Sunday, April 29, 2007

And the color for today is.......

Here are a few hints. This is Joey. Look how good his hair has grown back after having been shot with a BB gun by someone who will spend eternity in hell up to his or her neck in kitty litter.

New flip flops. Yes, the nail polish is a bit bright, but with a name like "Frankly, Scarlett" I couldn't resist!

Emma and Tara after their day of beauty. They both got haircuts.

My latest pair of Jaywalkers.

Well, if you can't guess the color of the day from this, I don't know what to say.

Stay tuned...there will be even more orange coming a little later on this week.......

Friday, April 27, 2007

Honk...Honk, Honk....Hooooonnnnk

Yet another reason why I love my job. Look what I found while walking from the parking lot to the museum yesterday morning:

Is there anything cuter than baby geese? (The asphalt roads you see are only footpaths for the visitors, and the only vehicles that travel on them are from grounds employees, so the babes are quite safe.) I know some people think they're pests, especially when they grow up to be big geese and leave their poo all over the ground, but what's a goose to do? If you gotta go, you gotta go. I think that watching where you walk is a small price to pay for having these beautiful creatures around.

Oh, right, it's blankie update time. Eight squares this week. I didn't take a picture of the blankie, because, frankly, it just can't compete with baby geese!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Show Us Your Stash

As part of the Secret Pal 10 thing, Shelby has asked everyone in her group to "Show Us Your Stash." Not a problem. First I had to delve into my knitting closet.....

... get out of the way of the various tools, books, spindles, etc. that invariably fall out when I open the doors...

...and brace my feet on either side of the drawers and wedge them open:

Whew. Then the fun part - sorting and rearranging and shamelessly stroking the beautiful yarns.
The baggies in the front hold partial skeins or scraps of solid colored yarn -- the self-patterning scraps are in the Mitred Square Blankie basket waiting for a little love and attention to become part of the blankie. The skeins at the top of the photo are just waiting for me to break a leg (or something less painful, please) so that they can become socks. How many pair? 45. Yes, 45. Had I realized there was so much sock yarn in that closet, I would never had placed an order with Angel Yarns 10 days ago. But if I hadn't placed that order, I would not have found this at home when I went home at lunch today to walk the dogs:

Hmmmm....what could that be? Yarn! Sock Yarn! Lots and Lots of Sock Yarn! Enough for another 16 pair!

Who can resist Opal sock yarn at 25% off? Even with the overseas shipping, and the sucky exchange rate for Dollars to Euros, this is quite a bargain. Plus, it only took 12 days to come all the way from England! This was my first order with Angel Yarns, but not my last! Thank you Angel Yarns!

Now for the most recent FO. This is my third pair of Jaywalkers hanging out on a lilac shrub.

Love lilacs, love Jaywalkers, must go now and sniff the lilacs and cast on another pair of socks. I wonder if I have enough sock yarn.......

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We Want Clear Crocs...We Want Clear Crocs...

I was browsing the forums at and came across a couple of threads where sock knitters are lamenting the lack of clear Crocs. I absolutely love Crocs. I don't wear animal products ( I don't eat 'em, why wear 'em?) and have had trouble finding non-leather footwear until Crocs, blessed Crocs, came along. They are comfy, stylish, and cruelty free.

Stylish? My mother calls them "fruit boots". My father says that even though no animals were harmed in the making of Crocs, they die laughing anyway when they see me wearing them. Who cares? Yes, they ARE stylish! I love Crocs, and wear them proudly!

My point is this, could Crocs be convinced to make them in clear? I have a pair of clear clogs made by Sloggers, bought online from Knitters Dream, but they don't have air vents like Crocs. The Sloggers are perfect for me in winter, as my feet are always cold, but I think I'd rather have vents for summer, or my feet would get hot and sweaty and we don't want to go there.

Today, I emailed Crocs and asked if they have any plans to make clear ones - if we all do it, maybe they will be overwhelmed and will consider it! This is the link to the Crocs website and this will take you directly to their contact form . They also have a toll free number: 1-866-306-3179. Let's inundate them with requests from socially conscious sock knitters!

