Sunday, September 30, 2007

Out on the Lake

After several failed attempts to get mom out on the lake in a kayak, this weekend, we succeeded! Previous excuses were: too hot...too cold...too windy... hmmmm, maybe she didn't really want to go? No way! She was just as excited about it as we were!

Mom and I were in kayaks, and my sister S. was in a little aluminum boat with a teeny tiny electric motor. The boat ramp is a little ways away from the kayak launch spot, so mom and I paddled over to the boat ramp to meet up with S. Here is mom getting the hang of paddling.

Once we met up with S., we tied mom's kayak to the aluminum boat so S. could tow mom to the far end of the lake were there is a beautiful creek that we paddle up and see all sorts of turtles and birds and stuff. We knew it would be much too far for mom to paddle all the way there and back, so that's why S. brought the aluminum boat. Tow service!
A good time was had by all!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

So Proud - So Very Proud!

This is a very special edition of Dogs on Thursday. I am so proud of Emma, I could burst! Now, I love Emma and Tara will all my heart, and while they can do no wrong in my eyes, I am aware that not everyone is pleased to have a dog jumping up on them in excitement, or welcomes sloppy wet kisses the way that I do. I have raised my dogs with a shocking lack of discipline, according to some people, and you know who you are, Mom and Dad. My father has often said it's a good thing I never had kids, because they would be the most spoiled brats on the block. Guilty as charged!

Anyway, what did Emma do to make me so proud? She sat. Yes, that's right. Emma sat. She put her little hiney on the floor. Dad said to her "Emma...sit" and she sat. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles. I was so proud of her, I thought I was going to burst at the seams.

Now for a little background. When I was a kid, we had a very special dog. Her name was Samantha. "Sam" for short. Now, she wasn't our first dog. We had a Basset Hound when I was really small, but then we moved to a house without a fenced-in yard and Cleo had to go to a new home. He was just gone one day when I came home from first grade that day. Oh, how I cried.

But I digress. We got Sam from the ASPCA when I was about 12 years old. She looked just like a tiny Lassie, and had four brothers that were all black and white. If she wasn't a border collie, or at least mostly border collie, I'm a monkey's uncle. Sam was so very smart, and just lived to please you. Especially my dad. He taught Sam all kinds of commands, and Sam would respond instantly. No hesitation. If Sam did anything wrong, she would be so upset about it, she would throw up. Literally. Her most frequent sin was to get up on my parents' bed while we were all gone to church. There would be the tell-tale hollow between the pillows, and dad would just say "Sam...what did you do?", and Sam would guiltily slink off and invariably vomit in a corner somewhere.

Anyway, I suppose you could say that dad and I have differing philosophies. The pendulum has swung to the opposite point in it's trajectory, so to speak. As long as the dogs are safe and happy, I'm happy. They want to get up on the furniture? No problem. Sleep on the bed? Let me get you an extra pillow. Are you a little chilly? Come on under the covers. Words like "sit", "stay", "down", and "roll over" mean absolutely nothing to them.

Now, as much as I love my dogs, I love my parents, too. Oddly enough, though, they do not enjoy being jumped on by undisciplined hooligans when they walk in the door. For that reason, I have made a conscious effort over the past six or eight months to think about trying to convince Emma that she might want to, perhaps, "sit" when someone politely requests it of her.

First, Emma and I watched several episodes of "The Dog Whisperer" on TV. I even went so far as to purchase Cesar Milan's book "Cesar's Way" and read it to Emma.

Cesar does some amazing things with dogs that have severe behavioral problems, but his methods seem a little, well, harsh, for my sweet girls.

For my birthday this year, my good friend Pat gave me Tamar Gellar's book "The Loved Dog".

Now, her methods are more....loving. That's more like it! Yes, love them! Love them, and they will try to please you. I just had to do a little tweaking, and viola, after a few short months, Emma will almost always sit when asked. Or at least she will give it serious thought. Of course, she will not sit on a cold hard floor. No, her tushie needs a rug to sit upon. And, a treat. Never forget the all-important treat. If she is going to humor me by doing something so silly as to obey a command, she darn well better get a cookie out of it.

