Thursday, December 31, 2009

Made It Through This Strange Year

Well, I can officially say in about an hour and 45 minutes that I made it through this strange year. In our 2009 Christmas formletter, I tried to put a positive spin on the year in that Rex and I (in this rough economy) still have our same jobs, and we've now been in our very long-awaited house for 2-1/2 years. But in many respects, I say good riddance to 2009 and pray that the coming clean slate will be a lot less stressful. The stress was in three main areas: 1) having lost two of our beloved dogs - Colby in March and the very unexpected and devastating loss of Heidi on Nov. 21st; 2) my job, and that's all I'll say about that for now, 3) my still-undecided church situation. Now, more than ever, I need to get that part of my life settled.

I thought in early November that after trying several churches and still feeling torn in different directions, that I would return to the small Lutheran church I'd attended for almost a year, joined in Feb. despite serious reservations about ELCA positions, but left in May. The congregation did vote to initiate the process to leave the ELCA, but this will require two more votes 90 days apart, the first being two Sundays from now. But the congregation remains divided, and with the other stresses in my life, I need a church with a peaceful atmosphere. I also need sound doctrine that follows God's Word, a sense of belonging and ministries I can get involved in, and preferably close enough to not inhibit the latter. The church where my heart is, is 14 miles away and in the opposite direction from everything else in my life -- Dianne, shopping, and towns where I would anticipate living in the future. I'm told there are some folks in the congregation in my area, so maybe there would be carpool opportunities. The pastor is wonderful and has always made time for me any time I've wanted to talk to him. There is one other church I'm considering that I've attended twice and liked very much, and is half the distance. I hope to have a clear idea of what to do once I attend Sunday school there for the first time this Sunday and finally meet with the pastor. Neither church is Lutheran (the further one is Presbyterian, the closer one is Methodist); I hoped to find an LCMS Lutheran church and have visited two, one 11 miles away, the other 18 miles away in that opposite direction and too far to consider. The other church is tiny and doesn't have a choir or enough ministry opportunities. Maybe I will join an LCMS church in the future, but for now, it seems I'll be changing denominations....

As far as the pet situation, I still miss Heidi every day and still can't believe I'm not getting to start the new year with her. But we've had little Susie over 3 weeks now and she's settled in well, and we've grown to love her. We hoped that she and the two big boys would be buddies, and I think Jesse was willing, but she growls at both of them when she sees them, and one evening Jesse took that the wrong way and started to go after her. So we're keeping them all separated for now. If I was Cesar Millan (the "Dog Whisperer"), I could resolve this. But I'm not, even though I watch his shows regularly and admire him greatly. Hopefully the "squirt" (she still seems so tiny compared to what we're used to) will get used to them and not feel inclined to growl. Other than that, she is such a sweetie. Below is the pic of her I'd found on I learned that despite her small size, she is actually 1/4 Great Pyrenees. But the other 3/4 is Border Collie, and that's the size she is. I did want to have a smaller dog I could walk much more easily; I just didn't expect this is how I would get one (adopting a dog advertised as part Great Pyrenees and finding she's 1/4th to 1/3rd the size of one!).

On the plus side, I got a lot of crochet projects completed in '09, including some baby items that I'm waiting to find just the right charity for, and several more Barbies including my first bride and her wedding party (pics will be posted on my upcoming crochet page 6 on sometime in 2010). My last project was a 2nd Barbie angel for Dianne that was part of her Christmas present (we had Christmas together last Sat. the 26th). I was a bit delayed completing the angel due to the bad cold I had earlier in Dec. and it just occurred to me I didn't have time to get her photographed before wrapping her. I'll have to remember to bring my camera next time I visit Dianne and get her photographed. I'm pretty sure Dianne is likewise saying good riddance to 2009. It was a stressful year for her as well -- losing her much-loved Josh in October (6 weeks before we lost Heidi), job stress, and both her parents ailing. I pray 2010 will also be much better for her.

I don't especially believe in making resolutions, but I need to start anew my decades-old quest to lose weight (before it affects my heart and it becomes too late), control my "comfort eating", and get on my stair stepper every day (especially this time of year when it's too dark out in the evening from Nov. to Feb. to walk from the dock to the park n'ride on weekdays and I have to get rides from Rex or my neighbor instead). I also need to make every effort to go to bed at a more reasonable hour on weekdays in order to get more sleep and be able to cope and concentrate better at work (and not be tempted to stay up all night on weekends - at least, not often). Well, the Mountain Time Zone will ring in 2010 in a few minutes and an hour thereafter, we will be next. It's already here for most of the world. January is my least favorite month (especially the first week with all the holidays over and the days are still too short to realize they are starting to get longer) but at least it's over with first as well as symbolizing the clean slate I very much need in many ways. God willing, I will have a very upbeat report to post a year from now. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Bittersweet December 9th

This has been far from the December 9th I would have anticipated a few weeks ago. Instead of celebrating my Heidi's milestone 12th birthday with her, I am instead observing the 18th day without her. I also have been sick with a very bad cold, cough and fever since last Saturday. I dragged myself into work Monday due to the enormous workload and urgent deadlines I still have despite the new assistants they hired. By the time I ended the chaotic workday, I also had nausea and a headache and, as discovered that evening, a 101 fever. It had only gone down to 100.5 the next morning, but even if it had not, I knew I would be in no shape to go into the office. I would need to use my final sick day of the year, most of the rest having been used by medical, dental and vet visits. I still was at 100.2 this morning and decided it would be premature to go in. Hopefully I can use one of my so-called vacation days to cover today.

