Thursday, December 30, 2004

On Again and Off Again
I'm very very pleased to report that I've gained less than five pounds over the eating season. There wasn't a time when I deprived myself of goodies offered, either.

How do I explain that?

Well, I can't eat as much as I formerly ate in my pre-weightloss days. Even though I ate all kinds of good food this season, I didn't stuff myself to the discomfort level. Also, I saved the calorie splurging for things that were worth eating, skipping the less desirable goodies instead of stuffing my face just to be eating something.

Now that I'm not accustomed to eating many sweets, I could feel those sugar jolts and they weren't pleasant. That tended to moderate the amount of sugar going in. It wasn't worth feeling the aftereffects.

Diet food assortmentNow it's time to get the extra pounds off. I'm looking forward to doing that.

The chocolate has been replaced by fruit. The cookies have been replaced by Lo-fat Wheatables. The eggnog has been replaced by Aquafina. The pastries have been replaced by shredded wheat.

Ready, set, go! Off it comes!

Monday, December 27, 2004

My Favorite Christmas Gifts
Two skeins of Opal Magic, a little dog, and a Sock Journal We agreed to have a frugal Christmas this year. I could tell all the gifts were thoughtfully selected with love. That makes them so special.

These are my knitting related gifts plus a little bobblehead dog from Kimmy. He is just the cutest thing with a hybrid of markings that resemble both of my little dogs.

John and Anne sent Opal yarn from Idaho. Both skeins are from the Magic collection.

I've told my family that I will love any skein of Opal they pick out for me. They just can't go wrong getting me a skein of Opal. I love all of it. Even if it's a duplicate, I'll be happy to knit the same color again. No problem.

Mom ordered the Sock Journal from my Amazon wish list. When it came, she was concerned because it was so thin. Nothing to be concerned about. It has twelve socks patterns, one for each month of the year, technical advice, and plenty of places to keep notes. There are several of the patterns I want to knit.


Two tiles, a dog calendar, a little dog, some white Chocolate The tiles are from Heather and Kimmy. They're about 12 x 15 and intense in color. Now I'm looking for the perfect place to hang them.

Heather traditionally gets me a can of Almond Roca, one of my favorite candy treats.

The Workman Page-A-Day calendars are my favorite because they have graph paper on the back of each page. I use the torn off sheets to make lists, take notes, and sometimes to chart out knitting patterns.

In this case, I'm sure I'll be saving some of the torn off sheets just because the dog pictures are so cool. Thanks Carrie.

The three Lindt white chocolates in the upper left are what was left out of a bag of them I received from Carrie. Now there aren't any left. They were melt-in-my-mouth wonderfull. The kind of thing that isn't going to hang around here very long.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Laundry
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"An income tax form is like a laundry list -- either way you lose your shirt."
-Fred Allen

1) Do you use fabric softener or softener sheets?
Sheets.

My washer and dryer are in the basement. When I put a load in the washer I don't want to go back down the stairs until that load is ready to go into the dryer.

My washer has an automatic fabric softener dispenser for the liquid, but I've never trusted it. If the fabric softener gets into the water during the wash cycle the detergent won't work, the cloths won't get clean, and I may never notice until I'm folding them.

It's much less hassle to use the sheets in the dryer.

I've found that I can rip one sheet into three pieces, use one piece per dryer load, and it works as well as a whole sheet.

2) Do you dry clean clothes on a regular basis?
No.

My husband has a suit that needs to be drycleaned. Fortunately, he never wears it.

I have one dress that needs to be drycleaned. It's the only dress I own. Fortunately, I never wear it.

I don't like to wear clothing next to my skin that's been cleaned in solvent.

3) Do you do laundry as it piles up or do you wait until you are out of clean clothes?
I do laundry every fourth Monday.

I sort it into piles on the floor by color group, and write down the time. Then every 90 minutes I take a load down to the basement, take a dry load out of the dryer, clean out the lint trap, put the last washed load into the dryer, put the new load into the washer, bring the dry load upstairs and fold it.

It takes all day, but it's done in little spurts and really isn't that burdensome. And when it's done, it's done for four weeks.

Yes this does require four weeks worth of underwear. It doesn't cost any more than having less underwear because underwear lasts a long time when it's only worn and washed once a month.

I wash bedding and towels once a week. They're not part of the four week cycle.

I wash the throw rugs by the Flylady zone schedule and more often if something gross happens to them.

4) Do you use a clean towel every day for your shower or use the same one throughout the week?
I have a bath sheet - very large - and use it all week. How dirty can it get when I use it fresh out of the shower?

5) Who does the laundry in your household?
I do.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Little Christmas tree and associated ornaments at Monette's apartmentWhat a Turkey!
Christmas Eve morning the twenty pound turkey was delivered to Mom's apartment, stuffed with three pounds of bread, onions, celery, and eggs.

Mom lives on the third floor. My original plan was to carry the turkey up in the roasting pan in a laundry basket. The roasting pan wouldn't fit in the basket.

Plan B was to wrap the turkey in foil and towels and put it in the laundry basket without the pan. That did work.

Bob came along to do the heavy lifting. That means he carried the basket with the turkey in it.

Once the turkey was in the oven, I stopped to shoot this picture of Mom's cute little live Christmas tree. The painting in the background is one of her oils titled "Circus Music".

Late in the afternoon when the family gathered for turkey dinner, it was Bob's job to get the turkey out of the oven and then onto a platter. We all left him alone in the kitchen and he successfully accomplished his mission. We didn't ask him how he did it. We just expressed admiration for a job well done and let him wander off while Mom made gravy, Heather set the table, and I carved.

The turkey was excellent. Heather took turkey home, Mom kept a big container full of turkey, and Bob and I brought home the carcass. It has enough meat left on it to feed us until we're tired of turkey.


Kimmy plaing with tiles while waiting for Christmas Eve dinnerAnticipation
Granddaughter Kimmy played with Great-Grandma's tiles while waiting for dinner to be ready.

Her maturity was evident in her patience. She's nine years old now and so grown up in so many ways.

I was impressed by the gifts she picked out for family members. She matched the gift to the recipient and was so concerned that everyone liked what she gave them.

Kimmy received many CDs and DVDs. They were on her Christmas list and she was excited to get them. She did receive some toys with small pieces and immediately saw the wisdom in her mother's suggestion to leave them in the box until she got home.

She opened one gift to play with and was very careful to keep track of the pieces instead of tossing them all over the floor as in previous years. This restraint was welcome but sad in that it's just one more sign she's growing up.


Aftermath
It's bone chilling cold outside and snowing very lightly. Bob and I are sitting in our warm, peaceful, quiet little house with our happy Christmas memories and enough left over food to feed an army.

Every few hours we dress up as warm as possible and take the dogs out for a short walk/run. They don't want to be out very long in this weather, but they do need some exercise and so do we.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Food Rant 1 - The Turkey is Too Big
Daughter Heather received a twenty pound turkey at work and promptly gave it to her mother to fix for Christmas Eve dinner. It rolled around in my trunk for over a week. In Michigan freezers aren't required in December.

Monday I brought the turkey into the house and started the thawing process in the refrigerator. It doesn't appear to be thawing very fast. I think it's going to have to come out and have a few cold water baths in the sink tomorrow, and probably more on Thursday.

I don't think I've ever fixed a turkey this big. Fourteen pounds has been the largest bird I've wanted to wrestle with. So how did I get talked into this?

Food Rant 2 - We're Not Having Rib Roast for Christmas
When I read about standing rib roasts for $6.49 a pound in the Sunday Meijer's ad, my mouth started watering. A good standing rib roast is my favorite meal.

What a disappointment when I got to Meijer's on Monday.

