Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Ducky...Here Ducky, Ducky, Ducky"

Where could Ducky be? She always comes running when you call her. (She's better than Emma and Tara in that regard!) Where is that chicken? In the chicken coop? No. In the garage? No. In the garden? No.

Hmmmm, there's her new little friend, Napoleon, and they have been inseparable for a couple of weeks now. Remember this post from last weekend? Napoleon belongs to a neighbor on the other side of the woods at the back on the property. Napoleon is Ducky's platonic friend. No hanky panky going on here. He has been a perfect gentleman, and Ducky is a perfect lady.

Why is Napoleon (my name for him - I have no idea what his real name is) hanging around that igloo dog house that my sister bought for the stray cats. Not for Joseph, of course. Joseph has his heated bed in the garage, but Tigger and Joanie are welcome to use the igloo to get out of the weather if they choose. There's fresh hay in there for them to make a little nest and just chill out.

But I digress. Where is Ducky? Is there some hay spilling out of the front of the igloo? Better go and see if one of the cats is in there and if they would like some food... Hey, what's Ducky doing in there? Ducky, come out of there. You have your own chicken coop. Come out and enjoy the sunshine. You don't like being cooped up during the day. You usually enjoy wandering around and...and spending time with Napoleon. Ducky, why are you still sitting there? Why does it look like you have made a nest? Ducky, young lady, come out here right now!
That's it, Ducky. Come on out here. Ducky, are those eggs I see? Ducky, what have you been up to? Ducky, do not tell me that those are your eggs.
TEN EGGS??? Ducky, Ducky, Ducky. In two weeks you will be eleven years old. I thought the time where I had to worry about this kind of thing happening was long past. Loooong past. Just wait until I tell your Grammie and Grampa about this...

[An hour later...]
Ducky, here are your Grammie and Grampa. They are here to give you a lecture. Grammie, stop laughing. Grampa, stop congratulating Napoleon. Grammie stop that laughing, I said. This is no laughing matter! I've just been waiting for this damn chicken to kick the bucket , ahem, for sweet Ducky to go to her eternal reward, so I could turn that chicken coop into a garden shed. If those eggs hatch, do you realize I will be starting all over again? Who knew chickens lived this long?
Napoleon, crowing and strutting around the yard is not helping matters any.

[sigh] Off to do a little reading. Lucky I still have this book that I bought...11 years ago.

Who would have thought I would ever need it again?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dogs on Thursday in their Easter Finery

Emma and Tara got new duds for Easter! Here is Emma saying "Just snap the friggin' picture so I can take this thing off."

Here she is saying "Hey - you already got one picture. That was the deal. Now get this thing off of me and give me a cookie."
Here is Tara. I'm not sure what she is doing in this picture, but she is definitely NOT trying to get her Easter bandanna off. Nope. Shortly after this picture was taken, I found her bandanna on the ground, but I'm sure it just fell off on its own.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Greetings!

Happy Easter from the Easter Bunny.Yes, this is THE Easter Bunny. The rest of the year her name is Sunshine, but on Easter, she is the Easter Bunny. She's the last of her family. At one time we had her momma and her two brothers, but they have all gone to bunny heaven. Little Sunny is enjoying some yummy parsley as an Easter treat - hey, delivering all those Easter Eggs in one night is hard work. You thought Santa had it hard, but eggs are delicate!

Speaking of the "last of her family," here is Ducky, aka Duckster, Ducky McDuck, Duck-a-doodle-doo.

Since Black One, her last remaining sibling, went to the great chicken coop in the sky a few weeks ago, we've been worried about her getting lonely. With only one chicken, we've been letting her have free roam of the yard when someone is at home. She never strays far from the coop. She has been spending a lot of her free time under Sunshine's pen, or clucking around the garden. This week, a friend showed up.

A rooster friend! We've been hearing crowing from a nearby neighbor's yard, and this week, this little chicky came a-courting! I don't know what kind he is, but he is definitely one of the "bantam" breeds, because he is so much smaller than a regular size chicken. I've been calling him Napoleon since he is so small, yet he has a big attitude.

Here are the little lovers, friends, side by side. See how scrawny he looks next to the Duckster?

Some might think there is a little hanky-panky going on, but Ducky is not that kind of a chicken. They only just met, and Ducky is not made up of such loose moral fiber that she would just give it away to any passing rooster. At least not without dinner and a movie...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dogs on Thursday

Happy Dogs on Thursday everyone, from hard-working Tara, aka Tatty McTatters. See this new flower bed?Emma and Tara helped. Not me...I was at work. Dad picked up the blocks in his truck, and my sister built this flower bed. With the help of Emma and Tara, of course. Tara was a little more hands-on, while Emma worked in a supervisory capacity. See this shot of Emma?

That is as close as she would get to the flower bed after I got out my camera. She seemed to know that it was not proper for her to be in the flower bed, and that any photographic evidence could be used against her in the future.

Happy Dogs on Thursday, and Happy First Day of Spring!

Chan's Contest!

