And if HE can read it...

We all know that Stephen Harper recently approved $45 million in cuts to Canadian arts. And, really, he would.

But one good thing that has come out of the Canadian Arts crisis is Yann Martel's remarkable crusade to elucidate and......well, enculture the PM. He's been mailing a book to S.H. every two weeks since April 2007, inscribed and accompanied by a letter. Yann Martel is, of course, the author of Life of Pi - his letters, all of which appear on the website linked above, are fascinating. Each contains little notes: some on what Martel finds most intriguing about a certain work, some on the motivation of a character, or on a literary device used by the author.

I, for one, think that if it's good enough for Yann Martel to send to the PM, it's good enough to make it onto my must-read list. I'm going to order some of these from the library, and plunge right in. Maybe Harper and I will start an online book-club.....I'll keep you posted.

5TH Hearing Test

Well this is going to sound a bit strange, but I am pleased to say that Teddy is finally being referred to the GP who should then referred her to an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist.

The nurse audiologist who conducted Teddy's hearing test today recommended that I strongly urge the GP to write the referral if they seem even slightly disinclined to do so.

The reason for this is that both her ears were 'flatline' (tympanometry) and both had slight hearing loss (audiogram). This is not an improvement on the last hearing tests. So now that they finally have 'proof' that Teddy has definite hearing problems they are happy to refer her on to the GP.

I can't help feeling slightly frustrated because we've known all along that Teddy wasn't hearing us properly, and it seems we have wasted the whole year so far with repeat hearing tests.

On the other hand, is it reassuring to know they don't send children to specialists without very good evidence to suggest they actually need to go, because the end result of all this will most likely be some sort of surgical procedure.

In other breaking news, Teddy has learned how to swing herself. This is the result of many hours of coaching from either HB or me, or both at the same time. I can't remember how many times I stood there and repeated over and over "Legs out ... legs under ... legs out ... legs under ... legs out ... "

And at least 85% of the time Teddy responded with "I can't! {screaming} I can't! {crying} I want YOU to push me!! {tears streaming down her face} It's too hard."

But eventually she caught on and started creating her own momentum, and now she's hooked. Swinging is her new favourite activity.

A Fine Fleece...A Finer Book.

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 6, Number 1

Lisa Lloyd

I've been meaning to talk about Lisa Lloyd's A Fine Fleece ever since I first peeked into it, but have been busy with other things til now.

This book is one of those ones that you pick up skeptically, expecting to find a few interesting things, maybe some pretty pictures, but not much useful, concrete information. In fact, I almost didn't bother reading it. Happily, I changed my mind - it's one of the most beautifully conceived, artfully designed, and downright inspiring knitting books I've read in at least two years.

A Fine Fleece
has a picture of a drop spindle on the front. There's a niddy-noddy, too, and a cup full of locks of some kind of fibre, and a small photo of two girls in sweaters. Judging by the cover, and by the subtitle which is "knitting with handspun yarns", I didn't think I'd get much out of it, not being (at that time) a spinner.

In fact this book is full of gorgeous patterns. GORGEOUS. There are stunning Arans, including a Starmore-inspired Celtic jobbie named "St Patrick". There is a lovely, quiet gansey. There are vests, scarves, hats, socks - there is texture, colour, and quality on every page.

Lisa Lloyd has come up with a great concept - she shows each design in both a handspun yarn and a factory yarn...and with that, a little door in your mind flings open and your inner voice says "HOLD ON. This knitting thing could be so much more." It's really remarkable, the differences between these two sweater samples. (And, interestingly? every single blooming time, the handspun wins, hands down.)

Each sweater includes details on the fiber used for the handspun version. Lloyd tells you what percentage was used of which fibers, and talks a little bit about what made her choose them, as well as characteristics of the finished yarn. She brings life to the sweaters in the book and makes you want to try spinning for yourself...and not just spinning, but KNITTING your handspun.

