Thursday, February 24, 2011

Somedays it Just Feels Like Oy Vey.

Yesterday was, I think, an Oy Vey kind of a day. It started at 1:00AM. Maybe I should even back up a little from there...

First the pictures for those socks are not working well at all. I need a photographer or more feet or both. Seriously. The pattern is totally done. This is most annoying.

Second, there's a lot of proofing here. Proofing in the morning, proofing in the evening, proofing at suppertime. I read some, I mark, I take a break. I go back and I read more. It is important not to push myself when I get annoyed or bored because then I will miss things. And we don't want that, now, do we?

Third, my mother had not been well over the weekend. We went to a birthday party for April on Saturday and it was obvious right away that something wasn't right. She was complaining of some chest pain that seemed to her to be much worse than usual. She didn't want to go to the hospital. Then my dad needed a pretty straight forward procedure on Tuesday, but sometimes the way things work around here drama comes in clusters, so I was a little on edge. Once I spoke with my mother again and confirmed that she felt much better, and Yoshi and I visited her to make sure, AND we had a call from Dad saying he felt fine Tuesday afternoon, I relaxed a little.

I even cast on a Tomten (scroll down, it's there) in this pink yarn I have in stash - not with any baby in mind, just part of my new Use Your Stash movement. I haven't made it very far yet. More will be revealed. Anyway...

Once I confirmed that everyone was well I breathed a big sigh of relief and got back to the grind of proofing this book so that everyone can have a copy, eventually.

A lot of proofing has taken place. There's been a lot of reading and scrawling in margins and marking with green highlighter, some emails back and forth with publisher and tech editor, but I feel like we're really winding down here and there really will be a book - and soon. It feels good.

I went to sleep Tuesday night with peace in my heart. Peace and love and contentment.

And then the phone rang at 1:00AM Wednesday morning (or Tuesday night, depending on your perspective). You know that foggy haze that you are in when you're awakened from a deep (Benadryl induced to compensate for the end-of-book insomnia...) sleep? When you are on auto pilot and answering with one syllable words and occasionally grunts? That was me. I could hear my son, Private Dan. I could hear what I thought was his wife in the background (it was). He sounded distressed. She sounded distressed. He was asking for advice at 1:00AM, which cannot be a good thing.

This is a good life lesson for anyone reading this, not just for Daniel. When you book any kind of transportation, especially if you are using a discount provider, be very, very, very certain to double, triple, QUADRUPLE check your dates before you check out. Check again, I mean really check. Get a hard copy of a current calender, check the date on your phone and computer, check the date you're booking for, and then check them all again. And even again.

Otherwise, you will find yourself on the phone to your mommy at 1:00AM asking for advice about how to get to Texas within just under 24 hours when you're in Massachusetts, and that cheap non-refundable plane ticket you bought last week turns out to be for MARCH 23, not FEBRUARY 23. Oh, and you need to be on base today. Which as it turns out IS February 23rd. This thing about calling your mommy? It is not a threat. It is a promise.

Once the details and the rather critical nature of this situation crept into my brain I sprang into something like action (there may have been stumbling). I grabbed my Amex and my pc and started surfing. Find a flight, I thought. Anything. Just get the soldier to the base before he's AWOL. Not the best way to begin your life as a soldier, now that Basic and AIT are done. "Oh, hey, I thought I'd just be, you know, late. That's ok, right, Army Dudes?" Not.

I found a flight, or really a series of four flights that began in Hartford and ended in El Paso, TX at 11:55PM on February 23rd. The fact that he's be in five major airports and on four airplanes in 18 hours, with lots of layovers really didn't matter. All that mattered was cheapest, fastest way there. Indirect is fine. Just GET there.

Drama. We HAZ it.

I spent most of yesterday not doing much of anything. I was exhausted. After bailing the kid out I spent about 4 hours ruminating on the whole situation, falling asleep just in time for the alarm to go off in the morning. Wait, did I say morning? That wasn't morning. 1:00 AM, now THAT is morning, my friends.

