Just Add More Coffee

I certainly hope everyone is having a lovely Labor Day. Like many Americans,  I am totally confused and thrown by how late the holiday has fallen this year. I spent the whole of last week thinking about emailing a friend, assuring her that I had plenty of time to get an exchange sent to her halfway across the country on time (meaning by Labor Day). I sat down to send said email on Saturday morning only to realize that was really not going to happen since the holiday was in, you know, 2 days, one of which was a Sunday. Why if the holiday is late was I thinking it’d be later? I have no idea. I think I’m just generally confused by this weird timing. Or I’m just generally confused. That’s a definite possibility, too.

In any case, since Mr Knitting Sarah had off yesterday and is working today, our family celebrated Labor Day yesterday. It was slated to be ungodly hot & humid and we are flying sans a/c, so we definitely wanted something that got us out of the house during the hottest part of the day and preferably that something would keep us relatively cool. Just to make it interesting, we also wanted to be able to bring Moose so he wouldn’t have to sit in the hot house.

We chose the beach.

IMG_0627We have two very nice dog-friendly beaches on Lake Michigan within reasonable driving distance and it just so happened that Kohler-Andrae State Park also had a program at noon by the Great Lakes Search and Rescue Dogs. Since our kids are both very interested in working dogs, we packed up a little picnic lunch, our beach gear, and a ball for Moose and headed out.

Since I’d just finished these socks…

IMG_0612(FO photos to come) and thanks to not being quite settled on the pattern for my next socks — which will be knit in this yarn…

IMG_0613This is Narwhal Needlework‘s Squishy Sock in Chocolate & RaspberriesI actually ordered this skein via the Mystery Skein KAL which is such a fun idea. You purchase the Mystery Skein in the Etsy shop and they send you a random skein (the listing is 10% off the regular price). Knit it up by October 1st & post a photo and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a skein of your choice. All in good fun and I so love a yarn surprise!

In any case, since the new socks weren’t travel-ready, I grabbed this for car and beach knitting…

IMG_0603I bought some Valley Yarns Northhampton in Burgundy a while back to make a sweater for my son. I haven’t knitted a lot of sweaters for my kids just because they grow out of them so quickly the time and financial commitments just haven’t made sense. The economical nature of this yarn, however, makes it worth a shot. If I can knit up a sweater for my boy for around $30, that actually seems like a really good deal for a good quality sweater, let alone a handknit one. So far I’ve been very happy with the quality of the yarn for the price and I’m hopeful this little experiment will help me justify knitting a larger variety of things for the kiddos. My daughter is, of course, already protesting because her brother is getting a sweater and she isn’t, so the pressure is on!

But I digress.

Since I’m currently working the stockinette body, I got to knit in the car and did a whole lot of beach knitting. I even got the blissful hour while Mr Knitting Sarah took the kiddos to the rescue dog presentation.

IMG_0624After a good hour of swimming & surfing the waves, Moose was pretty pleased with the quiet time, too.

IMG_0622Seriously, does it get better?

I have to admit, I really like this photo. I purposely got part of my big zipper scar in the photo. Growing up a lot of people who loved me very much were always offering to help find ways to cover up this 20″ zipper shaped scar with longer shorts over my swimsuits and any variety of wardrobe work-arounds. While I’m no exhibitionist, I’ve never been ashamed or bashful about the scars that pepper my leg. They are just a part of me and a pretty formative part at that. Without them and all that went into needing & recovering from them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today — imperfect, but perfectly me. I gladly wear them with pride.

We spent another hour or so after lunch playing on the beach and soaking up the beautiful lake breeze and fabulous 78F temp. Home was pretty sweltering. I tried to do some spinning, but didn’t get very far as the humidity just made it kind of unpleasant, so I tagged on another inch or so onto the sweater before the day out in the sun caught up to me.

Our holiday celebrated and the mister back at work, the kiddos and I am having a regular school day today. We are flip-flopping the traditionally short week, working early and taking our time off toward the coming weekend so we can spend some quality time when my Mom comes to visit later in the week. The easy, at home workday probably suits Moose best of all…

IMG_0631This is pretty much all he’s got in him after his big beach adventure. I have to admit, I know how he feels – it’s going to take an extra cup of coffee to make it through today!  Yes, it’s a just add more coffee kind of day!

