Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Knitting Related Christmas Gifts

Victorian Lace today bookTotal eye candy!

Someday I'm going to knit some of this lace. In the meantime, I will enjoy browsing this book over and over again until I can't stand it anymore and something jumps on my needles.

Thanks Mom.

Paton's worsted weight red merino from MomMy Christmas list contained a request for CIC yarn, and I got it.

Mom bought two skeins of red worsted weight Paton's merino, perfect for CIC socks or a toddler size gansey or something else.

There's a skein of gray Paton's merino in my CIC stash. I'm thinking maybe a two tone sweater. But it's way too early to commit this yarn to a project. I'm having too much fun thinking about it.

Worsted weight wool in four colors from IdahoMore CIC yarn from Idaho. Ella Rae classic wool from Romania.

I've never heard of this yarn before. It's worsted weight and appears to be perfect for CIC socks. And I have 100 grams of four different colors so I won't get bored.

Step sockyarn for me The Coeur d'Alene yarn shop where Son John bought Opal for past Christmas gifts went out of business. The new Coeur d'Alene yarn shop doesn't sell Opal, but I'm not disappointed at all with this Austermann Step.

The Post-it in John's handwriting says, "It's not Opal, but I was assured you would like it if you like Opal."

Right! Smart yarn shop lady! I love it and plan on using it for my birthday socks (for me) in January.

I blog about my knitting at Stitches of Violet.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Snowless Christmas and Sky

Pappy checking out the plate of cookiesWishing you all a great weekend, whatever it is that you celebrate.

In my family, we celebrate Christmas. This year we're celebrating in the afternoon of Christmas Eve so Granddaughter Kimmy can spend the rest of Christmas with her father and half sisters.

Everything is ready, except the snow. With all the snow we've had so far this year, it looks like Christmas is going to be snowless.

Saturday Sky for December 23, 2006Yes, this was taken in the daytime. It was a dark and dreary day, but that's not a complaint. It was nice to have iceless, snowless roads for the last minute Christmas errands.

Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, the weather forecast is for 50 degrees and sunshine. But by Monday, Christmas, the temps are going to drop back down to winter normal and there may be snow. I'll be home hibernating by then and ready to enjoy some of the white stuff.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pappy's Christmas Party

Pappy after the partyPappy boy partied hard.

He did a great job on all the games especially the relay where he helped his team win by quickly riding a skateboard from one end of the building to the other and back again.

How exhausting.

The dogs had fun and good food - I baked, brought, and served a second doggy cake.

The humans stuffed themselves on potluck buffet while talking about, what else, dogs.

Pappy party dogs on a sit stay

Over twenty dogs partied with Pappy last night. Here are some of them.

That's Pappy in the front row snuggled up to teacher Gail's Australian Cattle dog, Favor.

The man is Gary, dad to Gracie (front row by his foot) and Jane (middle row by his foot). Jane is a pit bull puppy who just finished her puppy class, so Gary is helping her stay for the picture.

Normally I would have cropped Gary out of the dog picture, but his mother reads my blog so I left him in.

Pappy party dogs on a down stay

More party dogs on a down stay. (Only Jane and Favor are repeat from the picture above.)

We were playing a game to see which dog would hold their stay the longest while Gail did all kinds of loud, noisy, and obnoxious things to try to get them to move. Pappy lasted until Gail got too close to him.

Teacher intimidates him. He knows that sometimes she makes other dogs yelp. Even worse, she used to try making him fetch a dumbbell.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sunny's Christmas Party

Group photo of dogs at Sunny's Christmas partyLast night Sunny and I went to the Christmas party for her agility class that she left last March.

We had fun trying to get the dogs to all stay still at the same time for a picture.

Yes, these are advanced obedience dogs. Very smart dogs. They are so smart they knew it was party time and not time to do a boring sit and stay.

That's Sunny center front, glaring at me. Two seconds later she was up and gone.

Dog food cake at Sunny's Christmas partyWe ate, played doggy games, the dogs ate dog food cake (recipe at end of post) and exchanged gifts.

Sunny is not a sociable dog and noisy events freak her out, but she enjoyed the party in her own Sunny way. I think I had way more fun than she did.

Pappy is a sociable dog and he loves noisy events. It will be a completely different experience when I do it all again with Pappy on Thursday. I will have fun, but he will have way more fun than I do.

Dog Food Cake

2 c. flour
2 (6 oz.) cans Hi Protein dog food
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
4 eggs
4 tsp. baking powder
Milk - enough for batter consistency (I used a half cup)

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes in 9 x 13 inch pan. Recipe can be "halved" for smaller cake.

Frost with whipped cream cheese.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Blue sky with white clouds on December 16, 2006The snow has all melted and temps have been in the 40s for several days now. There is blue in the sky and some of the clouds are white and fluffy.

Still, without the clean snow on the ground to brighten things up, the feel of the outdoors this time of year is cold and dark.

As we approach the shortest day of the year on December 22, many of us need some extra coffee to get through a normal day.

