Sunday, July 14, 2019

Dog Updates

It is quite clear that between love and understanding there is a very close link...He who loves understands, and he who understands loves. One who feels understood feels loved, and one who feels loved feels sure of being understood. ― Paul Tournier, To Understand Each Other
Week one of dog-sitting Skipper has come to its end. How did it go? Well... up and down.

In one week, Skipper has had three baths. This is partially because he has a skin condition which flared up while he's been here and also because he's had a few poopy days which required some deep cleaning. He's been pretty stoic about it all, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't grateful to have a muzzle to put on him while I bathed him.

The other day, I noticed he had a couple of scabs on his back which seemed to be falling off. I plucked them off him, but I think that must have been the wrong thing to do because the skin underneath seems to be taking a long time to dry out. He started licking them and I got worried that they'd get infected, so I went digging through my closet and found a cheap t-shirt that doesn't fit me and slipped it on him while he chewed away some treats. The floral print gives him a somewhat Hawaiian look:

He doesn't seem to mind the shirt. I think he finds it quite comfortable:

He is happiest when he's out walking with us. As the days have passed, he's become slightly more open to us. He even ran to the door with Seymour to greet me when I got home one day:

Yesterday, I noticed him following me around, which was a big change from him laying quietly in his bed all the time. Turned out he wanted a few cuddles:

But you can see that Seymour is quite jealous of another doggy stealing his Mommy's cuddles. They got into a bit of a shouting and snarling match earlier today after Seymour tried to butt in during another cuddle session. I tried petting them both, but neither of them were having it. They're both taking a break from each other at the moment, but I'm hoping it's true when they say that dogs don't hold grudges. Meanwhile, Seymour's been getting his own cuddle time on his own:

Meanwhile, the garden is growing and the tomatoes are ripening and I am wondering if it's worth waging a war with the ants which are slowly chewing away at the cucumber leaves:

We haven't been going out for any car rides together since I don't want to figure out two dogs who are already wary of each other in a small moving vehicle. There have been plenty of couch days with me and my knitting with two dogs snoozing away in their respective beds. I may even have a finished project to share at the end of this dog sitting stint.

Skipper goes home on Tuesday, and I'm hoping the visit ends with everyone feeling like we can do this again. Seymour's supposed to go stay with him and his dad when we go away, and I want to feel sure that everything is going to go well. I guess time will tell. One thing is for sure: they share the same mooching style:

It's almost dinner time and then it'll be time for walkies, and then we'll all settle down for more knitting and snoozing time by the couch. I suppose that's a fair definition of peace. 

Have a good week!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Navigating With a Skipper

Conflict is inevitable. It's really not a conflict between our personhoods. It's really conflicting strategies to meet our basic needs. -- Tara Brach
This is Skipper. He's staying with us for a few days while his owner is away visiting family:

We've known Skipper and his dad since we moved into the neighbourhood last year. He seemed a pretty easy-going little thing, though I confess that I didn't really take much notice of him. We chat a lot with his dad, who is a gregarious and friendly fellow who clearly adores his dog and loves taking him out for walks.

When Skipper's dad first approached us about dog sitting for him, he was really anxious to make sure that Skipper would be comfortable in our home. I thought it was sweet that he was so worried about his little friend. I figured it would be an easy ride.

But little Skipper isn't happy to be with us at all right now. He growls and snarls and snaps at us if we try to move him somewhere he doesn't want to go. He growls when one of us walks past, and he certainly doesn't want us to touch him much.... at least not when he's in the house.

But on the walk, he's happy and easy and doesn't mind us petting him. He wags his tail when he meets other dogs, does the obligatory sniffing, runs after us when he falls behind.

I was really mad at him yesterday. I suppose I was disappointed because I thought it would be fun to have him here: that he and Seymour would play with each other and be good company for each other, but you can see from this photo that they're not exactly comfortable to be together:

But really, I do feel sorry for him. He's clearly missing his dad and clearly doesn't know what to make of this strange house with different rules and different smells. He needs something from us and I just don't know what that is yet:

And I think I need something as well. I think I need him to accept me. I'm not used to having a dog not like me, and I think it's wounding my ego. I realized that as I sat on the couch this afternoon and knitted away with him in his bed on the floor in front of me. We're just not finding the meeting place here. And I'm not sure if we will.

