seem like quite enough time to say good-bye, but it was close enough that I was looking forward to the new puppy, too. Mostly, anyway. Part of me was still focused on Katy. (Which, incidentally, explains Chappy’s extreme sensitivity when her name comes up. Apparently I talked about her a LOT in his first weeks with us. I’ve explained to him many times that, well, I loved her, too, but still. He’s kind of got a little-brother complex there.)

I ended up leaving work around lunchtime because, hey, I wasn’t getting a lick of work done anyway. Mom and I threw our suitcases into the car, hopped on Rt 80, and headed west. We checked into the Best Western in Kittanning and tried to get some sleep … we were right next to the pool, so that was tricky, what with all the splashing and screaming going on on the other side of the wall. Not to mention the nerves. (And cramps. I had truly dreadful cramps that night, which I’ve decided were labor pains.)

The next morning, we met up with another mother and daughter who were also adopting one of Chappy’s litter that day, and then the four of us headed over to Randy’s. The puppy pile? Oh God, one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.

I’ve told you about Red Ear, right? Mom and I had actually driven out to Kittanning two weeks earlier to pick out a puppy, whose ear was marked with red ink. Adoption morning, though, that puppy wanted NOTHING to do with us. He was at the bottom of the puppy pile and looked kind of tormented. I think Chappy told him horror stories about us for those two weeks so that he could have his chance with us. He had clearly set his heart on HIS being the puppy we brought home, and if Red Ear had remotely shown any interest in us, we never would have looked at the other puppies. But, Red Ear spent his time cowering in the corner and squirming whenever either of us would pick him up, so Randy said we could change our minds.

That left two puppies who really liked us. The others had been polite and friendly, but not particularly interested, but there were two who tried to win us over. Chappy and Mr. Personality. Mr. Personality threw every “cute puppy” trick in the book at us and was adorable and charming, but Chappy was smart. He paced himself so that when Mr. P conked out, he was still being winning and cute. He also focused on his Grandma and won her over first.

I was a mess, trying to make this decision. We had never had to pick out a puppy before, and with having lost Katy so recently, and Red Ear being so very much the wrong puppy for us, I was terrified that I was going to pick the wrong one. I don’t generally lose control or have hysterics or whatever, but I was so distraught trying to choose between these two puppies, at one point Mom even offered to get both of them. (When you consider we’ve never had more than one pet at a time in our house EVER, that should tell you what a wreck I was.)

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Ultimately, though, Chappy’s planning and stamina paid off. He said goodbye to his four-legged parents, climbed into my lap in the car (the only time he got to ride in my lap instead of seat-buckled in the back) and promptly fell into a deep, exhausted sleep. I mean, that was quite a morning for a seven-week old puppy!

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He slept soundly almost the entire drive back to New Jersey. He would blink awake when the car would go over a bump, or if a loud truck zoomed by. He woke up enough to sniff and look adorable at a couple rest stops, and when we stopped for lunch at a McDonalds. I did some of the driving, but most of it was Mom, while Chappy and I bonded.

When we got home, Dad met us in the driveway and took Chappy out of my lap. He looked particularly tiny in my tall father’s hands. We all went inside, and Chappy promptly started to explore–a big difference from Katy’s first moments in our house. (She had flown up on a plane and was still traumatized and unsure who on earth we were, and didn’t really want to do anything except cling to me.) Chappy, though, by this time was well-rested and pretty secure that we were WONDERFUL people, so he was delighted to explore. He looked like he couldn’t believe his luck, that he had toys all to himself, and his own dishes that he wouldn’t have to share with five other puppies.

Sigh.

I can’t believe it’s been nine years.

Thanks for picking us, Chappy.

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(Psst. Hi, everyone, it’s Chappy. Mom doesn’t know I’m writing this. I know she thinks that I tried to scare Red Ear so that he wouldn’t want to be with them, but it’s NOT true. He was just a wimp, that’s all. He just LET the rest of us sit on top of him, he had no spunk. There’s no way he would have been the right dog for MY Mom. She needed someone with personality, and … not that other puppy. He was all show, but no real substance. I mean, he was my brother and I loved him, but still. He was way too vain for a puppy, and a show-off.

