Thursday, August 02, 2012

Think before you Leap!

For months now, every time I get on Facebook, someone is posting a picture of a poor, abused, or neglected dog that needs to be rescued before it is put down.  These pictures tear at my heart, but they also piss me off.  If you are not willing or able to do what is right for the dog, don't do it.
We recently rescued Poppy, a chihuahua, when she was found running loose on the streets.  She seemed very even tempered and we brought her home to live with 2 old ladies with health problems and 3 cats.  One of our cats, Nakoma, is 19 years old and knows she is queen of this castle.  Mango is about 10 now and is a  more timid and does not push the boundaries set by the other cats.  Annie, on the other hand, is a white tornado.  She is about 8 or 9 and is in constant motion.  She is the adventurous one here.  Cats are very independent, but they can be trained to stay off the kitchen counters, which is about my only limitation on where I'm willing to let the cats go.  As long as they have food and a clean litter box, get some attention, they are happy.  If someone comes to the house, they usually disappear, under or on a bed.  If the visitor is here for a while, they may come out to say hello.
A dog is a whole different animal.  We have been doing a lot of reading on dogs recently, and every article and book we have read says you must commit to walking your dog every day.  Every day!  Not just when it suits you, but every day.  This walking gives them the exercise they need and bonds them to you and your family.  It is what they do naturally and for them to be happy, they need to walk.  Most behavior problems are because dogs don't get enough walking.
We got the book, Cesar's Way, and have read it from cover to cover.  This book opened our eyes as to what a dog is, what it needs, and what we are not giving the dog: exercise, discipline and affection in that order.  Most of us give too much affection at the wrong times and create our own little hell on earth.
Please, to anyone who is considering adopting or rescuing a dog, do your research first.  Know yourself.  Are you committed to be the best dog parent you can? Have you researched the breed you are considering?  Dogs are dogs, but each breed has different needs and temperaments, health issues and life expectancy.  Are you young enough to outlive your dog?  Do you have a back-up plan if you don't?
My plea here is, do the research before you bring the dog home.  Know what you are getting into.  Dogs are not self-sufficient, like cats, and you must be committed.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Techno-Challenged Grandma

Almost everyone I know has a touch screen cell phone.  I don't even have a cell phone.  We are still making and receiving calls on a land-line.  I did have a cell phone for a while, but I just couldn't justify the cost of having both and since I used my cellphone so little, I let it go.  If I could find a very inexpensive family type plan, I might switch from land-line to cell phones, but I won't do both.
We have 4 TVs, only one is a flat screen HD unit.  We would love to replace the others, but just can't justify the cost when the ones we have work just fine.
I thought I was big stuff when I bought my Kindle a couple of years ago before my cross country train trip.  It's a pretty plain Jane model but it does have a keyboard, so I can take notes.  I never have.
My camera is a Canon point and shoot digital camera.  Pretty snazzy.  I even know how to download to the computer and upload to Facebook and Ravelry and this blog.  I have a photo editing software on my computer and have learned how to crop and resize my photos.  I'm sure I can do more, but---
Penny and I were talking about having music while we walked the dog and were reminiscing about the good old days and transistor radios.  Now, that was hi-tech back in the covered wagon days when we were in high school.  I was pretty sure what we needed is an MP3 player.  So I started searching for something that would do what we want.  They're out there!  Lots of them!  From about $10 to as much as you want to pay.  Brands I' ve never heard of  to IPods.  You can play music, watch movies- I can't watch movies and walk, that's like texting and driving.   Too confusing.
My granddaughter, Nicole, called today, so I asked her advice on what I need.  She said, "Sounds like what you want is the one I had in high school."  She said her Smart Phone does all that now, so she will send it to me when she gets home next week from visiting her dad.  Now I have to learn how to download I-Tunes and upload CDs to my computer so I can load them into the I-Pod when it comes.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

StanCo Fair 2012

The fair is over for this year.  I went last Monday to pick up my items that were entered.  While on display they just have little stickers on the tags for the winners and you pick up the actual ribbons when you pick up your entries after the fair.

