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.