Friday, March 26, 2010

Puppy vs. Knitting

Bennan has a habit of stealing my knitting when I'm not looking.  Thankfully, he has not torn anything up although our living room pillows all have teeth marks. I guess those balls of yarn are too enticing.  Who can blame him - I'd run off with them too if they weren't mine already. Anyway, the knitting time has suffered lately since I have to keep an eagle eye on the little yarn thief who manages to look oh-so innocent even when feigning sleep.  Dastardly dog.

Here's my latest project:
The Minimalist Cardigan by Ruthie Nussbaum printed in Interweave Knits Fall 2007. 

I originally started it with Brooks Farm Four Play in a really rich peacock blue that I got a few years ago at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I thought I had just enough but alas, no. When I got halfway up the back, I realized that I was going to have to make it a short sleeved cardi or scrap it all together.  I thought about scavenging for more yarn but Brooks Farm is a small private yarn producer and the odds of finding the same color in the same dye lot were too daunting.

So I decided to frog it (knitting term for ripping back; get it?  It's called frogging because you rip it, rip it).  And start over with a new yarn - one that I had plenty of.  Normally frogging this much knitting gives me heartburn.  All those hours!  But this time I didn't really mind. Maybe this yarn was just not destined for this project.   Maybe I'm developing a more process-oriented approach to knitting.  Maybe I'm mellowing with advancing age.  But whatever, I've started over.  La-di-dah.

Meanwhile, Bennan has found more interesting things to chew.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dog Days - part three

Was I ready for a new dog?  I had misgivings.  For instance, I still cry when I drive by the vet's office.  And seeing dogs that look like Harry is bittersweet.  I'll just take a look on the the internet, I thought to myself.  This led to, I'll just see who's available at the shelter.  And ultimately, "Hey, Yarn Widower, there's this dog in Miami I'd like to go meet."

So we drove down to meet a 10 month old puppy named Bennan.  He came right up to me and when I looked into his eyes and thought, Are you my dog?, he looked right back at me as if to ask, Are you my people?  Yarn Widower and I went home and thought about it. Would he pee inside the house?  Would he chew up all our stuff? When Carolyn, the woman who runs the rescue, suggested that we foster Bennan to see how he fit into the family, it finally felt right to me.  Yarn Widower was dubious but slowly came around.

This is Bennan, our foster dog.

As a 6 month old pup, he was picked up as a stray in Miami and taken to Animal Services.  Being a fearful little guy, he did not get adopted right away.  Not until Carolyn of Second Chance Dog Rescue scooped him up to find him a new home.  He's definitely a terrier - maybe a mix?  But with that distinctive red coat and white chest, I suspect he's an Irish terrier.  Anyway, he's a very handsome fellow.  He's got a hefty underbite so his bottom teeth show.  I've decided that's how he grins.

But it was certainly a rocky start between Bennan and the Yarn Widower.  It turns out that Bennan finds strange men to be very threatening.  For the first few days, Bennan growled and bared his teeth whenever the Yarn Widower entered his field of vision.  I was very sad because it didn't seem like things were going to work out. But the Yarn Widower started to patiently win the little guy over with hot dogs (crack cocaine for puppies) and various other delectable goodies. Bennan got over his fears and responded with cuddles and puppy love.  In the end, you get what you give.

 The boys watching golf

 Hi there, did you call my name?

Watching Ernie Els sink his putt

OK - watching golf is kinda boring

Bennan is an alternate spelling for Benen which is an old Irish name that means "he who is blessed."  As of last Friday, Blessed Bennan is now our adopted dog.  We're all pretty happy about it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dog Days - part two

When Harry died last July, I was crushed.  He was family - first as my surrogate child, always my best buddy and later my wise elder.  I still cry sometimes when I think how much I miss him.  Like right now. 

Harry never liked other dogs.  He much preferred the company of people.  We could have never gotten another dog when Harry was alive because he would have seen it as a betrayal.  Once when he was spending a summer with some friends, they got a puppy the last few days of his visit.  He was so miffed that he ignored them and the puppy as best he could.  He wouldn't even let them say goodbye to him.  But really, they got the puppy because of him.  He was such a cool fun guy that he inspired people to love dogs.  Despite his doggy antisocial tendencies, he was the canine world's greatest ambassador.

