Hot, hot, hot…

Tea cozy by Ruth, teapot from Rosanne

Don’t you love hot tea?  Come on, I know many of you do!  Won’t you join the Hot Tea Month Blog-a-Thon?   Be sure to scroll down to the first post and sign in via Mr. Linky, then post the first question on your blog… 

I’ll be back later.  Okay, probably tomorrow.   Sissy wants to thank everyone for caring about her.  She’s not enjoying the ear medicine twice daily, and she has no idea that as soon as the special food arrives… 

Well, happy fake friday, and have a great New Year’s Eve if you’re celebrating!


I’ve been blessed with some very special dogs in my life, but Sissy is in a class by herself.   She’s not the best behaved; the lab I trained as a ‘tween holds that title, if we overlook her puppyhood.  Frankly, beautiful as she is, her conformation sucks; Fred was much closer to the AKC’s standard.  Still, there’s just something about her.  Everywhere she goes, she makes friends, and in the blink of an eye, she’s the mayor.

This evening, it was the new vet’s office that fell under her spell.  There she is, waiting for another trip down the back hallway, where the techs were looking at her swabs and samples under a microscope, mixing her meds, etc. 

She’s fine.  I promise.  Her on-going “gland” issue flared up again, and since our regular vet is only open a few hours on Wednesdays and then has abbreviated holiday hours until Monday, I gave in and called the vet Pissy’s wife recommended.  We couldn’t get in to see THE vet they use before next Tuesday, but a perfectly nice doctor could see us at 4:45. 

Everything, from my chat with the receptionist through the LENGTHY visit with the doctor, impressed me.   We had a wait, but I’d brought a book, because I was pretty sure our vet agreed to take one more patient (Sissy) at the end of her day, just to get the dog some relief. 

Don’t mind Sissy in this photo; she is indeed trying to convince me we don’t need to be there.  She’s always well aware of which door we came in, and which one she needs to find a way to get past to explore the rest of the building.  And my amazing girl always manages to charm someone into giving her the keys to the kingdom…

Don’t look now Sis, but we’re about to embark on another journey.  Instead of my own self-improvement resolutions for 2010, it will be the year Sissy comes off the kibble and gland roller coaster.

Folks, trust your instincts.  Not only do you know your dogs, children, heck, even your own body, better than the experts, but there really is such a thing as intuition.  See that glorious pink belly?  I’ve remarked for well over a year that it’s perhaps too pink.  I’ve talked to no fewer than five veterinarians about Sissy and the potential for food allergies as the cause of her gland SYMPTOMS, rather than the glands themselves being the problem.  

(Note: not all vets actually have any real training in NUTRITION.  We kinda’ lucked into one who does.  She knows a LOT about dogs and food allergies, and is quite sure our incident-free months came only because I took the bull   er, rooster? by the horns and removed chicken and corn meals from Sissy’s diet.  Sadly, she fears that the beef and lamb I’ve been feeding her are also allergens…  Maybe I’ll try to go beef and lamb free with the girls.  Geeze.  Maybe not.) 

I was dismissed, even laughed at, because I was sure my girl was allergic to corn and chicken MEALS.  Well, I hope the chuckles at my expense keep ’em warm, because just in time for Gretchie’s annual visit, we’re moving to this newtous vet who didn’t even need Sissy’s old records to realize I wasn’t blowing smoke.

She is a beautiful, sweet, smart, silly, funny girl, and she deserves to NOT itch, have pressure in the wrong places, etc.   So, she and Gretchen are both going on a very special, very restricted diet for 8-12 weeks.  With a little luck, that will clear up everything inside, from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail.

Some of my longer-term readers will recall that this is our FOURTH vet change since Fred’s death.   In some cases, it was simply a matter of compatibility.  As with a personal physician, you just have to “click” with your vet, right?  It took a while, but we’ve found where we belong.  I do hate to make this change in many ways, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that it’s what’s right for Sissy. 