I have tried to pick a favourite pattern, to no avail. I like the one called Rhinebeck. I like Fylingdales, the oversized, seed-stitch-and-rope-cable cardy. There's a beautiful sweater named Town and Country, with a tiny, four-stitch honeycomb pattern for the hem, and an option for pullover or cardigan. Two Hearts, the last design, is lovely.

If you are a knitter, there is more than plenty here to keep you busy. You could just buy it for the patterns and never trouble your head about all that folderol at the beginning, about sheep breeds and colour blending and micron counts. But if your heart belongs to yarn, I have a feeling that you will be drawn to the backstory - descriptions of the animals, details about their fleece, and methods for preparing it. As a knitter, once I read this book I realised that from yarn shop to needles to blocking board to closet is just the last four chapters of the story - I had Chapters 26 through 30, but was missing 1 through 25. This book makes you want to turn back...if not to the title page, at least to the halfway point. I can't breed sheep in my backyard, but I can definitely learn to spin, and spin intentionally...and this book tells me how to get started. As Lloyd says, "...the path from knitter to spinner is, in many ways, inevitable."

Bring it on - I'm ready.

A Fine Fleece gets

Reread: continuously
Given to Others: Yes. I already have at least two friends who want copies for Christmas.
Bookplate: Yes.


Why, yes . . .

My videographer was a fencepost.

Sorry. I was hoping to get a clear view of Willow's new, improved frame, but we are far and wee in this video. If you blow it up to full-screen-size, it's slightly better.

I think I can make out that Willow's neck is up and rounded, and she is less on her forehand. She felt really good today, and there was very little left-side crookedness.

I'll try to get someone to shoot a better video soon.

Mousie prays for a husband, again.

{The girls are playing quietly with their dolls.}

Mousie: Mummy, when I grow up will I have a baby in my tummy?

Mummy: Maybe. But you have to have a husband first. Get married before you have a baby.

Mousie: Who can I marry? {thinks a bit} I know! I can marry Lion.

Mummy: No, he is your cousin. You can't marry your cousin.

Mousie: Well, I could marry little Dragon.

Mummy: No, he is your cousin too. Cousins can't get married.

Mousie: Well - who can I marry? I will pray about it. Dear God, thank you for all our yummy food and for this nice day, and please make me the best husband for me to marry when I get big. Thank you, Amen.

(This is not the first time Mousie has prayed for a husband. At least this time she didn't expect him to magically appear in the middle of our living room the moment she said 'Amen'.)

The great outdoors, part deux

The construction on the outdoor arena has been done for several weeks, but one thing or another has kept me from using it. Today Willow and I finally schooled in it. To get there, you follow a little path through a woody area. It's very secluded from the rest of the property. Willow had the snorties at first, so I had hand-walked her around the arena a few times until she settled. Then I mounted up, and off we went.

Willow sure does love to work outside. Her gaits were big and bouncy. We're still working our up-and-out-with-the-inside-rein exercises, and she felt great. My web reins have stops, and we're now easily working at a stop I was beginning to think we'd never get to! And I've been sneaking past it, too. To the right, she felt awesome, especially the canter. Y'all will be happy to hear we executed several balanced ten-meter canter circles to the right!

Working on the shorter reins to the left has exposed a lack of straightness on that rein. Once upon a time, I would have found that frustrating, but nowadays I'm always happy to discover the truth, so to speak. What's been happening is Willow doesn't want to step far under herself with the left hind (too hard!), so she tries to either go on the circle in travers, or else she swings her haunches wildly outside and tries to leg yield out of the circle, or else she canters.

After it happened the first few times, I had to stop and think about what was going on. I was pretty sure she was just trying to get out of something that felt hard for her. So, first of all, I kept very aware of how long I was working her on the left, and made sure to give her plenty of breaks. When she'd swing her haunches inside or outside in trot, I'd go to low and even on both reins and push her forward on a twenty-meter circle with almost no bend. If she cantered, I'd push her very forward in canter. I think I'm on the right track with these fixes, because the crookedness is cropping up less and less. Today in the outdoor she only tried her left-side shenanigans twice.