As if you would need any encouragement, everyone who contacts Crocs and leaves me a comment telling me so, will be entered to a special prize drawing. I'll draw one name at random and that person will get said "special prize", yet to be determined. It will have something to do with knitting, though, and probably sock knitting.

To recap, here are the rules:

1) Contact Crocs using this contact form , or by calling their toll-free number: 1-866-306-3179 and politely ask if they have any plans to offer Crocs in clear, as the demand would be great indeed from sock knitters all over the world, and anyone else who paints their toenails and wants to show them off.

2) Leave me a comment letting me know you have contacted them (no proof is needed - knitters are an honorable bunch and if you say you did it, I believe you!)

3) I will draw a winner from the names of everyone who has contacted Crocs by, let's say, noon on May 1st, and that person will receive a special, special prize. I'll post the name of the winner, and my email address so you can email me your mailing address.

Sound good? OK, go to it! Everybody repeat after me...We Want Clear Crocs...We Want Clear Crocs...

Friday, April 20, 2007

An Even Dozen

Why is it an "even" dozen. A dozen can't be odd, so why specify that it is "even"? Ahhh, the little things that puzzle me. Anyway, 12 squares! Behond the blankie on the pea trellis in the garden: And behold the peas. Can't see 'em? Trust me, they are there. Do you see what looks like weeds coming up in a straight line? Peas!
And behold the lettuce and spinach. Again, weed-looking things, but in straight lines. Alright, I won't be having salad and peas for dinner tonight, but soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Riding in Cars with Dogs

"Is there any felicity in the world...superior to this?"
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility

I am listening to the audio book Sense and Sensibility on my iPod, and this phrase came to mind when I uploaded this picture of Emma and Tara in the car today.

Emma had a regularly scheduled checkup at the vet this evening, and Tara came along for the ride. Tara has been limping a little bit lately, but mostly we brought her because there was no way we could leave her all alone in an empty house. They are both in good health (thank God) and, other than getting her booster shots (Emma) and having a thermometer shoved up her butt (Tara), a good time was had by all. The girls are still looking around and wondering where Mellie is, and I wish I could explain it to them. Then again maybe not. Which is worse...hoping for her return, or knowing that she is not coming back...

What a difference a week can make. Last Thursday night we were sitting in the same waiting room with Sweet Mellie, knowing she had just a few days, perhaps hours, left to live, and we couldn't stop crying. Tonight, everyone in the waiting room was laughing so hard, we were practically crying again.

This man brought in his Vizsla (beautiful dog) for an emergency appointment. No, that's not funny. It seems she got a toenail on one of her back legs caught in something and ripped it off - blood all over the floor. Again, not funny. The man was big and muscle-y and had a shaved head, and was giving the poor girl commands in German and jerking on her choke-chain if she would so much as wiggle out of her sit-stay position. Really, really not funny. If you are laughing, kindly leave this blog space. They took her back, and Dr. M. fixed her up (wonderful man, have I mentioned how much I love this man?). They brought her back into the waiting room with this big wad of gauze & tape on her foot. She was dancing and prancing around and shaking that foot like nobody's business. She would hop, shake, and then stick it straight out in back of her like she was pointing game, only in reverse. It was the funniest thing--everyone was in hysterics. Her owner was so embarrassed, but didn't dare correct her with all eyes on him and his silly dancing dog. Hard to be tough and macho when your dog is acting like she is auditioning for the circus!

I'm off to knit some squares on the blanket. Pictures and a full report tomorrow...or the next day...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Saddest of Days

Sweet, sweet Mellie is gone. She went downhill very quickly yesterday afternoon, so we called the vet, and he offered to come to the house or meet us at the office. We chose the office, mainly because of Emma and Tara. We took the three dogs out into the backyard together and gave them a chance to say goodbye, then took Mellie for her final ride in the car.

I really want to thank everyone who has been sending good wishes and healing thoughts our way. She fought the good fight, and left us with dignity.

Melanie, aka Mellie, Mellie Vanillie, The Caped Crusader
May 12, 1997 - April 14, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Blankie Update Friday

Yes, I know it is Saturday, but it's Friday somewhere, right? Another week has gone by and what do I have to show for it? Eight squares. Not the best, but not the worst. This morning was so beautiful I took the blankie outside for its photo shoot.

