First up, an update on Chappy:


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!


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 …


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


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…


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.


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.


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.



Sculpture by my niece that I wanted to share, and this seemed a good time for it.

Brought to you by:




Brought to you by:


Fiber Stuff


I don’t want you to think that all this fuss about Chappy has kept me from, you know, doing other stuff.

Remember how I told you that I hoped to get all my singles spun before we left for Martha’s Vineyard last week? Well, I did. That’s a pound of merino/silk right there. Pretty, huh? I’ve just started plying them. (Though I’ll admit that I haven’t found as much time to sit at my wheel lately.)


Then there’s the shawl I’m working on. Remember I told you about it? The Faraway, So Close shawl? This is the Briar Rose yarn that I got for my birthday two years ago.


Even with the white-balance in the camera tweaked, though, I’m having trouble capturing the color. (One of these days I should get a white box.) It’s really darker than this, though the color subtleties are all in there.


And Chappy’s hanging in there. He’s been quiet today, and for a wonder, he didn’t want to finish his breakfast this morning. Though, mostly, he ate around the part with yogurt. I always add yogurt to his food for those active cultures to make his digestive system happy–something I’m making SURE to do right now since he’s on such strong antibiotics. My guess is that his stomach’s a little sensitive right now and the yogurt’s not appealing to him–even though it should ultimately help. Not that he knows that!

Oh, and here’s an internet mystery for you … a couple times this month, all the October posts have disappeared from the main page of my blog. They’re still all there in the Archives, but they’re not showing on the front page–not even in the list of recent posts on the sidebar.

I have no idea how or why that’s happening, or what to do about it. Any suggestions? It seems to be working right now, but it wasn’t this morning.  Any ideas?

183 Platelets

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 …


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.


Ramble had a great time–he met Bob (really http://ysolda.com/) at the Ravelry meet-up.

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)


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.


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.


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.)



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Martha’s Vineyard 2010

Okay, here you go–the whole trip in one (long) post!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Left the house at 8:00 and got in the car for MV. Chappy, of course, did not get breakfast, but then, I didn’t get my coffee, either.

The extra addition to the usual group was Ramble, the travelling sheep, home for a visit on his whirlwind tour. He wanted to come with us to visit his old birthplace.


The drive up was pretty normal. Stopped in Mystic for lunch, saw a bride and groom getting their picture taken. Took Ramble’s picture over lunch while he told us all about his last visit to Mystic.

We caught the 2:30 ferry to MV—for once, it was the ferry we were actually scheduled to take, not an earlier one we managed to squeak on. We even had time for a quick snack (coffee and a cookie) at Pie in the Sky in Woods Hole.

On the island, we checked in at the Island Inn, chatted with the woman in the room next door for a bit, and then headed into Edgartown. The weather was perfect—shirtsleeve weather, sunny, with just a hint of coolness as the sun started getting lower.


Shopping-wise, this was a great weekend to visit the island—huge end-of-season, Columbus Day sales, which means we actually did some more shopping than usual. Mom dove right in, looking at t-shirts at some of her favorite stores, and both of us ended up buying more stuff than we have in a while, just because the prices were so darn good.


After walking around for a while, we got dinner from the Newes of America and drove out along State Beach and parked the car, watching the sunset while we ate. (Interestingly, the sliver of moon that showed low in the sky as the sun went down, actually went DOWN, which seemed a surprise.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010 (10/10/10)

First thing in the morning, I took Chappy out to go to the bathroom, and while we were walking around, a blond woman carrying a coffee cup walked by and commented that we must be thrilled to be staying there with so many noisy boy scouts, but I just smiled and said that we didn’t mind, and then went back inside to wait for Mom to get dressed.


Instead of going to Espresso Love for breakfast, we went to the Katama General store instead. It was its last weekend of the season and I’ve been tweeting with someone from there for months, so we wanted to be sure to stop in. It’s adorable inside—small, but with an interesting collection of food, toys, and odds-and-ends, just like a general store should be. We asked if the person who did the tweets (Jackie) was there, but were told no, not until the afternoon, but the man behind the counter called her to tell her we were asking for her—and she told him to give us free scones! A cranberry-orange (which Mom ate) and a ginger one for me. So nice! I made a point, later, of finding some wifi hotspot so I could tweet her a thank you.