I also felt it would be good to be here to welcome our tentative new family member. We decided to adopt Susie, a Great Pyrenees/Border Collie mix I'd found on in the Olympia area. Because Rex brought her home after dark, and because she is so timid (this having been what I believe is her fourth living environment in her short life, and the first of those having not been good), he is postponing the "meet and greet" with Archie and Jesse till tomorrow. We are praying the boys will be nice to her. She is a cute girl but is younger, smaller and much more timid than we anticipated. We were told she is friendly, affectionate, about two years old and 50 pounds. She is actually 15 months old (born Sept. 8, 2008), 43 lbs. (seems so tiny compared to the dogs we are used to having around) and spent the evening laying by the front door, only venturing to other parts of our home when led by us with a leash. She will spend the night with me in the bedroom while Rex stays in the great room with Archie (and Jesse stays in the utility room as usual), so hopefully that will go OK. I also hope the rest of the work week will go OK; I still have this stupid cough but can't take any more time off. I'd better end this for now and join little Susie in the bedroom. I know we will need to give her a little time to get used to us and to the new environment (and her two new would-be big "stepbrothers"); we should know before too long if it will work out. I understand her foster family would have kept her if we hadn't adopted her, so either way, she will have a home with someone who cares for her.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Heidi-Shaped Hole in my Heart

This is a post that I never imagined I would be writing at this time. What I did expect to write, on or about December 9th, is a post I had already decided to call, "A Milestone for Heidi". It would be written on my warm, wild, weird, woolly and wonderful Heidi's 12th birthday -- a milestone our former oldest giant dog, Tessa, fell 18 days short of reaching. It never entered my mind, with my frisky girl's only sign of old age being some stiff leg joints, that this is a milestone that God would likewise, inexplicibly, deny her as well, also 18 days short.

3 days ago, on Wed. the 18th, I'd left work early for a dental appointment and got home around 4:30. About an hour later, Heidi pawed at the pantry door -- her way of telling me she wanted some dog biscuits. I grabbed a few and put them by the dogs' bowls as usual. As Heidi went to retrieve one (she never did like to take one out of my hand), she slipped on the kitchen floor, as she did occasionally. But this time she couldn't stand back up. That had happened twice before, and we'd pushed her to the rug to get traction. But she still couldn't get back up. I was sure she would after a short while. When she still couldn't, I waited for Rex to get home and help her up, since I couldn't lift her. But she still couldn't keep her legs under her and would flop back down.

I began to panic, as this started to look like what happened when Colby's rear end had shut down 7 months earlier. I slept (or tried to) in my recliner the next two nights to be near her. She also had lost interest in eating or drinking water, and she was not peeing or pooping. Rex made an appointment with our vet for 2:30 yesterday, and I left work early to be with my girl in case this was as serious as it seemed. In the meantime, a coworker gave me hope that maybe it was just a bad case of arthritis and that a shot of cortisone could get her moving again. I then decided I would fight against Heidi getting that other kind of (final) shot unless our vet could confirm there was absolutely no hope. What he did say was he felt there was a small chance the pills could work, and I said I had to take that small chance. So we returned home with Heidi and the pills.

That night, she was her alert self and tried to fight Rex shoving the pills down her throat. She still was not eating, drinking, peeing or pooping. But she scooted on the rug to change her position till she was next to my recliner. She did a modified version of the usual swatting of my arm -- she slapped her paw on the rug to tell me she wanted to keep being petted. So of course, I did. I realize now that she was already fading and was using the strength she had left to say goodbye to her mommy and thank me for bringing her home and giving us one last night together. I didn't see it at the time; I still refused to believe she wouldn't recover. I also began squirting water or chicken broth in her mouth every couple hours with a turkey baster to get some liquid into her.

Today, she seemed to become less alert as the day wore on, and she mostly stayed in the same position. By the time Rex came home from work, she hardly fought him giving her the pills. Shortly after that, her breathing became labored for the next few hours, and stopped at about 9:45 p.m. I am writing this two hours later, and it doesn't seem real. We never saw this coming and I am left with a huge Heidi-shaped hole in my heart. After a rocky beginning when we adopted her in January '02 at age 4, she had become so very dear to me. I can't believe she won't be here to celebrate her 12th birthday, or even for Thanksgiving turkey. I am indeed thankful for 7 years, 10 months and 4 days with this wonderful girl and am thankful it happened at home with many hugs given throughout this sad day. Instead of a needle at the vet's office yesterday, we gambled that the pills would make her well and we lost. We only got to have an additional day and 7 hours with her. Mommy loves and misses you so very much, my "Swatgirl". I will love and miss you always.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Fond Farewell.....and Hello Again......

As has often been the case, I've been meaning to post this week, and it took something drastic to finally get me to do so. The fond farewell is for a tiny, special little fellow who, in a way, was my tiniest "nephew". Joshua Richard, age 10-1/2, the much-loved 4 lb. Chihuahua/Pomeranian cherished by my dearest friend Dianne, left this world at about 3:30 a.m. on Tues., Oct. 6, his wee heart losing the battle of its apparently congenital failure. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet that I will no longer, at least on this earth, be able to play fetch and tug-of-war with my little pal next time I visit Dianne's home. It never occurred to me, even though she'd had to start force-feeding him a few weeks ago following an emergency vet visit where his dormant condition was diagnosed, that my last visit a couple Saturdays ago was the last time I'd see the "pocket pooch". Since this is a loss for me as well, I can only imagine what my sweet friend is going through. I gave my Heidi extra hugs and kisses tonight from little Josh, and also cuddled a couple of our guinea pigs. Josh was such a lively, lovable fellow and I know we hoped and expected we would get to enjoy him for many more years (his dad Ricky lived to age 18; his mom Chica is 16 or 17). I'll never forget all the times I played fetch with him and how amazingly strong his little jaws were as he hung on to his toy while I pretended to struggle to claim it. I would have had to pull really hard, which of course I wouldn't. I wish I could be there to comfort Dianne, to do more than pray and ask those on my online lists to pray (though of course, that is important), instead of being tied to my crazy job where I'm pulled in so many different directions lately that it's hard to see straight. Dianne, not wanting to think about going home today to not be greeted by her "little man", mentioned the desire to go on a sleigh ride with me this December in Leavenworth (a Bavarian-themed village a few hours away), which sounds really good right about now. Chica's health is also failing and her dad is in frail condition, and all this is really wearing on her. She's having one of those months like I had in July 2004 when, all in the same month, our dog Tessa died, I got stitches in my wrist and a broken finger from an accidental bite from my dog Jesse, we learned my mother-in-law was terminally ill, and I was laid off (from a job I hated, but even so....). Things do get better, but it never feels that way at the time. ANYWAY....sleep tight, tiny angel boy -- and if there is a doggie heaven, your mom and auntie will again have a chance to play fetch and tug-of-war with you.........

