DOT: Dedicated To All Who Have Rescued

The beautiful Chloe - my rescued BC mix

Someone from one of the Canadian border collie rescue groups had put
this slide show together for her volunteers and sent a link along to one of our MoKan BC Rescue members. I watched it (with happy tears) and thought of all of you who, through the sheer goodness of your hearts, have done something to help in the rescue of a dog in need. This is for all of you. (I think cat rescue people are great too, but this one's for the dogs.)


Crawling Back from Flu-Land

As if the Face vs Cat incident wasn't bad enough, I've been slammed with the flu as well. Yesterday was the first day since Tuesday that I could swallow more than a few sips of water or apple juice. Even though I'm eating some itty-bitty meals of chicken soup and jello today, I can only sit up and do anything for 15-20 minutes at a time so this won't be a long post, just me checking in.

Besides the obvious, another reason I hate being sick is because I get so bored! And when I'm bored, all I do is think about how miserable I feel, and have a big giant pity-party. So I am happy to report that I did manage to put some of my curled-up-miserable-on-the-sofa-in-front-of-the-tv-time to good use and managed to complete some FO's which I will post when I'm feeling better.

As far as the injuries from the Face vs Cat battle: there is a small laceration on the inside of my lower lid, a deep scratch in the undereye area, and a long, shallow slash straight down my cheek. Because it's my face, and because I have the normal amount of female vanity, I'm sure I'm making this worse than it really is in the big scheme of things. I know that there are people out there who are experiencing a lot worse and not whining about it either.

I did make it to the doctor on Monday before getting sick. I had some bad news/good news. I didn't need stitches. She used these little narrow surgi-strips to close up the lacerations, told me to keep anti-bacterial ointment on it all, stay out of the sun and play the waiting game. It takes about 6 months to really tell how noticeable the scars will be. As soon as I can stand up for more than 15 minutes, I'm off to the drugstore to get me some Mederma.

In a way, getting sick turned out to be a blessing since (1) nausea, fever, and dizziness do a great job of keeping a person's mind on their GI tract than their appearance, (2) innocent children were spared the sight of what a sweet, fluffy little kitty can do if provoked, thus avoiding a rash of secondhand kittycat phobias (which would be very possible with my particular patients), and (3) by the time I crawl back to work on Monday, the scratches will have faded a bit so it won't look like I'm crying blood. See? Pity-party's all over now.

Maybe I'll take my cue from this movie trailer that has been playing all week on TV (oh, the irony) and knit myself up a scarfy like the cool one she's wearing. Which by the way, looks very much like this Mason-Dixon Big Dotty pattern, doesn't it? Since the MD website is malfunctioning today (it probably has the flu), I found this picture on BenteB's website.

(While you're there, take a tour of her beautiful creations -I always get so inspired after visiting the blogs of knitters in Norway, Denmark and Finland - do you think their handknits are so incredible because of all the long, dreary, frigid winter months?).

Well. it's taken me 3 separate trips to the computer to get this blog written. I think I'll go settle in front of the TV for the rest of the night. Have a good one.


Winter Doldrums Topic of the Week

If money were no object, and the day was just perfect - not to hot, not too cold, sun shining, slight breeze - how would you spend a perfect day out that had been given to you in the middle of a cold and blustery winter?

First, I would head out to my garden and get started on cleaning out the beds to prepare for springtime. I'd prune out all of the old, dead foliage, rake the trash, dead leaves, etc. out and generally get the beds all tidy and clean and ready for planting. I'd also be looking for signs of the my spring bulbs.

Then I'd bring out my knitting and sit on the glider in the sunshine and just knit the rest of the day away.


Knit Like a Pirate

Yes I know that pirates are passe, but I was always one to be somewhat behind the trend. Not anymore...

In the wee hours this morning, while I was sound asleep, Bitsy must have gotten spooked by something, She sometimes sleeps between our pillows. I woke up to a cat jumping off of my face. Unfortunately, one of her claws caught my lower eyelid and the rest of my cheek. It was quite traumatizing and i'll spare the details. I went to urgent care this morning and thank God she didn't get my eye, just the inner corner. But he told me I have to go and see a plastic surgeon within 2 days. Remind to tell you about my blood/injury phobia sometime, because it's activated like crazy right now.

So this post won't be long because I can't see too well right now and I am getting frequent bouts of syncope (my blood pressure plunges and I feel as if i'm going to faint). But one thing I have discovered that is a comfort - I can knit halfway laying down, with just one eye! Arrrrrrrgh! I'm not sure when I'll be posting again - hope to see you all soon.


