Saturday, January 29, 2005

Anne and Sydney at 7 Months
Anne and Sydney at 7 monthsTomorrow I'm checking out plane fares to Idaho to attend a shower for Anne, John, and Sydney.

I've never visited John and Anne in Idaho, never seen their new home, never seen the resort where John works. And I want to. I want to very much. I'm just a little reluctant to do the airline travel thing, especially this time of year when the snow can create airport overnights.

I do want to visit once before the baby arrives, and the shower is the perfect excuse. I need to get myself a frequent flyer card and get used to the idea of flying across the country as often as I can afford. Granddaughters are just too precious not to have visits from Grandma.

As far as I know, Sydney still does not have a middle name.

I saw this saying in the sig on someone's email today:

"The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so she can tell when she's really in trouble!"
Since my granddaughter is going to be perfect, maybe she doesn't need a middle name.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Birthday Pie
Piece of Mom's apple pie and cup of coffeeBirthday Pie
Yesterday the sun came out. It was only for show, not to warm things up.

It did mean that it wasn't snowing or freezing drizzling and I could drive to Mom's without sliding off the road.

She baked the birthday apple pie and made coffee. I picked up two Spicy Chicken Sandwiches from Wendy's for the main course, and we had a wonderful lunch together.

Then, because it was my birthday pie, I got to bring the rest of it home to share with Bob. It didn't last the day. Yum. Thanks Mom.

I'm glad we didn't have the pie until I was done pouting about my birthday. It deserved to be eaten with a happy spirit.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

No Apple Pie
I'm supposed to be eating wonderful home baked apple pie at Mom's right now.

The apple pie is a birthday present that only Mom can give. She makes fantastic, old fashioned, labor intensive apple pies with a crust to die for.

My morning plan was to drive to Kalamazoo (about 20 miles), get a haircut, pick up some fast food sandwiches to take to Mom's for lunch.

Mom was going to stick the apple pie in the oven about 11:30 and we were going to eat it freshly baked.

The weather man had been predicting freezing drizzle for the past several days. We were about ready to write it off as a bad forecast when it started at 9 am this morning, putting a nice coat of ice on everything including the roads and the existing snow.

One of the advantages of old lady hood is that I now feel no compunction to be out driving around on icy roads. I rescheduled my haircut for next week and sat down to knit on my latest pair of socks for a while.

The drizzle turned to snow and the temperature started plunging. It's supposed to be around zero F by this evening.

Great weather to stay home and knit. But I have plans to go to a lecture on fens with a friend, so I need to start chipping that ice off my car now. I don't think the sun is going to melt it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

She Is My Sunshine
Sunny sitting in the rocking chair waiting to see what we're going to knit nextHere's Sunny sitting in my kitchen knitting chair.

The previous sentence is the only non-knitting related sentence from today's Stitches of Violet post.

If you're interested, the Stitches of Violet post shows a picture of the Valentine socks I knit for Kimmy. You don't have to read all the knitting talk. Just look at the picture.

I am officially over my pout about turning 60 and other things that I'm unable to control.

I'm thankful that "60 is the new 40" and ready to get on with whatever comes next.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Unwelcome Birthday
We keep getting older and we are not amused.

Last Thursday I turned 60. Emotionally it wasn't a pretty thing. And if one more person tells me that 60 is the new 40, I'm going to scream!

I resisted the urge to get drunk. Unfortunately, that's a consequence of being older and a little wiser. Getting drunk doesn't help a thing and adds physical debilitation to the problem.

What is comes right down to is this - I'm pouting. And, if I tell you why I'm pouting it will be obnoxious whining about almost nothing.

Deep down inside I know that I am very blessed, which makes it embarrassing to be found whining. So I'll just pout in silence.

My family has tried to cheer me up with happy, positive thoughts about the wonderful rest of my life ahead. Maybe even with my best accomplishments ahead of me.

My youngest sister, who is a decade away from this startling age, finally humored me by allotting me one day of pouting per decade. That means I can keep pouting until Wednesday.

