Yellow Butterflies

Magnolia soulangeana "Butterflies"

The goods - some of Scout's Swag

In my first-ever blog contest, three people guessed the right answer. The mystery flower is a true yellow Japanese magnolia and the variety is 'Butterflies'. I stuff my zone 6a garden as full of as many Southern plants as I can, to remind me of home. I love magnolias, but wanted something that would be hardy and different from your typical pink and purple ones (even though I love them too). So when I saw pictures of yellow magnolias on the i-net, I knew I just had to have one.

Now, in my part of the midwest, people tend to be very suspicious and closed-minded regarding anything (or anyone) that is new and unfamiliar. So that means that the stores here tend to be about 5 years behind on trends, even the garden centers. I had a heck of a time finding anyone who had even heard of a yellow magnolia until last year, when I finally tracked down a very nice little tree. Unfortunately, I had missed the blooms by about 1 week. So it wasn't until earlier this week that I finally saw them blooming in real life. And they are even better than I anticipated! Don't you just love it when that happens?

The winner is Diane, whose name was randomly chosen by Mr. C. Thank you Sonya and Li, who each guessed correctly and will each receive a little surprise. And Juli who did not guess magnolia will get a little something for being a good sport. I enjoy all of your comments and love getting to know you all on your blogs. Thanks! And keep your eyes open for a new contest coming soon as I am approaching my 100th post!

It's late and my stash is spread out all over the great room and must be picked up before bed, so I must go before I finish telling about the rest of the weekend and an exciting addition to the stash. Guess you'll just have to check back next week...


Spring Is Sprung

It's officially spring here on the prairie. Everything seems to have popped into bloom over the past three days:

The weeping cherry is in bud

The early daffodils

The violas, lysymachia and Labrador violets

Any guesses?

This last picture is a greatly anticipated event - it's first year in my garden AND the first time I will ever see one in bloom in real life. I can't wait!!! I am having a contest for the person who guesses the right answer ( if more than one person guesses, there will be a drawing to determine the winner). And if no one guesses the correct answer, I will have a drawing anyway. The prize? Does "Scout's Swag" tempt you at all? And maybe a little surprise thrown in. I am hoping to lure some of the lurkers out into the open. You have until Friday - the answer will be revealed on Saturday. Good guessing!


The Teeny Bunnies Made Me Do It

So of course I had to run over to my favorite lys to get some yarn so I could knit something using my new bunny stitch markers. You'd do the same thing, right? So many beautiful new yarns! So many gorgeous springtime colors! I didn't even try to resist. Do you blame me?

The springtime stash

Criquette wasn't in the mood to pose tonight, so I had to use her stand in. The pansy-colored yarn is a squishy-soft baby alpaca that I can't stop petting (which put Miss Criquette's whiskers in a snit). It is called Big Baby from Alpaca With a Twist. If I can get the gauge close enough to fit the pattern, it will be knit into Li's Herringbone Scarf, a pattern I have been dying to make. The coral colored yarn is a wool/mohair worsted by J Knits called Felter's Dream. I want to use the One Row scarf pattern again and hope it looks good with this yarn. These scarves will be for the 2 wonderful ladies who run our office and put up with all kinds of craziness, even sometimes from the patients! They are very interested in my current knitting projects and act like I am a good knitter (they don't knit, obviously) so I am going to have great fun showing them the progress on these scarves without saying who they are for and then surprising them. Does anyone know when Administrative Assistants' Day is?

Next in the lineup is some Nashua Cilantro in Soft Green and Ivory for a baby hat for a friend who is finally having her prayers answered for a grandchild. I know she'd really love one in pink, but since the sex of the baby isn't known yet, I'm playing it safe and neutral. And finally, the fresh and pretty apple green yarn is a Rio de la Plata merino hand-dyed sock yarn. It's so soft and bouncy and pretty, it almost makes me want to learn sock-knitting, but it is actually not going to be part of my stash - I am just fostering it for someone else.