Singing Elvis to My Dog

Today I thought I’d share a little bit about my favorite knitting buddy, our dog Moose. He is the third dog we’ve had at our house and he’s extra special to me. Our first dog was our beloved Shepherd-Akita mix who passed away from age & illness a number of years back. The second was a pup we rescued from a local shelter whose food aggression proved too much for our house even after multiple training classes to try to make it work. When we surrendered him I was broken-hearted. He was only my second dog and after countless hours of training it had ended with him snarling and attacking me in my own kitchen. I was left very afraid of dogs and convinced I would not have another one again.

Once a couple years had passed my husband — who is very much a dog person — started to drop hints about finding a new dog. We did a little looking and met a couple dogs, but I was woefully uncomfortable and just couldn’t do it. At right at about this time my hubby mentioned our early searches to his then co-worker. She happened to have a sister who had a small farm and she was selling the last of a litter of Labrador Retrievers. We drove a couple hours south of our house to meet the last little male pup available. On the way husband was convinced we’re be bringing him home. I was convinced we were not.

And then this rolly-polly little brown pup waddled out of the house.

https://knittingsarah.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/moose2.jpg

My heart instantly melted.

I was insistent though that we observe him and interact with him and put him through all the puppy personality paces we’d researched so we would have a pretty good idea of his personality so we’d be as sure as possible that we were a good fit for each other. It didn’t take too long to convince me that he was pretty much perfect for us. He slept on our laps the whole way home — dead weight from all the excitement. And ever since, he’s been my constant companion.

https://igcdn-photos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xaf1/t51.2885-15/10995264_798308686906112_887694759_n.jpg

He helps me do laundry.

https://igcdn-photos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/t51.2885-15/11055776_362495363934956_273184295_n.jpg

He helps me spin.

https://igcdn-photos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xaf1/t51.2885-15/10895494_403803743120393_182002372_n.jpg

He helps me exercise.

https://igcdn-photos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xaf1/t51.2885-15/11024103_1011107438954158_904316160_n.jpg

He helps me knit & babysit stuffed animals.

https://igcdn-photos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xaf1/t51.2885-15/10932645_1432375463721323_894088210_n.jpg

He even shares my lukewarm enthusiasm for mornings.

He is the sweetest, kindest soul out there and he’s is never more than a few feet away. On most of our adventures he rides along whether he gets to hike or not. We’ve found that if the weather is cool enough, regardless of what we’re doing he much prefers to ride along in the car and wait for us than to have to stay home.

It was in his first year that we had our first indication that Moose Burger (oh yes, his middle name is ‘Burger’, of course) might have some allergy issues and his allergies are the main reason I wanted to write about him today. We’ve since learned allergy problems quite common in labs and I always get a ton of comments on Instagram when I mention our struggles, so I thought it’d be worthwhile to share a bit here. The first couple times we were able to manage his outbreaks it just by switching up food for him, but the last encounter has been a bit more to overcome. It’s always hard to know if it’s a food allergen or environmental that is triggering the problem, but this time around he was having distress in the dead of winter so food was a safe bet. In any case, he went through three rounds of antibiotics combined with weekly baths using prescription shampoo before we were able to clear up his skin infection.

On the bright side, he and I have perfected his taking pills. He also has learned to love baths. At first they terrified him and my getting this 80lb dog in the tub should have been filmed for some sort of blooper reel, but then we discovered the healing powers of Elvis. Yes, every time my pup gets a bath, I sing ‘I’ve got a brown Moose Burger in the bathtub’ to the tune of Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas’ on repeat for about 15minutes. Sometimes I switch up the words in the made-up verses and usually he chimes in with me for a little while. Instead of a chore, it’s kind of a special time now and he wags his tail happily through his bathtime.

