Friday, March 27, 2015

The Loss of a Dear, Dear Friend

In Memorium
March 26, 1999
March 26, 2015

Yesterday ... on her 16th birthday ... Sophie passed away.  Her health had been slowly declining for a few months.  She was no longer able to climb stairs or jump up on our bed.  She would usually stand next to the couch or next to my recliner & wait for one of us to pick her up.  She was no longer cleaning herself & had difficulty using her litter box.  She did not act as if she were in a lot of pain, but she had difficulty walking & she would moan no matter how gently we would lift her.  She was not very active at all & slept most of the time.  Yesterday she suddenly worsened.  She had difficulty lying down & getting back up, & even more difficulty walking.  Although she had a good appetite, she was losing weight.  She could not even purr.  John & I made the difficult decision to call the vet & have her put down.  We did not want her to leave us, but we were not going to make her suffer just for our sake.  The vet suspected kidney disease as well as cancer.

The house is empty now.  Terribly empty.  I keep thinking that I'm catching a glimpse of her walking through the kitchen or standing by the back door watching the birds.  I keep looking down to see if she's standing by my chair wanting to curl up in my lap or for me to put her on the table next to my computer.  Last night I got ready for bed & thought to myself that I needed to check to see if she had enough food & water before I turned off the lights.  Then I realized that I didn't need to do that anymore   : (

At lunchtime yesterday I gave her a bit of her favorite treat ...  a little piece of cheese.  I gave her a bigger bit than usual.  She hobbled over to eat it, then just laid down on the throw rug like she had no energy to do anything else.  At least she enjoyed a good treat before she left.

Sophie had been with us since she was 9 months old.  We were living in Michigan at the time.  Matt came to visit us for Christmas, & the day after Christmas he & I went to the pound & there was Sophie.  I took her out of her cage & she snuggled right into my arms.  I knew we were the perfect match for each other.  She has been with us for many moves.  When I'd come home from the hospital, or one of us would be ill, Sophie would be right there next to us.  She knew that we needed comforting.  

My heart is broken.  I have cried many tears.  The pain of losing her is immense. 

Here are a few photos that have appeared in past blog posts that I'd like to share again in memory of her.  

Sophie always loved to snuggle on my lap early in the morning during my prayer & Bible study time.

When she wanted to take a nap, this moving box was her favorite spot.

She liked napping & playing in all sorts of boxes.

If you put paper down on the floor, she thought you put it there for her.

Sophie enjoyed Christmas.  She'd always have a gift under the tree.

This photo was taken when Flat Phoebe came to visit last year.  Sophie, Pearl, & Flat Phoebe are watching Sleeping Beauty.

When I'd be working on my  computer, she would often stand on her back legs & put her paw on my thigh.  This was her way to tell me she wanted to either snuggle on my lap or next to the computer.

Of course she loved hogging all the heat by lying on the heating vent.  You can see her favorite little mouse nearby.  I love this picture of her.

Farewell my friend.  I will always ... always ... miss you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blessings for the Morning

I am pleased to be a book reviewer for Bethany House.  Each month I am sent a list of books that have recently been released.  I choose a book from this list & am provided with a free copy.  In return I promise to read the book & give it an honest review.

The book I am reviewing this month is Blessings for the Morning - Prayerful Encouragement to Begin Your Day by Susie Larson.  I chose this book because I enjoy good devotionals.  

Each reading offers a Bible verse along with Ms. Larson's thought-provoking words.  Nothing in this world ... nothing ... means more to me than when someone tells me "I will pray for you."  And when someone writes me a letter or an email & includes a prayer for me within it, I feel as if I have received a precious gift.  Ms. Larson's words are exactly like receiving that sort of letter or email from a friend.  She reminds you of God's love for you ... His mercy & kindness & forgiveness.  She blesses & encourages you in Christ.  

Each reading is short ... less than 100 words, I'd gather, not counting the Bible verse ... but don't let the brevity fool you.  Each reading is meaningful & touches your heart.

I highly recommend this devotional.  In fact, I feel it is such a blessing that I am going to purchase one & offer it to one of my followers as a gift.  If you would like a chance to receive it, all you have to do is (A) be a follower of my blog as of the publishing of this post, & (B) leave a comment stating you would like to be included in the drawing.  US followers only, I'm afraid.  The high cost of postage prohibits me from sending the book to another country   : (   I will draw a name one week from today, Tuesday, March 31st & will notify you at that time.                   