And speaking of fostering, don't be feeling sorry for Griff, who is not Los Lonely at all. He is a big dog now! It's official - he goes on walks with Chloe and Abbie every day. And when he potties outside, he can come in and have playtime with the big dogs. And Chloe and Abbie have been surprisingly good with him. Abbie even lets him share her squeaky toys and Chloe herds him around.

Killing the squirrel toy with the big dogs

In other good news, Griff is now being shown on the border collie rescue page, starting today. He is one of the only puppies available, and the cutest in my opinion. And the smartest, I am sure. And the best news is that he doesn't have to go back to the shelter this weekend. The shelter director understands why it's important to us to help him find the right family and is letting us do it this way. So if the rain stops and it stays warm, I'll spend Sunday in the garden, surrounded by canines. And if the rain doesn't stop, I'll spend Sunday knitting, surrounded by canines. Either way, it's good. Hope you have a good one too.

"Just save some for me, okay?"


Surprise Bunnies!

Today was just one of those wonderful days that keep me going on the not-so-wonderful ones. It was rainy, then dreary and cloudy, but warm, all day. But thanks to the 2 previous days of warmth and rain, there are daffodils, flowering pears, magnolias and violas blooming all over the city and it is just beautiful! And as if that wasn't good enough, look what I came home to find:

The good kind of bunnies

The cutest, teeniest little bunny stitch markers from my friend, Sonya. I met her in the February Color Swap - she is the one who sent me the luscious chocolate alpaca yarn that is now a finished scarf. Thank you so much, Sonya! You made my day. I love bunnies (unless they are munching on my flowers). Ya'll should go visit Sonya at her blog. She has the cutest kids and dog and is just a really nice person. She will even take you on fun tours of her charming town - look for the Kong-sized clock. And if you join in on the Color Swap (see March 19 post), you might just get lucky like I did and get paired up with her!


Finally, Some Real Knitting Content

Last week was good for finishing the 2 alpaca scarves I have been working on for the Alpaca Along. This first one was knit with the gorgeous chocolate Blue Sky alpacas yarn from Sonya (thanks again, Sonya!):

The color in this picture is accurate

The color is off in this picture

I absolutely loved working with this brown yarn and will be ordering up a bunch more in some different colors. The periwinkle yarn is Reynolds Blizzard, a 65/35 blend of alpaca/acrylic in the color 617 - it is really soft but didn't have much body. In addition, it split easily with my relatively blunt-tipped bamboos so I didn't enjoy working with this one as much, but I like the way the periwinkle complements the chocolate.

Lengthwise garter stitch wasn't what I originally wanted to do - I wanted the brown to be the predominant color, with varying width stripes of different colored alpaca yarns, but I didn't like the color "bumps" (I don't know what else to call that line of the first color that shows up on the second color) that were too obtrusive on the "wrong side" of the scarf because of the high contrast in colors. I tried stockingnette, but was still getting the lines/bumps. So I settled for good old garter stitch with just one color change and am very pleased with the way the focus ends up on the chocolate yarn, which is where it belongs. This scarf is for me!

This second scarf has been knit with Alpaca Baby Grande. The pattern is the One-Row Scarf from Stephanie, aka Yarn Harlot. This is a perfect stitch pattern - it's not only easy to memorize and quite lovely, but has a flow to it that is very soothing and relaxing. Plus I could watch TV and knit without even having to pay much attention to the knitting. And the yarn is incredibly soft and sensual. In fact I am going to buy more of it this weekend and make a couple more one-row scarves for our wonderful and indispensible office staff. Surely handknitted gifts of alpaca yumminess will entice them to continue to tolerate working with a bunch of neurotic therapists???

Finally, here is the new craft I have learned - needle felting! I took a little class at the lys and we made an easter egg and bunny. I don't know where the egg went (I suspect Criquette and Bitsy were involved in its disappearance but they're not letting the cat out of the bag). Here is the bunny:

A little out of focus, but you get the idea. Hard to believe I made it by poking a gob of wool with a needle about 8723 times. It's a great way to work out stored-up aggression, as long as you don't poke yourself by mistake (ask me how I know). I'm hoping to find some time this weekend to make something else. Which means a road trip to a not so lys, about 40 miles up the road. To buy some roving and whatever other little needle felting goodies I can't live without. And if I happen to find the right yarn for my next non-scarf project, all the better!