Grandma's Napkins- If you search the web you can find this pattern.  It is a combo of  symbols and Russian.
Summer Breezes Stole-this is my own design and will be available in my Ravelry store soon.
White Water vest-The pattern is  for  DK yarn and I used fingering  wt.

Crocodile Stitch Slouchy Beret- the pattern is available on Ravelry.
Potholder-made using different granny squares on the front and back.

At some fairs that I have entered, they give you a score sheet so you know how you did in the different areas of judging.  In others, there is nothing.  This time, I had a comment from the judge written on the back of one of the tags  I did notice that the last couple of years, there is nothing to indicate the year.  Not on the ribbon or on the tag attached to the item.  So, I attach the tag to the ribbon and note the year, so I will know later what and when it was.  I have a plastic shoe box full of ribbons from over 30 years of entering.  Someday, my granddaughter will have to deal with that box.  It is kind of fun to get it out every now and again and see if I can even remember what the item was.  The last few years are better because I take pics and post here on my blog.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

CaysCrafts: Cane tote

CaysCrafts: Cane tote

Cane tote

A couple of days ago, Poppy and I walked a few blocks to our little store. When we are walking I use a cane.  Mostly to keep me standing up straight which takes the pressure off my back. So, I have a cane in one hand and a dog leash in the other.  I start out with a poo bag and my ID in my pocket. The house keys are safety pinned to my shirt.  Once the dog has done her business, I'm now carrying the poo bag with the cane.  Who would want to put a full poo bag back in their pocket?  Yuk!
At the store I picked up a large can of dog food for her. Now, I have a small bag with a heavy object hanging from my cane. On the way home, this can kept swinging back and forth and in one particularly uneven section of the sidewalk, the can swung out and hit my cane, almost toppling me over. There must be a better way to do this.
Of course, when I got home, I Googled trying to find a crochet pattern for a tote for my cane.  I came up with nothing.  I found a couple of totes that said for canes, but they really looked like they would work on a crutch, not a cane.
So--I have been thinking about a way to make a tote bag to attach to my cane.  I'm thinking it needs 3 pockets.  A big one for whatever it is I want to buy, dog food, Pepsi, milk.  A small one to hold poo bags, empty on the way out and full on the way home, and one for my ID and keys.  I think I have figured out how to attach it to the cane to minimize the swinging and the danger that comes with that.
What do you think?  Could you or someone you know use this tote.  Please comment below and let me know what you think of this idea.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Busy, Busy, busy

The last couple of months have been busy!  Hence, no blogging.
Even after my disappointment in the fair last year, I missed entering in San Mateo this year, so--I went ahead and entered in the Stanislaus County Fair.  When I finally made up my mind to this, I only had a couple of days to get my entry form in.  What have I done in the last year that I still have in my possession?  Made a mental checklist, decided to make a couple of new items, and got my entry form done.  The items have to be taken to the fairgrounds this Friday, 7/6.  I guess the judging will be next week as the fair starts on 7/13.  I have five entries:
1) big bright bold potholder
2) crocodile stitch slouch beret made in fingering weight cashmere/merino marled yarn
3) doily, purple/plum #10 cotton
4) stole/shawl, my own design crocheted in FW soft cotton yarn
5) vest-pattern converted from DK  to FW Kraemer yarns Sterling Silk & Silver yarn, which is gorgeous!
Our CGOA chapter had a table at the San Mateo County Fair again this year.  Kitty, Peter and I were there on the last Sunday to answer questions and share our love of crochet with anyone who wanted to stop and chat.  He and others from the group were there both weekends.  We are just not a large enough group to be able to cover every day of the fair.  Hoping Andy can join us next year on the final Sunday as he is the only current member who speaks Spanish, and that day is Spanish Heritage Day.  Unfortunate for us, he had other commitments this year.
I was also commissioned to crochet a scarf which had a deadline.  It was a bit of a challenging pattern and had quite a bit of finish work.  But, I made the deadline.
Oh!  I almost forgot to tell you!  Probably the biggest consumer of our time for the last few weeks--we got a dog.  She's a rescue with kinda sad story.  Penny's sister-in-law works at a convalescent hospital on a very busy street.  They noticed this poor little black chihuahua running in and out of the traffic.  It finally came up to the door, and when someone opened the door, she came right in.  One of the ladies grabbed her up and took her in and gave her a good bath, apparently she was very dirty and smelly.  They didn't know what to do with her at the end of shift, so Cristy said she would talk to her husband (they already have 6 dogs, 3 large and 3 small).  She came out carrying the dog. Pete called us to tell us about it so Penny and I ran over to their house to see.  We came home, called our landlord to see if it would be ok to add a dog to our family.  He was fine with that.  So we went and picked her up.  We took her to the vet the next day to have her checked out.  No chip, good health, but has allergies that make her eyes all red.  The vet estimated that she is 3 to 4 years old, and that she was a couple of weeks pregnant.  He was wrong!  She had her pups less than 3 weeks later, so she was about 6 weeks pregnant. One pup died almost immediately, another died in less that 24 hours, and the 3rd pup died at 2 weeks old.  She was fat, growing, had just opened her eyes: was fine when we went to bed but was dead when Penny got up.  We are trying not to feel too guilty, because we don't know anything about Poppy's past.  We don't know how she was treated, how long she was loose on the streets.  The very least, she was woefully neglected.  Her poor little toenails were so long she had trouble standing up and she has had a shoulder injury sometime in the past.  She is settling in and she and the cats are tolerating each other.  She's a smart little thing and I think she's going to make a great addition to our little family.
I will post pics of the fair and the dog when I have a little more time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Other Passion

