Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Grieving House

Despite knowing it was imminent, losing Nico has still left a gaping hole in our lives.

Missing The Boy

We always used to joke that we should have named Nico "Cheese" instead, because he always came running when we said it.  He was a ravenous boy and was always underfoot when food was involved.  He understood about ten words and 9 of them were food-related.

So when he stopped eating a couple of days ago, we knew it wouldn't be long.  Yesterday we lovingly pet him and spoke to him while he peacefully went to sleep for the last time.  It's still hard to believe how painful it is.

But he brought us seven years of joy that far outweigh what we're going through now, and I will miss him terribly.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Year-End Recap

At the beginning of 2013, I made a list of resolutions.  Personally, I think if you don't give some accounting of how you did on your resolutions at the end of they year, you shouldn't make them...even if the results aren't stellar.

Resolution Results

Here are is the list of what I resolved for 2013:
  1. Read The Hunger Games Trilogy
  2. Watch The Hunger Games
  3. Finish the Blanket/Coffin Cover project
  4. Travel overseas
  5. Get down to 190 pounds and stay below 195 all year
  6. Grow at least one kind of vegetable
  7. Blog an average of at least twice a week (and yes, this one counts!)
  8. Thank someone daily
Here's what I actually did:
  1. I read the entire The Hunger Games Trilogy (and liked it)
  2. I watched The Hunger Games movie AND the most recent movie Catching Fire
  3. Made some progress on the Blanket/Coffin cover, but I still  have a lot of work to do.
  4. I did very little travel in 2013 - I did go to Mexico, but that wasn't really overseas.
  5. I got down to 191 pounds and stayed under 195 for a few months and now I'm at about 201
  6. I grew NOTHING this year
  7. Including this blog post, I will have blogged an average of 2.4 blog posts per week.
  8. Every once in a while, I forgot to track this, but I'm pretty sure I accomplished this one.
So my percentage was 50%.  I'll need to work on that completion percentage in 2014.

Current Knitting/Crochet

I'm nearing completion of the secret project, which I won't be able to show you until May.  But it took me casting on at least 12 different times before I finally came up with a stitch pattern that worked with the yarn and created a fabric I liked.

I also did a couple of new squares on the granny square blanket, so I have a total of 28 squares complete.

Nico is still holding on and has never looked better, believe it or not.  But I still don't expect him to make it through to 2014.  I think his medications are starting to have less effect each day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Season of Getting

In terms of artwork, we have both been gifted and gifted ourselves with art that is just beautiful.

A Thank You and Wedding Gift and an Early Self Christmas Gift

A friend from the Men's Knitting Retreats was grateful and also took our recent wedding as an opportunity to send Thaddeus and I this VERY generous gift.

It's actually two tiles framed together beautifully.  The tiles are made by Motawi Tileworks in Ann Arbor, Michigan, so they're U.S. artisans.  My friend picked to spectacular tiles, reminiscent of the mountains and woods of Easton Mountain.

A local artist friend of ours, in Lambertville, NJ also asked us over to her place to see a few pieces she had completed recently.  While she originally thought we'd be interested in a beautiful winter-scape she had just finished (we were), we totally fell in love with a different piece she had started in May, so we decided it would be our Christmas gift to ourselves.

The piece is "Underbrush" by Jane Gilday (I defy you to find underbrush quite this beautiful), and it's framed in one of Jane's frames, which she hand finishes with Dutch gold leaf.

I couldn't be more pleased with it.

Current Knitting

I've been doing some additional knitting on the kid alpaca blanket which is impossible to photograph in any way that would show progress.  I'm also working on a secret project as part of an exchange done at the Men's Knitting Retreat each year.  I've started the knitting part of this project four times, and I'm hoping the fifth time might be the design I go with.  I really hope so.

By the way, speaking of the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, registration for the 2014 retreat will open on Friday, January 10th.  If you know of anyone that wants to go, but would need a scholarship to attend, please go here to nominate him.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Cheer In The Summer

How is it that the person that celebrates Christmas in the middle of Summer, is one of the most jolly, merry-making men I know?