One good thing that happened today, literally one of the most hectic days I've had at my hectic job, was when a few minutes before I went home, our two new office assistants (who have been doing a great job) surprised me with a Whitman's Sampler box of candy, a Thriftway gift card and a sweet thank-you card for my help in training them. Having gotten negative feedback not long ago from my bosses for what they perceive as not dealing with phone customers as I should and letting an occasional detail of literally hundreds a day fall through the cracks, I don't think these gals know how much their gesture means to me, to know someone there actually does value and appreciate me.

The "hello again" has to do with an unexpected decision I made regarding my church situation. I'd left a church I absolutely loved at the end of May due to disagreements with its governing body, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). Though my church was/is traditional as ELCA churches go and I doubt many members agree with the ELCA on many issues, I decided I could no longer in good conscience remain in an ELCA churches. During the next four months, I visited 6 churches, 3 of them non-ELCA Lutheran, as far as 18 miles away, anywhere from one to four times. The only church that attracted me as much as the one I left was PCUSA Presbyterian, which I would have as much difference with as I do with the ELCA, and it was twice the distance. So that wouldn't make much sense. A couple weeks ago, I thought I'd made the decision to commit to an LCMS Lutheran church 11 miles away, though it's small and has no choir. But the following Sunday, I began to doubt that decision too. I laid awake half that night and realized I'd never stopped thinking about the church I left and how many of the people felt like family. I also thought about seeing one of the members on the ferry the week before and learning about 60% of the congregation had voted in opposition to the recent ELCA rulings on certain issues, and that there would be another big vote later this month to determine whether our congregation would decide to initiate action to leave the ELCA. So I knew that my four-month search would lead me back to the place where I know I belong. I returned there this past Sunday and know it was the right decision. But it's sad to know that the next vote two Sundays from now will likely result in a split of our church. The other two ELCA churches in town are experiencing the same thing. So it could be that one of our churches could eventually become LCMS and many of us will end up there -- or many of us will start our own LCMS church. Whatever happens, it's encouraging to know that the majority of the people in this church that I love are of like mind on these issues, and whatever building we end up worshipping at in the coming months, we will be together. I will post here again following the crucial vote 11 days from now.

As for the wonderful world of crochet, I've been back to making Barbie gowns. I made a jewel-toned variegated blue/fuchsia/plum gown for my Asian Barbie, which turned out great, and then I started on a huge undertaking -- a Barbie wedding party. I've completed the gowns for the two bridesmaids (two different but harmonious styles in two-tone pink and rose) and flower girl (a 7-1/2" Stacie doll, also pink and rose) and have been working on the Ken doll groom. His pants, briefs and shirt are done and am now working on his jacket. Then it's on to the elaborate beaded Victorian bridal gown. I'm more than a little annoyed that I can't locate the accessories I bought awhile back for her gown - over 1,100 cream beads, cream satin lining, cream tulle for her veil, and several yards of lace. I went through my entire craft closet to no avail and am at a loss. If I have to repurchase that stuff, so be it, but I obviously would rather not, so hopefully it will turn up. I've also been working on charity baby items - a one-piece, two-tone baby bunting at the moment (Bernat Softee baby yarn; dark rose along with the variegated rose/green/yellow/white Summer Ombre I've used now for several items; such pretty yarn). As with all my other recent projects, pictures coming on the crochet section of in the not-too-distant future!

I just realized I didn't get around to posting here in September, my birth month. I'd planned a trip on Labor Day weekend to Bellingham and Whidbey Island, taking the side roads north rather than the highway and stopping in other towns along the way. I was really looking forward to it. Then with the rainy forecast, I reluctantly decided to skip the Bellingham part of the trip but still fully intended an overnighter to Whidbey Island. The morning of the trip, it was raining so hard that "Bianca" started hydroplaning on the highway a couple times, which was scary and not at all relaxing. I absolutely didn't want to cancel my abbreviated trip, but I didn't feel safe. So after driving 30 miles, I pulled off the highway, called the hotel and they were nice about letting me cancel with no penalty. I treated myself to a McDonald's breakfast, made stops at Joann's and Michael's where I picked up a few things, then went home and weeded through the clothes in my closet, which I did need to do. But I was really disappointed to not be taking my long-awaited mini-vacation, especially when the rain literally slowed down and then stopped after I cancelled the hotel -- figures!! As we Chicago Cubs fans have become all too used to saying, "Wait till next year............"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Long Hot Week, The Medium Hot Crochet Hook, and the Short Cool Piggie

It's been two weeks ago now, the last week of July 2009, that we here in western Washington who are so used to (spoiled by) beautiful moderate to cool summer weather the majority of the time survived the hottest week we have EVER experienced in this area. It got to 103 degrees one day in the towns where I live and work, as well as officially at Sea-Tac Airport (a couple degrees hotter in other towns), and in the high 90s on, I believe, 3 other days. As hard as that was to endure in our non-air conditioned home and offices (the new ceiling fan Rex had installed a few weeks before in the great room directly above my recliner was a blessing and a tremendous help), I was more concerned about our very furry dogs and guinea pigs, especially Heidi, being age 11-1/2. But it stayed pretty decent in our well insulated home, so we all made it through. I'm so glad we are back to our typical highs in the 60s and 70s. I had not experienced anything this hot since my fun but ill-timed visit to Vegas last Sept. and could NOT live anywhere where this hell on earth took place even occasionally, let alone regularly! I don't know how people do it, even if they have air conditioning. I had more of a scare with Heidi almost a week ago, in the evening. She slipped on the linoleum and couldn't regain her balance to get up and walk. I had to push her onto the carpet and was terrified her back end was shutting down, as happened with Colby and Farley shortly before they passed. But after a nap on the carpet, she was able to walk and it hasn't happened again, thank the Lord. Rex is giving her extra glucasomine for her joints in addition to what's in her food. I love my girl SO much and NEED to have her with me as long as God will allow us to have her.

I finally got something done this weekend that I've needed to get done for too long - got my latest crochet projects photographed with my very trusty Nikon L5 Coolpix camera and discovered I had enough to add TWO new crochet pages to So I'm very glad to announce that Crochet page 4 and Crochet page 5 are ready for your viewing pleasure, featuring my Barbie angels, larger dressed-up dollies and latest ghans including the semi-original Rose Pineapple! Having visited a church a week ago that MAY be the one I end up being a part of and having been anxious to visit there again today, I was disappointed when Rex told me this a.m. that "Bianca" has a flat tire and he wouldn't be able to tend to it till tomorrow. But in one way it was a blessing in disguise, since it gave me time to complete my new crochet pages!