But we have another eight days together, and I'm hoping that we'll find some easier ground in the meantime. Luckily, Seymour has the wit to leave him alone and give him his space (except he has commandeered all the toys he brought along, which is not shocking in the least). And perhaps Seymour understands that not everyone will be his friend, and is not nearly as needy as his mom is when it comes to affection:

I'm off to knit. Wish us luck:

Monday, July 1, 2019

What the Process Looks Like

Sometimes we make the process more complicated than we need to. We will never make a journey of a thousand miles by fretting about how long it will take or how hard it will be. We make the journey by taking each day step by step and then repeating it again and again until we reach our destination. --Joseph B. Wirthlin
Even after all of these years of posting on this blog, I still feel sheepish (heh) when I don't have a finished project to share. This is a knitting blog, after all. What's worse is that I'm finding it hard to think of anything yarn-related to write about. But is this only a knitting blog? I have to remember that this is the space where I share the creative things that breathe life into my day. Still... even though my current project feels like one of the more epic ones, I'm still finding it enjoyable. The comfort of a familiar stitch pattern and the softness of the laceweight BFL make it an easy project to come back to each time I pick it up, even it is only sporadically throughout the week. I would be lying if I wasn't looking forward to it being finished. I did weigh the leftover skein and was pretty pleased to find out that I have a little less than half of the yarn left. So here it is, with sleepy doggy added for scale:

In the meantime, I suppose I should share what I've been up to when I've been dodging my knitting. I've been struggling with sore feet recently, a result of trying to get back to a regular running routine without doing any of the necessary stretching and strength training that accompanies such activities. I'm lucky enough to have contact with folks who can help me with my injuries, and with a lot of stretching, massaging, icing and rest, I'm finally starting to feel like things are going the right direction. I'm trying to be kind to myself through it all. Tara Brach says, "We cannot judge ourselves into improvement." Here's hoping.

In the meantime, I've been busy carefully pottering about the garden, feeding and pruning my flowering shrubs gingerly, hoping to the heavens I'm not killing my garden with my overzealous snipping. In the midst of it all, this African violet that I've been routinely watering and feeding in the house has suddenly decided to bloom. It was a shock: I really thought it was going to be one of those plants that were just going to live in my house with free room and board without the reward of any blooms. And now, the intense purple blooms are so attractive that the hummingbirds and bees keep stopping and hovering at the window, trying to figure out how to get in to drink from them. I'm thinking I'm going to have to move it soon before one of the birds knocks themselves out:

It's a long weekend here this weekend. I skipped the gym yesterday to give myself a break and decided it would be more fun to take this little mug for a nice hike in the woods. He is a funny wee adventurer, totally incapable of walking in a straight line for all of the sniffing he has to do on the way. He was totally and utterly happy, as you can see:

We stopped at a park to have a picnic on the way home. This park happened to have a lovely dog park at it, which Seymour enjoyed immensely:

It was a busy, happy day. He was totally, happily exhausted and slept the whole way home:

I've got one more evening before I go back to work tomorrow, so I think I'll go finish dinner before I settle down for some stretching and icing, with interludes of knitting in-between. At this rate, I suppose I'll have one project done by the end of this summer. Is that a goal? Perhaps... but perhaps it's it's a time for me to also enjoy summer for a change. Have a good week.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sore Feet and Kinship with Bean Plants

My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already. --Milton Berle
I've been feeling kinda sorry for myself all week. I've been trying to build up my running routine again, but have been lazy with my stretching. Therefore, I've had sore feet all week, and therefore I have been moping and limping around, breathing my way through long calf and foot stretches, and generally not feeling super happy about it. But the running is getting easier again and the ol' body is still working ok... and is very quick to remind me when I'm not doing what I should be doing.

I have been limping my way around the garden this week, getting to know my plants, tentatively pruning and trimming, examining leaves and blossoms and trying not to panic when I see the ants cutting pieces of leaves and carrying them away or when I see little holes in my rose leaves. My bean plants seem a little sick these days. I read that that meant they are low on nitrogen. I read that you can add nitrogen by adding coffee grounds to the soil. I have never felt such a kinship with a bean plant before.