All of this brings me to last night. Last night will be burned into my memory for all time. I get home from work, feed the dogs, put their bowls in the dishwasher, and turn it on. I look around the kitchen, thinking about what to have for my own dinner, and the dishwasher starts making this unholy racket. My first thought was "call dad" My second thought was "no, you are an intelligent, able, human being, and can figure this out for yourself".

So after I told that second thought to "stuff it" and called dad, he came right over. (What a good dad, huh?) Well, Emma just loves her Grampa, and nearly turns herself inside out when he comes to visit. She is absolutely certain that Grampa comes over expressly to be showered with lots of wet doggy kisses. For some odd reason, he seems to play at being aloof, and sometimes tells her to "Go Away", but this does not deter the ever faithful and loving Emma. The only thing that kept him from being attacked while he was on the floor looking at the innards of the dishwasher was a fairly sturdy gate across the doorway. After dad finished diagnosing the problem, he stood up, and Emma was allowed back into the kitchen. She fairly danced around his feet, wiggling and worming around, just aching to jump up and give him kisses. I said to him "Why don't you tell her to sit?"

In that instant, I said to myself, "What have you done?" It seemed like everything went in slow motion. My mouth went dry, my pulse started to race. Dad looked at me as though I had grown a third head on my shoulders, then looked at Emma and said "Emma...sit". Her little butt dropped right to the floor. I was never so proud in my whole life. It might have been coincidence, and she was getting ready to sit anyway. It might have been a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, but I don't care. My Emma SAT.
Emma sat down for my dad. Oh, happy day! Who would have thought I would be so happy to have a broken dishwasher?

Monday, September 24, 2007

What a way to brighten someone's day!

I got a package...I got a package! I LOVE packages!!! My mystery Secret Pal from SP11 sent be a box of goodies! I opened it up and found this:

Then unwrapped the goodies and found this:
Sorry for the lousy pictures, but the light was fading fast. My pal sent me a skein of Patons SWS - Soy Wool Stripes in a lovely shade called "Natural Green". It has shades of green, yellow, rust and peach, and I can't wait to try this yummy yarn! In the note she said to look up the yarn in Ravelry for suggested patterns. What a great idea! I LOVE Ravelry! Hmmmm, this means my pal is on Ravelry, too...a tiny clue as to her identity. Another clue - the postmark is from Missouri. Ok, a knitter in Missouri. That narrows it down a little bit. A very little bit. This is so cool to be making friends from half a country away!

Back to the goodies... To hold the yarn and keep it nice and neat while knitting, there is a super-cool project bag by Knitpickers. Also included is a box of Chocolate Hazelnut Tea (which is yummy --I put Splenda and milk in mine, and it is so soothing), Swedish fish sea creatures (also very yummy!) and a woolly sheep tape measure.

Here is a picture of the knitpickers bag ready for action. See the hole in the top to feed the yarn through? There is one on each end so you can put more than one skein of yarn in there at a time and everything stays neat and tidy. Yay!

Oh, and the sheep tape measure, it's going to work right away. This was my old method of measuring knitting:
Yes, an ugly old tape measure hanging from a lamp by my knitting chair. How embarrassing! Now I will have a cute little sheepy that looks impossibly cute when just sitting there, but is ready to jump to action when required!

Thanks Secret Pal, for everything! I love it all!!! I know what I'm having for dinner.....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Turtle Rescue

Today my sister and I decided to take the kayaks out onto the lake. It was a lovely September day...warm, but not too hot...breezy but not too windy. On the way to the lake (which is about 5 minutes from home) we came across the tiniest little baby turtle trying to cross the road. His little head was sticking straight up and he was really hoofing it. Of course, we had to turn around to make sure he got across OK, and when we went back, he was just tucked into his shell in the middle of the road with cars whizzing by. Needless to say, we picked him up, and took him for a ride. Here is the little guy next to a set of car keys for scale.The original plan was to let him go in the area where we launch the kayaks, but it's right by a parking lot near a pretty busy road, and he already demonstrated the fact that he is not exactly traffic-savvy. So, he went for another a kayak!
He thoroughly enjoyed his ride, and so did I. That is, until he peed on me. Turtle pee...ugh. Anyway, we found a nice secluded spot, far away from evil cars and trucks, and set him free.