In the meat counter along with the very ugly, fatty sale roasts were beautifully marbled standing rib roasts at almost $13 a pound. After looking at the expensive ones, the sale roasts weren't even an option.

I'm not usually cheap, especially at Christmas time, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay forty dollars for a small roast.

Food Rant 3 - Out of Control Eating
There has been so much good food lately, I'm afraid to step on the scale. I've been enjoying it all way too much.

Fortunately I feel bloated and sugar saturated, so I'm looking forward to getting back to eating healthy again.

Mom feels the same way. So what are we going to do tomorrow? Go to Mr. Cody's Chinese Buffet.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yuletide Traditions
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"The peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings." -George W. Bush

1) What is a Christmas tradition that your family did when you were a child that you loved the most?
Grandpa and Grandma would come to Michigan from Chicago. They usually brought plenty of "stuff" with them, but now many years later I just remember the excitement of seeing them arrive.

2) What is a Christmas tradition that you plan to instill in your own family or already have instilled from when you were a child?
I'm having a hard time thinking of a tradition that has been in the family that long.

What has endured through the years is the feeling of love we have in our family.

3) What is a new Christmas tradition that you have instilled in your family that is new to both you and your significant other?
My mother has Christmas Eve dinner and present opening at her house. This leaves Christmas day open for the younger generations to stay home or visit relatives on the SO side of the family.

When my inlaws were alive, we would see them on Christmas Day. Now we stay home and enjoy a relaxed day with our gifts from the previous evening. The gifts usually include new books and yummy things to eat.

4) Do you make any traditional holiday dishes?
Dare I mention the Green Dream again? Green Dream is made from lime jello, marshmallows, cream cheese, milk, Miracle Whip, Cool Whip, and crushed pineapple.

I've been making Green Dream for over thirty years and the family expects to see it, even the family members that don't like it.

5) Does your family open Christmas gifts Christmas morning, when the clock strikes twelve, or one gift the night before and the rest the next morning?
We open gifts on Christmas Eve at Mother/Grandma/Great-Grandma Monette's house.

When the kids were home, Santa would come in the night and there would be more gifts in the morning. It's been a while since Santa visited.

We're having turkey for Christmas Eve dinner.
What's for Christmas dinner at your house?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Pappy's Doggy School Party
Pappy checks out the cookiesPappy had a great time at his doggy school Christmas Party.

Here he is in his Christmas tie checking out the people treats. One of the doggy moms brought a plate of chicken pieces for the dogs - real chicken that she cooked up special for the occasion. Needless to say, the dogs loved that.

I shortened the tie by several inches so it would fit little Pappy. Other dog owners wanted a doggy tie, but Gail was out of ties and doesn't know where to get more.

We played the same three games as were played at Sunny's Party on Monday night. Pappy did as I predicted.

He did make it through a few rounds of limbo just because he's short and could walk under the pole. He wouldn't crawl.

For the game where he was supposed to knock down ten cans in twenty seconds, I had him dance in a circle. He managed to knock over two cans, which was two more cans than Sunny managed.


Benson in his I Believe in Santa Paws bibAnd then there was the hotdog retrieve. Yum yum. I disqualified him by taking the hotdog away from him after he'd eaten a few bites. When we got back to the sidelines, I gave him another small piece of his hotdog and fed the rest to Benson.

This is Benson the Newfoundland. He weighs about 130 pounds and was happy to help Pappy out with the hotdog.

Benson usually wears a bib because Newfies drool. This bib says, "I believe in Santa Paws." Benson has other bibs that say "Mama's Boy" and "Drool is Cool".

Benson's owner, Sue, formerly worked at Pfizer and is now happily creating a second career making embroidered dog bibs. I suggested she might want to add dog neckties to her line. She may do it.


Sparky the Sheltie helps open his giftIt was fun to watch the dogs during the doggy gift exchange. Their humans had to help them open the packages, but the dogs all seemed to know the contents were for them.

This is Sparky the sheltie being very interested in his gift.

Millie, a German shepherd/chow mix, had Pappy's name. She gave him a stuffed cat and a bag of treats.

Now we have two weeks without doggy school. The dogs are going to miss it. I'm going to enjoy the break. All three of us will be glad to get back in January.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sunny's Doggy School Party
Sunny playing with I Cube
Sunny received this IQube as her Christmas gift from Rex, a golden retriever. There are four squeaky balls in the cube. Both little dogs are having fun taking them out and tossing them around.

The gift exchange was the final event at the doggy school Christmas party Monday evening.

Prior to exchanging gifts, the dogs played three games and Sunny won two of them.

The first game was limbo. The dogs had to go under a bar without knocking it down. The bar kept getting lower and lower until finally the last three dogs, including Sunny, jumped over it instead of trying to crawl under it.

Sunny is very good at crawling. Her prize was a Christmas neck scarf. She was not impressed with it and hopes to never see it again.

The second game was a bunch of empty pop cans standing on the floor in bowling pin formation. We each had 20 seconds to get our dog to knock down as many cans as possible.

Most of us used the same strategy - lead the dog into the can formation with treats. Sunny was ever so careful as she danced through the cans. Thanks to two years of agility training, she didn't knock down a single can.

The winner was Ella, an energetic great Dane/lab mix. Ella got every can down with time to spare.

For the third game we had to throw a hot dog across the room and have the dog fetch it without eating it. The dog who brought their owner the biggest piece of hotdog was the winner.

This was the funniest game of all. Most of the dogs romped out to the hotdog and took a second or two out from being obedient to gulp down the hotdog before returning to their owner.

Sunny brought me the whole hotdog and she was the winner. The other dog owners couldn't believe she didn't eat it. The other dogs couldn't believe she didn't eat it. Now her classmates are wondering if she really is a dog. Or what?

Her prize was a Christmas neck tie. She thinks it looks way too masculine and she gave it to Pappy.


Pappy playing with I Cube BallHere is Pappy playing with a IQube ball. His doggy school Christmas party is tonight. He's going to wear the Christmas tie and take a gift for Dahlie, a bull terrier.

Pappy doesn't like to crawl. He doesn't like to knock over empty pop cans. He is going to eat the hotdog. I don't think he's going to win any prizes, and he may barf. A whole hotdog is a lot for a 14 pound dog.

He does like to be with his doggy school friends and he is going to get a present from whichever dog drew his name. And, did I mention that the dog owners all bring people goodies to snack on while we watch the fun?

I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Saturday Morning Lounging
Kimmy making a potholderWhen granddaughter Kimmy comes to spend the night, she likes to get up in the morning and mess around in the back room. Last Saturday she decided to make a potholder for her mother.

After the potholder was done, she got out the paper and markers and wrote a poem to honor the canine members of the family.

The pictures are not proportional to the size of the dogs.

Glory is a 70 pound lab mix.

Sunny is an 18 pound second generation designer dog (joke), part papillon, poodle, terrier, and many other things that we can only guess.

Pappy is a 14 pound papillon. He is the only dog of the three who appears to be a specific breed.

All three dogs are rescue dogs and most of their history is missing. All three are intelligent, loving, and very fond of Kimmy.

The "new" in Kimmy's poem refers to how long we've had the dog. We've had Pappy for two years now, but Kimmy still thinks of him as the new dog. She also thinks of him as royal in his appearance and behavior because he is very beautiful and dignified.

Glory, Sunny, and Pappy. A poem by Kimmy
Glory, black lab mix
Glory is pretty.
She's very nice, too.
She loves every one,
And definitely you!!!!!!!


Sunny, papillon mix
Sunny is cuddly.
She's not very new.
She is just perfect,
The way she loves me and you!!!!!!!


Pappy, papillon
Pappy is royal.
He's new, too.
But I still love him,
And he loves you!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Colors
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"Where does the violet tint end and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blending enter into the other. So with sanity and insanity."
-Herman Melville

1) What is your favorite color?
My very favorite color is the deep blue/purple color of the wild violets in the spring.