Happy Blogiversary To You,
Happy Blogiversary To You,
Happy Blogiversary, Dear Chan,
Happy Blogiversary To Youuuuuuu!

To celebrate, the wonderful Chan of Knit Tea fame is having a blogiversary contest. Rush on over there and leave a comment, and you may be one of the lucky winners! While you're there, treat yourself and browse around on her blog. Not only does she do some incredible knitting, she also has two lovely furbabies, Mugsy and Sissy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

If only I could part with them...

My sister called me the other day and told me about some wackos --ahem-- entrepreneurs who are selling a corn flake in the shape of Illinois on eBay. She immediately thought of me and my growing collection of corn flakes. Yes, you read that right. I have a collection of corn flakes in the shape of sheep. (Two is a "collection", isn't it?) A lamb and a sheep head, to be exact.

It may just blow your mind when I tell you that both of these cornflakes were found at Christmas time, but not the same year. You see, for the past who-knows-how-many years, we have had Christmas breakfast at our house with the nieces & Uncle John, and I've been making a (much in demand) hash brown casserole. It contains frozen hash brown potatoes, butter, cheese, sour cream, and I forget what else right now. It's easy (you can throw it together the night before), delicious, and guaranteed to clog any remaining space in your arteries.

Anyway, the topping for this casserole is made from crushed corn flakes, mixed with melted butter, of course. Several years ago I was making the casserole and pow - right there in front of my eyes was the sheep's head cornflake! Well, I couldn't crush the poor thing and add it to the casserole, could I? No way. This little baby went into a jewelry box, nestled in cotton. Then, just this past Christmas, I was making the casserole again, and what do you think...I found the lamb corn flake! Do you see where I'm going with this? Finding these cornflakes is nothing short of a Christmas miracle!

Now, without further ado, for the first time ever, right here on this blog, may I present...

Lamb-y kins and Sheep-y head!

Ha! You though I was some nut job who saved cornflakes in the shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Gorbachev's birthmark, didn't you? Now you see that I am totally sane!

Hmmm, do you need a little help with the imagery? Maybe the tablecloth is distracting you. How is this?

They are totally realistic, don't you think? No? How about a little help from paintshop.

Uncanny, isn't it? Here's a little more help.

And in case you're still in doubt...

If I put these babies on eBay, I would be looking at early retirement, I'm sure. Either that, or my family would lock me away in a padded room somewhere. Baaaaa. Baaaaa!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another Special Guest...

...for Dogs on Thursday. A former co-worker stopped in today with the newest addition to her family. Meet Coda. He is a 9-week-old English Shepherd.
He is the sweetest little thing. He gave everybody lots of kisses and chewed on our thumbs with his sharp little puppy teeth. Oh, and his puppy belly - don't get me started on his sweet little round puppy belly. It was just begging to be kissed.

I don't want to push Emma and Tara out of this week's DOT post, so I told them that if they would model the Clapotis that I just took off of the blocking board, they could make an appearance on the blog. Emma declined. She flatly refused to be humiliated photographed with the scarf.

Fortunately, Tara has no shame.
Here is the post-blocking shot of it hanging out on the star magnolia tree in the yard.

See those buds on the tree? Look hard...they are there! Spring is on the way!!! Happy Dogs on Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Clap, clap, clap!

Finished! My first Clapotis! It was so much fun to knit, and it felt so naughty to drop stitches...on purpose...and just let them unravel. I'm really pleased with the way this turned out, and will make more in the future. I've already wound the yarn for my next Clappy into balls.

Here it is before blocking:

And here it is stretched out in all its glory:And an extreme close-up:
Luckily I had the morning off work to go to a doctor's appointment*, and was able to block it and get some good shots in the sunlight. I used those interlocking foam-y floor tile things, covered it with an old tablecloth on top, and pinned the be-jeebers out of the scarf. It was still very scallop-ey on the edges, so I ran a line of cotton yarn along each of the edges, pulled the lines tight and re-pinned, and it's much better.

I even had a helper this morning. Joseph, (a.k.a. Joey, JoJo Boy, JuJuBee) supervised the final touches and the photo-shoot. What would I do without him?

* Note to self: If anyone comes at you with a needle and wants to shoot your heel full of steroids, LET THEM! I have suffered with heel pain on one of my feet for more than a year. I finally ran out of home remedies to try (stretching, frozen water bottle, Advil, Tylenol, shoe inserts) and broke down and went to the doctor. He sent me for x-rays and then to a podiatrist. Turns out, I have a heel spur, causing plantar fasciitis.Ouch!

Last week, I had a shot of cortisone in the offending heel, and viola! Cured! Well, maybe not cured, but at my follow-up appointment his morning the doctor estimated that 90% of the inflammation is gone. Hooray! God Bless Cortisone! How long does the shot last? Who cares. I'm walking without feeling like there is a hot poker stabbing me with every step, and that's enough for now.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bock, Bock, Bock...

I've always loved chickens, and thought it would be fun to have them as pets. So, on April 11, 1997 I got 9 one-day-old chickies from a hatchery not far from where I live. They were all hens. Four Rhode Island Reds, two Barred Plymouth Rocks and three Black Sex Links. Yes, that was what they were called. How unimaginative--don't you think they could have come up with a better name for the breed rather than "sex links"? Geesh!