Today, December 16, sunrise is 7:55 am and sunset is 5:01 pm.

Coyote picture from the Michigan DNR siteCoyotes in the neighborhood are new since we moved here fifteen years ago. Now sightings are frequent and night time howlings are common.

Never before have the howlings sounded like they were right outside the window - until last night. Our three dogs woke me up with their barking and hysterical running around the house at a time when I knew they would rather be sleeping. The noise outside was bone chilling.

Soon everything was quiet again. But the memory lingered on this morning. I checked out the Michigan DNR (Department of Natural Resources) site for some information and found these helpful coyote facts and tips:

  • Coyotes have dispersed into southern Michigan without assistance from the DNR.

    OK, we won't blame the DNR for importing coyotes.

  • Coyotes are opportunistic and will eat almost anything available. . . .They will also prey on unattended small dogs and cats, if opportunities exist.

    This is too horrible to think about.

  • Minimize potential conflicts with coyotes: Never approach or touch a coyote

    Really? Well, OK. Thanks for the advice. Well worth my taxpayer dollars to fund your agency.

  • Never intentionally feed a coyote.

    I'm much more concerned with the unintentional feeding of a coyote.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Blogiversary Questions - Photos

Three related questions that I'll answer as one, and then a final question from Greg.

Kathy asked . . .

I would like to know what kind of camera you use? The pictures in your blog are always great. Have you had special training in photography?
Suzanne asked . . .
What kind of camera do you use for those lovely photographs? Do you ever print them or do you just store them in your computer and share them on your blog?

Sherie who blogs at Whimsyknits asked . . .
I'd like to know if you've taken any photography classes. Your sky pictures and the pictures of your knitting projects and the areas around your home are fantastic!

Canon A70 digital cameraMy little Canon A70 is over three years old now and I still love it.

I use it as a point and click - all automatic settings because I've never bothered learning how to do otherwise. The camera does a great job of producing good pictures without me having to know anything special.

You've probably guessed by now that I have not had any classes or special training in photography.

When I'm outside taking pictures, I take lots of them. Then I bring them in, load them onto my laptop, and delete, delete, delete. Usually there are a few in the batch that are worthy of keeping.

For knitting pictures, I use a table in an East window. The indirect afternoon daylight usually gives good definition and true color.

For blog posting, I usually crop a shot to get better composition and/or to focus in on just what I want to show. I use the basic photo editor that came with the camera.

I never print the knitting pictures. I rarely print the outdoor pictures. I do print family pictures so they can go into an album.

Greg asked . . .
I love the pictures of your landscape. What is your favorite season to photograph?

Sunny running through the snowI've never considered this question before tonight, and the answer surprised me.

My favorite season to photograph is my least favorite season to endure - winter. I guess it's because we do winter so well in SW Michigan.

My favorite season is spring. But by the time we have daffodils here, most everyone else is planting their annuals and I've seen daffodils on dozens of warmer climate blogs.

Autumn is a beautiful season, but I'm always disappointed by my fall pictures. The colors that are awesome in real life look blah in my pictures.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sky and What American Accent Do You Have?

Bright, sunny, cold Saturday sky on December 9, 2006Just a little whining. . .

It's cold, sunny, and crisp. By crisp, I mean that the forecast given yesterday (temps above freezing) has been revised. The temps may get above freezing tomorrow (Sunday), too late to avoid shoveling if I want to go to church tomorrow morning.

And I do.

So I did.

What American Accent Do You Have?
I loved this quiz. It had me pronouncing words out loud to answer the questions, and the results are right on!

When I go grocery shopping, I take the "pop" bottles back. I'm an "Inland North" gal all the way.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Another Foot of Snow

Snow scene with a foot of snow on December 7, 2006This morning we were greeted with a foot of new snow with more falling.

Tuesday's snow was light and fluffy, easy to shovel, quick to melt on Wednesday. And, it's a good thing that it did melt on Wednesday, because in the early morning hours of Thursday (today), we got another foot of snow.

The Thursday snow is denser, heavier, and much harder to shovel. I cancelled a non-critical medical appointment and decided to stay home.

Pappy in the deep snowIt's Pappy's doggy school night, but we may skip it. I'm willing to shovel out for him and/or Bob is willing to drive us in the Jeep, but Pappy is exhausted from jumping through snow that is almost over his head.

The only reason the snow doesn't look over his head is the several inches that are compressed under his cold little feet.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Surprise Snow

Goldenrod stalks with a foot of snowThe Lake Effect Snow started yesterday about noon. Not a blizzard, just a concentrated dumping of pretty, fluffy flakes. At times they fell so fast the visibility was zero.

By the time we went to bed last night, there was a foot of snow. I canceled my lunch date for today and happily snuggled down in our flannel sheets.

Doggy path wiht a foot of snow this morningHere's the view this morning as we headed out into the back three acres for our first dog walk of the day.

Glory and Pappy went out with me and romped in the snow.

Sunny decided to skip it and stayed up by the house with Bob.