This color does not translate well into clothing, car paint, or walls. It needs to be wild violets blooming in the dappled shade in the spring. So rare and beautiful.

2) What colors are your cars?
Tan, the color of the dirt and mud of the dirt road we live on. Not very sporty, but very very practical.

Living on a dirt road, I can't even get the car home from the carwash without some fresh dirt on it. There are many advantages of living on a dirt road. A clean car isn't one of them.

3) What color are your eyes?
Blue with green highlights.

4) What color do you like to wear most often?
Bluejeans with almost any color casual knit top except white or yellow. The majority of my tops are blue, turquoise, purple, green, pink, or red.

5) Name your favorite possession of each color of the rainbow: (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple)


For red it's my Opal Crocodile socks handknit from the yarn I got for Christmas last year. (Thanks again John and Anne.)

My brain is hurting from trying to think of an orange possession. Guess I'm going to have to get up and walk around the house to find something.

OK. I'm back. I found orange on the handles of my favorite sissors.


For yellow it's The Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara C. Walker.

The four Barbara Walker treasuries are my most loved knitting books. The second yellow volume is my favorite of the four.


For green it's the wonderful, warm, cozy flannel comforter on the bed.

It's a cold, snowy, windy night here in Michigan and I'm looking forward to snuggling down under it when I go to bed tonight.


For blue it's my Squall parka from Land's End. It's perfect for Michigan winters - waterproof, wind proof, and warm.

For indigo it's my jeans. They are my uniform now that I'm not employed. They're warm, don't show the dirt, don't collect dog hair, and have great pockets.

I love it that I can wear a size 10 again after losing 40 pounds. I need to remind myself of that a hundred times a day during the Christmas eating season. It will be a depressing January if I can't get my jeans buttoned up.


For purple it's my blogs, Seasons of Violet and Stitches of Violet.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Hey Lady! Can't You Read?
Last week I went grocery shopping at Meijer, a big Wal*Mart type of store. It's the kind of store I can only tolerate for short periods of time. After an hour in there I lose all ability to make decisions and my brain starts screaming, I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE!

Last Thursday I had a large list of non-typical items to hunt down and I exceeded the hour.

Fighting the inclination to ditch the cart and run toward the door, I steered toward the checkout lanes and spotted a cashier I knew to be quick and competent. Her line was short. The cart in front of me only had a few items in it. What luck!

After unloading $130 worth of groceries onto the belt and getting most of them bagged and into the cart, the competent friendly cashier leaned over and whispered, "Did you know you are in the express lane?"

I looked up. And, what to my wondering eyes did appear? A sign saying

12 ITEMS or LESS
.

Me with a look of embarrassment on my face.For my whole life, I've been the obedient shopper who accurately counted the items in her cart and wouldn't think of going into the express lane with one extra. Now I was standing in the express lane with an overflowing cart containing dozens of items. Yikes!

I admitted I had no clue. I apologized to the cashier without explanation. There was no good explanation.

Competent friendly cashier tried to make me feel OK by telling me that sometimes when the store is busy the lane manager sends regular orders to the express lane.

I didn't feel better. I didn't look at the people in line behind me. I know what they were thinking, and I deserved it.

I just pushed the cart out the door and went home, very embarrassed.

It's almost three days later now. And I'm almost able to laugh about it. Actually, it was a great way to get checked out quickly.

Wonder if I could get away with it again?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Doggy School Chatter
One of the many things I like about going to doggy school is being in the company of like minded people.

We talk about things that aren't acceptable conversation in mixed (dog people/not dog people) society.

In Advanced Fun and Games, the name of our doggy school class, common topics include:


  • Dogs who sulk, get jealous, or get into trouble because they're bored.

  • Counter surfing.

  • Dog hair in food and drink.

  • Sleeping with dogs in the bed. (I can't get the dog to move off the pillow so there's room for me in the bed.)

  • Birthday parties for dogs.

Then there are the digestive tract topics:

  • Barfing dogs.

  • Pooper scoopers and poop bags.

  • Dogs bringing home prize horse turds.

  • Dogs eating rodents in two bites and the details of how sick they get from doing it.

  • That wonderful first day in spring when the snow melts and dog owners go out with gloves and a garbage bag and spend an hour picking up dog poop.

Front of Monthly Doos calendarLast Christmas my dogs, Sunny and Pappy, bought their trainer Gail Monthly Doos, the dog poop calendar for "When you care enough to give a crap." published by Watch Your Step Productions.

Gail loved the calendar and showed it to everyone that came along. We gave her a nice gift to go with the calendar, but I think she liked the calendar the best.

It hung on the wall at doggy school all year, and this Christmas we're giving her the 2005 version.

This calendar has gorgeous pictures, each one incorporating a fact of our doggy owner life, dog poop. It's full of horrible (meaning funny) puns about - well you get the idea.

Any dog lover will get a big laugh out of this calendar. Out of consideration for not dog people, there might be a problem finding a place to hang it.

As much as I'm into dog poop (with three dogs I have no choice about this) I don't want this calendar hanging in my house. But doggy school is the perfect spot. Let the beginner classes look at it and wonder about how their life is changing in so many ways.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Precious Metals and Gemstones
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"Riches cover a multitude of woes." -Menander

1) Which stone is your birthstone? Do you like it?
January is garnet.

Yes, I do like garnet, a deep red stone which is very common and not expensive to buy.

2) Do you prefer silver or gold?
Gold.

I find gold to be more beautiful than silver. Silver has an annoying tendency to tarnish.

3) Name the jewelry that you wear whenever you leave the house.
My wedding ring, a plain gold band.

My watch, a Swiss made Movado retirement watch from Pfizer.

Pearls that need stringing4) What is your most precious and valuable item of jewelry?
The cultured pearls that my grandfather brought back from Japan in the early 60s. They need restringing. I tried to do it myself but the effort fell short due to lack of skill with the knotting.


5) Do you carry insurance on any of your jewelry and if not, why not?
During the years I was making stone jewelry and selling at art and craft shows, my raw material inventory and my finished goods inventory were both insured.

Now I don't have any jewelry worth insuring, and that's OK with me.

Friday, December 03, 2004

And the Sticks Came Tumbling Down
Branches down in the front yardThis week we had more snow, more wet and heavy snow.

It was heavy enough so many surrounding areas lost their power when the branches came down. Our house had some power flickers, but we never completely lost it.

This is the back yard looking out toward the back field where the dogs and I walk multiple times a day. Now it's an agility course for the dogs as they get to jump over the branches on the ground to get where they're going.

The branches are frozen into the ice and snow, so we haven't tried to pick them up yet.

Sticks all over the front yardThis is the front yard. No big branches but too many sticks to count.

I'm no longer feeling sorry I didn't get all the leaves raked up before the snow started. It's all going to need to be raked again.

Pappy sleeping on his backRomping in the snow gets the little dogs very tired very quickly.

This is Pappy in one of his favorite sleeping spots, right up next to Mom while I'm working on my laptop.

He was a member of our family for a whole year before he felt safe enough to roll over on his back. Now sometimes he sleeps in this amusing, relaxed position. It always makes me smile and be thankful that we were able to rescue him and bring him to a loving home.

Sunny sleeping on her backSunny was also a rescue dog, but she came to live with us when she left her mother at eight weeks. She has never know abuse or been afraid to sleep on her back.

In this picture she's taking a nap in the bed with Bob.

Bob is that big lump under the flannel comforter right behind Sunny. In the actual picture before cropping, you could see him snoring. Wasn't I nice to crop that out?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Feathers on the groundFeathers on the Ground
DH Bob and I both enjoy the quiet of country living, but sometimes things are too quiet for comfort.