I, on the other hand, KNEW that I was the only possible puppy for Mom. I knew it the minute I saw her when she and Grandma came to visit when I was little. I was really worried that day when they didn’t pay any attention to me at all. Mom said once that was because one of us had shown some signs of hip problems when we were really little and she didn’t want to pick that puppy, so she avoided us bigger puppies on that first visit. I think that’s just silly, though. Obviously *I* was going to be perfect, but I couldn’t get her to look at me!

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I did NOT tell Red Ear scary stories, but I did spend the next two weeks training, focusing my puppy cuteness until it was razor sharp to make all the people go “Awww” whenever they saw me. I knew I only had one chance, and I was determined not to miss it! And you know, I was still really little. I had a hard time concentrating on anything for more than a minute or two, so you can see how determined I was.

All my hard work paid off, though, and I got the best Mom in the whole world. But don’t tell her I said so. It’ll just go to her head. Oops. I hear her coming! Gotta go.)

Bye!

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It would be a better picture, of course, if I had cleaned the mirror first, but beggars can’t be choosy.

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This one’s not much better. The mirror is cleaner, but my camera focused on the actual mirror, not the reflection. So, you know, take your pick.

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This little guy has been quiet today. I took him to the vet for his annual check-up yesterday and, $192 later, it turns out that he has an ear infection.

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Not a bad one, mind you. In fact, the vet told me we’d caught it really early. The part that astounded her was that this is the FIRST ear infection my 9-year old spaniel has ever had. When I said so, her jaw dropped. “A spaniel?” So obviously we’ve been doing something right, huh?

Of course, now I get to be Chappy’s FAVORITE person because two times a day for the next two weeks, I get to put drops in his ear. You know, those cold, oozy things that tickle and itch all the way down the ear canal? Yeah, those. Chappy just loves those.

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Now, here’s something you never thought you’d see here. I won a contest over at FiberFarm.com and the prize was six skeins (Six!) in one of three colors of yarn. I asked Susan which she thought would be best for me and she suggested “Catcher in the Rye,” which came yesterday. Except, um, I think this is really well named because it looks to me like the shade of orange deer hunters wear to make sure they’re not accidentally shot. (Trust me, it’s even brighter in person than it appears in the photo.) I like orange–you know that–but this is bright orange, and well, I don’t like it. Much as I adored using her yarn for my Salem Hooded Jacket (as seen above), and think her yarn and colors are generally awesome, and grateful as I am to have won a sweater’s worth of yarn … I’m sending it back with regrets. If I had any dyeing skills at all, I might have kept it and tried over-dyeing to tone the orange down to something a little rustier, but since I don’t, I figure it’s better for the farm to get the yarn back to sell than for it to sit in my stash unused and unappreciated. (Well, not unappreciated, because like I said, I’m super grateful, but under-appreciated as regards to color.) It’s great yarn and it deserves better. So … back it goes, with my thanks, because that seems the right thing to do.

I know. You’re really grateful that you were sitting down while you read this, aren’t you? That news would have made me fall over in shock, too.

One more thing–remember when I mentioned this adorable book a couple months ago? IT’S A BOOK by Lane Smith? Oh my God, it’s like the best picture book EVER.

Here’s a reminder:

The perfect children’s books for all us book lovers … because, as much as I love and appreciated computers and e-readers and smart phones and all that? A real, paper book is still something unique.

Now, wish me luck. Tomorrow I go to the ondontist for a root canal that my regular dentist doesn’t feel equipped to deal with, for a tooth that’s apparently infected and more urgent than the one that fractured a couple weeks ago and still has a little, temporary seal on it until it can be addressed. Which, likely, means it’s going to be pulled, along with my one and only wisdom tooth, just as soon as this OTHER trouble-making tooth is taken care of. Yikes. My mouth and my checkbook are neither of them looking forward to this. I’ve never had a tooth pulled before.