To be truthful about it, I started my pout the day before my birthday, so Monday is the only day I have left.

It's nice to put limits on pouts.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Snowy Saturday
My car under lots of snow

This is the reason I didn't go anywhere today. Obviously some shoveling is going to be required before my car leaves the driveway.

The worst part isn't in the picture. The snowplow went by and piled up a heavy bank of snow at the end of the driveway.

The two snow pictures were taken this morning. It snowed and blew all day making it much too nasty to be outdoors working, so we weren't. A lovely benefit of being retired. No hurry to get out the driveway.

Pappy cutting a path through the snowIt was fun to take the dogs outside today. Pappy and Glory love to romp in the snow.

I didn't need to be a kill joy and call them in before they were ready. After ten minutes of running through the snow, they beat me to the door.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

This Cold is Too Cold
Ice on the storm door This morning I woke up about 7 am, fixed a cup of coffee, and took it back to bed to sip it while snuggling between the cozy flannel sheets.

It was four degrees below zero (-20 C) outdoors, and I was in no hurry to take the dogs out for their morning walk.

The dogs still had unpleasant memories of their last trip outside the previous night. They were in no hurry to go outside again, either.

Sunny on the flannel sheets Sunny is pad trained. She prefers to go outdoors unless it's raining hard or the snow is too deep or the temperature is too cold. Like this morning.

When I threw back the comforter to get up for our morning walk, she jumped into my warm spot and informed me that she was staying in.

Normally when she does this I bring her leash into the bedroom, hook it on her, and tell her she's going out with the rest of the dogs.

This morning I let her stay in. She used the pad.

It was good that Sunny wasn't with us. We only got a short way across the creek and down the path when Pappy decided his feet were frozen and he couldn't walk.

Fortunately his business was complete so I scooped him up and carried him back to the house. One of the few times he's ever appreciated being picked up when outdoors.

Glory next to the radiatorGlory, our big old lab mix, ran ahead and beat us to the door.

Let me in! Let me in! I want to go lie next to the radiator and warm up.

Ah. That's better.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Time Flies
Cardinal nest full of snow in JanuaryWalking out of the house with the dogs this morning we passed the abandoned Cardinal nest. It was full of the fresh snow we received last night.

Nests are easy to see now with the leaves off the trees and bushes. There were so many of them so close to where we walked everyday, but we didn't know they were there. Next year I'm going to look a little closer.

I turn another year older this week. Actually, I turn another decade older this week.

Getting old has it's problems, but so did all the other decades. What concerns me more than getting older is the speed at which life is zooming by.

Cardinal nest with two young in JulyWasn't it just a few days ago the leaves were green and this nest was full of baby cardinals?

How can the months go by so fast?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Sydney's MomAnne about 5 months pregnant
This picture of Daughter-in-law Anne was taken December 18. I'm sure she's looking even cuter now.

This morning we received notice from Son John that they've decided to name my granddaughter Sydney after a trip to Australia they took last February at which time they decided it was time to have a child.

All the details are here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Summer and Winter
Jan's Old Shale Two Yarn sock
This sock was knit by Jan. She lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, where it's summertime.

Nice socks Jan. And I'm so jealous of that greenery and sunshine.

Heron on the frozen pondFor contrast, this is what I see out of my SW Michigan window.

Today and tomorrow it is drizzling and thawing. 37 F/3 C. The forecast for Friday is snow and very cold, 2 F/-17 C. Definitely not summertime.

The sun is not shining and only the evergreens are green.

The heron is standing on our partially frozen pond getting ready to ice fish through the hole. Since the pond is spring fed, it thaws from the bottom up. There are always places in the ice where the ice is very thin.

Behind the pond is a fast flowing creek. It never freezes. Usually the heron is fishing there and not so out in the open as he is here on the pond.

Let's Try This
After thinking over the double blogging problem described in the previous post, I've decided to post all non knitting content from Stitches of Violet on Seasons of Violet.