Wee Gretch will do just fine at the new place too, but Gretchen is that rare, easy-going, notmuchtroubleatall “kid” we all WISH we could have.   It’s such a relief to know I’m not crazy, and with a little luck, y’all won’t ever have to skim over a post about Sissy’s “glands” and the symptoms that go with, ever again.

Just knowing Sissy is going to feel better – probably does already – makes me giddy-happy.

What makes you ridiculously happy, and how can you get more of it in the New Year?

Tassle Dazzle

Oh, how I love my goofy, sweet big girl.  She’s a ham, but she’s really not a bad model.

Project:  OBrrrX Scarf

Pattern:  Mimi – a hooded scarf.   As written, except for the tassle.  The Knight announced around 2am on Sunday, when I finished the seaming, that the hood was too pointy.  When the trim was done, I suggested a tassle, and he thought that was a good idea.  I made my first tassle and attached it, only to have him mutter, “Now it looks like a Santa hat.”  Men!!

Yarn:  The natural color is Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease in natural heather.  The trim is Plymouth’s Baby Alpaca Brush in a soft, unnamed blue.  My aunt requested a “not-fussy” yarn for the scarf, as it will be used to walk dogs at the beach, so it will get sandy, salty and worn often.  However, I couldn’t resist adding a soft, fuzzy trim…

Needles:  My beloved wooden needles, in a name I can’t recall…  I was give two pairs a few years ago (by different friends), and sadly, Sissy sat on this project repeatedly, breaking one pair before I learned that I couldn’t leave it on the arm of the sofa!  Anyhooo, wooden US #6 straights.

Hook:  Trusty H hook, of course.

Verdict:  While Sissy and my aunt both love it, I’m with Gretchie…  This project was a sleeper.  That’s an AWFUL lot of basketweave, and it was tedious.  Still, I like the idea of a hooded scarf, so don’t be surprised if I try another pattern one of these days.

Yes, yes, there are other goodies you need to see, and maybe today will be the day I get a photo… but I make no promises.   I also need to revist the goals I set out at the start of this year, but that isn’t going to be a pretty post, so we’ll save that for another time, or maybe we’ll just note that I didn’t get very far on any of them.  Hrmph.

But happy fake little friday, right?  I think we only work a few hours tomorrow, so it’s all good…

How will you ring in the New Year?

Arrooo in the Manger

(Why yes, I did set my new nativity set in the floor last night, just because Ann is giving me pressies today  begged  asked sweetly.)

That’s the gift that’s giving the Keurig a run for its money as best gift of the season.   My dear aunt gave that to me, and I am simply beside myself with joy.  You can bet your bippy that next year, that will be the first Christmas decoration out, and the last one put away.

Aren’t they – oops!  Wrong photo.   As you can see, Gretchen isn’t appropriately impressed.  She’s been watching Dirty Dancing on the (cable TV) Channel Guide all month, and she knows you don’t put baby in the corner  that baby Jesus shouldn’t be in the floor, in certainly not smack in the middle of the kitchen.

(Not pictured:  Sissy, being a proper basset for a change, stretched out against the front of the refrigerator, which is a few feet to the left of the display…)

Have you ever?!  I’m smitten…  What breeds do you see?  My cousin and I spent some time, debating what was what.  I’m still not sure about baby Jesus, but the angel’s a buff cocker spaniel,  Mary’s a dalmation, Joseph could be a mix or one of about three other breeds…  The dog to the left (as you see them) of Jeseph is a black lab, and the other, I’m not sure.  The Wise Men?  A bulldog, a boxer and a shepherd.

Now, I’m headed to an early lunch with Ann at Panera’s.   Somehow, all these years, I’ve missed that they have mac ‘n cheese.   See?!  That’s why I love Ann so; she introduced me to Maggie Moo’s as a lunch destination too.

Don’t think of today as little monday; it’s fake wednesday!    After all, you don’t want to miss fake little friday or fake friday, just because of a holiday, now do you?!