A big benefit to working in the outdoor is the awesome new footing. It's a sand mix, and it does make them work. I could hear Willow puffing more than once.

When we finished, I rinsed her off (for the last time this year? maybe), banged her tail, and went to town on her overgrown mane. I took it down to about three inches, and it looks very nice.

On my way home, I stopped by a friend's acreage. She's out of town for two weeks, and she told me to harvest her vegetable garden as much as I wanted. I think I picked thirty or forty pounds of tomatoes today. I blanched and froze seven quarts, and will take the rest to work to share.

M & D

Today I went to my Mom & Dad's. They live in the country, about 1 1/2 hrs. from my house. I drove an hour to Leesburg for ballet class because I have a punch card there with 6 more classes on it that I should use before I leave the area. Although now I much prefer The Washington Ballet not only because of it's proximity, but the teacher is amazing and they have a live pianist. Anyway.

I went to ballet, which was great, and then continued on to see my parents. We had a nice visit; it was good just to hang out and talk. They have an adorable Labradoodle (Lab/poodle), Wyeth, who is so sweet and fun. And BIG, white and fluffy.

I helped my Dad make lunch. He is an excellent cook. I just helped him "throw something together" that ended up being delicious: sauteed polska kielbasa, onion, yellow pepper with potato salad and cheddar cornbread. Yum! He apologized that it was a very yellow meal. While we were eating we watched out the window as hummingbirds went crazy over the feeder on the deck. Such beautiful, interesting creatures. They had shiny, iridescent green backs.

My Dad has been really sick for a couple months, but we think we finally know what the problem is: Lyme disease. I feel so bad for him, because it has completely changed his life. It's at least good to know his symptoms are not a complete medical mystery.

On a lighter note, I saw my Dad's new license plate. My parents change license plates as frequently as some people change ... I don't know, fill in the blank. Basically with a lot of frequency.

They started this long before it was the vogue and then the irritatingly prevalent thing to do in Virginia.

Some of the plates I can recall my parents having:

WDWBT (on a red Volkswagen Rabbit (get it, "Red Rabbit"?))
YOMAMAS ("Hey, isn't that yo' mama's van?")
NACHOS ("This car is mine, nachos ("not yours") . Yeah, my parents like ebonics)
SYSTAR (name of my Dad's company)
DRUM-MOM ("drum line mom" (when my bro was in the drum line))
SHN&OA ("Shenadoah" -- geographic region)
XBGEN1 (Scion XB Generation I)

This prompted me at one point to get my own personalized plate: S4LVRS. ("Is For Lovers," part of the state tourism motto.) The plate of course says VIRGINIA across the top. I'm so clever! I still have those plates as a memento.

And now, my Dad has rolled out his latest plates:

Strange things Teddy Says

Teddy is often hard to understand because of her hearing and speech problems.

Then there are the times I can clearly hear the words she is speaking, but I still don't understand. Here are some examples I have collected over the past couple weeks.

One afternoon when Teddy was looking at my two washing baskets in the laundry she made this comment:
"Look at those two baskets - that one is a girl basket and the other one is a boy basket."
(I don't know why - they are both white.)

Another time we were sitting out in the pergola eating lunch and listening to the birdsong. We couldn't see the birds.
I said "Listen to the birdies. I wonder where they are?"
And Teddy answered, "I know where they are. They are under their mummy's bottoms."
Which, I think, was her way of saying they were in their nest with their mummy bird?

During a breakfast of cinnamon rolls Teddy lingered behind at the table when everyone else was finished. She was still picking at the remains of her last roll. She started singing,
"Fi -ve..... muf -fins sitting on a plate,
Eating all the people,
Eating all the people,
Fi - ve...... muf - fins in the baker's shop
Chasing all the people and EAT - ING them."

