Cowl You Care

Sissy was delighted that so many of you were worried about her lack of cowl in yesterday’s post.  So for the lurkers and those who didn’t ask, she wore her cowl out the twenty times prior to the photos.  The cowl was soaked – freezing rain, anyone?  – so I decided she was better off without a cold, wet, pneumonia necklace.   Rest assured, Sis loves her cowl and had it on this morning.

Grab a snack, a beverage and plop down somewhere comfortable.  This is gonna’ be a long one.  Firstly, I failed to note that yesterday was Gretchen’s five-month birthday.   She’s really starting to develop what I assume is going to be her adult personality.  She’s affectionate, confident, and lives to please.  None of that is new, but she is starting to become more independent, in true JRT fashion though, which is to say that she is loyal to her pack and wants them VERY near, but she picks moments to express herself.

Now, an FO report.  MJ had requested black mitts, so I complied.

Pattern:  Fetching.   I used a worsted weight yarn and smaller needles, but the only real change I made to the pattern was I eliminated the picot bind off.  MJ has small hands, so there was no need for looser or longer.

Yarn:  Patons Classic Wool, in black.  (Hence, the lack of detail in the photos.)  A great, basic wool.  I think this is my go-to, worsted wool.

Needles:  Addi turbos #5, 24″.  The tips were a bit dull, but I do love that Addi cable.  I must confess to using a cable needle quite a bit on these.  Between the black on black yarn, the fuzz, and knitting with smaller needles than the yarn would have otherwise liked (to make dense, warm mitts), I just couldn’t always grab the cable stitches, especially on the cable back mitt.  (Anyone else find it easier to cable front without a needle, or do I just need more practice?)

Mitts would be my new socks if not for the fact that here in the freezing rain zone, there’s still more need for warm socks than a collection of mitts.  I can surely see why this pattern is so popular.

I also got a happy package in the mail yesterday. 

Actually, despite my name being on the package and the card, the rest of my household keeps laying claim to the goodies.   (Never fear; the chocolates won’t get near the fur-girls.)  The girls love the smelly soap and the cloth, and the Knight told them to eat the green stuff off of “his” cloth.  Hem, hem.  The man is very secure in his masculinity, but misguided enough to believe that EVERY knitted or crocheted cloth that enters the house is his.  Thank you, Dawn!  We’re all going to enjoy the goodies, it would seem… 

(And no, the girls won’t be allowed to chew on any of it.)

So, tell me ’bout your weekend!  We have an all-day scrapping event planned tomorrow, but I need to run out to Pins & Needles  (my favorite LYS, no website yet) before I settle in for a few hours.  Tonight, I’m going to push to finish the legs and maybe start the heels on my socks in progress.  (And yes G, I am into the legs!)  I’m trying the afterthought heel for the first time…   Sunday, I think we’re having breakfast with Bubba and his wife (maybe their teen son too, if we’re lucky; he’s a great kid, but we’re not cool enough to always get him to join us), and then I have the one o’clock meeting I slept through last Sunday.   I’ll be starting another pair of socks for my Super Bowl knitting, because I don’t have other knits I should be doing.  Hem.

steelerbannerpartyanimalGo Steelers!   If we didn’t have the scrapping thing tomorrow, I’d whip out some cowls in black and gold for the girls to wear…

I’m pretty excited.  Not only are the Steelers in the big game, but the Knight will actually be watching with me for a change.  He’s in a pool of some sort, so suddenly, he cares. 

Have a great weekend!

Hard Times

While the fur-girls were sliding on the ice on Tuesday, our mail carrier stopped by.  She did indeed have the mail, but she also wanted to chat with me about her cause – an animal shelter in a neighboring county.  Like every shelter I’ve heard anything about recently, they’re out of room and the situation is desperate.  They are not a no-kill shelter, and while they do what they can to turn over purebreds to breed-specific rescues and they work closely with a no-kill organization in the area, but it’s not enough to keep up.

Frankly, what they need are fosters and adopters.  We can’t do either.  They don’t really need the food I thought I’d donate, nor do they need the crate pads.  I want to help, but a big part of being helpful is actually doing something that needs to be done!  I’m sad and frustrated, so if you have any ideas, let me know.

In the meantime, enjoy the fur-girls playing on the ice.  I’m now almost rabid for snow; they’d love it!  I’m also pretty sure Gretchen will love the ocean and play fetch with the Knight in the surf, no matter how cold it is.  Not that we’ll find out any time soon, but maybe February will surprise me.

Sissy digging the ice & the garden, while Gretchen just looks on

Sissy digging the ice & the garden, while Gretchen just looks on

Don’t forget to swing by the Dogs on Thursday blog, and all the other doggies on there.  Happy little friday!