Saturday morning the bird feeders were quiet. Bob filled the Chickadee feeder early in the morning, yet there were no Chickadees. Usually the cute little birds are waiting for their food and can hardly stay away from the feeder long enough for us to fill it.

We call it the Chickadee Feeder because the Chickadees are the tamest of the little birds that feed there. We also have numerous goldfinches, tufted titmouses, nuthatches, and an occasional woodpecker feeding there. None of them showed up on Saturday morning.

Once the birds returned, we forgot about the birdless hours - until Monday morning.

Monday morning I sat in the living room working on my laptop and watched a large hawk patrol the east side of the property. All the little birds were lying low. The crows tried to chase the hawk away, but failed.

I know the hawk is part of nature. I know the hawk is a beautiful bird. But I wish it would go hunt somewhere else.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Malling
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"George Washington had a vision for this country. Was it three days of uninterrupted shopping?"
-Jeff Melvoin, Northern Exposure

1) Do you enjoy shopping at the mall?
No. Try to avoid it as much as possible and find that it usually is possible thanks to internet shopping.

2) What is your favorite mall food?
Cream cheese pretzels. Wish I had one right now, but I don't. One of the dieting advantages of living miles away from places that sell food.

3) What are your three favorite “mall” stores?
  • Barnes and Noble - because I love books.
  • Mrs. Fields Pretzel Time - for the obvious.
  • Sears - because they have Land's End there now.

4) What is your favorite mall?
Lakeview Square in Battle Creek. It's all on one floor and I don't get lost in it.

5) Do you have one special person that you enjoy going to the mall with the most?
Daughter Heather. She gets excited about the things she likes. Then I look at them with new eyes and notice things I wouldn't have seen without her company.

For example: I never tried one of those yummy pretzels until I was with Heather one day and she bought one for me.

I'm looking forward to shopping with her next Saturday. Monette and I are going to meet Heather in Battle Creek so Heather can help us buy Christmas gifts for Granddaughter Kimmy. The best part of the day will be lunch. And maybe a pretzel.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Winter Wonderland
Michigan license plate from 1967 Water-Winter Wonderland was the Michigan slogan forty years ago.

Water Wonderland appeared on Michigan license plates beginning in 1954. It took ten years for the folks in charge of attracting tourists to realize that for three Michigan seasons out of four, no tourist cared about coming to a cold Water Wonderland.

The slogan got changed to Water-Winter Wonderland in 1965.

1967 was the last year Water-Winter Wonderland appeared on Michigan plates. In 1968 the plates proclaimed the new state slogan, Great Lake State.

I had to Google to refresh my memory on all this when the phrase "Winter Wonderland" popped into my mind while looking at the pictures I took on Wednesday.

Out the front window - pine tree laden with snow.On the busiest travel day of the year, the snow came down. And it wasn't just a nice little dusting. It was wet, heavy, slippery, and nasty.

I was cozy and warm in the house watching winter arrive and cooking for Thanksgiving. My only concern was the power. The snow was so wet and heavy that branches were breaking off trees. All our powerlines are above ground and many links we depend on go through wooded areas.

Fortunately the power stayed on. Unfortunately this beautiful pine tree in the front yarn ended up losing several large branches in the evening, after the picture was taken.

Otu the front window - snowy scene including woods across the streetThis is how it looked out the front window about three o'clock in the afternoon. Before it finished snowing Wednesday evening, we had six inches of snow in our Southwest Michigan Wonderland.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thanksgiving Thoughts
The whole list of things I'm thankful for is very long, too long to write. If I did write it, it would read like the story of my life. I've been abundantly blessed.

Here are a few things I'm thankful for this November:

  • Seasons of Violet. Over the past year writing this blog has resulted in a new closeness with family members who live far away.

  • My husband. We've been home together for a year now and we still like each other and laugh together.

  • My dogs. They are a constant supply of amusement, love, and reasons to go out on walks.

  • My mother. A remarkable woman who is a great example of aging with class, grace, and vigor.

  • My daughter. She met adversity head on and kept going until things got better again. She deserves the best and I hope she never settles for less.

  • My granddaughter Kimmy. Ever since she was ten minutes old and grabbed my finger, we've been bonded. I'm thankful that she is maturing into a fine young lady and still has some time for her grandma.

  • My son. He's a hardworking, easy going, caring man with a heart of gold. I'm so thankful he inherited the best qualities from both sides of his family.

  • My daughter-in-law. She's the perfect match for my son and she's going to be a good mom to my unborn granddaughter.

  • My unborn granddaughter. She's healthy and active, waiting to be born and delight her new family. We love her now, and we're going to love her even more when we meet her in April.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Something Very Different
While procrastinating getting up to make the Green Dream, I'm going to share two knitting/crochet sites with you.

You don't need to know anything about knitting or crochet to enjoy these pictures or to shake your head in disbelief.

Heather Sullivan has posted the cutest pictures of her hamsters in crocheted hamster hats.

She says:

Yes, I'm a batty lady with too much time on my hands. My hamsters are very well cared for and are quite happy to pander to my daily cuteness needs. They are not left to wander around with the hats on unsupervised and I don't recommend anyone keeps any yarn or fabric around hamsters at all because they can eat or chew on it and have lots of various problems with it(including death from the fibres causing a blockage in them).

I like this lady. She loves animals and she knows how to have fun.

Second is a knitting pattern in the Winter 2004 Knitter's magazine, a Sock Scarf, complete with randomly placed heels. According to the magazine blurb
We chose to stagger them (the heels) so the scarf would not lie flat, no matter how you wear it.

Isn't a scarf supposed to lie flat?

I'm guessing there is a minimum of $30 of yarn in this scarf. It's fingering yarn, so there are many little stitches. It would take me, a medium speed knitter, at least 20 hours to knit it - not that I would.
Correction Note added November 30, after receiving the actual magazine: The scarf is knit using Schoeller/Stahl Big Mexiko, a worsted weight yarn. It takes 5 skeins so the price is approximately $30 to knit it. The time it would take is much less than my previous estimate, as worsted weight knits up much quicker than fingering weight.

This scarf's only redeeming quality would be if it amused me, and it doesn't. Hopefully it amuses someone.

Do you like it? Would you wear it?

And, an even more interesting question, what would you think if you saw someone wearing this scarf?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

1) How do you cook your turkey? (Stuffing, spices, cooking bag, etcetera)
Stuff it with a bread stuffing and slowly bake it in a roaster in the oven with periodic basting.

2) What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?
Back in the 80s when I worked for The Upjohn Company the cafeteria had a chef who made wonderful things from scratch. The Upjohn Pumpkin Torte is one of those wonderful things.

It's a rich, heavenly dessert. Takes a little effort to make but it's not difficult and well worth the effort.

It tastes even better after being refrigerated for a day, so I'm making it on Wednesday and dessert will be ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

3) What are you doing this year for Thanksgiving?
Staying home and fixing turkey dinner for DH and Mom.

4) Do you have any family traditions at Thanksgiving?
I've been making Green Dream for over thirty years so I guess it's a family tradition.

It's made with lime Jello, melted marshmallows, milk, cream cheese, Cool whip, Miracle Whip, and crushed pineapple. The recipe is here.

The perfect holiday side dish for adding a slightly tangy accent with roast turkey, it's especially good to eat with cold turkey leftovers.

The Green Dream needs to be made ahead, so it's one more dish that will be prepared on Wednesday.

5) What one dish does it just not feel like Thanksgiving without besides turkey?
Mashed potatoes and turkey gravy. Have to have that or why bother cooking a turkey?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Gloomy gray skies and empty tree branchesHuddling under an umbrella, I went out with my camera this afternoon to try and catch the mood of the dark, drizzly, gloomy weather we have had for most of the week. The forecast for the next five days is for more of the same.