Glory warming up on the radiatorAfter the walk, Glory was happy to nap by the baseboard radiator.

You don't want me to go out again, do you? Just take that picture and go away. I need to rest for a while.

Pappy on his back with his tongue hanging out That was a bit more exercise than I'm used to in the morning. It's not easy plowing snow with my chest.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday Sky and Some Snow

Sunny, snowy Saturday Sky for December 2, 2006The winter storm passed us by without doing much damage. Today, Saturday, the sky is clear and blue.

Friday morning was looking serious. It was raining and icy. Schools closed, commuters were sliding off the roads, trees were collecting ice on their branches, and the forecast was grim. Even Western Michigan University closed, a rare event indeed.

As sometimes happens, the storm fizzled. By late afternoon we had about an inch of snow and it appeared to be done snowing. The road people announced all the roads were clear. The local radio station was indignantly asking what criteria Western used to decide to cancel classes and urging people to go to the years largest downtown Kalamazoo shopping promotion partially sponsored, of course, by that same radio station.

One of the many joys of being retired is the freedom to avoid white knuckle driving. After decades of commuting on slippery roads, I've officially switched over to being an old lady wimp driver. I stayed home.

Pappy thinking about fallen goldenrod in his pathThe weight of the ice brought goldenrod stalks down over the dog walking path.

Pappy is looking it over. A second after this picture was taken, he decided it would be the most fun just to jump over the whole thing, so he did.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Blogiversary Questions - Dogs

There are still dozens of blogiversary questions left to answer. I have them divided up by topic and plan to answer all of them eventually.

Topics left on the list include:

  • Dogs
  • CIC
  • General knitting questions (2 or 3 posts worth)
  • Design related knitting questions
  • Granddaughters
  • Photography
  • Birds
  • Blogging
  • And the ever useful category, Miscellaneous

Today, the topic is Dogs.

Rebekah who blogs at Knit Knack asked . . .
I'd like to know how you and your pups came together, how old are they.
Glory is 10, Pappy is around 8 or maybe older, Sunny is 5.

All three are rescue dogs. There is a post here telling their rescue stories.

Connie who blogs at Between Loads asked . . .
How big of a parcel of land do you have - I am thinking of the number of dogs you have. We have about 1 acre with 1 dog. Yard cleanup after the dogs must be fun.
Glory walking on one of the dog paths on the back three acresThere is a day, usually in March, when the snow melts and dog owners face more poop in their yard than they ever imagined could accumulate over one winter.

I've heard that the best technique is to put on rubber gloves and pick it up while it's still frozen. Fortunately, we don't need to participate in the fun of Annual Poop Pickup Day.

Why? Because we dress up warm and take the dogs out for walks in the back three acre field all winter - morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and sometimes in between.

Bob has mowed walking paths through the weeds natural growth and the dogs love walking out there in a field full of rabbits, rodents, and other wildlife.

Pappy and Sunny like to wander off the path to leave their little piles. Glory, the big dog, does even better. She goes way off into the woods to get some privacy.

Susan Z. asked . . .
Did your involvement with Papillons begin with an interest in the breed or did you get interested in the breed after getting to know them?
It was a total accident.

Papillons are not common or well known in SW Michigan. We didn't know anything about the breed until we saw little Sunny on Petfinder listed as a Terrier/Papillon. I had to Google Papillon to see what the breed was about.

Papillons are wonderful little dogs. Very intelligent, eager to please, easy to train, loving, and full of personality. Perfect for older people. I'm hooked on the breed.

Kristin who blogs at Yarn and Order asked . . .
I know you're not supposed to play favorites, but is there one dog you feel a particular connection to and why?
Glory is Bob's dog. I'm very fond of her and involved in her care, but she loves Bob the best.

Between the two little dogs, I could never pick a favorite. And they don't either. They are bonded to Bob and me equally and don't like it when either member of their family is missing.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sky and Meme Explanations

Clear, blue Saturday Sky for November 25, 2006It's a clear, crisp, late autumn day in SW Michigan.

I admit it. I can't stand it. I'm a logical person who is bothered by the one word answers from yesterday's meme.

So now, in order to quiet my feelings of inadequate communication, I am going to elaborate on most of my answers.