Goodbye little Mellie. We named him after sweet Mellie who died in April. Mellie was a Brittany, which is technically a bird dog, but her first love was always turtles. If there was a turtle anywhere in or near the yard, she would sniff it out. Yes, Mellie was a girl. Yes, I'm pretty sure this turtle is a boy. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the indiscriminate pee-ing. Anyway, this little boy's name is Mellie.

One thing little Mellie won't be lacking is friends. Here are just a few of the many, many turtles we found today.

Can you tell that the turtle in the last picture has his legs sticking straight out? His back legs are fully extended - what a weird pose. I guess his legs were a little chilly and he wanted to soak up some of that September sunshine.

We weren't disappointed in the aviary department. This is my sister with a gorgeous swan.
All around, it was a very good day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dogs on Thursday

For this week's Dogs on Thursday post, Emma and Tara wanted to bring to everyone's attention the shocking lack of toys in their home. They say they are poor, deprived dogs, and every other dog in the neighborhood has way more toys than they do.

Of course, this would have nothing to do with the fact that any toys that are brought into this house that are made up of anything weaker than, say, TITANIUM, are immediately destroyed by Miss Emma. Sure, she acts like she is going to be a well-behaved little girl and promises not to hurt her toys. That lasts for about 90 seconds, then she decides that her toys must die. Not a peaceful death, either. Limbs must be chewed on. Heads must be ripped from torsos. Stuffing must be strewn all over the place. Anything that vaguely resembles a squeaker must be rooted out of its hiding spot and destroyed. This narrows choice of toys down to the hardy Nylabone in its many shapes and forms.

This week, (just in time for Dogs on Thursday) Emma and Tara received an order they placed with PetEdge (their favorite online shop), and what did it contain? You guessed it, Nylabones galore! It's a good thing, because there was a noticeable lack of Nylabones in the house as you can see from this picture.
Yes, that picture was taken before they were given their new bones. I count one...two...three... well, close to eleventy-gazillion nylabones on the rug in this room alone. Trust me, there are many more in the house, but they go into hiding until the middle of the night when you have to get up and go to the bathroom and stumble around in the dark and step on one of those ^%$#%&-ing bones and it gets you right at the softest part of your foot and you know you will be limping for days. But I digress. Here are Emma and Tara getting new bones.
Here is Emma enjoying her new bone.

Here is Tara enjoying her new bone.

Here is Emma when she realizes that Tara has a new bone.

Here is Tara with her new bone strategically placed under her chin.

Here is the incredulous look on Emma's face as she says to me, "Hey, I'm the queen of all new toys in this house. Take that bone away from Tara and give it to ME!"
It's gonna be a looooong night. Knitting content in the next post - I promise.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dogs on Thursday

This week's Dogs on Thursday post is all about the lovely Tara. This sweet little girl had a special Day of Beauty this week! She had a B--A--T--H (ooops, I guess I don't have to spell it out the way I do when I'm talking to the dogs). Anyway, she had a bath, a hair cut, and she even had her nails done!

Here is her "before" picture:

Not bad, but a little ragged-y around the edges, sloppy looking tail, and no neck to speak of.

And here is her "after" picture:
Well, still not much of a neck, but look at those ears! Her white is whiter, her brown is browner, and she feels like a whole new dog. I'll tell you, we could have made a puppy from all of the hair that came off of her. She feels soooo much better now that she isn't carrying around all of that extra hair.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thou shalt not covet....

...thy Secret Pal's [ item deleted ].

That would be the 11th Commandment, if the world were ruled by knitters. Ooooh, if only I could take pictures of the [ item deleted ] I got in the mail today. I placed an order with [ name deleted ] from [ far away place deleted ] and it came today. I tore the package open, and among the lovely yarn, were some very special [ item deleted ]! I first saw these [ item deleted ] on [ famous knitter deleted ]'s blog. Shortly afterward, I received my Secret Pal assignment for SP11. I knew right away that these special [ item deleted ] would be perfect for [ name of Secret Pal deleted ]. I have a wonderful Secret Pal, and she is truly worthy of these special [ item deleted ]!

This is killing me! I want to share this with everyone, but don't want my pal to stumble across this blog and then find out who I am. I'll have to be content with showing my Mom & Dad the special [ item deleted ], neither of whom were very impressed. Mom tried to sound appreciative, but Dad just mumbled something along the lines of "a fool and his money are soon parted". He has no beauty in his soul, but I love him anyway!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Drumroll, please.

