The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Walk With Me (and Buddy) Wednesday

The weather here in southeast Arizona has been ideal lately. A bit nippy overnight, and then up into the high 60's or even 70's during the day. Buddy is anxious for us to come home from work because it means he finally gets to go for a walk.

Buddy loves to go for walks. Putting on a jacket and grabbing the leash sets him into spasms of joy. He can hardly bear to hold still enough for the clips to be fastened.

Today is no different, except now the weather has changed. The early morning wasn't too bad (I nearly hit a skunk on the street behind the house) but the afternoon turned cold and windy. It was forty one degrees out at four o'clock in the afternoon, but the wind chill was in the 20's. I took in the outdoor plants and cactus; they will stay indoors now until spring. Of course, the wind and cold didn't bother Buddy at all.

There are still a number of trees wearing their fall colors, but maybe not for long with this wind. Leaves and trash are blowing everywhere this afternoon. I have to pull up the hood of my jacket just to keep warm. I'd make a fire tonight, but Joe isn't going to be home and I'd rather enjoy it with him than without.

Sometimes the wind blows up a lot of dust with it, but the dust doesn't seem to be too bad today. If it were, I'd be sneezing a lot, but I'm not having any difficulties today.

Joe and Buddy keep charging along while I enjoy the view of the mountains. As with all mountains, the view keeps changing as the sunlight changes. Of the two peaks in the distance, I've climbed the one on the right; it's actually slightly lower than the one on the left. You can see how the wind is blowing the cypress trees.

We're not going to walk very far this afternoon. The wind has an edge to it and Joe and I are getting cold. Hearing the wind rustling through the palms trees only makes it seem colder, as if winter were directly on top of us. There's no rain in the forecast, otherwise the mountains would probably get the first snowfall of the season. Time to head home, warm up, and make dinner. Buddy is eating much better now and has a lot more energy -- as if he needed any more. I talked to Lori on the phone yesterday and she told me that no one has called looking for him. The next time she is in our area she will give me the paperwork on him and he will be officially ours. Yes, Buddy is going to stay with us. His new Daddy would never give him up now. Surprised, aren't you.


In other news:

Shame on me for working late hours (!) and not reading all my Bloglines the last couple days! I won a prize for being the 1900th commenter on Mary's blog, The Wool Palace. Mary was my sock sister for Sockapaloooza last spring, and I've kept on reading her blog since then. I love her pictures of the beautiful English countryside, and for that matter all the places she travels; sometimes I'm ready to get up and jump on a boat and move back across the ocean and find a house with a view like hers. I've won some DK weight sock yarn in some VERY bright colors. This will be some really bold colors for me and I think it will be fun to knit something up with it. Socks? Mitts? Who knows? (Who am I kidding, I can't seem to finish anything I've got on the needles right now as it is. Which means I need to cast on for something else, of course.) Thank you so much, Mary, I'm really looking forward to seeing the yarn live and in person.

Quite frankly, and to be honest of course, I had completely forgotten about Mary's contest (there were three prize categories). And I wondered today why I had an email from her because I hadn't commented since last week...So you can imagine what a charming surprise this was! There is no such thing as too much yarn. And certainly not sock yarn!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Better Late Than Never

I feel, sometimes, as if I'm always late to the party. As if nothing ever happens at a good time, or that I've got too much going already to get involved with anything else. But time is going to march on whether I get in step or not, and one needs to simply jump in anyways.

I know I'm over a week late to Knit Unto Others, and I doubt that I'll finish my project by Saturday night, but in the midst of all the other gift knitting I know that I need to share a little of what I have with someone in need. I've decided to do a scarf for the Red Scarf Project, mainly because I stand a fighting chance of being done on time. I'm going to do just a simple basketweave pattern and work on it along with my other gift knitting. I've made myself a schedule of how much needs to be done each day. The challenge will be there; I've got lots of long hours, overtime, training, and extra projects scheduled for work in December. Not by my choice, but because everyone seems to want something done in the next couple weeks. Therefore, the mad rush to finish Christmas shopping before the real madness starts.

Buddy is still with us. We haven't heard a thing from Lori about an owner showing up out of the blue. He is still being walked off his feet, but now all the college kids are gone and things may let up a bit for him. We can tell he misses the kids; in fact, he misses anyone who heads out the door. He doesn't seem to be eating a whole lot, but we may not be feeding him what he's used to. We're feeding regular dry food and it doesn't seem to be what he's really looking for. Big Cat has finally accepted him and will submit to an occasional nuzzle, but she will hiss when she doesn't want to be bothered and Buddy accepts that and backs off. Little Cat, however, will have nothing to do with Buddy. She spends all day behind the living room couch and only comes out at night when Buddy is sleeping in Barbara's room. Any ideas on how to encourage a relationship? Other than Little Cat's issues, Buddy is fitting in just fine.

