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We are living in our very own Wildlife Kingdom. Perhaps the wild animals are as confused as the humans about how frickin’ long this winter has been. Who knows? It’s just that with two active puppies and a fully fenced-in yard, you’d think the critters would get the clue to stay out.

As if!

treed raccoon

Last week there was a racoon sitting at the base of one of the trees, scrabbling in the dirt…do they eat acorns, I wonder? We have tons all over the yard. Where was my camera? Hooray! I had remembered to charge the battery up last night! Dash downstairs, scoop it up and race back to the window, trying not to alert the puppies who were eating breakfast in front of the window where I was watching the raccoon. He (I’m assuming the racoon was a ‘he’) was calmly sitting there…until the puppies finished breakfast and noticed *something new* in the yard. They dashed out, barking a joyous chorus of woof-woofs and bark-barky-barks. I lift the camera to grab a shot of the fat and fuzzy animal climbing in an ungainly manner up the tree. Click!

‘Camera memory card full.’ displayed across the view screen. ARGHHHH!

raccoon guards

The puppies are at the tree up on their hind legs, looking for all the world like a pair of mismatched bookends. The ‘coon has settled in a notch of the tree at least two stories up to wait them out.

I am feverishly checking the contents of the camera card, which I had _not_ downloaded yet, for images to trash. I quickly chose 3 or 4 and re-pointed the camera at my kodak moment.

The kodak moment had up and gone. Dixie and Duncan were now circling the tree, snuffling at the ground, looking for more raccoon scent. The raccoon wasn’t moving.

All this time I prancing about in my short nightshirt and slippers. It was too bleepin’ cold and windy to consider popping outside for a closer shot of anything.

Yesterday DH told me that we have an active vole/mole population burrowing under the fence where I have planted lots of spring-flowering bulbs. The fencing I had laid over the bulb garden to protect it from the puppies acted as a safe area for these robbing rodents. Grrrr! I love animals in nature, but not in my garden!

turkey

This morning I saw a wild turkey resting on the ground at the front side corner of our yard. It was the front side corner that was *inside* the fenced-in area. Being dogs, our puppies were focusing on food first (breakfast). Ever-optimistic, I snatched my camera and tried to take a few shots. They didn’t come out too well, but apparently the first flash of the camera was noticed by the big turkey bird. He slowly rose and began ambling across the yard, just as the puppies finished breakfast.

The puppies flew out the door, uncharacteristically quiet as they raced to investigate. The turkey lengthened stride and finally lifted off the ground, just barely clearing the 5′ fence in very slow flight.

These incidents, while entertaining and all that, have not been conducive to my getting to work on time.

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Jelly bean basket

How can something that is only 4 calories cause you to gain weight?

The answer is that if you eat enough of them, even healthy food items will pack on the pounds. Jelly beans just do it faster without the conflict of pretending to be good for your body.

What WAS I thinking???

When I kept adding packages of sugar-laden easter basket treats to my shopping cart, I told myself that it was for Philip. He is stationed over in Korea and what do they know about proper Easter baskets?? Well, after I filled the large plastic eggs with a variety of candies and posted the box, I continued purchasing easter candy because I was thinking “we” deserved a basket, too. Not that I sent over all I had purchased before. It didn’t all fit into the large 6 or 8 plastic eggs I sent him. Not being a dummy, I purchased candies I knew *I* liked as well… Jolly Rancher jelly beans, Jelly Belly gourmet jelly beans (I do love me those jelly beans!), peanut-butter-filled m&m’s, peanut-filled m&m’s, gummy bears (okay, I was hoping he liked those because they are not one of my favorites—my mother loves them, and so does Jess; Jess got the left-over’s on those).

Phil did not get the mini Snickers bars. I like them too much to share.

When Easter morning came and I emptied all the easter candy into the big basket, I realized just how far overboard I had gone. Oh My Goodness!!! There was enough for at last SIX candy-holic baskets. I got a sugar rush just smelling it as I poured the bags into the basket.

I brought half of the stash into work on Tuesday. On Thursday (oh, right…that was today) I brought in quite a bit more. The level has dropped considerably. I am sharing my addiction with the rest of the office staff. Some are more helpful than others in depleting the stuff than others. No matter. I appreciate all the help I get! (Including the fact that the small Jelly Belly gourmet jelly beans are only 4 calories apiece!)