I did let Yoshi blog yesterday about responsible dog ownership, which is in my opinion the best piece he's written so far, and a vitally important one at that. The doggy in the window is so charming and cute. People rush in, buy, fall in love with and live with regret when they don't get what they expected. Shelters are stuffed to the gills with dogs who could tell you all kinds of stories. It's a topic that is near and dear to our hearts.

This brings us to today, which is Thursday. Tomorrow, Friday, is supposed to be egg day. Snow is predicted. I do not drive in snow. If it falls, I do not drive. The bad news is I will have a lot of eggs. The good - I can move on with proofing and get it done and in the mail on time, I just have to finish up and drive a half an hour to the nearest staffed FedEx location. God I love this valley.

Tomorrow I am going to cast on and begin knitting something with Artyarns Cashmere Glitter. Stay tuned... you're going to want to squash your face in this one!

Gratuitous Puppy Shot:

Because nothing can possibly be cuter than Yoshi in an orange raincoat!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


It started like this: yesterday I felt a deep need to procrastinate on three different projects. First, I did not want to proof read any more of Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting. It's not that this is a difficult thing, it's just that I have the head of a pig and once I decide today is not the day to do this or that, well, it's pretty much over. Actually, it is a difficult thing because I know if I miss something now, you'll all let me know later, but I digress.
I also was procrastinating on photographing the Blueberry Peak socks I shared with you the other day. Not because I do not love them; I do. In fact, the pattern is laid out and ready to go. All it needs is photos. But photos mean a drive to find either feet or photographer, and I am generally unwilling to make more than one foray from home in a week. I believe in clustering all errands into one day to save on gas and wear and tear on my car. And last I was procrastinating on a third and new project - an Artyarns design that I can envision in my head but I feel guilty playing with (all that sparkle and softness!!) when I should really be getting pictures taken of a pair of socks, or proof reading pages of a new book.

This left me at a bit of a loss. Desiring continued procrastination on all three projects but without anything to really excuse myself from getting the work done, I was becoming desperate. Then it came to me. What I really needed was a sweet little accessory made out of my sparkly yarn samples for, um, Valentine's Day. Yeah! Perfect! Knitting it would be out of the question because, after all, I was procrastinating on among other things a knitting project. Knitting would be like cheating. I trawled Ravelry and found a couple of things that I liked, but nothing that really was precisely what I was after. The one that looked the most likely was entirely in German. Das ist nicht gut.  My Deutsch is limited to about four phrases and a few words, none of them knitting related.

I picked up the closest hook and the closest sparkly yarn (Artyarns Cashmere Glitter) and began to play, and this is what happened.
A flower on a chain. And then another and another and another, and before you knew it there was a whole string of them! Nothing "meaningful" had been accomplished, but I had a string of sparkly flowers. Then I remembered that the 17th (today!) Is Mary Alice's birthday. So I decided that this was Mary Alice's Birthday Girl Garland, and now the it had both meaning and value. I sent a picture to Kristen who said it was cute, and did I write down the pattern. Well, no. Not wanting to disappoint, I grabbed the next closest sparkly yarn (Artyarns Beaded Cashmere and Sequins) and began again, this time recording what I did as I hooked away.
And that's what happened - a second garland, just in time for another birthday girl. I'll not say who just yet, since it's not quite THE day.

This left me wondering about something. If Kristen would like the pattern, would anyone else? And if they would, well, why not write it up! This led me here:
Which involved the loss of a clog and then the second one while standing almost knee deep in the snow in a short-sleeved t-shirt that says "I'm a Keeper" in big letters, trying to take pictures of garlands looking "springy" in weather that has not quite turned that corner just yet. This was followed by slipping and sliding on ice covered paths and barely making it back inside in one piece with snow-filled clogs and garlands in my teeth and my camera protected from falls and mishaps on my back. Which led to this:
And really, after this, can there be more words?
The pattern is available in my Ravelry store for $1.00. Help keep my model in kibble and download your copy today!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's been a week. I should say something, right?

It's the boy. He commands so much of my time. I am getting back on a schedule of sorts, which is good because Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting (available for pre-order!) arrived late last week in need of proofing. One CD with PDF's of the whole shooting match in living color, and one big pile of pages in desperate need of my time and attention. But so is the boy.

