Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas at the Movies

Charlie under the tree
Because of the way the holidays have fallen this year, mid-week, Mike has had a lot of time off.  But I'm not working and we are in money-saving mode, so we decided not to travel anywhere.  What have we been doing to pass the time?  Movies!

So far we have gone to the cinema to see Les Miz, Jack Reacher, and The Hobbit.  We've also rented a fair amount, including Resident Evil (5? 6? whichever is the newest one), Outpost (a movie about zombie Nazis, and not that bad, all things considered), Fire with Fire (with Bruce Willis, although I'm pretty sure he did it as a favor to someone), a movie about Bigfoot that stars a guy I used to work with, and a few others.

Of course we've watched the usual Christmas movies on television.  A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Muppet Christmas Carol, everything on The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime for the last month.  But this year, the movie I've seen more than any other is Love Actually.  This year I am completely enamored with this movie!  I can't explain why, either.  I saw it in the theatre when it first came out and have watched it a few times since, but this Christmas I think I have watched some of it about a dozen times.  (I suppose it helps that we have HBO this year, which I have never had as an adult, and since HBO seems to be playing it at least once per day I have had numerous opportunities to watch it.)

I think the film has some great moments.  Hugh Grant dancing to the Pointer Sisters is fabulous.  Andrew Lincoln (before he became a zombie hunter in The Walking Dead) announcing his love to Keira Knightly on placards is so sweet and special.  Laura Linney's little dance of joy on her steps when she finally--finally!--has her crush Karl in her home is such a truthful moment.  I mean, what person hasn't done something like that?

But I think my favorite moment is when Emma Thompson (love her) gets a Joni Mitchell CD (love her) from her husband, Alan Rickman (love him), when she was expecting a very expensive gold heart necklace (which he has given to his secretary, that rat).  Emma Thompson excuses herself to her bedroom to basically collect herself.  She has the the CD playing to "Both Sides Now" (love that) and just...stands.  After a moment she leaves the bedroom to go back to her family, but on the way out she straightens the blanket on the bed.  It shows her connection to her family, her home, and her life.  She doesn't just leave the room, she leaves it a little bit better, out of force of habit--a little pat to a piece of furniture, straightening something, because there is so much to do that you are always doing something.  And maybe, if the coverlet is straightened, everything will be okay.  It is just such a heartbreakingly true moment.  What wife/mother/partner hasn't done that?

I would write a proper review of the movie, but it is on right now for what I guess might be the last time of the season.  So I am going to light the Christmas tree one last night and watch it again, for the last time this year!

And I leave you with some gratuitous cute pictures of the dogs with some Christmas decorations thrown in for balance.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Game Day Antics

Because we are from Michigan, many people think we should be Lions fans, but that just isn't so.  See, we are from the Upper Pennisula.  We grew up less than two hours from Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Two hours NORTH, so when you see Lambeau Field on television, and the announcers talk about how cold it is, it was just as cold or colder where we were. 

But that makes us big Green Bay Packers fans.  Both our families are, too.  Packer stuff is always considered a tasteful gift, and Packer gear is considered appropriate attire for most occasions.  Our guest room has a Packer theme.

One of the biggest rivals of the Packers is the Minnesota Vikings.  So when I saw that our neighbor, Kelly, had this:
I had to get Mike one for his birthday.  In the correct team colors, of course.
These guys are those silly blow up lawn ornaments that started out as Christmas decoration but have morphed into whatever occasion might need some over-sized expression of fun.

The Packers are playing the Vikings today.  (In fact, they are playing right now, as I am writing this.)  We generally put up Tiny on game days, along with our Packer flag.  In order to taunt Kelly the Viking Fan, we had to move Tiny from his normal spot.  Generally he sits right in front of our porch.  This week, however, he has moved "down the field" a bit, to the intersection near Kelly the Viking Fan's house.  This did not go unanswered by the Viking Fan, although he had to get creative, too.
Luckily we have some good neighbors.  And a lot of extension cords.  I think Mike has about 100 feet of extension cord out there in order to get Tiny down the block.
Note our Packer flag zip-tied to the street sign.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In my absence

I've stayed away from here for longer than I meant.  At first I was just exhausted from studying for finals.  Then my mother-in-law was in town.  And then I didn't feel quite right posting over the weekend end, in light of what had happened.  A "hey, here's what I'm doing" post seemed inappropriate, somehow.