After that, we drove up-island. We tried, first, to find a LYS I’d heard about (Vineyard Knitworks), but it was closed, but then we drove on through Chilmark to Gay Head/Aquinnah.


We took the usual photos, including but especially one of Ramble at the cliffs.


Menemsha, too. Mustn’t forget the fishing.

Then we drove out toward Vineyard Haven. (Stopping, on the way, at the Black Dog Café to get a couple cookies for lunch—though the coffee is never as good as I think it should be.)


Mom called Kate Taylor that afternoon, in the hopes we’d get to see her, and found out that another one of her Carly-Simon-fan-club fellow members was not only on the island, but also staying at the Island Inn, so we hurried (more or less) back to the inn and Mom figured out what room she was in and went to leave her a note. She, Kelly, called us after supper and arranged to come over for a quick visit—quick, because her son was sick, but she didn’t want to miss meeting Mom.

Dinner that night was lobster rolls from the Quarterdeck in Edgartown, eaten in the car, before driving back to O.B. at sunset again. The part that was interesting was that they’re rebuilding two of the bridges, and they have temporary stop lights on the street so that the one-way traffic can pass the single-lane bridges safely. Never seen stop lights on MV before! I bought a bunch of postcards, too–something we don’t do every trip. I’d bought a book of postcard stamps, though (20 of them), so bought a bunch, which was fun.


Anyway, so at 7:30, Kelly ran over to say hello—the same woman that had commented about the boy scouts that morning! We had a wonderful, quick, hilarious visit. By bedtime, again, we were all exhausted.

How exhausted? Chappy didn’t even fidget at bedtime like he usually does in a new place.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Woke up, got dressed, checked out of the Island Inn, then, luggage in car, drove to Edgartown to Espresso Love where Mom (phew!) got her blueberry scone. I stopped in Claudia’s jewelry store and bought two simple pairs of silver earrings, and picked up a throw for Chappy’s chair at the Black Dog Home Store down by the harbor. (Some dog biscuits, too.) Specifically there because the girl in the store had been so nice to Chappy on Saturday night.


After, we drove into Oak Bluffs and went to Good Dog Goods for some more biscuits, and to give Kerry a chance to gush over my dog, who was very shy. Though, he was willing to do his tricks, he wasn’t interested in sampling any of the biscuits. We got a late lunch from Linda Jeans (Splitting a tuna sandwich) and talked to Kate. She invited us to coffee in Vineyard Haven at 3:15, so we piled in the car and headed that way.


But first, we went over to West Chop lighthouse for a photo op. Kerry had asked us to take Chappy’s picture, with a G.D.G. logo-bag by the lighthouse for Mom’s (and hers) mutual friend Seamond, so we did that and then drove into town to park the car and meet Kate.


Which we did, and then she, Mom and I went to the Beetlebung Café coffee shop for coffee and sat and talked for an hour or so.


Then, back to Oak Bluffs to walk around the campgrounds and take yet more pictures. (Mom has been taking a LOT of pictures.) On the way, though, poor Chappy threw up in the backseat—luckily on his towel and NOT on Ramble. Then, we got crab-roll sandwiches from Linda Jeans and ate by Ocean Park … again at sunset.


We came back to Brady’s B&B after that, I took a quick shower, and then we went downstairs to his living room to watch Chuck (yay!), though he talked through most of it (grin). He’s a sweetheart of a man, but definitely a talker.

More sleep of exhaustion.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Woke up and had Brady’s breakfast—it’s not an elaborate one, but fruit, juice, cereal, and toast. Tasty—and so nice to eat at a TABLE. We left at 10:00, though, because we had another chance to see Kate and her daughter Liz, who is a Twitter friend of mine. I’m so happy I got a chance to see her again since she’s been so very busy lately.