The only other thing that's new lately (aside from more of a skeleton crew at work than ever the previous two workdays, with Chris and Stephen both out for a few days; they're interviewing new assistants but no one has been hired yet) is our newest guinea pig, Connor, who Rex found on Freecycle (where he's found most of our other piggies). So now we are back up to six piggies. He joined our household a couple weeks ago (I'll find and post the exact date to my furballs3 page soon) and has settled in well. He's a very cute (and friendly but very squirmy) albino with pink eyes and two-tone short beige and white fur and is about a year and a half old. We tried to pair him with Cinnamon, but Mr. Lone Wolf wasn't nice to him and seems to continue to want to be a solo act, and it was too crowded having him in the same cage with Harry and Joey. So he is in his own cage but doing fine and enjoying his daily veggies. We've lost four piggies in the past year and pray the six we have now stay happy and healthy for the foreseeable future! I really need to get photos of them on my furballs3 page but will need to do that on a weekend day when Rex is home so that he can hold them in place while I snap the pics. They're all a bit skiddish and we don't want them trying to scamper off and getting hurt. Well, I'll hit "publish" now and hope to have more definite news next time about church, relief at work, and vacation (leaning toward taking a brief auto trip here in beautiful western Washington and saving a longer trip for next year).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some Things Old, Some Things New, Some Things Up in the Air

Let's start with the new things. So far, there are two. Several weeks ago, the then-new Compaq laptop (my first new, not used or refurbished) I began using in June '07 when we moved into our LONG-awaited home, began acting quite sluggish, despite the relatively fast cable connection we've enjoyed since Sept. '07. I attributed this to needing more memory beyond the 512 MB it came with. But before I had a chance to buy and install additional memory, the toy began acting very strangely. It would stay on for awhile and then turn itself off. I thought, wow, it's REALLY low on memory. Staples happened to have a half-price sale on tech services, so I decided to take it there to be tuned up and get 2 GB memory installed. To my shock, apparently the free AVG anti-virus protection I'd trusted all along was free for a reason. Two viruses had gotten through and damaged my toy. It would have cost $369 to restore it. Rex and I decided that for not a lot more, we could get a nice new one -- and so we did. Staples didn't have the exact one we wanted at the price we could justify but Office Depot, across the road, did. It's a Toshiba Satellite with a whopping 3 GB memory. We've had it a few weeks now and enjoying it thoroughly. It's the first Toshiba we've had (all the others have been Compaq) but I'm sure it won't be the last. (And we have it protected with a heavy-duty trial version of Norton 360, which we'll buy when the trial period is over. I don't want to take any chances with this honey of a machine!)

The second new addition happened just today (or actually yesterday, since it's now after midnight). We're back up to six guinea pigs. I noticed Rex kept looking in the bottom cage where our darling Harry and Joey live (who I call the "glamour boys" since they are both so pretty with their long silky fur) and this concerned me. I kept asking, the boys are OK, aren't they? He assured me they were, and I peeked myself and saw nothing unusual. About 10:30 tonight, he placed a piggy in my lap. I looked at this furball, a shorthaired albino with beige and white fur, and said. "Who are you?" Rex said his name is Connor and he's a year and a half old. He is very sweet and docile; doesn't seem skiddish like our other piggies. I hadn't even noticed him in the cage with Harry and Joey; he was hiding in the igloo. (Rex had first tried putting him with Cinnamon, but Cinnamon wants to continue being Mr. Lone Wolf.) So far things are going fine with Harry and Joey, but we have another cage to put Connor in if it looks like that will work better. We'll see!

There are also, of course, new things that I've crocheted, but that goes without saying. I still have not gotten around to photographing the many new items that I need to photograph and place on a 4th crochet page on my site. I definitely need to do that very soon. Since I posted last, I've completed outfits for three of my four 16" to 18" girl dolls, and they all turned out beautiful, if I do say so. I'm anxious to get the pics taken and posted so others can see them. I then made a baby ghan (for a future gift or charity) using a color combo of Bernat Softee Baby that I fell in love with on my most recent weekend excursion with Dianne. The colors are soft red (more of a deep rose), fresh green (a bright apple green) and summer ombre, a variegated containing these colors as well as light yellow and white. I found it such a refreshing change from the usual pastel baby yarn. The pattern I used is "Gentle Ripple", a ripple variation using puff stitches and mesh rows, which is fun to make and pretty. I'll use this pattern again in the future for both baby and full-size ghans. I then had enough yarn left for a baby layette. I just made a V-stitch jacket and will make the hat and booties next. After that, I'll make a little outfit for my 20" baby boy doll in a light blue. Pics of all this WILL be coming in the near future!

There are also currently two things that are up in the air -- my church and my vacation. As I posted a month ago, I did make the VERY difficult decision to leave a church I loved due to what I realized were irreconcilable differences with its governing body -- something I wish I'd researched further before I got so involved and attached. The last service I attended there was May 31st, Pentecost Sunday. Since then, I've visited 4 churches. I've narrowed things down more and feel I'll know what I'm supposed to do about this situation in 2 or 3 more weeks. That's all I'll say about this for now till I make a decision as to where God would have me attend and serve Him.

I made another difficult decision -- to not visit Vancouver, BC over Labor Day weekend and my birthday, as I originally planned to do. The "enhanced driver's license" which is now required for entry into Canada turned out to be more of a hassle to obtain than I expected. I'm thinking about maybe taking the train to Portland again, even though I've been there, since I love going there and it's been four years. Or maybe I'll just do something local with Dianne. Again, we shall see!

The something old is a lot of things -- my job, which is a good thing even though we are more shorthanded than ever (with the two people who quit unexpectedly last month) and the place mentally exhausts me with all the constant changing gears all day, every day. They just placed an ad for another assistant to help with more of the mundane things I don't have time to do, and Elfi (who's supposed to be semi-retired) offered to train this person, which I was glad to hear, since I sure don't have time to train them! And the other old things remain my bod, my attitude, my insomnia and headaches, my lack of spiritual growth (the right church will hopefully help with that last one) -- all the things I constantly pray for help with and yet they never seem to change. I remain a disgusting 45-ish pounds overweight, I'm sitting here blogging after 1:00 a.m. on a weeknight when I have to get up for work in less than 6 hours, and I know doing these same things will net the same results, yet I keep doing them. Whoever may be reading this, please pray these things begin turning around. I get SO tired of waiting and sometimes I give up hope. I didn't want to end this post on a down note, and part of me DOES have hope that I won't always be a chubby, sluggish insomniac. But I NEED some divine intervention here and a giant kick-start, however that has to be accomplished. HELP, Lord.........