But here I am.  And here is what I've been doing.
This is my nightstand.  It doesn't quite look like this anymore, and usually there are some other things, like eyedrops, on there somewhere.  (I had laser eye surgery a year ago and I highly recommend it.  It has changed my life.  The downside is that I have to use eyedrops a lot, especially in the morning.  It can make wearing mascara a pain in the patootey.)  This is the pile of books I hope to get through before I go back to school on 15 January.

(I'm going to link these to their respective Amazon pages, but I get nothing back from Amazon.)

In no particular order, the line up is:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  I've actually read about two-thirds of this and then got sidetracked by I'm not sure what.  Anyway, I want to finish it.  And I really like that the present-day narrator lives in Rhinebeck, NY.

Consider the Oysterby MFK Fisher.  Being both a foodie and a reader, I've been meaning to read this for years.  I know that I bought it when I lived in California, so that means I've had if for at least four years.  It's time to read it.  It is, after all, a very small book.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  I wanted to read this before the movie came out.  I didn't get around to it, so I never saw the movie.  (According to the reviews, I'm not sure that is anything to lament.)  I've heard good things about the book, though.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I mentioned that I saw this on a table at a bookstore, and a friend of mine sent along her copy.  I honestly can't even remember what it is about right now, just that it sounded interesting.

World War Z by Max Brooks.  Zombies.  What can I say?  And besides, I have to read it before Brad Pitt completely ruins it.

The Best American Essay of 2012.  I've been reading this series for years.  I love the literary essay, creative non-fiction, what ever you want to call it.  This series is guest edited each year by a different author.  What I love about it is that year's collection retains the (for a better word) flavor of the editor.  The year edited by David Foster Wallace has a completely different feel than the years edited by Susan Orleans or Christopher Hitchens.  This year's collection is edited by David Brooks of the NYTimes, so I am looking forward to reading what he thought was interesting.

In the Woods by Tana French.  This sounded good while I was at the bookstore picking up some Christmas gifts.  And the essay book for me.  And a knitting magazine for  me.  And a magazine about keeping chickens (a dream of mine, so obviously for me).

The Passage by Justin Cronin.  Vampires.  Love the undead (unless we are talking Twilight undead).

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I know it is YA fiction, but there is a lot of YA stuff that is really, truly amazing right now.

Also on the nightstand, but not there for "winter break reading" are The Knitter's Almanac because it is always on my nightstand, An Everlasting Meal for constant inspiration, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry simply because I haven't finished it but can't seem  find the energy to do so, and a daily gratitude/highlight journal.

And to show you, dear Reader, what I have to got though to get a decent photograph, a couple of shots from the discard pile.
Hey, whatcha doing?
Hi Peep!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The first final of nursing school is out of the way!  One down, two to go.  I took the lab/clinical portion of Assessment this morning, and tomorrow I have the written portion.  This is what my dining room table looks like right now:
What a mess!
Yes, that is a PowerPoint presentation, and a stack of flashcards, and a bunch of notes, and knitting.  I am not one of those people who can read and knit.  There are some days that I can barely pay attention to a conversation and knit (the knitter's equivalent of walking and chewing gum).  But I can take a break to knit!

I am firm believer of taking about ten minutes every hour of studying to Not Study.  Not Study time must not involve the computer, reading, or writing.  For ten minutes, I get away from the written word.  Sometimes I take the dogs out back, or make myself a cup of tea or something to eat, or fold a load of laundry.  Sometimes, like tonight, I knit.

I had to start a dead simple project for finals week.  The fish hats don't work for Not Study knitting because they require some decisions and concentration.  Not Study knitting must be simple so that I can leave it alone after only ten minutes.  I've started the Pointy Elf Hat (Rav link) from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts (which is also on the table, if your eyes are that good).  Dead simple knitting, nothing to think about, great yarn.

But can you see what else is on that table?  It is covered by text books, and I am not planning on doing anything with it until next Tuesday after all the final are finished, because once I start reading it, I know I won't stop.  Several hours will be gone.
That is the latest issue of Taproot.  I can't wait to sink into it.  I can't wait until finals are over.  I can't wait to have a lot of Not Study time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not so tiny buttons

I've been searching for the perfect buttons for my cowl (Rav link).  The lovely painted buttons that Alana used on hers are, sadly, no longer available.  Try as I might, I could not find painted buttons on Etsy large enough for the button holes on this cowl.  (Knit with a size 10 needle, these button holes are huge!  You know how standard button holes on a say, a US 6 needle kind of disappear into the fabric?  You can find them, but not always on first glance, especially after a blocking?  These are not those button holes.  The buttonholes reminded me of owl's eyes when I was blocking the first half of the cowl.)