You also don’t want to miss the week of tributes Sue is doing on Dogs ‘n More.  It’s a lovely tradition we’re starting for this last week of the year, honoring our departed pets of all kinds.    Our most faithful friends definitely should not be forgotten…    (Thanks Mr. Burns, for those beautiful words.)


How many ways can you spin one word?

  • I am exhausted and all but operating on auto-pilot today.
  • It is cold, because it appears there’s a problem with the furnace here at work.
  • I needed a good word for an FO report on a big ol’ chunky scarf…

The "chiller" as model...

I intended to crop this photo, but in light of the post title, why bother?!  All the snow around here (until yesterday) made  getting decent photos difficult, but I found a nice, white backdrop in the kitchen…

Project:  Double Trouble, a Christmas gift for Best Thing.  (Reminder…  she’s Neighbor Guy’s fiancee)

The other white backdrop - the pantry door

Pattern:  Double Cable Scarf from The Little Box of Scarves, which NG and BT gave me for my birthday.  It was a VERY simple cable project, and I learned that it’s just as fast for me to use a cable needle as it is not to.  I know several expert cable knitters who swear you must learn to knit them without using a cable needle, but I found that painfully tedious and I’m sure it took longer than it did to just slip the stitches onto a cable needle.  To each her own, right?

Most accurate color - love that natural light!

Yarn:  Oh, was THAT a problem!  I’d bought some lovely wool, only to learn a few weeks ago that BT is allergic to wool.  GAH!  I searched and searched for a super-bulky non-wool that I liked, and finally ran across Lion Brand’s Hometown in Cleveland Brown.  The hue was the first thing BT remarked upon, so it all worked out as it should have. 

Needles:  I felt as though I was knitting with fireplace pokers, but they were just US #17s.  It wasn’t a portable project because those sticks are so awkward, but I soldiered on.

Verdict:  It was worth it to see BT light up and to hear that it will look perfect with her “good” coat.   I don’t love fringe, but NG did did think she’d like it, so… that’s what matters.

There was another FO yesterday morning, just in the nick of time, but we’ll get to that later.  Right now, I just want to go home and be with the fur-girls and my new BFF – Keurig.  I’m also WAY  too fond of the fudge I made this year.  I seriously think I’ve lost sleep because I can’t stop drinking another cup and eating another little (hem, hem) piece of fudge…

Are you recovering or still celebrating?

Christmas Kisses

Happy Christmas Eve to those of you who are celebrating.  This is a late post, because I was just too busy baking earlier today, and I need to go do some more baking, but Christmastime has always been a time for memories and contemplations for me.

I LOVE ornaments of this style.  The glass is so thin, and yet, nowhere near as fragile as it appears.   You have to know…  I KISSED this ornament when I unwrapped it!  I have a host of special ornaments I love dearly, mostly because they take me back to Christmases past with just a glance, but this year, this baby is top of the heap, so to  speak.

This one just makes me stooopid-happy.  Jessi confessed that she was so pleased with her “find” that she had a hard time keeping it until Christmastime.  No doubt.  I get very excited about the perfect gift when I find it too.

Our stoic Hooey Hound

That’s such a proper basset, much more like our dearly departed Fred, not so much like zany Sissy.  Oh, Sis would LOVE to bring each of you a gift, personally delivered.

But girlfriend doesn’t do Santa hats.  We’ve CLEARLY established that.

And can you REALLY even imagine packages on that back!?  It would be impossible to secure them snuggly enough…

Not that Gretchen would ever allow Sis to transport a bone on her back…

Anyway, I love the ornament, truly, deeply, madly, do.  Thank you, Jessi!!

And merry Christmas y’all.  Everyone else is snoring.  That’s a good time to go bake.

I’d like to thank…

… the older neighborhood girls who all wanted to be teachers and used the toddler me as their pupil, none of us knowing “babies” aren’t supposed to read and write.  A love affair was born.

I received this awesome award from Dawn…  Thank you!  After reading the original post that started the award, I am humbled and honored.

