Monday, May 22, 2006

Cross these off the "To Do" List!

So picture this... It's midnight, my eyelids weigh a ton apiece and I am working the kitchener stitch on the toe of my sister's birthday sock. Normally a recipe for disaster. I am stubbornly determined to finish this *%#@ sock before I go to sleep. My family is NOT happy with me. Hubby sulks off to the guest room to sleep. The dog thinks I'm fair game to hit up for the old "gotta go out" ploy. I have to be up in seven hours to get to work (and I am definitely an eight hours of sleep a night type of person). The tension mounts. Will this sock end up looking like it belongs on some grotesque genetic mutant foot? Drum roll, please...




They look good! YAY!!!! Now to get them in the mail to her before too much more time passes. And for my next act, it's on to Round Two of the nefarious Green Gable sweater. Hopefully, I will be able to make it the right size this time!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Isla





This weekend marks a year since this little sweetie came to us. She is barely recognizable from the shy, beaten puppy we met last May. Her first eight months were spent in a home with six other dogs, all of whom bullied her and refused to allow her a moment's peace. The sorry excuse for an owner was even worse, alternating between ignoring all of the dogs and beating them when they did anything that he deemed "wrong." When we saw her profile on Petfinders.com we knew we had to rescue this little angel.

She had no name when we met her. The woman who was fostering her had dubbed her Lucy Goosey because of her enthusiasm and energy. As a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix, she has unbounding energy. She had bonded to her foster mom almost immediately, sensing that here was someone who could give her the affection and attention she desperately craved. My husband decided that Isla (pronounced "eye-la") would be a perfect name.

Understandably, she was very fearful of men. My husband took her for a short walk while I took care of the paperwork. She was extremely reluctant to leave her foster mom's side and tried to hide behind her when he approached. She had charmed him almost instantly and he was determined to win her over. His heart nearly broke when he put his hand down to pet her and she flinched, obviously expecting a beating rather than a gentle caress.

We can only imagine how stressful her first months had been. As the baby of the bunch, she had obviously never had anything of her own and she quickly came to love her dog bed, lounging in it like a reclusive movie star. She had also never had any toys to play with. I bought a frisbee and watched with amazement as she figured out first how to retrieve it and bring it back to me and, quickly, how to snatch it out of the air. Soon she was sizing up everything as a potential toy. She discovered the wonderful world of tennis balls and now will chase one for hours. She even tries to toss them in the air herself if no one is around to play with her. Last winter we watched with a mixture of amusement and horror as she played this toss and catch game with frozen poop! This dog LOVES to play.

There are still some issues to be sure. Strangers coming into the house cause her to bark and certain people send her into her crate grumbling and growling in an obvious fear stance. Most strangers become "best buddies" after a few moments, a marked improvement from last year.

She has also come to love being around other dogs. Last May she would hide behind me if another dog approached and then check behind her after it passed us as if expecting a rear attack. Now she runs to greet new dogs and loves nothing more than to run and jump with them. She is quite a tomboy and loves to play rough and tumble. Our daily walk takes us to a wonderful wooded "off-leash" area and it is truly a beautiful sight to see her racing through the trees, tail up, huge tongue flapping away (a border collie trademark). She loves her trips up there and we have to go every day, rain or shine, as soon as I get home from work.

She still craves affection and loves to cuddle up with me or my husband when we get down on the floor with her. She learned quickly that the furniture is off limits and, other than the occasional trash-surfing expedition (usually provoked by our inattention) she seems to have the rules of the household down pat.

Isla came into our lives a mere two weeks after we said goodbye to our wonderful Lady. That worried me at the time because I was concerned that we would constantly be making comparisons and that Isla would come up short. I needn't have worried. She is such a different creature, exuberant to Lady's calmness, bombastic to Lady's reticence. They both have a stubborn streak a mile wide (another border collie trait) and they share a remarkable intelligence, although Isla's can be masked at times by her immaturity and insecurity.

My hope is to bring her into the Pet Therapy program that was such an important part of Lady's life. Isla would be a wonderful Therapy Dog, brightening the lives of hospital patients with her sweet, quirky personality. I just need to get some of that boundless energy under control first!

Isla even has her own webpage! You can see it here
Read her diary and leave her a bone. She would love it!

Spring and sun and glorious stuff





Each May our apple tree and lilac bush put on quite a show. Click on the picture and Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Love these gals!

Tuesday nights rock my world! What started as a group of very diverse knitters who showed up for a few hours of relaxing knitting has evolved into a tight knit bundle of friends who share so much more than knitting ideas and patterns. We often do so much more "bitchin'" than "stitchin'" with a healthy dose of laughter. We have become marriage counselors, career advisors, shoulders to cry on and traveling companions for each other.

We are singles, parents, teachers, retirees, liberals, conservatives, twenty-somethings to eighty-somethings, office workers, nurses, gardeners, postal workers, architects, realtors, radio djs, catholics, jews, protestants, native Mainers, people from "away" and, most importantly, knitters all.