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hard to Believe

I prayed for God to give me the motivation & energy to get a few things done today that I've been putting off.  He did   : )   In addition to a few chores like washing dishes & doing laundry, I cleaned the clutter off the top of the kitchen counter where I had been putting things I was too lazy to put in their place for far too long, & I also cleaned the clutter off the top of the dining table which was an even bigger mess.  Two simple sounding jobs, but believe me, they were anything but.  I then filled out insurance forms that have been multiplying since November & made copies of everything & got them ready to mail.  I then noticed how sunny it is outside.  The colored Christmas lights still strung on the little pine tree in the front yard looked like jewels gleaming in the sun.  However, I knew it was way past time to remove them, so I did that too ... & I marveled at how spring has sprung here so quickly & grabbed my camera before I walked out the door.  Come along & take a little walk with me   : )

   Just look at those pinecones!  I love pinecones!  And just look at that sky!  Not a cloud to be seen!

The house is looking sadly bare landscape-wise.  Last year's winter killed all the butterfly bushes & grasses we had planted around the foundation.  This year's winter killed all the willow bushes.  It's really a shame because they not only looked pretty, but the birds & butterflies really enjoyed them.

Nothing kills the daylilies though   : )   I couldn't believe how these ones out front were so lush & green already!

 This is one of the rhododendrons out back.  Lots of buds here.  They will all probably be blooming in another week or two!

This is a large bush out back that had been planted by the previous homeowners.  No one seems to know what it is.  We call it a pussy willow bush.  Whatever it is, the birds love it.  You sometimes see photos that I've taken of birds sitting in its branches.  When those cottony-white puffs bloom, they become tiny green flowers which the bees love.  You can't get anywhere near the bush for about a week after the flowers have bloomed because of all the bees!

Here's a closer look at the cottony-white puffs.

There are lots of buds on the weeping cherry tree.

  John really made a mess of this part of the yard when the ground was soaked from all the snow & rain (it still goes squish-squish-squish when you walk on it) & he couldn't see to back up the car.  I'm sure we can smooth it out when things dry up a bit.  

With the temp today predicted to be 66 & tomorrow's temp predicted to be 75 ... with more of the same on the horizon ... I decided it was time to bring the rockers back onto the front porch.

This is our view today from the front porch.

It's hard to believe that just 9 days ago ... 9 days!!! ... that view looked like this ...
I'd rather have the snow   : )

Thanks for taking a walk with me!  I hope you enjoyed it   : )

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mini Mania!!!

My cross stitching has taken a back seat to my knitting for the past couple of weeks.  I am not sure why, but I have become obsessed with knitting.  I mentioned in a post last month that I was knitting a sock & I wasn't sure if it was going to fit or if I was going to have enough yarn left to make its partner.  I had started, frogged, & restarted this sock so many times ... & when I tried it on it sure enough didn't fit ... so I frogged it again & decided to make a bunny with it.  More about this in a future post   : )

I did start knitting (& frogging & restarting & frogging & restarting again) another sock & I think I'm as close to getting it to fit as I'm going to get, so much so that I finished it & started knitting its partner.  More about this in a future post too   : )

I also found some absolutely drop dead gorgeous hand painted yarn that makes my heart beat a little faster just thinking about it!  Not good for someone with a-fib, but I don't care.  I'll take an extra pill & deal with it   : )   This yarn is hand painted by a yarn painting genius with a home based business.  More about this in a future post as well   : )

So what am I posting about here?  It's the fact that I haven't only become obsessed with knitting, I have become obsessed with sock yarn minis! These are little mini skeins of sock yarn which can hold anywhere from 12 yards to 90 yards.  I think the norm is 20-25 yards.  Ravelry caused this mini obsession for me.  I joined one of the groups there & saw a swap of mini sock yarn skeins.  When I checked it out & saw all the things you can knit with them, I was hooked like an addict gets hooked to meth.  Well, not that bad I guess ... but close   : )   I began searching high & low for mini sock yarn skeins.  I searched eBay, I searched Etsy, & I searched every yarn shop that Google suggested.  I have been receiving wonderful, wonderful packages of mini sock yarn skeins over the past two weeks & there's more a'comin ... lol! In no particular order, here are the ones I've received thus far.

This first batch contains the largest skeins, each containing 90 yards of beautifully soft & colorful 100% wool.  These are from a yarn shop called Woolbearers in Mt. Holly, New Jersey.  Myra, who I believe is the owner, is one of the nicest (not to mention one of the most patient) people I have ever dealt with   : )   She even included two little balls of yarn that she had left over from winding other skeins!  Didn't I tell you she was a nice person?

