16 March, 2014

Four dogs

Thomas was out of town for a little while in January. Now, I don’t want you to think that the minute I dropped him off at the airport I ran and got a foster dog. BUT, and I like big buts, when I was doing a transport of a dirty, smelly, schlubby-tubby, black and tan Cocker Spaniel who just happened to have the same name as my brother-in-law, I accidentally-on-purpose brought him home with me.

Willie, as I called him, was fat. How fat, you ask. Verry fat indeed, for a dog. He weighed in at 42 pounds when his ideal weight is somewhere between 30 and 32. He was so fat he had a fat pad over his stubby little tail and was the same shape as a barrel. He also had icky, stinky ears that I was treating the entire time he was with me. Willie was the sweetest dog you could imagine. He just wanted everyone to be his friend and love on him. He also had a hilarious habit of howling, as if he was a coyote, nose up in the air, saying “aaaarrrrrrrrroooooo.” Willie did NOT look all wild and sleek like your average wolf or coyote.
 That is Willie, after a nice wash and clip.
As you can see, he is not a wolf. He's a cute and cuddly fat Cocker Spaniel.
By the time he was adopted, he was feeling much better. He had already lost 2.5 pounds, his ears were cleaner/less infected, and he had a cute haircut. His new family is perfect for him and he’s perfect for them. They are an older couple and the gentleman wanted a lowkey companion to hang out with him and his other spaniel. They sent me pictures and he has a new haircut and loves his new brother doggie.
Thomas liked Willie too, but we are at capacity for right now. But there was a dog that needed a place to stay for a week. His name was Nero, and he’d been at the kennel for too long, suffering from an infected tooth. He stayed for one week at Chez Nous. He’s a Little Old Man Dog ™. I think that all black Cocker Spaniels eventually turn into Little Old Man Dogs ™ if they live long enough. He was deaf, blind, and had a little dementia. He also looked so much like Marley and Jake, our late Little Old Man Dogs ™. Is there a factory somewhere turning out tiny, frail black dogs who are the canine equivalent of Mr. Jones in room 401, who can’t hear or see much, but totters around all the time on his walker, inching into rooms and forgetting what he came for, bumping into things, and loudly complaining if dinner isn’t served on time and if they run out of rice pudding before he gets his meal? That was all three of the Little Old Man Dogs ™ I have known.
Four days after I delivered Nero to his foster mom, he died peacefully in his sleep. My heart is broken a little more, but I thank all that is good and holy that he died in a home, having known some kindness and care, rather than in a lonely kennel.
We are now back down to our own two dogs, Punkin and Sparky. After our weeks of three dogs, having only two feels like a walk in the park. I am getting lots of reading done, and need to get back to quilting. My mother has been waiting for her bed quilt for a long time!

01 January, 2014

Right back around to the beginning

Today I woke up slightly hung over...but not critically so.

I have worked on a quilt (my January project is to finish a quilt for my parents). I've done a little housework. Not much, admittedly, but a bit. I am in the middle of listening to the BBC Radio play of Neverwhere. It's very good.

I made these from a recipe I found in the King Arthur Flour Company catalog

It was interesting, they start with a biga, a pre-ferment. You mix water, flour, and a bit of yeast and let it ferment overnight. Then you mix the biga with more flour, water, salt, and yeast and proceed as usual with mixing, rising, forming the rolls, rising again, and baking. They taste good.

 I finished the blocks for this quilt today. Now I have to sew them together. Yay...

31 December, 2013

Hello, I must be going

Goodbye twenty-thirteen. In some ways it seems like you just got here and you are already leaving.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… that smart Charlie Dickens knew what he was talking about. It is always the best and worst of times. Every year has some laughter and tears and a share of joy and sorrow. Moments of transcendent enjoyment are usually followed by times that make you shake your head and wonder what the hell just happened, as you pick yourself up out of the mire and try to keep going.
We lost family this year, Joanne Waight (Mom’s sister) and her husband Arthur, died in February and April. It was a horrible one-two punch to my cousins, losing both their parents so close together. I grieve for them, but celebrate the fact that my aunt and uncle had long, interesting, vital lives. God bless them and keep them.
Our little family lost two furry members this year. Ginger died suddenly in January and Morgan died of an unsuspected cancer after only four months with us. They join the long list of Cockers and almost-Cockers we hope to meet again on the other side.
A new  dog, a five year old Cocker Spaniel named Sparky joined our pack. He's a character...
In early February last year Thomas and I helped Mom and Dad move into their new Patrick Square home. It was fun being there at the beginning, being a part of their new adventure. It was also tiring as all getout. I mean to tell you, we unpacked and put away and emptied and drove back and forth to the storage unit, and lifted, hauled, and moved until we were flat-out exhausted. We were back in the summer when the entire family enjoyed a vacation with Gran and Granddad.
Late this year came the news that Toni, my quilting-reading buddy, my neighbor and friend, got the news that the tumors in her brain were growing. She decided on hospice care, with no more debilitating treatments. That has been difficult for everyone, but definitely the right thing for her. She has had, and continues to have, time to spend with her children and family and friends. She’s gotten to do things that she wanted to do, while letting go of a lot of things that are just static when it comes right down to it. I don't even know what to say about my own reactions, other than the fact that I wish it was not so, and that my heart is sore.