In other activities, while I was Christmas shopping I bought myself some presents. Here is part of it. I bought myself 4 ounces of Ashland Bay Trading Co. Colonial Top in "Red". It looked so Christmassy I couldn't resist. The colors are really much darker than they look here. I broke down the four ounces into one ounce segments and I intend, at least right now, to spin up each ounce by itself and then Navajo ply it. Right now I'm thinking socks, but we'll see what I end up with once it's spun. I've been spinning about half an hour to 45 minutes every day, not trying to overdue the right forearm muscles spinning the drop spindle.

I got this top and three others in Tucson, in the shop that I remembered seeing it in about a year ago. That first time they had a basket with roving; this time they had several large baskets and drawers filled with different weights and types and colors. And the nice lady in the shop apologized because they didn't have a bigger selection!! It will probably be a good thing if I don't go back there too often; I really don't want to start stashing much roving either. Anyways, this is definitely spinning up differently than the white roving I started with. This is much softer and I have to get more twist into it. You all knew I wasn't going to resist the dyed roving for very long.

Time for me to cut things short. Buddy wants to go for a walk.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Well, shame on me, I just realized that I haven't posted in over a week. I didn't think it had been that long. I've been keeping up fairly well with my Bloglines; I read, but I don't always comment. Sometimes by that late at night I'm just too tired to think coherently, much less leave a comment in legible English. I've been Christmas shopping. It's 90 % done now. And wrapped. (It's okay. I can hear you all moaning out there. I've never been this far ahead of the game in my life. Probably never will be again.) But I haven't been knitting much, which means that the gift knitting is sorely behind schedule. And then, of course, there was Thanksgiving. I've survived nicely, thank you. The garage fridge is full of leftovers, but once the college kids go back home with their coolers packed, I probably won't have anything left.

Anyways, I have a story - and a rant - to share with you all tonight. I would like you all to meet Buddy.

Just around the corner from my workplace, the local county animal control has a holding pen for animals picked up by the Sheriff's Office during non-office hours. Unfortunately, I frequently see abandoned or runaway dogs in there when I go to work in the morning. Lori, the animal control officer, will come in as soon as possible to move the dogs to the county shelter. But she is always open to having "foster care" provided to the animals instead of taking them to "the pound" while the owners are sought. On Wednesday morning I saw this young collie in the pen. I watched him when I could during the morning hours and saw that he seemed to be very quiet, friendly, and well-behaved. When I saw Lori, I asked about the dog and we went out together to visit with him. He was young and had obviously been cared for, but he had no collar or microchip to identify him. I called Joe to come by and he visited some with the dog as well, and as you can obviously see we decided to "foster" him at least for the weekend.

The kids decided to call him Buddy. They have been walking him practically to death over the last three days, and have played plenty of fetching games. Buddy has obviously been living in a family and has been well trained. He is very quiet in the yard and in the house; he never touched the turkey carcass on the kitchen counter; he doesn't raid the garbage. He sits and waits patiently to be fed. We gave him a bath on Wednesday before letting him in the house; he didn't like it but he didn't growl or snap. He is completely housebroken and lets you know politely when he wants to go out. At first he wanted to chase the cats, but now he is behaving much better with them and it seems as if he would like to make friends. The cats are having very little of it so far, but at least there aren't any more wild chases through the house.

Buddy is also rather thin. Under his coat (we think there's a bit of German Shepherd in his past) his ribs are like a washboard. And he is scared to death of getting into a car.

Lori tells me that no one has called looking for Buddy. No one has placed an ad in the paper's lost and found. It frequently happens around here that dogs are abandoned by their owners when it becomes time to move. We know that Buddy has lived with a family. Someone has certainly taken the time to teach him good manners. He is very friendly and affectionate. But he didn't have a collar on. And he's too thin for just having gotten lost a few days ago. And he's so terrified of getting in cars. As if he had been placed in one and driven far out into the countryside away from home and dumped.

I probably do not need to tell you how this makes us feel. How can anyone spend that much time with an animal who has obviously had plenty of manners taught to him, and then simply dump him like a sack of garbage? Does it make you sick, too? With a little bit (or a lot) of righteous anger thrown in for good measure?

Buddy will be spending the rest of the weekend with us. The cats will have to suck it up. As of Monday, if no one comes looking for him, he is considered officially abandoned and can be adopted. Will we keep him if that happens? I believe we can keep him on a "foster care" basis for a while longer than that. Time will tell. In the meantime, we have been taking Buddy for short rides in the car, coming straight back to the house after just a few minutes. We're hoping that this shows him that he's not being "dumped" again.