In Which We Go To a Mardi Gras Parade and Support the LYS

Here's the second installment in the trip to New Orleans series. I actually wrote this last week and forgot to publish it. *sigh* I wish I could click my wooly-socked heels right now and be transported back. Especially when tomorrow is supposed to start with a "wintry mix" rush hour. (Mental note to brain: I LOVE the cold, I LOVE the cold, etc etc)

Most people go to Mardi Gras parades to get treasures. You go and stand in a crowd of a bunch of like-minded people, put your hands up in the air and yell "Throw me something, mister!" (although when there are also women riding the floats, it's better to just go with the unisex 'ya'll" instead of mister). And the maskers on the floats throw all kinds of beads and trinkets into the masses and you either jump high to catch them as they fly through the air, or scramble on the ground for the things that weren't caught. It's very addicting, and you see people of all backgrounds and ages, yelling, catching and scrambling together during this magical time of year.

But some people go to a parade to see and wave to a loved one who just happens to be riding on one of the floats. We had seats in the grandstands at the New Orleans city hall, which gave us a perch almost at eye level with the riders.

The weather was very dreary and cold but that didn't dampen anyone's spirits. I forgot to have someone take a picture, but did a PDK on the chemo cap and got in several rows before the first police cars wailed down the street, announcing the start of the parade.

The king and queen ride at the front of the parade. They stop at city hall for a toast, speeches and to receive the keys to the city.

The lovely Queen Kristy made a very gracious speech, clearly enjoying every moment of her reign.

She *daintily* slurped down her champagne, threw the glass to the ground, gave her best beauty pageant wave and was off for the rest of her ride.

The king and queen are then followed by a bunch of floats - usually anywhere from 12 to 24. these floats carry the members of the krewe who choose to mask and throw beads and stuff to the crowds. Many adult beverages are involved, which has a significant correlation with the amount of their generosity.

We had a great catching day up in the stands. I think it helps to have connections because I scored some highly coveted huge pink pearls and flashing light ducky beads and I didn't even have to flash the tata's to get them!

When the parade ended, the party moved from the streets to Tipitinas in the French Quarter. There was lots of beer, cajun food and, of course, dancing. Lots and lots of dancing.

Queen Kristy eats Energizer batteries for breakfast.

The queen and her mom take a brief pause from dancing. I was out there most of the time and my muscles didn't forgive me for the next 2 days.

Conveniently, we were just a few blocks away from the yarn shop I most wanted to visit on the trip:

The chemo cap would have loved to stay longer, to shop and visit and get knitted on while talking to the delightful owner, Jill. Sadly, we could only stay long enough to buy an appropriate souvenir and have a brief visit since Mr. C was parked very illegally in his role as supportive husband and yarn enabler. I love this guy!

The Quarter Stitch is located just off Jackson Square, close to the cathedral. It is located in a building that dates back to the early eighteenth century and is just loaded with atmosphere. Someone on Ravelry referred to it as a "yarn brothel" which is an excellent description. The owner is extremely personable and helpful. There was a delightful woman from Spain in there visiting and knitting, who struck up a conversation. It turns out she had had one of my nieces in her Spanish class, and also knew my uncle when she lived in Lafayette, La. New Orleans is really such a small town that you almost never meet a stranger. That's one of the things I love and miss so much.

I had already decided that I wanted to purchase yarn in Mardi Gras colors. Initially I was disappointed that she didn't have any local hand-painted or handspun yarn, but I'm more than happy with my selection. She wrapped it all up so beautifully, and threw in a handful of bright pink heart-shaped confetti - so much fun!

And when the eye candy is unwrapped, there's more eye candy inside...

Some gorgeous, lusciously decadent Malabrigo, in the traditional purple, green and gold of Mardi Gras. I haven't discovered any yarn shops in Kansas that carry much of a selection of Malabrigo, so I was delighted to find a large selection to choose from. Right now, I haven't a clue what I'll make that will incorporate these colors and not look tacky. All suggestions will be welcome.

The word lagniappe means "a little something extra". It is an old and very charming New Orleans custom for shopkeepers to offer lagniappe to their customers, such as throwing in an extra beignet if you ordered 1 dozen, or including some Mardi Gras beads in the purchase of a king cake. As if the festive wrapping wasn't lagniappe enough, Jill also threw in a free scarf pattern of her own design. That really made me feel at home. and I can never have enough scarf patterns!

Now that I know where this little gem of a shop is located, I'll definitely make a longer visit a top priority on my trip down.
I still have lots of pictures to share. After all the parties and balls and parades were finished, I took my camera and we went to see some of the places that were special to us BK (before Katrina). We've kept track of the rebuilding (or not, in many cases) and I'll show you what the people of New Orleans are still trying to deal with in the wake of Katrina.


Who's Your Favorite Presidential Candidate?

