Adjusting. Change.

This will be the first month that I’ve missed knitting a pair of socks (or two) in almost two years. It’s been an extraordinarily busy month and it’s been really stressful.

Our refrigerator wasn’t keeping the ice cream frozen so we put a call into the technician we’ve used and he said it’s more than likely the condenser is shot. He advised us to buy a new refrigerator. Despite the LG people saying it takes a couple of hours (if you can find a technician who will come to service it – we’ve tried five, none of which can do anything for at least 3-4 weeks) the technicians all say it’s almost a full day’s work. LG will pay for the part under warranty but we have to pay for the service … guess what? It’s probably not worth it. Never mind that by the time someone can come to fix it our food will be gone. Ugh. So, we bought a new fridge and installed it ourselves because they couldn’t deliver for a week either. Ugh.

218701665_10223706780231029_3838651902775188820_n.jpg (1536×2048)
The new fridge on the doorstep … yes, the old one is in the driveway still!

I’ve been driving a 2007 Camry since it was a new car. It was wonderful in suburbia but it’s not as wonderful on rural Maine camp roads. We’ve been talking about buying me a new one and we went out for our initial hunt last week. There isn’t much to see … not too many new or used cars are available and there’s not a lot of hope for a different situation into 2022 because of computer chips that aren’t readily available. Anywhoo … we found a RAV 4 that we thought was a good match for us and gave the dealership a deposit and it was supposed to come in at the end of the month. I was on my way to work last Thursday and saw it on the back of a car carrier truck and then got a call from the dealership that it was in if we wanted to test drive it. Suffice it to say, we pulled together all of our pennies and bought me a new car.

Meanwhile, my brother and sister-in-love in MA called me to talk about my remaining Little, Lola. I knew that she was close to the end of her life and that she wasn’t thriving but I was blind to the truth that she had no real quality of life and certainly no joy. My wonderful family offered to come to Maine to have a look and see how she was doing and, if I wanted to, to euthanize her. As I thought about it all last week, I knew she was ready. I wasn’t and would never be if I am totally honest. She was disoriented, her back legs weren’t’ working and she often fell down, she wasn’t able to get outside to do her business and she kept getting “stuck” around the house. She wasn’t comfortable.

Lola died peacefully at home on Sunday morning with all of us loving her. I will always remember her like this. She was such a wonderful girl. She was my heart animal and I absolutely adored her. She was almost literally attached to my right hip for the past 15 years. Life is horribly out of balance without her. To have lost both of my beloved Littles in six months is crushing. I am so grateful to have had them both in my life for so long and selfishly I wish it could have been longer. But even another year or five years wouldn’t have been enough. I still wouldn’t have been ready to say goodbye. I already miss her more than I could have imagined.

I’m knitting and it’s my time-filler now as well as being something to focus on in this difficult time. I’ve been working to finish the Gallbladder Shawl for my daughter’s birthday (that is this weekend) and I may get it finished but I doubt that I can get it blocked and delivered in time. But that will have to be ok this year. I think she’ll understand. I have a Christmas stocking up next for a sweet friend/customer and a list of future knits to follow that. I have to finish a sweater that has been languishing … I need to pick up the stitches around the neck and down the second side and knit four rows for the button bands and then knit the sleeves. It’s SO close.

For now, I’m giving myself grace around everything as I learn to live without my four-legged companion. My husband and I were talking over coffee this morning and saying that we are each missing the habits or patterns that our little family has been living with all these years. We look for her in her spot, I walk downstairs at bedtime with empty arms, there’s nobody to take outside first thing in the morning or last thing at night. So we will continue to be grateful that she’s at rest and we will create new habits/patterns to fill in those holes where the Littles are missing. We loved them so.

Gone knitting.

Deep Freeze, Raw Emotions

Deep Freeze on Messalonskee 3/2/2021

My emotions have been very close to the surface recently. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m mourning the last year that we’ve “lost” because of Covid-19 or because there is finally a sense of calm in our Nation’s capital with the new administration. I’m not sure what it is that I am feeling so deeply or that’s bubbling up but it’s there and with this post I am acknowledging it. I am looking forward to the day when it feels safe to leave the house and when I can see my family again. I miss them all so much but I am also so grateful that they’ve all remained healthy.

We woke to sub-zero temperatures today and lots of wind gusts! It was blowing all night but we have been fortunate to retain our power today while lots of other communities in Maine have not. The sun is out and the sky is bluebird blue and that always helps my “attitude”. I would love to see a really good snowstorm before spring but they posted our road yesterday and our camp road has been a muddy mess for a week or more so I may not get my wish.

