Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cabin fever update

The snow has almost completely melted , and it was finally possible to take a neighborhood walk without any extra risk to life and limb. (just the usual risks associated with crappy sidewalks and drivers wearing virtual blinders). Gusano Medidor and I took Kate for a walk this afternoon, and it was nice to stretch my legs. I admit that I'm usually a pretty contented homebody, but even I was starting to feel cabin-feverish and wanted to go out. I could only take Kate because Seamus's foot is still healing and I haven't been able to leash train Sheba and Simba yet. It's Kate's last walk for awhile because tomorrow she's going to the vet to have a growth removed from her toe. It's a pretty simple procedure and I'm sure will heal quickly, but I'm guessing that a long walk is out of the question. 

Oscar, G.M., and I went to The Mall today to get GM's giftmas gift. (Don't look at me like that. I didn't know what she wanted until she got here and then the whole area has been snowed in.) She wanted some walking shoes and found just what she wanted at Nordstroms. My friends tease me that I shop just like a guy. I never enter a shop unless I have a pretty good idea of what I want and am ready to buy. I hate the mall with a passion and while we were there, we had to go to Macy's because Nordstrom didn't have the other thing GM wanted (much to my surprise). We found what she needed at Macy's (and at 50% off! a pleasant surprise this time) and even though we had been in the Mall for about 2o minutes total, I was all ready to leave. It wasn't even that crowded but I could already feel the werewolf-like change from fairly-laid back, somewhat mellow person to uptight and bitchy woman starting to happen. (So why even go to the Mall, you ask? Well, as far as I know, item #2 is only available in department stores, which tend to be located in malls.)  If Nordstrom hadn't let me down by not having item #2, we would have been in and out of there before any anxiety had started (instead of making a hasty retreat as anxiety started to set in). 

I don't hate all shopping. I like browsing in bookstores. I like going to yarn shops. I don't even mind shopping if it's in a market-type environment instead of a mall. I really hate the artificiality of the suburban shopping mall. The only mall that doesn't give me hives is University Center in Seattle, and that's probably because each shop actually exits to the outside instead of to a giant room with artificial lighting.  

And (tangentially) speaking of yarn, I am working on the first project in about two months that hasn't turned to crap. I went to my LYS (local yarn shop) this afternoon to finally purchase the books that I'd ordered. They arrived over a week ago, but I hadn't been able to get there until yesterday. While there, I noticed some skeins of Noro Kuyeron yarn on the sale table. Noro is a Japanese company that specializes in multicolored yarns, and they are often quite beautiful. Most multicolored yarns I'm familiar with are made by dyeing sections of a large skein of yarn, but Noro creates multicolored yarn by spinning several colors in sequence. Since the new color is added bit by bit, each color transitions gradually and they tend to be quite beautiful. (I say "tend to" because often a color sequence will have a color which I Just Don't Like.) Anyway, one of the popular project in knitting world recently has been this scarf using two different colorways knit in an extremely simple pattern of knit 1, purl 1 ribbing and switching the colorways every two rows. Anyway, I saw this yarn for sale and asked G.M. if she were interested in a scarf. She said yes, and so off I went. (And yes, if I were a real frugalista, I would have waited one day to buy the yarn because the next day, everything in the store went on sale and even stuff on the sale rack would be further discounted. But I wasn't sure I'd make it back before the clearance rack was cleared out, and besides, I really like my LYS and support her as often as I can. That's why I order knitting books from her instead of from Amazon or Powells.) 

I may have mentioned before that I really don't like making scarves. And usually I don't. But for some reason this scarf is really holding my attention. The stitch pattern of knit one, purl one is quite rhythmic and therefore soothing. The colors of each yarn are constantly changing and each row is rather short so it is rather intriguing to see what will happen next. One of the yarns is in a very neutral colorway probably best described as "greige". You know, light grey to dark grey to light brown to dark brown to charcoal to black. This "greige" colorway provides a lovely balance to the other colorway which so far has transitioned from rust red-burnt orange-bright orange-muddy red-green-purple-magenta-dark magenta-deep greenish black. 

This is one seriously gorgeous scarf. I can't believe that I've already knitted half of it since I only started it yesterday. But the colors are so bewitching! I hope she likes it, 'cuz if she doesn't, I may just keep it for myself. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

let it snow?

It's snowing again!

Actually, it seems to be starting as snow and then turning into rain about four feet above the ground. 

I'm getting mighty sick of this...

Monday, December 22, 2008

frakkin' cat

Ok, the house is now enveloped in that toxic gas cloud that means that a cat has just taken a dump. 

So, good cat human that I am, I immediately go to clean the litter box...and there's nothing in the box except clean litter.