Finally, I will leave you with a shot of my next scarf project. Once again, a simple lengthwise garter stitch in some of my favorite colors for spring and summer. This is meant to be a gift, but I'm really loving these colors....


Los Lonely Boy

Thursday night

Friday night

Cody (now re-renamed Oscar) went home with his new parents and doggy sister on Friday afternoon, leaving only Griff without a forever family. Of course, we have spoiled him almost rotten, by playing extra time with him, giving him some extra treats and of course lots and lots of cuddles. He has actually settled in quite well, only wimpering for about 5 minutes Friday night before falling asleep. We're continuing to potty train him. He has learned to fetch and sits on command, even without treats.

I'm sorry I don't have a third picture that would be captioned "Saturday and Sunday". But since Griff's brothers have left, he has been joining the "big dogs" Chloe and Abbie on their walks and then playing with them a while. We were afraid he wouldn't be able to keep pace, but after a little more than a mile walk, guess who was trotting out at the front of the pack?

We took him down to the shelter yesterday and today. We had several people interested, but none of them were the right fit. We were lucky enough to hook up with MOKAN Border Collie Rescue, and since he has so many BC traits, they are cross-listing him on their website and helping us find him a great permanent home.

Earlier this week, I finished knitting up a scarf made from the chocolate brown alpaca, which needs to have ends woven in and blocking. I am knitting small swatches on my next project - a spring scarf. I lovelovelove the yarns I am using and can't wait to get started on it sometime this week.

And, as if I have unlimited free time, I learned a new little pasttime. I will post about it next blog. I will say that it involves the wooly stuff, but that's all. You'll just need to come back, okay?


The Perfect, Perfect Prince

Take a look at one lucky little dog.

Yes, Cody found a new home today. We met his new parents at the shelter yesterday, who initially said they were "just looking". However, much conversation and puppy-holdings later led to the delightful Mrs. J asking if she could bring their dog, M to meet Cody last night. So this lovely couple brought their lovely border collie mix to our home where the couple fell in love with Cody, Cody fell in love with M and her fluffy tail, and M ran around our house looking for the cats. They called us this morning to say they had decided to adopt him and are renaming Humphrey (as in Bogart). At first, I was like, WTF? but the more I thought about it, kind of liked it. It's the kind of name he will grow into and will seem just right when he is a big, beautiful hound dog.

So, as with the other pups, Cody has found the perfect family! They are a very nice professional couple in their 30's, whose dogs are their children, so of course are spoiled with lots of love and toys. And lots of walks on the walking trails by their house. And big, soft cushy beds. And Mr. G works at home, so is around for cuddles and play time. But here's the best part. Mr. G recently had to put down his wonderful dog of many years. He had this dog before he and Mrs. J married (M was her dog before they married) and has really felt her loss.

They were really attracted by Cody/Humphrey's personality, which is a little more introverted than the other pups. He needs lots of attention and reassurance, probably because he was the runt. And his favorite thing to do is still getting a toy and scrambling into our laps for a good long chew, followed by a long snuggle. Mr. G's previous dog used to do this too. And Cody, being a bit OCD, has a thing for gathering up all of the toys and putting them away in the crate. He "cleans up" every day. Get this - so did Mr. G's previous dog. In fact, Cody/Humphrey will be getting his own toy box to put his toys in! I really think that Cody is going to help Mr. G heal from his loss and will be a joy for them.

Mrs. J referred to M several times as their "pretty, pretty princess". My guess is that if Mr. Cody/Humphrey plays his cards right, he will become their "perfect, perfect prince". We should all have it so good.

I actually got a little more knitting done today. I have finished the aqua alpaca scarf and just need to weave in the ends and block it. This new scarf I am working on has been frogged several times because the yarn was not happy with what I was trying to force it to do and I think I have found the right pattern, finally. It wanted to be knit on sz 15's, instead of the 17's and 19's I had tried, and it also decided it wanted to be knit lengthwise. I hope to have pictures with actual knitting content in them by next weekend.