We have been meeting at a wonderful retirement community since February. The staff has graciously invited us in each week, hosting us with coffee, tea and a comfortable, well-lit space. Two of their residents, Barbara and Janie, have become regulars, enriching our group immeasurably.

Tonight we said goodbye to two members who are moving far away. Nancy is an architect who is taking a wonderful job as a Forensic Architect in New Orleans, helping rebuild the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. Janet is taking a great managerial position with the Post Office in Albuquerque. We will miss them both but, thanks to the marvels of technology, we can stay connected and maintain them as "virtual" members of our group. Ain't technology a wonderful thing!?

Here's the gang in all of our splendor!


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Just HAD to do this...

I really needed to post this picture today because:


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1) It makes me laugh and I need that today.

2) I can see what the world looks like when the sun is shining.

3) The only water in the picture is already on the ground instead of falling from the sky in torrents like it is here and has been for the past FIVE days!

4)
It reminds me of similar situations that DH and I have been in during our 30+ years together. No naked babes but some that were pretty darn close.

5) I Love the fact that the guy has a wicked painful looking sunburn because he was probably too macho to ask his wife to put any sunscreen on him.

Sorry, I'm in a REALLY bad, rain-induced funk right now. PLEEEEEEEEEEASE bring the sun back soon!!!!!


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Idiocy update

First things first: Happy Mother's Day!!!!! Hope all you moms get some very special (and well deserved) pampering today. My cookie took me out to breakfast this morning and spent some "quality time" with me, something I greatly appreciate given her busy social calendar.

I drove up to Vermont last Thursday to bring her home on Friday. Hard to believe her sophomore year is in the books! Wow! These college years are flying by.

Now on to less pleasant things: My Green Gable sweater has gone from this --


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to this --

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My plan B to give it to my daughter backfired when she was unable to put it on because the bound off edge on the bottom wouldn't stretch to fit over her head. Sheesh, I can't catch a break on this damn thing so I decided to frog the whole thing and do it over.

At least now I can double the yarn and get the correct gauge. I just hope I can make myself do it. I'm pretty discouraged right now. I have to muster some of that Irish stubborn streak that runs rampant through my family and tell myself that I HAVE to make this thing just to prove to myself that I CAN do it!

In the meantime, my sister's birthday is Tuesday (yes, THIS Tuesday, as in the day after tomorrow). I sent her card and told her that her gift is on its way. I'm fify percent there. Check this out --


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They are "Cat's Paws Socks" using a pattern I found here
She adores cats and loves purple so these should make her very happy. I really like the yarn. It is called "Four Seasons" and it is a 70% cotton/30% wool blend that feels very soft and will be light enough for summer but warm in the cold weather. It is made in Peru and sold by Classic Elite Yarns. I made a pair of socks for my Florida sister for her birthday in February with the same yarn and she really liked them.

Hopefully I can finish the second sock this week. I do suffer from SSS - second sock syndrome -- but having a specific deadline (which will have already gone by) should keep me motivated. Plus, I really want to finish some of my UFO's (see graph on sidebar) so I can work on some new projects.

(I just noticed that the purple sock matches the bruise on my shin I got when the dog tripped me and I cracked it on the coffee table! I may be a klutz but I'm color coordinated!)

I think some of my mood funk is due to the non-stop rain we have been dealing with. I get really depressed if I don't get to see the sun for days on end and it has been almost a week since we've had ANY sun. Portland is usually blessed with a good percentage of sunny days but occasionally we seem to get into a rut of lousy weather.

Ok, back to the knitting. *sigh* I guess if it were all easy and trouble-free, it wouldn't be worth the effort.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ok, I'm an idiot...






I am finishing up my gorgeous purple Green Gable sweater and something just doesn't seem right. As I cast off I hold it up to admire my work and realize to my horror that there is no way on God's green earth that this puppy is going to fit me. Did I knit a small instead of a large? No, the stitch count is correct. Did the shrink fairy pay me a visit? No, I haven't even washed and blocked it yet. Let's check that gauge again with my handy-dandy gauge marker. Wait! Twenty stitches to four inches would mean FIVE stitches to the inch, not ten! I am getting ten stitches to the inch with my Lane Borgosesia's Golfo Stashbuster yarn. No diet on earth is going to squeeze me into this sweater. This really sucks! Once again I am a victim of my math-challenged right brain. Hopefully my size 2 daughter will like it well enough to adopt it as her own. *Sigh* I guess I'll go out and buy the recommended yarn and start over. As Forrest Gump's mother always says: "Stupid is as stupid does!"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tribute to a real Lady





Tonight is a sad anniversary. One year ago we went through the horrible ordeal of saying goodbye to our sweet, gentle companion of 16 years, Lady. She was an amazing dog, intelligent and totally dedicated to us.
When we took her home with us at 12 weeks in 1989, a shy little cocker spaniel/lab/border colllie mix, we had no idea that she would be such an integral part of our family. She spent many years as a therapy dog in local schools and hospitals and took her job most seriously. She slipped away from us slowly at first, gradually becoming deaf at around age 12. We next noticed some loss of mental acuity which the vet eventually diagnosed as an Alzheimer's-like condition called Cognitive Canine Disorder. Eventually her sight went and finally she became incontinent and lost the ability to support herself on her hind legs. We were forced to admit that the time had come to let her go.