I've always thought I liked the four seasons and wouldn't want to live somewhere that didn't have them. Today I'm wondering if that is true.

Maybe I have preseason SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the National Mental Health Association the symptoms include a craving for sugary and/or starchy foods. I've had five cookies today. That's five more cookies than I usually eat in a day and five more cookies than I can eat in a day and still maintain my weight loss.

Wet cement and leavesThe temperatures are mild for this time of year, in the 50s (10 to 12 C) during the day, and it hasn't been windy. It would be perfect leaf raking and leaf burning weather except it is too wet. So I sit inside doing things I love to do - reading, knitting, blogging, reading Yahoo groups - and feeling guilty because it's looking more and more like those leaves are going to be on the ground until spring. Again. Without the excuse that I have a job and there isn't time to rake them.

Which brings me to the introspective question: Will I ever get old enough and wise enough not to feel guilty about things that don't really matter like getting all the leaves up in the fall?

Downspout drizzling water onto the sidewalkI have my own theories on why this time of year is depressing, at least for me. The reasons can easily be related back to the SAD model.

In the spring I have energy and big plans. The days are getting longer, the sun starts to warm the earth, and everything is fresh and green. I know that this is the year I will have a wonderful garden, redecorate my house, organize my life, and spend hours and hours doing all the things I love to do.

In the fall reality hits. The days are short, the air is cold, and everything is brown and gray. My energy has disappeared. I have to face the fact that somehow most of my plans didn't happen and now it's too late for this year.

On a more positive note, I have much to be thankful for. Onward to Thanksgiving - and then Christmas. The turkey is thawing in the refrigerator and I'm going to be making that wonderful Upjohn Pumpkin Torte.

Life is good. Now, where's the sun?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Granddaughter ultrasoundPromise of Joy to Come
This is the twenty week ultrasound of my granddaughter. She is due to arrive April 4, 2005.

In the meantime, she is having a good time in the womb.

Her dad reports:

She was very active during the ultrasound, too. She would shift and wiggle around. One time she even stretched her arm up above her head. The tech was having a lot of fun doing the ultrasound, she said, because the baby was so active.

That is this picture. The head is on the left and her arm is in the air.

Dad continues:
Her heart was visible during the ultrasound and we could see it thumping away.

The last couple pictures in the ultrasounds are of her profile. During the time when the tech was looking around and checking out this part we could see her open her mouth a couple times. She also moved her eyes once.

The most important ultrasound result is that the baby is healthy. The next most important question was "Boy or girl?"

It appears she is going to be a kind and considerate child like her father was. She kicked up her little legs to show us that she definitely has no male parts. So glad she cooperated.

Son John has written about the experience on his blog. Grandma has read it several dozen times. It makes me smile every time I do.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Chocolate Candy
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men."
-Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

1) What is your favorite flavor of M&Ms?
Reese's pieces. Love that chocolate and peanut butter combination.

2) Is there a special edition of candy that you wish they would make a permanent item on the shelves?
A couple of years ago there was a Nestle's Crunch made with white chocolate. I think it was responsible for several of my overweight pounds. I'm relieved that it is no longer around to tempt me - but I still think about it.

3) What is your favorite flavor of Hershey’s Kisses?
I'm not familiar with the different kinds of kisses. Maybe I need to check this out?

4) What is your favorite candy bar?
Swiss chocolate from Switzerland. Occasionally my mother gets a shipment from our Swiss cousins and sometimes she shares. Swiss chocolate is so much better than American chocolate (sorry, but it's true). I find most American candy bars to be way way too sweet and full of wax.

5) Do you prefer milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate?
I love love love white chocolate. There has never been any white chocolate in the Swiss chocolate deliveries. At least none that Mom has ever let me see.

Wonder if they have Swiss white chocolate?

Since I'm maintaining a 40 pound weight loss, I don't get to eat much candy. What am I missing?

What's your favorite?

Saturday, November 13, 2004

First pond freeze over of 2004Where Are My Mittens?
Mother Nature is bringing on winter whether we are ready for it or not. I'm not.

This morning the pond was covered with a thin layer of ice. Not too shocking. Afterall, it is November in Michigan.

What was shocking was when I went outside this afternoon and the layer of ice had not melted. Time to hunt down my gloves, scarves, and boots.


What ever made me write a blog entry on bathroom humor? It's really not my style. It occurred to me today that I did the same thing once before when I posted a link to ICBE, the International Center for Bathroom Etiquette.

Curious as to why I would do such an uncharacteristic thing twice, I checked out the date on the ICBE link. December 4, 2003. It seems to have something to do with the onset of winter.

Any theories on how cold weather and bathroom humor are related?

Friday, November 12, 2004

PappyTwo Years With Pappy
Pappy just celebrated his two year anniversary as part of our family. We are so happy to have him and so pleased that he has turned into a loved member of our family.

Pappy is a 14 pound Papillon. He was our first mature rescue dog. We're not sure how old he is or where he came from. He's not young and he's not old. He got shuffled from one rescue organization to another, until he ended up in a foster home with six other little dogs. His foster mom put him on Petfinder where we found him

We do know that at least some of his life before coming here was very awful. He has one ear with the cartilage broken down. He has a large scar across his shoulders. And recently, he had the dead tissue from on old wound erupt on his hip.

When we got him, he had an infected mouth and tear stains under both eyes. He was very shy and afraid of us. For the first several months he chose to be by himself in the back bedroom when the family was together in the living room or kitchen.

Now he is very healthy and without tear stains. He loves going to doggy school, especially agility. His favorite spot to be is where ever the family is, and he's often cuddled up next to one of us.

He's very intelligent and, now that he is comfortable displaying his real personality, he is a people dog. We love him and he loves us.

Most rescue dogs have "issues". Some were given up because of their issues. Some developed issues because they were mistreated and/or ignored. We were fortunate to have a good doggy school and a great dog trainer to help us work out Pappy's issues. And we are blessed because Pappy was a dog worth the time and effort required to bring him back to himself.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

When I lost my job last January family and friends mostly agreed I was going to get bored. So far I refuse to admit to being bored.

There are some weeks that are more interesting than others, though. And this evening I just accidently ran across a website named Bored.com, "for when there is nothing to watch on television".

I'm bookmarking this site. It appears to be well designed and full of intersting links.

For example, it has a link to the Bathroom Habits Survey where you can find out what strange habits other people have when going to the bathroom. All answers are anonymous.

Approximately 850,000 people have taken this survey, so if you want to know what goes on in other people's bathrooms this is the place to check it out.

I was grossed out to learn that 50% of adults admit to urinating in a swimming pool and 74% admit to urinating in an ocean, lake, or river. Yuck.

At the bottom of the Bathroom Survey stats page, there is a link to Bathroom Life billed as "The Web's largest source of bathroom humor: farting, pooping, peeing, burping, vomiting, and more."

I've never been big on bathroom humor, so even as I write this I wonder why I am visiting these sites. Could it be that I really am getting bored?

Toilet paper over or under? (Can you believe that 34% of survey respondents don't care?)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Fruits and Vegetables
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly." -Henry David Thoreau

1) What is your favorite vegetable and your favorite fruit?
Hummm. I've never thought about a favorite. I have my fruits and vegetables divided into three categories: enjoy eating, will eat, and would rather not eat.

One of my favorite fruits is fresh peaches.

But, now that I've thought about it, my very favorite fruit is fresh Michigan strawberries mashed up with a little bit of sugar and spooned over Bisquick shortcake.

One of my favorite vegetables is corn, especially corn on the cob with butter and pepper. Not exactly diet food, but definitely good tasting.

