Saying Good-bye

In the end, we didn’t have six months.

How can you ever really be ready to say good-bye?

Folks keep mentioning how much we gave her, how at least she got to live the good life for a little while, how she got to know love and warmth and comfort. And its all true.

But it still sucks. It sucks so bad.

She had such a fiery spirit, and it was heartbreaking to watch the cancer wear her down so quickly. When the time came, she passed at home, in the early morning hours, surrounded by everyone who loved her…she just finally stopped fighting for probably the first time in her life, as The Dude pet her and told her how much we love her and that it was okay to let go. It’s a moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

She was lucky to be walking down the same street as me earlier this year, lucky to have come upon a home where dogs are “our kids” and bacon gets cooked (and shared) nearly every weekend. But we were also just as lucky to have this sweet soul in our lives, even if it wasn’t for nearly long enough.

We miss you already, Gypsy-doodle, and love you forever, with all our hearts.

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Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

This past February, I chanced upon a clever little soul. Or maybe she chanced upon me.

Hi.

I named her Gypsy.

When I found her, though, wandering the city streets in my neighborhood in the February cold, she looked like this.

Enough to break your heart…

But, from the start, she had these eyes…eyes that knew more about hard living than I could ever imagine…and a sweet, sweet face.

A pibble with the angel eyes.

I called The Dude when I found her on the street to ask what I should do, but of course, the answer was simple: Take her.

So, I did.

It wasn’t always good times with Miss Gypsy-doodle.

She’s been on medication since day one. Skin treatments, antibiotics, anti-fungals, steroids, antihistamines, grain-free food, supplements…someone did a number on the poor girl, for sure.

I even got the cone of shame!

And then there were other problems, scary problems that almost meant the end of Gypsy in our life.

But one seriously amazing dog trainer solved all Gypsy’s problems.

Brandy and Gypsy…buddies, at last

After months, Gypsy finally seemed to…relax. Her issues with the other dogs vanished. Her tail wagged uncontrollably. She gave unabashed cuddles and kisses and even learned to lie down and enjoy the simple act of sleeping in the sun without fear, without anxiety.

Like a regular dog raised in regular circumstances.

The last couple of months have been wonderful.

Brandy, Max and one very flat Gypsy

This past weekend, finally off all her medications for the first time since I found her emaciated in the street, lymph nodes all over Gypsy’s body swelled up. Badly.

Today, we found out that Gypsy has cancer. Lymphoma.

We won’t know for a few days yet just how bad it is or just what our options are.

After everything she’s been through, after all she’s endured, it seems so incredibly…unfair.

There’s no other word for it.

As I keep telling The Dude, who is simply heartsick, that our Gypsy-doodle is far from done with this world. She’s eating like a champion…she eats ALL THE THINGS…and she’s playing with Max like nothing else in the world matters.

Chair cuddles!

And so, we’ll make every moment a good one for her, every moment she has left one of love and warmth and comfort and happy puppin things, whether it’s a year’s worth of moments or just a few weeks.

Chomping Nylabones with my bestest buddy, Max.

Because that’s exactly how a puppin’s life should be.

Sorry to break radio silence with a sad post. Today was just a sad day.

Birth of a Knitting Pattern

A couple weeks ago, I was ready to throw in the towel on the 4! Ounce! Challenge! The whole “challenge” part was getting to me. I was caving under the stress of life.

My first swatch was fugly, my yarn wasn’t finished and I was all wrapped up in maintaining interspecies harmony in my household—a real challenge these days—and fighting the meager beginnings of a flea infestation. Giving up seemed like the best way to keep myself sane.

Then I got it together and put on my big girl panties. The lure of that grand prize was strong. And the idea in my brain was festering. So, I finished my yarn…

“Pomegranate,” 510 yards of heavy fingering weight 2-ply Shetland wool, spun from 4 ounces of Spunky Eclectic handpainted top

…and, throwing caution to the wind, cast on a prototype design without even swatching.

Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta

Cuz that’s how I roll.,,,mad deep, yo…

 The biggest problem here is that I’m not a designer. I work with words for a living…the numbers are not my friends…so wrapping my head around increases and patterning has been pretty challenging for me. My pattern numbers don’t completely work out evenly, so I might end up charting the whole damn thing out. Which isn’t horrible. I kind of like charting.

The scene from the couch…eh, I mean, workspace…yeah, workspace…

I spent most of the day yesterday working on the prototype.

At first, I was trying to knit the stitches, then write the pattern based on what I knit. (That really wasn’t working.)

Then I tried to hand-write the pattern out while I was knitting it. (No dice.)

Then I tried hand charting. (That was the most futile effort of them all.)

Then I tried using a nifty little online knitting chart generator. (Failure. First-class failure.)

Then, finally, I dusted off my Excel skills and built a spreadsheet and started charting one row at a time. (Success!)

Needless to say, this will be a charted pattern. Written directions will remain at a minimum. Really, it’s for the best.

I had a dedicated little helper in this process, too.

Madori concurred that abandoning the paper was the way to go…made more room for her on the couch…er, I mean, in the workspace…

Her contributions to the effort were truly invaluable.