Mom, Kate, Chappy and I went for a walk, which was gorgeous. The weather couldn’t have been better and the company was great–lots of laughs–but Chappy hurt himself. At one point, he turned his head back and at first I thought one of the red berries from the bushes had somehow gotten stuck on his nose, but no, it was a big drop of blood. Apparently he’d hurt himself on one of the thorns, but didn’t yelp or complain. In fact, just then he did one of those delightful turn-back-and-jump-up-to-say-thank-you things he does that always melt my heart. Mom gave me a tissue to wipe the blood off his face and it came down to a pin-point spot, right next to his left nostril—just barely onto the furry part of his nose. There’s a scratch next to it, but that’s the only really sore (i.e. bloody) spot.

We left shortly after that, stopping at Alley’s store and getting oatcakes to eat. Then, back to Edgartown. We’d been invited for tea by Steve and Karen at the Victorian Inn who are also wonderful people and it just made more sense to go straight there. We parked and walked around for a bit, sitting by the library. (Though, Mom wouldn’t let me read from our book, which is just ironic.) Then, over to the inn, where we spent another couple hours, chatting.

By the time we left, it was about quarter after six, and we both wanted to get these very specific turkey sandwiches from Zephrys in VH, so we drove there (in the dark) and …. No sandwiches. They weren’t even on their menu any more.

We ended up at the Black Dog bakery just as they were closing for the night. I got a corn muffin for supper and Mom had a blueberry muffin. This makes this trip the first ever (I think) that I haven’t had clam chowder. (Sigh).

So … tired.. Chappy’s exhausted and probably hungry (though he ate his supper). Our ferry tomorrow is at 10:45. We’ve been so lucky with the weather–Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were absolutely perfect, and the rain on Tuesday conveniently happened early in the morning (with maybe a spritz around 10:00), and then later, after 8:00. Absolutely no complaints.

Wednesday, October 13th


Woke up to the sun shining, and squeezed in a quick walk along the water in Oak Bluffs before heading to the ferry. We drove straight home, only stopping for a quick lunch more or less right off the boat, and to fill the gas tank. (Something I try not to do on the island because the prices there are horrible.)

We hit some traffic on the western end of Connecticut, but were home about quarter after five.

All in all? A great trip, definitely successful.


There were only two real negatives–Chappy hurting himself on the walk, though that was minor and has already been shrugged off.

But, more importantly, his mouth is bothering him. There was one night when we found a couple drops of blood on the bed sheet from bleeding gums–something we’ve NEVER seen from him before. Mind you, there’s no question that he needs a professional teeth cleaning, but I was hoping to get all of my own expensive dental work done first. But–those couple drops of blood have been followed by a couple days of really bad breath and very careful chewing on anything crunchy, so obviously his mouth hurts. And today he woke up with a swollen eye which has been getting redder and more sore-looking as the day goes on.

I took him to the vet this morning and she said the first thing she wanted to do, because of some red spots inside his ears (petrichae?), was to do a blood test to make sure that his blood clots correctly. Except, she didn’t tell me how darned expensive the blood test was, so that today’s visit–a check up, an eye exam to make sure his eye had no scratches, some drops, and that blood test–cost over three hundred dollars. Eep!


Oh, and I tore a hole in my lovely Aran cardigan. It’s conveniently located between two cables in the ribbing at the lower edge, and it’s relatively small … except, it completely tore through about 5 rows of knitting and I’m dreadful at mending things. I know this is definitely fixable, but I’m not quite sure HOW. I’ve got to figure it out soon, though, because I want to wear this to Rhinebeck!

Now–I know this was a long post, but head over to Ramble’s Blog to see what he brought back with him!


Here’s a hint!



Look who showed up on our doorstep yesterday? Yep, it’s Ramble, our long-lost wandering sheep. He was a little unsure when he arrived, though. Last time we saw him, he headed off on an adventure and has spent the last 12 months travelling around the country, having a great time. But, when he left, we were living in a completely different house, so while he had our new address, he was a little uncertain.


Until we opened the door and he saw Chappy, who was so happy to see him.


We sat down over dinner and talked about what he’s done. He got to be a Junior Game Warden in Maine. Made cheese in New York. Saw the new Juniper Moon Farm in Virginia (something I haven’t even gotten to do yet). Went to Minnesota. Drove along the coast in Monterey California. Then he went to Disneyland! Had a fantastic, historically-informative time in Mystic Connecticut. Disappeared for a while, but arrived safely. New York City! Had an exciting time visiting a laboratory.