2) How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat a day?
Usually three servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables.

Before I lost forty pounds I could hardly find the produce department. Now I spend a lot of time there every week.

Of course, one of the reasons I'm in the produce department so long is because I can't get their stupid plastic bags open to hold the produce I'm trying to buy. Wouldn't you think they could come up with something better than flimsy, melded together plastic bags?

3) Did your parents force you to eat vegetables when you were younger?
Not that I remember.

4) What vegetable can you absolutely just not get down, no matter what you are bribed with?
Winter squash. The orange kind that tastes awful and leaves an aftertaste in my mouth that lasts for hours.

5) What is your favorite way to eat fruit?
Fresh and ripe. Some fruit just begs for ice cream, like the above mentioned peaches.

Cut up juicy peaches over vanilla ice cream. Yummy.

I didn't learn that at Weigh Watchers.
Is there a vegetable you just can't get down?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Post Election Insults
It's been a difficult week for posting.

I don't usually write about politics, which is the main topic of discussion in the US right now. My email is full of personal jabs at my character and my sanity for voting the way I did and I hesitate to transfer that type of conversation to Seasons of Violet.

Since I've stayed low profile about my political preferences and have not tried to convert anyone who thinks differently, it's been shocking to be sought out and personally attacked by the "blue" people.

Please don't leave flames about this in the comments. I've seen every nasty thing - plus some - that you could possible write.

Calling me names and bashing Bush are not going to impress me with your liberal tolerance and your love for your fellow man.

Any thoughtful, intelligent opinions are welcome, even if they don't agree with mine.

Lots of Hits
On a much brighter note, Stitches of Violet has been getting more views than I ever dreamed possible in one week. And it hasn't even appeared on the Google searches yet.

It's nice to have a place to put my knitting projects and I'm preparing several CIC patterns to post there: Basketweave Toddler Socks and Fluted Banister Toddler Vest.

The pattern writing has been taking some time. Writing patterns is very detailed and time consuming. And, after a while, they just sound OK even when they're not. Rather like writing computer programs, one of my former occupations.

eMail Me
gMail seems to be pretty good at sorting out spam, so I've added my gMail address to the Seasons of Violet sidebar.

Would love to hear from you anytime you'd like to drop me a note.

And, if there's anyone left in the world who wants a gMail account and needs an invitation, I still have many to give away.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Congratulations Mr. President
W

I agree with my Swiss cousin Jurg, who wrote:

So what we say is, that Bush has to eat his own soup! That means, that the bad things he made, he has to bring it well again by himself!
President Bush now has his chance to finish what he has started and prove himself the capable and intelligent leader most of the country believed him to be shortly after 9/11.

I will be praying for him.

All the Leaves Are Down
View out the front window. Bare trees and leaves on the ground.And waiting to be raked.

It's been cold, windy, and either raining or about ready to rain for days - until today. Today the sun came out, and I think I'm going to miss out on one of the last opportunities to rake.

Yes, I stayed up way too late last night listening to the inane chatter of people trying to fill air time between sporadic announcements of election results. For most of the evening I entertained myself by looking through stitch pattern books to get ideas for a Barbie sweater. About two am, I opened a bottle of white wine and sipped a nice drink. About three am, when I fell asleep in the chair, I toddled off to bed.

I'm feeling a little out-of-it today. Have been sitting here messing around online, reading things I normally would delete as irrelevant. In a way it's rather relaxing, if it weren't for that nagging feeling that my future life would be better served if I was outside raking.

And the Skys are Gray
Sunny and Pappy walking in the colorless fieldThe days are short now. It's dark by five-thirty. Right now it's about three-thirty and, looking out the window, it looks like evening.

The weather forecast is for rain tonight and on into the weekend - unless it gets cold enough to produce sleet and snow instead.

I think I just missed my chance to catch a few rare rays of sun.

Did you stay up to listen to election results?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

1) What candy are you passing out on Halloween night if you are staying home?

Three Musketeers mini bars.

But we've never had a Trick or Treater in the thirteen years we've lived here, so we felt safe dipping into the candy dish. It's 7:30 pm and there is only one left.

2) What was your best Halloween costume?
My best costume was for Hoe-Down Day, not Halloween.

Hoe-Down Day was a homecoming week event at Marshall High School. My freshman year I went as an alien. I dressed in green and used green food coloring on all my exposed skin. Several of my teachers recalled this costume years after I graduated.

3) Are you doing anything on the night of Halloween if you are not staying home to pass out treats, and if so, what are you doing?
We're staying home to eat the treats we would be passing out if someone came, which they're not going to do.

We live in the woods on a back dirt road and all the kids are working the subdivisions.

4) What is your favorite Halloween d├ęcor? (ie, witch, ghost, pumpkins)
Witch smashed into a treeI know this is a corny, overdone gag decoration, but I always chuckle when I see one of these unfortunate witches.

I'm sure this is what would happen to me if I got on my flying broom and took off through the air. That's why I pretend I'm just a normal old woman.


5) Do you carve jack o’lanterns?
Nope.

What do you enjoy about Halloween?

Saturday, October 30, 2004

New Knitting Blog
If you're interested in my knitting, please visit my new knitting blog Stitches of Violet.

It is under construction but functional. Tonight I posted the first knitting pictures, a Barbie dress and poncho knit for granddaughter Kimmy complete with links to the free, online patterns I used.

I have big plans to write up some of the patterns I design for socks, Barbie, and CIC and post them on Stitches of Violet. This will not happen overnight, but slowly the list of patterns should grow.

There will also be links to free Barbie patterns and free CIC suitable patterns that other people are sharing on their websites. I won't be linking to other free sock patterns as there are many sites that already do that.

In order to manage my own expectations, my goal is to publish on Stitches of Violet a minimum of once a week.

There will be no more knitting pictures on Seasons of Violet.

Since I'm not a prolific knitter, I've hesitated to start a "knitting blog". I'm not 100% sure it was a good idea, but winter is coming and I'm going to give it a try.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Chipmunk Damage
Big hole caused by dogs digging for chipmunksThis spot used to house a hosta, a Japanese fern, and some creeping woodland phlox.

Their destruction and this hole was created by a chipmunk. Really.

A tiny little chipmunk had a tiny, harmless little hole in the back of this tier garden. Glory, our large dog, saw the chipmunk go down the little hole and decided to enlarge the hole a bit to see if she could find the evil rodent.

Glory is a very smart dog. She knew enough to do her digging when I wasn't around to stop her. She doesn't do it very often, only when tormented by little striped rodents. She is forgiven.

Party Time
Kimmy admiring her Spong Bob birthday cakeLast Saturday was Granddaughter Kimmy's ninth birthday. She had a party at Peter Piper Pizza with plenty of friends, relatives, and a Sponge Bob Cake.

Kimmy opening and loving her birthday giftsMost of her gifts were Barbie related, mine included. I got her a California Barbie, a Barbie carrying case, and this (non Barbie related) Hilary Duff CD.

Kimmy liked all her gifts, but none of the others were as exciting as the CD.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Autumn Rant

The older I get the less I enjoy the coming of fall.
It's something to do with the passing of time.
Year round, time passes at the same speed. . .
But in the fall, it sticks its arm out the window and flips you off.

- - Arlo (of Arlo and Janis comic strip by Jimmy Johnson)

Autumn scene looking down the roadSome autumns are more colorful than other autumns. This has been a moderately colorful autumn with an abundance of yellows and hardly any reds.

These two autumn pictures were taken last week.

This week there are more empty branches and brown leaves visible in the color mix. Also, more and more leaves on the ground needing to be raked up.


Autumn path in the fieldSeems like every time I turn around it's Christmas.