The few faithful readers who don't care about knitting can continue reading without wading through the knitting detail. Occasionally when the knitting is related to the non knitting part of the post, there will be knitting content or pictures on Seasons of Violet, but I'll liberally edit out the knitting technical details.

If you are currently reading both blogs, you may want to switch to just reading Stitches of Violet. On the rare occasion when Seasons of Violet has a unique post, I will mention it on Stitches of Violet.

The invitation is still open for the family to publish here. I'm hoping that happens, but not counting on it.

I hope this makes everyone as happy as possible.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Flinging Down the Gauntlet
As you all know, I have a knitting blog, Stitches of Violet.

After two months, Stitches of Violet has ten times more readers than this blog and I can't knit fast enough to keep them entertained.

The solution to that problem is to throw in some nature content and some dog content and a little bit of family content.

But, oops! That's what I do here.

My life is not complex enough to support two blogs.

The obvious solution is to consolidate to one blog, the one with the most readers.

When I mentioned this to my family (they're not knitters), they booed loudly. I responded by challenging them to guest blog on Seasons of Violet. They would need to write a 200 to 400 word post once a week and maybe have a picture to go with it. They are thinking about it.

If family starts writing blog posts, it could get very interesting. We all have extremely different aptitudes, interests, and perspectives on life. It would be fun - I think.

While I'm waiting to see what happens next, the Doggy Diet post is going to be posted on Stitches of Violet. I spent an hour making dog food today when I could have been knitting, so my Stitches of Violet readers need to know about the doggy diet.

The same post is going to appear on two blogs. And that's the problem we need to solve.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Doggy Diet
Sunny at 19 pounds. The BEFORE diet picture.We got the "fat dog" lecture at Sunny's vet appointment yesterday.

Our vets don't just say, "Your dog needs to lose some weight." They have an entire sermon on the topic complete with dire warnings about what will happen to the beloved dog if the weight isn't taken off now. Then they quiz the dog owner on what the dog is eating and give multiple suggestions on how that might be changed.

I was shocked when the vet informed me the dogfood Sunny is eating is like feeding her Ben and Jerry's ice cream everyday. That explains why they don't put the nutritional information on the package.

Sunny weighed in at 19.5 pounds. She should weigh 14 pounds tops. 12 would be even better.

She's three years old now. I knew she was looking a little "mature", but I had no idea she was carrying over five extra pounds on her delicate little frame.

This is Sunny's "before" picture. The doggy diet has begun!

I did some quick research and came up with a recipe for making my own dogfood.

Tonight was the second night the dogs have eaten home cooked dinner, and they're loving it. This week's entree is a low fat recipe containing ground turkey, corn meal, cauliflower and raw egg. They can eat it until they're stuffed and still take in less calories than what they were eating. I've noticed a big change in their behavior already. They aren't always begging for something to eat because they're not hungry.

I plan to vary their diet. Anybody have any good dogfood recipes?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Salvation Army Tsunami Relief
Salvation Army tsunami relief stationMost of the country is focused on the urgent needs of the tsunami relief efforts, and rightly so. The many needs of the survivors are critical and urgent.

One of my favorite organizations is the Salvation Army. Based on decades of reading reports from disaster victims, I believe the Salvation Army is often among the first on the scene of a tragedy with practical, physical help for those in need.

The Salvation Army USA website posts detailed and frequent country-by-country status reports on what they are doing to help tsunami survivors.

This is on their homepage:

"The Salvation Army is providing 24 - hour aid to thousands of people affected by the horrific tsunami in South Asia that killed at least 150,000 people and devastated 11 countries. Three of the most affected countries are home to indigenous, grass-roots Salvation Army organizations year round. Those workers were some of the first to respond to this tragedy that affected so many of their fellow citizens. The international community of The Salvation Army was quick to respond as well and will continue to provide support in the community for the long-term."

There's a button to donate there, too. If you've been wanting to give - or give more - I urge you to click now and help the Salvation Army. They do a fantastic job and will use your money wisely.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Baths Are Exhausting
Seems like every day for a week now we've been getting threatening weather reports. It's either going to be freezing rain or a foot of snow.