A Time to Mourn

Challenger Crew

Challenger Crew

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the union, but
the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and
remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know
we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the
ground. But we’ve never lost an astronaut in flight; we’ve never had a tragedy like this. And
perhaps we’ve forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger
Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven
heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis,
and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we
feel the loss, and we’re thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave,
and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, “Give me a challenge and I’ll meet
it with joy.” They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to
serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We’ve grown used to wonders in this century. It’s hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United
States space program has been doing just that. We’ve grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps
we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger
crew, were pioneers.

And I want to say something to the school children of America who were watching the live coverage
of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this
happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a
chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to
the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.

I’ve always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does
nothing to diminish it. We don’t hide our space program. We don’t keep secrets and cover things
up. We do it all up front and in public. That’s the way freedom is, and we wouldn’t change it for
a minute. We’ll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle
crews and yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our
hopes and our journeys continue.

I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on
this mission and tell them: “Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for
decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it.”

There’s a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died
aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a
historian later said, “He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.” Well, today we can
say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake’s, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives.
We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their
journey and waved good-bye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”

Ronald Reagan
Address to the nation on the Challenger disaster
from the Oval Office
January 28, 1986

Video of the Challenger launch


I had other things on my mind today, but this trumps everything.  I was at home in bed with the chicken pox, tuned in and ready to watch.  Well, watch I did, and I still get misty…

Iced In

Sissys 1st - and only - snow, January 2008

Sissy's 1st - and only - snow, January 2008

I wish I had cute photos of the girls romping in the snow I was promised this morning, but mostly we’ve gotten sleet and freezing rain.  Gretchen prances out in her PANK (hot pink) coat, and Sissy just takes it all in stride, but I really wanted to play in the snow with them today.

So, we’ll do a little housekeeping.  My mosaic yesterday came from Big Huge Labs, also known as fd’s Flickr Toys, so any of you can make your own. 

Now, to get to that housekeeping…  The Knight is working today, so it only seems fair that I do something productive today.  I’m sure there will be a nap, some knitting and more reading, but there’s also plenty to do around the house.

What do – or would you do – with a snow day?

Oh Bother!

I’m feeling Eeyore-ish today.  It’s grey outside, my inlaws are crabby (and I would be too if my hot water heater had been on the fritz for ten days, with one repair in there that obviously didn’t take), and it’s just not a happy day.  I have an FO, but secret knitting abounds, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

How about cocoa topic #3?

Marshmallows/Whipped Cream – The big debate.

How do you prefer you top your cocoa?  If you like marshmallows, do they need to be the big ones, little ones, homemade, gourmet, flavored?  If it’s whipped cream, is it fresh, the kind in the can, flavored?  Or are you a fluff gal?  Or… do you like your cocoa naked?  Tell us about how you top off your favorite cup of chocolate!

To heck with all of that!  The Knight has created his own perfect cuppa’, and he kindly made a cup for me and for Mrs. Pissy (who isn’t a pissy person at all, but that’s the easiest way to describe her).  It’s heaven!  He takes a packet of regular hot cocoa, a packet of french vanilla (yeah, I claim to hate the stuff), and dumps them into a 16 ounce cup, adding hot water.  He then drops a peppermint in, and stirs until it melts.  Once it melts, he adds liquid creamer, and that’s perfect for me. 

Now, I don’t know that I’ve ever turned down REAL whipped cream on ANYTHING…

I also have to tell you that I’ve spent the better part of the morning trying to comply with a 25 random things tag I got (twice) on Facebook.  I was up to #11 the first time, when WordPress decided to log me off for no obvious reason, and I really tried, but I couldn’t get past #5 when I tried again – twice.

Instead,  here are a few random photos, for your entertainment.

25 Random Things

25 Random Things

Book Reports

What do you do when your knitting mojo takes a vacation without you?  I have TONS of things I want to finish, need to start, WANT to start – theoretically – but I can’t seem to actually put the sticks in my hands and knit.  So I’ve been reading, quite a bit actually.

Nope, no mojo in the Garden

Nope, no mojo in the Garden

A couple of weeks ago I finished the first JD Robb book, Naked in Death.   It was a little difficult to get into, which seems to be the norm for me these days, but particularly once I got confirmation that the character I suspected was behind the murders was, I couldn’t put it down.  I’d like to find the next couple of books in the series, so perhaps I’ll call the used bookstore in town and see if they’re open this afternoon.  (And yes, I do have several bags of books to exchange, thanks.)