This evening, I walked along my trellis, enjoying the lovely blossoms while I sprayed the leaves with some organic insecticidal soap. I think they'll be ok. If not, at least I got to enjoy this view:

We went out for a walk this afternoon with Mr. Seymour at a nearby park. My sore feet felt good in my hiking shoes, but I was happy enough to match Seymour's stop-and-pee-every-ten-feet pace. I loved the look of these mushrooms growing on a tree. It reminded me of the many, many shawl patterns out there that use gradient yarns:

The woods never disappoint, ferns and creeks and trees and all:

We met this big guy at the trailhead. His name is Dougal and this, believe it or not, is his summer coat. He left me give him some scritches, and it was like petting a big teddy bear:

And this guy let me take a photo of him with a daisy on his head while he cooled off in the grass. Well... he didn't quite let me. I had to bribe him with a treat to get him to sit still:

Meanwhile, I've been lying on the couch with my sore feet all week while picking away at this project here and there throughout the week. I'll admit that I'm not super inspired by it, and the warm weather this week hasn't helped. I do still think it's lovely and I am still entranced by it each time I pick it up. I always find it annoying to try to take photos of it because, try as I might, I cannot get an image which shows the lovely soft lilac purples and pale greys in the yarn. I've moved it all around the house trying to find light which captures it properly, but my iPhone insists on creating all sorts of contrast where there simply isn't any. And I've tried four different photo editing programs and still can't adjust it to my liking. I'm hoping that the final product will hang in such a way which will allow for a better photo... whenever that is:

I'm off to go do some more stretching now before dinner. I'm planning to put my feet up later and settle down with my knitting again... or maybe have a wander around Ravelry... or maybe watch a bit of tv... 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Ok, I Changed My Mind

Color is a power which directly influences the soul. --Wassily Kandinsky.
Remember when I said I was leaning towards the soft, gentle tones of this skein of yarn a couple of weeks ago? To quote myself, I said, "I find its gentle tones a comforting antidote to the harshness of an overwhelming, high definition, 4k world."

So, I think I've changed my mind because all around me I am entranced by beautiful, saturated colours that stop me in my tracks each day. I come to a screeching halt every time I walk past this patch of poppies on my way to work:

And my garden is also bombarding me with breathtaking colour these days. I was so surprised to see the deep red of these roses when they bloomed. I don't know why, but I had it in my head that the roses growing along this trellis were white. That is the reddest white I ever did see:

And the rhododendron in front of the house is putting on a spectacular show of watermelon red. Every time I think it can't get any prettier, it proves me wrong with even more sumptuous blooms:

I pulled out a few skeins of fingering weight yarn from my stash which are just calling to me at the moment, inspired by the show of reds and pinks around me. Left to right are: a skein of merino from Fleece Artist (they never name their colourways, which sort of annoys me, but whatever), a skein of superwash from Sweet Georgia in Pomegranate, and a skein dyed by my friend Tara from Dragonfly Dyewerx in Raspberry Jam:

I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with these now that I've pulled them out. I am simply drinking in their colour at the moment because it just seems like the right thing to do. The trouble is that we're about to go into a week of hot weather, so my enthusiasm for anything wooly is a bit weakened at the moment, as tends to happen every summer. I suppose I should consider that this house tends to stay nice and cool because of all the trees around it, so much so that I find myself wearing a cardigan in the evening almost every evening of the year. Maybe this means I'll feel like diving into a wool project after all. At the very least, it's a sign that this house might really be a perfect fit for a knitter like me.

It's a mild evening tonight, so I think I'll sit out on the steps for a while with Mr. Seymour and enjoy the flowers for a while. And here's a wild idea: I might take my knitting out and work on it for a change:

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Garden Discoveries and a Gnome Beach House

I'm always surprised by the first roses and the first sweet peas, lovely of course, but also it's frightening that the year has come so far; how has half of it rushed past me? -- from Home is my Garden, by Dorothy Hammond Innes
We may as well start with the least exciting bit of today's post, as I have not been knitting all that often this week. Each time I go to pick up this peace, I find myself dozing off on the couch or distracted by other thoughts that pull me away from my seat to either research ideas or rush outside. I suppose it's not a bad thing to feel inspired to action, but it sure isn't good for finishing a knitting project. I fear this could be a bit of a boring project for y'all... sorry 'bout that:

I've been distracted the most by my garden, which is currently bursting into bloom. I was surprised to find this foxglove blooming away one day. It started out as a random plant we didn't recognize growing all on its own. We dithered about whether or not it was a weed, but I am really glad we didn't yank it out. Also: I don't understand why it's called a foxglove. I have never seen gloves like this on a fox, nor on any other creature, for that matter:

I have a row of rosebushes which have been delighting me all week. The wee white ones in the front were another surprise to me. I thought I only had two bushes growing out there, so I was amazed when I glanced over one day to see the tiny white ones blooming away:

The rhododendrons are in full swing out there:

This leggy one is growing right outside the window where our dining table sits. It needs a good prune, but man it sure is putting on a show at the moment:

I've been trying to keep up with some regular maintenance pruning out there. After clearing away a bit of ivy, I found this tiny beach house sitting on the stump. I guess the gnomes are away right now:

I also decided to tackle a holly bush which was slowly taking over part of the yard, and when I did, I was surprised to find these little fuzzy irises. I've never seen irises like these before, with fuzzy purple centres:

I also discovered this impressive little ornament under the holly. It stands about a foot tall, but it is an imposing little figure out there:

I do have one debacle to report: I was saddened to find that one of my zucchini plants petered out and died. I'm always a little worried about having only one zucchini plant, so I immediately went out searching for another plant to plop back into the pot. It's sort of late in the season to buy vegetable plants around here, so I kept finding ones that looked a little sad and dried up, but then I spied this plant which is now planted in the front pot. I got it home, went out to plop it into the soil, and only then realized that it's a cucumber plant. Doh. Oh well. At least I like cucumbers:

So not much yarn stuff this week, but plenty of garden adventures. I'm ready to have a rest and watch a movie on the couch this evening... and by "watch" I mean "listen while I knit." I know at least one guy who's ready for a break from running around the garden:

Have a great week!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Decision Review on a Quiet Sunday

On the surface: cool as a cucumber. On the inside: squirrel in traffic. --Anonymous
I've had a quiet Sunday today. Seymour and I spent most of the day at home on our own. I had a rare day when I had only a few chores to do and no cooking or baking to get done. When I find myself with little to do, it gives my brain a chance to really muse on things, like the results of the decisions I've made over time.

For example,  I made the decision last autumn not to do any pruning of any of the shrubs around the house because I really had no idea what kinds of plants they all were and I had yet to experience a full season with them. I sort of regretted that decision because I can tell now that they would have benefitted from a good rejuvenating haircut. This morning, I realized that I've been focusing too much on what they should look like, and not on the beauty that they already hold, which is a lesson I continue to need to learn in plenty of areas of life:

I have a little deck garden growing right now, which is also showing proof of some of my decisions: my decision to grow two different types of tomatoes (one of which is only just starting to show signs of life after four weeks of doing nothing) and my decision to move the pots of chard off the ground to save them from the slugs. I'm also not so sure about giving Seymour such ready access to them, but he seems to leave them alone for the most part. I caught him trying to roll in bird poop earlier, so I guess he's got other things outside to keep him occupied:

We had a team building event at work this week that involved putting a lot of trust in other people while building equipment and hiking through a lovely canyon. I really, really wasn't sure about the whole thing, and while I am glad I did it, I'm not sure I would do it all again. It was one of those situations where I had to throw out all my careful decision-making skills and just do it before I chickened out. At least the views were stunning:

This week, I finally decided to wind a skein of some laceweight yarn I've been sitting on for far too long:

I thought I loved this yarn already, but I loved it even more when I pulled it off the ball winder. I find its gentle tones a comforting antidote to the harshness of an overwhelming, high definition, 4k world. It is purchases like these that reassure me that I really am capable of making good decisions...

... even when I decide to knit projects using small needles and 800 yards of laceweight. Hmm, this could be a long haul...

I suppose I have to accept that some of the decisions I make are going to be the right ones and some of them won't, and some of them... well some of them are just as they are, neither good or bad... just stuff that happens and that's all. Right now I think I'm going to make the decision to go and make some curry for dinner. That seems like a good decision all around. Have a good week!