And I do adore the boy. He's so full of life and energy and love. Puppies are like toddlers. They are full of amusing antics; they run, they play, they live to love one minute and live to eat the next. Then they are on to the next big thing, like discovering that the cat isn't a Shiba after all, or that the knot from one end of the rawhide makes the coolest sliding-on-the-floor toy ever. He makes me smile every day and always more than once. He's sunshine. I have said that he farts perfume, that the sun shines out of his butt, and he tinkles rainbows. All of this is true, and more.

But enough about the boy. Read his blog - he talks about himself endlessly!
I really wanted to get this pair of socks done and up before I blogged or started proof reading. It's taking about 2 days longer than anticipated, which is annoying. But I love them, and I couldn't wait to share a sneak peek with you! So excited, in fact, that I didn't even block them! Anyway -
The pattern is called Blueberry Peak. The yarn is Valley Yarns Charlemont, which I love without reservation. The pattern is perfect for spring, and we could use some of that around here! The lacy eyelets and the chevron rib combine to create a pattern that is visually pleasing yet easy to memorize - I know this because I lost my printed chart and could not get to the computer, and knit a fair amount of the foot without looking. I've written it for 2-at-a-Time, but experienced sock knitters can easily take the numbers and knit a single sock if they desire.

I am hoping to have "real" pictures with the good camera within a day or two. This involves a drive to Northampton to beg someone (usually Katy, who has the perfect office for such things) to take pictures of my feet in socks. Then I can sell the pattern. But for today all I can do is try to get decent shots of my foot with the crappy camera in the living room by hanging half upside down with blood rushing to my head, a Shiba rushing into my camera, and my morning coffee rushing... somewhere. I need a live-in photographer or a live-in model, one or the other. My current assistant and I are not always on the same page.
Now back to work - I promised myself that today would be the first day of proof reading, and I set myself a goal of a certain number of pages. I think it's manageable. Of course, that BOY may have other ideas!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Vacation, Days Four and Five

*The author of this blog wishes to place full responsibility for this entry on the shoulders of her very dear friend Kathy Elkins, without who's insight and gentle nudging there would be no Yoshi to faint and fawn over*

