Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A one in a million dog

John, a coworker of mine, brought his dog Harley to school. He'd been a stray that John and his wife took in. Harley turned out to be a great dog. He was so well behaved, great with the kids, but to me most importantly Harley had kind eyes and reminded me of my first dog, Bo. (Short for Little Bo Peep, I know very lame but what do you expect from a three year old?)
My Mom and Dad took in Bo's mom, a collie that they soon found out was going to have puppies. They kept Lady long enough to produce eight very collie like pups and one Heinz 57 (Bo). Bo never had formal training but was the best protector ever.  At the time we lived on the Puget Sound and instead of a sidewalk we had a wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk was probably two blocks long, about three feet above the beach and made of wood. I learned to ride my tricycle on this boardwalk and every time I'd climb on the tricycle Bo would be right there ALWAYS on the side that had the three foot drop to the beach - to keep me from falling off.
The house stood in between a fuel depot for the navy ships and the small town of Manchester. Sailors would be given time off and walk down the beach to town. I was often out in front of the house playing on the beach and the sailors would stop to talk to me. Bo would wedge his way between the sailor and me, quietly ready to protect.
Me, Marnie, Steve and Chris - on the beach
When we'd be out playing Bo was close by, ever vigilant. After we moved to West Seattle he continued to be the protector.

Mom would let him out for a run early in the morning and again late at night. I remember Bo being picked up by the dog catcher several times. The first time the fine was $7 and after that it doubled each time. Pretty soon the dog catcher would pick up Bo and just deliver him to the front door because he knew, "He was a good dog and very loved." Mom would give him a cup of coffee for his troubles.
Bo, Allen, Kenny, Steve and Mike
Kenny, me, Allen, Bo, Kathleen, Bridget, Steve and Mike

Mom could stand at the front door, look up and down the street and know where we were just by whose front porch Bo was laying on. (Mom had an old school bell that she rang and when we heard it we were to "get home fast". Neighbors would laugh and although they understood that we had to "get home" they would often have to ask us to stay just long enough to pick up the toys.)
An unusual snowy day - Mike, Steve, Bridget, me and Kathleen O'Boyle
He was such a kind dog that when other animals made their way into the family he was very accepting. We used to have a photo of Bo sleeping on his back with a cat sleeping on his chest but it has disappeared.

For Bo, there was a hierarchy within the family. I was #1, then the boys, finally my mom and dad. My Dad would sometimes shake me by the shoulders encouraging me to make noise just to get Bo going. He would whine and jump begging him to leave me alone.

The last spanking I ever had was one to remember. I was way to old to be getting a spanking but my mouth had gotten me into some big trouble. Mom was trying to deal out the punishment and I was not going to have any of it. One thing led to another and I was on the floor, Mom on her hands and knees trying to flip me over for a swat or two. Out of the blue Bo came up from behind and bit her on the bum! We laughed so hard that the spanking was forgotten! What a good old dog......

Monday, May 30, 2011

Making the best out of a rainy weekend

It's been a rather productive rainy Memorial weekend.  The lentil soup is on the stove simmering and I've made some "Angel Biscuits" to go with it.

Angel Biscuits
1package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups floor
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk

Dissolve yeast in the warm water, set aside. Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Stir in buttermilk and yeast mixture. Blend thoroughly. The dough is ready to refrigerate or roll into biscuits. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead lightly for regular biscuits. Roll out and cut with biscuit cutter. Place on greased pan. Let dough rise slightly before baking at 375 degrees. Bake 12 minutes or until browned. If dough is cold let stand longer to rise. Dough will keep up to 5 days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.

I finished the Peasy sweater... I'm not a bit happy that it is too small! All that work and no one to wear it! 
Pattern: Peasy by Heidi Kerrmaler
Yarn: Jojoland Tonic
Color: Tonic Peacock Blue
Amount: 5 skeins
Needle size: US 4 and 3

I also started and finished my first of six Christmas sweaters for the grandkiddos!!! Yea, I hate to wait and do a mad dash the end of November and December! Finding a new boy's sweater pattern can be a little difficult - there are only so many ways one can knit an understated sweater.  "My Friend Johanna" said to knit another version of the Wonderful Wallaby, I've done many variations and a little boy can NEVER have enough Wallabies, but I was up for something else. With a little searching I found a Children's Henley Top Down Pullover by Pure and Simple. I am very pleased with it and add my kuddos to many others for another well written pattern by this company.
Pattern: Children's Henley by Pure and Simple
Yarn Cascade 220 Heather
Color: Galaxy
Amount: 3 skeins (NOT the 4 called for in the pattern)
Needle Size: US 7 and 5

The Knit Girllls podcast is having a Stash Dash 5K that I've joined. You must knit 5K of yarn by August 11th. It started the 27th of May and so I cannot use the Peasy yardage because it was done before then but I can use the 640 yards I've used on the Henley....