(Yes, I only have the one wisdom tooth, the other 3 just aren’t there, and we wonder if my having been 7 weeks premature might have had something to do with that. Anyway, it’s hung in there for decades, now, but it’s at a point where it needs more work than it’s worth and it’s better off just being pulled, and since it’s right next to the fractured tooth that would really need an implant to fix properly anyway … might as well do them both at the same time. Ouch. Not looking forward to that, either. And, did I mention that my checkbook is terrified? But, really, let’s not talk about it, huh? Tomorrow, though, is a root canal on a completely different tooth on the other side of my mouth. Sigh. Have I mentioned how much I hate my teeth?)

Yes, of course, 2010 is the year, but do you know what else it is?

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The number of posts my Mom has written here at Chappysmom!

Two thousand ten posts, as of right now. Isn’t it nice of her to let ME write it? I hope you’re impressed. We … I mean, she started this blog in January 2005.

I’m just proud of the the posts that I’ve written. Not to blow my own horn, or anything. (Besides, that would make me bark, and that would just be silly!)

So, let’s see. Mom usually shows you a picture of her knitting.

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She’s got both sleeves of her sweater done, and about 8 or 9 inches of the body. (That’s my foot, there in the corner.) She just started her second skein of yarn and said she’s glad she bought an extra in Susan’s sale last week–just to be safe. That means she has five altogether, which is good because the sweater has a hood.

Did she forget to tell you what the sweater pattern is? The Salem Hooded Jacket from New England Knits. (She really, really loves that book.)

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She started plying her “Twist and Shout” yarn, too, which I find kind of boring. And drafty. So I usually sit about as far away as possible while she’s doing that.

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Here, she took a couple pictures for you. (She won’t let me use the camera.) She was grumbling about how hard it is to get the yarn to wind on to the bobbin evenly with the plying head, and how she doesn’t like that she can’t get it all the way to the front, but I’m not really sure what she meant by that.

Oh! I almost forgot the best part!

In honor of her 2010th post, Mom’s giving away a PRIZE!

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Her paperback copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting. She loves the book. I see her flipping through it all the time. BUT right now she actually has two copies. The one she bought when it came out, and the one that Potter Craft sent her for review when the paperback came out. She told me to tell you that, as much as she loves it, she doesn’t really need both, so she’s willing to give one up for YOU. Because the book is that good.

To win? Just leave a comment on this post with a guess about how many knitting and spinning books Mom has.

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Here’s a hint.

(Comments are closed because the contest is over.)

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How about that, my town has a farmer’s market now. Or, well, it’s been about a month now, but it’s still new–we never had one before.

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The four of us went over this morning for the first time. It’s small, really, and not too many vendors, but they looked like they were doing pretty decent business.

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It was not, though. Hot enough that Chappy even considered taking a drink from the flower-water at one of the booths. (Not that I would have let him.)

We also had one woman stop me to tell me that the heat coming off the asphalt could “burn his feet, poor thing.” Which I’m still kind of torn about. I mean, she was clearly trying to do a nice thing, and it’s possible that I could have (theoretically) been the kind of dog owner who didn’t pay attention to my dog’s needs. But, still. We’d only been there for about 10 minutes and Chappy was just panting gently. He wasn’t fidgeting in the sun and picking up his feet as if they hurt. His tongue wasn’t dragging on the ground. He was clearly happy and interested and looking around at all the new stuff and, yeah, panting a bit, but you try being out in the 90-degree hot sun covered with fur and not feel a little warm. Her intentions were obviously good, but her delivery came across as “I know best,” with no recognition that I might possibly know my dog and his needs better than she. Like, for example, how much FUR he’s got growing between the pads of his feet which protect them pretty well. Or that, yes, we had only been there a few minutes and no, I wasn’t planning on dragging him on a walk all over town. (Where, in fact, the pavement would have been just as hot.) Mom was standing right next to me and agreed that the woman’s delivery was definitely of the butting-in-because-I-can kind, rather than the “What a sweet dog, but do please be careful” kind of warning a well-meaning person might give.

And, frankly, it was the “poor thing” that got me–as if I was abusing my dog by subjecting him to cruel conditions because I am a heartless, unobservant idiot.

So, yeah, while I’m giving her intentions the benefit of the doubt, that annoyed me just a bit.