So much for now. I'll wish you all goodnight. I'm going to get my shoes and jacket and take Buddy for another walk.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Glory Be!

It took two evenings of watching football and "Law and Order" to ply all the singles I had spun. This being after working twelve hour days. It ended up being slightly over an ounce of yarn once it was all plied.

Today I got off work early. I raced home to get the yarn off the spindle, wash it and hang it out to dry. It didn't take long in the warm afternoon sun. I kept going out to take it down, smoosh it in my hands, and then hang it up again. By four in the afternoon it was dry.

And it looked pretty good to me. It seemed pretty comparable to my sock yarns; it seems, on an average, to be running around 15 wpi. Of course, there is a lot that is uneven yet, but I am calling all the little odd sections "character traits". It really came out very similar to the Silky Wool that I used on my second Branching Out scarf, except a little bit more rustic. And that was exactly what I was hoping for.

I hauled out the ball winder and went for it, even though my arms were sore (and getting sorer) from receiving my flu shot and a pneumonia shot today. Glory be, it winds up just like a ball of real yarn!! And a lot quicker than it took to ply it, too.

But can it do what it's supposed to do?

Yup, I think it can.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Walk in the Garden

It's "Walk With Me Wednesday", and time for a walk in the garden while fall still lingers. The trees are in various stages of changing colors and dropping their leaves; the nights are cool, but tank tops are not unheard of during the day yet. The garden still blooms, but autumn is unmistakably here.

The mimosa, which a few months ago was covered in pink flowers and attendant butterflies, is rapidly losing its leaves, and the rattle of dry seed pods in the wind is a clear harbinger of winter weather. The pods litter the yard in November, and keep me busy sweeping them off the porch.

The marigolds still bloom in the back yard, but the lush green foliage of August has faded. The firethorn bushes have come into their own now, heavily laden with red and orange berries. The thrushes and cactus wrens are busy in the bushes at midday. There's precious little moisture in the air now, as my dry hands can attest; the bird bath sits high and dry and serves to catch falling leaves from the plum tree.

The rosemary bushes seem determined to bloom one last time before December. At Christmas I will cut their branches, along with the firethorn and juniper hedges, and decorate the mantle with fragrant, colorful garlands.

The wind has brought a stray tumbleweed into the yard. It's hard to tell in the picture, but this one is nearly as tall as I am. I approach it cautiously; tumbleweeds are terrifically thorny, and once they have piled up against a fence or a hedgerow, they become a fearsome, formidable barrier that is literally impassible. But this one will do no harm. The next brisk gust that blows through will send it on its way.


Thank you, one and all, for the kind sentiments on my mother-in-law's birthday. We all appear to have recovered nicely from the weekend, and only a corner bit of the cake remains.

Next time, adventures in plying. Could it really be yarn sitting on that spindle?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Saturday Sky and a Birthday

Saturday Sky for Veteran's Day and a 90th birthday.

It is full fledged fall here now, in the 70's during the day and into the 40's at night. We leave the bedroom window open a crack at night and the crisp coolness is a real luxury.

Nana's 90th birthday celebration was about as perfect as we could have hoped it would be. Maria came in from college late on Thursday, after Nana had already gone to bed. So the first surprise for Nana was on Friday morning when she found Maria on the living room couch. Later that evening she had the surprise of her nephew and his granddaughter arriving from San Diego. On Saturday Michael and Annie both came home for the celebration.

There were flowers.

There were phone calls. Calls from all around the country. So many calls that when I wanted to take a nap, I had to shut off the phone in the bedroom. So many calls, that everyone else in the house refused to answer the phone because we all knew it was another call for Nana.

There were gifts. There were cards. There was a videotaped birthday greeting from her oldest grandson in Rhode Island, with his wife and Nana's great-granddaughter (our oldest son and his family).

There was cake.

There was a doctor-to-be who performed surgery on it for us.

It was a humongous cake. We could have fed everyone in the restaurant with it. It was a white cake with cherries and peaches and lovely sweet frosting, made by our church office assistant. (Lest you wonder, we did not feed everyone in the restaurant. But a great deal of it has gone today to feed numerous college students.)

There was a great meal at a great restaurant. Much wine, women, and song. As in, we had wine for the table, there were more women at the table than men, and the waiters sang "Happy Birthday" with much enthusiasm, whistles and noisemakers.

I would say that there was dancing in the streets, but we did draw the line somewhere.

It was always easy to remember Nana's birthday, because it was also Veteran's Day.

It's hard to imagine, though, that when Nana was born, World War I was still raging and there was no Veteran's Day yet.

