Archive for the 'Pets' Category

A day in the life

March 10, 2011

of Opal.

Opal turned three last December. She has a keen interest in mice. If you like mice, don’t read any further.

Mice lovers all gone? OK. We can continue.

Farm fields surround the house we live in. Mostly alfalfa (which I was extremely disturbed to hear could soon become roundup ready alfalfa –more info here– thanks to the oligarchy or corporatocracy in which we live–but that’s a whole other topic that I am not even going to allow myself to get worked up about today.)

Because of all the fields, we have lots of mice. Lots of mice. Deer mice. Deer mice carry hantavirus and a few people in our area die of the virus every year. Consequently, we are super vigilant about keeping mice out of our house. The RNK goes around every spring and checks for holes around the foundation. If the mice made any over the winter, he pours Quick Crete into them so they can’t get under the house and into the crawl space.

We are very careful about keeping doors closed. We always have traps set, including a live trap in our laundry room, which seems to be the easiest point of entry for them. The live trap helps to ensure that we keep trapping even when we are gone and the snap traps are sprung.

We also have a cat. The ever-present mouse issue influenced our decision to get a rat terrier. Rat terriers are famed for their ability to kill small rodents. One, named Billy, was believed to have killed 2501 rats in 7 hours in a rat-infested barn. Opal isn’t quite that skilled and we don’t have quite as many mice as that barn had rats.

I simply tell you about Billy as a way to explain that Opal’s interest in mice comes honestly. Killing mice is part of the program. Her first job every morning is running the trap line. She alerts us to any mice in any trap with great excitement. She is extremely enthusiastic about helping me open the live trap to “take care” of any mice inside. She is a mighty mouser.

We found two this past week. I am not sure if it’s more humane to drop the mouse trap in a bucket of water and allow the poor dear to die a watery death or if it’s more humane to open the trap and let Opal snap it’s spine. Certainly, that’s the speedier death and a slightly more sporting option. Some of them do get away.

However, she killed both that we found this week and now that she’s killed two in as many days, she is very focused on the trap. She tried to convince me a mouse was in my office. I moved the trap in there for a night but no luck. I think perhaps, she just wanted it closer to her bed so she could keep an eye on it. I wish I could have captured the quivering on camera. There was a whole lot of quivering going on.

Just loop through those pictures about 8 dozen times and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how Opal spent yesterday. The trap is now back in the laundry room. I couldn’t stand all the quivering.

(Weird. I thought this posted last week, and then I came to post a new post but this one hadn’t posted. So I published it and it published with the errors I fixed before I thought I posted it last week. Go figure. Anyway, here’s last week’s post and maybe next week you’ll get this week’s post.)


The other horse,

May 12, 2010

the horse that belongs to my neighbor and that I’ve watched for the past five years as a companion horse for my horse, died.

Tag was old. Getting close to 30. When I got to the house where the horses are living this morning, the neighbor followed me into the driveway. When I hopped out of the car to talk to him, he said, “I’ll be over to get Tag later today.” He could tell from the look on my face that I didn’t have a clue.

He pointed, and as I looked over my shoulder, there he was. Good old Tag. He must have died either last night, or early this morning.

The neighbor said his wife got a call this morning telling him that Tag was dead. I guess they thought it was me calling. I’m thinking though, it was the woman who is coming over every day to check on the horses and give Oscar, my horse, the pills to put the melanomas in remission.

I wish I could post a picture of Tag in his prime. He was a huge buckskin and everyone who saw him said, “That horse must have really been something in his day.” He was clearly well-trained and I’m sure he had been a great cattle horse when he was in his prime.

I didn’t know him then. I only knew him as an older gentleman. He was, like many horses, not very interested in people. He was pretty aloof and preferred the company of other horses.

Winter before last though, it was so cold here. It was tough on him. He lost a lot of weight and I put him on Senior Equine feed plus lots of other goodies like sprouted oats. For the first time in his life, as I understand from what the neighbor told me about him, he took an interest in a human. He became downright friendly. He whinnied when he saw me, his ears perked up when he saw his feed bucket and he put up with me scratching his head and brushing his mane a little more gracefully.