1. Yourself: Stuffed (With leftover Thanksgiving food. Yum.)
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): Stuffed (Same)
3. Your hair: Natural (Chestnut brown with about 70% white.)
4. Your mother: Courageous (The stories are hers so I won't try to explain.)
5. Your Father: Handsome (He died a young man when I was 20.)
6. Your Favorite Item: Laptop (I love my new HP 17" Pavilion so much that I don't regret spending the money on it.)
7. Your dream last night: Vivid (I'm wondering if I should take my vitamin B in the morning instead of the evening.)
8. Your Favorite drink: Aquafina (Also coffee and blackberry brandy.)
9. Your Dream Car: Clean (As long as I live on this dirt road, it's only going to be a dream.)
10. The room you are in: Living (Which is more like a computer room. Bob has his desk and desktop computer here and I have my laptop wired up on the loveseat.)
11. Your Ex: Tragic (The sadness of his death in June still sits heavy on my heart.)
12. Your fear: Osteoporosis (I inherited this through my paternal genes and am taking caustic meds to attempt to slow it down. Please don't give me medical advice - I have plenty.)
13. What you want to be in 10 years? Healthy
14. Who you hung out with last night? Bob
15. What You're Not: Extrovert (Being an introvert is not the same as being shy. Someday I'll write a blog post about this.)
16. Muffins: Poppyseed (Maybe because I think of them as wicked. The company where I formerly worked would not sell them on days when there was going to be drug testing. They are yummy, but watch out for those lingering seeds in the teeth.)
17. One of Your Wish List Items: Yarn (For a few big kid CIC sweaters.)
18. Time: Flies (A 40 year old friend told me that every time she turns around it's either the 4th of July or Christmas. At my age it's always Christmas.)
19. The Last Thing You Did: Ate (And contemplated my Thanksgiving dietary sins. They were many.)
20. What You Are Wearing: Jeans (Plus a sweatshirt and handknit socks - perfect winter wear for SW Michigan.)
21. Your Favorite Weather: Mild (About 70 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze.)
22. Your Favorite Book: Bible
23. The Last Thing You Ate: Greendream
24. Your Life: Settled
25. Your Mood: Thankful (A special thanks for our wonderful interim pastor Tibs who has yet to preach a sermon that didn't change my heart for the better.)
26. Your best friend: Knits (This does not mean knits (noun) are my best friend. My best friend knits (verb), along with many other things.)
27. What are you thinking about right now? Knitting (Well, this is a knitting blog. I haven't forgotten. Soon I'll post about yarn and knitting mittens.)
28. Your car: Dirty (See #9)
29. What are you doing at the moment? Sitting (On the loveseat with a little dog cuddled up on each side of me and my laptop on my lap.)
30. Your summer: Enjoyed (Except for Mom's broken arm. It's almost all better now and her hand is strong enough to drive now.)
31. Your relationship status: Team (Married 31 years.)
32. What is on your TV? Dust (We don't watch TV.)
33. What is the weather like? Sunny (Same as today. See picture at beginning of post.)
34. When is the last time you laughed? Today (The three dogs and Bob are all good for several laughs a day. I'm blessed.)
35. Who do you tag? Whoever.

There. I feel better now.

I think I'll skip one word memes from now on.

Friday, November 24, 2006

One Word Meme

I've been seeing this on many blogs and I finally swiped it from Lisa at A Little Bit of Knit.

Since answers can only be one word, it's an exercise in imagination for the reader. I've found it a bit frustrating when reading answers on other blogs. I WANT TO KNOW MORE!

But it's fun and a great post-Thankgiving post for those of us who are too full to think, so here goes. . .


1. Yourself: Stuffed
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): Stuffed
3. Your hair: Natural
4. Your mother: Courageous
5. Your Father: Handsome
6. Your Favorite Item: Laptop
7. Your dream last night: Vivid
8. Your Favorite drink: Aquafina
9. Your Dream Car: Clean
10. The room you are in: Living
11. Your Ex: Tragic
12. Your fear: Osteoporosis
13. What you want to be in 10 years? Healthy
14. Who you hung out with last night? Bob
15. What You're Not: Extrovert
16. Muffins: Poppyseed
17. One of Your Wish List Items: Yarn
18. Time: Flies
19. The Last Thing You Did: Ate
20. What You Are Wearing: Jeans
21. Your Favorite Weather: Mild
22. Your Favorite Book: Bible
23. The Last Thing You Ate: Greendream
24. Your Life: Settled
25. Your Mood: Thankful
26. Your best friend: Knits
27. What are you thinking about right now? Knitting
28. Your car: Dirty
29. What are you doing at the moment? Sitting
30. Your summer: Enjoyed
31. Your relationship status: Team
32. What is on your TV? Dust
33. What is the weather like? Sunny
34. When is the last time you laughed? Today
35. Who do you tag? Whoever.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What Part of Thanksgiving Am I?

You Are The Stuffing

You're complicated and complex, yet all your pieces fit together.

People miss you if you're gone - but they're not sure why.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Sky

Dark cloudy sky on Sunday November 18, 2006 Yes, I'm a day late, but the Saturday sky looked about the same.

This sky was spitting snow today. Not enough snow to stick, just enough to let us know that winter is moving in.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sydney and Saturday Sky from Idaho

Sydney with a KleenexHi Grandma! Let me give you a cold big kiss!

Sydney managed to get through her cold with a happy face and plenty of energy to spare. Mom and Grandma, on the other hand, were a bit more miserable.

My going away present from Son John yesterday morning was a fresh box of Kleenex for the trip.

Sydney at her table coloringOne of Sydney's favorite pastimes is sitting at her little table with paper and Crayons.

