Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Maybe he met a nasty neighbour and is feeling a little people shy again. Either way, we both hope he comes home soon. (And I berate myself for not taking more photos and videos of him... what if I never get to see him again? He was by my side every night and day that I was home. To me it was as if he'd be around forever. I wish I'd appreciated him even more than I did).
We'd had some dark and overcast days and my spirit certainly felt pretty down. Then when entering the kitchen I saw this beautiful violet had come into bloom. Hidden away on the shelf this beauty grew secretly and in silence only to reveal itself in its glorious full bloom. I note that it had been there all along, I just hadn't noticed.
Death and threats of death seem to float very close by lately, threatening my loved ones. A coworker with bowel cancer, a friend with breast cancer, my own mother with thyroid cancer, a client just diagnosed with it and a fellow Canadian blogger, Barry (http://anexplorers.blogspot.com/), has just been diagnosed with this dreaded illness.
Many of us confess we fear it. Every pain or internal ache and it makes me think, "I wonder if I have cancer?" And I know I'm not alone in these thoughts. Finally I'm being pushed to appreciate what health I do have and to not take it so for granted. And I'll have a mammogram this spring as I promised my friend Anne who has recently fought breast cancer.
There's no shortage of things around to suck the joy from life and sometimes when I feel sorry for myself I make a point of remembering those people who are not as fortunate as me. I watched a show on the weekend that showed children under 10 battling cancer (one girl had no less than 42 weeks of chemotherapy) and she died. It was heartbreaking to watch and beautiful too. Beautiful only because sometimes those things that put us close to death bring out the sweetness of the joy of life. I remember this when my father-in-law died. He was a man who would not tell his children he loved them, not until cancer struck him down. As he lay dying it was very sad but beautiful how he let down the walls and told his children he loved them.
So it appears my prayer life is growing, praying for my fur babies and my family and friends. I just pray that the only thing sucked away is the cancer and all that's left behind is that beautiful sweetness and joy of life.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I hadn't been feeding them greens. My history with greens is a little scary - years ago we raised a wild baby bunny and when we gave it greens it got diarrhea and then died - so I was very nervous about giving greens. After reading more information on the Rabbit Society web site I relaxed, seeing that the issue of diarrhea is more with baby rabbits, not adults as long as the greens were introduced slowly. I've now turned over a new leaf ;)
Friday, March 20, 2009
He used to be wild. At least he appeared to be.
I'd see him late at night when I'd come out the back door with some garbage or peelings to dump in the compost. He'd be near the garage where the roofed patio is coming off the garage. That was where the food dish was for the dog. He'd see me and he'd run out of there pretty fast.
As time went on he didn't run as fast--he knew I wouldn't chase him, squirt water from the hose or throw rocks at him like I knew others were wont to do. But he'd always run, sometimes pausing as he jumped to the top of the chain link fence - a quick look back at me (probably more for his own security) and then he'd vanish on the other side, his dark black fur swallowed by the darkness.
Knowing he was a stray I bought cat chow and would put it out for him so he wouldn't have to eat just dog food. I didn't own a cat at the time, only my border collie dog Sam. I could tell he was a stray. There's a certain body posture that a stray has; crouched, low to the ground, and they walk lightly on their feet, almost like they're in stealth mode all the time. That also means they're not relaxed like a house cat, a loved cat.
The term feral is often used but experience has shown me that 'scared' would be a better term for these cats. That's not to say that there aren't totally wild (feral) cats out there, because there are, but most didn't start out feral.
Time would pass and I would see this cat on occasion, sometimes he'd run out of the dog house in the night. There was straw in it and my dog certainly didn't sleep in it at night, only during the day time. The small garage door was usually left open in winter especially, not so much in the summer because raccoons would make a mess of the garbage. I knew that he could go in there if it got really cold, or any other stray cat for that matter. (We'd had a childhood experience with a precious cat running away from home and getting such severe frost bite that the tops of his ears which fell off. Ever since then, I can't stand the thought of a stray cat being out in the cold).
As my dog Sammy got older his hips began to bother him. I realized he needed a warmer place to sleep during the day other than his dog house.
