Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Dog Next Door

Dear Mom,
This is Brewster. 

He is the 106-pound Great Pyrenees/Australian Shepherd dog who lives next door. Brewster is probably the closest I will ever come to having my own dog.  Brewster and his dog-sister Shasta were adopted from the Indy Great Pyrenees Rescue.  The Great Pyrenees breed is often used to guard livestock, especially sheep.  Although separated by a fence, I have observed Brewster patiently watching over my chickens.  He is especially good at scanning the skies for any flying object that could be a threat to our society. 

Last week, a hawk stopped by my back yard, and I don't think it came for a friendly visit.  I have been completely nervous about letting the girls out for their evening stroll ever since.  Over the weekend, I invited Brewster over to my yard to help protect us from the evil hawk.  He arrived on his leash, ready to work.  Marge, Golda and Gloria clucked and scolded him, but otherwise went about their business of scratching and digging.   Brewster enjoyed patroling the yard and keeping an eye on other important issues.  It turned out to be a pleasant experience.

Why would I need my own dog when I've got Brewster next door?!

Love, Bonnie Jo

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Dear Mom,
I don't know what happened, but the week went by in a blur. I want to blame it on the hour that is being used up taking the Young Man to golf practice after school every day and then even more picking him up if My Hero is not available to do it. I can also blame it on Patsy. The time it takes to wear her out so that I can get something done is wearing me out and it feels like Nothing is getting Done. The rainy days last week were awful. I despair of my floors ever being clean again. Add in a 6th grade production of Alice in Wonderland, hair appointments ( the Young Lady wanted her hair styled for her convincing portrayal of a Daisy- even though most of her head was covered by her costume), and a 7th grade scheduling meeting, and there goes the week. No one went hungry or without clean clothes, so I'll add that to the WIN column. I'll take the little victories where I can find them.
And while I am thinking about the 7th grade meeting. I must say that it felt Good to be a veteran mom, having survived Middle School once already. The Usual Suspects asked the questions I knew they would ask. Questions that were scarcely veiled attempts at letting everyone in attendance know that they were The Best Moms with The Smartest Kids. There were also the questions from Nervous Moms, doubting the safety of their soon to be 7th graders in school with- gasp!- 8th graders! I caught one veteran Mom shaking her head and sadly muttering "ohhhh, honey" under her breath. A new experience in this meeting was an Angry Mom. Her questions were LOUD and belligerent. I give credit to the principals and counselors who calmly answered her questions and did their best to diffuse the ticking time bomb. Parent watching during Angry Mom's questions was entertaining. Heads whipped around and eyes popped. After making discreet inquiries about the identity of the Angry Mom, I found out that she has recently lost a staggering amount of weight. I think she probably needs a cookie.
The week was not without it's accomplishments. I finished the next sock ( is it #12? I am losing track) and this week's sock is well underway.

I spun and plied some yarn, which is drying as I write this post and is such a bright lime green that I am unable to get a decent picture to show you. I'll keep trying.

And last night, on the heels of the 6th grade production, the kids and I went to see Alice in Wonderland at the movie theater. It is a rare thing lately, to find a movie that both kids want to see. As it should be, with a 16yo boy and a 12yo girl. Were this not the case, I would surely be worried about one of them.
Anyway, despite my love for Johnny Depp, this was not a movie that I wanted to see. The trailers for the movie looked too frenetic. Too weird. I decided that I would take some  knitting with me to the show, just in case.

I have a car project, started several years ago, to occupy myself during piano lessons, car pool lines, etc. It is something that requires no thought, can be on the needles a long time, and something I can leave in the car. It is your basic "Wash Rag" blanket, and I am using up all those tiny balls of leftover sock yarn. It won't be pretty, and it may not be blanket size for a decade, but it is satisfying many needs. Anyway, it was this project I stuffed into my jacket pocket and took with me into the theater. I knit through the entire movie, and made only one tiny error, which I will easily be able to drop back and fix.