This means that a cat...and I'm blaming Sasha here...has defecated somewhere outside the litter box. Given that it's 2:30 am, and Oscar's mom is asleep (I hope) on the couch, I can't turn on all the lights looking for said pile of cat crap and have to wait until morning. All I can hope is that he crapped on a dog blanket and not on the carpet. 

I know that some of my readers (cherished all!) are cat people or at least know cats better than I do. Can anyone help? What can I do? I can handle the 200+lbs of dogs in my house with no problem but I live in stark terror of a 10lb cat and his bodily functions.

ah, sweet slumber, I hardly knew ye

After a blissful week of sleeping soundly through the night, my insomnia has returned.

Oh well. At least I have tomorrow off, even though I'm still getting up early (or maybe just staying up) to give Oscar a ride to the transit center. This makes me a bit nervous, to be honest. Given the several inches of snow/ice outside, I'm not exactly thrilled about having to drive. All routes involve steep hills, so getting there really won't be a problem because gravity is friend you can always rely on but getting back up those hills is going to be more of a challenge.  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It is REALLY is a winter storm

For an area that doesn't get much snow, we've certainly gotten a lot of it this week. It's snowing again, and our area is forecast to get 3-8 inches (8 to 20 cm). 

I've already swept the front steps three times today and should probably do it one more time before I go to bed. 

Sweep the steps? No, I don't have a snow shovel. It doesn't snow much here, remember? Sweeping works just fine.

Good news!!

Simba was accepted by Bulls Eye Dog Rescue!  Yay! We will still foster him until he has found his forever home, but I'm really happy that they accepted him because it means we'll be part of their network and resources. And they are very strict about the adoptive homes so the odds are very good that the forever home will be a good match for human and hound. 

And since they only accept ambassadors of the breed, this means my instincts were correct and he really is a great dog. 

He passed his temperament test with flying colors. As they said, they acted as rude as they could be possibly be in dog culture terms. In essence, trying to provoke him. And he was mellow throughout everything. One of the volunteers even picked him up and held him upside down for a few seconds. I think he was a bit startled but he didn't growl or snap.  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Seattle has a snow freakout even without any snow!

Seriously, snow was forecast yesterday so all the schools were cancelled.

Not a single flake fell in Seattle area. To the north, lots. To the south, tons. But in Seattle and immediate environs? Nada. To paraphrase the weather service, if the snow were a doughnut, Seattle would would be the hole.

It made up for it today though. Yesterday in T-town, we got aabout 1-2 inches, which mostly melted during the day. Last night we got about 2 more inches but conditions weren't all that bad. The roads were clear. But we figured something was up because while waiting for the bus to Seattle, the station agent told us that the bus trips were taking two hours (it's normally 45-60 minutes). So we waited 1/2 hour for the last commuter train and when the train pulled into Tukwila (about 10 miles south of downtown Seattle), I understood why traffic was so bad. It was snowing really heavily and it was near white-out conditions. 

And it snowed heavily all day. Offices were sending their employees home (half of our office didn't even make it in today). Even the local Starbucks was closing its doors at 1pm. Oscar's office closed at 3pm. Given how long the bus trips were taking this morning, we both decided to take an early train home. The train is wonderful. Never affected by traffic, and almost never affected by bad weather. 

Note I said almost never.  We took the 4:20, pulled out of the station, traveled the six miles to the Georgetown area...and sat there for almost 40 minutes. The intercom wasn't working in the car we were in but one of the staff came by and said there was ice on the rails, so we had to sit. An inconvenience for us, but really, really crappy for the folks waiting at Tukwila for the train. Most of the train stations are part of transit centers and are really quite nice. Tukwila exists essentially for workers at Boeing and there's nothing there except a parking lot for shuttle buses and it's next to a swamp. The platform is literally plywood. There's no place for them to go, no businesses around, and no building to huddle inside. These poor folks were out there in the cold for almost an hour but no one complained when the train finally arrived. I think they were all too cold to do anything but shiver. 

No problems until the final stretch when the train stopped again for another 20 minutes, just outside of Tacoma. 

Despite the two hour train ride, I'm glad we decided to leave early. The train I normally take was cancelled.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

baby, it's cold outside

It doesn't get all that cold here in the Pacific Northwest, but there are a few days out of the year when it does feel like "real" winter. 

Like now. The ground is frozen, it snowed all day, but the really good thing is that now I can wear my alpaca sweater.

My mother in law gave me a drop-dead gorgeous Millma sweater a few years ago, and it's truly the most beautiful thing I own. It's not a heavy sweater but alpaca is really warm and sadly, it's just not cold enough here to wear it very often. 