I’m still feeling the need to apologize for reading what I call “beach reads”, because I’ve always been a bit of a literary snob.  No, no, I don’t care what you read (but do read… it prevents Alzheimer’s, or at least helps!), but I just don’t generally enjoy the light reading a lot of folks prefer.  I like history, biographies and the classics.  If it made most of the class groan in high school or was on a syllabus for English 101, I’ve read it and loved it.

However, something misfired in my book selector last fall, and suddenly, I want to read light stuff, especially if it has a happy ending.  So last night, I finally finished Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin.  No links, because she’s our speaker for this year’s Literary Feast, the big fundraiser for the Junior League of Charlottesville.  I’ve carried it around in the car, reading in doctors’ offices, in parking lots, and anywhere else I’ve been waiting.  (Yeah, I know, a lot of you knit in those places, but see above.  My mojo and I are estranged right now.)  It’s VERY much a sappy, girlie, beach read, but Ms. Giffin makes the characters so real that I wanted to see what happened next.  She even twisted the plot a few times so I was a bit surprised at the end, and the sequel, Something Blue has a bookmark in chapter 5 already.  I don’t know that I’ll finish all four of her books before the event (Feb. 27th), but you never know.

In between, I raced through My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.  I generally grind my teeth through books where the point of view changes, especially when a series of characters narrate, but it was perfect for this book.  This isn’t a beach read, and while I don’t think it’s destined for the English 101 reading lists of the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it is on an Ethics syllabus, especially in an advanced class.  In fact, if it showed up as such around here, I’d take Ethics again.  I’d love to have a book club to have some roaring debates with over the issues – and believe me, there are several! – ripped raw in this book.

It resonated with me on so many, personal levels.  The dad is a fire captain.  The son reminds me of a step-brother I once had.  I too had my own attorney at 13.  There was even a service dog in the book, not that I’ve had any real personal interaction with one, but I marvel at the connection between humans and canines and how it works.  I’d even wanted to be a lawyer until I learned that too many cases really are decided at the Country Club, not in the courtroom.

It has a messed up ending.  If you’ve read it, you know what I mean.  I like happy endings, even though I know life doesn’t work that way.  See, if I wanted realistic, I’d stick with my history and biographies.  I already know how they end.  When I do read fiction, I like the fairy tales outline.  Sure, mix it up in the middle, and if like Ms. Giffin, you trick me a bit and STILL get to a happy ending, all the better.  It doesn’t have to be all sugar and spice and everything nice, but when you make me care about a character, let me put the book on the shelf knowing she’s okay.  (No, I don’t care what you do to the villains.  I’m fickle like that.  It’s all about me, the reader, and the characters you make me pull for…)

That being said, I love choice as theme in a book.  I still think that was a big part of Harry Potter; our choices matter more than the hands we’re dealt.  My Sister’s Keeper smacks each and every character – even the service dog – with choices on just about every page.  I think that’s why the ending upset me; good old fashioned fate reared her ugly head and it was bitter pill to swallow.  (And what happened to the dog?)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, both dogs are trying to perch on my shoulders.  I have broad shoulders, but this is ridiculous, and uncomfortable.  My right fingers are tingling, so I think Sissy must move…

L is for…

I saw this on Grace‘s blog, and wanted to play along.    If you’re game, leave me a comment and I’ll pick a letter for you.

The way it works is I have to come up with ten things beginning with the letter in question that I like.  Here we go!

  1. Lace.  I love to knit lace, which is a bit ironic, because I’m not a lace lifestyler.  I don’t use lace tablecloths or bedspreads, and I don’t even wear much lace, but that’s changing, as I knit…
  2. Literature.  And I mean both the good stuff you find on reading lists and any ol’ beach read that doesn’t tax my mind so much. 
  3. League.  As in, the Junior League.  I joined almost as a dare, after years of resisting and insisting I wouldn’t fit in.  What I found was an organization as committed to voluntarism as I am, and some outstanding women I might not have met otherwise.
  4. Lazy days at the beach.  There’s nothing like not having a to-do list, with the ocean as a backdrop.
  5. Lunch.  I can’t tell you how liberating it was to slip away for a nearly two-hour lunch with a friend.  It’s a beautiful, warm day, the company couldn’t have been better, and the food was yummy too.
  6. Loopy Ewe.  Great yarn and terrific customer service.  Sissy likes the summer Loopy Kisses (peppermints) too.
  7. Legacy.  I kinda’ feel like the firehouse is our legacy.  Founded by my father and community leaders, currently run by my father inlaw and Chief Pissy, the Knight and I do play active roles in preserving our volunteer station for the future while continuing to meet the needs of our neighbors.  Much of the same could be said of the family business.
  8. Loyalty.  I am blessed with loyal, loving fur-girls, a rock-solid husband, friends and family.  I do not have a host of girlfriends to call for a night out, but I do have more true-blue friends than I probably deserve.
  9. Liberty.  I suppose I have my father to thank, and my father ilaw too, but I hope I never take our political and religious freedoms for granted.
  10. Lamb.   I mean the meat.  Gotta’ keep my rellies in OZ and their farmer friends in business, right?  The fact that the same creatures are responsible for a great knitting fiber is also a plus!