And even though I knit my way through Wonderland, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. We all did. It was not at all what I expected. I was completely caught up and unable to separate the fantasy of computer animation ( or whatever it was) from the 'real' bits. Very clever, creative, imaginative. I am glad we went to see it.

Today it is supposed to be warm. The sun is shining. I think I'll pick up some pansies to plant and admire their happy faces.


Monday, March 22, 2010


Dear Mom,
I haven't really gone Missing In Action.
I have a new job!  A second job!  A second job that I wasn't too sure about but that I now LOVE!!!
I have been working over 40 hours each week between my two jobs.
And still a wife.
A mom.
A friend.

I am gently easing into this new chapter of my life.  But I have been baking---birthday cakes mostly!  My oldest and my youngest celebrated a new year. 
I am going to start the cookie of the week month again soon!
I'm not really MIA.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sock of the week and a tired dog

Dear Mom,
A few days late, but the sock of the week, #11, was finished last night while watching New Moon with The Young Lady.
I started sock #12, and if I don't allow myself to be distracted by other knitting or spinning, I should be able to finish it by Wednesday and be back on my self-imposed schedule.

On Friday afternoon, Bumper, Patsy and I met CarolWhoseHouseGotStruckbyLightning and her dog Fergus for a play date.

The goal was to wear this one out.

It worked. A few hours later, this is how I found Patsy asleep on the couch.

You will notice that the couch is now covered in a quilt. I have given up trying to keep it free of dog hair and now have a variety of quilts that I can swap out and are much easier to wash. Before you hyper-ventilate, these are store bought quilts. Not hand pieced and quilted. 

It didn't take long for her to fully recharge.

p.s. We used Golda's Enormous Egg in our waffle mix this morning.

No Golden nugget.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oof! She did it again

Dear Mom,
This afternoon, Bonnie Jo and I met in the library parking lot to Accomplish a Mission. As we have been trained to do, multiple tasks were accomplished in addition to the main mission. We each had things that needed exchanging.

Bonnie Jo brought me a fresh egg sampler, and the second of Golda's Giant Eggs.
I brought Bonnie a special chicken measuring tape so she can start recording the size of Golda's eggs.
I thought it was the cutest tape measure, with an egg at the end.

I also hunted down the book we three all read at sometime. I know this because we have all written our names on the cover. Wendy had to double claim the book as her own by adding her name and the words "if lost, Please Return of call ###-####" on an inside page to which my Young Lady added the same words but our current phone number. I don't think The Young Lady ever finished reading  it though, because there is a bookmark in it on page156.
I wanted Bonnie Jo to see this artifact from the 1970's.

It is in pretty good shape for a book that may be 40 years old and cost 50 cents. The cover has been taped on, and the yellowed, dried up tape has been reinforced by packaging tape, but all the pages are intact.

I hope I don't find a dinosaur inside this egg, like the boy in the story. I am hoping for a gold nugget like the Million Dollar Duck's.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Hand Spun Yarn Knitted Shawl thing

Dear Mom,
After blocking the living daylights out of the Boneyard Shawl, I can show you the results.

I think I love it! And I am pretty excited that that is my hand spun yarn. Remember that scene in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer when he flies because Clarise told him she thought he was cute and he shouted in his stuffed nose voice, "I'm cute, I'm cute, she thinks I'm cute!" ? ( or I'b cyoood, I'b cyood, she thinks I'b cyood!") Well, that is how I felt when I released the shawl from the blocking wires. I wanted to dance through the house with the shawl around my shoulders saying "It's good, it's good, it's really good!" I didn't though. Patsy would have thought it a great game and grabbed the shawl off my shoulders to play tug.

Blocking something like this can dramatically change the way it looks. I should have taken a 'before blocking' photo, because I believe the shawl was about half this size when it came off the needles. After thoroughly wetting it, I stretched the shawl out and pinned it to the floor in the guest room.