I suffer no illusions. I know it really wasn’t me he was interested in. I was just the goodie wagon. But still. It was nice to have him perk up when he saw me.

Tag hated apples. He loved watermelon. I wish he could have enjoyed the summer and had a few more slices before he went.

The horse

May 11, 2010

had a bump under his tail when I bought him. The vet said, “Let it be; but, call me if it changes.”

Seven years later, it changed. Instead of one bump, there were three. These bumps are melanomas. I called the vet and asked him to come take a look. He did. Oscar was a total jerk that day, and while we were trying to get him to stand still, I casually mentioned he had a bit of a “wart” in his mane too.

The vet took one feel and said, “We need to get that out.”

It’s not a wart, it’s also a melanoma and a quick growing one since it grew in just a year’s time. They have been removed and he’s on some drugs now to prevent their regrowth. All is good with the horse for now.

There has been knitting:

I made my first Clapotis. I have no idea how to say that. I use the Midwestern pronunciation which phonetically equates to “clap oat is” (three distinct syllables with no clear accent on any one of them). Clearly wrong. But there you have it. Hooked on phonics.

I purchased some stainless steel welding rods and used these for blocking:

I read that it’s a good idea to use a file to smooth the ends into points. I didn’t do that. I wanted to see how these welding rods worked for blocking first. They are brilliant.

It might have been easier with points on the ends, but it certainly wasn’t hard to thread the rods through just like they are. If I ever get really bored and can’t figure out what to do with myself someday, I’ll use a file to smooth the ends. In other words, not going to happen anytime soon.

I got inspired to knit the ubiquitous clap oat is thanks to Books & Hooks & Sticks. I mentioned to her I was in a bit of a knitting funk and she said she was going to knit yet her third clap oat is, suggesting it was a sure-fire way to get the mojo back. It worked!

Bev isn’t the only new friend I’ve been chatting with. Here’s the new gang:

I just love these little guys: Cassin’s finch and perhaps a Pine Siskin or two. The way they poke their heads up over the window sill to give me the “eye” just cracks me up.

I’m not sure, but I think they are keeping an eye out on my work habits. Have they embarrassed me into shaping up and working faster? Nope. I just sit and watch them. It all started when I put seeds on my window sill because of the wind. It just didn’t seem right to make them perch there on the feeder when it was swinging all crazybob out there. But it’s turned into an event that all of us seem to enjoy immensely. Until the cat shows up. She has been banished to the garage again today for bird stalking.

I even had a few new (to me) birds visiting the feeder yesterday and today. First, a black-headed grosbeak.

Then today, a rose-breasted grosbeak.

I wish I could get a video of all the birds at the feeders. It’s very cool. Even a non-birder, as I formerly was, gets inspired by the variety and sheer number of birds in this pinyon juniper forest. Watching the interaction between species and within species has been interesting and entertaining. No doubt, I will be inflicting more bird photos on you in the future! Brace yourselves.

The Horse

May 1, 2009

I think I have mentioned the horse, but I’m not sure I’ve ever shown a picture of the horse. He’s not super photogenic because every time he sees me near him, he either walks up to me

or . . .


he yawns. Which is so unflattering. Really, he is a handsome boy.


The most wonderful thing about him though, is his personality. Oscar loves people. He likes being with people almost as much as he likes being with other horses. He likes being with people almost as much as he likes eating. If you know horses, you know this says volumes about his proclivities towards humans.

The horses got out one day a couple of years ago. They came over to the house to look through the living room window. I’m pretty sure he has always had a burning desire to see what goes on in the house and to see what we do in there because I often see him standing in the coral, staring into the window across the way. I know he’s looking because if I wave, his ears move. Unfortunately, we weren’t home the day he came by for his close up look.