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rosie, Vacations, Ghans, Dolls, and Doctrine

I never intended to be over two months between posts again. I don't like waiting this long between posts since there is always the chance I'll forget something I intended to write about. Part of the reason is that, with my having recorded so many old 20s to 60s movies this year from Turner Classic Movies on my DVR and having to keep up on watching them so the DVR doesn't fill up - and the DVR being in one room while the computer's in the other - it limits my time on the computer. I often finally get around to checking my E-mail around midnight and by then (especially on weekdays) it's too late to do much else. Even that takes long enough that I inevitably get to bed too late, and then it's on to my job which continues to be mentally tiring with all the constant shifting gears all day, every day. They've started a summer schedule where one of us works an early shift once a week on a rotating day. My day this week is Friday. So I'll get home at 4, which will be nice, but I'll have to get up not much later than 5, YAWN. So I decided I'll finally do this long-overdue post, put away the laundry, and then off to bed...

It's a shame that it took the loss of yet another sweet pet, the third this year already, to finally push me to write this entry. A few days ago, Rex said, "I think we're losing Rosie" - Rosemary, our pretty black and orange Abyssinian guinea pig, who passed away sometime during our workday yesterday. Her cagemate, Meg, died in late January. Rosie had seemed fine but she suddenly stopped eating and drinking water a few days ago. Rex knew there was something wrong when she just let her broccoli sit; she used to devour it. As with our other piggies that passed, we don't know what happened. She was about 4-1/2. She was one of our most skiddish piggies, always scurrying away whenever we tried to pick her up, but also one of the prettiest and with one of the loudest squeaks. We will miss this sweet little girl, and are now down to 5 piggies. Thankfully, they all seem fine, but this type of thing seems to happen quickly and with no warning....

I've gotten together with Dianne a couple times since writing last. When we got together in April, and inevitably ended up in a quilting store since she is now a quilter in addition to being a crocheter, I ended up falling in love with a purse pattern that converts from a handbag to a backpack, and buying the pattern and 3 beautiful coordinating fabrics to make it. I still have a sewing machine but have not used it for many, many years, having chosen to be exclusively a crocheter for a very long time. So when I'll ever get around to actually making this dang purse is anybody's guess!

The last time Dianne and I got together, it was to go on our mini-vacation to the Long Beach peninsula from May 16-18. I took Friday the 15th as a day off work and went to her house late that afternoon; we spent the evening crocheting as usual and left at 8:30-ish that morning. I meant to write this a few weeks ago so that I could remember more details of what we did. But in general, though it's always fun to see new places, most of the Long Beach peninsula was somewhat disappointing for both of us. Long Beach itself was cute but touristy, the towns of Seaview and Ocean Park were nice but not much to do, Ilwaco had a pretty lake and park but not a lot else. A highlight was Oysterville, most of which is a historic landmark and consisting of original homes and a cute little old church, mostly built in the 1800s. The place in Seaview which Dianne had found online that we reserved to stay at, to say it was a disappointment would be a gross understatement. It turned out to be very rundown, so much so that I was grateful that Dianne had the courage to make a long list of the various things wrong with the room and present it to the owner, who consented to refunding us for the second night which freed us to find better accomodations. We spent our second evening at a Christian-owned resort, Sunset View in Ocean Park; the room was very pleasant and the grounds were beautiful. It helped to make up for the first evening in the dump.

We had originally planned to stay at a pretty place called Anchorage Cottages in Long Beach, but Dianne wanted to bring all three of her tiny dogs and Anchorage would only allow two of the dogs, despite their all being well-behaved, age 10 to 16, and tiny. We didn't want to leave Chica, age 16, behind. But in retrospect, we should have. The poor girl didn't travel well; she was very nervous and peed in her doggie stroller at least three times. It also got tricky to handle all three when we wanted to go into stores. But you know what they say about hindsight! The other mistake was not getting a room with a separate bedroom. Dianne and I have totally different body clocks; she's a morning person and I am NOT. So, being in the same room where it was well past her usual bedtime and nowhere near mine, we drove each other nuts. Again, hindsight!

On the final day of our excursion, a Monday, we stopped in Astoria, Oregon before heading back to Dianne's place, since we were already so close to there. I hadn't been there for years and all I can say is that I didn't feel it lived up to its billing as "little San Francisco" in the promo material we read! At least the weather stayed nice throughout our trip - till my 35-mile trip home from Dianne's house, when it rained the whole time. I also wished I'd taken the following day off work as well; I got home after 8 p.m. and it was hard getting back to the old grind!

On to crocheting - let's see, when I posted last, I was finishing up the light green and pink Irish Roses ghan. I finished that, then I made a popcorn ripple ghan in burgundy, cream and light green. Then, for a final ghan for my home (I already have too many, but....), I very much wanted a mostly cream ghan with big burgundy roses with green leaves. I tried a couple of patterns but didn't like either. What to do?? Well, having seen after all these decades that I CAN improvise without a pattern, as I did on that final Barbie angel, I thought, well, COULD I start with someone else's flower motif and make up a square from there? Well, why not? So, when I was at Dianne's back in April, I looked through her patterns. I settled on a Maggie Weldon flower, motif #2 in the book, "99 Crochet Motifs". I made the flower and the row of green leaves surrounding it. I looked at it and realized that for the huge square I wanted to make, it needed another row of leaves. So I made one up, consisting of double and triple cluster stitches. THEN I switched to cream and carefully proceeded to make a four-pineapple design on a double crochet background, using my knowledge of how pineapple patterns are constructed. I edged the square in sc in the same green as the leaves, and finally, added chain loops for a "join as you go" square. Ta daaaaa!! This ghan is now done and it is gorgeous!! Below is a pic of that first original square. I'm delayed in photographing my recent ghans and dolls due to my digital camera needing better rechargeable batteries which I'll buy soon; they barely stayed charged for this one pic!