Today I finally seamed the underarms of my test knit sweater, Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnston. I like it more than I thought I would before it was blocked. The fabric relaxed a lot in its bath. I also learned a few new techniques: folded cuffs and neck and saddle shoulders. This sweater was fun to knit, partly because it’s somewhat cropped and knit in an Aran weight yarn. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran with Wool (a washable acrylic and wool blend) and it was heavy on the US8 needles … my hands got tired knitting! After seaming the underarms, I put the sweater on – this is the coldest day of our winter so far – and it’s nice and warm, the sleeve length is perfect and I like the pockets placed on the side of the sweater. I can’t show you any photographs yet but when I have permission, I’ll add them here.

Meanwhile, I have cast on a pair of socks for my March 2021 Sock Challenge. This month I’m knitting worsted weight boot socks in Raggi yarn. Gray and white marled leg and foot, red cuff and toe. I’ve nearly got one sock finished and will have to attach sock #2 as soon as #1 is finished. These will be super warm socks and they’re so cute!

I’ve also chosen to participate in the Confident Knitting year-long program hosted by Jen Arnall-Culliford. I also chose to splurge and purchase their yarns – typically not yarns we carry at the yarn shop where I work here in Maine. It’s a great chance to taste yarns that I may otherwise not get a chance to work with. AND they had a cool pink project bag!

I’ve started the March project, Flux Handwarmers by Martina Behm. The techniques learned this month are crochet provisional cast on and a folded edge. I chose to do a picot edge which is so cute! This month’s yarn is the springtime colorway of a Crazy Zauberball. These mitts will be a nice weight and they’ll be so cheerful. I’ve participated in A Year of Techniques and Boost Your Knitting for the two previous years and I learned a lot. I’m sure I’ll learn some new tricks this year, too! What I love about these programs is that there are detailed tutorials on all of the techniques and even when I already know one, I can find something to learn (or it just hammers it into my head.)

I’ve been spending a lot of time “worrying” about my sweet Lola. She’s not eating well and her hind legs are unstable. She sleeps most of the day but she still finds a tail wag or two to gift me with every day. For months I’ve been looking at the little kit that I bought when I was out shopping pre-pandemic. The little felt mitten has a bee on it and I couldn’t resist. This will eventually live on our Christmas tree but until Christmas, it’ll likely live on my desk lamp!

I finished two black tams for a customer and they’ve been delivered to the store for her to pick up. She wants two more navy blue ones. It’s sweet of her to ask me. I made a tarte tatin over the weekend. It was delicious! A few apples, some sugar, butter and a home made crust and it was dessert for two for several days. Yummy!

We’ve been spending lots of time doing puzzles. My hubby gave me a really difficult puzzle for Christmas and we stuck to it and finished it … and he ordered another one for Valentine’s day which we’re working on at the dining room table. Luckily, there are only the two of us so we only need one end of the table for eating (although we generally eat up in my studio and watch the news.)

Gone knitting!

Broken Hearted

Last week I lost one of the loves of my life. My little dog, Boq, died on Friday.

Wicked’s Munchkin Boq (aka Boogie Man, Pee-Pee Boy, Brother, Booger, Sweet Boy)

I got home from work on Thursday to a mess on the living room floor and Lola walking back and forth through it. Suffice it to say, I was confused and getting upset because my husband didn’t answer my calls … yells … screams … I was afraid. Afraid for my husband, first, and then realizing that his truck was missing, afraid for Boq. And as that realization dawned, I found my sweet husband and a towel-wrapped bundle coming into the house. He had saved Boq, who’d had a seizure, was in shock and his little body was shutting down. He had rushed Boogie to the vet where, with a little warming and some IV fluids, he “pinked up” and was sent home. But the next day it was clear that he was not ok and the vet report was not encouraging. They found a tumor the size of a navel orange on his liver. The tumor was taking up 60% of his abdomen and he was showing signs of serious discomfort. It was clear that he was at life’s end at almost 15 (105 in dog years.)

After talking with my sister-in-law (she and my brother owns a veterinary hospital and have such amazing wisdom) and my kids we made the difficult decision to help him leave us so he wouldn’t suffer. We are so grateful that our veterinarian here allowed us to be with Boq as they helped him go. It was so peaceful and it was so sad. He is no longer suffering but our hearts are broken.

He was the sweetest, best boy. He was never house trained, we were. He was always a little bit “off” and kept us eternally amused. He sat facing the back seat of the car, he kept trying to dig his way back to China or wherever his ancestors came from. He was a wonderful paper shredder, a snuggly bug, a chill dude. I miss him so much.

Rest in peace, sweet boy. We will never ever forget you.

Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged

Yesterday we left campus.

We packed up the three dogs and our lunch and breakfast and snacks and water and coffee and drove my little Lola to the doctor. We filled up in Maine, stretched in the rest stop in Maine. We drove to my brother’s veterinary hospital so that he could tell me what was going on with my little girl.