As you can imagine, all this story-telling took time. By the time he was finished, he needed a nap.


We asked him where he wanted to sleep, and he wanted nothing more than to sit in his old, comfortable spot–on top of the bookcase where we keep our DVD collection.

Does this mean his journey is over?


But, since Ramble came from Martha’s Vineyard in the first place–26 years ago, if we remember correctly–we figured he’d like another visit. So, he came back to visit with us, see his old birthplace … and come to Rhinebeck! … and then he’ll be on his way to his next stop.

Frankly, it’s good to have him back for a while.

Finally, on a completely different note–one of my Ravelry knitting friends had a personal tragedy the other day. She went for her 30-week prenatal visit and learned that her baby’s heartbeat had stopped. It’s horrible.

In an ironic bit of timing, though, October is Infant Loss Awareness Month, and so a group of us are having a KAL. You can read about it here, at Susan’s blog. The gist of it, though, is that there’s this lovely shawl pattern, Faraway, So Close whose designer is donating all proceeds from October’s sales to the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation–a very worthy cause.

As you know, I’ve never had a child of my own. I know that I have no real concept of the agony a parent feels when losing a child. One of my co-workers last year lost his first child–after a series of miscarriages–when the cord got wrapped around his neck during delivery. And, of course, I’ve told you about my long-lost twin, Susan, who died when she was only a few hours old. These tragedies are incomprehensible, but if knitting a beautiful shawl can bring some warm, cozy, fluffy comfort?

Sign me up.


First things first–


Happy 47th anniversary, Mom and Dad!

This picture is actually from Mom’s bridal shower, not the wedding, but I love how happy they look. (Which isn’t to say they don’t look happy in their wedding pictures, of course, but I don’t happen to have any of them handy at the moment.) But, anyway, it’s what they looked like 47 years ago, give or take.


To celebrate, I brought home a cannolli cake after work, which was fine, I guess, but not as good as it looked.


Though it definitely looked good. It was just the right size, too. Each of us had a quarter, which was just about right.


Naturally, Chappy had some also. (I do so love that pleading look he gets while waiting for permission to clean off a dish.)


I’ve been neglectful about keeping you informed of my knitting. So here’s a picture of my current project. The yarn color is a blue-green sea-kind of color, Kamchatka Seamoss from Peace Fleece, though it’s darn hard to photograph. The pattern is the Greenfield Cardigan from New England Knits. It’s a nice, basic, top-down, garter-stitch, raglan cardigan. There are a couple leaf details coming up, but really, this is about it. Very simple (yawn). I mean, in a good way! It’s going to be a perfectly nice sweater (I hope), but it’s not exactly a thrill to knit. Because, um, easy and low-thought though garter stitch is, it’s not exactly an adrenalin rush.

Chappy’s not himself today. I think he’s stiff, because he periodically sits up and kind of quiver-stretches his lower spin, and he’s been rather quiet. I think the problem is that he hasn’t had enough walks lately, with the weather being so wet. I’m sitting here thinking about where I might plug in the heating pad so that he might benefit for a while. That usually seems to help. At the very least, it helps me feel like I’m doing something. (You understand.)

Hey–Rhinebeck-goers! Did you know that Stitchy McYarnpants is reviving Blogger Bingo this year? Woohoo! I’ve already signed up to be a square.

My current goal is to finish spinning up that never-ending roving of mine. Remember? I started spinning up the last pound of it last month. (I mean, it’s only taken me 5 years to get this far.) I want to at least get it spun into singles, if not plied by Rhinebeck, and it’s looking promising. I’m on the last 4 ounces now, and am past the halfway point on the last bobbin. I’d actually like to get it done this week, before we leave for MV–just in case I decide to bring my spinning wheel with me. (Because, I only have 4 Majacraft bobbins and this will use them all. I really need to get more of these some day.)

I DID tell you we were going to Martha’s Vineyard, right? We’re so excited. The last time we were there was when we dog-sat for a friend a year ago April. The year before, we went up for the (then) Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm Shearing Festival. We haven’t actually had a “normal” MV vacation since 2007. (By “normal,” I mean just us going up and hanging out–though we hope to see friends, if we can.) We’re leaving on Saturday and we can’t wait.