I'm now working on outfits for my few 16" to 18" girl dolls. These are being made of worsted weight yarn so they are going much faster than the thread Barbie gowns. I'm 98% finished with a burgundy Victorian outfit (ran out of the Bernat Berella cream for her overskirt; ordered more this week) and well underway with a dark pink outfit.

The last part of the title of this post has to do with my dilemma regarding my church. As I've shared here, I've been attending a Lutheran church that I love since last July and joined the church in Feb., despite some lingering questions about certain doctrinal issues, since I love the services and the people. I won't go into the specifics here, but my church is ELCA which is the largest and most liberal variety of Lutheran. At the same time my church is very traditional with weekly communion and beautiful old music, yet with a warmth I haven't found elsewhere. (I've become so attracted now to this style of worship as opposed to "a sermon and a few praise jingles on a screen" found in most evangelical churches, and even some Lutheran churches for that matter.) So it has more of the feel of an LCMS church, the variety I feel more in tune with doctrinally. Yet, it's not. The latest struggle for me is learning that the famous abortionist who was recently killed was an usher in an ELCA church. Now, I definitely don't feel it was right that this man was murdered. But I also wonder, why would a church welcome as a member someone who's been instrumental in the destruction of thousands of babies AND have him serving as an usher?? So -- a couple of weeks ago, I visited an LCMS church that's only a few miles further away than my current church, and I did like it. But should I leave a church I love because of my differences with its governing body? OUCH. I just don't know. I may need to sit down and talk to the pastor at this other church; he's presently out of town. As with so many other areas of my life -- to be continued!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The "L" Words -- and the "K" Word

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. That means the season of Lent (my first "l" word) has now ended -- a season which my former Evangelical church paid almost no attention to. I love the fact that is not the case with liturgical (another "l" word) churches such as my small traditional Lutheran (another "l" word!) church. A few weeks ago I asked Pastor Liz (yes, another "l") if Lutherans are supposed to give up something for Lent. She said it was optional, but I thought it would be a good thing to give up some of the carbs (which I will not specifically name here, but God knows what they are) I crave the most. So I did that. Then I started getting a major craving for one of them last week. I looked online to try to determine what day Lent ended and the answer appeared to be Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. So at lunchtime, I gave in to buying my #1 craved carb (which didn't even taste all that irresistible to me - so I've again abstained since then). I hope I didn't err by breaking my Lent fast from this item too soon (even though it's not mandatory in my church) since I subsequently heard Lent didn't officially end till Easter. But it's one of the many things I can't undo!

We had a somber but very nice Good Friday service in which the youth read the Scriptures, and Rex entered the sanctuary a few minutes late, so he stayed in the back row so as not to be disruptive (I was already there since our choir sang at the end -- the beautiful "Tis Midnight and on Olive's Brow"). He didn't say a thing afterwards about the service. It's still too different for him compared to Evangelical services. I was hoping he would come with me for Easter but I felt he wouldn't, and I was right. Hopefully one day. We had a really beautiful and upbeat Easter service preceded by a yummy Easter potluck, for which I made a sausage, mushroom, egg andcheese casserole (all of which got eaten).

Another "l" word is Long Beach -- as in the scenic area on the Washington coast where Dianne and I hoped to stay for two days last year before things got too precarious with her parents' health. She kept going back and forth as to whether we should shoot for mid-May this year or wait till Sept. I kept hoping for a decision on her part, since the "Knit and Crochet Show" in Portland is the same weekend and there were a couple of classes there I was interested in taking. She was not interested in going, but I took a solo vaca to Portland in '05 and had a great time. I would have done that again this year, and thought I would when the cottage we hoped to reserve said they changed their rule regarding dogs and would only let us bring two of her three toy dogs. She would have had to leave Chica behind with Lisa, and I am very fond of Chica. I told Dianne, let's wait till Sept. to go away together, which would give us time to research somewhere else to go. But she was determined we would go to Long Beach in May and found 2 other places online. The first, uh, let's just say they don't cater to conservative Christians like us! But the other place sounded nice and did not list a limit on number of dogs one could bring. I called them and we ended up with a similar cottage to the other place at a lower price, and can bring all three dogs. So no Portland trip this year, but that also means I may look into a solo trip for a few days to Vancouver, BC for my birthday in Sept. (No more 105 in the shade destinations like Vegas last year!)

Another "l" word that's been on my mind is "life expectancy" (OK. that's two words) as in dogs. After Colby passed, I Googled "life expectancy Samoyed" and most of the sources said it's 12 to 15 years. We never knew Colby's birthdate since he was a stray, but his age was estimated at 4 when we adopted him and we had him just over 7 years. So that means he was a bit under the average life expectancy. I don't know if there's a lot we could have done about that. He stopped wanting to go on walks a couple years ago, which he needed to do since he was so overweight. So that could have affected his back end going lame like it did at the end. We gave him a good home and I trust he was happy with us, and aside from getting yappy most every night, he was a good dog. I then looked up life expectancy for Great Pyrenees. Most sources said 11 to 12, with a few going a bit above that. Rex and I feel our precious Heidi, who is now 11 years and 4 months, will beat those odds. She is trim, frisky and healthy, with no problems following the removal of that awful-looking benign cyst last fall. She is also my most special baby girl and I NEED to have her with me as long as possible.

Yet another "l" word is "lazy", which I have been in the whole area of exercising. I've finally been walking to the dock from the park n'ride and back each workday, with the weather finally cooperating. But I need to do more than that. I need to either take long walks or get on my stepper on the weekends, and I haven't done that for a long time. Today I decided I would "splurge" and spend the $5 to park in the lot at the ferry dock. I parked in the "back forty" since those machines accept cash payments, and rationalized that at least this way, I'd still get in over 20% of the full walk to the park n'ride. I didn't get to sleep late Saturday (the reason has to do with the "k" word, explained below) and also had to get up early (for nightowl me) Sunday to get the breakfast casserole in the oven and be at church for breakfast at 8:30. So I figured this would make an easier start to my work week. But at $5 a day, and with the lack of exercise that results, this is a "splurge" I won't often be allowing myself, though it continues to be SO frustrating that the evening walk (slightly uphill and with my being tired after a full day at work) exhausts me so. It wouldn't if I could ever lose this 6 gallons of milk I continue to carry around (one gallon weighing about 8 pounds). But my eating level remains such that the weight doesn't budge despite the 15-ish extra miles of weekly walking....