I never thought of giving my kids Crayons at such an early age. But, as John was nice enough to point out, they didn't have the wonderful big fat washable Crayons back then. (Or was it Anne who pointed it out? The cold muddled my mind more than usual.)

Her parents have done a great job of teaching Sydney to keep the coloring on the table. We enjoyed many hours of colorful doodling together.

Saturday Sky for November 11, 2006 in Northen Idaho
Saturday evening the sky was spectacular and John reminded me to go out and get an Idaho Saturday Sky picture.

All in all, it was a nice visit. It was worth getting a cold to spend some precious, rare time with Granddaughter Sydney at nineteen months. By the time I see her again in the spring, she'll be two.

I'm so thankful for digital cameras and John's blog to fill in the gaps.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blogiversary Questions About Living in Michigan

Sarah asked . . .

Are you a native of SW Michigan or were you coerced into living there and can't stand to leave?
Jen asked . . .
I was wondering how long you have been in Michigan? Do you like it here? Would you every want to leave?
My parents moved to SW Michigan almost fifty-five years ago when I was seven. I like it very much. It feels like home and most days I have no desire to leave.

Becky asked . . .
Hi. I was wondering how you like the winters in Michigan? I have always lived where there isn't much winter (Texas). I would love to experience winter just once.
Out the front window - pine tree laden with snow.I really do like winter. The snow is beautiful, the air is crisp, indoors is cozy, and it's great knitting weather.

The problem with Michigan winters and the reason I have some days when I could be talked into leaving (just joking - I think), is that they go on forever!

October is the month of our first frost. This year we had two snowfalls in October. By February, Michiganders who aren't headed for a vacation in a sunny climate are noticeable grumpy. And, those who are headed out are also frequently grumpy as their flights get cancelled or delayed because of the ice and snow.

Our average last frost date is May 15. We can't safely plant annuals until Memorial Day at the end of May.

I have stats on the average length of Michigan winters here.

Rebekah who blogs at Knit Knack asked . . .
And I'd also like to know what you like the best about Michigan. Are you a native? Have you lived any where else and if you could live somewhere else where would that be.
Best of all, it feels like home. I grew up here, went to high school here, went to college here (Western Michigan University), got married here (twice), raised my kids here, had my career here, and retired here. My family is here, all except that naughty boy who moved to Idaho.

Before moving to Michigan when I was seven, I lived in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

If I couldn't live in Michigan, the obvious would be to live in Idaho near my son and his family.

If I couldn't live in Michigan and all my loved ones were going to move with me, I would like to settle in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Tennessee or Kentucky.

Michelle who blogs at Lighthouse Designs by Soap Fiber Gal asked . . .
Are you far from Northern Ohio along Lake Erie... besides across the lake?
I'm on the other side (west side) of southern Michigan, above Indiana, only about thirty miles from Lake Michigan.

Trish who blogs at My Merino Mantra asked . . .
I would love to know if you have been to the Meijer Butterfly House!
I have not been to the Meijer Gardens butterfly house.

I have been in the butterfly house at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek and the butterfly house at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

I'm guessing the Meijer Gardens butterfly house is bigger and better?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Where Do I Live? Our Property

Note: This was previously posted on Seasons of Violet in February, 2004. Minor updates have been made.

Picture of pondWe live in rural SW Michigan, USA, on a dirt road in a wooded swamp. The properties on our road are typically five to ten acres. Most of them have at least one spring fed pond. We have two.

The second pond is very small and hidden in the far back corner of the property, so I usually just refer to "the pond", singular, this much larger pond on the east side of the house.

Picture of Winter Sunset Down Violet's Country RoadOnce the road gets the first substantial snow packed down on it, it stays white the rest of the winter. It's either slippery when it's cold or slushy when it's warm, but it doesn't thaw back down to the dirt until spring is really here. The grayish tracks you see in the picture are ice.

Our five acres is split by a fast running, cold, shallow, sandy creek. The house sits on two acres on the road side of the creek. The driveway starts right before the lower right corner of this picture. I was standing in front of the driveway when I took the picture.

Dog walk path showing goldenrod gone to seedThe Back Three acres is "natural" except for some paths mowed through the vegetation so we can walk around out there.

The dogs and I have a Back Three loop where we go for a walk several times a day.

We have deer, fox, muskrats, raccoons, opossums, little red squirrels, big red squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks. One morning the dogs and I walked out onto the Back Three and surprised a coyote. The coyotes are new since we moved here fifteen years ago. They are multiplying rapidly in our county.

It would be impossible to list all the birds. Notable are the Blue Heron that hunt in the ponds and creek and the wild turkeys that run around in flocks of a dozen or more. In the early spring the male ducks come to the pond and entertain us with duck fights as a prelude to the nesting season.

There are a few beautiful new houses on our road costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars. (That's a luxury house in rural Michigan.) There are also trailers, and everything in between. We are one of the in between houses - a very modest, small red brick ranch house that is cozy as can be in the Michigan winter.

Last June I wrote a blog post about our property with more pictures here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Where Do I Live? Our Area

I live on a very rural dirt road near several communities.