Mom, Dad and I cut a doggy door in the small garage door so that it could be closed. That way it'd be warmer inside. Then I set up a straw dog bed in an extra large cardboard box and then put in a pig lamp. Pig lamp is the term I use - it's a heat lamp with a protective wire covering and my grandpa used to use them in the barn. He'd hang it over the piglets to keep them warm.
It took Sam a little time to get used to going through the dog door, but it wasn't long until he was spending a lot of time in there nestled in the straw. And at night Tom would sleep in Sam's bed.
I'd see the wild cat when walking in the subdivision and I realized he had quite a large range to cover. We'd nicknamed him Tom - as in Tom Cat. Early on when it was winter I could always tell when he'd come by because of the tale tell footprints in the snow. Tom's footprints were unique though - giant, because he is polydactael which meant he had extra toes. In fact, that was the first time I ever 'saw' Tom was when he left super huge footprints in the snow. I new I had a large Tom cat around.
As time went on Tom didn't run away quite so fast but I realized he was less and less afraid of me. Then one day he showed up under the heat lamp in Sam's bed and he did not, would not, run away. He was sick. Really sick. So I gave him food and water, left the heat lamp on and kept the dog away. I was even able to touch his head briefly, which he hated and shrank back from but he didn't run away. That's how sick he was. Thankfully, he recovered.
From there I worked on Tom, calling him by name, talking to him, and keeping a regular feeding schedule. In time, he would come and eat, walking by me as I sat reading outside. He knew I was a friend. When I said his name, he'd look at me. And he didn't run away any more.
Then I would touch his back. At first he shrunk away but it didn't take long until he allowed it and came to enjoy it and he loved to have his head scratched.
In time I knew I had to do the right thing and have Tom neutered. He was constantly in fights and coming by wounded--once with a terrible throat gash that got so infected I had to capture him and take him to the vet. He was getting older and I realized that by not having him fixed I was perpetuating the problem of feral cats in the neighbourhood. I was afraid to capture him and put him through this procedure, since to my knowledge he'd never been to a vet in his life. I had to admit to myself I was afraid he would hate me for it and I'd worked so very hard to gain his trust.
I did it anyway. It turned out he very badly needed tooth surgery too. The vet said, "Boy is this cat ever used to pain. He has broken teeth with bare nerves." So we got him all fixed up and he came home. And he didn't hate me. I had to keep him in the garage for a few days to recover and we had a great time bonding. I had to care for his neck wound and Tom really enjoyed the attention he got while I cleaned his wounds. And he purred. For the first time Tom started purring, very loudly. We became very good friends.
From there, Tom was introduced to the house... slowly... he was freaked out about the whole coming indoors thing at first, but being a smart cat, he caught on to everything really quickly. He loved coming in on rainy days and evenings. In time, he was allowed to stay in overnight and then as long as he wanted, asking to come and go as he pleased.
I started writing this last Friday.
On Tuesday this week Tom vanished.
Today is Friday again and Tom is still missing. This is very out of character with a cat who has slept by my side every night for the last two years.
My niece helped put up posters on my street and at the busy street corner. Dad and I checked the road for a body - hoping not to find him but needing to know if he'd been killed on the road.
No body, no Tom.
And I worry. Tuesday was a garbage day and nice weather during March break. Lots of parents are home and maybe gardening and cleaning up outside, maybe opening up their sheds and garages. I'm hoping Tom wandered inside and is just waiting to be set free. It's not really like him to wander into other people's buildings (that's something Tigger would do).
I'm missing him very much. Let's just say the prayer life has picked up again as I'm hoping my big little darling comes home very soon. If you're someone that prays, please pray for Tom. Thank you.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This is the shop where I got my lovely Louet spinning wheel which I just adore. I feel about my spinning wheel how men feel about their cars.
Without looking I asked if it was Tigger? "Yes," she said. We seem to have a trend when it comes to Tigger and warm fibres.
And here you can see the Northern Lights Picasso roving done up as a two ply. Not so clown-like now.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
After discovering that she hadn't brought a jacket I was going to insist that she wear the hat. But it turned out that the hat met well with her sense of fashion and she happily put it on with a, "I love this hat. I'm going to wear it to school tomorrow". That, I believe, is a knitter's compliment, and her backhanded way of telling me, "thanks for the hat."