Aidan in Jelly Bean Sweater open weave close-up

I saw this yarn at my LYS and it screamed “I am Liam’s sweater.” I was not there for yarn. I was there for double-pointed needles for my mother’s cardigan. It persisted, “Liam sweater!”

I chose an open-weave cable for the center front of this raglan sleeve pattern. It is more “macho” than a regular cable, yes? Well, more gender neutral than a true cable would be, at any rate. I added a close-up, below, of the open weave cable for reference. I love patterns that look complicated but are really not so much!

Yarns lie. It was an Aidan sweater.

Actually, Liam wasn’t interested in it as I was working on it and couldn’t be bothered to be fitted for it. I took a best guess and… was grateful that it fits Aidan so well. It looks great on Aidan, as a matter of fact.

As I finished the sweater, DH asked if I was going to block it. Since I was concerned about the sizing, I answered that yes, I was. He reached back into a pile of boxes in his office and extracted one for me. “Maybe this will help”, he said.

Oh wow, Oh WOW! An early birthday present with real blocking tools! AND inside the box were FOUR plastic zippered projects bags, AND two patterns books PLUS and additional pattern I had been hankering after.

Yes, DH is a sweetie for remembering and getting these. He said it was VERY HARD to keep it quiet till our birthday… which would explain why I got it two weeks early!

Phil and Susan
Aidan smiles Liam smiles

Some smiles light you up inside and out. Babies and children (of any age) can do that. Best friends, sweethearts, and family can do that, too. Our furry friends qualify as all three of the latter. Recently I began collecting photos’ of them trying to give me a human smile (one with teeth, that is). The results are both funny and scary. Funny of you know the furry-face and a mite scary if you don’t.

Biscuit
Biscuit smiles
Jake
Jake smiles
Duncan
Duncan smiles
Dixie
Dixie smiles

Biscuit is a shitzu fully calm and patient in the face of a constantly-in-motion puppy pack where the smallest member is still twice the size of him. Biscuit was totally unphased. His “mom” is a set designer who works on movies and theatre sets. Biscuit *knows* cameras. He is a sweetie fer sure, but his breed always reminds me of the New Jersey mafia.

Jake (a/k/a/ “Jakie” and “Beastie Boy”) has the full run of Sheltie herding genes. He runs circles around you (literally), barking his shrill “arf-arf!” until reminded to ‘stuff a sock in it’. He accepts cameras. Sometimes it seems like he is more resigned to them than anything else. His mistress takes many, many, many photos. Sometimes he is the focus (for many years he was the #1 focus but then the rug rats started coming…), other times he is a prop. Sometimes he is ‘de trops’.

Dixie tries so very hard to do what you ask her to but has a problem with the whole “stay” time concept. She totally gets it with food. She knows she will get the food if she waits for the ‘okay,’ and she will have to wait longer if she doesn’t wait for the ‘okay’ release word. She tries to get up close and personal with your face behind the camera. Consequently, she has more close-ups than Ms DeMille.

Duncan is the biggest ham. He loves being in pictures. He loves looking at the faces facing the camera… which means that the camera usually gets his butt. And he wriggles in his ‘sit-stay’ so much that his back end is a motion blur. He loves being in the middle of a group photo…but cannot bother to look at the inanimate camera (look at what? where?). He is far more interested in licks and snuggles with the people around him.

Actually, I kinda get that part, myself.

I need to take a timer when I go into craft stores. Seriously. I cannot be trusted to go in, get what I came for, and get out. Nope. Never has happened.

I ran out at lunch to the nearest one for a set of size 6 dpns. (A year ago I would have thought I had lost my mind to even consider using dpns of ANY size… knitting socks changes you.) I only get 30 minutes for lunch. With noontime traffic (did I mention it is snowing AGAIN!!!!?) it takes maybe 8 minutes each way. Fourteen minutes to locate needles, buy them, grab a bit from the local Subway, and inhale it before returning to work.

Well… that didn’t happen, either.

The first 8 minutes went like clockwork. Then I entered the store (a JoAnne’s Fabric store, but that is hardly relevant. It could have been my LYS, A. C. Moore, Michael’s, or whatever. Same thing.)