Map showing Paw Paw locationKalamazoo is a good sized city about 15 miles to the east.

About ten miles to the east there is a major shopping and fast food corridor in Oshtemo Township.

Our mailing address is Paw Paw, Michigan, a quaint little village in SW Michigan halfway between Chicago and Detroit. It is named after a tree that grows along the area river banks.

There is nothing fancy about Paw Paw. The 3,700 citizens of Paw Paw tend to be very casual, down to earth, and (mostly) pleasant.

Picture of downtown Paw PawTourists and summer home owners flock to Paw Paw in the summer to have a completely different experience than their life in the city.

On summer weekends, half the license plates in the food market parking lot are from out-of-state. These people drive hours on Friday to come to Paw Paw to enjoy the small town life. They seem to love that fact that Paw Paw is a very uncool, relaxed little village.

Thanks to the local weather, friends and strangers alike have an instant conversation starter that everyone is knowledgeable enough to discuss.

This quote from the Paw Paw website attempts to turn our volatile local weather into a tourist attraction:

"Paw Paw is located in Southwest Michigan, so it possesses the infamous 'Michigan weather'. It sees exaggerated examples of each of the four seasons, with winter being the most extreme. It is not uncommon to have snow one day and sunny, 50 degree weather the next. The weather is definitely interesting and keeps residents and visitors alike guessing on what tomorrow will bring!"
Yes, that's what it's like here. There's a local saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes."

Picture of Maple LakePaw Paw is the heart of Michigan's wine country. The main industry is grapes. Paw Paw has two winneries, St. Julian Winery and Warner Wine Haus.

The second weekend in September is the Annual Wine and Harvest Festival. It's a heavily attended event with a grape stomp competition, winery tours, wine tasting, carnival, quality craft show, games, hole in one tournament, parade, community breakfast, music, tournaments, and, of course, local merchant specials.

My favorite part of the festival is the fireworks on Friday night. They are shot off over Maple Lake, a large shallow lake in the middle of Paw Paw. All around the lake are grassy banks where the spectators bring blankets to sit outside on a beautiful late summer evening.

Those last few days of summer are always extra special because we know that a long, cold winter is coming soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Off To Idaho

Coure d'Alene area of Idaho from the airTomorrow morning I'm up and out the door way way before sunrise to catch a 7:15 am flight at the Kalamazoo airport and head west to Granddaughter Sydney.

There will be luxury high speed computer access there (I have dialup at home). I have several pre-written posts to publish while I'm gone answering blogiversary questions about where I live and other personal topics.

Now seems a good time to answer a few Idaho related blogiversary questions.

Stacy asked . . .
Do you like Idaho? I live in Washington State and I was wondering how Idaho differs from Michigan.
My observations:
  • Idaho has mountains. SW Michigan has hills cut from the glaciers, but some of it is flat.

  • Idaho is mostly evergreen forests. SW Michigan has hardwood forests of hickory/oak or beech/maple.

  • Temperatures and seasons are the same.

  • We get more snow in SW Michigan because of the Lake Effect . (Snow showers that are created when cold dry air passes over a large warmer lake, such as one of the Great Lakes, and picks up moisture and heat.)

  • Both Idaho and SW Michigan are very nice places to live. (Yes, I do like Idaho.)

  • Both Idaho and SW Michigan produce smart, adorable granddaughters. I have a brown eyed granddaughter in SW Michigan and a blue eyed granddaughter in Idaho.

Theresa who blogs at Adventures With UFOs and Other Knitting News asked . . .
I like seeing your photographs of SW Michigan. My question is, what is the area like, both geographically and demographically in modern times? It looks like you are in the country, but it is hard to imagine it being as much wooded country as it used to be.
SW Michigan is certainly less rural than it used to be.

There is development all around us. Even our little dirt road has some new housing, but the lots are still measured in acres.

During the week I'm gone, I will be posting more information on the area where I live which will help answer your question in more detail. You should be able to get a flavor for the region and my neighborhood.

Back with new pictures and knitting posts the middle of next week.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Blogiversary Questions - Personal

Andrea who blogs at I'm the KJS Mom asked . . .

What is your favorite kind of coffee??
At my house, husband Bob makes the coffee. I love it because I don't have to do it. And, it's good.

He uses his own secret mix of Seattle's Best Breakfast Blend
This full-bodied Breakfast Blend is teeming with exotic flavors and subtle nuances. Made from an exotic blend of Indonesian beans, it features a hint of dark chocolate and an incredibly smooth finish.
and Seattle's Best Henry's Blend
Henry's Blend is named after the big friendly cat that once lived at the original Seattle's Best Coffee roasting plant. It has a great full body, a slightly heavier texture and a deep dark brown color. Henry's is easy to recognize by its full, sweet aroma.