But I'm going to wear it to work tomorrow. No doubt my colleagues won't recognize me in anything besides my usual jeans and hoodie.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

good thing I love animals

1. I have to figure out a way to hobble Seamus to keep him from putting weight on his foot. Every sling Oscar and I have managed to create, he has managed to figure out a way to literally put his foot down.

2. It's all out war between me and Sasha at the moment. He's had issues with urinating outside of the litterbox sporadically since we got him (although, as far as I can tell, he hasn't sprayed since we found Eddie a new home). The vet suggested Feliway, which didn't seem to do a damn thing. But this afternoon, he used the litterbox  and I immediately cleaned it (stinky) and a few minutes later he went into the office and promptly defecated on the carpet.  I tried to grab him to toss him in the shower but the little bugger fled (I did this the last time I caught him spraying, and as far as I know, it worked since I don't think he's done it since.) He's always defecated in the box before unless he's been outside, so I don't know what the hell is going on right now. I'm still furious and he's outside but I feel a bit guilty because it's below freezing right now. 

3. Sheba got a bath, and while I could not coax her past the bathroom door (even using cheese!), and had to pick her up and carry her into the tub,  she was wonderfully behaved during the bath. Didn't put up a fuss. Didn't try to jump out of the tub. And she smells better now. 

4. This dog stew idea is working out quite well. (Remember, this is stew FOR dogs, not stew OF dogs.) It does stretch the kibble although it's not a big savings; however, the dogs love it and they will eat their dinner immediately. Both Seamus and Kate were grazers...I'd feed them morning and evening, and they'd nibble from their dishes during the day. This doesn't work with having Simba and Sheba around. Kate loves the stew and she'll clean her bowl right away. It's also becoming a good way to use up leftover veggies from our own cooking as well as using up the less-than-loved veggies that come in the produce delivery. (Celery root? bleah.) 

EDIT--it's snowing so I let the little f*cker back in, although the snowflakes looked quite lovely on his black fur.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Are you smarter than a 5th grader--UK edition

Here's a sample of the type of test that used to be administered in UK schools to 11 year olds whose academic future depended on how well they scored. 

I'm pleased to admit that I would have passed and gone on to grammar school, but very humbled that I didn't get a perfect score, considering that I'm 39 and well-educated. 

Go ahead. Take it. I dare you. I double dog dare you to post your score in the comments section! 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

you can't make this stuff up

overheard this conversation on the way into the office:

street person, talking to police officer: "This is what scabies looks like"

police officer: "Oh, so you have scabies, then?"

street person: "no, this is just some dried skin. But that's what scabies looks like."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

in which my friend plays with her new iPhone

Someday, I'll learn to smile without smirking. Oscar looks a bit uncomfortable, no?

Friday, December 05, 2008

'cuz you just can't have enough memes in blogland

Nine Places I've Been
1. La Paz Bolivia
2. Cochabamba, Bolivia
3. Uppsala, Sweden
4. Boschenhoofd, Netherlands
5. London
6. New York City
7. Montevideo, Uruguay
8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
9. Pittsburgh, PA

Eight Ways to Win My Heart
1. Enjoy reading books
2. Tidying up after yourself
3. Opening the door when my arms are full of parcels but leaving me be otherwise
4. Like to cook
5. Have traveled outside of the US
6. Be a native English speaker with a non-USian accent (Australian, Scottish, Irish, Northern English, Southern English...I find them all very charming)
7. Like dogs
8. Be self-confident without arrogance

Seven Things I Want to Do Before I Die
1. Get out of debt
2. Finish graduate school
3. Visit Antarctica
4. Visit El Salvador
5. Visit Iceland
6. Visit New Zealand
7. Visit Japan

Six Things I'm afraid of
1. rats
2. dancing in public
3. my car catching on fire
4. getting laid off
5. having nothing but Lipton's tea or Folger's coffee to drink
6. something terrible happening to the animals in my care

Five Things I don't like
1. goat cheese
2. dill weed
3. ill-tempered, little yappy dogs
4. home repair 
5. mowing the lawn

Four Things Ways to Turn Me Off
1. own an ill-tempered, little yappy dog
2. talk on a cell-phone whilst driving
3. tell me to "just Google it" if I ask you a question
4. not tidy up after yourself

Three Things I do everyday
1. knit
2. read
3. take a walk

Two Things That Make Me Happy
1. a freshly made pot of good tea
2. a day at work where there is plenty of work to keep me busy and all of it interesting

One Thing on my mind right now
1. I'm glad Seamus is going to be all right.

glass half full

Seamus is limping because he's broken his toe, and the toe is not broken because a tumor shattered it. 