Typically, I'm somewhat apathetic about politics. It takes something I feel passionate about to rouse me to action and to disclose my preferences. But there is a candidate who is so compelling, that I feel I must speak up on her behalf:

I'm so excited by this candidate that I've even switched parties so I can vote for her in the primaries. No 2-party system for me, no ma'am. From here on out, I am proud to be a yarn-carrying Fibertarian!

You can find out all about Dolores and her platform here at The Panicopticon. We all know that if knitters ruled the world, it would be a damn fine place to live in. Ewe go girl!!!

Defeat the Doldrums Topic of the Week

Weekly Topic #4

" Defeat the Winter Doldrums" for some of us we get the doldrums and others don't. For the ones who get doldrums what helps you get rid of them? For the ones who don't get the doldrums, what helps you keep them away?

I consider myself very lucky that I don't really get the winter doldrums. One of the good things about living in eastern Kansas is that if you have a stretch of cold, gloomy days, you don't have to wait long before you get a couple of days of warmer temps and blue skies. It also helps that I feel really alert and energetic when it's cold (the opposite of how I feel when it's hot) so I mostly enjoy winter.

I am also lucky to be a mostly positive thinker - I don't come by this naturally and had to train my brain to see the good side of most situations but it comes pretty automatically now.
So a cold and gloomy day becomes a great day for knitting and drinking lots of coffee. I try to think of at least one thing to look forward to every day, and I am now trying to be more mindful of things I feel grateful for. And I consciously choose to be happy every day. These 3 changes in my thinking have made a tremendous difference in my overall mood all year and really helped my "summer doldrums" this past year, too.

(I don't mean this to in any way suggest that "positive thinking" is all it takes to overcome depression or seasonal affective disorder or any other kind of biological disorder, or to minimize the pain many people experience because of these problems. Some people need additional support in terms of medication, light therapy or alternative therapies before they can get to the point of taking control over their thinking. I am just referring to what has helped me.)

Spoiled Rotten

I got home late last night, brain dead from an intense day of therapy, and what did I find waiting for me? A Hot Cocoa swap package, from the big prairie to the north, otherwise known as Minnesota. The whole family was gathered around to see what wonders would be revealed (Mr. C and the pets have been somewhat winter blahed-out all week and needed a pick-me-up, too).

I opened it up to find lots of wrapped treats (and I always appreciate a swap pal who wraps the goodies - the surprise as I open each one is a big part of the fun). And sorry - in the excitement of seeing gifts, I forgot to take a picture of the "before".
But here's the "after" - curb your envy
and prepare to be impressed by my pal's creativity, wit and overall excellent taste:

Caribou hot cocoa mix in 2 yummy flavors and gourmet marshmallows - I've already tried out the Spicy & Bold mix - it's very good, with a hint of cherry and pepper that leaves a pleasant after-burn

I laughed out loud when I unwrapped the little bottles of Kahlua! How much fun! And all mine because Mr. C likes his hot chocolate completely unadulterated.

And 3 cd's full of dance music! I better get my New Orleans party pants back on and get to it (and work off all of that sinful Creole food I inhaled last week not to mention all the hot cocoa and Kahlua I'll be snarfing down this weekend). I have an eclectic music collection and I'm always excited to discover new artists and songs I haven't heard before and these cd's are chock-full of music that will be new to me.

The yarn - soft, pettable, luscious merino/alpaca blend in a rich eggplant color. This yarn has a pair of Fetching mitts written all over it! And enough for a hat, too. Crystal Palace circs which I can't wait to try out. And some really cute handmade seashell markers.

Criquette stole one of the balls of yarn for a quality assurance test - it obviously passed with flying colors

One of the reasons I joined this swap was for the chance to knit and receive a knitted toy. And my pal didn't let me down. Look at the cuteness that is Rochelle, the knitting octopus (and my pal's ORIGINAL concoction):

Rochelle is a Knitting Goddess and Winter Blahs Buster. She's adorable and fierce and makes me laugh. The little sweater she is knitting actually has several little sleeves! She's also very soft and squeezable! Zoom in so you can appreciate the details that my pal included. Seashell stitch markers make perfect sense, don't they?

My incredible swap pal was Kris L. Before writing this, I lurked around her blog, Poked in the Eye With a Sharp Knitting Needle. Kris has a wicked sense of humor, impressive knitting skills and, based on her bio, has had a fascinating life. Her personality really came through in the marvelous package she sent. You must go and visit, you will be entertained.

Kris, 1000 thank-you's for one of the best swap packages ever! You were so thoughtful and generous and I feel completely spoiled. Give yourself a big hug (from all of us here) for a job well-done - no blahs anywhere to be seen!