After weeks of searching Etsy, I found some beautiful handmade wooden buttons from reclaimed wood.  They are from a shop in Michigan, The Hickory Tree.  Not only do I love supporting artists and crafters as we all try to add a little bit of beauty to our lives, but I wholeheartedly support Michigan!  I am from Michigan, although at this point I have almost lived away from there as long as I lived there. Much of my family still lives in or near Michigan.  The older I get, the more place we live, the more I appreciate being from there.

Well, these buttons were waiting for me when I got home from the library today!  Aren't they beautiful?  And I love when artists take the time to package their items in something thoughtful (and, in this case, reusable.)  And, of course, the hand signed card!  And a free sample button!  Yay!

These look so nice on the cowl.  I love the juxtaposition of the soft, smooshy wool with the hardness of the wood.
I can't wait to finally put this all together.  It sounds like we might be getting some cooler weather, too, so I might actually get to wear it!  Today it was in the 70s.  Definitely not wool-around-the-neck weather.

Monday, December 3, 2012

How do people *do* this?!

I'm working on the Fish Hats for Luke and Connor.  These are really cute hats, and I can't wait to see them when their finished.  However, I'm not moving toward that finish line very quickly.

I'm working the bodies of the fish in fair isle, which is something I'm not very good at.  I've done a little bit, but in such small amounts that I have no skill with it.  I normally knit Continental style, with the yarn held over my left index finger.  I've tried to knit with both yarns on my left hand, but I cannot get the hang of one yarn on the index finger and one yarn on the middle finger.  Having both yarns on the index finger works pretty well, until the yarns get too close and then picking up the upper yarn in a PITA.

So, as Elizabeth Zimmerman advocates, I am knitting with one yarn held in the left hand (Continental style) and one yarn held in the right hand (English style).  Or at least trying to knit this way.  How do people knit English?  I know that I am new to it and really really slow, but I have to drop the needle every time I make a stitch!  Crazy!  Is this how you really do it?  Is there something I am missing?
See that?  A whole hand, off the needle!
Knitting this way-- dropping the needle for about half of all the stitches-- is making for slow going.
Even Brett thinks this method needs some reevaluating.
Hopefully soon I can post some actual progress on these hats.  Maybe by the time I finish them I will be a little quicker using English style.  I still have three other fair isle hats to make this Christmas.  And If I get those finished, I may have mentioned to Karla that the boys might need some handmade Christmas stockings.  Thank goodness school ends next week.  I'm going to need all the knitting time that I can find!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Knitting

Let the Christmas knitting begin!  This year I plan to make:

  • Fish Hat for Luke
  • Fish Hat for Connor
  • Monster ear flap hat x2
  • Christmas tree hat x2
  • Star Wars hat for Samuel
  • Deer hats for:
    • Timmy
    • Eric
    • Devin
  • A whack of fingerless mitts for:
    • Kathy
    • Missy
    • Desi
    • Katrina
    • Crazy Gram
    • Eric's fiancee (Alicia? must find this out before writing out tag!)
  • Finish my mother's scarf (which was on my list last year; this scarf has been in progress now for two years.  It is time to finish it or frog it.)
  • Socks for Tiffany
Whew!  That should keep me busy.  I have about half the yarn and will need to get just a little bit more.  The fish hats have already been started.  In fact one is mostly finished and the second one has about three inches finished.  An update on those is coming soon.
Some of the yarn for Christmas presents
I will get through the knitting much quicker once I have finished finals.  I have an exam Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and the following Tuesday.  Then I am finished for the year!  We have a nice long break--about three and a half weeks--and I have a whole bunch of plans.  Plans for knitting, plans for reading, plans for needlework, and plans for cleaning and organizing.  I am so looking forward to it!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 30, the internet

How did I ever do anything before the internet?  I mean, how would I have ever researched brining a turkey?  Or how to make a buttonhole on a knitted sweater?  Or spend countess hours reading about (insert intriguing notion here:  making soap, growing herbs, diy furniture, homemade dog biscuits)?