Anyway, I loved those little chickies, and they all had names. Julie, Becky, Joanie, Emma, Ducky, Lizzie, Peanut, Yellow Foot, and Blackie. As they grew older, it became harder and harder to tell them apart. Except for Julie, that is. Julie turned out to be a rooster. Her "cock-a-doodle-doo" made her stand out from the rest of the chickens. The black sex links were especially hard to tell apart, so I ended up calling them all "Black One", or sometimes "Mean Black One" because they were by far the most aggressive of the flock. As a side note, if I ever think about getting more chickens, someone please hit me over the head with a frying pan, would you? They can be mean little beasties. Now I know where the term "pecking order" comes from, and let me tell you, there is a definite pecking order among chickens. Heaven help whoever is at the bottom of the order. But I digress.

When we got the chickens, I had no idea how long a chicken was supposed to live. When I asked at the hatchery or at a feed store, I would get some vague answer about how they were sent "to market" after their first good laying season. Needless to say, my precious girls would never go to market as long as I had anything to say about it! (How long could a chicken live, anyway?)

Well, the first of the flock met her maker about 6 years ago, and I remember calling my mom first thing in the morning before I left for work. I was crying, and said "What do I do with a dead chicken?" Mom suggested chicken pot pie. Not funny! Then she said to leave her in a trash bag outside of the garage and dad would pick it up and take her to the dump. Kind of heartless, don't you think? I ended up calling work (still crying) and telling them I would be late because I had to bury a chicken. Hey - a pet is a pet, and no way could she go to the dump.

Over the years, the flock had dwindled down to two chickens. Black One and Ducky. Then this past weekend, Black One went to the big chicken coop in the sky. It wasn't too much of a surprise, since she has been partially paralyzed since about the middle of December. She was still eating and drinking and pooing, and didn't appear to be in any pain, so I guess it was some kind of a stroke that left her partially disabled. On nice weekend days, my sister would make a nest for her out of straw in a sunny part of the yard and put her out there with her own water bowl and a can of cat food. Yes, she loved cat food. Oddly enough, chicken flavor was her favorite. (Do you see why I don't want any more chickens?)

Black One, 1997-2008

Ducky, loyal chicken that she is, would stick right by Black One's side. The very same Ducky who was always at the bottom of the pecking order. There were times when we had to separate her from the rest of the flock because we were afraid they would kill her. This kind little Ducky has been sleeping on the floor of the coop in a nest of straw with Black One instead of flying up to the roosts at night. Sweet little Ducky!

Ducky (with Joseph in the background)

Now, the whole time I've been typing this, I've been trying to think of a way to (sensitively, of course) segue into this week's Dogs on Thursday topic, but, you see, well... there is no good way.

Long-time readers may remember that I've been making Emma and Tara's food since last April. The recipe is based on Mable's Meat Loaf. After about six months on this food, I had blood work done on Emma and Tara to make sure that they were getting all of the nutrients they need. My vet said everything looked good and to keep them on the food. Yay!

Anyway, each batch uses 5 to 6 pounds of ground beef, but recently there have been some recalls on ground beef. Ugh! What is a girl to do? Do you see the insensitive part now? Yes, this week, we bought 6 pounds of ground chicken and made...what should I call it? Chicken-loaf? I know some of you were thinking "Black One Loaf". Shocking - how could you?

Chicken loaf is much more pale that the beef version, but still chock-full of goodies like veggies, oats, beans, rice, eggs, etc. The true test will be in the tasting. Will Emma and Tara like it?

They dove into their food bowls and fairly inhaled the chicken-loaf.

Look at those empty bowls!

Emma says "I don't care where that food came from, I want some more!"

Sunday, March 2, 2008

"February is for Finishing" is Finished!

I was so anxious to cast on something that on February 29th, I took this basket of sock yarn and three sets of needles to bed with me. Not only could I cast on a pair of socks at the stroke of midnight, but if there had been an intruder in the house, I could have poked his eyes out with sock needles! Forgive the messy nightstand, and take note of the time on the clock. 10:05 pm...less than two hours to go...

I briefly thought about staying up until midnight just to get another picture of the clock with just a few stitches on a needle, but zonked out instead. Fortunately, Tara needed to do a wee-wee at 4:45am, so after taking Tara and Emma outside, giving them their obligatory cookies, and crawling back under the warm covers, I cast on this much...

...and promptly went back to sleep.

Over the weekend, this is how much I got done on this particular sock:

I cast on for another sock, but didn't get very far...
...because most of my knitting time this weekend was spent on this:
It doesn't look like much now, but it's my very first Clapotis! Last month I joined a Clapotis KAL, but waited to cast on until the hateful "February is for Finishing" was over. Well, it's over, and I'm off to a running start.

What else is over? My pity party. Thanks for indulging me. At least it's mostly over...until I find out how much my incredible stupidity is going to cost me. Ugh.