Family Saturday


We went up to my sister’s house today. It was blessedly sunny for the first time in days. (Though we were all amazed at how high and muddy the Delaware River was when we drove over the bridge.)

It was such a nice day, too, with the whole family together. Well, almost. My niece was away at college, so she wasn’t there. We missed her, but had a good time anyway.


Chappy’s favorite part was when we all went for a walk. (My nephew was out on his bike with a friend at this point.) I’m still amused at the range of clothing layers among the five of us–from shorts and a t-shirt to pants and three layers.


We walked around to one of my sister’s friend’s houses. She wasn’t there, but we wanted to see the stream in the back.


It was so pretty! It does this big, looping twist through the backyard. Patty said that it was the reason they  bought the house, and, well, I can completely understand. Of course, the stream was running faster than usual, also. Did I mention that we’ve had a TON of rain lately? Not as much as, say, North Carolina, but still.

It turned into a gorgeous weekend, though. I’m so happy for Jessica’s sake–she’s getting married this weekend!

Sadly, the weekend wasn’t as good for Kim. She had an electrical fire at her house last night. (Yes, this is the Kim who invited us to the historical house tour last weekend.) Luckily, everyone is okay and the only real damage was to the wiring (which, really, is damage enough), but … scary!


Yep, really pretty.

How about you? How is your weekend going?



A pretty sun-scape to start my day.

The best part, though?


Seeing this little face every morning, just waiting for the door to open so he can start the day. And, in the meantime? He’s got his own yellow afghan to snuggle with.

Brought to you by:


Books I read in September 2010

Here’s what I read in September:

  1. Pivotal Decades: The United States, 1900-1920 by John Milton Cooper. History of the first two decades in the U.S. You only THINK they were dull and boring. (Well, no internet, but still…)
  2. Break In by Dick Francis
  3. Bolt by Dick Francis. These two Dick Francis books go together–a rare pair with the same main character, Kit Fielding–possibly my favorite Dick Francis lead. Great mysteries.
  4. The Silver Pigs (Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries) by Lindsey Davis
  5. Shadows in Bronze: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery by Lindsey Davis
  6. Venus in Copper by Lindsey Davis
  7. The Iron Hand of Mars: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery by Lindsey Davis
  8. Poseidon’s Gold: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery by Lindsey Davis. The first several books in this mystery series that takes place in ancient Rome. They’re totally enjoyable and I haven’t read them in years. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy all of them as they came out and, even though the series goes on (there’s a new one out in hardcover as we speak), many of them are out of print and I just didn’t have the heart to keep reading when I couldn’t keep going in sequence, so I stopped after five.
  9. Thendara House by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Another old book, one from when I was still in high school. A Darkover fantasy book about a Terran and a Darkovan both trying to fit in. Always been one of my favorites.
  10. Tomorrow Log by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. A stand-alone book, awfully similar to the Liaden books in tone, but having nothing to do with them. But … two of my favorite authors, an engaging story. ‘S’all good.
  11. A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 by G.J. Meyer. SUCH a good history of WWI. Heartbreaking, the senseless deaths, but a riveting story. Excellent.
  12. The Ark by Margot Benary-Isbert. Speaking of books from when I was younger, how about this nice children’s book about life in Germany just after WWII? Sweet, and I haven’t read it since I was about 15.
  13. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  14. All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown by Sydney Taylor. A little more childhood nostalgia.
  15. Mystic and Rider (The Twelve Houses, Book 1) by Sharon Shinn
  16. Dark Moon Defender (The Twelve Houses, Book 3) by Sharon Shinn.
  17. Reader and Raelynx (The Twelve Houses, Book 4) by Sharon Shinn. Well, you know I love Sharon Shinn, and her books DO live in the hallway right outside my bedroom, so …
  18. Entree to Entrelac: The Definitive Guide from a Biased Knitter by Gwen Bortner. Review here.
  19. Aran Knitting: New and Expanded Edition by Alice Starmore
  20. Knitting it Old School: 43 Vintage-Inspired Patterns by Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan. Review here.
  21. Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters: Book Two in the New Pathways for Sock Knitters Series by Cat Bordhi







1930 Ford A-Roadster. Lovely!

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Dawn’s Bag–For Sale!