As most of you know, crochet is my passion.  I have crocheted for over 50 years, and do the simple to the sublime.  There are still a few techniques that I haven't tried, some because they just don't interest me.
But, how many of you know that I have a passion even older and stronger than crochet?  Want to hazard a guess?
Reading.  I have had a love affair with books since before I started school.  My mom was a teacher, so she instilled her love of reading and respect for books in me.  I will read almost anything.
My real books collections include some of the classics, Silas Marner, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christy:  a childhood favorite that I spent years trying to find, Nan of the Gypsies:  a collection of books on Native Americans, both fact and fiction; and then there is the odd collection of stuff you just read and pass on, biographies, romance novels, a mystery or chiller.
In  my pre-retirement days, I spent a lot of money on books.  At one point in my life, I couldn't go grocery shopping without buying a new book.  Depending on the book, of course, I can read 2 to 5 books a week. Do the math!
A couple of years ago, I was getting ready to take a 2 week train trip across country and was trying to figure out how to take enough books for that much train time with a 50 lb carry on limit. Not to mention my poor back, lugging all that around.  So--I bought a Kindle.  Just the plain ordinary Kindle, no bells, no whistles, just books. I loaded the latest Jack Reacher novel, some Sherlock Holmes and a few others for my trip.
I now have 500 books on my Kindle, thanks to the free readers services I found, or who found me, on Facebook.  The first one I started with was Pixel of Ink.  Then followed someone's post to Ereader News Today.  Another of my friends subscribes to Must Read Mysteries.  These services all give you heads up for free or low-cost books for the Kindle.  I get notices on Facebook everyday and rarely does a day go by that I don't get at least one book.
My paper and ink books now come from yard sales, thrift stores, trading with others and the senior center. One of the ladies in my crochet group at the senior center trades books with me..
My advice for one these summer days when it's just too d--- hot to move, grab a tall glass of ice tea and a book.  Lose yourself for a while in someone else's life, or another country, or another period of time.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

CaysCrafts: There's More to Lemons

CaysCrafts: There's More to Lemons

There's More to Lemons

than lemonade.
Someone gifted us a couple of 1 lb bags of roasted no salt pistachios.  And our lemon tree runneth over.  We have been making lemonade like crazy.  I made lemon bars a couple of weeks ago.  But what to do with the pistachios?  Found a recipe for Lemon Pistachio Biscotti and decided that was the thing to do.  Never mind that I had never made biscotti before.  Nor is there a drop of Italian blood running thru the old veins.
Spent an afternoon shelling the pistachios. The ones that hadn't cracked were a bit of a challenge!  A regular nutcracker is a wee large for such a tiny nut.  But--it got done.
Yesterday, I got all my ingredients and recipe ready.  Zested my lemons, measured my ingredients and got started.
Baking biscotti is a 3 part process.  First you make the little loaves, put them on cookie sheets and bake.  Then you let them cool.  Next you slice them on the diagonal.  Back on the cookie sheets, back in the oven.  After a few minutes, you turn them over and back in the oven they go for the last round.
In all my wisdom, I decided they needed to be dipped in chocolate, so I melted a couple of candy bars, added a little milk to thin it out and then dipped each cookie in the chocolate.  Part in milk and part in dark chocolate.  Yummy!  Here they are drying on the cooling rack.