The other element of Moose’s treatment is that he’s on a food trial to try to weed out problem ingredients. Currently he’s still rocking the pumpkin-pinto bean-ham diet and so far it seems good. Eventually we will broaden the scope in order to add in some of the more unique vitamins and minerals, but for now we are just trying to find a good spot from which to start challenging his diet a bit. As you can imagine though, it’s added work for me — every few days this happens in my kitchen…

IMG_8688I cook up a giant pot of pinto-beans and measure and combine ingredients. Sometimes I don’t bother to combine it all right away, but if I have the time and space in the fridge it saves a little time to throw together a couple days worth of meals all at once. Now you might remember, I mentioned Moose is in the 80lb range so each meal is a full four cups of food — sometimes I add extra ham or beans if he’s very active — and he eats twice per day. You can imagine what going to the store to stock up for him for a a few weeks looks like. As I load 60cans of pumpkin, 20lbs of beans, and a bunch of ham into your cart, my cart goes from empty to overflowing in about 5minutes and it always raises a lot of eyebrows and elicits random comments. And everyone’s eyes get huge as I try to turn corners with my 20tons of random canned and dry goods. As my poor car groans and lurches forward under the weight of it all, I look over and see this face…

And it’s all worth it as my heart melts all over again, just like it does every time I see him.

There’s a part of me that recognizes that this is a little insane. I didn’t really know that a dog could be this high maintenance, at least not a young dog, and it is a lot of extra effort and constant diligence to be cooking for him and bathing him and checking him over daily for any signs of reaction. The bottom line, though is that he’s my best friend and it’s pretty easy to admit that I’d do almost anything for him because…

Quite frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Happy Birthday, Moose!

I’ve got just a bit of time before a whirlwind of a day (and weekend), but I have to take a moment to say happy birthday to someone very, very special to me…

20140221-094010.jpgMoose.

On one hand, I can’t believe this guy is 2. On the other hand, I can’t imagine life without him. He is my constant companion, my very best bud, and just the sweetest, goofiest, most loving soul around. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Happy Birthday, Moose!

Snow. Cold. Moose. Socks.

Where I live, January is the month when the magic of winter begins to wear off & instead of eliciting gooey comparisons to snowglobes a new snowfall tends to just get everyone complaining about shoveling… again. I take care of the snow removal at our house. We don’t have a snowblower, so ‘snow removal’ is simply me. Outside. With a shovel. I am lucky in that about half the time our neighbors snowblow for us, so I return the favor and shovel for them whenever I can. This morning was one of those mornings. And you know, I really don’t mind any of it — the snow, the cold, the extra work. Honestly, I’d much rather shovel than mow the lawn. I just love winter, even in late January.

With 5 or 6″ of fresh snow I was thankful that it was the light, fluffy, airy variety and I had the two houses’ walks all cleared out before long. Since I was bundled and we’re expecting another stint of subzero temps to move into the area tonight, I went ahead and filled all the bird feeders, too. And then, when all the work was done a little play was in order.

20140126-100558.jpgSomeone was a wee bit excited to romp in the new snow and how could I deny this face?

20140126-100638.jpgWe use frisbees this time of year — they are harder to lose in the snow than tennis balls — and Moose fetched his little retriever’s heart out and then promptly laid down for a spell to rest & chew on his apparently indestructible frisbee (thanks Grandama & Grandpa!).

20140126-100609.jpgMoose loves to ‘drop’ his frisbee in the snow so he has to find it again.

20140126-100707.jpgThe finding looks like this. I love this dog.

20140126-100736.jpgWhen it was time to head in, he tried to use camouflage to avoid the inevitable. It worked for a time… again, how do you deny that face a little extra play?

Of course, shoveling wasn’t the only thing I did this morning. I was awake for a couple hours before I could get outside without disturbing the neighborhood. So I did this:

20140126-100446.jpgOh yes, I did. I finished Socks 1.1 & 1.2 for Socks with Sarah.

20140126-100506.jpgThey are made with Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber Sock Yarn in Aegean. I just love the colors, as always is the case from Cloudlover.

20140126-100543.jpgAnd there they are. Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock made with that gorgeous Cloudlover yarn.

I am going to give them a wash before I wear them, but the air is so dry they will be ready to wear in no time. For those of you knitting along, I am a bit early finishing up, but I did shoot the video tutorials along the way and I will post them on the designated days as promised. Just keep knitting away!

As for me…

20140126-104008.jpgI have some yarns to wind and choices to make and exciting new projects to begin. After all, when the work is done a little play is in order, right?

The Days are Just Packed…

P h e w.

This has been a busy week. And no, I have not been celebrating Moose’s birthday since my last post. I could have been, but I wasn’t.

We did go on a family hike. Moose posed for a picture for you while Mr. Knitting Sarah & the kids tracked fox and rabbit prints through the snow.

wpid-IMG_20130223_110356.jpgYep, he is still handsome. And we spotted two Great Horned Owls. It was pretty awesome.