Amber had never seen an alpaca before but she had read my blog. It certainly peaked her interest so when she heard I was going she asked if she could go too.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Brown Sugar Manicure:
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Olive Oil (you can substitute the oil with Grapeseed, Almond Oil, etc - or leave it out entirely)
This treatment is a little messy so it should be done over a plate, a flat-shaped bowl or if you're like me, I stand over the kitchen sink.
- Add the oil to the brown sugar and then massage it into your hands for 3 to 5 minutes.
- When done, rinse your hands in warm water and pat dry.
- Finish by massaging 1 tsp of your favourite hand cream.
Your hands will feel incredibly soft. Seriously, try it and then let me know what you think.
Why does this work? The sugar acts as an exfolliant that gradually rubs off the dry flaky skin cells from the surface of your hands, but unlike sand, the sugar melts as you rub it in which is why it won't irritate your skin. It's that dry flaky skin on the surface that prevents the hand creams from penetrating to moisturize your skin.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
(This is a goose egg shell carved with a high speed drill in a filigree design and then pearls were glued on top).
You should see this Kiva video about a woman in Nepal. You'll be amazed to see how one small loan of about $250.00 impacted an entire family and a village: http://vimeo.com/3323701?utm_source=jg&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=jg%5FKiva+Newsletter%3A+Changing+Lives+from+Kathmandu+to+Kabala+%28230280221%29&utm_content=barblindberg%40rogers%2Ecom
Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you consider a Kiva loan too. Unlike the gift store lady who put me down and criticised my home-based entrepreneurial ideals (she went out of business a few years later by the way), Kiva is a hand up to people who are trying really hard for a better life. You just can't beat that kind of sponsorship in my mind and what a great way to encourage another person in their entrepreneurial dream.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
He was having a good stretch and a grooming session. I smiled, clever thing. The beam would be a great place to hide and it was under the roof, offering a dry spot and out of the wind too. I watched when a few minutes later the raccoon started to walk the beam, but I noticed its gait was hitched. That was because this particular raccoon had only 3 legs. He was missing a front paw. So on the way home I was scribbling away in my notebook a whole story scenario that involved this raccoon that I would use in my book. The fact that I saw it in Toronto is amazing and so perfect for my children's story line in my second book that I was almost giggling all the way home. How could it be that this great thing, this great idea was just handed to me? Of all the things to see while in Toronto, this was exactly what I needed. I've named the raccoon Simon and I hope his life is long and all his garbage raids are successful. Truth is indeed strange and now I'll write it into my fictional story (I'm writing and illustrating a children's fictional story about honey bees and some of them go on a trip that takes in Toronto).
For this second scarf, my spinning is more a bulky weight with a WPI of 10. The lace shows up more in the stitch with the more delicate yarn and the scarf is about a third the weight as the first one. And it's used about half the amount of roving to complete.
But I'm now eyeballing lace weight yarns with thoughts of doing a lace shawl so I will need my spinning to improve for that......
Friday, March 6, 2009
My sister and I call it swimming in the 'gene pool'. Obesity on both sides of the family along with shortness, thin hair, and unfortunately on Dad's side of the family, arthritis and bad joints. And Dad, said, "Sorry, but we can't put you back."
Over time, my lifestyle, activities and Dad's bad genes were catching up to create some painful consequences.
It started with a bursitis type pain in the shoulder that would come on when I was knitting--and I was always knitting. I would rest it briefly but unfortunately my high pain threshold was getting me into trouble. You see, with an 'A-Type personality' I'd work through the pain and wouldn't stop.
Sometimes a good work ethic can be a real pain, literally a real pain!
The body does talk doesn't it? It let's us know when we need to make a change or stop an activity. The problem was that I had trouble listening. I thought I could ignore it because the issue would go away. I guess for a while it did but of course nothing lasts forever.
I was in my early thirties when it started to become evident that I wouldn't be able to knit any more. The bursitis pain got so bad it would not go away, even after I stopped to rest. I even put away my knitting very reluctantly for a couple of months only to find when I returned to it months later the pain would return immediately. So months of rest didn't make any difference.
I wrestled with this for quite some time. You see, I loved to knit. It was a real passion for me. I couldn't believe this hobby was being taken away from me and I kept trying to come back to it only to find after a few rows or a couple hours that the pain would come back, faster and deeper, taking longer to leave.