Lola is typically around 9 pounds. Today she was just over 7. That’s a lot of weight loss for a little dog. She’s not been eating well, despite my urging, for months. Now that I have been home in isolation, I have been able to focus on her food and water intake and have been very worried. I’ve cried more than once with her in my arms believing that she was going to die. I was concerned enough to call my brother, a veterinarian in Massachusetts, to ask what I should do. His advice was to bring her in. Yesterday we did.

She was poked and prodded, x-rayed, sonogrammed, given a shot of antibiotics and an anti-inflamatory steroid shot. She was sent home with a couple of medicines. Nothing is visibly wrong, per se, but the x-rays will be read by a specialist. She has a dark spot on her spleen but my brother doesn’t think it’s a problem. I feel better but not yet settled. We will see what happens over the next couple of days. Lasts night, she ate her dinner. This morning she ate breakfast AND drank out of the water dish … she hasn’t done that for sure for at least ten days!

I was very afraid to go out. I have been in isolation for two weeks. I know I don’t have Corona virus. I was concerned about filling up my gas tank, where I would go to use a rest room, crossing paths with people. I needn’t have been worried because we didn’t cross any paths! I didn’t even hug my brother. We ate our picnic lunch in the car in the vet hospital parking lot and when Lola was done, we got in the car and drove home. We were all happy to get home and have a drink: The two-leggers among us in particular.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!

The Risk of Loving & the Rainbow Bridge

I heard or read somewhere in recent weeks that the risk of loving is loss. Until today, this didn’t really “hit” me.

Today, hearing that a friend’s beloved pet was sent over the rainbow bridge, it is hitting me. And I’m remembering the deep grief that my family has experienced with the loss of a beloved pet. Sam, Nouk, Kelly, Tasha, Lille, Max … all critters who lived with me and were such a big part of my family at one time or another. Who wagged their tail or sat on my lap or went for a walk in the woods with me. Fur family.

My Fur Babies & My Guy

My Fur Babies & My Guy

Loving is being willing to take a risk. A risk that we can give a piece of ourselves to another being and be embraced and accepted as we are. It’s humbling and makes us very vulnerable when we let a person or a pet have a piece of our heart. The honeymoon phase of love is that new, wondrous, can’t get enough of it which then grows, if we’re lucky, to the place where we can trust and depend on the love to be there for us when we need it. And when we don’t need it. And in return, we show up for them, too. Protection from danger, a comfort when we don’t feel well, sharing in life’s experience both good and not so good.

Pets are so special in that they ask very little in return for the love they lavish on us. They don’t judge us when we don’t feel like taking a shower or getting out of bed. They still love us when we get angry at them because WE forgot to get them outside before they made a mistake. They’re happy to see us when we get home, greeting us at the door, tails wagging. They’re excited about the same old kibble every time we give it to them (in our house, twice daily). They become an essential part of our days and nights.

So, when a pet dies, we experience a deep sense of loss. Perhaps a deeper loss than when we lose human friends. Because who else but our pet can truly love unconditionally? And we can feel it.

Lola, Max and Boq

Lola, Max and Boq

I swore, after Lille died, that I’d never have another dog. It was too heartbreaking. But years later, Lola & Boq entered my life and I’ve made them promise that they’ll never die. And while, on some level, I know that’s not possible, it makes me feel better for now. We’ve started to heal from the loss of Max and have invited Monk to live with us in our family. I’m sure I’ll make him promise, too. For today, he’s lucky he’s cute … because he’s so much puppy in a big brown body!

I’ve shed a few tears today for Pokey and for all the humans who loved him. I know he’s romping free of pain on the other side of the rainbow bridge. While the people who loved him mourn his loss with aching hearts.

The risk of love is loss. It’s hitting me today.

Gone knitting.

Rainbow-Bridge-Poem

Big Brown Dog

I found one of these on the floor in the living room this morning. (They’re all finished and were in my bedroom waiting to be put away.)

Lady Grantham Dinner Gauntlet (a Jimmy Beans Wool KAL) in Lorna's Laces Sport

Lady Grantham Dinner Gauntlet (a Jimmy Beans Wool KAL) in Lorna’s Laces Sport

It must have been this big brown dog!

"Monk"

“Monk”

We’ve adopted/rescued Monk from a family in California and he arrived on Friday. We’d forgotten what it’s like to have a puppy in the house! Lots of walks and lots of ball-throwing in our neighborhood park.

IMG_1265My little dogs would like to send him back! (Not going to happen. We’ve already fallen in love with the big brown dog!)

Welcome Monk!

Gone knitting!

Farewell, Faithful Companion

Max, Faithful Companion, in 2007

Max, my boyfriend’s dog, is old. He’s had Cushing’s Disease for the last three years and probably has an inoperable pituitary tumor in addition. Until recently, the medications prescribed have managed the Cushing’s symptoms and Max has been able to lead a happy (tail-wagging) life.