You knit with a new (to you) sock yarn. You knit with a new (to you) pattern. As the sock progresses, you start to wonder if you have enough yarn to complete both socks. You knit and knit, and the ball of yarn gets smaller and smaller. Your wonder turns to worry. Your worry turns to downright anxiety. Finally you finish the first sock. You do not weave the toe stitches, certain that you will be frogging the whole *&^$#)* sock, anyway. To humor the knitting goddesses, you drag out your yarn scale.

The finished sock (with two dpns) weighs 56 grams.

How many grams was the original skein? 100 grams? Where is that freakin' ball band? Who knows. If it was 100 grams, you're most likely screwed. With trembling hands and a fluttering heart, you gently place the remaining yarn on the scale.

Yay! 63 grams! Plenty of yarn left for another sock. You celebrate by.... cutting the grass? pulling weeds? doing laundry? NO WAY. You cast on that second sock right away. What better way to relieve knitting-induced stress than by, you guessed it, knitting!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Filthy, rotten, scumbag!

I found out about a heartbreaking story at Nichole's blog. It turns out that a police officer in Arizona was arrested for his role in the death of a fellow officer, K-9 Officer Bandit. That's right, Bandit was a police dog. How did he die? Sgt. Lovejoy left him in the police cruiser for more than 12 hours. Twelve hours, in a car, in August, in Arizona, where the temperature was 109 degrees that day. Click here to read the full story.

This kind of abuse makes me so very angry. I filed a complaint against this scum-bag, and urge anyone else reading this to do the same thing. This is the link where you can file a complaint. Officer Bandit was entrusted to Sgt. Lovejoy's care, and Sgt. Lovejoy greatly abused that privilege, so much so that he caused Officer Bandit's death. Sgt. Lovejoy should be stripped of his rank, his job, and his pension. If there were any true justice in this world, Sgt. Lovejoy would be sentenced to be confined to the back seat of his police cruiser in the desert sun until he is dead.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dogs on Thursday

Emma and Tara have graciously stepped aside for this special edition of Dogs on Thursday. I would like to introduce you to the newest member of the extended family. This is Jack.

Jack has only one eye, and my twisted dear sweet niece J named him after the one-eyed-jack in a deck of cards. Jack was in a shelter in Georgia last week, and was going to be put down, until my niece heard about him. He has a sad story, which includes the loss of an eye, but I won't let my niece or sister tell me any more about it. I just can't take it. (As much as I would like to know about my own Tara's background, I really don't want to know, you know? We adopted Tara through American Brittany Rescue when she was about a year old.) My niece says she is just fostering him for her rescue, FurrEver Friends Rescue & Volunteers, but I don't think she will be able to part with this sweet little boy. At least, I hope not.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Oooo, Pretty!

You may remember a recent frogging incident, but at least that sock did not die in vain. Behold, the Garter Rib sock from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch! Love the pattern, love the yarn - look at how the colors "pool"! I've just turned the heel on the first sock. I made the leg only 5" long, which is shorter than I usually do, but this is the first time I have used this yarn (Cherry Tree Hill Merino Supersock) and I didn't want to be caught short.

I have an unexpected day off work today. There are a gazillion trucks on my road, ripping up the road and putting down a new layer of asphalt. Not a good enough excuse to miss a day of work, you say? Add one neurotic Brittany (who shall remain unnamed) to the mix. OK, here's a hint. Her name starts with an "E" and rhymes with.... what rhymes with Emma? Ooops, I gave it away :) Yes, Miss Emma is a tad neurotic. Tara is so very calm, and takes everything in stride. Not Emma. I always leave the television on for the dogs during the day to distract them from noises outside, but the television cannot compete with heavy equipment ripping up the street.

Now, what to do on my new-found day off? Watch Pride and Prejudice while knitting? Not a chance. Too much to be done around here. Besides, who could pay attention to the movie when every few minutes it's "Emma, calm down." "Emma, stop barking." "Emma, it's OK." "Emma, come to Mommy." "Emma, will you give me a freakin' break and stop that infernal barking before my head splits in two." OK, that last one was an exaggeration. A slight exaggeration.