I am thankful for this crazy thing.  Because of it I have found friends that I have missed.  I have played games with people thousands of miles away.  Shared photos with family.  Seen weddings I couldn't attend personally.

I know that some argue that the internet and online profiles and other assorted issues of computers are really driving us apart.  That we don't really know anyone on the internet, and that we only know a subset of who they are.  I can understand that.  However, I am trying to use my online presence (as it were) for good.  Something that brings forth positive things.  The internet can be negative, and I don't want to be a part of that.

I am also thankful that, because of the internet, I was able to share my thoughts on thankfulness.  I am thankful that I was able to finish, with a little push at the end.  And I am thankful that I can move on to posting about Christmas knitting!  Yay!

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 29, family and friends

I am very thankful for my family and friends.

My family, like all families, can be trying at times but I love them so much.  I would not be who I am today without them.  Family for me means so much more than the group of people I was borne into.  There are friends that I consider true family, and I would do anything for them.

My family and friends are wonderful, crazy, caring, lovely, amazing people.  I am thankful each and every one of them is in my life.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 28, running, yoga, and more

Why in the world, even I ask myself some days, would I be thankful for working out.  Some days, it is the last thing I want to do, but every day that I do it I am glad.  There are days that I get really down on my body and what it can't do, but when I work out I am reminded of what I can do.

Running makes me feel exhilarated.  Yoga makes me feel centered.  Ballet makes me feel graceful.  Weight lifting makes me feel strong.  I am thankful I can do all of these things.  Some not well, and some days are better than others.  But every day that I work out is better than the days I don't.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 27, the stand-up garage freezer

I am thankful that Mike and I had the ability to buy a freezer for our garage.  It seemed like a bit of an extravagance at first, and like something that we didn't really need.  After all, it is currently just the two of us.  Why would we need an extra fourteen feet of cubic freezer space?  Yes, it is true that we couldn't buy a frozen pizza to keep on hand for those nights when neither of us feel like making anything else.  It is also true that our drawer-style freezer basket thing is kind of the stupidest type of freezer ever invented.

But this freezer has enabled us to eat at home more, buy surplus of items when they go on sale, buy meat from the local butcher when they come to farmer's market twice a month, and make food in bulk and store it for later.  We use it to more healthy meals, because with both of us driving over an hour in different direction every day, some days we really don't feel like cooking.
A peek inside

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 26, The Packer Room

Oh, the Packer Room.
This might have been our master bedroom, if the Packers had won the Superbowl one year earlier.  I told Mike that if the Packers won the Superbowl we could redo the bedroom in Packer theme.  They didn't win.  In fact, they choked in the playoffs that year.

That was 2008.  We bought the house that year and it was the first time we had an actual "extra" bedroom that we could make into a guest room.  Enter the Packer Room.  My mother bought us the bedding as a housewarming gift, and although you can't see it in the picture, even the window dressing is Packer.  And the lamps.  And both the clocks.  And the wall decor.  And the hand sanitizer on the nightstand.  You get the picture.

I am thankful for this room because it has allowed us to actually have guests and treat them appropriately.  No more bunking on the sofa or the floor or an air mattress that loses its air halfway though the night.  (For us, of course.  We would never let our guests sleep on the leaky air mattress.)
Brett also enjoys the Packer Room. 

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 25, our window garden

We have a little jungle growing right next to our dining room table.  Every time I cut some fresh basil for pasta or fresh parsley for stock, I am thankful for these plants.  We started a lot of these outside this past summer.  After going through all the work to get them going, we really didn't want to let them die in the frost.
Mike is really helpful with the upkeep of the plants.  In fact, I think he is more into them than I am.  In fact, I would say that he is borderline obsessed with keeping these plants alive and healthy.  It might be a personal challenge for him.  Fine with me-- he can grow than and I will cook them!  (Maybe I can get him interested in a garden in the spring......)

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 24, Small Business Saturday (and all other days, too)

I love shopping at small businesses!  I am so thankful they are around.  New Bern has a really cute downtown area with some really fun shops.  This year I am really trying to not buy mass-produced, big box type things for Christmas presents.  For my friend Jean, I bought from:
Carolina Creations.  They have really great things that you can't find in just any ole place.  I wish I could show you a picture of the Santa, but they wrapped it for me.  We also bought some hand poured soy candles.  Love soy candles.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 23, the movies

I am thankful for movies.  What would I do without the movies?  Movies have to power to make us think, and cry, and laugh, and feel joy and pain and love.  How many times have I sobbed at the end of Terms of Endearment?  Oh, just about every time.  I still cheer when Andy Dufresne claws his way out of Shawshank Prison.  And I still think Jack could have found another piece of floating wood and saved himself, too.