This was, until day four, possibly the worst vacation ever. We waited for breakfast every morning, and the waiter never came. Not even coffee! Housekeeping never brought the extra towels we asked for, the cat woke up up promptly at 6:30 am every morning, and the dog needed to be out and peeing by 6:45. On day three we got an inch or so of what is called "mixed precipitation", which means snow, rain, sleet and freezing rain alternately fell from a cloudy gray sky. Occasionally Gene would let me know what the temperatures were in Sanibel, Naples, and Orlando, Florida, and I would retaliate by telling him what restaurant we were to eat at that evening, or what activity had been planned for the day. We were cranky in fits and spurts, torn between reminding each other to be grateful for everything we have and a deep resentment at what we didn't have - sun, surf, and temperatures above freezing to be specific. I am not alone in my dislike of winter here. The excess precipitation has made us both miserable and worn out. But then on day four things began to look up.
We rose early and, in spite of the nasty looking road, we headed out on a three and a half hour quest for happiness in furry form. And oh did we get it!
Meet, officially and formally, Cape Cod's Fortunate Son, called Yoshi for short. And please forgive the fuzzy photo. Most photos of our little ball of sunshine look a lot like this:
He has an agenda and it does not involve sitting nice for pictures, thank you very much! Yoshi is a Shiba Inu, although he's been called, in the last day and a half, a Basenji and an American Eskimo Dog. The Shiba is the smallest of six (some would argue seven if one includes the Tosa Inu) native breeds of Japan. The best known and most common are the Akita Inu and the Shiba Inu. Shiba share some characteristics of the Akita, but are significantly smaller and so far appear to have much greater internal energy.
We drove home as cautiously as we could. Somewhere along the journey I sent this photo to my dad with the comment "Um. I think I just paid a lot of money for a very nauseous red fox."
Once we got off of the Cape and onto 495, he settled in a bit more. Although still queasy, he drooled a lot less and appeared at times to even nap a bit. For him this was a day of intense and awesome change. This was his first long car ride, his first trip away from the only home he'd ever known and the first time away from his mom and litter mates. The stress has to be unreal. It's about the equivalent of taking an 8 month old human baby away from it's mother in terms of development. Anyone who's had an 8 month old baby knows that they can be clingy, insecure, and a little cautious of strangers. We stopped once at a rest area in Westborough, MA on the Massachusetts Turnpike. He met his first "other" dog there - a very geriatric Chihuahua named Lucky. Yoshi means good fortune or good luck, so this seemed appropriate. Lucky was very tolerant of Yoshi's infantile sniffing, and Lucky's mom wished us well on our journey with the wistful reminiscence of a loving dog mom. It felt good and right that we met them. It also gave Yoshi the opportunity to make a choice - me, the stranger he barely know, or Lucky's mom, the one he didn't know at all. It reinforced the bond. He wanted to be nearer to me, which made me feel more secure in my role as new dog mom, and him more secure in himself - he met new people, and they went away, but I didn't.
After a four hour return trip, we arrived at home. He met Boo, which went differently than I expected - not badly, just differently. I expected Boo to have an issue, and in the end it was Yoshi who had one. Scared, stressed, and confronted with what must to him look a lot like a giant black buffalo he sought to defend himself from intrusion with a growl and hackles raised. Boo was confused, and a little rebuffed. I explained to Yoshi that he did not need to behave that way, and they soon settled into mutual tolerance. Today it looks more like acceptance with a hint of jealousy on Boo's part. Tomorrow that will change, and by the end of the week I suspect we'll be at love. Boo needs this boy as much as I do.
Yoshi opened right up once we got settled. Every inch of this level of the house has been investigated. Kitchen first...
then his night-time crate, which used to be Dazee's...
and then the ever-important toy basket. He has an accumulation of toys from siblings he's never met. A couple of things that we've had since Kioshi, some of Boo's baby things, and most of Dazee's stuffies and Nylabones are in here. There's also a new bag of tennis balls and a stuffed owl from Girl. He's set for a while!
We went out for a walk after some rough play time and fetching, and he discovered snow. He also went right straght to where he'd seen Boo poop earlier and did so himself. This bodes well. There have been, at 36 hours, no potty accidents. He has actually asked to go out on a couple of occasions which totally impressed me. Maybe I should not be surprised. Japanese breeds seem to be fastidious by nature.
We had a long night. Again, imagine being wrenched from your mother, handed to relative strangers, and driven three hours from the only home you've ever known. He woke up about every 2 hours all night long and set to making enough noise to raise the dead. But this morning he was confident and engaged, playing and romping with Girl before she left for work, and walking with me in the snow.
He walks well on a leash, and for the most part stays beside me. We're using a short, 4-foot leash for a few days until I am used to how he moves and he is used to the environment. This proved to be a good choice this morning when he was spooked right to his gizzard by the neighbor's car. Another first - and obviously it was out to kill him! We will work on social experiences with vehicles, first running and not moving, then moving a little, and so on until he is respectful but not fearful.
He also loves his mom - smarty-pants-boy! (Why pink? Because with that in your arms, don't you think you'd be seeing everything through rose-colored glasses, too?) Lots of love and kisses and more love and more kisses. He loves to be held, loves to be on me, near me, beside me. And I am very happy about that. It's what I wanted. I want him to be attached to me, healthfully, so that we can do things like Rally, and if he's interested, Agility. Small steps, and we have a way to go, but so far he's on a good track.
He is super alert, but very attentive to what I am doing and where I am, which bodes well for performance. He's also very easily motivated by food. Sometimes a bit too motivated - he has discovered which pocket may contain treats already!
I think he will be great around chickens, don't you? No problems at all... Really he will be introduced to them very cautiously and with a great deal of supervision. Shiba are hunting dogs by descent, and chickens are certainly (and deliciously) hunt-able!
No fear! When I sent this to Mr. W this morning he said "We should have named him Curious George". He learned once the stove was lit that it may not be the best place to investigate, but not until after he'd covered the back of his head with soot and stolen kindling twice from it before it was going.
This vacation has certainly turned a corner. Although Gene went back to work today, the vacation technically doesn't end until Tuesday night, which would have been our return. Looking at this face I think, right now, that vacations are highly over-rated. But then he makes it easy to think like that!
The future around here is so bright you have to wear shades. Just look at him! Welcome, Yoshi. Here's to a minimum of 15 years of fun!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Vacation, Day One

