Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Brewster!

[This letter was sent to PALS Animal Rescue for inclusion on their "Happy Tails" webpage. Read about Brewster's old life and early days at our house at Brewster Facts. If you don't enjoy sappy stories about rescue dogs, stop reading now, Grinch.]

Brewster (known to PALS as Wally) joined our family on December 27, 2009, and I'm writing to celebrate his 1-year anniversary! After a pretty tough start in life, Brewster has settled into our home and feels safe and happy. Brewster is not big on playing with toys or chasing balls, but he LOVES to "snuzzle"--he buries his head in a blanket and wiggles around while the closest available human scratches his back or tummy. He loves to go for walks and car rides and he doesn't mind staying home, either, as long as he has a well-stuffed Kong to work on. When I'm working on the computer, he snoozes in his bed beside my desk (or in my lap), and when I move around the house he follows right behind to make sure he doesn't miss anything interesting. He's also a superb watch dog and lets me know anytime a stranger comes near our house. (Some people might think he's a little too vigilant, but after our neighbor's close call with a thief, I feel much safer with Brewster on the lookout!) Most importantly, Brewster makes me laugh every single day. I am so grateful to Brewster's foster mom, Kris, for seeing potential in a scraggly, timid, underweight mutt and giving him the time and affection he needed to become the happy, healthy dog who has become so important in my life. Brewster and I send our thanks and love to Kris and all the PALS volunteers!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Eve To-Do List

1. Laundry.--Check.
2. Clean kitchen.--Check.
3. Assemble neighbor goodies.--Check.
4. Small, fiddly sewing to finish a present.--Check.
5. Wrap presents.--Eh. The ones I need first thing in the morning are done. We'll call it a check.
6. Clean office.--I crack myself up. Not sure why that one even got onto the list. The office looks like a yarn bomb with accompanying patterns exploded. A stranger might believe I work at home, but would assume that my job has something to do with yarn.
7. Take Mom to dinner for her birthday.--Check. 
8. Go to church, greet, hand out candles.--Check.
8a. Slather hands with sanitizer.--Check. I am NOT getting the stomach flu that's going around. I don't care if it is all the rage on Facebook.
8b. Sing The First Noel.--NO CHECK. What the heck? How do you get through a Christmas Eve service without singing my song? I had to sing it to myself on the way home.
9. Bake chocolate cake while listening to Louis Armstrong Christmas CD and drinking tea with a generous shot of whiskey.--Check.
10. Clean kitchen. Again.--The bowls are soaking in the sink, so that one's a half-check.
11. Make annual resolution not to procrastinate next year.--Check.
12. Remember that the people who love me don't give a flying you-know-what if my kitchen is clean or their presents are wrapped or I'm wearing clean clothes. Relax.--CHECK. 

(Carrie probably does care about the cake, though. She loves chocolate more than she loves me. I can accept that.)

Merry Christmas!  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How to Give Your Human a Heart Attack (a message from Brewster)

This is a really great joke to play on your human, but it takes a bit of preparation. First, train your human to expect you to jump on her every time she walks in the door. Do this for almost a full year. Make sure she is totally taking for granted that she will be greeted with exuberant puppy bouncing every single time she comes in after being gone for more than 2 minutes.

Then, when she's completely used to the happy-joy-bouncing-puppy dance, stop. Just don't come to the door. When she calls, make no noise. Don't even jingle your tags. She will leave the garage door wide open, toss her Arby's onto the kitchen floor, and go running through the house to find you. Visions of terrible tragedies will run through her head, the foremost of which will be that the cat, who is "plump," finally got tired of the barking and decided to sit on you.

When she gets to the living room and finds you sitting on the couch in your usual spot, use your expressive eyes to say, "What? You think you're so great that I'm going to do the happy-joy-bouncing-puppy dance every single time I see you? I mean you're nice and all, but you're not all that. Get over yourself."

Try to hide the giggles behind your paw. Bonus points if you can get to the Arby's before she's recovered enough to pick it up.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Stephanie (in which I am a fawning fan)

[A real fan letter I e-mailed to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.]