On the other hand, I DID abuse and torture Chappy today.

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I gave him a haircut.

AND a bath.

On the same day.

If I had pulled out the nail grinder, I could probably have been accused of cruelty to animals.

You know, for a water dog, he really doesn’t enjoy baths very much. He doesn’t complain, exactly, but he stands there stoically, waiting for it to be over. … Actually, it’s not really the bath that he minds. It’s the being wet afterwards. He won’t stand still long enough for me to towel off anything other than the worst of the drips, and by the time we’re at that stage, I never really have the patience to force him, either. Hell, I don’t even blow-dry my own hair, and even when I did, the only way I could alleviate the boredom enough to get through it was to read while I blew-dry.

What? You think that’s weird? I’d sit on the floor with a book in my lap. Then I’d hold the blow-dryer in my right hand, lean over to the left and finger-comb my hair with my left hand while reading the book. My hair got dry, and I kept my sanity. What’s your problem? Even at the hair-dresser, I start fidgeting before my hair is halfway dry. I don’t like to dry dishes, either. Things dry on their own, you know. Unless it’s necessary, I’d rather just let them do so on their own … especially if the drying-off process means more work for me.

Which is something that Chappy and I agree on. I give him baths, towel him off enough for him not to be soaking, and then let him out of the bathroom. He often tears around the house (which we say is his way of blow-drying) and then curls up in a towel and tries to sleep off the rest of the “wet.” But if you pet him while he’s still wet, he almost looks sulky, like he’s saying, “I’m WET,” the same way a person would say, “I’m FILTHY.” Like it was something to be remedied as quickly as possible, but in the meantime, please, don’t look at me.

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Anyway, he slept most of the afternoon, and I did some more spinning. It’s the end of the Tour de Fleece and I did meet my goal of spinning every single day. I got that pound of green merino spun, and most of these 8 oz of superwash merino. I finished the first bobbin on Friday and am more than halfway through with the second.

I spun a lot of that yesterday afternoon, watching “The First Olympics.” It was a mini-series back when I was in high school, shortly after we’d gotten our first VCR. (Yes, the early 1980s.) My best friend and I watched and rewatched and watched it again, over and over for several years, and every now and again I get a yen to see it again. Especially on particularly  hot weekends, don’t ask me why. So, while watching Robert Garret and Jamie Connolly doing their wondrous feets of athletics, I spun.

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I spent time with this, too. My new computer–and this one’s staying. It’s a Toshiba A665 something-something and I’m ridiculously excited about the fact that it has a number key pad on the right. I’ve never had a laptop with one of those before. I’m still getting used to the keyboard, though–the keys are slippery and slick and my fingers keep wanting to slide off, which I would imagine would be particularly annoying if I wasn’t touch-typing–but is something I can adapt to. It’s much better than on the HP I had gotten last week, which had an annoying touchpad. I’m the only one in my family, mind you, who likes touch pads. In fact, I actively like them, and even at work I use a trackball rather than a traditional mouse. This one not only is more user-friendly than that HP one had been, but has those multi-gesture options, like being able to scroll by using a circular gesture, which I LOVE.

And did I mention it has a number keypad? And now my laptop and my netbook brands match, which I think is kind of sweet. One of these days I’ll take a picture of the two of them side-by-side (which makes the laptop look huge). And also hopefully, one of these days Mom will be used to HER new computer (my old HP) and will stop asking me questions about it (grin).

Oh, and did you hear the casting news for my favorite show, CHUCK? They cast his mother, who disappeared when he was a kid and apparently was/has been/is? a member of the CIA herself … a real kick-ass Mom … and the casting is? Linda Hamilton. As in, the original Sarah Connor from the Terminator. (Not to mention Catherine Chandler on Beauty and the Beast–or am I the only one who remembers that tv show?) I can’t WAIT. She’ll be in the season premiere (on September 20th) and will show up periodically through the season while Chuck searches for her … really. I can’t wait!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Now, I wonder if I could get the rest of that bobbin of yarn spun tonight… Or, no, I should really be working on my book.

