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.