This must be the calm before the storm. We're expecting bad weather here tomorrow and into the early part of next week. We were doing yard/garden chores this morning, and I just had to take a picture of the toy:
It's a 1940s Ford tractor. What fun for a couple of former city-girls, or at least suburb-girls. That is a little step ladder in between the two wheels on this side. I'm so short I can barely climb into it without the ladder. The tractor just makes everything so much easier - moving dirt or stones or hay or chicken name it, I can haul it around the grounds in the bucket of the tractor.

Speaking of chickens, belated happy birthday to Ducky.....

...and Blackie.

They were 10 years old this past Wednesday. Who knew chickens lived this long?

Mellie hasn't been doing well at all. She hasn't eaten much at all, mostly just broth, for days. She has been getting weaker, and on Thursday she started trembling and shaking. We called the vet and he said to bring her right in. I really didn't think we were going to be bringing her back home with us, but he said it wasn't her time yet. He gave her a couple of shots (B12, Valium, some other stuff that I can't remember). Our main concern was that Mellie not get to the point where she is in pain. He said he will not let that happen - he gave us his cell phone number and said to call him any time day or night. Have I mentioned how much I love my vet? Love, love, love him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuna is the New Chicken Nuggets

Yesterday was my sister S's birthday, and a good time was had by all. Well, as good as we could what with worrying about Mellie. Sweet little Mellie has been going through a bad spell. She has been declining most solid food (beef, chicken, chicken nuggets, even the homemade meatloaf!) for a couple of days now. Yesterday I even had to use the baby-feeding syringe to get her to take her medicine. We crush the pills and mix them in a little melted vanilla ice cream, so she usually takes it willingly, but not yesterday.

We gave her 1/2 a valium last night. Small doses of it act as an appetite stimulant in dogs. This morning she ate her pills-in-ice-cream right down, but still wasn't too enthused about breakfast. I went home at lunchtime, and offered her some beef (no thank you), chicken noodle soup (a little broth, only), and then tuna fish. She drank all of the tuna juice (blech!), and then ate about 1/3 of the tuna! Hooray! Joey the stray cat graciously offered to finish off anything Mellie didn't eat. Wasn't that good of him? Many thanks to Criquette for this suggestion - I would not have thought to give tuna to a dog!

Emma and Tara have been heartily cleaning their plates since I started making meatloaf for them. Who am I kidding, they have ALWAYS cleaned their plates. They eat worms and bird poo and various other unsavory things, so I guess I shouldn't be so excited that they like meat loaf. I'm telling you, since the pet food recall, it feels really good to be getting them off of commercial dog food. I went to a local health food store to get some of the ingredients, and the guy there said they have had quite a few people coming in and either ordering a more "natural" or "organic" brand, or making their own dog food. I'm going to buy a whole bunch of loaf pans so I can make several batches of meatloaf at a time. One batch makes two loaves, and after they have totally switched to meat loaf, the two loaves will last two days if all three dogs are eating it, and three days if it is just Emma and Tara eating it. If anyone wants the recipe, here it is. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Adventures in Dog Food Land

With the recent (and increasing) recalls of dog and cat food, my sister S and I decided to abandon commercial dog food altogether and make our own. This way, we control the quality of ingredients, and know that there is nothing in their food that we would not eat (except for the meat, of course). After scouring the Internet for information, tips and recipes for Make-Your-Own dog food, the winner is......(drum roll, please).......Mable's Meat Loaf. Really, the dogs will tell us if it is a winner, but it seems to be a well thought out recipe which includes all of the essential vitamins, etc. that a dog needs. We are still going to give them doggie vitamins - no sense in taking any chances, right?