Sharon asked . . .
Are you a lifetime WW member? Do you still attend meetings regularly? Why don’t you grow lavender on your property?
In 2003 I attended Weight Watchers at Work and lost forty pounds. The last five pounds was lost after I was severed from my job and without attending Weight Watcher meetings. By then I was well established in my new eating habits and didn't feel I needed to attend. And, I was right.

I have maintained the weight loss for three years now by weighing myself in and going back to basics when my weight starts to creep up.

The few times I tried growing lavender it hasn't been happy here. Maybe lavender doesn't like our sandy soil, or maybe we have too much shade, or possibly it requires more care than I want to give it.

Susan who blogs at Crochet Lily asked . . .
Are you retired? If so, what did you do "in your previous life?" How long have you been knitting and how long have you been a Papillon "mom?"
Wow, a four part question!

I worked as an Information Technology analyst for twenty-four years. In April 2003 Pharmacia, my former employer, was acquired by Pfizer. In January, 2004 I was severed along with hundreds of other ex-Pharmacia employees in SW Michigan. This honor came with a generous severance check, so I took the opportunity to retire.

There is more information about my career in 100 Things About Me.

When I was young, teenaged and early twenties, I did some unremarkable knitting. I knit on and off, mostly off and mostly awful, unusable stuff, until about six years ago when I discovered the wonderful knitting information on the internet and learned enough to make usable items. Knitting fills a hole in my life, the need to be logical and a little mathematical, that used to be satisfied by my career.

I've been a Papillon Mom for five years and one month.

More on the dogs in the future. Eventually I'll do an entire post answering dog related questions.

Dee asked . . .
If I remember right, you said you retired recently. Are you still enjoying your retirement?
It has been almost three years and I'm enjoying it very much.

I especially enjoy the leisurely mornings, and doubly so this time of year when I would be driving to work on slippery roads in the dark.

Most of my friends and family thought I would be bored in six months max. Boredom hasn't happened yet and I don't think it's going to happen.

Bunchkin who blogs at Bunchkin Knits asked . . .
I've always wondered, and maybe YOU know the answer... which came first, the chicken or the egg?
You just stated the proof for intelligent design in language we can all understand.

Hope all the evolutionists didn't just leave in a huff 'cause I'd love to have you answer the question for us. While you're at it, don't leave out the necessary rooster.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday Sky for November 4
Overcast Saturday Sky for November 4, 2006Another overcast, cold Saturday.

We did have some nice days during the week. And, we also had another snowfall, this one more winterlike than the previous two complete with whiteouts. (Whiteouts are when it's snowing so hard you can't see the road to drive.)

Notice that the leaves are still on the oak trees. We have many many oak trees on our wooded property, so many that I've never counted them. Their leaves turn brown in the autumn and hang on until almost spring. They will be waiting in soggy piles on the ground for me in the spring.

The oak leaves take three years to decompose in a compost pile unless they are chopped up. The oaks also drop acorns hard enough to dent whatever is under the tree, including my head.

If I ever buy another wooded property, it will be Beech/Maple. The maple trees turn beautiful colors in the fall, (usually) drop their leaves before the first snowfall, and maple leaves make wonderful compost over one wintering.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Heads Up on Family Pictures
For those readers who like to see family pictures, Son John has posted a summary of their recent trip to Michigan here.

There are ten pictures, all with Sydney. Only the supporting cast changes as they go from visit to visit.

If you click on the Picturetrail link on his sidebar, you can see even more pictures of Sydney in Michigan.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sydney the Halloween Giraffe

Sydney in her giraffe costumeIf you're in Northern Idaho tonight, watch out for this scary Trick or Treater!

A few questions from the Blogiversary Contest Two need to be answered immediately. So here goes.

Sheila asked . . .

I would like to know how your mom is doing. Is she still going to rehab for her arm? I hope she continues to make an excellent and full recovery.
Nancy asked . . .
My number one question is "How is your Mom doing?" I hope her recovery is progressing well.
Mom trying her shoe laces(Read about Mom's accident here.)

Mom is doing great. She has some strength in her hand now and is excited that she can tie her shoe laces. She also can write with a pen as long as it doesn't require much pressure. It looks like she wrote during a bumpy car ride, but it's readable.

Before the week is over she hopes to be driving. She would have tried it yesterday, but her car decided it wouldn't start so it's in the repair shop today.

She is on an every other week schedule with the hand therapist now, and she does her exercises several times a day, every day. With therapy and hard work, she will eventually have a full recovery.

Dobarah who blogs at Artsy Math Teacher asked . . .
Will you drive or fly to visit Idaho?
I fly Kalamazoo to Minneapolis and then Minneapolis to Spokane. At the Spokane airport I rent a car and drive to Post Falls, Idaho, which is only about 20 miles from Spokane when I don't get lost.

Jenny Raye who blogs at Loves to Bike and Knit asked . . .
How many hours until the plane leaves for your next trip to Idaho? Cuz....I know you know.
Sydney sitting on my lap emptying a box of crayonsIf Northwest Airline is on time, the plane takes off next Wednesday morning, November 8, at 7:15 am.