So I'm off to start another Henley - Christmas gift number two!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Record setting rains!

I had a little trouble getting home tonight....
A new stream had developed over Johnson Lane and the highway. I had to turn around, return to school, and take another route home. Even that new route wasn't pleasant but I made it!

It has been raining for the last week and a half. Today we had a record setting amount of rain. Three and six hundredth inches in one day for this prairie is unheard of. Add that amount to what has been soaking the earth and we are way over normal for this time of year. The average rainfall in Eastern Montana is 1.92 inches for the month of May and we are now at 8.45. That's 6.53 above the norm. There's more rain predicted before the month is over!
It's so green it's beginning to look like Seattle and tonight's weather forecast is not promising any sun!
 Life isn't going to wait for us to get our acts together.  

So get on living.  
Enjoy what you have. 
 Love who you are with.  
Hug and Kiss.  
Laugh and chat. 
Make ice cream and cookies.

Be happy

Well, this hit me like a ton of bricks! Thanks to nat*schofield for the wake up call! I HAD been doing a countdown to the end of school....10, 9, 8, 7, really it began about 25, 24, 23...

Now, bring on the margaritas - oh, I mean ice cream and cookies!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"The Babies" are grown up, and it's graduation time.

We had a wonderful family move into our neighborhood years ago. Denise and I taught together and became fast friends.  Soon after she and her husband moved in, Keira was born and barely a year later Payton arrived. We love babies at our house, next door they had two and were a little overwhelmed. My gurls began beating a path next door and would grab either babe that was awake and bring her over for a visit. I am sure that my gurls are such good mommas today in part because they had "The Babies" next door to care for and love upon.
I went to Keira's graduation party Friday night. It was also a farewell of sorts to Payton. She will be heading to Chile in two short months as an AFS student. There were unexpected tears as I saw these gals and realized how quickly time had slipped by. We hugged, reminisced, and took photos....
How great for our family, to have such wonderful neighbors that shared their treasures with us!

Dirk, the girls dad, surprised me when he said, "I knew you'd be a great neighbor when you came over with a baby gift only a month and a half after we moved in and it was a beautiful hat and sweater set that you'd hand knit." Doing something I love made lasting friends!

Friday, May 20, 2011

I love a rainy day...

  I love a rainy day and it’s been raining cats and dogs here, three inches last week and well on to adding 4inches this week. What a wonderful time to cuddle up with a good book. It is just a coincidence that at school we are reading a chapter in Beverly Cleary’s book Ramona Quimby, Age 8 entitled “Rainy Sunday” in reading.

  I love Beverly Cleary books, perhaps partly because as a child I met Beverly Cleary at the West Seattle Public Library. My friend, Laurie Peterson, and I went with her mom and listened to Mrs. Cleary read an excerpt from her book and then I got her autograph. I had long forgotten the incident until recently when I was cleaning out a closet and I ran across my old childhood scrapbook. Looking though the scrapbook there wasn’t much of interest, an old newspaper article about a teenage neighbor that was crowned Miss West Seattle, a postcard from friend, that type of thing. But as I turned the page I saw in third grade handwriting; “signature of a famous author.”  I snickered and wondered whom a third grader thought was a famous writer and then on closer inspection there was Beverly Cleary’s autograph! Wow!

I had the students write in their journals what they had done over the rainy weekend. It was sad, “watch TV,”  “play DS” that type of response. I decided then and there to have the kids put together a Rainy Day Survival Handbook. 

The table of contents consists of the following:

1. Put a puzzle together (The first thing I had the kiddos do was color a picture of the book’s setting, then cut out the puzzle design on the other side and place in an envelope.)
2. Play a game (I had the students place the rule of the "Dots Game" in their book and then play the game with a friend)
3. Write a letter (They wrote a letter to Beverly Cleary)
4. Make cookies (They copied the recipe for no bake cookies into the book and we made a batch to taste)
5. Watch a video  (We watched Ralph and the Motorcycle and then they created a comic strip featuring Ralph S. Mouse)
6. Put on a puppet show (They made puppets and put on a readers theater)
7. Read a good book (The kiddos did a quick book report making a flipbook)
8. Make mom breakfast in bed (Students wrote down the recipe and made omelets in a bag)

This activity was both educational and a great way to get through the rainy school week. We all had a great time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A windy weekend lets me breeze through some knitting.