Anyway, I went to various grocery & bulk food stores, assembled the ingredients, and here it is:
Eeeeew, what a mess, right? Ground beef, pureed veggies, cooked rice, oatmeal, pureed black beans, masa harina corn flour, eggs, wheat germ, and some seasonings & supplements. Here it is before being baked in the oven. Still not too tempting.
But oh the smell of the loaves baking. Just like Mom's meatloaf. Here they are out of the oven and cooling so I can wrap them up.
After going vegetarian, the only thing I have missed, until now, is tuna. Mmmmm... a can of tuna, mix in some Miracle Whip, and spread it on the whitest of white bread you can fresh that the tuna smooshes down the bread while you are spreading it. After smelling Mable's Meat Loaf baking this afternoon, I'm going to have to add Mom's meat loaf to the list. Piping hot slices of meat loaf, covered in ketchup, with mashed potatoes and corn on the side. You put the potatoes on your plate first, and make a "well" in the center of them, and put the corn right on top of the potatoes and mix the two together with your fork.

What am I saying???? [SLAP SLAP SLAP] Thanks, I needed that.

Oh well, off to Mom & Dad's pretty soon. We're taking a ham (I know, Babe!), macaroni & cheese (S makes THE BEST mac & cheese in the world), green bean casserole, and asparagus. Mom is making her famous potato salad. Yummy.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Happy Easter? Not for these bunnies!

Remember these from yesterday's post? Take note of the two containers on the left hand side. They are the lightweight plastic food storage containers that you can buy in any grocery store.
Well, Mom needed a place to store the four containers of painstakingly decorated baked goods. She also has a cat who likes to sample items left on the kitchen counter, can chew through plastic, but is not strong enough to open the oven door. Problem solved... put the baked goods in the oven.

Fast forward about 18 hours. Mom decides that it would be nice to make a batch of rolls to have with dinner. Do you see where I'm going with this? Here are some pictures.

The pot holder on the right on the pan? It is stuck. Truly and completely melted into the plastic pan. My hand is still in a claw from squeezing the stupid icing bags onto two trays of ruined eggs and bunnies. Oh well. It could have been worse.... a LOT worse.

P.S. Thanks Stephanie & Anonymous for your advice on homemade dog food (and treats).

Friday, April 6, 2007

No Blankie Update & Plea for Recipes

No blankie progress to report, and no good excuses, either. I certainly have nothing exciting to report like Shelly at a Yarn Harlot event. Check out the pictures on Shelly's site. There is a picture of Shelly and the Harlot posing with Shelly's blanket. My two knitting heroes. If only New Jersey was a little bit closer to Minnesota, I would LOVE to have been there. Or if only I was rich enough to buy an airplane ticket, and didn't have what some think is an irrational fear of airplanes, I could have flown out there. I think I would have hyperventilated, seeing them both, if the drugs that I would need to get myself on an airplane had worn off enough so that I was no longer in a semi-comatose state and I knew where I was.

But then I would have missed out on soooo much fun at home. This is Mom.

And these two pictures are of my sister D:

And this is the result of an evening of rollicking fun and creativity:

In case you can't tell, we decorated little egg-shaped and bunny-shaped cakes. A LOT of cakes. Truly, what seemed like an endless number of cakes. I must say, they look much in the picture than they did in person. But consider their fate- they will all be gobbled up by Mum's grandchildren and neighborhood hooligans cherubs by the time the weekend is over. Ohhh, the carnage.

On to the aforementioned "plea", does anyone out there make their own dog food and would you be willing to share some recipes? After the recent pet food recalls, my sister S and I decided we are no longer going to feed the dogs commercial food, even tough the brand we use (Nutro Lamb & Rice dry crunchies) has not been recalled....yet. We are going to take the bull by the horns, or rump roast, as the case may be, and have complete control over the quality of what the girls eat. I've been searching on the 'net and have found a couple of good (I think) recipes. I just subscribed to the Whole Dog Journal and they have some very helpful information. My main concern is that they still get all of the vitamins & minerals and such that they need, and I'd appreciate any and all input.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Narrowing it down.....

I have been puzzling over the identity of my Secret Pal. Here are the clues I have so far:
  • She is withing 500 miles of southern New Jersey
  • She lives in the North Eastern section of the United States (and got snow on April 3rd)
  • She is a sock knitter
  • She has participated in Secret Pal exchanges before
  • She is going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival next month

If she lives where she got snow yesterday, and is still going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival next month, she has got to be a pretty serious knitter and/or spinner/weaver/ fibre person to make that trek. I'm about two hours away from the festival, and haven't gone in a couple of years. Hey - maybe she has a booth there! Vendors come from all over the place.... How cool is that? Ah, well, still no idea. Not even sure if she is a "she" or a "he".