I didn’t finish making an Egg Tree. I don’t know what happened to the last two I had (maybe I sent one last Easter out to Phil in Texas… maybe) so I was thinking I would just make another one. Ran out of time. I need it for this evening, so I decided to use what I used to use before I made my own Egg Tree–floral branches in a pot. Initially we used actual tree branches in a dirt-filled pot, but it is too early get any branches with buds or small leaves on them this year. So I browsed the floral sprays, narrowing it down to a full multi-branched dogwood one.

I wasn’t sure I would remember to pack a pot (to put the branch in) in the car after work and before heading up to dinner in NH, so I wandered about looking for appropriate, inexpensive solutions to “POT: cheap.” Said cheap pot was actually an aluminum container which needed weighting to support the branches and the eggs on them. Add 2 2-lb bags of ‘decorative’ stones (looked like plain-ol’ stones to me) for ballast.

Yikes! I have now used up 20 of my allotted 14 minutes. I still need the one thing I came here for. Where are they hiding the blasted size 6 dpns (double pointed needles)? Scramble up and down aisles. A line begins to form at the empty-until-now cash register. Locate bamboo size 6 dpns. Look for preferred aluminum ones. Hidden behind a size 7 package, I snatch a set of size 6. I race to the end of the line. There are three people in front of me. When did they come into the store?

The cashier is chatty and cheerful. I am squirmy, too fussed to think of pulling out my OTN sock for a few stitches of calming activity. My turn next…and the store phone rings. She answers it, pages the call recipient, and turns to me. At last!

Returning to work (skipping the Subway stop, natch) in the 8 minutes allotted for transport…and there are no more parking spots near the front of the building. It is now sleeting. I walk only a half-block to the entrance, amazed that I am only late by 15 minutes.

A bag of Ruffles cheddar-flavored chips and a Cup-of-Soup at the desk pass for lunch.

Then I remembered I was supposed to buy gas at lunch. I hope I make it to our favorite gas station (a nickel or more cheaper than most around us) before running out.

A timer probably wouldn’t have helped me remember that.

Sigh.

Egg Tree Pink Egg
Egg Dressing
Green Eggs and Ham Quiche

I made green eggs and ham this weekend. It was my very first attempt at making quiche and we were both quite pleased with the outcome. We were both so pleased that I had to take this picture quick before it was all gone!

I have resisted making quiche because I thought it was much too involved and difficult and when you needed lots of empty eggshells for the Egg Tree, it was just easier to make scrambled eggs. One year we were so ‘egged out’ food-wise that we decreed the eggshell contents were “craft supplies” and tossed them. Craft supplies waste we understand…the mounds of paper snippets, yarn ends, leftover doily scraps, etc., are all swept unceremoniously into the trash in the cleaning up aftermath. (The eggs were tossed into the toilet, but you see what I mean—we needed the egg shells for the Egg Trees.)

Another example of “craft supplies”: My sister enjoys cutting colored wine bottles into colored-glass-bead-festooned candle holders, and sunlight decorations on trees. A particularly beautiful blue (full) wine bottle she was eying was a recent sacrifice. (Don’t be silly! Of course she drank it! We don’t waste WINE! I hear it was very good BTW.) I love her Sparkly Danglies, too!

Dying Eggs

We trekked up to see the ‘kids’ (both over the legal age, but still ‘kids’ to us) and grandkids, carting a box full of egg-tree-making supplies, embellishments and examples. Only five empty shells made it to the dying pots this year (from my quiche and DH’s two dozen peanut butter and m&m cookies). Fortunately, decorated ones saved from previous years will ensure my tree will not be barren. We boiled up a bunch more eggs for the baskets. There will be a LOT of egg salad supplies very very soon! Only four people were actively dying the eggs, the others were supervisors and cheering squad (note the smallest cheer-leader in a backpack).

I dye eggs, too

Yes. I dye. Eggs, hair, fingers…

Finishing touches will be added Wednesday after dinner. Pix will follow.

“I’d like staples, please.”

These are not non sequitors, just another afternoon (and more) in the Lahey Pre-Op Outpatient Surgery Center. In the past few years I have spent more time in hospitals than in all of my previous life combined.

No, it isn’t always me as the patient, but I am there nonetheless. The last two surgical procedures (which weren’t on or for me) had two common elements:

  • the patient would have a VERY long recovery time coming out of anesthesia so be sure to pack work, reading, and knitting
  • I would be the driver going home afterwards

I asked for, and received (with some reluctance, but I got it) permission to remove my air cast to drive DH home after his surgery. The orthopedic surgeon lined up another x-ray for my foot soon after so if I mucked up my foot, the damage would hopefully not be too bad.