This is a recent picture - two weeks ago - taken at Mom's apartment during Sydney's visit to Michigan.

Since I hadn't seen her since June, she wasn't sure she remembered me. We got reacquainted by emptying out a box of crayons, one crayon at a time.

Nannette asked . . .
Are you cheering for the Tigers???
Although I'm not an avid baseball fan, I did pay attention when the Tigers made the playoffs and I did cheer them on through their World Series loss.

Watch out baseball! There are many young players on the Tiger team who now have playoff experience. They will be back more mature and better in future years. Ready to win it all!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday Sky and Doggy Questions
Stormy Saturday Sky October 29, 2006 No, I did not take all the Saturday Sky pictures on the same stormy day at the beginning of the October and then publish them one per week!

It really is another stormy, rainy, cold, windy Saturday in SW Michigan.

Michiganders who live in town and have leaf pick-up dates to meet are starting to worry about meeting them. One conscientious, law biding lady at doggy school admitted to raking wet leaves and said it was very difficult.

Daylight Savings Time starts tonight which pretty much eliminates evening yard work. Being retired, I don't have that excuse. But I'm not raking them wet.

Pappy sleeping on the red pillowsI have two questions for my dog loving readers:

Yesterday at Pappy's annual vet appointment we learned that he is developing cataracts in both eyes. He is 7-8 years old, in excellent health, and has a life expectancy of 14 years. As his eyes get worse, we're going to look into doggy eye surgery. Any experience or advice to share on this?

On a more cheerful note, we're thinking of replacing the living room carpet with laminate but are concerned about the dogs sliding and slipping on it. Any dog experience with laminate?

Tomorrow after church I'll be picking the two WIP bag winners of the Blogiversary contest. If you haven't entered and it's not past noon on October 29, don't miss your chance to help Stitches of Violet celebrate two years of blogging.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another Snowy October Morning
Glory on a snowy morning dog walkThis is what we woke up to this morning. A second premature, measurable snowfall in SW Michigan. (Read about the first here.)

It was beautiful. I took the camera out on the second dog walk and enjoyed talking many pictures.

Snowy morning with leaves still on the treesIsn't this the perfect excuse not to rake leaves? It is!

But I don't need an excuse because most of the leaves are still on the trees.

Snowy bush on a cold October morningThe weather was the main topic of discussion at the grocery store this afternoon.

The doom-and-gloom people are saying this can only mean a long, cold, snowy winter.

The glass-half-full people are saying we are still due an Indian Summer.

My opinion? I'm ready for whatever happens but please, let's not have a snowstorm while I'm trying to fly out to Idaho and back the second week in November.

Friday, October 20, 2006

48 Things

It's been a busy week without much time for blogging, so today I give you:

48 Things You Could Care Less About. . .

1. FIRST NAME? Marguerite


3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Today. I went to visit my first husband's grave with our two children.


5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? Butterball turkey sausage. I slice it in two lengthwise and eat it in a hotdog bun with cheese and spicy mustard.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Yes! I've always wanted a friend who wasn't a better housekeeper than me.

7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Only my blog.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes. And my appendix, too.


10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Post Selects Maple Pecan Crunch

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Usually. And when I don't, I always untie them before I put them back on.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? No. Just stubborn.


14. SHOE SIZE? 6.

5. RED OR PINK? Red.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I've gone lazy since I retired.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in Idaho.


19. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Bluejeans with a coral sweater and very bright verigated socks (Opal Rose Hips, for those of you familiar with sock yarns).

20. LAST THING YOU ATE? Chicken chimicanga at a Mexican restaurant in Battle Creek.



23. FAVORITE SMELL? Cinnamon.



26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON you stole THIS from? Sure.

27. FAVORITE DRINK? Aquafina water.

28. FAVORITE SPORT? Track and field.

29. EYE COLOR? Blue

30. HAT SIZE? No idea, but my head isn't very large.

31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? I feel naked without my glasses.

32. FAVORITE FOOD? I have many favorite foods. This evening I'm thinking about Upjohn Pumpkin Torte.


35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer. So why am I living in Michigan?


37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Crème brulee.


39. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Evidently this meme started out as an email thing?

40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Drowned Hopes by Donald Westlake (listening on audio while I knit) and Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel

41. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE Pad? A very worn wood duck. I really need a new mouse pad.


43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? My granddaughters laughing.


45. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Burmuda. It is beautiful.

46. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? Danged if I know.


48. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Swiped it from Bonne Marie

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saturday Sky and Smiling Sydney
Saturday Sky for October 14, 2006The sky peeking through the rain clouds was blue. It never did rain - or snow.

The forecast for next week is for the temperatures to warm up to the 60s, just in time for John, Anne, and Sydney to visit from Idaho.

Sydney posed with hands over her head and legs crossedAnd here she is! Miss Sydney Anne! 18 months old and full of fun.

I'm looking forward to seeing her in person next week. Even more, I'm looking forward to a trip to Idaho in three weeks. I haven't been since June and feel like it's way overdue.