Oh Deer

This is what I woke up to on Friday morning. There was a lovely, gentle snowfall with the temperature hovering just below freezing. I had great hopes for more. But the weather rollercoaster was rolling through. By the afternoon, the temps were in the 40's and the pretty dusting of snow melted. Just in time for me to go out and do a little shopping. I was really good - I didn't go to a single yarn store.

Even though this was a long weekend, I didn't get any knitting done. The closest I got was weaving in the ends of this cute little snuggler I finished earlier this week:

I started it in response to Nichole's challenge to knit one (or more) snugglers for homeless dogs and cats. When I first started it, I thought I'd keep it for our next foster dog, but when I read about Dianne's niece and her cat sanctuary, I knew where I wanted it to go. It was a very quick knit: 2 strands of worsted acrylic, a pair of #13 circs, garter stitch, bias pattern. Hope the kitties love it!

Speaking of kitties, Criquette kept us on task as we set up the tree. She takes her job as projects supervisor very seriously. Mr. C will get the lights on sometime this week, and this weekend we'll have a little tree-trimming party - just us and the herd. There's always mischief afoot when the Christmas decorations come out. And speaking of herds...

Although this is our 3rd Christmas in the new house, this will be the first year we're getting all of the decorations out and putting up the tree. It's been really exciting opening boxes that haven't been touched in 3 years since I've forgotten at least half of what we have. This is most of my reindeer collection - there are at least 14 more that I know of but haven't unpacked yet. I love unpacking these guys. I think about my mom, my sister and my cousin who have given me several of them. (I also collect bunnies that I put out in the spring. It's funny how the 2 species that pose the most danger to my gardens are the ones I like to collect.) Here are just a few of my favorites:

This is the one who started it all. He was my Christmas gift from Mr. C
the first year we were married.

So although I didn't knit, I got off to a really good start on my holiday decorating. In fact, so good that I may actually have it all done before Christmas Eve, which is my normal disorganized schedule. Which means that I'll have plenty of time for knitting the 11 presents I had planned. Think I'll make it?


Thankful Day (With a Recipe)

Thanksgiving is the hardest time to be an orphan. Harder than Christmas, even. Mr. C and I have shared 8 Thanksgivings as orphans and even though I've gotten used to it, I don't like it and never will.

Since getting married eons ago, we alternated Thanksgiving and Christmas between the family on the bayou and the family on the prairie. Best of both worlds. And then the 5 years of hell began, 2 months after we moved from New Orleans to Kansas.

There were so many deaths - a sister-in-law's shocking and untimely death, followed 3 months later by my mother-in-law, then a year later my beloved father died, followed less than a year later by my father-in-law. My mother's cancer returned, she had a bone marrow transplant and never truly recovered. She passed away 6 months later. It was nothing like the "pretty" deaths they show in the movies.
We had to put 2 of our precious pets to sleep during this horrible stretch. There was no break from the grieving.

Then there was the lightening strike which set our house on fire around the time my mom died, (which thankfully only destroyed part of our roof and caused
some water damage inside our home) and the lawsuit we were forced to file on our neighborhood association, who tried to force us to replace the wood roof (that was hit by lightening, duh) with another wood roof. At least we won the right to put a fire-resistant roof on, not just for us, but for our entire part of the county.

And then, less than a month after our house was finally repaired from the fire, we were robbed. And then a month later, my parents' house caught on fire due to a careless roofer. My brothers had a falling out. Some friendships could not withstand the turmoil we were going through. There were days I just wanted to drive my car off a cliff - the only saving grace was that there are no cliffs in Kansas.

But through all of the grief and shock and fear and frustration and every other bad
emotion you can name, I survived. Mr. C survived. Our relationship survived. My family survived. There was a marriage, 3 births, reunions, new fur-babies, a new home, a new church, new friends. Hearts were healed.

So on Thanksgiving, I remember how much I have to grateful for. If I had not lived through those tragic years, I would not have become the person I am today. I wouldn't have so many of the blessings I have been given. And I have been given a wonderful gift: gratitude for what we do have. Gratitude for each day there isn't loss and pain. Gratitude for the people and pets I can still hug and tell "I love you."