I filter my world through movies (and books, let us not forget about books; but movies are a different experience than books.  Movies are often experienced with someone, whereas books are usually experienced alone.  You can share books, but it isn't the same as movies.  At a movie, you share the exact same movie in the exact same moment in time.  The same rude person talking up front.  The same audience laughing or not at the same parts.)  For every experience I have, I can usually think of a movie quote or scene that matches up.  Weird?  Maybe.  But I married a guy who gets it.  He is just as likely to throw out a movie quote as I am.  And, of course, we have our favorites and our inside jokes.

We saw Lincoln this past weekend.  Go.  Go this weekend.  Cancel your plans and go see this movie.  This movie is why I continue to go to the movies-- in the hopes that someone will create magic like this.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 22, free range turkey

I am thankful for the free range turkey that we ate for Thanksgiving dinner.  But to say that I am thankful for just the turkey is misleading.  I am thankful for the people that have given me the option of having a free range turkey.

I am thankful for the farmers the hard work of humanely raising animals for us to eat.  I am thankful for the farmer's markets where I buy my local, humane meat and the free range eggs I use.  I am thankful for the people that have fought to make conditions better for all animals raised for consumption.  I am thankful that people are starting to listen, and hear, and vote with their money.

I used to be a vegetarian.  It was mostly for animal-rights reasons, but also partly for environmental reasons.  I was a vegetarian for about ten years.  Once I started eating meat again, I became really sensitive to where the meat came from.  Everywhere we have lived, I have searched out local options for meat.  This is becoming easier, and for that I am thankful.  I think that if we are going to consume animals, we owe them the respect of raising them humanely.

I still don't eat as much meat as many people.  I often go days without eating meat, and I don't even realize it.  I also cook in such a way that the meat will be more of an ingredient than the main course.  I roast a whole chicken about once a week or two, but other than that I never just grill some chicken breasts to eat just like that.  You will never come to my house and have a piece of meat on a plate with a vegetable and a potato.  Even with a Sunday Roast Chicken, I usually have at least two vegetables and a starch.  I expect the chicken to last for three meals, and we eat it that way.  More veggies, always.

But I am very thankful that our ideas of food are changing.  I know that trying to find organic, free range meat is a good problem to have.  I'm thankful that enough of us are choosing to use our money and time on this particular problem.  It's a good fight to have, and important to our world.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 21, knitting

I am thankful that I knit.  Knitting has calmed me, frustrated me, and excited me-- sometimes all withing the same project, hour, row.  Knitting has brought me closer to people and brought new people into my life.  I think it is fair to say that knitting has changed my life.  I know that I wouldn't have some of the friendships I have right now without knitting, and those people are very important to me.  There is one person in particular that I am close to because of knitting-- she wanted me to teach her how to make socks-- but has moved to be so much more.

I taught myself to knit from a Leisure Arts booklet.  I was waiting tables and mentioned that I wanted to learn to knit.  I was twenty-two years old.  My mother didn't knit.  My Gramma didn't knit, and although her mother did, I never met my Great Gramma Irene.  I have no idea why I wanted to learn how to knit, other than that I wanted to have a certain kind of creative life and felt that knitting might be an interesting and fun creative endeavor.

A co-worker brought in the Leisure Arts booklet, and the boss brought me in some yarn and needles.  I wish I could say that I took to it like a duck to water, but I didn't.  It was really difficult for me, and I didn't have anyone to ask.  Mary Ellen brought me in the booklet because she didn't knit anymore, and could barely remember doing it.  And the boss?  Well, I wasn't going to ask her!  (Like I said, I was 22 years old.  Bosses held more reverence then.)

I spent years only knitting very simple things.  I bought horrible, crappy yarn that hurt my hands to work with.  This was before the internet, or I'm sure I would have spent hours reading blogs about knitting.  I stayed with it, though.  When I moved, I moved my yarn and tried to keep at it.  Knitting was going to a part of my life!