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Did I tell you that Chappy had a special cupcake biscuit for his birthday? We picked it up at a fancy dog store in Chester a couple weeks ago–a biscuit baked into a cupcake paper, with yogurt icing and sprinkles. What’s not to love?

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He certainly was anxious to give it a try.

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He tipped it over and gave it a few good sniffs. (I helped with the paper.)

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It was obviously successful, though. Especially considering he tried to eat the paper afterward.

Otherwise, I seem to be participating in the Tour de Fleece. Kind of like the Yarn Harlot, I hadn’t actually planned to, but since I’ve spun every day since it started this weekend, I figure … why not? My own little goal is to spin every day–and if I can turn all 16 oz of my pretty hard-to-photograph green Corriedale into yarn by the end? Well, that would be nice. I’d be happy with singles, even, not necessarily even plied yarn.

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As of this moment, I’ve got 8 oz done. I started it a couple weeks ago, but if I had spun as much as an ounce of it before Saturday, I’d be surprised. The color, though, is much better in the picture I took when I started. (The color in this picture, frankly, is terrible. You’d think I’d have better luck doing custom-white balance with my Nikon, huh?)

Nine years ago today, it was just a short two months from losing Katy in a terrible clash of squealing brakes as she chased her tennis ball in front of a car. There was no way I was done with the grieving process yet.

But, some things are meant to be.

I had lost Katy on May 12th and sometime around June … knowing that I WOULD want another dog eventually … I put out feelers in the Boykin Spaniel group I was in, asking if anybody was planning a litter for sometime that Fall. I wasn’t ready for a new puppy yet, I told them, but I was trying to look forward.

One of the responses I got was from Randy. He told me that he had a litter due around Independence Day, and, out of sympathy for Katy, and knowing I would be a good Mom, offering me one of the puppies at half-price.

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I was dumbfounded. What a generous thing to do! Considering the guilt I was saddled with, feeling that it was my fault Katy was gone, I was profoundly touched. But … July was only a month away. There was no way I’d be ready to bring a new furry-face into my life yet.

We’ve always been monogamous with our pets, you understand. Except for the occasional pair of goldfish, we’ve never had more than one pet at a time. We took our mourning periods seriously, too. Between Muppy and Jilly, we waited a full year. Between Jilly and Katy, there was nine months … and that was after losing Jilly to a long illness at 15. We were as prepared for her passing as we could be. It was nothing like the sudden loss of Katy.

But, I told myself, it’s not like I’d be bringing the new puppy home at the beginning of July. It would be closer to September. And she (for I thought we’d be getting another girl) would be within driving distance, unlike Katy, who had had to fly. And it seemed wrong not to take Randy up on his generous offer. So … I said yes, and started waiting with a mix of eagerness and trepidation for the puppies to arrive.

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Which they did, nine years ago today. It was a Sunday, and we had the whole family visiting for the day when I got an email from Randy with baby pictures. I remember running downstairs with my laptop to show everyone, and we all gushed over them, over the idea that one of those tiny bundles of fur was going to be mine.

Except, there was only one girl, and she was spoken for. Did I want a boy?

It was like another blow. We’d never had a boy dog, how different would that be? Would he be bigger? Would his bathroom needs be different? Would he be going against the house? What would his temperment be? I asked around to lots of different forums. Other than the obvious physical differences, I wanted to know, are there any real differences between boy dogs and girl dogs?

The best answer I got back? “B*tch means b*tch for a reason.” That, allowing for individual personality–which is ultimately all that matters–boys tend to be sweeter than girls.

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And, well, we were having an easier time picking out Martha’s Vineyard-related boy names than girl names.

So, I said yes to my boy.

And, except for a few rocky moments when I missed Katy despite the furry baby cuteness right in front of me, I’ve never regretted it for a moment.

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Happy birthday, Chappy. You’ve done nothing but make me happy in the nine years you’ve been here. I swear we gave you the perfect name because there is so much happiness in your soul. You’ve seen us through some of the hardest times we’ve faced as a family–losing the house last year being a big one–not to mention being a very welcome distraction at 3 months old on September 11, 2001.