I did manage to put the finishing touches on my February installment of the Merry KAL. It was a lot of fun. Here are a couple sneak peeks of what you’ll see here officially tomorrow.

angel sneak peak

I tried some new yarn…

moose sneak peek

And a bit of playing with color.

Somewhere in there I also finished & blocked my Quaker Ridge Shawlette. I will reveal the results of the poll I ran as well as some more complete photos of the finished project sometime in the next week.

close-up

I am in love with it.

There are also a couple hats I have to share, but I need to — ahem — look a bit more presentable to take photos of myself modelling them. I am not — cough, head down, averted eyes — exactly presentable because we had an unexpected Snow Day today… again. So instead of looking nice, I played outside with my peeps.

image

Giant snowpile! YAY!

imageShowing off his play bow as he anxiously awaits the launching of his toy. I tried to get a photo of him running — his jowls fly up and he looks like he has a giant grin… it is insanely adorable — but the only photo I got was about 6inches of his tail. Fast, happy puppy & slow shutter speed are not a great mix.

The days, they are just packed.

See you tomorrow with my finished February Merry KAL update!

Happy Birthday, Moose!

One year ago today a black lab named Jemima gave birth to a litter of puppies on a little farm in Southern Wisconsin. For the next 10weeks, Jemima’s owner gave those pups a wonderful life — from making sure they had good quality food & health care, to ample time frolicking outside together, to being handled by humans young & small. She even took the pups — each in turn — for rides in her car, so they would be familiar and comfortable driving companions. These pups knew nothing but happiness & love & fun.

The story goes that she held off finding a home for one of the male pups — he was the most mellow & easy-going of the bunch. He was being saved for an older family member who had recently lost her dog. It just so happened that at about the same time this family member turned down adopting the roly-poly chocolate lab pup that my husband had a certain conversation with a co-worker. Knowing this co-worker was an animal lover, he told how we had just started searching for a dog, but not just any dog. We have small children and needed an animal that was very relaxed. I also had some baggage from the last dog we adopted which was very aggressive and I just could not take another heartbreak. This co-worker mentioned that her sister might have just the dog for us.

Two days later I was a ball of nerves as we drove to the farm to meet this pup. We pulled up into the drive, the door to the house opened and a black lab trotted out with three pups following along behind. The last little lumbering guy was all giant feet & rolls and rolls of chubby chocolate colored fur. We had done our research & spent quite a while watching how this boy interacted with his siblings, with us & our children, and to being handled. He just took everything is stride. He was playful & fun-loving, but just as easy-going as they come.

After about an hour I got in the car & my husband placed the 26lbs of puppy on my lap. To my amazement, Jemima walked up to the little pup. She looked at him for a moment, gave him a lick on the nose, then turned & walked away.  Each in turn his brother & sister went through the same ritual. It was seriously one of the most moving things I’ve seen in my life. Good-byes said, the puppy promptly fell into a deep, contented sleep. I was completely in love with this sweet, gentle giant of a puppy.moose

The past year he has grown from that roly-poly 26lb puppy into an handsome 80lb lab that clearly resembles the hunting lines of his papa. We tease that he is like Clifford the Big Red Dog — he has so much love that he just keeps growing… and growing… and growing. He has also grown to be not just our dog, but a beloved member of our family. He is my constant companion at home, on hikes, and even running errands. He loves to snuggle my daughter as she reads to him & listen to all my son’s dreams & ideas. He awaits my husband’s return from work every single day & never ceases to greet him excitedly.  Even though he has a bit of a tight fit in our small car, he happily accompanies us on our family day adventures. It’s clear he is just happy to be with his family, regardless of the tight squeeze. Quite simply put, he has grown well beyond just the perfect dog for our household, he is one of us.

moose2He has proven an able, well-behaved trail dog…

moose4

A happy snuggler…

moose3A mellow knitting buddy (and let me add that he often sleeps on my knitting, but has never ever caused yarn or needle or project harm)….

moose5

The most enthusiastic of ball players….

moose6An avid bird watcher…

moose8A good listener at the dog park…

moose7And an all around sweetheart.

On his birthday, I just want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of Moose’s life — from day 1 to day 365.

And wish a very, very big…

Happy Birthday, Moose!

We ♥ you!