I got so many compliments on my bag, I decided that it would be outright selfish of me not to share it with the rest of you.

So, I introduce the pattern …

Dawn’s Bag


I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

In college, my best friend had a fabulous bag. It was part purse, part bookbag, and entirely wonderful.

To be honest, I don’t actually remember that much about the bag itself. Was it leather or suede? Round or rectangular on the bottom? How big was it?

What I do remember though is its handle. Instead of ordinary handles, it had a series of rings attached to the top of the bag with one, long, connected handle threaded through them. The simple act of picking up the bag closed it. Putting it down and relaxing the handles opened it to get inside. Completely unique.

That, and they made the prettiest chime when they rubbed against each other.

Darn it, I wanted one! So…

• Peace Fleece Worsted Weight yarn (200 yds/4 oz.), 3 skeins
• US 7 (4.5 mm) circular needles, in 24” length
• 2 cable needles
• 8 rings for the handle (between 1” and 2” in diameter, your choice)
• Crochet hook (optional)
• One yard of lining material (I used cotton, quilting-weight fabric)
• 12” zipper (optional)
• 1/2 yard interfacing (optional)
• Cardboard, plastic, or TimtexTM interfacing for stiffening the bottom of the bag
• Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Almost any similar-weight yarn that will wear well

Bag 10” tall, 5” wide.

19 sts x 28 rows = 4”/10cm

Difficulty: Intermediate. Pattern involves reading a stitch chart, picking up stitches, knitting in the round, and very basic shaping. Also, sewing skills, if you choose to make the lining.


You can buy it here on Ravelry!

You don’t have a Ravelry account? You’re in luck! Because you can also buy it HERE!

Highs and Lows

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.


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.


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.


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?



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Garden State Fiber Festival

The Garden State Sheep Breeders’ Sheep and Fiber Festival. Or the New Jersey Sheep and Wool Festival. I honestly can never remember the official name of this event, but whatever you want to call it, Mom and I went yesterday.


Sheep-herding. (Don’t tell Chappy there were any dogs there, please.)






An unfortunate Poodle-cut for this poor sheep.



A very cute, very little, very young baby alpaca and his/her Mom.


A clown, even!


Some results from the photo contest.


Some adorable felted pumpkins. I offered to buy one for Mom, but she said no (even though she does love pumpkins).

We also saw–though I took no pictures of–Risa and the twins, Kim, Jessica, Anne, and several other people we know, which made it particularly nice.

Mom and I got home around 2:30, I think, and were both exhausted. It’s frankly a little worrying. If three hours at a fiber festival and a little over two hours in the car can wear us out this badly … how exhausted are we going to be after Rhinebeck?

Today I’ve been busy with Sunday stuff–chores, mostly. Lots of laundry, some dusting. I finally got around to cleaning that full-length mirror I sometimes use for photos. I baked Dad an apple pie. I scrubbed the bathtub (something I should do more often).  You know, stuff like that.

I have been spinning, though not as much as I was during the Tour de Fleece. I bought some new fibers to try, too,


This is a few ounces of various fibers from International Fleeces, including some authentic Stansborough Grey from New Zealand, the one and only authentic wool used in Lord of the Rings. I bought some fiber to spin, but also some lace-weight yarn. Enough for a shawl, though I’ve been missing my lace mojo lately.

Otherwise–working on my book (up to 30,000 words now). Thinking about writing up that bag pattern because I’m so happy with it–though that will mean knitting a second one to make sure all my notes work. (Gosh, a second bag? That’s just dreadful.)

One other thing we’re excited about? Mom, Chappy, and I made our reservations for our next trip to Martha’s Vineyard–next month! We haven’t been to the island in the Fall since something like 1998 and I can’t wait. We’ll be staying in two different places because neither of them had all four nights available. This is fine because we like both spots, but it will be interesting to see how Chappy handles changing hotels mid-trip. He’s never done that before, and it usually takes him a night to really settle in to a new place, so we’re hoping he’ll sleep that third night away! The one negative is that, the B&B we’ll be staying at that Monday night doesn’t have internet (yikes) or television so (double-yikes) we won’t be able to watch CHUCK that night. (Gulp.) We’ll manage, though… and, anyway, vacations are NOT about television.