Once, completely out of the blue,
Teddy: "You are really really fat mummy."
Mum: "Well, thanks." (sarcastically)
Teddy: "But you're not as fat as an elephant."
Mum: "Oh, thanks." (still sarcastically)
Teddy: "But elephants are not as beautiful as you, Mummy."
Mum: "Oh, thank you." (genuinely) (deciding this was as close to a compliment as I was likely to receive.)
Teddy: "But hippos are."
Mum: "Gee, thanks." (sarcastically again.)

When we were driving down through the Great Dividing Range to the coast Teddy called out to me from the back seat,
"Mummy, I can't hear my voice very well!"
Dragon enlightened me. Teddy's ears were blocked.

Teddy and Mousie were delighted when I put out their My Little Pony jumpers to wear on the same day.
They danced around the house laughing and giggling. I laughed along with them and commented that they looked like twins. Mousie agreed, but Teddy stopped dead in her tracks and said, "I look twins don't I mummy?" I said she did. She laughed "I'm twins! I'm twins! I'm twins!" danced some more and then once again stopped short and said "Mummy? What is a twins?"
(It was a bit like
Kitcat and the Possum.)

One evening I made pizza dough and all the children designed their own individual pizzas. Teddy kept coming back to ask if the pizzas were cooked. Several times I told her "Not yet." One last time she asked if they were ready. I said "Yes, they're all cooked. Would you like me to cut your pizza up." "Yes please," she replied, and then asked "Are we having noodles for dinner tonight?"

And last night when I was helping Teddy put on her pyjamas she made a funny face, swayed side to side and, with eyes open as wide as they could go, said "Mummy, can you please wake me up?"

She's a strange one.

Drifting, as Intended

win·some. Pronunciation: \ˈwin(t)-səm\ Function: adjective Etymology: Middle English winsum, from Old English wynsum Date: before 12th century
1 : generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence

There's a little growing room in there - never a bad thing.

She looks like Helena Bonham Carter, don't you think?

And little Ruby, in these lovely pictures, has done what so many other children failed to do - she has made me all broody. I'm only 34, after all, and I always did want one with dark hair...

Leaping Rats and Roller Coasters

Last week I was walking along a sidewalk at 23rd & E St. in NW D.C. when I saw a very weird, very D.C. thing:

It was broad daylight, and there were some little brown sparrow-like birds flitting in and around some large landscaping bushes edging the sidewalk. The birds were landing on the sidewalk and then jumping or flying into the bush, back and forth. All of a sudden, a huge brown rat jumped out of the bush! At first I was like, "whoa" I think my mind said "squirrel" and then I was like "OH MY!" when it registered it was a rat! I'm not sure if the birds were tormenting the rat from inside the bush, or defending their territory, or trying not to get eaten or what, but they didn't fly away when the rat leaped out at them, they just avoided it in this abrupt game of tag. It darted at a couple of them as they flitted and jumped around it and then it lunged at one of them, reaching into the air toward it with its front legs!!! CRAZY!!! I think it was trying to catch them to eat them!!! Then the rat ran back into the bush!!!! BIZARRE!


This past weekend, we went to Hershey, Pa. It was a lot of fun! The B&B was really nice. There is a lot to do in Hershey, and it was fun to see Neil's friends who are up there. Fernando is doing his residency through a Penn hospital and Melissa is taking a break from chemistry and caring for their 11-day-old baby!

We went to Hershey Park and rode a couple roller coasters. I definitely do not like roller coasters. I tolerated the first one, with my eyes closed the whole time, hating it. On the second one, I kept my eyes shut as I completely freaked out, started sobbing hysterically and almost passed out. We had to buy the photo to hang on the fridge. I felt I was a flimsy harness away from a sudden and violent death, and the children around me were having the time of their life. Luckily I was rewarded afterward when we saw a concession stand selling s'mores!!!!! They were actually making them over a fire and of course using Hershey's chocolate! It was all worth it!!!!
Click the pic:

Eeny Meeny Messy Tuesday

Not quite sure what to post today for Messy Tuesday: I have too many options. But here's a mess:

and here's what I did instead of cleaning it up:

Thank you for your get-well wishes - I am feeling slightly better although I'm sure I'll feel worse tomorrow because today is a real runaround for us. There are two dance classes, dinner, and a Brownie meeting, all between 2.30 and 7.30. It may only be one dance class, though - Emily looks to be succumbing to the Dreaded Lurgy.

