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.