I am also hoping to have a story to tell you about this little guy's new family.


I am really puzzled as to why no one has shown an interest in him yet, except a nutty/scary woman looking for a brother for her enormously obese and snappy sheltie, a mom with 4 young, out of control and very badly behaved boys, and a preteen who, without even asking to pick him up while he was sleeping, grabbed him by the leg to drag him over and caused him to yelp- I don't often get mad but I was in her face, yelling "You don't pick up puppies that way! Do you want me to yank you by your arm?" I felt kind of bad for being harsh and apologized but I don't think it will change her behavior. The worst part is, her parents never tried to stop her or reprimand her, and had the nerve to ask about adopting one of the puppies!! I'm afraid I was rather abrupt and rude with them too. They're lucky I didn't jab them with my knitting needles!

Griff is the most outgoing and most fun little guy in the bunch. But I have faith that the right family and situation are just waiting to happen. Please send good thoughts Griff's way this week.


How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

Are they gone yet?

As wacko as this past week has been, there have also been some highlights. Our efforts to find the pups forever homes are starting to pay off. We realized back in the beginning that the only way we would be able to part from these boys would be to know they were going to homes where they would be treated like a member of the family, and not be abused or neglected. So we put a lot of time into socializing them to love people, other dogs and also to have good manners and even do a little trick or 2. This was really important because, unfortunately in the world of animal shelters, black dogs, especially big black dogs are usually hard to adopt out. And these pups will be at least 50# when grown.

So please indulge me while I brag on our foster kids a little. These dogs have incredible temperaments and are very affectionate. They are well on their way to being potty trained, sit on command and are starting to come when called and are learning to fetch. They don't jump up on people (at least not yet) and have learned to use soft mouths around people's hands. In short, they are dream puppies.

Oreo was the first to be adopted by one of my coworkers and her family, which includes 2 great kids. They all bonded right away and his loving disposition is the perfect fit for their family. They're taking some family classes to train him, he will live inside but spend lots of time outside as they plan to include him in their various outdoor activities. They picked him up on Wednesday. Mr. C and I were both sad to see him go but it's made easier knowing that he will have such a good home. So we got a call from his new mom the next day and she raved about how he went right to bed without crying (the secret is that we turn on a sound machine that has a heartbeat every night at bedtime. We also sent him home with a towel that all of the puppies had slept on so he had their smell. And they got him a sound machine! How spoiled is that?) and slept through the night, and was pottying in the grass and hadn't even gone on his newspapers in the house. Brilliant dog - that's the way to get yourself a forever home! The best part is, since we work together, I will get regular updates and even get to see him from time to time. They renamed him "Buck", in honor of Buck O'Neill, a beloved Kansas City figure who played for the American Negro Baseball League and was just the sweetest man, well known for his generosity in fund-raising. It's a good name for a good dog.

So that left us with 3. We went down to one of the TV stations today - every Sat. am they feature an animal from our animal shelter and the boys were the stars today! I recorded the program and hope to figure out how to download it so I can put it on the blog. They were perfectly behaved, sat on the newscasters laps very politely and kept looking into the camera with their sweet little faces. Who could resist? Then we took them to the shelter where they had their own little puppy pen in the lobby and they were the stars of the day. I brought my knitting, but ended up being so busy that I only got a couple rows of my scarf done.

Marley was the most popular - sort of surprising since he is the biggest of the 3 with huge paws. A couple of people came so close to adopting him, and would have given him a decent home, but I just had a feeling he could do better. Do you believe in the power of prayer? I sure do. I said a quick one, and a little while later, a single mom and her 11 year old twin boys came in. My first impression was, I am ashamed to admit, "oh not them" because I was pretty sure one of the boys had Asperger's syndrome. (I work with lots of highly functioning kids with Asperger's and really enjoy them but many of them are just not good with pets). But physically, he reminded me of my favorite nephew, and I started talking with them and am I glad I did. He and his brother are 2 of the gentlest and politest kids I've met and it was obvious the mom had good judgement and a knowledge of dogs. They saw Marley and that was it. Love at first sight. For Marley too. It turns out, both boys have high-functioning autism. They have been raised around their grandparents' dogs and have learned how to be respectful of dogs. Marley just settled into their arms and kept licking them. I wanted to cry, it was just so touching. The mom was finally getting them the puppy they had been asking for, for their birthdays next week. They already knew what their responsibilities would be and the mom felt they were ready.