Eventually it happened.  I became a knitter.  I got to the point where I knit more days than I didn't.  I bought good yarn and realized that it really is worth it.  I started this blog--twice-- with the intent of it being mostly a knitting blog.  (I think that the blog is still finding its way.  Time will tell how this falls out.)  But I'm still knitting.  And it still frustrates me sometimes.  But it also challenges me in a good way.  I love the fact that I can start with what looks like a pile of string and end up with a sock.  I hope that I am able to continue "this knitting thing" for a long time.
Still fooling around with PicMonkey.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 20, nursing school

Nursing school.  What can  I say?  Yes, I am thankful that I am in nursing school.  I think (hope?) that I will make a good nurse when all is said and done.  However, I have to remind myself that there is an end in there somewhere.  Thankful?  Yes.  Exhausted?  Yes.  Frustrated?  Much of the time.

I had some fun with PicMonkey.  Still learning, both nursing and photo editing.
I am also thankful that this semester is almost over.  We have a month-long break starting in a couple of weeks.  Mike's mother is coming down for a week in December, and my mother is coming down for a long weekend in January, so the entire break will not consist of me sitting on the davenport with a     glass of wine and my knitting, watching Hallmark movies (just kidding.  maybe.) but it should be fun.

Anyway, I've learned a LOT both about nursing and about myself.  I'm at a point in this semester where I'm looking forward to next semester.  There was a point where I didn't think I would get to next semester!  hah!  More on "nursing school" later.  I hope.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 19, afternoon tea

I am thankful for afternoon tea (and a homemade muffin).  There is something so relaxing and reviving about making a cup of tea 'round about 3 pm.  When I am home, I try to do this every day.  It gives me something to look forward to, and--let's face it here-- when I am home lately in the afternoon I am studying, so I need that something!  That is where the muffin comes in.  A little bit of a sweet treat that I can pretend is healthy, because I use half wheat flour when baking them.  (I know, I know.  But these are the things I tell myself, and I am okay with a little bit of self deception.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 18, handwritten letters

I am thankful for my friends who take the time to send a handwritten note or card.  Who doesn't love getting something in the mail that isn't a bill?  I enjoy sending them out almost as much as getting them.  I especially love sweet cards from my young nephews.  The last card I got from Luke said "I love you more than cookies."  That is a pretty high compliment from an eleven year old!

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 17, colder weather

I am a knitter.  I like wooly things.  Which is why I am thankful for Colder Weather.  Cold(er) weather is when I can pull out my handknits.  Cold is when my hobby makes sense, especially considering that for the past nine years I have lived somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.  But who can resist this?

I also think that cold in the winter is just how things are supposed to be.  I get more things done in the winter, because I feel more like doing things.  Sitting inside with the fire going calls to me to be working with my hands.  Dark by dinner?  No problem, since I have a pile of things that I can do indoors.  I'm a child of the midwest, which generally means that if if is nice outside I feel like I should be outside.  Winter and cold allow me to reset myself, gather my resources, and concentrate on renewing my energy.  So bring on the cold weather, I say, because I am ready to knit.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 16, ball winder and yarn swift

Okay, it might seem silly to be thankful for a ball winder and yarn swift, but if you have ever tried to wind several yarns for a multi-color project by hand, you should understand this.  It could take hours.  Now I can take yarn in this form:

and turn it into this form:

in a matter of about fifteen minutes.  Total.  Not per skein, but for all five skeins.  And I can do it without help.  Mike doesn't have to sit with his hands up, or unravel knots, or pick up the yarn from the corner of the room after I throw it in frustration.

But what this is actually about, what I am talking about when I am talking about yarn, is that the people in my life support my strange wooly habit.  My mother got my the Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder for my birthday this year.  It is lovely, not plastic (something that I fully support), made in the United States (also fully support) by a small family company (fully support), and quite dear in price (understandable, all things considered.  One must pay for craftsmanship of this caliber.)  And normally my mother doesn't quite go that far for birthdays.  But she listened to what I wanted and decided to go for it this year.

Once I had it in my hot little hands and wound a lopsided center-pull ball, I explained to Mike that what it really needed was a yarn swift.  That the two were really a set, you see.  And even though I had a ball winder, he would still need to hold the yarn, be my yarn swift, if you will, until I got an actual yarn swift.  That is when he asked, how do you get one of those?