My uncles have asked me to knit another sweater for Ruby, in time for Christmas. They went book-shopping, and sent me an entire big hardcover knitting book, called Knitting Year-Round. They chose a very cheeky jacket with a stocking cap (wait a I supposed to be knitting the stocking cap too, guys? I never even thought of it...let me know so I can whip out and buy more grey yarn.) in pewter basket stitch with zany green and orange stripes. Here it is:

The pattern doesn't go down to Ruby's size - it starts at 4 years old - and calls for an acrylic worsted yarn. The heavy yarn, combined with the blocky stitch pattern, would have been too much for a two-year-old's little frame. Also, I can't buy that particular yarn in town (and even if I could....) so I went back to the Smart wool that I used for Drifting - a DK weight, 100% wool yarn that comes in a lot of colours. The Smart does have a grey, but it was a little dark. I went to Loyal, another wool DK, for a softer tone.

I swatched it at knitting last week and found that the fabric is a little rough, a little crispy, until it's washed. The wool and the stitch pattern both relax, making the work more drapey and much softer. I think the basket stitch will be just insulating enough, trapping those pockets of air, to make it a warm little sweater without too much heat. I measured the gauge carefully before and after washing, and adjusted the pattern accordingly. The gauge is quite different between the two yarns, as you'd expect - I'm getting 20.5 sts over 10 cm, and the pattern is written for 16 sts over 10 cm. The finer gauge makes for a more proportional sweater for a toddler, and also corrects the sizing issue nicely. I cast on the number of stitches given for the largest size, and it will fit her perfectly when finished (well, hopefully there'll be a little growing room).

As to the stitch pattern, the lime and orange stripes are shaped in an interesting way. Instead of making bobbles, which they appear to be at first glance, you do a 7-stitch increase at intervals on row one, then you follow that with a whole row of reverse stockinette with no decreases. The decreases are worked in grey over the next three rows. And, most importantly, the centre stitch of the seven is slipped on two consecutive rows, lifting the centre of the increase dramatically to create the bump shape.

I'm planning to have this finished by the beginning of November, leaving me lots of time for all the Christmas knitting for more local folks. It's going fast enough, if I can refrain from dropping any stitches...I dropped one last night, and because the same stitch is slipped on two consecutive rows, suddenly I had a ravelling mess where a green bump used to be. There was no fixing it without ripping, so I had to pull back four rows of textured knitting and redo them.

Lastly, Uncle Dave sent me photos of Ruby in Drifting, and I'm DYING to show them to you. I'll wait til tomorrow, though, to give them their own post.

Right Across the Road from the Beach

This is where we are going to stay for a week in January. Well no, not on that exact bench where Kitcat is sitting, but pretty close. This is our holiday house! Right across the road from the beach. Which beach?This beautiful beach here.This lovely, safe beach which doesn't have any dangerous rips or rough surf.
This gently sloping beach with playful little waves at this end, which are perfect for the little girls, and slightly bigger waves around to the southern end which are usually just the right size for the boogie-boarding older children.
This idyllic beach which is right across the road from the holiday house. (Did I mention that?)

We went to the coast for the day on 13th September. (This was the trip we had intended to do the day before Father's day, but HB was sick.) It was such a warm Spring day that the children wanted to get in the water. While it was much too cold for me, they thought it was just fine.