Just a basic broken toe, and like most broken toes, there's not much you can do for it. He's too big for a splint so he just needs to stay off it until it heals.  (Right now I'm really amused because he had to be sedated for the x-rays and he is totally stoned. Normally, he's hyperactive at the vet's office and can't stop jumping around but when the tech brought him back out, he just kind of sank down onto the floor and lay there, wagging his tail.)

So no walks for Seamus now either.  

'tis time to leash train the foster dogs so that I can get some exercise! 

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

glass half empty

Seamus is limping. 

I noticed it this morning when he came inside after his potty break and so I figured he stepped on something. I didn't notice anything in his paw pads so figured he may have just twisted/sprained/stepped wrong. 

10 hours later and he's still limping. He holds his paw up and won't put any weight on it. I give him a tablet of Deramaxx (an pain med for dogs) to see if that helps. I'm a bit concerned giving him this medication because our dog Rose died because of a reaction to it (it ulcerated her bowel, and she died of internal bleeding). While I know that Rose's case was very unusual, and at recommended doses Deramaxx is a good drug, please believe me that I'm still a bit spooked by Rose's experience and I only gave it to him because Seamus was in pain. 

However, an hour later, and the drug seems to have had no effect. He's still limping and won't put weight on his paw. 

In my experience (what I call the "Year of the Three Rottweilers"*), an older dog that suddenly starts limping and the pain doesn't respond to a non-opiate pain med has meant only one thing. A really bad thing. Seamus isn't all that old (he's about 7 or 8) but old enough to fall into the "increased risk of osteosarcoma" category.  Osteosarcoma is not really treatable.  From what I understand, by the time it becomes obvious (a limp), the tumor is growing enough to have started to break the bone (which is what causes the pain). Also, it's likely to have metastasized by that time. 

I will wait and see if his limp goes away. If it seems worse, I will take him to the vet and brace myself. 

*The Year of the Three Rottweilers: 
Rottweiler #1: Haida
When we found out that Haida was suffering the disease in her foreleg, our only options were euthanasia or amputation. We elected amputation, even though her chances of surviving more than a few months were only 50-50. (This should give you a good idea of how much we loved that dog to elect a procedure in which her prognosis was essentially a toss of the coin.) She did survive the operation, and was recovering quite nicely but the disease had spread to her brain and three weeks after her operation, she suffered a string of seizures and died. 

Rottweiler #2: Carla
We adopted her a few months after Haida's death. In my grief, I was looking at Petfinder and came across her at the Humane Society in Kelso, WA. She had been in the shelter for a long time and had terrible calluses on her elbows and knees from sleeping on concrete. She was a total sweetheart. She turned out to be deaf, which wasn't a problem for us, but she also had a slight limp, which turned out to be a really big problem. In a single day, that slight limp turned into an inability to move without crying out in pain, so we took her to the vet and found she had a tumor in one of the vertebrae in her lower back. Amputation was not an option, so three weeks after we'd adopted her, we had her euthanized. It bothered me so much that her calluses hadn't healed; obviously, her time was limited anyway, and I'm still glad she spent her last three weeks with us instead of in that filthy kennel, but her calluses were healing nicely. The hair was starting to grow back, as the vet noted while she was injected that bright pink solution of death. I was very startled by her comment, and wanted to yell "What the frack are you talking about her calluses healing right now? You are euthanizing my dog!"

Rottweiler #3--Rose
We got Rose a few months after Carla died when my friend who runs a pet shop in Seattle told me about a woman who came in with her two foster Rotties, and after interacting with the dogs, he thought Rose would be a perfect dog for us. It turned out, he was right. She was the third in a row of fantastically tempered and wonderful Rottweilers. After taking Rose in for shots, the vet staff asked us where we found such consistently wonderful dogs. (Every single one was rescued from a shelter. Rose came to the private rescue group from Spokane Animal Shelter.) But Rose did suffer from joint pain, which is not unusual for larger dogs which is why she went on the Deramaxx. And although she never exceeded the recommended dose, she reacted to it and died very suddenly a few months after we got her. (I made the vet perform a necropsy, which was admittedly very difficult for him but this is how we found out how she died.) 

Prop 8--the musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Two and a half minutes of amusement

four dogs is a lot to have underfoot but...

the amusement factor of watching four dogs simultaneously eating peanut butter is incredibly high.

Houston, we have a problem

What you see are four single, handknit socks arranged left to right in the order I knitted them. These are all socks I knit for myself and wear.