But even while external issues have tried to drag us down, your smiling face and wagging tail have done everything possible to help us back up. You’re the family cheerleader and never, ever let us down. Certainly, you met me at one of my lowest moments–still suffering from losing Katy–and you have been nothing but sunshine.

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Thank you, Chappy. We love you, too. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Now, go check out Mom’s blog post today about her favorite grand-puppy.

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This is the face of a happy dog. Because, of course, today was his birthday party. My sister and her family came over and we all partied. We ate well, for one. We had chicken stew in the crock pot (which Chappy loves), potato salad (not one of his favorites, but everyone else loves it so he said it would be okay), homemade biscuits (people-biscuits, that is, that you slather with butter, not the crunchy doggy kind), and carrot cake for dessert. Mmm…

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And presents–in this case, all biscuits, which makes Chappy VERY happy. He really doesn’t need more toys, but new biscuits? Especially homemade ones from his aunt? Oh yes. And how could he resist this adorable gift tag from his grandma?

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Naturally there was cake, too. As you can see, he is IX years old. (Please note the gift bag in the background. That had a single biscuit for Chappy to open on his own. (The other biscuits, of course, were in a plastic bag which makes them non-doggy friendly.)

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As a bonus, my niece was able to come today. We didn’t think she’d be able to come, but she did, so we were extra happy.

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She even brought a game to play.

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Oh, and my beautiful Miss BB sweater that didn’t fit me quite right (because of my darn waistline issues)? It’s found a new home. It fit my sister as if I’d made it just for her, so … I gave it to her! Doesn’t she look happy?

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I got a fair amount of spinning done, too. That’s almost 4 oz there, though I didn’t spin ALL of it today.

For the rest of the day? It’s the Fourth of July, of course, so there will be fireworks (which Chappy hates) and the Boston Pops on tv (which Mom loves). I need to watch 1776 again–one of my very favorites.

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

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I haven’t shown you a current picture of the sweater in a while, so here’s how it looks right now. I worked the first sleeve down to past-elbow length and then paused to start sleeve number two. I figure I want to be sure they’re the same length and match and all, so … I’ll knit sleeve number two to the same length and then work the rest of them together.

Exciting, right?

We’re just coming off of a practically perfect weekend. At least, that’s what Chappy thought. I got out of work an hour early on Friday (always good), so that was a good start. We had take-out Chinese food, too, which is always a treat.

Saturday, Mom and I went out for coffee, stopped at a grocery store (where I bought the strawberries i told you about), and then spent the afternoon relaxing … which was good, because we had a surprise. My niece came to stay!

She and I had arranged it on Wednesday–that she would come Saturday night instead of staying at school into Easter morning. Just … we decided not to tell Mom and Dad, so they really were surprised! In a good way, you understand.

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Sunday, of course, was Easter. We had bacon and eggs for breakfast–a rare, rare treat because we so seldom ever have bacon in the house. (Mom’s severe allergy to anything made from pork, you remember.) We five went for a walk, coming home to a house smelling of roasting turkey–Chappy’s favorite. And then the rest of the family arrived, and he was in heaven. His whole family, fresh turkey … what more could a dog ask for?

Yesterday was a bonus day, too, because I took the day off from work. So not only was Monday morning not “Mondayish” at all, but he got an extra treat … his favorite neighbors from our old house finally came to visit. He hasn’t seen them since October and he was SO happy to see them! Ecstatic, even.

So, you can see why I’ve been too busy to post, huh?

Oh, and by the way? It’s insanely warm out there for April 6th. Hot, even. We’ve got our air conditioning on … which is trying, I have to tell you, but the air blows so strongly in the upstairs rooms (since the system fan is in the attic), Dad had the landlord shut the flow up in the attic because the upstairs room were steaming hot. Except … now, they’re hot because even with the air conditioning on–or even just the fan–there’s nothing coming out of those vents. Not good because Mom and I both get cranky when we’re hot. I hate being hot. Hate it, hate it. And, in April? Way too early! All the trees outside are blooming weeks early and it’s just crazy (grumble, grumble). It’s no fair skipping right past Spring into Summer, you know?