Teddy was dancing in around on the wet sand while the small waves were lapping at her feet. She danced a bit too far into the waves and fell over. Here she comes, screaming.
She's screaming "I'm all wet! I got all wet!"
I said "Teddy, it's alright if you're wet. That's why I helped you put your swimmers on - so you could go in the water."
She stopped crying and gave me a look of dawning comprehension. Then she quickly ran back to the tideline, and looked over her shoulder as if to say "Are you sure it's alright?"
Mousie wasn't worried about getting wet. I like this photo of her with the reflection in the damp sand.
Teddy played around at the edge of the waves, having fun running away from them.
Since we weren't sure if it would be warm enough for swimming, I only packed the swimmers but not the floaties. HB and I told the younger girls not to go in past their knees, so Mousie and Dragon found a way to get around that rule. "But the water is only up to my ankles Mummy," Mousie innocently insists.Kitcat has yet to begin swimming lessons, so she is not as confident around water as the rest of the half-dozen. She would only go into the water if she could cling on to Possum or Dragon and not actually get wet.
The longer we stayed the bolder Teddy became. Here, she actually got her knees wet on purpose.
This is about as close as Kitcat would willingly go to the waves on her own. The sand was much more interesting to her, not to mention much more stable. It didn't keep moving around like that wet stuff over yonder.
The chill eventually got to them all, so they got out of the water and decided to start digging.There were a few blue bottles along the high tide line. I showed them to the children and explained that they had a tail which stings a lot and if they ever see one they should get straight out of the water. As we walked a bit further along the beach we came across another few blue bottles, and Kitcat reached out to it. Everyone else yelled "NO! Don't touch it!!" I remarked that Kitcat reminded me of Possum when she was younger.

*** Warning - substantial reminiscing ahead. ***

We were at Seal Rocks beach when I first had the opportunity to show Possum what blue bottles looked like. There was two small ones lying on the wet sand where the outgoing tide was occasionally washing up over them. HB and I explained that they had a stinging tail and you should never touch them. Possum and Dragon both agreed that they would not touch them (WOW! We only had two children back then!!) and we continued to walk towards the rocks at the end of the beach when suddenly we heard Possum screaming "Ouch! Ow! OW! OW! OW!" We turned around to see her hopping along after us, tears streaming down her face. She had touched the blue bottle with her toe, thinking it wouldn't sting her there!

Later that same year we were walking though the "Coach House" formation at Jenolan Caves. As we rounded a bend in the track HB saw a plant. He stopped Possum and Dragon and showed them the plant, explaining that it was a stinging nettle and they should not touch it because it would hurt. We went a few steps further and what do you think? "Ouch! Ow! OW!" yelled Possum shaking her hand around and blowing on it. Yes, she's touched the stinging nettle.

I'm glad to say that she now listens to her parents when they warn her of some dire consequence to a particular action. Sometimes, anyway.

*** Reminiscing Over ***

So, after swimming we had lunch at the park and Mousie found 50c! Through the following week she told everyone she met "We went to the beach and the best part was I found money!"

We all had a great day, and we're all looking forward to our holiday right across the road from the beach!


Almost didn't post today even though

it's my two-year blogiversary

because I am so very, very sick. Just today I came down with a screaming virus - I mean to say, a virus that is loud, proud, and means business, not a virus who shrieks. I'm supposed to meet someone important tomorrow for lunch and at this rate I am not, definitely I am not, going to make it.

So if I'm supposed to meet you tomorrow, you know who you are, and if I don't show up, I am so very very sorry. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that I feel worse about it than you do. Plus I'd hate to pass this bug along - it's a real beyotch.

And to all the girls who went to Fun Knits with me yesterday - I really hope I didn't breathe on you. Karen, I hugged you on Wednesday at knitting - I apologise. Maybe you should take some echinacea.

A new exercise that works

So, after obsessively critiquing both myself and Willow on our latest video, here's what I'm happy about: Willow is forward, relaxed, rhythmic, and mostly straight, and her gaits are pure except when I mess them up. What I'm unhappy about is her frame: still too much like training level. We could probably sneak through first level and maybe even get our scores, although I betcha more than one judge would tell me she's too strung out for first level.