So very reluctantly I quit knitting. It was very frustrating to be so obsessed and then not be able to participate in what is probably one of the healthiest hobbies in the universe. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upset.
At first I kept my Knitters magazine subscriptions going and I'd even buy wool and patterns to tuck away in my stash for 'some time later'. I guess you could name that the 'denial phase'. Then after a couple years I would take out my knitting and start a garment, only to discover after a very few rows that the pain hadn't left at all. it was only hiding, waiting for that repetitive movement to reveal itself again.
I'd wait another two or three years and try again, all with the same results. Eventually I let my magazine subscriptions discontinue and I stopped going to yarn stores entirely. It was just too hard to face this severe a restriction--this total diet. Like an alcoholic staying away from the bar or a Weight Watchers' dieter staying away from The Mandarin buffet, I stayed away from knitting and pretended to myself that I was never a knitter. It was easier to forget. It helped to stave off the pain of losing an awesome hobby (torn from my cold, numb painful fingers would be a more accurate description!)
I even bought a knitting machine, a good one. I used it too and it worked very well, but it was cold metal and a handle to push back and forth. I missed the feel of the fabric through my fingers, the whole tactile experience of knitting was missing. And then there's the portability, taking my knitting to the doctor's office or on the bus. The machine just didn't fit the need, the craving.
Then over the next ten or so knitless years my life and career changed dramatically and I became a web developer and software teacher, working a great deal on the computer. This too began to create havoc, but with my hands and arms. I learned to use voice recognition software and had all kinds of ECG's, MRI's and CAT Scans, physio therapy, chiropractor and massage.
In the end they said I had a really small spinal canal and with age, genetics, etc., I was "at risk". They were reluctant to describe exactly what at risk meant, but I can only presume nerve damage or at worst partial or full paralysis. So I learned to curtail my other hobbies such as gardening and web site design. I got out of chat rooms where I'd be typing away for hours and avoided the computer whenever I could in the evenings because I was on it so much during the day.
Then I saw a copy of Knitter's Magazine (1999). It was the commemorative issue for Elizabeth Zimmermann (1910 to 1999) showing her Mitered Mozart cardigan. It was LOVE at first site. I had to knit it. I just had to.
So I made a plan. How could I slip this whole knitted cardigan by without my right hand finding out about it? What if I did only 2 rows a night? It might take forever but at least I'd be knitting.
I had to order a copy of the magazine from the publisher because all the shops were sold out. Then I went to the local yarn store (http://www.londonyarns.com/) and ordered the wool. Now the wool for the cardigan is made by Mission Falls (http://www.missionfalls.com/home.php), a Canadian company that creates awesome patterns and yarns.
I was so happy. I would knit again. The rules would be different but I would be knitting again. I started the cardigan and got most of the back done before right hand started to really react, getting stiff and numb, and the shoulder was beginning to squabble. I realized it was probably too much straight speed knitting--all garter stitch and if I had fallen in love with an intarsia design I would probably have knit slower.
But we don't always get to choose what we fall in love with.
The sweater was put up frequently while I rested and slowly a few years crept by. Every now and again I would get it out and knit again... same results. But at least I'd learned not to go so far to a painful level.
I must have complained to someone about not being able to knit and they suggested that I learn European knitting because it used primarily the left hand. At that time my right hand was most problematic. In fact, my right arm and hand was so problematic I was in the process of becoming left handed by doing most tasks with my left (I bet my brain had fun growing all those new neural pathways!).
I got my books out, my Knitter's Companion, and learned how to knit European. WOW! What an economy of movement. It's remarkable. I don't think all those English style knitters out there realize how much less movement is required to make a stitch when knitting European. Sure my tension was a little loose, but I WAS KNITTING!!! Also a change to circular needles helped because they were more ergonomically shaped for the hands.
So, I mitered on happily and rested when I felt the signals. I could switch off too from left hand to right hand knitting--the heck with tension--I was just grateful to be knitting!
Now I know I'm on a permanent knitter's diet. I realized that it's better for my 'I don't want to stop just a few more rows' personality if I knit small projects. That way they are finished before I cause myself too much trouble.