Cocoa Swap Update

I received a wonderful package from Kris L., my swap pal for the Hot Cocoa swap. There's so much great stuff to show, and I want to do all of the great contents justice, so I will post, with photos, tomorrow.


In Which We Attend A Mardi Gras Ball

Miss Kristy, before her royal transformation

I took enough pictures for at least a week's worth of blogging. In this first installment, I will take you to the annual ball of the Krewe of Ponchartrain, featuring the royal niece, Kristy the First, 33rd Queen of Ponchartrain. And I'll throw in a little trivia as a treat.

There are hundreds of Mardi Gras clubs (known as Krewes) throughout the metro New Orleans area. Some are by invitation only, and some are open to public membership. The Krewe of Ponchartrain is open to anyone who wants to participate, regardless of race, creed or where you live. That means that each and everyone of you could sign up to be a part of next year's ball and parade (seriously, we could have a float full of knitters!). In some organizations, the king and queen are chosen by the membership, while in others, anyone can sign up to be the king or queen.

The old traditional organizations, like Rex (which parades on Mardi Gras day, and is the most commonly photographed parade of Mardi Gras) have very boring debutante balls, where the spectators sit in an auditorium and watch people in fancy clothes march around and take themselves way too seriously. There is no eating or drinking, and you can only dance if you are "called out" by a krewe member. I was once a maid in one of these traditional balls and almost yawned myself to death.

Queen Kristy's ball was of the non-traditional variety, where the common-folk get to party and have lots of fun. It's held in the ballroom of an old brewery in the French Quarter, on the river. We sat at large tables and had a lovely view of the riverfront from the windows:

Festive tables, lots of room for drinking and eating

Killer view

There is a cocktail hour before the court is presented, so even though you have to sit and be polite at some point, you can still have your adult beverage of choice (or 2) to make the downtime fly right on by. The presentation includes introductions of the officers, Captain, former queens, and special guests. And then the moment we drove all the way to New Orleans to see - the presentation of the royal court. First, the maids are presented. Kristy's sister, Brandy was one of 4. Here she is, lighting up the room with her beautiful smile and making her official curtsy:

The lovely maid (and future queen), Brandy

After the maids, the king is introduced and then (ta-da) the queen is presented. The king is crowned (the queen already has hers so they won't mess up her 'do) and the queen is given 3 really cool presents: her official scepter, the official silver grouper necklace (the grouper, a local fish, is the Ponchartrain mascot), and the official second line umbrella. It is good to be queen.

Queen and King Ponchartrain XXXIII

The Court

And then the fun begins. There was a delicious Creole food buffet that included lots of goodies such as trout almondine (my favorite), lyonnaise potatoes, creamed spinach (another of my all-time favorites - don't say ick until you've tried it), and lots of seafood dishes, but I would probably go into anaphalactic shock just by even sampling a tiny bit of the seafood, so I didn't pay attention to those. And lots of fantastic bite-sized desserts - fruit tarts, profiteroles, eclairs, pecan tarts, lemon tarts, canoli - and yes, I tried every one. There was a local party band playing lots of New Orleans jazz while we ate. And then it was time to dance the calories away with a local funk band, Benny Grunch & the Bunch.

To start the dancing off, the Queen leads the Second Line, a New Orleans classic celebration dance. It started as the joyous finish to jazz funerals but somehow has become part of big parties and weddings. The leader of the line carries an open, decorated umbrella. Everyone falls into line behind the leader and waves a white hankerchief (or dinner napkin) and you dance and follow the leader around - sort of like a Creole conga line. It helps to be a bit drunk. There was even a limbo, although this is not at all traditional. The Queen somehow managed to make it under with umbrella and crown intact -something only someone very young or a yoga master could accomplish.

The Queen, her date and the umbrella

The Queen and her parents lead the Second Line
(the guy on the left is actually at the end of the line)

The Second Line Limbo

My SIL in the center, brother on right and the Queen's grandmother and other aunt on the left,
dancing like maniacs

La T'aunte de la Reine, La Reine Belle and Le Pere de la Reine

The Queen's cousin and her brother in a rare moment of behaving themselves

Thank goodness we had the following day off to recover, with no official royal parties to attend. We took that time to visit with friends and family on the northshore of Lake Ponchartrain and rested up for the parade the next day. I have pictures! And there may be some yarn porn as well, you'll have to come back and see.


Back On The Prairie

I'm back from my wild week in the Big Easy. I still have a lot of unpacking to do and I think I caught some kind of stomach bug so this isn't going to be much of a post. I have lots of pictures that I'll get posted as soon as I get them downloaded. I miss New Orleans terribly, but I'm also glad to be back home. And I can't wait to visit you all at your blogs and check in on what you've all been up to. See ya'll soon!