I used to work with a woman who said every time she turned around it was either the 4th of July or Christmas. She is ten years younger than I am. I'm sure that she will be dropping the 4th of July from her statement soon, if she hasn't already.

The 4th of July happens in the middle of the beautiful summer season and is over in a day - or two days if it falls on a long weekend. It requires little or no preparation. Parties and gifts are not required.

The "holiday" season starts before Halloween and lasts until January. In Michigan, it coincides with the shortest, darkest, coldest days of the year.

Even a minimal Christmas requires ongoing organization, shopping, exposure to very fattening (but delicious) food, and social get-togethers.

I'm a non-shopping, introverted, dieter and "the holidays" are not my idea of two months of good spirit and fun. So when the leaves fall down and the holiday songs begin, I kick off the holiday season by getting a little cranky.

The crankiness will pass. I will do what needs to be done, enjoy it as much as possible, and, when it's over, I will have a January birthday and get another year older. Then I can hibernate in peace for the rest of the winter.

Are there any introverts who enjoy the holidays? How about some tips?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Parents
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"Parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of the trees is lost when raking leaves." -Marcelene Cox

1) What do your parents do for a living?
My father died way to young, at 45, of a massive heart attack in 1964. At the time of his death, he was working as a bookkeeper.

My mother was left with four children ages 19(me), 14, 10, and 8. She used the life insurance money to go college and get a teaching degree. She taught art, humanities, and English at the middle school and high school level until her retirement in the mid 1980s.

Now she happily does whatever she feels like doing: reads, paints, follows politics and world events, attends dance class, and reads Seasons of Violet.

2) How old were your parents when you were born?
Mom and Dad wedding picture from 1944Father was 26 and Mom was 22.

The wedding picture is from 1944, about a year before I was born.

I'm sure Mom/Monette will post corrections in the comments if I don't get my dates and ages correct.


3) What is the most important lesson that you learned from your parents?
Life isn't always fair. Sometimes it seriously sucks. Work your way through those times and things will eventually get better again.

4) What is the harshest discipline that you ever received from your parents?
I think I was a pretty good kid because I don't remember getting much discipline.

Once when I was about 5-6 my mother received a cosmetic delivery from a door to door saleslady (Avon?) containing an eyebrow pencil.

While Mom was chatting with the lady, I took the pencil and started drawing with it. It was soft and made wonderful thick lines, but after a few pictures there wasn't much left of it. When my mother got done chatting and turned her attention to me, she was furious and I got a spanking.

I remember this incident because at the time I though it was very unfair. I didn't know it wasn't a pencil to draw with. Of course, I had no business taking something that wasn't mine, but that logic escaped me at that age.

Sorry Mom.

5) What is the thing that you are the most grateful to your parents for?
One thing? If it's going to be one thing, it will need to be a very general thing.

I'm thankful to my parents for loving me and accepting me for who I am. Mom and I have some very different preferences and opinions, but that doesn't stop us from loving each other and enjoying each other's company.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Opal Purple Sidewinders
Purple Sidewinder SocksI love these socks so much I haven't wanted to wear them. They are hanging on the back of my closet door and every morning I enjoy looking at them.

It's the combination of the two yarns that makes them so special. The lighter parts are knit from Opal Mosaic and the darker parts are deep purple and black Opal Crocodile.

The pattern is from Soxie's Cell Mates, "Fun n' funky socks with matching Cell Phone bags".

I made a few modifications to the pattern.

In anticipation of the coming Michigan winter, I knit my cuff twice as long as the pattern calls for. There is 20 rows of k1p1 ribbing under the vertical stripe cuff so the sock will fit snuggly to my leg.

Then, I made the stripes on the ankle and toe a little thicker than the pattern said because I love the color contrast of the two yarns. Since I was knitting the small, 56 stitch version, there was plenty of Crocodile to do that.

My two color knitting skills are pretty lacking. I couldn't get the pattern's vertical stripes to look nice on the heel. After I frogged the first heel a few times and the yarn was beginning to look a little frizzy, I decided I was going to have horizontal stripes on my heel.

These socks were completed over a month ago. I was waiting for Soxie to get them on her website before I showed them on Seasons of Violet.

Thanks for a great pattern Soxie!! They were fun to knit and they're going to be fun to wear - someday.

Fluted Banisters
Fluted banister socks for the Six Sox KnitalongLast week I finished the Fluted Banisters, the October/November pattern in the Six Sock Knitalong.

The yarn is Opal Handpainted #11.

Since I have small feet, I used sixty stitches around to get a snug fit.

This pattern went very quick and was fun to knit. I'll use it again when I have randomly variegated yarn like this.

Pumpkin Torte
There is the most delicious recipe for Pumpkin Torte in the recipe section of my sidebar. I look forward to making it every autumn, usually for Thanksgiving.

The torte is 9 x 13 and has too many calories to count, so I don't dare make it more than once or twice a year.

If you've never made it before, you have the perfect excuse to make it twice. You have to try out the recipe before serving it to your Thanksgiving guests, right?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I'm Scared
Tired of the same old, boring, wimpy pumpkin carvings? Check out Extreme Pumpkins.

Today. We will buy a big, ugly, pumpkin so large one man cannot lift or move it. Today. We will carve that sumbitch into something ugly and plop it on the front porch. Pumpkin carving is reborn.

Drive Faster
Here is a reason not to go driving in the beautiful, solitary countryside.

Note to dialup readers: This website is a long load. I waited it out, but it took many minutes. If you play the video and you don't jump at the end, you don't have the entire clip downloaded yet.

Planning a project?

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Murphy's Law

Here is a Murphy's Law Calculator to help you understand and predict the frustrations of life.

The calculator mathematically considers five project factors - urgency, complexity, importance, skill, frequency, and tells you the probability of Murphy's Law kicking in before the project is complete.

It's much easier to use than it sounds. Can be used on any project, small (getting dressed in the morning) to large (building a house). Give it a try.

Be sure to read the accompanying press release from the British Gas News to learn why your e-mail will most likely crash as you try to send something important, chances are highest that you will spill a drink down your clothes before an important event, and why showers go cold on women more often than on men.

So happy to be of service to my readers. You are welcome.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Furniture
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house."
-Henry Ward Beecher

1) What size is your bed?

Regular double bed.

It used to be big enough until the little dogs came to live and sleep with us.

Pappy is nice enough to move over when asked, but Sunny goes limp and refuses to move or roll anywhere once she is settled in. She weighs fourteen pounds but when we are trying to claim the bed we jokingly refer to her as the "two thousand pound dog".

2) Do you prefer fabric sofas or leather sofas? What do you have?
Fabric and fabric.

We have throws on most of the furniture so the dogs can sit with us and we don't have to worry about them jumping up on the furniture when they're wet and/or muddy. I think the throws would slide around too much on leather furniture.

3) What wood stain color is your favorite? (Pine, walnut, cherry, etc.)
Oak. It's been my favorite for decades.

4) What piece of furniture is at the top of your wish list right now?
Bookshelves. We have way too many books and we're out of shelf space.

5) Do you have a piece of furniture in your home that doesn't seem to fit but that you can't bear to part with?
I have a wonderful comfy La-Z-Boy chair in the very small dinette area of the kitchen. I love to sit there and knit while Bob reads to me.

The chair makes it difficult to completely open the refrigerator door, but we've adapted to it and it's going to stay.

Do you let your pets on the furniture?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Jamming at Meijer's
Last week everything was out of sync because of Pappy's unexpected surgery. I ended up at Meijer's on Saturday morning. (Meijer's is a chain of large, discount grocery stores in direct competition with Walmart.)

The wide aisles weren't wide enough. They were full of carts and people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and patience levels. The best strategy was to park the cart at the end of the aisle and walk down the row to pick up what I needed. In some aisles it was difficult to get through even without a cart.