The requirements:

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

My nominees:
  • Louise – Always insightful, and the recipes are delightful.  What more could you want in a blog?
  • Sue – Her pack is adorable, but she writes about so much more than life with a lot of dear dogs.
  • Miranda – Two cute dogs, a mix of entertaining stories and characters, with recipes sprinkled in there too…
  • Monica – British boyfriend, handsome cat, and my personal reading list consultant…  Oh!  And she loves tea, knits, takes pictures everywhere she goes…
  • Bridget –  Another knitter/reader.  How do they do it?!  I must be an all or nothing girl… but this is about why I love Bridget’s blog.  She writes from the heart, and I always feel as though I’ve had a cuppa’ with a friend when I’m done.

There are *SO* many other blogs I read regularly, daily, but those five are the first five women who came to mind based on the original spirit of the award.

Now, I’m being rushed for dinner.   Do tell me how you read blogs.  From a reader?  A favorites list?  Do you ALWAYS leave a comment?  Do always ANSWER each of your comments?

I have more questions, but since I can’t dine in my yoga pants, I need to hit send.

The Great Thaw

We’re thawing out around here.  Our road was finally plowed, sometime between getting home yesterday and leaving for work this morning.  You don’t need photos of snow melting, but trust me…  it’s not as pretty as fresh-fallen snow.

Now, before the week gets totally away from us, we need to jump back to Friday morning.   I was expecting a special package from Anita, and showed up well before the snow.

That’s my most-special lazy kate, hand-crafted and designed by Anita and her DEAR husband.  It arrived unfinished, so I still need to pull out the wax and rub it down, to match my Siren (my spinning wheel).  Of course, ‘Nita’s Sissymonster knew her favorite auntie had last touched the pressie, and she was trying to figure out how THAT works, when ‘Nita was nowhere to be found…  (Yeah, that’s a shadow from my hand in front of the flash on Sissy’s neck.  I told you yesterday that I don’t do well with indoor photos.)

Since I have a lovely, diverse group of readers…  A lazy kate holds bobbins (the rather spool-looking things on a wheel that hold the yarn?), and Anita and her dearest designed this one specifically for our long, big, fat Heavenly Handspinning bobbins.  Anita and I also find plying easier when the bobbins are horizontal, so there you – er, I? – go!!  (That’s a shot of the top rod, showing how they slide out easily.)

But wait!  There’s more!   I also have the proto-type for the clever-crafty-couple’s first yarn yardage measurer.   I started to edit and crop this photo too, but then Anita couldn’t see wee Gretchie sniffing and missing her too.  No, it’s not assembled yet, but that basic line counter goes on the bottom of that piece hanging on the right, and then the yarn is tensioned around the rods, and you have a measuring tool to figure out how much yarn you’ve spun!

Neither Anita nor I had accurate results the first time we tried using a fishing line counter as a yarn measurer, but we learned it was faulty tensioning, not a bad concept, so this little jobby will take care of that.

Then, I arrived home to find snow already sticking to everything in sight, but there was also another very special box on the front porch.  Sue and her pack sent some very special presents indeed, and what with the shower of gifts and snow, my Christmas spirit soared!

Doesn’t that look JUST LIKE my Mooo?!   Sue really is quite a talented stitcher, and I’m a bit jealous that she can finish her own works into pillows.  When I was doing cross stitch, I had to pay a seamstress to finish mine or just do wall hangings, which I could manage on my own.  (No sewing required…)

These photos REALLY don’t do these beautiful pillows justice.  Doesn’t this one capture Gretchen’s adorable little “let’s play!” pose well!?  I am still trying to find a safe,  happy spot for these pillows in our home.  The girls are fascinated by them too, so it has to be a home high, high up, where Sissy’s slobber can’t reach them. 

Sue, I simply cannot thank you enough for your perfect gifts.  They truly are heirloom treasures, but I also can’t stand to have them out of my sight, so I look forward to finding them just the right home.  Together, you, Anita and the snow brought Christmas to my heart this year.  I am blessed beyond measure with dear, talented friends!