How Do Warm Climate People Do It?

I always wonder how people in Florida, or Mexico, or New Zealand get into the spirit of Christmas.

Decorating palm trees just seems so contrary to my images of Christmas.

And yet, James, our favorite Kiwi Kilted Knitter, hand knits miniature stockings each year, stuffs them with holiday chocolates, and gets them out in the post to arrive in America

Suffice it to say, the chocolate has been thoroughly enjoyed already, and the stockings have been hung by the chimney with care.

Current Crochet/Quilting

I have to admit, getting to work with the Opus 1 by Zitron using the broomstick lace crochet/knit stitch, got me a bit excited.

I ended up finishing the first scarf and adding the fringe, and then I went on to create a slightly different version with a minor variation to the stitch (it's not longer aligned with the row above it in the bottom scarf).

I've also made a little headway on my Kaffe fabric quilt.

It's getting more and more difficult getting a full shot of this fabric is it increases in size, but I'm quite liking the cacophony of colors it's turning into (if colors can be cacophonous).

Friday, December 06, 2013

Even MORE Change

Now that I'm working at home, I won't be climbing stairs at work, or walking over to get coffee or visiting coworker cubicles, so I've joined a health club and started drinking blended "raw" drinks.

Healthy Changes

Or at least I hope they're healthy changes.

Friends at work were talking about doing kale smoothie cleanses, and while I didn't feel like doing any kind of cleanse, per se, I did want to start eating more leafy green vegetables and preferably raw.  These friends were talking about how they couldn't find any inexpensive blenders that would macerate raw kale into something that was drinkable.  They said they had tried their blender and also tried the "Magic Bullet" (as advertised on TV!), but only made a mess, and they didn't want to spend the money on a juicer, or VitaMix blender that could do heavy-duty blending.

Fortunately, I found another coworker, who had a daily "smoothie" with lots of green in it and I asked her what she used to make them.  Magic Bullet makes a more heavy duty "bullet" called the NutriBullet, which easily macerates kale and is affordable (retails for about $100, but you can get them for under $80).
In addition to all that's pictured, it also had a great recipe book and directions for making great Kale or Collard smoothies that taste incredibly good.

Now I'm happy, and I'm getting healthier (I hope).

LGBT Knitting Fundraiser

Thea is always looking for handknit hats and scarves to give to homeless LGBT youth...if you have anything laying around that would be appropriate for a teen, send it along's a good cause!

Current Knitting/Crochet

Working mostly on the broomstick scarf.  I've finished the scarf and just need to add fringe and block it.

I loved this pattern stitch, which is free on Ravelry - Broomstick Lace Scarf with video tutorial.
I'm doing it side-to-side starting with 230 stitches and the yarn is Opus 1 by Zitron which is a 100% Merino yarn and soft and nice to work with.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Needed a Break - But I'm Back!

Adding the Thanksgiving holiday into to all the change noted in my last blog entry, I just stayed away from blogging for a week or so.

Completely Disorganized In Thought and In Reality

So, I have fiber projects I'm working on and I have other things going on in my life about which I haven't blogged, but it all seems a complete mess in my mind.

I'm usually much more organized than this, and try to make the blog reflect that.

So if things seem disjointed and hard to follow, you'll understand why.

Just an update on Nico - he's on some form or prednisone and a stomach acid inhibitor, and for the moment, he's hungry as he always was and eating well.  He's not as energetic as usual and prefers to be alone given the option.

Being selfish, I demand a bit more of his time than he'd normally like, but I make it up in terms of good petting.

Current Knitting/Crocheting

Actually working on three things on and off.
  1. Kid Alpaca blanket - mostly because it's one of the few things that will encourage Nico to jump into my lap while we're watching television.  And I still have a TON of work to do on it to finish it.
  2. Granny Square blanket - I can't remember where I was (and I'm too lazy to look back on blog entries), but I have 28 squares finished so far.  I may see if 35 will be enough to a decent size blanket.
  3. Broomstick Scarf - Saw this crochet pattern stitch on a Ravelry forum, and I had to try it.  It's very labor-intensive, but I love what it does to this yarn.