Now for the "K" word -- that other (and inexplicably more popular) yarn craft, the one I tried on my own to learn a few times over the years, mainly to see what the fuss was about, but also because I've often thought it would be nice to just know the basics and maybe even change off occasionally. In unsuccessfully trying to learn a few times in the past, it often occurred to me that it would be so much more of a hassle to try to coordinate two to four needles than just one hook. But yet, so many women swear by this other craft, and yarn stores cater to those who do it and barely acknowledge us crocheters. So I've often thought, I should have someone try to give me a private lesson, since I've been unable to learn from any videos or books, just to see, once and for all, if this is something I can do and want to do, or if I should officially just forget it! I was supposed to have a lesson with Beverly from my South Sound yarn and fiber group last year, but that didn't happen. Last month, I went to the first evening "K***-in" at the new yarn shop in my town, and virtually everyone was doing the "K" craft while I crocheted my Irish Roses afghan. After that, I said, OK, I'm going to have this lesson. That's the only way I will resolve this in my mind. After all, thousands of women do it and love it, so how hard could it be? I went to the shop two weekends ago and scheduled the lesson for 1:00 p.m. this past Sat., the 11th. They recommended I learn the Continental method which, as both a left-hander and experienced crocheter, they claimed would be easiest for me to learn. Then, assuming I would finally learn the basics, I spent a good amount of time at finding several cute dishcloths I expected to soon be able to make.

The teacher called the evening before and asked if I could come at 10:00 a.m. instead of 1:00 p.m. which I agreed to even though it meant I wouldn't be able to lounge in bed half the morning. I won't go into all the gory details of how I couldn't even hold the needles the right way let alone figure out how to pick the yarn the right way and feed it through the other needle and off the first one to make an actual stitch. We didn't even get to the purl stitch, which she said was more complicated. I could see the writing on the wall after just a few minutes of this lunacy. (When something is just not happening, why force the issue?) After numerous tries, during which I made an actual stitch a few times just by accident but was not enjoying myself in the least and kept asking myself what I was doing here, the teacher said it appeared I was throwing the yarn (which is supposed to be the right hander's preferred method) rather than picking, and maybe I should take a lesson in English style rather than Continental. I told her I would think about it and that I would practice some more, while thinking to myself, "Noooooooo!" and being excited to now officially confirm what I suspected all these years:

I will never be a knitter. I don't WANT to be a knitter. I am SO absolutely fine with not being a knitter!!! I am a devoted, passionate, addicted CROCHETER -- and after trying in vain to be something I'm not, I love my beautiful craft even more than ever. I am more mystified than ever why yarn shops cater to knitters and treat people like me like the stepchildren of the craft world. I don't understand why so many women choose to k*** when they can CROCHET. I can crochet anything they can k*** and it will be prettier! I'd better stop ranting here lest I offend anyone; I honestly do admire people who can k*** beautifully and respect the love they have for their craft. But I am relieved that I don't have to waste any more time wondering if I can or would ever want to do it, and don't have to spend more money I can't afford on needles and k*** patterns. CROCHET RULES!!!! And I will continue to talk it up when I go to that yarn store and hope my craft, and those of us who love it, will begin to get the respect and attention we deserve.

I have not entirely ruled out the possibility of taking a private lesson in loom (another "l" word!) knitting, which supposedly can be learned by those of us who can't master fumbling with two or more needles. I wasn't able to learn that from a book either and don't know anyone who teaches it locally, but I found a gal online 2 hours from me who does, which would be a nice little overnight trip. I also am still interested in seeing if I can learn Tunisian crochet, which does look like knitting but uses just one hook.

As for my crochet projects, I mentioned the Irish Roses ghan. I'm now working steadily to finish it after just bringing sections of it on my commute while concentrating on the Barbie angels at home. I finished my fifth and final angel last week (well, 7 if you count the two I made for Dianne and for Val). I think she turned out best of all even though I improvised a bit. I wanted a fifth angel since that was the amount of room on top of our tv cabinet where they are displayed, but didn't like the stitch of the fifth pattern in the booklet. I tried two other patterns but didn't like either and ripped both out. I finally went with the Silhouette Dress, one of four Barbie dresses I used to sell at craft fairs, making the straight part of her skirt a few rows longer. Her wings and halo I made up as I went along, using the same stitch from the dress but the shape and size of the wings and haloes in the booklet. I used straw (light gold) #10 Opera thread and she's beautiful! I hope to take pics of all of them soon for my upcoming crochet page 4 on my site. Well, my lunch hour at work is long gone, so back to work....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

And Then There Were Three.....

When I posted only 12 days ago about our Samoyed, Colby, showing signs of aging, I had no idea the end was so near. I guess we had a little more warning than with Farley, whose lame back end came with hardly any warning. But still, you think, he's just getting older. He'll be able to hang in there for some time. We don't mind having to lift up his back legs to get him up the steps; he's a trooper and he'll be fine otherwise. Then a couple evenings ago when we grilled burgers, he didn't touch his half a burger all the dogs get, so we thought, that's not a good sign. Then last evening after work, I wasn't able to pull him up out of the indentation in the ground he'd been laying in outside all day. Still, I figured, OK, when Rex gets here, he'll pull him out, he'll be OK. Rex got home and barely dragged Colby into the bedroom - where he remained, no longer able to move his back end and apparently with no desire to ingest anything except water. Rex has seen this type of thing with dogs at the kennel before and knew Colby was beyond a trip to the vet, except for that one final dreaded trip. WIth our regular vet not working weekends, he brought Colby to a vet his employer deals with for that final trip and is outside building a coffin as I write this. I went to the ladies' spring luncheon at church this afternoon where I tried unsuccessfully to hold it together. What a cruddy first weekend of spring this has turned out to be.