As I've mentioned on more than one occasion, Willow has a very long neck. As long as I continue to let her carry it in a training level frame, she's never going to be able to shift her weight back. My conundrum has been shortening the reins without feeling like I'm riding her front to back. Whenever I've tried to really shorten the reins, Willow channels all her tension into her poll and throatlatch area, and everything falls apart. In my dressage career I've mostly ridden horses who were very light to the bridle, so this has been a new challenge for me.

Leslie, the assistant trainer at the barn, jumped in and saved me this week. She, too, rides a big horse and knows what it's like to break up tension in such a large beast. She advised me to put Willow on a 20-meter trot circle, shorten the reins, and do the following in rising trot: 1) Keep my outside hand very low with a strong connection, 2) Bring my inside hand up and out (not back) and keep a definite, playful, vibrate-y connection, 3) With my inside leg at the girth, continually ask for bend, almost to the point of leg yield, but not quite, and keep her moving very forward on the circle.

I have to say, it was almost like magic. I've used an opening inside rein before, but something about the up and out really got Willow to unlock her poll. Suddenly the shorter reins didn't feel so short, and Willow was up in front with a pretty, arched neck, and an even bend through the spine.

We did the same exercise in canter with a similar result. AND, boom, canter-walk was easy. Next we tried it in walk, and after Leslie pointed out my tendency to get too strong with my leg and seat aids on a shorter rein in walk, we had success there, too. (Must remember: quiet, following seat in walk, even with shorter reins!)

I should mention that even though we had success that first night, there was some unhappiness and resistance from Willow at all three gaits until she realized I wasn't going to drop the connection. Once she got that, she changed her way of going, and voila!

Leslie recommended this exercise for the next two weeks. She said to keep Willow on circles and serpentines and limit my straight lines until this habit of resistance in the poll starts to go away. Today my ride was so much fun. I worked on lots of transitions and could feel Willow not dropping onto her forehand. It was floaty goodness.

In other news, yesterday I went to my small town's annual wiener dog races. Never in my life have I seen so many dachshunds. They must have been coming in from 50 miles in every direction. There seems to be a law of wiener dog races: in each heat, there were five dogs, and every time, two would come flying out and actually race (the sprinters) and the other three would wander out, sniff noses, and visit the audience (the minglers).

A dachshund running flat out is never not funny.

Some Interesting Things from Blogland and Beyond

I was quoted on Blogtations!!!!

This is a great site which takes quotes from other blogs.
Do you read a blog which you think is funny? Brilliant? Profound?
You can submit a favourite quote from your favourite blog.
You can read the quotes already submitted and featured on the site.
You can search for a blog quote which may suit whatever it is you are currently blogging about.
And you can play along with the 500th blogtation party game by voting for your favourite quote.
I've already voted for mine.
You can win an amazon gift voucher.
Go here
to read the quote I blogged about a while ago.

I mentioned Organised Doodles a few days ago. This is an illustration Rick drew and has kindly allowed anyone who wants to use it to do so, free of charge. Read his explanation of this drawing in this post.

Have you ever visited ? It is so funny. This is an example of the stuff on that site.

One evening, when HB was in Melbourne, I spent over an hour reading through these engrish snippets. I nearly woke up the half-dozen by laughing out loud!

Graphology is an interesting topic. When you have a few minutes to spare go to this site and have your handwriting analysed. It's quite amusing too.

Mrs Fussypants has something everyone should read, especially if you have boys. It's all about those deadly plastic bottles. You can check out her information here. She lists a number of other sites if you want to read more about this topic.

On a similar safety issue - did you know that those 'tagless' tags, which some clothes now have, can cause severe allergic reactions and/or burns to those who may be sensitive to the materials used to produce the transfer? Have a look at this site (caution: the photos of this baby's back are pretty upsetting) and make sure you read the comments too, because there are other sites/blogs to visit if you require more information.