This next batch of skeins is from an online business called KnitCrate.  KnitCrate offers mini skeins to buy outright in sets of 5 or 10.  I ordered 5 sets of 10 for a total of 50 minis!  And it seems that whatever you purchase from KnitCrate, it comes in a little drawstring net bag which you can use to wash delicates, use as a project bag, or just store your precious yarns   : )   Here are my mini skeins in the net bag & also all dumped out on the floor.  Can you see that the drawstring on the bag is made from ribbon with the KnitCrate name printed on it?       

  Here are the skeins separated into their sets ...
... & here is a closer look at each set.
Baah Yarns La Jolla


Shalimar Yarns Zoe Sock

Jorstad Creek Tweed Sock

Madeline Tosh Sock

KnitCrate also has various yarn clubs you can join.  As far as the minis are concerned, you can sign up to receive either 5 or 10 surprise minis each month.  I signed up to receive 10   : )

One more thing about KnitCrate.  They offer a point program.  For every dollar you spend, you receive 1 point.  You can redeem your points at any time, I believe, & put them toward the price of your order.  I like this   : )

Next are a few wool skeins I purchased from an Etsy shop, AstraeaMeris.  The owner dyes all her yarns herself & she does a beautiful job!  She was kind enough to send me a few little freebie skeins as a thank you.  Thoughtfulness like that goes a long way with me.  As you can see, I haven't opened the little skein packages yet.  I'm looking forward to doing so   : )
And finally, here are two sets of minis I purchased from another Etsy shop, LadyDanio. Sarah, the owner, purchases the sock yarns & makes these mini skeins to sell.  A good idea, me thinks   : )   The color sets below are Winter Wonderland & True Blood.  I just purchased a new set that Sarah listed this morning ... Spectrum Rainbow   : )    
I have several projects in mind for these (& future) minis.  I need to make a few more pairs of socks first though, & finish my bunny, & maybe knit a few other things.  You know, it will be hard to pull apart these mini skeins.  They look so pretty just as they are.  Can't you see them stashed in a few baskets around my crafting studio?  Oh wait ... I don't have a crafting studio.  I guess I'll be using them after all   : )

Friday, March 6, 2015

Another Wonderful Day!

It was foggy when I woke up this morning & -3 degrees.  I could barely see it, but as it got lighter, there it was.  Hoar frost.  So pretty, & it didn't deter the birds from coming for breakfast!
  Mr. Cardinal

How many Blue Jays do you see?

A cute little Junco   : )

A mystery bird!  I think it's a sparrow of some sort.

Several birds in one of the farm trees on our "back 40" (actually our "back 12 or so").  I used the zoom for this.  Can't tell if they're blackbirds or Mourning Doves.  

A closer look using the zoom-zoom   : )   I am thinking they are Mourning Doves.

Mr. Blue Jay finding seeds in one of John's footsteps.  I love how the birds jump into his footsteps & settle down for a meal   : )

Front of property.

A farm tree & a fence line.

It is going to be a bright & sunny day, 32 degrees. The temperatures will continue to climb until next week when we will be in the 60s again.  That will be a sad time, but on the other hand it means we will be closer to listing our house for sale!  As I said a few posts back, we have decided to leave this place.  We have no idea where we will go, but if you have any suggestions, do let me know   : )  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow! Snow! Beautiful Snow!

It started raining Tuesday evening & continued raining until about 1 p.m. yesterday afternoon.  It then changed to a wintery mix, & that changed to continuous sleet.  At 8 p.m. it started snowing.  It's still snowing.  There are about 8" out there now & they are predicting another 1-3" today.  Life is good   : )

Here's our SUV parked down by the gate.  Can you see the snow still falling down around it?  Our plan yesterday was to drive up & down the driveway every hour or so during the night so that we wouldn't be unable to drive down it like happened after the last storm.  However, several hours of heavy sleeting created an ice rink on the ground, & the snow on top of that didn't provide any traction.  At 9 p.m. John drove down to the gate & out onto the street, then back up & then back down.  When he went onto the street again, he barely was able to make it back onto our property because of the ice.  He decided there was no way our plan was going to work, so he just parked by the gate.  This way we can get out if need be once the street is plowed & salted.

John went out to feed the birds this morning.  As soon as he was finished, a bunch of them flew in for breakfast.  Can you see them all in the bushes?

A truly gorgeous day   : )