The flavor is to die for!  But I think I needed to bake just a little longer as they are not as crisp as they should be.  But, I'll eat them anyway!

CaysCrafts: It's Spring

CaysCrafts: It's Spring

It's Spring

and things are starting to bloom in our yard.  Here are few photos for your enjoyment (and mine!)


We Live in the City!

A few days ago, Penny was out in the yard and called to me.  I went to see what she wanted.  She was just standing there pointing up to the top of the power line pole in the corner of our back yard.  OMG!  Ran in the house to get the camera.  Look at what was there.  A wild turkey!  When I tried to move to change angles, he/she flew away.  Penny said it made quite a racket when it came in for the landing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

CaysCrafts: Two Steps forward-One Step back

CaysCrafts: Two Steps forward-One Step back

Two Steps forward-One Step back

Progress on the Nutcracker afghan is slooooow-I'm only on row 68 and I'm not happy with it.  Think I'll frog back to about row 20 and start again.  Most of the yarns are RH SS except for the dark grey which is Simply Soft.  It is not working well with the other yarns.  I'm pretty sure I don't have any grey in my stash, but I can use black so will go to the garage and see what's out there. Black is getting harder for me to work with, but there are no large areas of black so I should be able to use it instead of dark grey.
The other problem I'm having is the only yarn bobbins I could find are fairly small.  I was sure I had some large bobbins, this isn't the first graphghan I've done.  Must search the craft supplies in the garage for yarn bobbins also.  And, if I can't find any larger bobbins, I may just have to try and make some out of cardboard!  More than one way to skin a cat, as the old saying goes.
On the plus side, the weather has been cool and rainy, so great crocheting weather.
Since this ghan is strictly for me, and there are no small children around, I'm using fun fur for the hair and beard.  I'm thinking of using real buttons instead of crocheting them into the pattern.  We'll see how I feel about that when I get a little closer to where the buttons go.

Friday, March 09, 2012

CaysCrafts: Nutcracker Afghan

CaysCrafts: Nutcracker Afghan

Nutcracker Afghan

Finally, after a couple of years, I started my Nutcracker graphghan.  It is still cool enough to work on a large afghan, but I'm guessing this cool weather isn't going to last much longer.
Weather is the main reason it has taken so long to get to this project.  There is always something to crochet: a gift, charity project, the occasional commission.  So, every time I have thought I would start this ghan, the weather got too hot for me to work on it.
I got it from Chella's Crochet on Ebay a while back.  I looked at her site today and didn't see the Nutcracker, (copyright was 2008) but she sure has a lot of great graphs. If you buy 2 patterns, you get a 3rd one free.  Can't beat that kind of deal! In fact, while I was looking around, I saw 2 others that I had bought at the same time.  I guess I need to get those in project bags and put in my bin for future works.
I can't show you a picture of the afghan, but it is 150 stitches by 200 rows.  I'm currently on row 52.  Still have a ways to go. Right now, I'm only carrying 3 skeins of yarn, so last night I was really ticking those rows off. Until--my hands, both of them, decided to cramp big time.  Had to put it down for the rest of the evening.
That was probably from shelling pistachios open earlier.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