The neighbors found Oscar, and his stablemate Tag — you can see Tag in the background — eating out of their alfalfa stack. We knew he had made the stop by our window because of the humongous tongue marks everywhere on it and the dainty little hoof marks he left underneath. Also the calling cards. I can tell his poop from the other horse’s poop. It’s a different color. (As if you care.)

Anyway, the neighbors called the other neighbor, who owns Tag. He drove over, got a feed bucket, shook it out the window of the truck and they followed him back home to our house. Anything for a feed bucket. Better than alfalfa even. Horses are smart. But sometimes, I just wonder how easily they can be duped. Or maybe, they just know a good thing.

Life isn’t too bad here. Plenty of food. Good water. Treats. Lots of scratches. Occasional forays out into the world. Maybe they are smarter than I think.

By the way, poor Tag had a rough winter. He’s an old boy, getting upwards towards 30. I’m trying to put some weight on him; but, he’s not as much interested in food as he used to be. Any ideas on good ways to fatten up an old horse?

I guess it’s time for Senior Feed and that’s on my “to do” list. I’m open to other suggestions though. He doesn’t like apples, so apple-flavored supplements are out. He does like carrots. He adores watermelon. But I haven’t seen any horse supplements in watermelon flavor. Yet. I’m sure it’s up and coming.

That robin had an attitude

April 8, 2009

I don’t know what the deal was, but that robin had a problem with our windows. He kept flying up to the windows and pecking them until dusk on Monday night. He was at it again on Tuesday morning in spite of the fact that I hung out a wind chime to help keep him away. I put it near the corner of the house hoping it would catch more wind; but, alas the only day I’ve ever hoped for wind, there was none.


He — I assume it was a he — kept flying up and pecking his reflection. He never banged into the glass, and would often flutter just outside the window. Of course, this fascinated Opal.




She did take a little time out to box with the plants. But mostly, she stood around and watched for him.




By noon, the robin gave up and Opal was able to catch a quick nap. Life is tough for our little rat terrier.

Let’s get artsy

December 1, 2008

If you are reading this blog, chances are you read other knitting blogs. Me too. If you’re like me, I’m sure you find many of the knitting blogs out there in blog-land to be highly scintillating.

Last week, as a means of avoiding work (did I really put that in writing?), I was surfing about on all the blogs I’ve bookmarked over the past two years and I deduced these facts about what makes a knitting blog scintillating. These items are of course, in addition to, great knitting. That’s a given. In my mind, a successful knitting blog should interest, if not downright inspire, the reader to knit. In addition, a great blog, and by great I mean “way beyond good,” must also contain:
1. Superlative writing.
2. Gorgeous photography.
3. Some combination of the above.

Duh. Nothing like stating the obvious. Bear with me; putting the obvious in writing helps me process information. My brain sifts and categorizes and thinks things over in the background when I’m doing all sorts of other things. And this is what sifted to the top after a leisurely holiday weekend of knitting, hiking, knitting in the car, watching movies, knitting while watching moves, relaxing and knitting while relaxing (I got some knitting in!):

You can’t beat the Yarn Harlot for good, entertaining, knitting blog writing. Simply put, she’s the best: she’s witty, she’s interesting and she expresses the nuances of a knitting obsession so eloquently that I enjoy me more after reading her blog. What a gift! The photography isn’t bad either.

For some of the most sumptuous knitting photography on the web, there’s brooklyn tweed. His closeups of stitch patterns and stitch definition knock my socks off. And, the writing isn’t bad either — I always end up chasing down a link and learning something in the process. I will someday knit that spiral yoke pullover. I will. (Ravel it for even more inspiration.)

I know there are dozens and dozens and dozens of other wonderful knitting blogs out there. Really, I mean I know. I looked at most of them instead of working last week. At the end of the weekend these two stood out in my memory as the two I should keep in mind for inspiration. You, gentle reader, may be stuck reading this blog for a few more lifetimes until I get it right, however.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the recently finished Sixth Sense Socks with an attempt to emulate (the sincerest form of flattery) the lovely photographs (after the first one) of brooklyn tweed.