Tuesday’s surgery was one of those snowballing days where one glitch trips another switch which hinks something three steps after that. First, they moved the surgery to 1:15 instead of 7AM. Longer without food for poor DH who has already lost quite a bit, thank you very much. (I sneaked a peak in his medical records folder and they described him as slim, which he is, while I am not–WHINE!) I felt positively virtuous as I selected items that had no odor knowing how the wafting smell of cooking food would drive him crazy. I am “the Good Wife” .

I was reminded several times to remember to bring my other hard-soled shoe-boot to drive home with. Did I have books? Enough knitting? Money? He took such good care in making sure I had remembered everything (I had) that he forgot to bring his papers for the hospital.

This sort of thing (forgetting papers) is not uncommon (well, duh!) and it was really no problem to get it straightened out and push us off in the correct direction. He was listed first on the list for his doctor. Somehow he ended up next to last. The person before him turned out to be a non-trivial surgery, backing up all the patients on that line. They let me back in to see him while he was waiting on the gurney and that was where the doctor saw him beforehand and asked the question you saw above. I was about to say “Thousand Island” but he beat me to it with the request for staple closures. I brought him his Palm to play Hearts card game, and I pulled out my sock to knit. An interminable time went by.

Lahey is a teaching hospital/clinic. At one point there were five people (pre-op nurse, OR technician, anesthesiologist, surgeon, post-op nurse), myself, and the patient (DH) crowded around the OR gurney. So I left. Well, they “suggested” I wait in the family room and so I left…and got lost (of course) and found and redirected (follow the red dots on the floor to the elevators). It was about 2:30PM at this point.

The procedure was expected to take about 45 minutes. I did not see the doctor until 5:15PM. He had just left Stephen to the mercies of the post-op people and said not to worry about the time, it did go well and I should be able to see DH around 6. At 7PM I was getting more than a mite antsy. Most of the other out-patient surgery people had left with friends and family. Only four still remained. Then two. Yup. Hubby was still fighting his way back through the anesthesia. The family room nurse was going off duty so she delivered me to post-op where we remained until after 10PM. The nurses were terrific, staying well past their closing time of 9:30 to help finish up with the post-op gory details on DH.

Finally, I wheeled him downstairs, leaving him in the lobby as I went off (still in my air cast like a good doo-bee) to collect the car. I put the boot on in the car. It felt weird to have an actual shoe on but otherwise just fine. Driving an automatic was no problem. At that hour there was no traffic whatsoever.

You may recall we have dogs? Three at the moment? Thank heavens for the doggy door! They were SO happy to see us and get fed dinner! I was feeling all sorts of happy that I drove home easily (note: no traffic) until I took the shoe off and realized my foot was tender again and beginning to swell.

This morning the foot was still a little swollen but not tender or sore, and I am walking rather well in the air cast. Yeah, me!

One last little hiccup or so from the surgery. DH was forbidden to drive for 24 hours after surgery (no one said anything about that beforehand) and I am not allowed to drive until further permission is given. So I worked at home today. We didn’t get to see the grandkids or return Jakie home, either. While the latter is no-big, I really miss seeing them all on Wednesday nights for dinner. Somehow in the mix I totally forgot about chorus rehearsal on Tuesday evenings. bleah!

Tomorrow it is back to the “real” world!

As shelties go, Jake is not too noisy when he visits our house. My brother and his wife had a pair of shelties once that would NOT shut up…yap-yapping all the livelong day (and night, I heard). I do not believe in de-barking surgery, but in some cases, I can understand why it might have been considered. Those two were debarked and all you heard from them was a non-stop hoarse rasping “ar! ar!” sound as they herded circles around you. It was still annoying but not as loud.

Since Jakie cannot bark with something in his mouth (and he loves to have something in his mouth to squeak and shake) I have responded to his welcome-home barking with “Stuff a sock in it, Jakie” at which he would obligingly shut up and proceed to pogo bounce straight up from the floor to my chin in a sheltie welcome dance.