Now it's Sunday and everyone has left to go back to home, school, and work. The house is quiet again and we'll be eating leftovers (and cake) for a couple days yet.

Nana says it was one of the best birthdays she ever had.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I See Sheep

I didn't knit on Monday. Didn't spin, either. I decided that it was time to clean up the house, especially the kitchen. It's Nana's ninetieth birthday on Saturday, and hordes are descending. Well, maybe not hordes, but college kids and friends and other assorted relatives will definitely be descending. And Nana doesn't know a thing about it yet. But it was long past time to get the house in order. And all the extra stuff is now out of the garage. I can actually park a car in there now. Maybe, once I clean up all my stuff, there might even be room for a second car. But that's another weekend's work. Or two or three or sixteen.

But all things still continue. Knitting goes on, and so does the spinning. I went out in the yard on Sunday and spun in the sunshine for a while. I tried spinning without watching my hands, just to see what I could do by touch alone. It wasn't bad. Actually, it was pretty good. I became very conscious of the fibers sliding through my fingers and feeling how much twist was building up. I pick up the spindle very easily now; it's so easy to play with it for a few moments. No spot to find in the pattern, no rows to count to see where I left off. One night when I couldn't sleep and the brain was racing, I got up and spun for about twenty minutes. Concentrating on the roving and the spindle distracted my mind and I was able to go back to bed and fall quickly asleep.

Lately when I've been spinning I've been thinking about sheep. I see big curling horns and heavy fleece tangled with brush and dried bits of leaves. I think about the first time I touched a sheep. I must have been around eight or nine. I thought the wool would be all soft and fluffy; I still vividly remember that first surprising sensation when I dug my fingers into the heavy dense mass thick with lanolin, and the distinctive scent on my hand afterwards. How many of our memories do we have in our hands, that we can recall an exact feeling even years later? And I was always fascinated by spinning. I first saw spinning done at Greenfield Village. Then, as now, many docents give lectures and demonstrations on a daily basis, and always in costume of course. I was totally absorbed in watching the puffy roll of wool suddenly transform into thread. I didn't understand then, of course, about twisting the threads; it seemed like some sort of magic that the spinner did, effortlessly, with her hands.

It was magic, of course, and still is. Understanding how the process works has not made it any less magical. Thinking about the sheep while I spin the wool makes me feel very grounded in the earth. It's not consumerism, or materialism, or what-have-you; it's getting away from all that and feeling a solidarity with the women who have gone before. I wish I could have a little farm with my own sheep, with an old house and an older barn and living out with nature every single day. I think about that while I spin. I flick the spindle; I draft the wool; I watch the twist make the yarn. And I see sheep.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Sky

Autumn in the Southwest means balloon festivals.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Sunny Afternoon

As you may have perhaps figured out, I've been working a lot of hours (again!) lately. In fact, the last few days I've been going in to work while it is still dark and not getting home until after dark. Then I go back again while it is still dark, etc., etc. The money is nice, but the hours are rather depressing. I do most definitely miss the sunshine and the sky. But today I was home at three in the afternoon. Eureka!! A beautiful fall afternoon, and I can do anything I want!

So I went to the local farmers market.

See what I got? IdaRed apples from a local orchard up in the mountains; organic oranges, eggplant, cucumber and onion from a farm on the other side of the county; honey (not pictured) and a bag of pistachios from another farm out in the county. The pistachios are extremely fresh and flavorful and the oranges are outstanding. Tomorrow, breaded eggplant for dinner.

I would go to this market more often, since it isn't a far drive for me, but normally I wouldn't be off work in time to go. So today was a real treat. We are still dreadfully shorthanded at work; I've been interviewing applicants as fast as I can, but that can be a discouraging process. We don't get too many qualified individuals. I called another applicant today to tell him that I wanted to interview him tomorrow evening; he agreed, but asked if he could do it tonight instead. I told him no. I'm tired, I haven't had an evening at home to relax for a few days, and I need a break. Of course I didn't tell him all this. But he sounded a tad peeved that I have him scheduled for Friday evening. Excuse me. I don't make people take time off from their current job to do my interview, which can possibly last as long as an hour, but I do expect them to come when I tell them unless there are true extenuating circumstances. He's the one looking for a job, not me. It's the applicant's job to show up when I want them, and not when they feel like it. After all, are they serious about wanting a job, or not?? I have a lot of little ways of evaluating if an applicant is a serious, focused individual, and that's one of my first indicators.

Anyways, there isn't much knitting content to show you today. I have finished the second Branching Out, and hope to block it next week. But I have been spinning. I wound off what was on the spindle and it came to about half an ounce. I'm going to spin up about that much again and then ply it and see if I can't start some knitting going with it.

Maybe I can get out of work early again tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be lovely, again...