Thank you all for taking the time out of your days to visit my blog, and for sharing your own wonderful lives at your own blogs. I hope you all have a day filled with love, wonderful food and knitting!

Mr. C's uncle and aunt take pity on the poor orphans and have invited us to join their large and exuberant family for Thanksgiving for the past few years. We have a great time and all I have to bring are the sweet potatoes. But not just any sweet potatoes. I am commanded to bring my praline-topped sweet potato souffle. It's a very easy and sinfully delicious taste of home.

Praline Sweet Potato Souffle

2 large cans yams (sweet potatoes)
3/4 c white sugar
1/2 c evaporated milk
1/2 c melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c egg beaters (or 2 large eggs, beaten)
4 T good bourbon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a large casserole dish. Drain the cans of sweet potatoes and put in large mixing bowl.

Mash sweet potatoes. Add all ingredients and beat with mixer until smooth.

2 c golden brown sugar
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 c chopped pecans

2/3 c melted butter

Spoon over top of sweet potato mixture. Bake for 1 1/2 hour, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. If topping starts to brown too much, lightly cover with foil.

(Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the souffle after it came out of the oven. And now there's none left. They practically licked the bowl clean.)


Attitude Of Gratitude:The White House Turkey Files

Following a so-called 60 year tradition, He Who Pretends To Lead Our Country pardoned the White House turkey today. Since I am bored (and boring), I decided to investigate this strange ceremony and share the gathered information with all of you, so you can have something interesting to discuss when you are sitting next to your 2nd-cousin's-3rd-cousin-once-removed at the family Thanksgiving extravaganza and have an item of conversation with which to break the awkward silence. You're welcome.

There is an urban legend that Harry Truman started the tradition by pardoning a turkey back in 1947, although the Truman Library (here in Kansas City, btw) says it never happened. Which I believe since I've lived in the Midwest long enough to know that any true prairie boy will never turn away meat in any form. Green vegetables are a different story, although I've never once heard of a president pardoning broccoli or brussels sprouts.

So this year's lucky SOB (although I suppose SOT is more appropriate) gets to go live the rest of his life in Disney World with a male companion instead of being stuffed and roasted. This leads me to wonder, somewhere in that little turkey heart, does he feel a pang of gratitude towards Mr. Bush? Does his tiny turkey brain comprehend what he has escaped? Is a turkey capable of showing thanks?
I believe the answer is yes, as evidenced by these photos:

Mr. Bush: "By the powers vested in me, I hereby pardon you from the roasting pan."

Mr. Turkey: "Thank you so much. How can I ever repay you? And is that a mini ear of corn in your pocket or are you just happy to pardon me?"

Jerry Falwell: "(Sounds of rolling in grave)"

The pardon is revoked. Jerry stops rolling.

Seriously, I did change the order of the pictures around. The turkey was not actually electrocuted. But for his transgression, he suffered a worse fate: he was banished to Disneyworld to live out the rest of his life...

Grand Marshall of Thursday's parade

Not as cool as the pope-mobile

After the parade, Mr. Turkey and his companion will retire to the Disney concentration camp (aka "Mickey's Country House"). If they're lucky, they'll last a day at the most. That roasting pan's not looking so bad after all. Although the wrong turkeys were sent to the Mouse House.

Thank you for indulging me in my departure from knitting content. I always feel so much better after a good snark. Now you can get back to stuffing your tofurkey.


Lucky, Lucky, Lucky , Pt. 2

In addition to the great SP11 package, here are the other things that happened on Friday that made me feel so very lucky:

This is Fifi Princess. She is a yapping, bossy, fashionista fluffball.
I just found out that she coming for a long visit over Christmas. The best news is that she's bringing someone special with her...

My adorable niece. Lucky me!

and I've heard a rumor that her adorable sister may join us. Lucky, lucky me!
(She's a bit camera-shy. I'll have to be sneaky to get a better picture of her when she comes in)

And as if this wasn't good enough news, we received a phone call Friday night from Bonnie's new forever mom. They had just brought her home a few hours before and called to tell us how well she was adapting and how much they loved her already. No more foster homes for our girl!