Last night as I came up the walk he was on the couch looking through the front window with the other two. When I opened the door he was at the back of our puppy pack (a puppy pack of three–but they sound like more sometimes) with a stuffed toy in his mouth. He looked at me waiting for my usual greeting to him. He shook his toy and bounced.

So I petted HIM first. And told him what a good quiet boy he was.

This endearing moment was shoved aside (literally) by the other two, Dixie and Duncan. Dixie sat at my feet and shoved her snout into my hands, adding a handshake paw just in case I didn’t see her RIGHT THERE. Duncan plunked his butt on my toes and wiggled backwards into my legs to get his homecoming petting and attention.

Pure bliss. Surrounded by (mostly quiet) puppies.

In totally unrelated news… it was Friday after a VERY LONG week at work. The mail brought me a new mini camera, the Canon SD1000. This is the camera that will go everywhere with me. It is small, light, takes decent pix and is very durable. That is important for when I drop it in my bag instead of a camera case.

MORE TOYS! My grapevine sock kit came, too. I swear… between books, yarn, needles and the like, the Yarn Harlot has been responsible for me purchasing most of what I have done in the past six months. I hope she gets a commission. This is the sock pattern with the unusual inverted wineglass heel. I stared and stared at the photos and could NOT figure the pattern out. I can’t wait to start these admittedly fiddly (Yarn Harlot said so and I believe her) socks.

Some could not bear to watch.

R-r-r-i-p-p!

There were tears in eyes that looked away, unable to bear witnessing the destruction.

R-r-r-i-p-p-it!

I wasn’t as nonchalant as I tried to appear, with my arms flailing a backstroke. It had to be done. Oh! Mercy! it was so painful!

R-r-r-i-p-p-it!

But you see, they were never going to be a true pair, more like fraternal twins that would have been hidden away instead of paraded out for show. No matter how pretty the colors, or fine the stitch pattern, (what did you think I was talking about?) they simply needed a serious do-over.

R-r-r-i-p-p-it!

back to the ballsIt may have been that the first sock was mainly knit BEFORE I broke my foot, while the second, shrimp version was done after. Increased tension mayhap’s? Or maybe it was that the needles of the first pair and the needles of the second pair were not the same. I had broken one on the plane, and ordered a new set. The second sock was knit entirely with the new set. I am having trouble now, seeing the difference between a 2.25mm needle, 2.5mm needle, and a 2.75mm needle. The needle sizing tool I have covers American sizes only. It has only ONE size 2 hole. I know I ordered 2.25mm needles, thinking that was the size I used before. Now I am thinking I was using a 2.5mm dpn. It took me until AFTER I took the pictures of the two socks together to realize… hey… wait a minute… they aren’t the same size…

The consensus at work is that the yarn really wants to be a scarf, not socks. I’ll think on it.

All together now….“Ooooh! Ahhhh! Pretty!”

Monkey Socks On The Needles

I have joined the hordes of knitters knitting up the Monkey Socks pattern. This special hand-painted yarn deserved a special pattern which (it turns out) isn’t as visible with this yarn as I had thought it would be. Here. try a close-up:

Monkey Socks On The Needles closeup view

I began this pair last month to occupy my hands while on my trip to and from Florida. Yes, the one where I broke my foot. That trip.

I know the woman who hand-painted the yarn. It cost the earth, but I figured if DH could have an outrageously expensive pair of socks, so could I. I was assured that the hank would probably, almost assuredly be enough for a pair of socks. I wound the hank into a large ball. Hmm…. What if there *isn’t* enough? I’d rather run out at the same place on both socks. No one sees the toes inside your shoes. Now, without getting too anal, how the blazes was I supposed to be sure I split the ball exactly in half?

Super suggestion from co-worker CCR pointed me to the mail room where I measured and wound, measured and wound, using the postal scale until I had two balls of equal weight. (My mind just drifted… excuse me…)

Okay. I’m back.

As you can see from the images above, I did run out early. Not to worry, the artist is a member of my Sunday SnB (Stitch-n-Bitch, for those unfamiliar with the acronym) group. She will dye, no, paint (she explained the difference between the processes) another lot this month so I will be able to finish the socks in a jazzy complementary variegated yarn in time for my birthday next month.

Staying off my feet means more knitting time. Mother’s sweater is progressing quickly. I should have it done and off to her by mid-to-late-April… or about the time she won’t have a need for it until the fall.

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