Now for the cool part - the part where you know it was meant to be. These boys had been among my first patients when I was starting out as a psychologist, 8 years ago. As soon as the mom told me, I remembered them (although I would have never recognized them they have grown and matured so much). She said when she recognized me, she knew she had to adopt Marley because I was the person who recognized their symptoms and referred them for autism evals and that, because they had gotten services at an early age, had been able to make such significant progress. I did cry then, because so often I never know how these kids I care so much about turn out. She wants to stay in touch and be able to send me pictures of Marley (who is being renamed Max Chocolate) and the boys. Who informed me as they were leaving that they were now his new dads and they would love him forever and would make sure he only ate good dog food so he would never get sick. We should all have such good dads.

So although we are 2 puppies fewer tonight, instead of tears, we're grateful and joyful and have high hopes for tomorrow when we'll take Griff and Cody back to the shelter to find them their forever families. We have reason to believe one of them will be going to their new home tomorrow, but it's not certain and I don't want to jinx it by saying anything yet. So stay tuned tomorrow for the continuing saga of the little puppy posse on the prairie.

Cody, Oreo (aka Buck) & Marley (aka Max Chocolate)


Everything They Say About Full Moons is True

This has been one effin crazy week to be a psychologist. It is absolutely true that the full moon brings out the crazies in many folks, shrinks included. Although the official full moon was last weekend, there was also an eclipse (which I think also wigs people out) of the full moon and I think that combination was potent enough to carry over into the start of the week. In fact, when I left work on Monday night, there was a huge dark orange moon looming in the sky, the kind I've heard called a "blood moon" - an appropriate end to the day in our clinic. It started first thing that morning - one of the therapists was doing a family session with twin adolescent boys and their parents. The boys were intoxicated and pissed. Bad combination. The session exploded into a verbally violent fight, with the overgrown oafs bursting out of her office and storming through the halls, yelling, cursing, slamming doors and generally behaving worse than elephants in heat (I watch too much Animal Planet). This was way beyond the kind of behavior we experience in our clinic, which is a private practice in a suburban area where our clients are more typically anxious, depressed or seeking help for normal life circumstances. Not raging idiots.

So after that dust had settled and the therapist reassured everyone that the twins wouldn't be back (at least as a pair), we all went about our normal routines until after lunch when ANOTHER full-moon victim came in for an initial visit. This guy was seeking a disability determination and arrived dressed in a military-looking outfit (not an actual uniform), and sat in the waiting room talking loudly to himself about killing his wife and children, while stomping his feet and beating on his legs with his fists. Now fortunately I was blissfully unaware that a potential mass murderer was about to go postal on us until I finished my session and escorted my clients back to the waiting room and found several police officers taking the poor guy away. Turns out our building super found him wandering the halls yelling about weapons and murder and dismemberment and stuff and wisely called the cops, who discovered this guy was just out of jail on assault charges and weapons possession and that he had weapons in his car that day. Full moon fever.

And of course, I had my usual rash of weird full moon phone calls, although (strangely) all my kids that day were doing really well. I myself have been kind of squirrely this week (more than usual) and everyone in the office has been sort of weird too. Even the resident pet posse and the pups were off their usual behavior. So if you or someone you know should ever wonder if the full moon really affects people's behavior, just ask your friendly local mental health provider - they can probably give you an earful!

Speaking of puppies, I will post about them tomorrow, Sonya. Marley, Cody and Griff will be on TV in the morning and making their debut at the shelter tomorrow where their beauty and charm will surely win them forever homes. And their squirrely foster mom is going to spend the day down there with them, knitting and making sure the people who adopt them are Worthy and Sane. If I run into anyone I know, I'll just blame it on the full moon.

Obligatory knitting content combined with gratuitous cuteness