I doubled the yarn for the bottom half of the heel and then tapered away the “double” after the garter stitch portion of the pattern. The result is a very cushy and not-too-bulky heel that should wear very nicely. Knitting good. Not great; but good. Photography needs some work. I must resolve lighting and flash issues before this blog moves up a notch.

In my effort to grab some artsy photos of Jakob, little Opal cast her magic spell once again. Sorry Jakob, that nose of yours challenges my photo skills. A first stab:


And then, a much-improved attempt, at least from a composition and lighting standpoint:


She is such a cute little shit.

Peaches and Herb

November 25, 2008

I was a fool to ever leave your side
Me minus you is such a lonely ride
The breakup we had has made me
Lonesome and sad
I realize I love you
‘Cause I want you bad, hey, hey

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
‘Cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

Another trip to Denver and Jojoland Melody is singin’ away. socks and sweater

I don’t believe the little fellow suffered unduly; although, the gals at the dentist’s office are apparently into bondage. The sock was all wrapped up in a ziptop baggie with note on reuniting us stapled to the bag. Now, we’re ready to rock and roll again. With no distractions, I’ll finish these socks over the next couple of evenings and I can return to my knitting monogamy. This time on the sweater.

I started the sleeves on the Textured Raglan on the way up to Denver. Didn’t get too far because I had to restart one sleeve three times to get the cast on to match the other. I don’t know why — I did the same thing each time. A knitting mystery. Anyway, they match pretty well now.

Textured Raglan tubular cast on

I’m using a tubular cast on for this project and it looks pretty nice. It’s very stretchy. I think I may regret my decision to not use the cable cast on the pattern calls for when I get to the neck because I suspect the tubular will not match the edge on the neck. But, oh well. What’s done is done and the good news is that it does look like this sweater will get done!

I wonder if Sheri at the Loopy Ewe knows what she started with that Dream In Color Sweater KAL last spring! I have turned into a virtual sweater monster. I bought more yarn in Denver for a color sweater. I have yarn for three or four about nine sweaters all lined up with patterns for most, if not all. Will I ever need this many sweaters?

Actually, I don’t think knitting is about needs. Not for me. It’s really all about wants. Things I want to do for me, to please me. Which means, no Christmas knitting going on here. Oh well dear friends and readers. Do not expect a sock in your Christmas stocking from this knitting maniac. Chris, in Germany, tells me this is just fine and I’m going to believe her on this point.

On a slightly different subject, I wanted to mention that we don’t have just one dog. We have two. I know it’s weird (because he’s a dog); but, I totally relate to those moms who don’t want pictures of their children on the internet. I am very protective of Jakob. He’s not all there. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s a dim wit. However, I will tell you that his nickname is “Punkin’Head” if that gives you a clue.

He’s a standard wire-haired dachshund and I fear that he has become jealous of all the comments regarding dear little Opal. So, unveiling for the first time, an entire picture of Jakob (vs. just a shot of a tail or ear or whatever).

Jakob in his standard reclining pose

He is a doll!

He's not particularly photogenic.

Isn’t he adorable? People ask what kind of mutt he is all the time. With a very straight face, the resident non-knitter tells them he’s a cross between a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig and a schnauzer. The responses are hilarious — to me anyway. Most people simply accept this answer. Which makes me understand how, in this great country of ours, so many people liked Palin.

When Jakob isn’t on hand to show his beautiful little self in person, and people ask what a standard wire-haired dachshund looks like, the resident non-knitter uses various descriptions to explain the breed. “A pig in a gorilla suit”
and “an extra-large dachshund covered in pubic hair” are his two favorites.

Do you see why I am so protective?

Do you ever get the blahs?

October 23, 2008

As in, everything feels OK physically, it’s just that the whole world feels a little off-kilter from your current perspective. Or maybe a better description would be that everything feels a little unsettled, like every aspect of your life is wrong. Hmm. Maybe that’s more than a little unsettled. Anyway, today is one of those days.