Bonnie laying next to her new mom. If you click on the picture, you can actually see that she's smiling. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

The weekend went by too fast. I barely had time to knit but finished another pair of wrist warmers for the retirement home project, made progress on a pet snuggle and cast on for a chemo cap (unfortunately it's for a sweet neighbor of mine. I hope to have it finished before she starts losing her hair). I also had a chance to finish up a little project I made for my SP11. I'll be getting that package out soon - hopefully this week.

We went to a 25th anniversary party for Mr. C's sister last night. It was one of those parties that had great food, great wine and great people. This one was even more special because the hostess has an extensive collection of Pacific Northwest and Alaskan art, rugs and artifacts, displayed all through her lovely home. I only got to take a few pictures and then the batteries ran out and I didn't bring backups. But here are the ones I took:

The happy couple

Some of the delicious food

One guest had way too much to drink

One of my favorite pieces (the walls were actually a deep pumpkin orange, not pink at all)

In the midst of all the sophistication and culture, it was fun to see that the homeowners don't take themselves too seriously.

I'm excited about this week, too. It's supposed to get really cold so I can start wearing my alpaca scarves. Some of my favorite patients have appointments this week. I only have to work 3 days. I will get to do a lot of knitting. And Thursday is one of my favorite holidays ( made even better by the fact that we have been invited to have Thanksgiving with Mr. C's extensive collection of cousins and I only have to make New Orleans Praline Sweet Potato Casserole (which is requested every year). Check back before T-Day and I'll post the recipe. It's in great demand every year.

Now I'm off to get in a few rows of knitting before bedtime. Have a great week!


Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

That's how I feel after receiving my reveal package from my SP11, Camille. Please visit her blog and send her some positive thoughts! And say "hi' to Mr. Lulu while you're at it.

Today was full of good things and good news. I was thinking about how blessed and lucky I am and then when I got home, my package was waiting. It's made a good day perfect! Here's what I first saw:

Lots of fun stuff!

Camille sent some of my favorite yarn to knit charity scarves with, Caron Simply Soft Shadows. It's really soft, knits up with a changing variegated pattern, and doesn't have to be handwashed. Although it's acrylic, it doesn't feel squeeky to knit with. And there's enough here for 2 homeless people to get scarves! She roasted some pumpkin seeds (and have I told everyone how much I love pumpkin?). They are already half gone. She sent a fun plastic glass that is going to go to work with me on Monday, some delicious cinnamon-apple shower gel, some yummy little soaps that smell like a wedding cake and 3 heart-shaped cookie cutters. (The yarn without a band was attacked by one of her yarn-loving pups - she knew I'd understand)

As if this wasn't enough, she tucked in 2 knitting magazines that I haven't read and best of all, Knitting For Peace, a book I have really, really wanted.

Camille has been one of the best swap partners ever! She really got to know me and not only gifted me with things she knew I'd like, but also included things that made me feel like I was getting to know her too. I'm looking forward to getting to know her even more - a fellow Southerner and dog rescuer! Thanks for making this a great swap experience, Camille! Hugs to your furry posse and I hope you're feeling better.

Please tune in tomorrow so I can tell you about the other reasons I felt so lucky today!


Dogs On Thursday

Treats taste so much better when you've worked hard to get them.


We are now midway through my official Birthday Week, and it's been good so far. In the interest of not contributing to global warming (due to the heat that would be generated by a horribly large amount of birthday candles), I blew out only a single candle on my birthday pumpkin pie. I received a few presents (I've heard a rumor there may be some more!). My favorite is the CD soundtrack for the documentary "Hurricane On the Bayou". I can't stop listening to it. It's a fantastic collection of Cajun, zydeco and New Orleans R&B. I know several of you who read this blog love music the way I do and if you're looking for something different, you won't be disappointed. I dare you to listen to it and not start dancing! The proceeds go directly to the Audubon Nature Institute's Louisiana Wetlands project. You can only get it here.