Other (less important) things that (nonetheless) happened in 2013:
I had foot surgery in August. Here is the scar I wound up with, which isn't too bad:

We put a herb spiral and a fountain in next to the patio. It was a delightful place to sit this summer. When my cousin was here (I got TWO visits from him this year) we spent a lot of time sitting out there, talking about life, the universe, and whether Princess Anne The Princess Royal likes fruit salad.

I made this quilt over the course of a weekend at West River on my quilt guild's spring retreat. The fabrics are from Aneela Hoey's Sherbet Pips line, and I love, love, love them. The blue fabric features a little dog chasing a cherry colored ball. My sister is now the proud (I hope) owner of the quilt.

I also refinished a chair, made a pillowcase, went to MAQ, gave a talk, volunteered with the Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center, read a couple hundred books, went to work most days (and did not smack a single person while I was there - go me!), walked my dogs, and in general filled the days with enough to keep them interesting, but not so much that I was overwhelmed.

So exits 2013 (not followed by a bear). 2014 is a mystery...

19 December, 2013

Peter Jackson thinks he could have written The Hobbit better than that old Tolkien guy

Toni, Teri, and I went to see the hilariously named Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug. To call that name inappropriate is understating the situation. Smaug is on screen less than 45 minutes of a 2 hour, 45 minute movie and there is Not So Much desolation. Admittedly, there is a sad moment when our Dwarves (Thorin and Co.) find the charred and mummified bodies of their dead kinsmen in a caved in tunnel in the Lonely Mountain. It was one of the only touching moments in an otherwise slapstick movie.

Because I am only human, may I just say in regards to Lee Case as the Elven King of Mirkwood, that he is smokin’ hot. Chilly, selfish, manipulative, and arrogant, yes. But smokin’! I think my underpants caught on fire when he was on screen.

But back to the actual plot of the movie, it was a nice little story that sort of reminds me of the book. Loosely based on the book? There are new characters. Some plot lines that came directly from the febrile mind of Peter Jackson…like the elf warrior Tauriel who falls in something-like-love with Kili in the 15 minutes they know each other, while Legolas stands around looking pouty, because he has a 600 year old crush on her. To which I say, “Suck it Legolas, you had your chance. If after 600 years, you didn’t make your move, you gotta expect the short man to crash in and sweep her off her feet  
save her from the spider 
get saved by her and then flirt over a rock. It was bound to happen, because Kili was the definitely the most handsome of the dwarfs. Or at least the one whose hair wouldn’t make a girl break down in giggles.

This movie has 2045 times the amount of Orcs and Wargs than the book had. You can’t shoot an arrow without hitting an Orc in the eye. It’s like this eldritch power they have…an arrow flies and bing! an Orc is standing with his eye right in front of it.
Bard the Bowman was actually a very good character, based on a character who was actually (!) IN the book. I was excited about that, although I wish he hadn’t spent all his screen time looking so worried. But then again, Bard has Stephen Fry and some nameless character in a ridiculous hat dogging him all the time, while his kids stood around shouting, “Da! Da! There are spies watching the house and Orcs dropping out of the ceiling, and we haven’t even SHOT our bows yet! Da!” That is all very worrying.
Desolation - Bard the Bowman
The Master of Lake Town and his nameless stooge.
Mad props to the CGI people who created Smaug. He looks gooood. Not as good as Lee Case (must make that clear, Lee Case is the prettiest thing in this movie), but super serpentine and lizardly. He moves like I believe dragons would move, if they just happened to be living in my local deserted treasure hoard.
Considering that the movie is called The Hobbit, and in the book it is all told through the eyes of Bilbo Baggins, our movie Bilbo didn’t have a lot to do. He ringed up (yes, THAT ring) and became invisible a few times, killed some spiders, hissed, “Mine!” in a very Gollum-like manner, talked to Smaug, and had the last line in the film, “What have we done?” Good question Mr. Baggins, good question.
The one thing about the movie that made me really mad, much madder than making up characters who were not in the book, was that they completely got Beorn wrong. Read the damn book Mr. Jackson. Beorn was dangerous, but he was not mean. I missed the scene where Bilbo and Gandalf get Beorn to offer hospitality to them, and then the Dwarves just keep popping up two or three at a time, like rabbits out of a hat, and Beorn accepts them too. He could have spent ten minutes on that by cutting one scene with the fake white Orc!
Despite the fact that I am kvetching, I will definitely go see part three of the film. Got to see how if Kili and Tauriel wind up putting in any sheet time (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and how the kids and their Da, Bard, survive when a very angry Smaug pays a visit.
Oh, and one more thing, SUCK IT Peter Jackson. I grew up pronouncing the name of the dragon as Smog...and that is how I will always pronounce it. And Pluto is SO a planet!!!

11 December, 2013

Just a couple of crazy kids in Clemson t-shirts

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Sparky dug the whole experience because he's all about the attention. Punkin...no so much.
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We are no longer as young and slim as we used to be...but we suit each other just fine.