Now, it is Friday.  All I have ahead of me is a knitting guild meeting tomorrow.  Otherwise, I plan to enjoy the warm front with the fur-girls outside, knit, do laundry and figure out when we’re going back to the beach.  I need to get my feet in the sand, no matter how cold it is.

In other news, Gretchen and Tresaderm have parted ways, due to irreconcilable differences.  My vet scolded me for FORCING the drops in her ears, and has ordered a weekend off.  I am not to touch her ears at all, and we’ll see where that gets us on Monday.  An oral steriod is in the mail to us, but if her ears are not itchy or red on Monday, we’re to just let them be.

Is your weekend more exciting than mine?

Ice Ears

My littlest cutie is rather grumpy with her humans.  I mentioned that she has a double ear infection.  What I’m not sure I shared is that she was prescribed Tresaderm, which is supposed to be refrigerated.  Now, what drug-making genius created this?  Clearly, he has no dogs or children of his own – and yes, I’m pretty sure it had to be a man – because no parent of human or fur kids would stop developing said medicine before it was stable at room temperature.

After several days of wrangling – the sweetie DOES embody her breed’s legendary strength and tenacity – and skipping doses, the Knight growled through clinched teeth, “Call the vet.  There has to be something else that will work.”  Well, turns out no other drug will work, but one can leave the Tresaderm out, but then the medicine must be discarded at the end of the prescribed period.  I hate wasting medicine we might need again (the basset owners feel my pain), but frankly, it’s money well-spent.  (And yeah, we now have a few more days, since I had to confess that we weren’t managing 4 drops in each ear twice daily.)

Please be sure to visit Dogs on Thursday.   There’s  a great spotlight and you can also find the link there for the most up-to-date information on the peanut butter contamination which now includes some pet treats.

Happy little friday!

Zum, Zuma

(with apologies to Mazda’s ad campaign…)

My eggplant (really?  I thought eggplant was darker, maybe with brown undertones?) Zuma finally arrived yesterday.   Maybe it was the roughly 6-week wait for the new bag in the special color, but I was underwhelmed.  I’d call the color “grape” and I finally know what some Namaste customers have complained about with the odor.   I have had FIVE other Namaste bags pass through my hands, and this is the first one that has smelled like new plastic.

Then, there’s this funky accordian-style front pocket.  (Go to the website linked above and click on “view photos” for some use ideas.)  I haven’t had time to switch over to this bag yet, but I’m not sure more is better.  I can’t imagine what I’ll put in there, but when I figure it out, I’ll take a picture for you.

Natalie had asked to see how it compares to my beloved Newport.  Keep in mind, the Newport is stuffed and the Zuma isn’t, but…

One obvious difference; when I fail to carry a portfolio of some sort with me, my friendly Newport allows me to slide papers or other roughly 8×11 materials inside.  Sometimes the snap won’t shut, but those killer magnets grab hold of each other and it works.  Zuma isn’t going to be so accomodating.

They’re roughly the same height, but while it doesn’t matter if I have on a sweater and my heaviest coat, Newport slides up to my shoulder, again, Zuma won’t extend that courtesy.  It didn’t even stay put yesterday while I “wore” it on my shoulder, into the house, empty. 

Worst case, I think Zuma will be an awesome large project bag.  I tried to get a cute photo of Gretchen inside the dividerless main compartment, but she wouldn’t cooperate.  I don’t know if it was because it was cold outside or if the smell was too much for her, but trust me, the wee fur-girl could curl up inside, with a little blankie, and if those magnets weren’t so strong AND all around the wide opening, I’d try it as a Gretchie tote.

Stay tuned.  My plan is to switch over tonight and give this bag a whirl.


… the song.  I’d started and deleted a couple of other posts today, but then Ms. Franklin belted out my favorite song.

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring!

Especially if you’re an American, take a moment to follow the link and read all the verses.  Then, scan the cultural references given.   (Today’s importance has already been noted on Wikipedia.) 


Isn’t it amazing that we transition leadership not with battle and blood but with songs and cheers?  November’s elections are behind us, and we must move forward as one Nation, under God, indivisible.