There's more about Colby and our life with him in the furballs section of Unlike when we lost Gus, then Farley, then Tessa, we will not be looking for a fourth dog. A new girl dog could upset Heidi, who remains my most special baby at age 11 (but is thankfully doing great) -- and Archie and Jesse already don't get along indoors without trying to introduce another boy dog. But now we hope to be able to let Jesse sleep in our bedroom with us at night instead of his being cooped up in the utility room so much (he didn't get along with Colby either - and Colby needed to be in the bedroom with us due to his separation anxiety). So that will be a good thing for Jesse, and also for us to spend more time with Jesse. RIP, sweet Colby. You were a blessing to us since we adopted you as a 4-year-old on Feb. 26, 2002 (and especially to Heidi who you helped change from a "wild thing" to a calm and affectionate "furry daughter"). Love and kisses, your "mom"

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Winter That Never Ends

Well, I didn't intend to let several weeks go by again without posting here. I also would not have expected that when I finally posted again on March 9th, the hard winter we've gone through this season would still be continuing. Like Rex has often said, "I left Chicago to get away from this stuff!" The snow that fell Saturday night and again today didn't stick, but the fact that it did even snow (and came down hard for awhile there) and the lows are still in the low 20s, with spring only 12 days away on the calendar, has not been expected or welcomed, and has made this feel like the winter that never ends. We went to Daylight Savings Time yesterday, so I should be walking now in the evenings from the dock to the park n'ride, which I haven't been able to do since late Oct. due to the darkness, as well as walking from there to the dock in the mornings. But it's just been too darn cooooold! I imagine there will come a day this summer when it will get up around 90 (which thankfully is rare but does happen), and 20's with even a little snow will sound refreshing. But I am far from that point. I want SPRING!! At least we don't live in Snohomish County up north, where they got a few inches of the white stuff. And I do like that's it's light out now till after 7:00.

Several things have happened since I posted last. We received word that Rex's dear sister Val's husband Joe passed away on Jan. 28th at age 71. It wasn't a total shock, since we knew Joe had been battling cancer for several years. But I felt so badly for Val, who survived a heart attack last year, and who we couldn't afford to travel 2,000 miles to KY to be with her. I E-mailed her and told her I wanted to make her a Barbie angel and to please let me know what color hair and dress she'd like. At that time I'd made two angels for myself and a third that I'd decided to give Dianne for her birthday in Feb. Val said she would like a blonde with a blue dress. I'll eventually get pictures of all the Barbie angels placed on crochet page #4 on my site. But I'll go ahead and post Val and Dianne's angels here:

This is Val's angel. I was really pleased with how she turned out. Rex and I never knew Joe very well; he always kept to himself, really quite opposite of her. But they were married for a lot of years, so I know they had a great marriage.

The day after Joe died, we lost another of our sweet little guinea pigs, Meg. She was the one that, based on what I read online about agoutis (which was actually what she was; a South American relative of a guinea pig), I thought would outlive all the others. They are supposed to be much longer-lived than guinea pigs, but (if the age we were told when we adopted her was accurate), she was only 4. As with the other piggies we've lost suddenly in the past year, we don't know what went wrong. She was quite inactive compared to the other piggies, but we attributed that to her having a calmer nature and not to anything being wrong. So now we are down to six piggies, which thankfully all seem fine, including Meg's cagemate Rosie. I once again regret still not having gotten around to taking pictures of the piggies, even though I will never forget how each of them looked and acted, so I could share them on my "furballs 3" page on my site. I definitely need to do that before we lose any more.

Three of our four precious dogs are also fine. However, our Colby is beginning to show signs of aging. We know he is at least 11, since his estimated age was 4 when we adopted him 7 years ago (2/26/02) as a stray, and we also know he is very overweight. Lately, he has experienced stiffness in his back legs and sometimes gets stuck when trying to climb back up the three front steps to come back inside. We have to get behind him and lift his back legs slightly so that he can get up the steps. He also sometimes whimpers, which he didn't use to do, and we hope he's not in pain. We pray he doesn't wind up like Farley, who lost total usage of his back end when he was not yet 11 and we had to have him put to sleep. We're not ready to say goodbye to Colby yet.

Dianne and I had a great day together on Sat., Feb. 14th for her birthday. She wanted to go to Vashon Island, which she had never been to, but which I've seen 5 days a week since May '06 since, of course, I work there. But I figured it would be fun to go on a weekend and know I didn't have to rush back to the office, and it was. I told Dianne her timing was amazing, since the quilting store in town had just expanded and moved to the main business strip, and she has gotten into quilting the past couple years. So of course, we spent some time in that store and others, had a nice meal at the Green Ginger (my favorite restaurant on the island), and did some lovely sightseeing at Point Robinson lighthouse and Gold Beach. There is still much of the island we didn't get to see, so we will go back another time. Afterwards we went back to her home and crocheted, and she opened her presents from me which included a beautiful beaded evening bag I found on eBay (which she used for her birthday dinner with her family the next day) and the Barbie angel pictured below.

I now have also completed three angels for myself and started the fourth and what may be the final one. I have several other lovely Barbies to crochet for but will move on to other types of fancy outfits for them, including the bride I hope to complete later this year. I also want to crochet clothes for my 4 16 to 18" girl dolls and my newborn-size baby boy doll. I just acquired the 4th 18" girl doll; I found an imitation American Girl doll on eBay for a great price and she arrived today. She has red hair and is very pretty. I may take a break from the Barbies and create an outfit for her next.

In a long line of firsts at my new church (which I officially joined on Feb. 1st), I experienced my first Lenten service last Wednesday, and my first Ash Wednesday service the week before. I love going to a church where we observe Ash Wednesday, Lent and Advent. I continue to marvel at how beautiful and meaningful the Lutheran services are and how much they minister to me. I just wish Rex felt the same. It's still all a bit too different for him. I just donated 7 scarves and 4 hats to my church; the proceeds for the sales of any of them will go to the Relay for Life cause (cancer prevention). I will be walking in the wee small hours in this relay with a team from church. More on that when the time comes! Dianne and I are also supposed to be going on the trip to Long Beach, WA that we had to postpone last year, in mid-May, at which time I expect to be at my job three years. Hard to believe, after all those years of temp jobs, wrong jobs and layoffs. This job has been very stressful at times, but I like most of what I do there and it pays the bills (and it beats having to get up at 5:45 or earlier which I had to do for years - though I may still eventually need to do that again one day - but it's been nice to have a break from that schedule, especially with my insomnia getting worse in recent years. Speaking of which, it's 1:00 and I need to at least try to get some sleep now....).