This summer has been different. He’s not even interested in going outside. He’s fallen off the front porch and rolled off the “sea wall” and into the lake. He struggles to get up when he’s been lying down. N has to carry him to the lake to cool him off and often carries him outside to do his business. He still loves to eat but isn’t as happy to chase a ball or a stick and seems to have a vacant stare most of the time. All night long he does circles. Circling and circling as if he’s going to settle down … but he doesn’t. Even a double dose of Valium doesn’t take the edge off for him.

N has given him a great life! He’s been on many a long ride in the car and loved to ride on the boat, ears flapping in the breeze. He loved to wander off and get into the neighbors’ garbage (and come home bloated with a full belly). He has several warm and comfy beds around the house, unlimited water, excellent food, lots of love, and millions of thrown balls and sticks. He had many a nap on the couch, ball in mouth.

He’s been an intrepid companion, a faithful friend.

Max and the Annoying Littles

Car Ride 2009

Playing the Ball Game in 2008

Death is the natural end to a good life. N has decided that it is time. It’s time to let Max be free from the creaky old body that doesn’t provide a good quality of life any more.

Ned has dug the hole where we’ll bury Max. He’ll be put to sleep here in Maine at home. Max is comfortable here and this place is a constant comfort for N, too.

This is a very sad time. Farewell, faithful friend. We’ll see you again in Heaven.

Gone knitting.

Sick Dog :(

My Sick Little Boy

I had a sick little dog over the weekend. He was fine on Friday morning, his body felt warm on Friday night but I really didn’t think much of it – it’s hot in Florida! But on Saturday morning when he refused to leave his crate in the morning, he didn’t seem to want to or be able to walk, and then felt really warm when I picked him up, I knew something was really wrong. I had a sick little dog!

Off to the vet we went … to be there when they opened at 8. (Come to find out the doctors don’t come in until 8:30 or so.) $500.00 and nearly three hours later, I walked out with no real answers but I had a full-body x-ray that showed no injury or problem. Blood drawn for a CBC and a horrible hot spot – the likely culprit – shaved and “dressed”, and three medications and some salve for his “boo boo”. (The hot spot was all down the front of his neck and not even a “collar of shame” could be put on him to keep him from scratching. So, he was to be my constant companion for the day – and into the night.)

His sister didn’t know what to do with him. She sat and barked and sniffed and watched him in his bed. She didn’t stray far from his side – except to guard the water bowl from Max – all day. They are so bonded! I’ve never had two dogs at the same time who are as close as these two and it was sweet that she stayed right by his side.

Today, he’s much happier and seems to be feeling better. The blue tape is off his leg and we all slept through the night last night in our own beds. I was reminded of the nights when my children were little and they didn’t feel well and how helpless I felt as a parent. All I could do is take them to the doctor and hold them and love them until they started to feel better. This experience with my dog was very similar.

I’m glad we seem to be over the hump … and I’ve gone knitting!

 

Personality Plus

So, I designed this pattern for a competition – I won “skein-ettes” and had to make them into something. What better than a sweater for my “little girl” (aka Lola).

Animal lovers know how each little critter has a personality all their own. My brother has two big dogs. One is afraid of her shadow and hides behind the kitchen table. The other is just “one of the boys”, my fourth nephew, and always wants to play – drops slimy soliva-covered popped ball pieces (chewed frisbees, bits of sticks or firewood, plastic water bottles, shoes he grabbed indoors, etc.) at your feet morning, noon and night. He never gives up.

Ever watchful Lola. Ever sleepy Boogie!

My little dogs each have their own personality: Boogie is a “stoner” … he’s very trainable and has “sit”, “down”, and “give me five” but he is not a self-starter. Lola is the “alpha” dog in the pair;  she’s independent, and as nosy and bossy as dogs get. She’s a whopping 9 pounds dripping wet … go figure. In order to get Boogie to go outside, we call, “LolaBoq Come” … most of the time we get both dogs. 🙂

Anyway, I digress …

I have a first Prima Dogma by Queen Bee Knits order. The first sweater, “Turtle” is finished and ready to ship. BUT the yarn that I originally bought for the second sweater just wasn’t doing it for me. I ordered a second skein and cast on this morning. I love it – and I want to recommend it to you knitters out there in blog-land! It’s called Koigu KPPM. The one I bought this time is one of their solid colors but they have an endless line of wonderful colors sure to please every person’s taste. I’m buying mine at JimmyBeansWool.com because their service is very quick, their prices are reasonable and they’ve got a great selection. I think I could knit with only Koigu and be happy. I just ordered their last book … I’ll report on it as soon as it arrives.

So, off I go to knit AJ’s baby girl a pink Señorita Lolita sweater (Prima Dogma by Queen Bee Knits’ first design) … gone knitting!