But now that Mr. H is gone, I don't think he'd mind if we got another dog.  Really, it would be a testament to him - he was my first dog and it was such a great experience that I always want to have a dog.  Yarn Widower argues that having a dog limits our freedom (no spontaneous trips to Rome) and need he remind me how hard it was in the end when Harry was sick (I remember).  But then we have never taken a spontaneous trip to Rome and illness and heartache are an inevitable part of being alive.  But most importantly, it was all worth it.  The benefits of having Harry far outweighed all the days of scooping poop, the rainy day walks, the money shelled out to dogsitters when we went away...  The only thing that was really difficult is missing him so goddamn much.  I think that's the real thing that holds most people back - knowing that in 10-15 years, you'll have to mourn the loss again.  The high price of loving someone is having to lose them.

Life without love is really no life at all.  For me, life without a dog is just simply less of a life.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dog Days - part one

Our neighbors Pat and John got a new dog.  A junkyard dog.  No, really.  They got her from the junkyard.  She had been seen foraging for edibles by some people at the dump.  They began leaving treats out for her but could never get near enough to bring her in.  This was worrisome since it was only a matter of days before some heavy piece of landfill-moving machinery would crush her in her sleep.

So along came John to save the day.  His dog-whispering secret?  Hotdogs.  After a few near misses, John was finally able to lure her close enough to secure a lead around her.  She was a matted, terrified mess.  Pat was concerned about her new unkempt wild-eyed houseguest.  But after a visit to the vet and the groomers, it turned out that their junkyard dog was a purebred chocolate Chow Chow.  A real beauty.

Princess Chewbacca Twinkletoes of Palm Beach Gardens

Chewy for short.  Also responds to Baby Bear.  And despite looking exactly like an Ewok (which I think means "fierce furry warrior" in Wookie but don't hold me to that), Chewy is all teddy bear.  She's great with 2 yr old James and likes to politely sniff at 7 month old Caden.  Like many Chows, she's a little aloof with strangers and picky about who gets to pet her. After a few days of settling in, it was great to see her tail starting to wag.  The search for her owners turned up nothing which was just fine with Pat and John.

A few weeks ago, Pat and John went on a short trip so Chewy got to hang with me and the Yarn Widower.  She was so sad to see them go.  So much upheaval in such a short time.  Just as she'd gotten to like John and Pat, would they ever come back?  I assured her that they would.  But in the meantime, Yarn Widower and I decided to show her a good time.  We went to the dog park and prowled the neighborhood for squirrels.  We ate cheeseburgers and watched Lost.  One day we piled into the car and drove to the beach.  It turns out that Chewy hates water so we spent most of our time sniffing the dunes.  Still, it was an adventure and we all slept really well that night.

 Let sleeping dogs/bears lie.

When Pat and John returned, Chewy was a very happy dog indeed.  Now it was me who was sad to see her go.  I came up with all sorts of excuses to go visit her.  I really liked having Chewy around and even though she lived next door, I felt bereft.  There was no dog in our home.  Something just seemed off.

8 months ago, our beloved 15 yr old Jack Russell terrier Harry passed on.  Both the Yarn Widower and I really really miss the little guy.  He was our "once-in-a-lifetime dog" and we have such great memories of him.  We'll always miss Harry.  No amount of time is going to change that.  Having Chewy visit made me remember how much I like canine companionship. Life without a dog just seems like less of a life to me.  Maybe I was ready to get another dog.  But Yarn Widower was against the idea - there could never be another Harry.

True.  But still...

To Be Continued

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Yarn Widower likes to say that the best thing about our house is our next door neighbors John and Pat.  I agree with him.  They're good people and we're lucky to know them. Not only are they warm and friendly but they have the most charming progeny (Little James is their grandson) and a really cool dog named Chewbacca (more on that in a later post). 

When Pat's birthday rolled around, I knew I wanted to make her something special.  I thought about it for a long time and in the end decided on a Lana Lace Cardigan.

Perhaps you may recall that I made one of these suckers for myself a little while ago.  Some patterns bear repeating.  And I strongly suspected that this one would look great on her.  I was right.  It does.

Despite her indisputable photogenicity, Pat is a bit camera shy.  So I was happy when she consented to pose for me. Here are some candids of her getting ready for our photo shoot.



As for her grandson James - he's not camera shy at all.