As far as my going to the festival this year, that's still up in the air. My niece graduates from college that weekend. I think on Sunday, May 6th. Maybe I can get away on Saturday. It depends on how Mellie is doing. If she's going through a bad spell, I won't want to leave her for the day.

Speaking of Mellie, she's doing great. Criquette suggested that I try giving her some tuna if she is getting tired of chicken and beef. I bought a dozen cans, and since then, she has been scarfing up the beef, both ground and shaved! Oh well, it's nice to have the tuna in the pantry as a backup. In the meantime, what to do with the tuna......

Yes, that's little Joey. He ate a whole can of tuna himself. The-Whole-Thing. He even drank all of the tuna juice. Blech! I couldn't give Joey an extra special treat without taking something to the bunnies. There was a half bag of "spring mix" lettuce in the fridge that would expire the next day, so the bunnies got it. Left to right, this is Momma Bunny, Sunshine, Little Boy and Mr. Darcy.
The last picture for today is a shot of sweet Mellie when she was a puppy, with my beloved Scarlett. We lost Scarlett four years ago today, and it still hurts...I suppose it always will. Scarlett was the first dog that was mine, all mine. She was a Christmas present (in July) from Mom and Dad.OK, just one more picture. This is Scarlett with her sister Katie when they were seven weeks old. Such sweet little things. Katie was Mom & Dad's dog for about 6 months, but she was so bad (she ate clothes, tablecloths, a chair, a pincushion, she escaped over the fence, etc.) that she came to live with me, my sister S and Scarlett. She never did another bad thing. I think she just wanted to be with her sister. That, and we had a Chesapeake Bay Retriever at the time who taught Katie manners.

Oh, you would like to see a picture of the Chesapeake? Her name was Scupper. Here she is by the pool with Scarlett. Scupper was 11 years old, and Scarlett was just 8 or 9 weeks old. Ahhhhh.

And here is Scarlett at 3 years old:

And here is Katie at 3 years old:

And this is, left to right, Mellie (at 5 years old), Scarlett (11 years), and Emma (1 year old). Scarlett would only live less than a year after this picture was taken. She was the alpha dog and had us all under her thumb, or paw as the case may be. She was loud, bossy and demanding, but I loved her like I had never loved before.

That's really an end to the pictures. If it's true that "the more you cry, the less you gotta pee", I'm good for at least a week.

Monday, April 2, 2007

How I Spent A Pink-less Weekend

To celebrate having the pink blanket finished, everything I did this weekend did not involve the color pink in any way at all. Plant pink flowers? No. Knit pink socks? No. Buy a cute little pink piglet with a curly tail? No...although I would LOVE a pet pig...that idea does have merit.

I worked in the vegetable garden a bit, taking it from this... this.
Not much difference? Tell that to my aching legs. I cleaned out all of the beds, and planted three of them. Sugar snap peas in the one with the trellises, beets (mmmmm, my favorite) in one of the corner beds, and a couple of varieties of lettuce & spinach in another long bed. It's still too early here to put much of anything else outside, so I did this.....
You are looking at zukes, yellow squash & peas, and black-eyed susan vine. See, not a pink thing in sight.
I also brought out my long-neglected spinning wheel, and some luscious fibre I bought the last time I went to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. I was taking a picture of it for the blog, when I noticed this:
It is a small note on the label that says, "Wash by hand in cool water before using. Some dye may be released in initial washing." I, of course, told myself that such "warnings" are merely suggestions, and that pre-washing is for sissies. Just like gauge swatches. I laugh in their faces (insert a hearty Haa Haa Haa). Then the horror of the recently completed pink-baby-blanket-that-is-big-enough-to-cover-Rhode-Island-when-it-rains came to mind. If only I had done a gauge swatch, I would NEVER have cast on 360 freakin' stitches. Needless to say, I washed the fiber, and it is now drying. It's hard to laugh heartily at something that so recently bit you in the butt.