The Cognitive Canine Disorder was the toughest to watch. It began with the observation that she seemed confused by activities that had normally been routine. Her weekly visits to the hospital began provoking a type of panic attack despite the fact that she had been in that routine for over eight years at that point. We were reluctantly forced to retire her from the program. The dementia escalated to the point where she couldn't tolerate any deviation from the familiar. She began exhibiting classic "Alzheimer" behavior, continuous pacing at dusk, spatial confusion (she would try to exit a doorway on the hinge side, forcing us to gently guide her to the other side of the door) and refusal to leave the house or yard.

Over the years she gave us so many wonderful memories.

* Her passion for tennis balls was legendary. She could smell them in the brush as we walked by. One famous long weekend on vacation by a set of public tennis courts, she recovered 32 tennis balls in three days simply by stopping at the courts, sniffing the air and heading straight for them.

* She perfected the position of goalie in an improvised version of hockey she played with my husband in the kitchen doorway using some of those tennis balls. Nothing got past her. After stopping the ball, she would place it on the floor in front of her, nudge it with her nose to roll it back to my husband. She was relentless, rolling it back to us over and over.

* Her pet therapy job added years to her life. Just the sight of my hospital volunteer smock would send her in a dash to the back door. Once on duty, she navigated the halls as if she owned the place, expecting each person she met to pay appropriate attention. She once dragged me by her leash so she could penetrate a group of doctors conducting a serious patient consult. She refused to leave until they noticed her and gave her attention. Her fan base was large and it was not unusual to hear "look, it's Lady from the hospital!" on our evening walks. She was so proud of her therapy work and especially loved working with the children at an area psychiatric hospital. A number of them overcame their fear of dogs because of her sweet, patient nature.

* She had a strong intolerance of being dressed up. Normally I didn't press the issue but around Christmas I couldn't resist. There is just something so endearing about reindeer antlers. The look says it all:



She was SO not impressed with the whole experience. It was such an indignity!

* Then there was the time that Meredith heard about a photo contest being offered by the Nickelodeon network. After donning her favorite outfit and a few pounds of her favorite jewelry it was time to pose with her best friend. Poor Lady couldn't fathom what the hell was going on:



We were so fortunate to have so many wonderful years with Lady, but that only made it so much harder to say goodbye last May. She had been part of Meredith's life from her earliest memories. Meredith had named her after her favorite Disney character at the time so, not surprisingly, she took her death very hard. Circumstances also required that we take action less than two weeks before Meredith could get home from her freshman year at school. It was heart-wrenching to hear the pain in her voice as she called home to say good-bye.

We all miss our sweet Lady. The intervening year has dulled the pain of her loss a little but her spirit is so much a fabric of our home. In the first few weeks after her death, I used to think I saw her in her favorite perch on the stair landing, watching over all of us. She gradually turned that job over to her successor, the wild and zany Isla. Those were large paws to replace and, in some ways, they never will. Rest peacefully, sweet Lady. We'll see you at the rainbow bridge.



Lady
1989-2005

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Someone has a little TOO much time on his hands...

How would you like to be the postman on THIS route:



It gives new meaning to the phrase "dump run"

There are lots more "unique" mailboxes at this site:
http://sblom.com/mailbox/

Since we have the psycho mailman from hell on our route I would love to put up this mailbox to greet him every day:



Maybe he would eventually get the message and start delivering OUR mail to us instead of selecting some other house at random to receive it. He mutters and swears to himself as he does his route so this might give him a target for his tirades. We could even leave him appropriate gifts. (Hmmm, what would come out of a donkey's butt, I wonder?) Oh, the possibilities!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Nothing says funny like an overdressed dog!

I am a dog person. They melt my heart, they make me smile and sometimes they make me laugh out loud. The TV commercial for Pedigree Dog food is a case in point. I have seen that commercial dozens of times but every time it comes on I have to stop whatever I am doing and laugh as if it were the first time I am seeing it. You know the one I mean... "dogs don't cheat at fetch (dog with tennis ball), dogs don't lie (dog standing next to the pilfered trash) etc."

I was in Borders last week and happened to pick up a book called "bad dog" which made me laugh until I cried. I HAD to own this book. How can you resist a cover that looks like this?





This is exactly the book I need to keep in my desk at work to "re-focus" me after the meeting from hell or the phone call that never seems to end. It is small enough to slip into a purse for those long waits in line at the bank or post office. Keep a copy in your glove compartment to amuse you in traffic jams or bring it along for your next doctor's appointment to peruse in the waiting room while you wait to be called in for your gyn exam. Hell, I would even recommend reading it DURING your gyn exam!

These dogs are hysterical. They aren't all pretty... some of them are downright homely but they all have "character." It is published by Workman Publishing (www.workman.com) and ISBN is 0-7611-3983-4. The price is $9.95.

Next post: Introducing Isla (aka goofygirl) -- my very own "bad dog" (and she doesn't even need to get dressed up for the part!) :-)