Monday, November 25, 2013


In the past few weeks, I've realized I can handle an enormous amount of both good and awful things in my life...I guess that's one good aspect.

Latest Updates

Okay...many of you know that Thaddeus and I, after 30 years of being together have gotten legally married.  We've always said that once a marriage would be recognized federally, we'd get married...our 30th year anniversary seemed like a perfect date for it.  Now we just have to wait for our home State of Pennsylvania to recognize our marriage.

About a week before this happened, I bashed in the front of my car by hitting the guy in front of me up in Scotia, New York.  Arranging for repairs up there, a rental car and the simple logistics of transferring everything from my disabled car to a rental was somewhat overwhelming.

Last week, I had to say goodbye (again) to an amazing network of friends I have in Upstate New York as I will no longer be traveling up there each week...I'll be working from home.  Dinner at Aaron and Michael's with all their wonderful dogs was a great way of saying goodbye.

I also had to say goodbye to a group of co-workers who I've grown to love.  Again, just the logistics of packing up my office and jamming it all into a rental car...only to have to transfer it to my newly repaired car was more than I wanted to handle.

During all this, we've been dealing with a sick little kitty.  Nico hasn't been himself for a couple of weeks, and after a number of different tests at the vet, we've found out his stomach is now made up mostly of lymphoma cells and it's not likely he'll make it past the end of the year.

You can imagine how heartbroken Thaddeus and I are.  Suffice it to say, I'm extremely glad that I'm working from home and can lavish him with all the love he's willing to take.

So, if I'm a little less on-line than usual, just know I'm putting my time to good use.

Current Knitting

Nico has grown to love laying on the kid alpaca blanket, so I've been working on it with the completed part of the blanket on my lap, so he can lay on it (and my lap).  Truth be told, it's the only comfort I'm finding in knitting at the moment.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ask A Gay Guy Anything

Years ago, when social media was limited to IRC chat and AOL chat rooms, I used to create a chat room called "Ask A Gay Guy Anything."

Where Anonymity Is Involved

Since the internet added an aspect of anonymity that wasn't as readily available, it was amazing the number of people that wanted to ask me things.

The most frequent question came from both men and women and it was always some version of "Does it hurt?"  Or "How do you do it so it doesn't hurt?"  I'm assuming y'all know what "it" is.  And while it's difficult to assess, the second most common question was some version of "Are you available?"  The chat room title seemed to encourage people to proposition me often.

Google has pretty much eliminated the need for having this kind of forum.  Well, at least for the folks who had valid questions...the flirtatious part has been eliminated by other applications.

Current Knitting/Crocheting

I had a challenging week last week, as anyone who follows me on Facebook may already know, so there was very little fiber work being done.  Here's my progress on my one active project.

So, I've finished 23 granny squares.  I'm starting to wonder how many squares I need for a decent size afghan, and whether I should purchase any additional yarn for it, or just use up scraps.  I guess the decision comes down to whether I'm more interested in how it looks in the end, or whether it really is just a scrappy little project.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Catching Up

My life is a bit fuller than it usually is at the moment, and I'm sad to note that I let an entire week go by without blogging last week.


So, now as I catch my breath, I can tell you that I haven't forsaken the blogosphere completely.  I'm still here.

I'm noted it before, but I often find knit-blogging to be twice as hard as blogging about other topics, since I want to be able to show some progress in my fiber pursuits as well as wax poetic on an issue of importance to me.  Doing both requires more time than I had last week.

But...I'm back.

Current Knitting/Crocheting/Spinning

Three things going on in my fiber-world these days:

  1. Trying to finish a current WIP and cross off a New Year's goal for 2013
  2. Continuing work on the Koigu Granny Squares blanket
  3. Working on a secret project that I can't blog about or mention publicly...kind of like the Fight Club of fiber pursuits, whereas the first rule about this project is that you don't discuss it.
The Kid Alpaca Blanket/Coffin Cover
Yes, believe it or not, I've been doing quite a bit of work on this blanket.  If I am to even attempt to get this thing done by year-end, it will require a lot of my knitting time.