To celebrate, I took off a couple of days from work, all the better to get lots of knitting done, of course. Yesterday we went to the Nelson Atkins Museum to see an exhibit on contemporary old West photography and to wander around in the phenomenal Bloch Building. The building itself is literally a work of art, composed of a unique glass that functions as a lens for the light entering the galleries.

My favorite gallery - the Japanese sculpture court

My favorite sculptures - these are paired fountains - it's impossible to capture their magic with just a picture because they are a multisensory experience

The water is "trained" to flow perfectly over the sides - every night the fountains are draped with cheesecloth. When it's removed the following morning, the water flows in the pattern that the artist created. You can sense the life-force of the water in this room. It's truly amazing.

(This picture came from the 'net)

After working up a huge appetite wandering around the museum and grounds, we went to dinner at a brand-new Cajun resturant, Boudreaux's. The food is authentic southwest Louisiana, but different than what I grew up on in the city. It was tres bonne and we will certainly go back.

I managed to get quite a bit done with the pointy sticks. I finished a prototype pair of wrist warmers for the retirement home project I am working on.

I am writing the pattern for these in 4 different sizes for the members of my church's knitting group and will be posting it here as soon as I have finished. Even though the yarn was an acrylic, (Bernat Camoflage) I liked knitting with it since it was soft and not squeaky at all. The colors are a bit loud, but someone gave me the yarn, so I won't complain.

I also finished this dishcloth, using one of my most favorite patterns, the Yarn Harlot's One-Row. I like it so much, I am keeping it for myself. I also managed to make my list of Christmas knitting (no way it will get even close to done) and cast on for the first of the bunch. I also started on a crocheted chemo cap that my sister asked me to make for a little girl she has taught, who has a nasty form of cancer. And I started, and am almost finished with the second prototype pair of wrist warmers. I also squeezed in some time to buy the yarn for the holiday knitting/ it's pretty intimidating when I look at it all together.

The Christmas stash

Finally, Mr. C and I did a home visit for one of our former foster pups, Bonnie, who is still looking for her forever home. A great couple here in town are interested in adopting her. It would be an awesome match if this couple ends up adopting her. They are very interested and are willing to drive 3 hours to her foster home to go meet her next week and hopefully bring her home. And if this happens, she'll live only a few miles away!

The sweet and beautiful Bonnie

Speaking of former foster babies, we got an update on Bonnie's sister, Annie a couple of weeks ago, and on Griff. Both are loved to death and spoiled rotten!

The sweet and beautiful Annie

The gorgeous Griff - still my favorite boy

Annie has a 1/2 acre fenced yard full of squirrels and bunnies. She likes to pick up sticks and carry them around with her. Her best canine friend is the German shepherd who lives next door. She is a popular guest at the neighborhood block parties and travels extensively with her family. Griff was immediately accepted by his big doggie brothers, has his own chair and ottoman to sleep on and loves to go boating with his dads. It warms my heart more than you can imagine to see how happy our precious puppies are and how happy they make their families. Dogs are absolutely one of God's best inventions! (Cats, too, just in a different way).


Vote For Bossy

One of the very few blogs that I read on a regular basis that does not contain knitting content (not even yarn) is I Am Bossy. It's gotten to where I put on some Depends before I sit down to read it. If you are easily offended, love George Bush, or don't want to end up spending a couple of hours checking out her archived posts, you may want to stay away. But if you decide to visit, spend a little time looking around. I think you will be amused. And then please GO VOTE FOR BOSSY (I am not yelling but I am using a bossy tone of voice).


A Contest, A Package, And A Bunch Of E Coli

KT is having a contest for her 333rd post. She has the stash, she has the ideas, now all she needs is your suggestion for a pattern to make. Go see her, and tell her I sent you (which will earn me another entry!). And check out the rest of her great blog while you're there!

I would like to thank Darla, who was my swap partner in the Fall Into Autumn dishcloth swap. Here is the package I received:

Here's what was under the bubble wrap...

Criquette had to give it the "sniff test", of course.
I unpacked the basket to find:

... not 1 but 4 little dishcloths and a little bag (a soap holder, perhaps?)...