Dear Stephanie,

In the fifth grade, our class was assigned to write a letter to our favorite author. I have absolutely no recollection of the author I wrote to, but I do remember that my best friend, Kendra, wrote to Carolyn Keene. Unfortunately, the return letter informed us, Keene had passed away several years before. The return letter lied. In reality, "Keene" turned out to be almost a dozen writers writing under the Keene pseudonym (which incidentally explains the mystery of why I loved some of the books, others not so much). That experience pretty much put me off writing fan letters. What if Beverly Cleary turned out to be a fake? Did Laura Ingalls Wilder really slide down those haystacks? Clearly the potential horror of learning that authors I idolized were actually hacks writing children's fiction for a paycheck while trying to make it as a "real" author was too great to bear. So I've never written another letter until today. I am trusting that you are a real person and a real knitter. If that's not the case and the person reading this is a corporate drone whose job it is to answer all the Stephanie Pearl-McPhee letters, please don't disabuse me of my fantasy. Just send me the "signed" form letter thanking me for my interest and wishing me the best of luck in my future endeavors.

If you are a real person, then I owe you a thank you. I found your blog three or four months ago, and since then I've been reading it from the beginning a month at a time whenever I have a few minutes here and there. Imagine my chagrin when I got to September 2007 and found out that you came to Wichita before I even knew who you were. I hope you come back someday. Or how about Kansas City? I'd drive to Kansas City. Or Oklahoma? Nebraska? Not Colorado, though. Colorado's a little far.

I finished reading the day before yesterday, and I seem to be going through some kind of withdrawal. I keep going back to the site and poking around as if there must be more somewhere that I missed. How will I kill 20 minutes while I eat my lunch now? What am I supposed to do while I wait for my favorite TV show to come on? Crazy Aunt Purl is funny, but she's just not the same. Anne Hanson's designs are beautiful, but she doesn't seem to want to make me giggle.

In particular, I want to thank you for one bit of inspiration. I bet you think I'm going to thank you for teaching me that it's "just knitting" and it's okay to be brave and take risks, or that it's important to laugh at myself, or to have courage to try a really challenging pattern. You are seriously underestimating my superficiality.

I want to thank you because I recently taught myself to do plain knitting by touch, a skill I was inspired to practice when I read about you working on socks while you check your e-mail. (I believe there was some mention of putting the keyboard on the floor so you could page through e-mails with your toe.) I closed my eyes and gave it a shot and was amazed to find that I can knit without looking! Which means that I can read and knit at the same time! With eyes open, of course. This makes me practically faint with happiness. Being able to read again is a huge relief since my voracious reading habit had to take a back seat to my new-found voracious knitting habit. That particular bit of inspiration is probably the most important thing I've gained from your blog, and I've sworn to always keep some sock yarn on hand so I can have a "reading sock" handy.

So I want to say thank you for that piece of inspiration, and for the blog and your books in general. (For the record, I did take the "be brave" thing to heart. You should see what I did to a hat with a miscrossed cable. Scary.) Reading you has been a load of fun, and I'm looking forward to reading a lot more--while knitting socks.

Hoping that writing this letter will provide some closure so that I can stop clicking around your blog like a forlorn puppy whose favorite chew toy is stuck under the sofa,
Noelle Kathleen Barrick

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Love Letter to a Sock

Dear Chocolate Sock, 

MSP 70
Thank you so very much for helping me get through 60 manuscript pages in 4 hours. That is wicked fast even for a very light edit, and I couldn't have done it without you to keep my fingers busy and stop them from straying over to Facebook and this blog and that blog and maybe that neat looking computer game over there. Thanks to you, while my fingers went around and around and around, I was able to keep my brain on the manuscript. Thanks to you, I was able to sit quietly at my desk and not resent my friends who were hanging out at the yarn shop without me. Much. 

MSP 130
You rock.


P.S., I love that your stripes are actually swirling instead of striping. I am charmed.
P.P.S., Your chocolate color is lovely, but I will have to remember not to work on you right before dinner. You're making me hungry. 
P.P.P.S., Hey Blogger, I don't know what's up with the itty-bitty font when I clearly selected "Normal," but it sucks. Fix it. 

Friday, December 3, 2010


I finished the cabled hat last week.


I'm naming this hat "Evidence" because it's proof of a couple of things. For example, it is proof that I can knit cables. I might need proof of this in knitting court because I don't particularly enjoy cables, and you won't see them popping up on many of my pieces. Should anyone doubt my cable-knitting abilities, I will refer them here. 

It's also proof that I don't believe in gauge swatches. This hat was supposed to be a tam for me. What it turned out to be was a cap . . .

. . . for someone with less hair than me.

Mom really likes it. I'm thinking about getting a hair cut. 

Info: The pattern is Brambles from Knitty, and the yarn is Cascade 220.