I still have a couple of feet more to knit and it takes FOREVER to do just an inch of knitting on this project.  And I can't carry it with me (it's getting way too unwieldy).  And, the minute I start working on it, Nico is in my lap.

Koigu Granny Square Blanket
I've done a few more squares for the blanket.

I'm thinking I'm going to need about 60 total squares for this blanket, so I may be doing about 43 more of these squares before I'm finished.  Fortunately, this project travels easily...just need to make time to crochet while I'm away.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Preachers One and All

Recalling every Sunday, how the priest got up to sermonize, I realize now that sermons were probably the original blogging before blogging came about.

Spark of an Idea

Every once in a while I'll be driving or daydreaming (or both) and I'll think of some idea that would make a good blog topic.

I'm sure that's exactly what many of the preachers did for their weekly sermon ideas, and then tried somehow to relate them to the specific scripture reading for that week's service.  And now, blogging has given anyone who wants it, their own pulpit to be able to sermonize on any topic they choose.

Fortunately, as blog readers, you get the opportunity to choose which ones your read.  You didn't really get that opportunity as a church or temple-goer.  You kind of got stuck listening to the sermonizer attached to your flavor of religion.  The only choice we ever had was, which mass to go to to...hoping against hope that you got Father Gene and not Monsignor Endebrock...both were boring, but at least one wasn't grumpy and boring.

Current Knitting

I had the incredible opportunity to go to the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival (SAFF) this past weekend.  Since the festival is in the same town where we hold the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat each may, I also am fortunate to be able to stay at the retreat center where we hold the men's knitting retreat.  This year, friends Jeff, Dave and Aaron attended the festival.

In order of preference, what I love about SAFF, is:
  1. The addition to my retreat friends, I also got the chance to hang out and chat with Mindy (Puff the Magic Rabbit)...and the folks I don't know (or do know and forgot to mention...sorry!) who go to this event are always pleasant and nice to be around.
  2. The size of the festival...compared to Rhinebeck or MDS&W, SAFF is rather small, but it continues to attract some of the most amazing vendors each year.  It's much more manageable than either of the big fiber festivals, but it's bigger than the NJ Sheep & Wool.  Food is good, without having ridiculous lines to wait on.
  3. Cost of the event...not overly important, but it only cost $5 and $1 off coupons are incredibly easy to find either on-line before the event or from very nice locals you meet on the line to get in (also very short).
Here are some of my photos...
Aaron knitting so fast it's a blur (at Easton Mountain)

One of my purchases - beautiful silk

My Puff The Magic Rabbit purchases - romney/mohair boucle and roving

Jeff and Karen at Ensign Brook Farms booth

My purchase of Romney and Merino yarn from Ensign Brook Farms

Three hanks Holiday Yarns sock yarn

Jeff buying a beautiful woven rug
Mindy and Mr. Mindy at Puff The Magic Rabbit's booth (see her beautiful yarns!)

Hand made skein winders/swifts (some motorized, some not...beautiful!)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Beauty of Fall in Upstate NY

I'm not a big fan of Autumn...mostly because it indicates Winter will soon be here and I just think Winter is awful.  That being said, I had one of the most beautiful stays at Easton Mountain and the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival this past weekend.

Just Photos

This will be a two-part blog entry...that first one being just photos around Easton Mountain...I think they make it clear why it's such a great place to have the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.

Path from the guest house to the main lodge with part of the driveway
Driveway with the mountain in the background

Temple, pond and mountain
Pond and trees at the base of the mountain
Pathway to the garden cabins and wood burning sauna
Some of the newer residents of Easton
A source of fresh eggs for the residents of Easton
Geese giving the mountain some perspective
One of the many walking paths

Rosie running free outside the guest house rooms
My first morning view before yoga
The backyard at Easton
A mature and a young specimen for Thaddeus to identify

Backyard, pool and mountain
Next blog entry will contain much fewer photos from the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival, since that's really what I went there for.