Today is the first full day of our winter vacation. Right now I should be up to my knees in the Gulf of Mexico, or on a rented bike pedaling myself along a sandy Sanibel road. But I am not. I am still in Massachusetts, drowning in that white stuff we all know I love so well, wondering what the reason is for the storm that ended my vacation plans. There always is one, you know. There is always a reason for everything. When the flight canceled it was almost a relief because it meant we didn't have to drive to Hartford in sleet and freezing rain on snow and slush covered highways. And although I am working very hard on remembering the positives - we are alive, we are grateful to even have had the chance to take a vacation, I can get the puppy early now, Delta gave us a full refund - I still am sad at the loss of what was to be our first non-Disney Florida vacation. Well, less Disney anyway. It was to be about beaches and the everglades and rented bikes and kayaks and beaches and seashells with a little dose of Mickey Mouse slapped onto the very end. I can't help noticing that this hotel seems to be a lot like home. In fact it IS home, right down to the 12 new inches of vacation killing snow outside my front door which rest on top of the 50 inches we had already received this season.

I have sworn off work at least until Monday. I am on a UFO quest - finishing the plethora of unfinished objects I discovered during my pre-puppy stash clean out.  I found a Bobbi Bear sans pattern or yarn that Girl had started and never finished. I gave him pink and gray nose and arms.

I knit 2 crate mats for the puppy using the Valley Yarns Nantucket Felted Rug (FREE!) pattern; the striped one is in Berkshire Bulky leftover from when I knit this rug for Kathy, and the other in Schaefer Esperanza that was left over from this last book.

I finished the Brambling from Rowan's Story Book of Little Knits that I started for April a million years ago - that now will never fit her and so will be stashed.

I seamed up a languishing Winecozy, began 2 years ago for a Christmas gift that ultimately was delivered naked. Maybe this year. It needs to be embellished once it dries.

I put faces on six Owls and Tigers and Zebras, Oh My! hats.

In the spare moments I've planned out some work projects that I will start next week. I want to finish Gene's Dale sweater. Saturday we get the puppy, a week ahead of schedule which is a nice thing. Unless you consider that between now and then I should be on an island in the Gulf of Mexico under an umbrella, or kayaking around the mangroves. Bitter? Moi? What made you think that?

Every year I threaten to move to a warmer climate, but I never do. I am supposed, by virtue of birth and genetics, to be a tough Yankee; a hardy New Englander. I am supposed to suck it up and make the best of it, supposed to get out there and enjoy the variety. Well, forget it. This place, this climate, feels like it is killing me by inches. It's never been much of a secret that I dislike winter. Since I was young I've just never been happy with this season. I was the kid who had to be forcibly bundled and shoved out into it, and then stood there wondering what the point was. I had a beautiful little toboggan, my own runner sled, and my sister's flying saucers at my disposal, but my favorite thing to do was curl up in a snowbank with an icicle and wait for my mother to grant me a reprieve so I could return to my books. As an adult I invested in snowshoes, and I went shoeing - and even had fun - except for the painfully frozen extremities and the chapped, red face and cracked lips it was great. We once climbed to the tree line of Mount Monadnock in January. In the end it was all useless, this attempt to make me embrace winter. The white fingers and toes that burn and ache almost constantly, the depression that comes with short days and endless dark, the "bundling up" making me claustrophobic and cranky, the endless mounds of snow needing to be moved - it's just not my thing and it never will be. Of all the things I will miss when I leave New England (and I will leave New England) winter will not be one of them. I wasn't made to be here. It's an accident of birth that I haven't yet corrected. But I will!
Not a very cheerful way to end my vacation report is it? I'll be better in a day or two. And definitely better by Saturday evening!
I am coming, small furry happiness. I'm coming!