Oh yes, one more thing. I know I’ve been posting less often lately and it’s mostly because I keep getting nasty notes from my hosting provider telling me I’m above my monthly limit. I still don’t quite see how that’s possible, but since I don’t know how I could possibly make this blog use less bandwidth, the only thing I can figure is that, if I post only a couple times a week, rather than almost every day, I’ll automatically be using less space. And that will have to do until I can figure out something more permanent. I promise, if you suddenly find that this blog is unavailable, it is NOT because I’ve decided to stop posting without telling you! It will entirely be a administrative snafu.

So … gonna go start the pot roast now.



Happy 27th birthday, Jilly.

(One of my all-time favorite pictures of her, all dressed for my sister’s wedding. She didn’t get to GO, mind you, but she wanted to celebrate just the same, and sat in her favorite, most-photogenic spot for the photo. That orange chair was SO perfect for her coloring.)

I still can’t believe she’s been gone for 12 and a half years.

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The body of my bag is done. Isn’t it pretty?

Okay, I know, you can’t really tell yet, but trust me. I’m very happy with the way this is coming along. I finished the knitting tonight, and then ran a row of crochet along the bottom, where the sides meet the bottom panel, to give it just a little more firmness, to keep it from stretching out quite so much. I like the more distinct line there at the edge.


These are the rings I’ll be putting at the top, to thread the handles through.

I’ve been planning all along that I would pull off (somehow) the clips. These are drapery rings, and designed to string onto your curtain rod and then to hang the drapes with the clips. All I wanted were the actual rings, with the plan to attach them to the bag with knitted strips, somehow.


But, now I’m having a “Duh” moment and thinking … why not just USE the clips and attach them to the bag that way?

Though… I’m not crazy about that “industrial” look. And I worry that the clip could, eventually, bite through the yarn and make a hole.


It’s a tempting idea, though. Maybe if I put something sturdy, like ribbon, along the inside edge? At the very least, this will be handy for determining the final placement of the rings for the handle.

But … no. Those clips are SHARP, for gripping curtains and drapes firmly. They’d eat right through my yarn and eventually cause holes, don’t you think?


So … I pried them apart and sewed them on.


As to lining … I had a bunch of choices.

My creation

These were my four favorites. I was torn … right up until I tried folding them inside the bag and pretending to open it, at which point there was no question.


I really love this fabric, too. Sunshiny and bright, and perfect for the lining. I made one, big section for the center, but made two outer pockets as well. (Well, outside the zippered, center section, but inside the knitting.) I like the security of a zipper because I like to know my stuff won’t fall out if I drop my purse, but it is handy for cell phones and car keys if they’re kept separate. I’ve toyed with the idea of sewing my original swatch on the outside, too, for a little extra touch.


My only problem was that … ignoring the fact that I’ve seen countless purses and bags over the years, all with zippers whose ends extend past the edge of the bag … usually tucked in behind the lining … so that they open ALL the way, and the lining can be attached to the bag all the way around…


I stupidly ordered a 10″ zipper … just the right length for the side of the bag, but … hard for actually attaching the lining. I considered ripping it out and replacing it with a spare, longer, brown zipper from some sweater or other years ago, but kind of patched in a work-around instead. It’s not perfect, but it looks okay and works, so I’m not complaining.


The handle, as planned, feeds through the rings. I like the way it came out, too. I wanted it made of the same yarn, but I didn’t want to do i-cord because (other than being endless to knit this much of it), it’s not sturdy enough for a handle. Not unless you felt it or run a length of rope or cord or something down the inside to keep it from stretching. I originally planned on making a rope out of the yarn by twisting, plying, cabling lengths of the yarn together, but it ended up not being quite firm enough for the wear and tear. So, I took my three lengths of 2-ply (made from 4 strands of yarn in each ply–24 lengths in all), and braided them tightly. Love the way they came out.


All in all? Very happy!