This weekend has been windy and chilly. Years ago, when we lived closer to town I would plant my flowers on Mother's Day. Now that we live on the highest point in Yellowstone County there is a two week delay. I did dig in the dirt a little, and plant a pot of grass on the deck for the kitties to sit in.

After last summer's gigantic mucking out of the house it just needs a little "spiffing up." I decided to get the cleaning underway before school is out. I cleaned the kitchen, cupboards, pantry, walls and floor this yesterday. Yes, one room complete! I have every intention of cleaning the living, dining, and family rooms next weekend... we’ll see. It would be a great jump start to the summer.

I also had some time for knitting. I finished the last pair of socks that I'll be doing for awhile. I need to be starting the Christmas sweaters for the kiddos soon.
Pattern: Donna's Easy Socks
Yarn: Kroy, (Because I used Kroy yarn, I needed to be very careful. There is just enough in one skein to knit one sock so the stripes don’t match, but I’m done being flexible…next pair of socks will match in stripes!)
Color: Summer Moss Jacquards
Needles: Size 3

And I love this quick little knit for my ipod touch:
Pattern: ipod hoodie
Needles: Size US 3
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn
Color: Denim

Thursday, May 12, 2011

If the sweater fits, wear it!

Over a year ago I knit a sweater for a dear friend's new babe. That little guy is growing like a weed and the sweater now fits!

 What a cute little guy. He was at the house last month, settled right in and thought I'd make a pretty good gramma!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mining for ancestors, and hitting the mother lode!

My great-grandfather owned a store in Virden, Illinois called G. P. Cheney and Co.. He moved his family to St Louis and ran a store for a short period of time before finally moving Lyons, Colorado in the late1880's. In Lyons he owned and operated a quarry. Tonight I did a little snooping on the internet and really scored!
 Grandfather and his family lived in Noland Precinct, Boulder Co. Colorado. My great-grandfather is listed as a stone dealer and Grandfather and his brother operated the quarry according to the 1900 Census. I began searching quarries in the area and added my grandfather's name. The search took me to a section at Denver Public Library filled with photos of quarries and miners that worked there. The very first photo is one of a group of men. The photo is entitled Noland Colorado Band, 1892.  (Correct names + correct area + correct occupation + correct era = MY Grandfather!!)
 There, in the front row is my grandfather and his older brother! My grandfather was about 18 years old when the photo was taken. 
This is earliest photo we now have of him and apparently he played a musical instrument! I only have two other photos of him so this is quite a find! Amazing what you can find on the internet.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Reading mitts.

Two teachers in the knitting class I taught in March are inspired. At an early morning faculty meeting one of the new knitters showed me a magazine photo of beautifully cables fingerless gloves. She wanted to know if she could possibly aspire to knitting the gloves.

Hmmm... I remembered recently seeing a very nice pair of reading gloves at my blog friend Andrea's. No cables but something that a couple of new knitters would be able to conquer. 

At Easter the California Dreamin' Gurl said she'd like a pair, but she wanted them knit a little longer.  I quickly started the pair on mitts, "Just to see if they were a go for the new knitters."  I finally finished the mitts today and think that the pattern is a hit, easy to follow and easy to modify.
Pattern: Susie's Reading Mitts
Yarn: Less than a skein of Plymouth Yarn Galway, Colornep
Colorway: Gray
Needles: US size 5
Also, during the Easter visit Chloe told me her favorite book is The Secret Garden. It melted my heart, it was my mother's favorite book as a child, then my favorite, and I think her mother's also, four generations of gals that love to read!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Going for the gold with Joan Benoit.

This morning we were honored with the presence of an Olympic athlete. Joan Benoit was the first gold medal winner in the woman's marathon at Los Angeles in 1984.

Joan Benoit told the students about how life has changed for girls in school. When she went to school there were no sports activities for girls and she had to wear a dress everyday except for "Field Day". This brought back memories for me. I too, had the same rules. The only “sports” that girls could participate in were dance or cheerleading. It wasn't until the year after I graduated high school in cold Montana girls were allowed to wear long pants to school – and never shorts.
 She spoke to the kiddos about finding what you are passionate about, setting goals, and then persevering. I sat listening and I realized how I’m going through this process right now as a grownup. I’m beginning to look toward retirement and lately I’ve been thinking about some new goals. I 'm pleased that the goals I’ve been planning ARE related to my passion – knitting. And how I can use this passion to connect to another interest of mine, genealogy and past generations in America.  After listening to Mrs. Benoit’s encouraging talk I know I am on the right track and hope I have the perseverance to follow through with the dream I’m beginning to nurture in the back of my mind.