The good news. I am confident it will pass. The bad news. Who knows when.

Meanwhile, I’m chugging along with work and finally have caught my breath enough to fit a post in. That doesn’t mean the office is clean. Hah! Far from it. It looks like wild banshees had a paper-throwing contest in here and I lost. Not only do I have papers scattered in little semi-organized piles EVERYWHERE, the little wildebeest, Opal, found some business cards in my customer sample stash. She did her best to shred as many as she could drag out of the stack before I caught her. 16 pt card stock. Nice heavy chewing weight. Little tiny pieces.

Meanwhile, as a means of calming her down so I can get some work done (i.e. she trained me) I have been letting her use my nice comfortable padded chair while I sit on the hard wooden one. I even washed a thick fleece blanket so I could wrap her up in it after she settles. Here’s how it looks:

Opal takes over the nice chair

“Now calm yourself!” I tell her. As if she responds to commands.

This is a really comfortable chair.

“You are getting sleepy, very sleepy.” Sometimes it works.

I think a dog could go right to sleep in this chair.

Meanwhile, I have gotten some knitting done. Here are the last two pairs of socks:

The Knittery Cashmere Merino in Seabreeze

The pair above used The Knittery cashmere merino yarn. It is so soft!! Lovely stuff. The pattern is Embossed Leaves from Winter 2005 Interweave Knits. If the top looks all stretched out on one sock, that’s because I wore it every time I worked on the other sock. I am not one for delayed gratification.

The pair that follows used Evelyn Clark’s Girlfriend socks pattern. I’m not wild about the frilly hem. Oh well. I did it and I am wearing them. The yarn is Sundara’s sock yarn in Ocean that I won in a contest on Cara’s JanuaryOne blog.

Girlfriend Socks from Evelyn Clark

And because I haven’t put a picture of them up before and they are so wonderful, here are two pairs of socks knitted by the lovely Chris in Germany and sent to me as gifts. Doesn’t this help to make up for the fact that I fell so woefully short of my summer of socks goal!

Till Eulenspiegel in Regia

The Joker in Handgefaerbt

She made a tiny little sock that I have on my keychain that matches The Joker pair. But alas, I forgot to take a picture of it. So, that will have to wait until another post. Which I presume I will do. Someday. Maybe even with a shorter time lapse between posts.

I am currently working on a pair of socks using the Sixth Sense Socks pattern I got via the Six Sox Knitalong. Designed by Susan Pierce Lawrence, this is a very soothing pattern to knit and it looks great in the Jojoland Melody yarn I am using. Nice subtle color changes and pleasing in spite of the fact that the colors are not all that similar between socks (a challenge for my anal-retentive side). Fortunately, they are not unpleasantly dissimilar either.

And finally, one last parting paragraph on the election. Are you as angry as I am that one of the vice-presidential nominees is dumber than a bag of rocks? Can you believe she thinks the earth is 6,500 years old and that she doesn’t believe in evolution? If they get elected, and if she trips McCain on a steep flight of stairs–don’t put it past her–can you picture how that will go over with foreign heads of state? “Hi there, had any moose meat lately? Got any soccer moms in your country? Joe six-pack’s doing great over here except for the fact that he doesn’t have any beer money any more. Spent it all on gas.” OK, I exaggerate–but only slightly!!! Could this be attributing to my general malaise? I guess November 4 will tell.

It’s a Contest Now!

August 1, 2008

Today is the official start of the “Be Kind to Animals” contest. First order of business:

There will be one prize unless somebody out there wants to offer a second prize >>insert smiley face here<<. This prize will include a copy of the CableDown Pullover pattern donated by Sheila of Yarn2Dye4 through a tiny mishap. Yeah Sheila! The winner will have their choice of one of four different sock yarns to go with the sweater pattern. I know, sweater pattern goes with sweater yarn and sock pattern goes with sock yarn. Not in this case however. So, deal with it.