This is not difficult. It just takes a bit of time. The hardest part of this process was keeping Patsy off of it while I was trying to pin it down.

For thirty years I have used these pins to block my knitting.
They were given to me by one of the ladies I worked with at The Carmel Apple when I was in High School. I learned a lot about a lot of different kinds of needlework on my Saturdays working there. I also learned how NOT to treat sales people.

There are blocking wires out there made specifically for blocking knitting projects. They significantly reduce the amount of pins needed, especially if it is lace knitting. I could never convince myself to buy them because they are a little pricey and I would rather spend my yarn money on yarn. A few summers ago I was participating in a Mystery Lace Shawl knit-a-long and read about an alternative to the costly blocking wires.
The answer? Stainless Steel Tig wires from the welding supply. Well! I knew right where the welding supply place was and drove straight there. Yes, I was a fish out of water, but I didn't care. I knew I was gonna give those welding guys something to laugh about when I left, but as long as I left with the goods, I was fine with that. After giving a brief explanation to the guy, he showed me what I was asking for and it that was what I really wanted. YEP. They would work. I took a bit of sand paper to the tips just to rid them of any tiny barbs and for a fraction of the cost, I have blocking wires.
They make it easier to pull and stretch large pieces of knitting, and to hold edges straight while it dries. I still use the pins to hold the wires in place, but the process and results are faster when I use the wires too.

As much as I love this shawl, I hope it will be many months before I wear it. I want to think that the weather will stay warm and that the murmurs I am hearing about snow on Monday are wrong.
I am also thinking that this won't be my last hand spun shawl.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Golda's Giant Egg Part II

Dear Mom,
I was a little bit disappointed to see that Golda's egg did not contain a double yolk, although it was so large it nearly filled an 8-inch pan!

I had a fabulous egg sandwich for breakfast this morning!

Thanks for breakfast, Golda!

Love, Bonnie Jo

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Golda's Giant Egg Part I

Dear Mom,
I don't know whether to say "Holy Cow!" or "Holy Chicken!"  Look at this HUGE egg!

Golda hasn't laid an egg for two days.  This one looks like two eggs put together!  Stay tuned to see what's inside.  I will probably crack it open tomorrow.  Maybe its a double-yolker (twins)!!

Love, Bonnie Jo


Dear Mom,
I think the weekend was so uneventful that I barely remember any of it. I spent the cold rainy days getting mostly caught up on laundry, listening to some good books, and knitting. I did not knit one stitch on the next sock, nor did I work on The Green Sweater. Instead I got the fever to start a shawl with some of my first handspun, and nearly have it finished.
I am using the Boneyard Shawl pattern, #10 needles, and I have no idea what my gauge is. The beauty of this sort of shawl pattern is that gauge really does not matter. The shawl starts at the neck edge, center back and works out. You stop when you are ready to stop, or when you run out of yarn. It is perfect for using up yarn- on this one I'll knit until I am almost out of yarn, do some garter stitch at the lower edge and bind off. I should be able to get this off the needles today and block it. I'll have Elle model the shawl once it has finished blocking.

And, except for weaving in the yarn ends, the scarf I knit for the Superbowl 2012 Project is finished.

I really, really, really  like this scarf. The pattern is simple but interesting and addicting. Adapting this pattern, which was written for fingering weight yarn and using Cascade 220 was easy enough.  I got the book  I ordered, The Fine Line by Grace Anna Farrow, who designed this scarf, and I feel a shawl frenzy coming on. Which probably explains why I needed to knit that Boneyard Shawl.
Busy afternoon- The Young Man has golf team tryouts and The Young Lady, inspired by the Olympics, is starting ice skating lessons. Before you make the leap to double toe loops, stop.  She wants to be a speed skater. ( I think my admiration for Apolo Ohno has rubbed off.) The thing is, I think she could do it if she really wants to. I'll let you know....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Sweet Life

Dear Mom,
With two beekeeping seminars behind me and still a lot to learn, I've decided to just do it--beekeeping!  I ordered my bees from Wildflower Ridge Honey Farm in Anderson last week.  I will pick them up there on April 24. 
Photo of an Italian honeybee from Wikipedia

"How will I get them home?", you ask.  Um, I'm not quite sure how that part works yet.  But I can tell you that the bee colony is in California right now, pollinating the almond trees there.  When they come back to Wildflower Ridge Honey Farm, the colony will be split.  A new Italian queen will be added to the split, and the bee colony will become Italian!  Volare!  