Fortunately, the reports have been overly pessimistic and neither has happened yet. But they will. It's Michigan and winter has just begun.

Last night it was raining and 34 degrees F (2 C) at dinner time. I considered staying home from doggy school, thinking that by the drive home at 10 pm the roads would be a sheet of ice.

We went. At 10 pm it was still 34 degrees and the rain had stopped.

The dogs had a grooming appointment at 8 am this morning. I figured it was going to be an icy ride, but the roads were dry and it was still 34 degrees.

They got home from the groomer about noon. Exhausted.

Glory, a big black lab mix, sleeping on the sofaGlory headed for the back room where we have an old sofa the dogs are allowed to sleep on.

Pappy, a Papillon, sleeping on the back of the loveseatPappy is recovering from the groomer on the back of the loveseat in the living room.

Sunny, a mix of many different kinds of little dogs, sleeping on the bedSunny headed for the master bedroom and went to sleep on our bed.

She was still tired from last night's doggy school and didn't want to get up and go anywhere this morning, especially not to the groomer.

I told her that regular baths are the price a little dog has to pay for being allowed to sleep on the people bed.

Tonight we're getting a forecast for up to a foot of snow tomorrow. Since the weather man is on a losing streak, I've scheduled lunch out with an old friend. If the snow happens, we'll postpone it.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The New Year
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

1) What are your New Year's resolutions for 2005?

I resolve to spend quiet time and prayer time addressing my future.

Last year I had a major life change - see Question 2. This year I need to set some goals and strategies for my remaining years.

Then I have the more traditional type of resolutions. Here are some resolutions that I'm likely to keep:
  • Track our finances carefully to determine if we are going to need additional income.
  • Continue building a notebook of healthy recipes that we both enjoy.
  • Maintain friendships by keeping in contact with my favorite friends. (Introverts such as myself need to work at remembering to do this.)
  • Knit birthday socks for all family members who have requested hand knit socks.

Here are some resolutions that I'm not going to make because I'm old enough to know better:
  • Workout with weights so I'll be fit for yard work in the spring.
  • Clean out the basement.
  • Redecorate the house with emphasis on painting walls and installing new flooring.
  • Be in bed by eleven and up by seven.

2) Did you make resolutions last year and did you keep them?
At the end of 2003, I become unemployed for the first time in 25 years. Thanks to a generous severance check, I was able to stay home and live the fantasy of having an entire year without having to go to work.

My resolutions for the year were for the sole purpose of allowing myself to accept and enjoy a year without working.

Yes, I kept that promise to myself. 2004 was a wonderful year of transition. A gift from God with the help of Pfizer.

3) What did you do this year on New Year's Eve to celebrate, if anything?
Like the true introverts that we are, we stayed home and read, knit, and played with the dogs.

4) Is there any one thing that you hope happens by next New Year's Day?
Ignoring the obvious answers (peace in the world, cures for all disease, the end of crime, abuse and poverty) I hope for a trip to Idaho to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter due in April.

5) Describe your most memorable New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

I worked in Information Technology at Pharmacia. We had spent over a year changing date fields to four characters, coding, testing, and preparing for the millennium change. There was a lot to do.

That Y2K turned out to be a non-event was due to the fact that thousands of competent, conscientious IT professionals worked their butts off during the year prior to the event.

(Oops. I digressed. Having Y2K called a non-event is a pet peeve of mine. Back to answering the question now.)

January 31, 1999 we were excited, nervous, and ready for anything.

Part of the strategy was to shut down all the computers, even the mainframes, during the switchover and then bring computers and systems back up on January 1, 2000 in an orderly way with thorough testing at every step. My only assignment for the night was to stay sober in case I was needed to help in someone else's area.

The business system I was responsible for was scheduled to come up around noon on January 1. And it did. And it worked. I will never forget the welcome sight of 01/01/2000 dates in the data where they should be. It looked so strange to see that 2000. My workmate Russ and I sat in our office and laughed with glee as piece after piece of our system worked without a hitch.