I felt sorry for the mothers there with their children. Did they work all week and get a fun Saturday morning at Meijer's with the kids to kick off the weekend? Hard to imagine they would be there on Saturday morning if they had other times available for shopping.

Thursday morning the grocery store is quiet, the shelves are stocked, there are parking places close to the door. It's the perfect time to go and grocery shop.

My shopping is done. I won't be in anyone's way at Meijer's this Saturday.

W, Do Not Call!
While waiting for Pappy's lab results my heart rate tripled every time the phone rang. It was common and super annoying to hear a recorded message with some unwanted, unnecessary political message.

Why does the administration that saved us from telemarketers with the Do Not Call Registry think we want to get political calls?

VolcanoCam
Click here to see a videocam image of Mount St. Helens taken from the Johnston Ridge Observatory about five miles from the volcano. The image updates approximately every five minutes.

During dark night hours in Washington State, you won't see anything except splotches of color. During the daylight hours the picture is awesome.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Benign is Beautiful
We got the call this afternoon. Pappy's tumor was not a tumor. It was a wad of old dead tissue that surfaced from an old wound. He must have had it inside him for years.

We are so relieved and ready to have life get back to normal.

Pappy is frolicking around like he knows something good has happened. He was feeling much better today.

He's going to doggy school on Thursday evening. Teacher Gail says he can take it easy and let people fawn over him and give him treats. He'll love it.

Monday Madness
The Sunday Brunch topic this week was "Disney", and my answers went something like, "don't know", "can't think of one", "hummm", "don't care", and "no".

So instead of a Sunday Brunch post this week, I'm going to do a completely mindless and trivial but fun Monday Madness meme.

Name 3 things....

1....your ideal salad has on it.
  • Onion
  • Raisins
  • French dressing

2....you do religiously in the morning.
  • Drink a cup of coffee
  • Dress to the shoes
  • Take the dogs for a walk

3....you look forward to doing in your spare time.
  • Reading
  • Knitting
  • Messing around online

4....you've never done before, but think you will at some point in your life.
  • Travel to Idaho
  • Start a Bible study blog
  • Bird Banding

5....you love to do while on vacation.
  • Get some sun
  • See the ocean
  • See mountains

6....you took pictures of in the last month.
  • Autumn colors
  • Frost
  • My dogs

7....you have to do before the end of the day.
  • Pay bills
  • Return library books
  • Take Sunny to doggy school

8....you like about your best friend.
  • She knows when to talk and when to be quiet.
  • She doesn't like to shop.
  • We're sisters in Christ.
There are many, many things I like about my best friend. I just picked the first three that popped into my head.

What's something you like about your best friend?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Pappy Report - Day 5
Pappy on top of the loveseatThis afternoon Pappy had a major breakthrough in his recovery from surgery.

After coming inside from a pee, he stood in the hallway and looked bewildered for a while. Then his little doggy brain made an important decision to claim his rightful spot on top of the loveseat. He ran into the living room, jumped up on the loveseat seat, and hopped onto the loveseat top.

This was an exhausting feat, and he spent most of the afternoon sleeping there and looking pleased with himself.

Late this evening, he went outside and ran around wagging his tail. He wanted to go out to the field, but it was dark and I wouldn't let him. Tomorrow we'll give it a try in the daylight.

It's so good to see him interesting in living again. Now all we need to make life sweet is a good lab report.

Thank you to everyone who has left comments and/or sent email expressing their concern and wishing Pappy well. We appreciate your good wishes, prayers, and support.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Pappy Report - Day 4
His big brown eyes look at me and ask what in the world happened to me? Why can't I walk very well anymore? Why am I sewn together?

I got him out for a little walk today without the other dogs. Thought we would go slow and easy and he would enjoy the beautiful autumn day. We barely got across the creek when he decided he couldn't walk anymore, and I had to carry him back to the house.

He spent most of the day sleeping and laying around on his special bed watching the family do things. We are giving him tons of love, attention, and babying.

After the surgery, the vet showed me the tumor sliced in two. The center was black with dead tissue because the tumor grew so fast the center didn't have a blood supply.

It was pure evil. It is indeed a fallen world when such an ugly thing can grow on a sweet, loving, innocent animal.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Opal Magic Cloverleaf Lace Socks
Mom's green Opal Magic cloverleaf socksLast Sunday I finished these socks for Mom. The yarn is Opal Magic.

Magic is fun to knit. It has all the pretty self-patterning Opal colors and stripes as well as a wide 19 - 20 rows of solid color, the perfect place to include a pretty stitch pattern.

This stitch pattern is based on the Cloverleaf Lace pattern from the Six Sock Knitalong.

The cloverleafs are staggered instead of in a straight line, and the ribbing is knit 7 purl 1, two stitches wider than the original Cloverleaf Lace ribbing.

Fluted Banisters progress pictureFluted Banister Progress
This is my required progress picture of the Fluted Banister, the third sock in the Six Sock Knitalong. The yarn is Opal Handpainted (#11).

Fluted Banister is an elastic, pretty stitch pattern for socks that will fit and stay up. Once I got the feel for it, the pattern became pretty brainless to knit. Good thing, because with everything going on with Pappy I don't have much brain left to think about anything else.

Knit on, with confidence and hope, Through all crisis.
- Elizabeth Zimmerman

Pappy Report - Day 3
Pappy went back to the vet this morning.

He's doing OK but he has been in a lot of pain. She checked him over and gave him a pain shot and some pain pills for when the shot wears off.

Late this afternoon he went outside and was able to lift his leg for some doggy style peeing, so it appears the pain med is working.

The whole house is not OK with Pappy down and out. We're not doing our fun walks and tricks and games and everyone is worried about him, including the other two dogs.

Normal life has pretty much come to a halt while we nurse him back to health.

He wants to be with either Bob or me all the time, preferably right next to our body and snuggled in.

This works well so we can keep him from licking his stitches. This does not work well if we want to get anything done. So I'm not getting anything done and that's OK.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Mattress is Down
The mattress is off the box spring and on the floor.

In our house that means one of our much loved dogs has had surgery and isn't allowed to jump on and off the bed. We put the mattress on the floor so the dog can walk on and off of it.

Always before the lowered mattress has been because of a spaying or neutering. Today it was a horrible surgery.

Pappy sprouted a tumor on his left hip that grew almost overnight. I took him to the vet this morning and she surgically removed it. There's a chance it's benign, but she didn't sound very convincing.

It's been sent off for a biopsy and we won't have the results for 7 to 10 days. Then we'll know what we need to do next, if anything.

We're mentally preparing for the worst kind of news thinking it can't possible be that bad. He's a healthy, active dog and we love him too much.

Pappy recovering on the living room floorMeanwhile, he's still groggy and is on restricted motion for 7 days. She took a lot of surrounding tissue and it's a big incision, about four inches long on a very small dog.

Pappy is a people dog. He likes to be where we are. This evening he is on a special bed on the living room floor made from an old comforter and a spare pillow. We're taking good care of him.

I am so grateful that I can be home to comfort him and nurse him through his hard time.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Frosty MorningField covered with white frost
This morning was the first hard frost of autumn. It was so heavy on the grass and plants, it almost looked like snow.

Last week we had our first frost. It was a light frost and quickly melted without taking out the annuals.

Sunday morning we had our second frost. Still not a killing frost, but very pretty. I wanted to take pictures then, but didn't have time before church.


Close up of the frost on some leavesToday when I took the dogs out for their early morning walk, I knew I was going to have to get back out with my camera and take a few pictures.

There is a green plant under all the ice.

Bluebird house covered with frostLast week and the week before I noticed a flock of bluebirds by the bird houses early in the morning.

I'd like to think it was some of the nine bluebirds hatched and tended in this nest box this summer.