The first pattern/yarn combo choice is an undyed SuriBlue fingering weight that you can view on Sheila’s site. I will send you 100 gr off the cone I bought. It will be wound in a cake. It will be undyed. It will be absolutely gorgeous.

The second choice is for the pattern plus a skein of Panda Toes from Crazy Monkey Creations. This yarn is a blend of 65% superwash Merino with 35% Rayon of Bamboo (490 yds/100 g).

Panda Toes

The third choice is for the pattern plus a skein of Zen Yarn Garden. This is an 85% superwash Merino/20% nylon blend in the Infusion semi-solid colorway 420 yds/4 oz).


The fourth choice is for the pattern plus two skeins of Regia Silk in color number 0180. It’s 55% Merino, 20% silk and 25% Polamid (200 m/50 g each skein).

Regia Silk

What you have to do:
Do something kind for animals. At first, I was planning to limit the contest to having people contribute at least the cost of the pattern (about $5) to their favorite animal charity. But then, through an unfortunate series of events, I came to realize that there are many other ways to be kind to animals.

So, do good out there. The sky is the limit. Tell us about your efforts to improve the lives of at least one member of the planet’s Animalia Kingdom here, in comments to this post. You have to comment on this post or I get confused.

When and how we’ll decide who the winner is:
Entries will be accepted for the month of August. The winner will be selected during the first week of September. How they are selected will be determined by the number of entries.
Less than 20 entries: Random drawing
Between 20 and 50 entries: I’ll pick my top three favorite entries, and then you, dear readers will vote on your favorites via comments on the blog’s Sept. 5 post.
More than 50 entries: As above, but I’ll pick my top five favorite entries to let you’all vote on.
You may enter more than once.

Remember, I am not an official contest diva. This is just a bunch of friends getting together and playing with yarn. I don’t know if there should be more rules, disclaimers, legal mumbo jumbo or what. But, I promise, I will not play favorites, I will not let Opal enter, I will not enter myself (even though I really did do a cool thing several days ago), and I will send you the prize you select out of the four mentioned above if you are the big winner–even if you don’t live in the evil empire land of warmongers USA. What else can I say?

Until then, treat your furred, scaled, feathered or otherwise-clad friends with respect and care.

P.S. Did you know that sheep have tails?

Do they normally bob them when they are two days old like someone did to our little Miss Opal? I had no idea!

Anyone want to support me?

July 29, 2008

Work keeps getting in the way of blog posting, knitting, and general all-around enjoyment of life. If there is anyone out there who is looking for a way to spend their money, I’ve got enough yarn to keep me in knitting heaven for about a year or so. All I would need is financial support to make the house payments, keep food on the table and a little gas in the car. Perhaps an occasional vacation. Maybe a new pair of jeans. I think I could live on $30,000 a year. Can you spare it?

What? No takers? Seriously now. Just think how good it would make you feel to allow me to enjoy life without work for an entire year.

Just as I suspected. No one rushing in. Hmmm. I guess I’ll just carry on here. Knitting in between working, sleeping and eating. Speaking of which, I got the greatest new yarn for my next sweater project at Eat.Sleep.Knit. Fun store. Nice people.

Meanwhile, I’ve settled on the pattern contest. I had an unfortunate incident the day I last posted. In fact, just moments after I signed off the computer and hopped in the car to pick up our little Opal at the vet (she got fixed–not that she was broken) I was face-to-face with a sad animal situation. I don’t want to go into detail because I hate bumming people out with sad animal stories. In a nutshell, it involved another driver, a stray dog, and an emergency vet call.

Opal is OK. It wasn’t her. Thank goodness! But, the whole thing suggested to me that this contest needs to be about taking care of our animal friends. So, I’ll post the “official” rules tomorrow if I get a break from work.

Until then, a happy animal picture:
Fox in our yard

Yep, it’s the two kit fox who live in our quonset hut out playing in the horse coral. Cute little guys.