... a cute candleholder and candle, an exotic necklace, something called rooibus in the tin and some fun GIANT Texas Hot Stuff jelly beans. I tried one and it was definitely hot! They're so big, I can only eat one at a time...

... some pretty fuschia and purple yarn, some mysterious little pink rocks that smell good (are they edible?), a Texas keychain, a little massager (very welcome after the day I have had), some circular needles and a cute basket.

There was also a green ceramic mug that, alas, was broken on the way here, so did not make it into the photo shoot.

Thank you, Darla! I really appreciate the time and effort you put into this and I hope you receive your own package soon.

Now if anyone asks me how my day went today, I think I'll have to stuff them into a bin full of Red Heart. In very ugly colors. And not let them out for a long time.

I took the day off today, so I could knit, clean house, knit, go pick out my new glasses, knit, run errands, and knit. Oh, and sleep in a bit as I feel like I've been fighting a little bug of some sort this week.

(Disgusting content warning! If you have contamination-type OCD or a weak stomach, stop reading now!)

It was not to be. My day started off ruined and quickly went downhill from there. Mr. C woke me obscenely early to tell me there had been a "problem" down in the guestroom bath (which is in the guestroom), that I couldn't run water or flush any commodes, and that under no circumstances should I go into the guest room.

Okay, so you can see the obvious problems here... no washing, no flushing, no peeking. What he wasn't paying attention to was that I had a scarf and a cowl being blocked in there (thank God they were up on the bed) and my OCD would not let me leave knitted goods in there for a second longer than necessary.

So, even before I fortified myself with coffee, I hurried down to the guest room, opened the door and eeeeuuuuuwwwwww!!! The smell almost knocked me out. Fortunately the guestroom itself looked okay. But then I peeked around the corner into the bathroom and EEEEUUUUWWWWW!!! EEUUUWWWWWW!!! EEEEUUUUWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!

I like all of my visitors to this blog, so I will spare you the details. Let's just say that vast quantities of "stuff" had been trapped by a design flaw in the drainage pipes and had nowhere to go but up and out. This is especially vexing because we have brought this to the builder's attention numerous times. They would call a plumber to look at it, run a snake down the line, lecture us, and tell us it was fixed. We were told to go in there once a week and use the commode and run water in the tub to keep the line from drying out. In the past, it has never been anywhere near this bad. We're talking nuclear bad. Full body protection gear bad.

To his credit, at least our builder responded, although it took them 5 1/2 hours to show up. 5 1/2 hours without being able to do any of the necessary hygenic things in life we totally take for granted. I was about to shove Bitsy and Criquette aside and climb into their litter box! Thank God for hand sanitizer. And I went through a lot of it today, every time I thought about the mess downstairs.

So now, the boys in the biohazard suits from American Catastrophic Cleaners have left (that's really the name of the clean-up business) and my home reeks of antibacterial cleaner (I asked them to spray a triple-strength solution), which smells a million times better than, well, you know.

The builder will be back on Monday to start tearing up the carpet in the basement to expose the place where they think the mistake lies. Then the real fun starts later in the week because they are bringing in jackhammers (the plural is deliberate) to pulverize the concrete to get to the problem spot that never should have happened if the effin' SOB had paid attention to the problem in the first place! And there will be all kinds of digging in the ground and cutting open nasty drainage pipes and all the other yucky stuff they have to do before replacing all of the carpet that was ruined in today's little explosion.

The worst part of all is that we have to cancel the trip we were planning on taking down to the lake for my b-day. (You can't see me, but I am wearing my pouting face right now.) So I am having to make a few adjustments to my wish list....case of wine, large bottle of valium (for me and the fur balls), large gift certificate to yarn shop, so I can spend all of jackhammer day soothing myself with wool, all day gift certificate to the spa to recover from jackhammer day, and finally, a case of wine.

But, one of my most valuable life lessons has been to remember that things could always be so much worse. As I pondered that thought today, I realized just how bad things could have been - the closet adjacent to Ground Zero was where I used to keep my stash, until I moved it upstairs where it could be closer to me. And I realized, things could not only have been worse - they could have been catastrophic!

Please excuse me while I go wash my hands one more time.