And I don't mean to alarm you, but Christmas is only 14 weeks away! I know Americans still have a couple more celebrations to plow through before then (namely Halloween and Thanksgiving) but here in Australia there's nothing standing in the way of that huge downhill slide into the Christmas season. I anticipate seeing tinsel in the shops any day now. So if you are looking for ideas for Christmas crafts, I have found this to be a good site. My mum used to make these fabric-covered Christmas baubles. I think I'll try making some for teacher gifts this year. Another good site is this one, from which you can access Christmas colouring-in pages, more craft ideas, clip art and much more. I like this Christmas Stocking List which you can leave out for Santa.

And now I've hyperlinked so much I need to go and breathe into a paper bag. Or something.

A to New Z-land

My main squeeze and I are about to leave for Hershey, Pa., for a little mini-vaca. We're going to a B&B! Never been to one before. I hope there is a river of chocolate in Hershey. If so, we'll swim in it for sure.

I just finished my first week of training. It was information overload. One of my classmates perfectly described the resulting feeling as "jet lag." I went home every night and tried to fight off sleep until bedtime. Who knew that a day in a classroom could be so draining. But we are being inundated with tons of information. It's tiring to be on constant full attention for hours at a time. Add to that, meeting a lot of new people in and around our class and trying to remember their names, story, etc. OVERLOAD!!! But it's been great! I'm really excited to actually get started. Meaning, I'm very excited to find out where I'm going and get there!

I have been paranoid to post anything about my new endeavor, because I'm not sure what is allowed and what isn't, and I haven't been able to get a definitive answer on what the policy is. So you'll note the newly added disclaimer on the side of this page.

On Monday I did get my list of places to choose from and I couldn't be happier with the selection. We'll see if I actually get posted to one of my top picks. I'll find out 9/30.

Without further ado, here are my choices -- where would you go?

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Berlin, Germany
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Caracas, Venezuela
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Kingston, Jamaica
Lima, Peru
Panama City, Panama
Seoul, Korea
Vienna, Austria
Wellington, New Zealand

Making the Best of It

The other day I mentioned that I had found a couple of small holes in my quilt after I repaired the edge. I sat down in the sunshine today with a couple of needles and a helpful book, and spent a half hour or so doing some fancy first try at this sort of work. Here's a pictorial record.

The Hole, roughly mended to keep the raw edges from unravelling during repair.

The Book. Full of useful knowledge and pretty ideas. I must keep an eye out for this one, for my own library.

The Patch. Stitched in DMC 223, 224 and 3347. Made up as I went along, trying to follow the instructions for "Spiderweb Stitch" and failing miserably, but still coming up with a pretty flower, so all's well that ends well.

And here's a progress shot of Charlotte's stocking.

Have a good weekend - I'm off to Fun Knits tomorrow with my knitting posse. We'll be stuffing ourselves with incredible food at the Lovin' Oven and spending the grocery money on laceweight. Fun!

Shivering in Spring

I have done a few posts about the frost we had during winter. This photo was from one of those times. Can you see how I scraped the word 'frost' in the frost on the slide? That same winter morning I found Kitcat's sippy cup which had been accidentally left outside overnight. The water in it was frozen. It was at least half full.But recently we had a springtime frost. A frost just as thick, if not thicker than any of our winter frosts. It was so thick I couldn't scrape the word 'frost' on the slide, so I took a photo of my poor geranium which was all icy.I think the cows were eating crunchy grass this particular morning.The paddock to our west was very icy. Even the moon seemed frozen in the sky.

And yet despite the cold we are reminded that the warm weather will win this particular battle. The flowers are budding. Pink snapdragons in Possum's flower box

.Lily bud in our front garden.

The bushes are sprouting green leaves at their tips.Leaf bud on the hydrangea bush outside my bedroom window..

The blossom trees are blossoming. Plum blossoms on the trees near the school bus stop.

The bulbs are flowering. Hyacinth in our front garden.

Soon we'll be wishing for some relief from the heat.