Students were amazed to hear how times have changed, AND it is amazing to me to realize that when I was smack dab in the middle of great changes in woman's rights I felt that, “ It’s just the way things should be.”  Now I’m amazed that I didn’t feel the Earth shake under my feet. It was an honor to listen to this lovely lady speak. I walked away feeling pride over the past decades I’ve lived and with excitement for my passion, future goals, and ability to persevere.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring knitting for the new arrival.

Last week I was delighted to hear - a fourth grade teacher at our school was having a G-I-R-L! Knitting for little girls is so much fun! My little gals aren't quiet so tiny anymore and lately all the babies at work have been boys.

I immediately started planning: 
  1. Pattern: Summer Chills Cardigan
  2. Yarn: Cascade Pacifica, 40% Superwash Merino Wool/60% Acrylic
  3. Color: Baby Pink  
I had been admiring this pattern for some time and I've just been waiting for the announcement of the arrival of a little girl. The babe in the pattern photo looks just darling! The sweater is knit in cotton yarn however, and I don't like knitting with cotton. It's not easy to knit and I don't feel like cotton is as durable as other yarns. Besides the baby is due in late August (hot, hot, hot, in Montana) and she will quickly need some warmth for the chilly fall days. Also, I don't know if this new little momma has an understanding of yarn and the care that each type of yarn may need so I decided to play it safe and use acrylic. I went to my favorite LYS and discovered a new type of yarn, Pacifica by Cascade Yarns. Oh, its so soft and cuddly! I fell in love... it knit up as wonderfully as it looks. It is my new "go to" acrylic blend! I had intended to buy a modern, bright color but instantly was attracted to the traditional soft baby pink, beautiful.
The sweater was started Friday night and I finished and blocked it last night. I love the sweater but the pattern wasn't clear in several spots. If you look at the sweater on the printed pattern the sleeves are in the lace pattern. The numbers on the needle didn't match the numbers in the pattern for the 12 month size. I quickly tired trying to work out the error and knit the sleeves in stockinette. I like the look and the solid sleeves will probably make it easier to slip the little darling's hands through.

One more comment, the lace pattern says to slip a stitch, K2tog, and psso (which if not clarified usually means to slip the stitch purlwise). I didn't really like the look of the psso stitch and next time I will slip the stitch KNITWISE for a smoother look. This is clarified on the matching hat but not on the sweater pattern.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Wild Purl's is a great yarn shop to buy yarn, needles, and patterns. BUT most importantly, Wild Purl's is a place where everybody knows your name!

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got;
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?

All those night when you've got no lights,
The check is in the mail;
And your little angel
Hung the cat up by it's tail;
And your third fiance didn't show;

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee's dead;
The morning's looking bright;
And your shrink ran off to Europe,
And didn't even write;
And your husband wants to be a girl;

Be glad there's one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to go where people know,
People are all the same;
You want to go where everybody knows your name.

I love my Friday night knitting group at Wild Purls. All the gals have become great friends. We catch up on what has happened in our lives over the week, how the kids or grandkids are doing as well as general discussions about when or what to plant in our garden, floods, tornados, fires, and politics. This week's topic, "The Royal Wedding". We dissect knitting topics: who consistently writes a great pattern, what yarn would work well for what pattern, which is faster English or Continental Knitting. There has been more than one discussion on: should patterned sock yarn match on both socks from the top down and how many projects we have on the needles at one time.

It wasn't very long ago that I would knit only one project at a time. Cast on, knit, cast off, sew together, block, and then finally cast on a new project. I like this method, you never forget where you are. In true Elizabeth Zimmerman fashion you forge through any problem, never tossing it aside for a hopeful later finish date. We all know that usually those items in the bottom of the knitting bag are eventually headed for a future frogging session.

I like the sense of order and accomplishment.

Lately, I don't know what has happened. I haven't been able to get into the Icelandic Sweaters for the NorDak Kiddos and two  charity baby blankets are still only half done. (I've been to busy to knit on my lunch hour at school.) There is a half done pair of socks staring at me from my emergency knitting bag. (I must always have something ready to pick up at the Dr or Dentist.) The California Dreamin' Gurl's half finished reading mitts are in the regular knitting bag. (The newly knitting teachers wanted a fingerless glove pattern, and I had to test knit it first.) I just found out that a teacher is having a baby GIRL and I've been wanting to try a new pattern from Ravelry, Summer Chills Cardigan. (In fairness to myself on this project, the shower is on May 10th and so time is limited.)
Oh my, perhaps next time the discussion comes around to the number of projects on our needles, I should admit to my friends - an old dog can learn new tricks.