Which is why, when I knit, I knit for the people I love.  Because they, too, do nice things for me.  Like get me yarn accessories.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 15, Charlie

Charlie is our foster dog, who might soon become the fourth dog.  (We lost our cat this summer.  Keeping Charlie maintains "paw equilibrium" of the house.)  I am thankful for him and the life and spirit he adds to our home.

I know less of Charlie's back story than I do our other guys.  He ended up with Small Paws Rescue somehow, which means that he was in a bad situation.  He wasn't as sacred as Fred was at first, but he had his quirks (some of which he retains today).  We couldn't pick him up, he would yelp if you came up behind him, and wasn't leash trained.  Well he quickly learned the leash thing, because we love our little Ws in this house.  We try to go for a walk at least once a day, usually twice.  Charlie now loves walks, and let me tell you, this dogs re-pees on everything the other dogs have peed on first.  Sometimes he has to double back to catch something the dawdler Fred hits.

Charlie looks like he is always smiling.  He has over-processed ears that look fuzzy and funny and cute.  He is an instigator and tries to chew on Frosty a lot.  Poor Frosty.  Our little old man isn't used to the sprightliness of young pups anymore.  But Charlie has helped to keep F-er active.  Charlie has no understanding of personal space.  He will jump up on the couch and stick his snout into whatever you are doing--paws on the computer, snout in a book, whatever is in your hand.

We call Charlie "Brett's Minion" because, let's face it, haven't we all wanted a minion to do our bidding every now and then.  That started when Simon was still around, and Brett taught Charlie to bark and bark and bark at Simon.  Charlie also goes by Pork Chop, Lunch Box, and Chuck Wagon.  He was a bit of an eater when we first got him, which makes us think that he probably was in a situation where he didn't get enough to eat at some point.

He's been with us about six months now, and we have been seriously thinking about keeping him.  He's become part of our pack now.  He loves us.  And we love him.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 14, Fred

I am thankful for my little Fred.  Also known as The Ferd, Freddy Bear, Ferdnando, NanaBanana, and Banana Head.  And I don't think I would be wrong in saying that Fred is thankful for me, too.

Fred started out as a foster.  He was from a puppy mill situation, and when we got him he weighed just over seven pounds (he weighs over thirteen pounds now).  His paws were in terrible shape, he had lost about half of his teeth, and he was terrified of everything.  People, other dogs, grass, the outside, leashes, big bowls, the couch, steps.  Everything.  The plan was to keep him for a little while, get him housebroken, get him used to people, and then send him off to live with other great people who would love him and take care of him.

Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men.

I fell head over heels in love with my little Ferddy.  And he fell in love with me.  He still loves me best, and that's okay with everyone.  He is far from perfect, still isn't completely house trained (when we are gone for long periods he wears a weenie wrap), and continues to avoid the grass in the backyard.  Since he is missing even more teeth, it takes him a long time to eat.  Sometimes his lip gets caught on one of his teeth and he looks like he is impersonating Elvis.  He has a bit of "shaggy mutt" about him.  He doesn't really like other people.

When he wants to play, he jumps straight up several times.  It is like watching a dog doing a Tigger impersonation.  He doesn't play with toys unless Brett has the toy first.  He needs steps to get on to the bed, and we (of course) provide them for him.  He is usually the last dog trailing behind on a walk.  He has to sniff everything on a walk, and then pee on it.  He is so slow about it!  If you can't find Fred, look under a stack of pillows.  He's a burrow-er.  He loves cuddling with his Miss Peep (me).

I love my little guy, and I'm very thankful for Fred and for the organization that saved him--Small Paws Rescue.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 13, Brett

I am thankful for Brett.  Brett is our second dog.  I found Brett on a pet rescue site (BFK) while we were in San Diego.  We decided that Frosty would like a companion and, truthfully, I wanted a cuddly dog.  A lap dog.  And dog that would sit by me on the sofa.  (Frosty is great, but a lap dog he is not.)  So I found Brett.

Now, Brett is a little funny looking.  He is a Bichon Poodle mix, which means that he has a really skinny body on top of really long, skinny legs.  His head is a little round, and his snout is a bit short.  But he has the sweetest little eyes.  And he is such a cuddler.  Everyone loves Brett.