CaysCrafts: Crochet Projects to Go

CaysCrafts: Crochet Projects to Go

Crochet Projects to Go

It seems one of the biggest problems fiber artists have is getting and staying organized.  I have, over the years, probably spent as much time organizing yarn, hooks, books, patterns, as I have actually crocheting.
We all have stacks of patterns and tubs of yarn that will become WIPs at some point in the future.  But then, you use part of the yarn for something or other and when you are ready to start the project, there is not enough of the yarn to do it.  So, either off to the store to buy more, if you can get it, or laid aside for another time.
OR--the pattern is just out of reach, can't be found no matter where you look.  Not in the saved files on the computer, can't find it in the 3 ring binders of patterns saved over the years, not even in the piles of patterns waiting to be put in binders  Where is that thing?
I have finally come up with a method that works for me!
When I get a pattern that I really want to do, I go through my stash and pull out the yarn.  I then put them together in a zip bag of some sort.  The bag goes in a big tub.  When I need a project, I go to the tub, pull out what I want to do and it is all right there!  Pattern, and yarn.
I use this method even if I don't have everything I need.  I can then add the rest of the yarn when I pick it up.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

CaysCrafts: Inspired and Energized

CaysCrafts: Inspired and Energized

Inspired and Energized

Spent yesterday at Stitches West in Santa Clara. Was a long day as it is quite a drive from Modesto and we hit some nasty commute traffic going in and as we left.  But, oh, so worth every minute behind the wheel.
My crochet group, Crochet Crusaders, mans the Warm Up America booth every year and we meet so many wonderful people stopping by to get info or drop off blocks for afghans. This year we had an extra large booth so had 2 tables and lots of chairs so folks could sit and crochet or knit a block or help assemble some of the blocks we already had.  Very nice,  Thank you, Benjamin!
I met several designers yesterday, a couple I have been in online groups with for years.  Drew Emborsky is much taller than I thought he would be!  LOL  I also met Tammy Hildebrand in the CGOA booth along with Amy Shelton. I missed Karen Ratto-Whooley.  She must have been teaching when I was out looking for her.
This year we there all day so I had time to do some wandering thru the marketplace.  Even though I have more yarn than some stores, I still love to look and pet the yarn.  I also love to look at the display pieces for inspiration.  This year there was a much larger crochet presence than in past years, but it is a Knitting magazine expo.  There were lots of buttons and bobbles and accessories.  Sensory overload to the max!
But, I came home inspired to finally get started on a couple of the sketches I have in my notebook, finish writing a couple of my patterns and get them in my Ravelry store, and maybe, just maybe, submit a pattern to a magazine.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

CaysCrafts: Kid Size

CaysCrafts: Kid Size

Kid Size

Penny and I were at the medical clinic about a month ago and it was pretty chilly out so we were sporting our Ridge Runner Fingerless gloves.  One of the nurses asked Penny where she got them, and of course, Penny told her that I made them.  Maria ordered 3 pair for her kids, ages 7, 9 and 12.  Wow!  how big is the hand of a 7 year old?  I tried doing some googling but didn't find anything very helpful.
More than one way to skin a cat.  I went across the street with my notebook, pencil and tape measure in my pocket and asked the parents of the little girl who lives there if I could measure her hand.  I asked her what her favorite color is and her reply was "I like all colors, but I really like pink."  I came home, got out some pink yarn, grabbed a hook and went to work.  When I was finished, I went back across the street, asked her try them on.
Perfect fit!  Yea!  She was so surprised when I told her they were hers to keep.
Now, back to the gloves that Maria ordered.  I did the 7 year old first in blue, then moved on to the 9 year old in purple and finished with the 12 year old in aqua.  Still waiting for delivery as mom has been out of town for job training.
I took pretty good notes as I down sized the pattern, but don't know if I should write it up and post the pattern to my Ravelry store.  Opinions please!

CaysCrafts: Watch Cap

CaysCrafts: Watch Cap

Watch Cap

For Christmas, I crocheted Peter Franzi's Watch Cap pattern for my new grandson (married my only granddaughter last March) in a nice blue washable wool.  I figured blue is the favorite color for most guys.  I also made a long scarf in color blocks using several shades of blue and brown.  Well, I have no pics of those as I got in a hurry to mail the package and forgot to get the camera out.  I've been waiting for the kids to send pics, but that hasn't happened yet.

However, Nic, my granddaughter, told me that Josh loved his cap and wished it was military green so he could wear it at work.  Military green, you ask.  Well, of course, He is a Marine. His birthday is next week, and I figured if he is wearing it to work, then one would just not be enough.  So*** I made 2!
Taking pics in the house really doesn't give a true value to the color, but it is Lion Brand washable wool in the color Loden.