The Italians (bees, that is) are less defensive, very clean, and make good honey supplies.  Michelle from Ohio, whom I met at one of the seminars said, "Italians are lovers, not fighters!" 

Here is a sneak peek at the "Bee-Ginner's" kit I am ordering.  The hive is an English garden style from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, Inc.

La dolce vita!

Love, Bonnie Jo

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Loved and Remembered

Dear Mom,
Meg was the sweetest little chicken!
  She was a friend to Darwin the orphan duckling...
...and she helped him learn how to fly!
She was the flock leader when the new kids came along...
...and she was still the flock leader after they grew three times her size!
She was a beautiful Belgian Bearded D'Uccle hen.
And she was loved.

Meg will be dearly missed.
Love, Bonnie Jo

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Dear Mom,
It is warm and breezy and sunshiny enough that I pegged some socks out on the clothesline to dry.

Can you spot sock #10?

 It's the one with the needles still in it, waiting to have the toes kitchener stitched together.

Vesper Sock yarn "Candy Swirl"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Clicker

Dear Mom,
I am happy to report that the new puppy class went well for Patsy. As I suspected, she is a playful girl who is eager to please. She is also growing fast, and we need to get a handle on some bad habits before it is too late.
Here you see Patsy, with her lunch box full of dog treats, ready to go to class.
The Young Lady and I found this mini lunch box at CVS in the post Valentine's Day clearance. It was filled with heart shaped dog treats. We decided that every girl needs a cute lunch box for school.

This class uses a "clicker" as a training tool. Based on Pavlov's dog, Patsy gets a treat every time she hears the clicker. Good behavior? Click, then treat. In theory, eventually the clicker will be enough.

This is the harmless clicker. For Patsy, this is a good thing. One click and I have that dog's undivided attention.
Unfortunately, this thing has struck Bumper with unprecedented fear. As I post this, he is hiding out upstairs in our bedroom. I found him trembling in the back yard yesterday. We have tried desensitizing him to the clicker by bribing him with really good treats every time we clicked. We even used STRING CHEESE. Still, the dog hides.  So as I get Patsy sorted out, I may be needing to find a therapist for Bumper.

With the warmer temps and sunshine, I was able to prop the back door open, giving the dogs access to the screened porch and doggie door. Yippee! They both spent most of the day outside. Hurray!! It was very good. It wasn't until later in the afternoon that Bumper's clicker issue became obvious.  Until then the napping in the sunshine (Bumper) and running hard in wild circles and chewing on sticks (Patsydoodles) made this Mom very content. And hopeful.

On the knitting front, sock #10 is more than halfway done, and the green sweater has about 4 inches. I thought I would be farther along with Green, especially since it is knitting in the round and I can go pretty fast when I get in the zone, but I guess all that fresh air yesterday wore me out and I was too tired to knit much and went to bed early. I've also found more things I want to knit. This sweater ( yes, I have yarn for it in my stash) and this scarf, which I think I can adjust and make for the 2012 Superbowl Scarf Project. I also saw this book, thanks to the Mason Dixon blog, and ordered it. There are some beautiful shawls in there. Which reminds me of the shawl I started four years ago and have only about 20 more rows to finish but haven't.

So, I have knitting that I want to do, ironing that I need to do and I dog that has emotional issues that I had better go check on because he may have wedged himself under my bed by now.