When we first set eyes on Brett, he was staying at a foster house.  He was standing behind the foster person, and didn't even bark, just looked out at us.  He was so quiet.  Little did we know.  We spent some time getting to know Brett's foster people, and they determined that we were the right people for Brett.  Apparently, they had determined that two other sets of people looking at dogs were not the right fit for Brett.  Brett needed some patience.  He was found wandering on the streets of Riverside, CA.  They weren't sure what color he was, that is how dirty and matted his fur was.  He lacked some social skills.  He wasn't housebroken.  But we were in love.

Well, we brought Brett home.  He came with the name Winston, but he wouldn't answer to it.  I told Mike that if he answered to Brett (after Brett Favre) then we could change his name.  Mike called it out, and our little Brett ran right to him.  We joke now that it was because it sounds so much like "brat" which is probably what he was called-- a lot.

Brett loves Mike.  Mike is his Peep.  I am merely the Veep (Vice Peep) and sometimes am even the Seep (Secretary to the Peep).  Brett loves everyone, mostly, but really really really loves Mike.  Brett loves squeaky tennis balls and barking at squirrels.  He walks very quietly, and sometimes you will turn around he will be behind you and you had no idea.  He loves sleeping in the crook of a knee, if he isn't using a pillow like a human.  There have been many times when I have gone to bed only to find Brett using my pillow.

Brett sighs and sounds exasperated a lot, and he seems to do it at just the right parts of a conversation.  He sounds like he is put upon, and that is one of our jokes-- that Brett is troubled and put upon and is really the one that keeps the household together and if we didn't have him, well, somehow we would completely fall apart.  He bears up well under the weight of the world, though, and sometimes even manages to look dignified.  I think he know when I have a camera pointed at him, and will wait until I have taken his picture before he looks away.  The Brett we know is very proud of himself.

Everyone loves Brett.  Brett has broken through the anti-small-dog barriers of quite a few people.  Brett is full of personality and life and a bit of an attitude.  I am so thankful to have our Bretzger Metzger Pumpkin Head in our lives.  Even if he loves Mike a little bit more.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 12, Frosty

I am thankful for Frosty.  Frosty is our first dog (but not our first pet.  That honor goes to Simon Thecat, who passed away this summer.  And I'm still upset with the vet about it, and will not recommend that vet to anyone!)  Frosty started his life known to us with my mother.  My sister Karla was working at the animal shelter and brought Frosty home one night.  If memory serves, Frosty's name was Chevy back then.  Luke, Karla's oldest (and at that time, only) child renamed him Frosty, and I think it fits.

Before Mike and I were even married, we loved Frosty.  We had visited my mother, where Frosty woke us up each morning with his ferocious dog breath.  (We have since cured Frosty of the ferocious breath, but have at the same time created a ferocious Greenie addict who must have a Greenie every day or there could be severe consequences.)  After we left Frosty ran around the house, carrying his octopus squeaky toy, looking for us.  As soon as we could, we moved into an apartment that allowed dogs, with the sole intent of "rescuing" Frosty once again, this time from my mother.  (My mother loved Frosty.  I am not saying that Frosty was ignored.  What I am saying is that no one understands Frosty the way we do.  And that includes my mother.)

Frosty moved in with us in San Diego.  He loved our apartment, which was on the third floor.  It thrilled him to no end to be able to sit in the window and look down on everyone and everything.  We lived a block away from a dog park where we spent a lot of time.  Mike and I often went to the dog park on Friday nights instead of the bar.  Much better company.

Frosty loves many things.  He loves to go for a walk.  He loves to look out the window at who knows what. He is a pot-stirrer of the highest order.  He will bark once, while standing in the middle of the room, just to get the other dogs barking, and then stand back and listen while smiling away.  He is always in a good mood.  He doesn't particularly like to be picked up, and he isn't much of a lap dog, but he is always in the same room as we are.  He loves to eat, and does a little dance we call The Frosty Dance of Happiness when we are dishing out his food (or our food).  His middle name is Danger.  Truly it is.  His vet announcements come addressed to Frosty Danger Malone.

Frosty snouts things.  That's what we call it:  snouting.  He snouts the door open.  He snouts knick knacks on the shelf.  He snouts his food bowl, and has often overturned some of the food out of it.  His favorite toy is the squeaky elephant (EleFUNt).  He hates the Life Source Bits in his food and has been known to eat around them.  He will leave scatterings of Life Source Bits wherever he has decided to dine, which is almost never at his bowl.

Love that Frosty.