Despite everything I'm grateful. I'm grateful for the little bit I can do. And I LOVE the groups and blogs. This provides me with another way to connect with knitters and hang out with knitters even when I can't knit. God bless Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot (http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/) for her books - I have almost all of them - and her blog and I can SO identify with everything she says :)
Even if I can't knit whenever I want, I can at least connect to a community of knitters and I know they understand exactly how I feel.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
She LOVES to be petted and brushed. In fact, it's part of our nightly ritual that I come in the Rabbit Room every hour or so for a little scratching and brushing.
If I get behind and spend a little too long without visiting, she thumps in her cage. I don't mind it at all. Actually, I'm kind of glad they do it because it reminds me that they're waiting for me to come and visit. I do get caught up in my hobbies and time can go by without me noticing.
The rabbits can thump in the morning too when I'm up and moving around (just once or twice, so not super demanding). This is my pre-coffee state and I'm not one to spend much time prepping before I'm out the door to the bus. So the fact that the rabbits remind me they're waiting for their morning feed and quick pat really helps keep me on schedule and reminds me not to forget about them.
Margarite's hair is growing back from her last hair cut. Her previous owner gave me a bag of her fibre which I've been spinning slowly on the hand spindle.
I've spun a little bit of Lexi's fur on the spinning wheel but I find the fibre short and the spinning wheel a bit fast.
I'm not one to give up, I've just got lots of other projects on the go so I'll have to get back to that one.
I love Margarite's agouti brown and gray colouring.
I hope to let Margarite's fur grow out pretty long before I cut it... watching to ensure she doesn't get wool block though.
Using the same theory I have for my cats, instead of setting the rabbits up so that they're out in a rabbit run all the time - which at first they'd enjoy but after a time would become boring. Instead, they have large comfortable hutches that they're in all day and then I let them out in the evening. I opted to not make runs, but instead to rabbit proof and give them the whole room - meaning more room to manoeuvre and get exercise. Because of that they have to take turns which is why I visit every hour or so, to switch them out... Lexi back to her cage with some sunflower seeds and Margarite comes out for a time.
They head straight for the kitty litter when I release them and they enjoy sitting in it for a while. This has made cage cleaning much simpler. I swear that Lexi saves her pee for the kitty litter at the end of the day because her tray in her cage is not full of wetness from urine.
I'm SO glad I read up on rabbits and therefore knew that rabbits can have red coloured pee - it can actually look like blood, but it's not.
If I had seen that before reading about it I would have freaked out! Their pee also has a lot of calcium in it which is why there can be calcium marks on the catch tray of their cage.
Lexi's fur is already growing back from bunny's first hair cut and it's not looking so uneven. Hopefully when we do the next cut I'll be more relaxed.
Now, in case you don't know what this look means, I will tell you - it's the look of PURE MISCHIEF!
Lexi is the little bunny, the baby, and she's about 10 months old. She's a little mischiefer. I might have to rename her. She regularly climbs to the roof of Margarite's hutch which I have set up as the grooming station.
Up there is all the grooming paraphernalia - safety scissors and brush, which our little mischief bunny picks everything up with her teeth and drops them to the floor.
Then she grabs the little rug I put there and she pulls it back and tugs on it. (photo of Lexi on top of the hutch).
If I stand still at any time when she's out of the cage she circles me. Literally like circling the wagons.... it's hilarious and I will try to post a video of it for you to see... it's a little blurry so I'll retake and re-post in the near future.
Why does she circle me? She wants to be petted and brushed. She loves for me to pick her up and put her on top of the hutch for a grooming session.
Mind you, she's not keen on having her tummy done, or letting me trim her toenails but for anything else she'd lay there for hours.
If I'm giving Margarite extended attention, this little minx will thump and grunt in frustration. She definitely knows when she thinks it's her turn.
I'm totally enjoying the bunnies and their very different personalities. They're very friendly and not just these quiet little animals. They are both real characters and really enjoy interaction and fun.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
This was a sweater I made a few years back, again a Pattons design. The design in the pattern book was done in off-white, but I opted for black so that the flowers would show up more. I figured if I was going to do all that work, I wanted them to stand out.
I enjoyed each and every stitch. I particularly enjoyed the anticipation of the finished project almost as much as seeing the sweater complete.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Pattons was very quickly becoming a favourite with me because I liked most of the patterns they offered in their books and their scrumptious yarn.