CaysCrafts: Scrappy Steps Afghan

CaysCrafts: Scrappy Steps Afghan

Scrappy Steps Afghan

About a year and a half ago, one of my Wednesday crochet circle friends came to the meet up working on the Scrappy Steps Afghan.  I fell in love with the look of it, and boy-do I have scraps!  Well, with one thing and another on my plate, it took a long time for me to get to this project.  But it's now done and waiting to go to Project Linus.  You can find the pattern here.  It doesn't show very well in the pictures, but I did a border of several rows of ch 1, sc, ch 1 around in black.  Thinks it really sets off the bright colors of the afghan.  The finished size is approximately 40" x 40".

Thursday, February 16, 2012

CaysCrafts: On My Soap Box

CaysCrafts: On My Soap Box

On My Soap Box

Someone just posted on Facebook an article about how the Republican party is trying to rewrite history.  Well, this has got my panties in a bunch.  Not that I agree that it is OK to rewrite history, but they are not the first, and probably won't be the last.
When the Constitution was written, it was done by Anglo-Saxon males in a fight for independence from England.  But it did not include women, who were considered property at the time; slaves, also property; Native Americans, which we tried to wipe out completely about 100 years later. There were no Irish, Germans, Italians, Chinese or Jews among the founding fathers. These people all made their place in our history much later and at great sacrifice and suffering.
I think the most significant part of our history written for the benefit of the sitting government was our treatment of the Native Americans who were here long before any white men arrived on this continent.  Growing up, every book I read, every movie I saw depicted the Red Man as a savage and his only thought in life was kill and maim the settlers.  What a bunch of shit!  They were doing what we all want to do now.  Protect what we believe God has given us as our own country.  They were trying to protect their homes, their hunting grounds, the area where they gathered food, where they worshiped their Gods.  Not until I was an adult did I learn that the government tried to starve the Indians, broke every treaty they ever made with them, deliberately gave them blankets infected with smallpox to kill them because they weren't starving fast enough.The Army would make sneak attacks on villages, killing men, women, babies!  Custer was depicted as a hero, instead of the crazy s-o-b that he really was. They moved them from the areas they had always lived in to places where there was no hunting, no way to grow food and enslaved them to Indian agents who abused them by withholding supplies or provided supplies that were spoiled.  If that wasn't enough, then they marched them thousands of miles across the southern United States into the swamps of Florida where the bugs and mosquitoes gave them more diseases.  Then they changed their minds, and marched them back again to the deserts in the southwest portion of the country where there was absolutely no way for them take care of themselves.  The US government spent several years dedicating a unit of the army to track down and capture Geronimo, with his small band of Apaches because they refused to stay on the reservation and starve.
And less than 100 hundred years later, we were appalled that Hitler was trying to do the same things to the Jews in Europe!
Slavery was officially abolished with the Civil War, but this put thousands of Negros out of work, and the southern states were so decimated by the war the plantation owners could not afford to pay for the labor they had previously gotten for room and board.  There were abusive slave owners, but there were also kind men who took care of the people that they owned.  All slave owners were depicted as despicable characters in my history lessons.
I don't know enough of the facts, but the Chinese suffered as well under the hand of the government.  They were brought here by the thousands to work on the railroads, dams, etc.  But they were never allowed to be part of main stream society, they had to live in their own districts (China Town), and when their jobs were done, we tried to ship them back to China.
If all this isn't bad enough, we interred Japanese Americans in camps in our own country during World War II.  We took away their businesses and farms, ripped them out of their homes.  I sure didn't read about any of that in my history books growing up. I knew nothing of that until I was a mother and met a young woman not much older than myself who had lived in one of these camps.
The women who fought for the vote were shown as crazy ladies whose husbands didn't know how to control them, not the heroes who brought women's rights to the women of my generation.
This country is a melting pot from around the world and that brings good qualities and bad qualities from each nationality and religion that has found a home in America.  I embrace all the good things from my ancestors, both European and Native American, but I also don't want to ignore the atrocities that those people inflicted upon others.  To ignore history is to repeat it.  There is not much in our history that needs repeating.
Off my soap box now! and back to crocheting.