The careful observer will notice a few things:

1. The foot size changes from left to right. 
Yes, the one on the left was my first knitted sock and I used needles that were too large for the yarn. These socks would fit someone with a really wide or swollen foot. I wear these as sleeping socks to keep my feet warm.

2. The cuffs get steadily longer
Very true. Cuffs are usually ribbed and I find 2x2 ribbing to be the most pathetically dull and boring stitch pattern to do. (This is where you alternate 2 knit stitches with 2 purl stitches. It's not the only ribbing pattern that can be done; but I hate to admit it, it's a really great rib pattern for socks but it stretches a lot but holds its shape.) The sock on the left is more like an anklet, the green sock just covers my ankles, and the next two are a more "proper" length. The really careful observer will note the two on the right, the ones with the "proper" length legs, only have a very short section of ribbing at the top and the rest of the leg is done in plain stockingette (plain knit stitch). Yes, I realized I'm making these socks for me, so I can do whatever the frack I like and I don't have to knit 7 inches (18cm) of ribbing of any pattern if I don't want to.

3. There's only a single sock of each pair.
This is the problem. These are all handknit socks, and each sock represents about 8 hours of work, and each of these used to have a twin.  I wear my handknit socks exclusively but I seem to have lost these socks' mates. I'm bummed about all losing all these mates but especially about the one on the right. I just finished that pair about a month ago. 

**EDIT** found the orange mate.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Meet the new fosters

This is Simba; he's hard to photograph because he wants to be as near you as possible.

Another action shot.
Yes, that's a big smile! This guy's a total sweetheart, although he may challenge Seamus in the "who can lick Luneray's face the most" department.

This is Sheba. She is also usually smiling but she really needed to go out at that moment.

So far, they've both been good with the cats. Maggie had to teach Simba some manners because he was invading her personal space but he and Sasha seemed to hit it off right away. It'd be great if Sasha could have another dog buddy.  

Monday, December 01, 2008

insomnia inspired meme

I'm not tagging anyone, but I'd be happy to read your own answers in a comment. 

1. Magazines Subscribed To: Archaeology, Current World Archaeology, Atlantic Monthly, Interweave Knits, Piecework, Vogue Knitting.  The Atlantic Monthly and Vogue Knitting will probably not be renewed. Vogue Knitting because I don't think it's as interesting as I'd thought it would be and Atlantic Monthly because I never get around to reading it even though I know it's one of the good cerebral magazines to actually subscribe to. Yes, this seems like a lot of magazines but all except for Atlantic Monthly are bimonthly or quarterly so it's not like I'm overwhelmed with glossy paper. 

2. Aside from knitting, my favorite pastimes are: reading, writing, listening to audiobooks, playing video games

3. If I were not a _____________(insert your own profession here), I'd be a: dudes, trust me when I tell you I never dreamt about being a transportation engineer when I was a kid, or even an adult for that matter. Good grief, I didn't even study engineering in the university! (I did get a degree in Geology, as well as do graduate study in Scandinavian Literature, because Geology so obviously leads to literary studies.)  But I'd still love to be a university professor. 

4. I am irrationally worried about: my car catching on fire. 

5. If I were the opposite sex: I'd probably never really appreciate the awesomeness of being able to pee standing up. (Ok, as a female, I certainly can pee standing up, so I should qualify this by saying "peeing standing up without drenching yourself in your own urine".)

6. The thing I miss most about childhood is: y'know, I don't really miss being a kid. There's really nothing about either the emotional or physical stages of childhood that I'm nostalgic about. Well, I wouldn't mind being flat-chested again...but now that I think about it, I used to have a really powerful and creative imagination, which I'd love to have again. I don't really think I have an imagination anymore; that's been replaced by daydreams and fantasies. Not unpleasant, but not the same. 

7. I like to collect: I'm trying not to collect anything but I seem to constantly acquire new knitting paraphenelia, whether it's yarn or needles or stitch markers. I also have a talent for acquiring homeless animals. 

8. Though I've never been there, I feel inexplicably homesick for: New Zealand. I cannot explain my love for this place. (And this existed before the Lord of the Rings films, thank you very much)

9. I've never really liked to eat: I'm not a picky eater but I'm not a big fan of pie. (Pumpkin pie excluded but even then I usually just eat the pumpkin custard and leave the bottom and edge crusts.) 

10. When I have nightmares, they are usually about:  I don't have nightmares because that would require an imagination. I just have anxieties, and that usually centers around a loss of independence.

note to self

don't rub eyes after applying muscle balm to affected limb. 

in a word, ouch. 

in several words, owowowowowowowohmygodwhereissalinesolutionwillthisstuffrinseoutholyf*ckitfrackin'burns!