And no, I’m not going to ask if you’re ready.  I’m not, but tomorrow is Christmas Eve anyway, and somehow, it will all come together well enough and it will be Christmas… ready or not.

Peaks and Valleys

Someone reminded me earlier this month that without valleys, the highs wouldn’t be so special.  We’ve been on quite a ride since Friday, and I had hoped to get photos of the incredible gifts I received on Friday, but… 

I like natural light photos.  It’s rather impossible to get them right now.  Add in a field trip to the city yesterday that took SO MUCH longer than expected, and I’m sitting here at work this morning, and… maybe it’ll be decent when I get home and I can take a few photos of the very special, hand-crafted gifts that restored my Christmas spirit.

In the meantime, I did find the photo of Sis with snow on her nose.  This monster monitor I got at work earlier this month makes a difference!  Isn’t she a hoot?!  Crazy, beautiful dog…

Now, I want to share a few of the peaks and valleys with you.  Some are too personal, so I ask for prayers and good vibes for two dear men I’ve known all of my life who are struggling.  One in hospitalized, but I’m counting a peak…  Yesterday, I feared we’d have a VERY painful Christmas funeral to face and a life-long  friend to hold up, but the news is much brighter this morning.

I don’t think I need to explain that dogs are to me what children are to most people.  So when a friend’s dog is ill or worse, I hurt with them.  I cried so hard while reading Yvonne’s tribute to Beau last night that both of my girls climbed into my lap (no, Sissy doesn’t really fit but that doesn’t stop her) and licked me until I couldn’t help but laugh… which made me hurt all the more for Yvonne and her pack. 

Mugsy & Sissy, January 2008

I guess this is where I confess that part of the reason there was so much snow on the deck when I let the girls out when I got home is I had a little moment in the driveway Friday evening.  Mugsy and Fred LOVED snow, and it hit me like a ton of bricks when I spoke to them as I was getting all of my goodies out of the car.  The love of a good dog is something you just can’t get over when they’re gone, no matter how loving, beautiful and sweet the other dogs in your life might be.

That’s the best photo of my first NH Knitting Mama yarn.  Why am I flashing that?  Well, because she’s having a contest!   If you haven’t tried Amanda’s yarns, this is a great time.  Personally, I want to win, but if not me, then at least one of you.  Be sure to tell her I sent you!

Last, but hardly least, I was especially honored to find myself on Louise’s “silver” list.   If you haven’t put her Months of Edible Celebrations in your blog reader, favorites or whatever you use to keep up with the blogs you simply have to read, you’re missing out.   If you eat, you’ll enjoy her blog.  If you like food history, you’ll love it!  I met Louise through Marjie, and we hit it off right away.  Isn’t it sweet when you meet someone who shares some of your interests that the people in your day-to-day life think are weird?  I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who reads cookbooks like novels, or who enjoys a little history mystery…  Thank you Louise, for a delightful, insightful blog, for your friendship and for honoring me on your blog!

Wishing you more peaks than valleys, although a nice blanket of snow with some drifting does kinda’ even them out a bit…

Out and About

Yesterday, it warmed up and I found the steps one more time for Gretchen.  She’s still not much on this white, cold stuff.

Sissy did have fun shoving her head into the snow, which was Fred’s (our dearly departed first basset) favorite snow sport.  I had my point and shoot shoved in my pocket, so I wasn’t able to get a sweet shot of the goof with snow all over her nose!

So far, that’s my favorite snow photo.  Gretchen is a good sport about climbing around on the white piles, but she doesn’t enjoy it the way Mugsy did.  She also finds her heavy coat too bulk for anything but snow emergencies.

That’s the doghouse.  Not that it sees any real use, but I think it’s out of commission for a long while.  And yes, everything but those few inches of roof are buried.

I’d share more, but we’re headed to town.  Hopefully, we’ll be back soon.