I still have some concerns about actually publishing this in time. While I made some progress, I still have a lot left to knit on the prototype—which I’m knitting with that Woolen Rabbit Kashmir I got at fiber revival…it’s dreamy—then I have to knit the handspun one, plus there’s test knitting and tech editing and actual publishing. And it all has to be done by September 30.

But I figure it can go out for testing once the prototype is done, while I’m knitting the handspun version. So that might ease the crunch a little bit. If I can get the prototype finished by the end of the week, that is.

I’m itchy to get the handspun version going.

Lovely rustic wooly yarn

The yarn came out really nice.

Ruby and amythyst splattered all over

Can’t you just see it all knit up in stripey, lacy cables?

Itchy fingers want the wool…

 Gotta finish that prototype first… 

The Catch-all Catch-up Post

So much to do, so little time to blog!

So here you go, one giant catch-all catch-up post. Aren’t you excited? I know I am…

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Last weekend, for the Fourth of July, the girls and I went to the big farmer’s market. It was pretty awesome! Delicious breakfast, fresh native blueberries, huge bunches of basil, a delicious smoothie to keep me from passing out in the heat, handmade soaps and other goodies. We grabbed lunch afterwards at the famous Shady Glen, then went back to my place to relax for a while before fireworks.

I also used up some of that wonderful basil and a whole mess of limoncello lemons I had hanging around to make this for us to bring to the fireworks.

Jenni was very excited about basil lemonade and farmer’s market bread at the fireworks

I *highly* recommend this recipe. Especially if you like gin. Which I do. A lot. The recipe says lightly spiked. It’s not. I assure you, it’s very spiked. And very tasty.

The park was packed for fireworks! So, we threw down a couple of blankets and, being who we are and seeing how it’s Tour de Fleece and all, we busted out the spindles and got to work.

Kris works on her silk…
…while I make some progress on the BFL/tussah.

The sun went down nice and easy—as did the lemonade—and the fireworks show was great.

Pretty sunset in advance of pretty fireworks

All-in-all, a great holiday.

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I had so many limoncello lemons around because I officially started Batch No. 2 over the long weekend.

Lemonliscious!

Sixteen more organic lemons got zested and combined with two more 750 mL bottles of 100-proof Smirnoff vodka. Batch No. 1 got strained and mixed with simple syrup as well, so only a few more weeks until I have actual, finished limoncello to put in my pretty hand-etched bottles!

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As mentioned, Tour de Fleece is well underway! So far, I’ve spun every day since it started and met all my little daily personal goals. I started the second half of the superwash merino/bamboo top on Evelyn…

Fine, shiny singles

…but mostly I’ve been working on the “Surf Song” BFL/tussah from Corgi Hill Farm that was on my Spanish Peacock spindle. I got all the singles finished and wound off over a couple of days…

Loved spinning this blend. It practically drafts itself!

…and decided to ply them up on Evelyn, a feat made much easier since that groovy woodturner guy I know totally rocks and hooked me up with a mess of new bobbins.

Stupid happy with how this plied up. Stupid happy.

I had some tension/take-up/bobbin-packing/tangled-mess issues while working on this, and had to split it over three bobbins to finish it. Oh, well. It was my first time plying on the wheel, so there’s still a learning curve at play here. I’ll just splice them all together while I skein them up.

And wow, it was sooo much faster than two-plying on a spindle! Can’t wait to check my yardage.

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One of my finds at the aforementioned farmer’s market was these squash blossoms.

Female zuchinni blossoms, all cleaned and de-pistoled, ready for cooking

I couldn’t resist them! They looked so fresh and wonderful, and I’ve always wanted to try them.

I mixed up a stuffing of cream cheese, a splash of lemon juice, some sea salt and pepper, fresh sliced garlic and some more of that gorgeous basil…

Such a wonderful bunch of basil! It makes me a little teary just looking at it.

…to create this super tasty concoction.

Soooo delicious…

I had to stop myself from eating it right out of the bowl! I stuffed the squash blossoms with this goodness. Mind you, I had very diligent helpful helpers…

We’ll help you, Momma. We’re very helpful.

…one a little more eager than the other.

What? I’m helping you! I’m super helpful.

When the blossoms were all stuffed and ready, I got some olive oil heating in a pan and mixed a Farmer’s Cow egg and some soymilk together for a light wash.

Ready to go

I rolled them in the egg wash, then some all-purpose flour and then dropped them in the pan for a light fry.

Not a great pic, but trust me: These were great.

They came out awesome! So simple and so delicious! Next time, I’ll cut off the little zuchinni ends and use them for something else. They were good, but totally overpowered by the awesome that was those blossoms.

I even ate the leftovers cold the next day. Still amazing!

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Guess who’s still pregnant?

These kids are driving me crazy already…

Tilly’s belly just keeps on growing, and last night—for the first time—I saw the kids kicking around in there. It was so cool to see. And they must have been really excited about that salmon and tuna Wellness pouch for dinner, because they were having a big ‘ole party up in there. Poor Tilly was so uncomfortable and mopey, I felt so bad for her.

Just leave me alone, um-kay?

Thankfully, she’s back to her happy little self today, and the mopies appear to be gone for now.

All this does mean, however, that the baby pool is still open! Thanks to everyone who’s played so far. And if you haven’t gotten your entry in yet, you still have time. Remember, comments close when the kittens are born.