Dear Dear Diary
This is Trixie, and she has been in the Endicott shelter for several years. She came and greeted me as I deposited 16 blankets on the counter.
I can't figure out how to adjust the rest of these pictures so I can comment on them correctly.
The kitty on the green pillow - that pillow is a bathmat sewn up and stuffed - a great idea for a durable and washable pillow.
I love the Endicott shelter because they always have cats roaming free in the building, as well as in very large rooms.
This was my definite bit of happy today.
These are the family's instruments, from left to right: tenor banjo, ukulele, and banjo-ukulele. The tenor or 4-string banjo was my grandfather's, and he used to ride around the Adirondacks on his Harley and play for drinks. The ukulele was my father's, but I don't think Da ever had a motorcycle. The banjo-ukulele was my grandmother's (the ribbon is what she used for a shoulder strap).
I have taken the tenor banjo home, and have determined I will learn to play it. I can do three chords, a basic scale, and one song at the moment, none of the above very well. I can only play a couple of minutes before my fingers hurt, but it'll take a while for the calluses to build.
Meanwhile, I've been looking into the history of the banjo. Grandpa Burt played by strumming or by picking out a tune. Now I know why. If you have an hour and a half to spare and you'd like an overview of Banjo, I recommend watching the PBS special, Give Me the Banjo: http://www.pbs.org/arts/exhibit/give-me-the-banjo/
But I'll sum up here. The banjo started in Africa and came to America and was refined by slaves. It wasn't until the 1840s when blackface vaudevillians started playing the banjo on stage that white people started to notice its existence. The 5-string banjo was the most common banjo even then. Just before and during the Civil War, manufacturers decided to start making banjos and began marketing them for "classical banjo style" to the white middle class, and as far as I can tell, this is when the 4-string tenor banjo was introduced. The documentary shows a flash of a bass banjo as well, and I just met on the Rav someone with a piccolo banjo. I showed her the pic above and she swears her banjo has an 8" head, sized firmly between my tenor (10.5) and the ukulele (6ish). Banjo was played in the North as well as South throughout the Civil War, and continued. Most music released after the War was marketed as "Coon Music", various cake walks and folk songs attributed to the former slaves. But after WWI, Tin Pan Alley took over, and this was my Grandpa Burt's influence as well as folk music. Burt had a lot of show tunes in his collection that are marked as his favorites. Bluegrass didn't evolve until Bill Monroe's Band took the stage, and fingerpicking styles developed by artists like Earl Scruggs didn't become known until the mid/late 1930s. So while I grew up with Beverly Hillbillies and Hee Haw which featured the clawhammer and other picking styles, Grandpa Burt would have seen it well after mastering the classical strumming style. Also, the two and three finger picking styles tend to be done on the common 5-string banjo, and few people in bluegrass play the 4-string - if they want the sound, they tend to reach for the mandolin instead, which is played in a similar style. The blues apparently evolved from bluegrass, and therefore tend to do the finger-picking on a 5-string. However, classic folk playing with strumming or frailing (a subset of strumming with a whole 'nother technique) has continued to this day, and the Irish folk music tradition has picked up the tenor banjo and taken the 4-string to Ireland. Most of the instruction available on the internet for the tenor banjo focuses on how to do the wild improvisation frills of Irish folk music. And out of curiosity I did a search for an electric banjo - apparently that exists as well and there is a rock music style as well. Heavy metal banjo exists on the YouTube. I was amused and delighted by this.
So while I am trying to learn the basics of the tenor banjo, I am overwhelmed by the possible musical connections I can make with the instrument. How do I want to play it? Can I master it all, or shall I just pick and choose what interests me and see what develops? I like all kinds of music, but the person I am most likely to play with is my sweetie, so we can jam together. We'll probably end up with bluegrass/folk and some rock, and end up with our own sounds of joy. Just need to figure out a guitar and/or harmonica for him, so he can play along. (and sadly, no, he isn't interested in the family ukulele :) )
This is my new favorite picture:
That's the center of my Pamuya
I received some Schaefer Anne yarn for my birthday and decided to knit myself a Pamuya. I always try to knit any yarn received for my birthday first in the year. That shawl came out lovely, but there are no beads and it was smaller.
My friend Heather liked it a lot, so she commissioned a Pamuya of her own, which I knit from Holiday Yarns Flock Sock in a color that Heather dyed in a workshop last year. This shawl came out lovely as well, and it makes me happy to see her wearing it. She says it's a great healing shawl.
Then Nuffles had serious anxiety and needed a security blanket. Since she's the one who gifted me my birthday yarn, I wrapped her in my Pamuya and sent her off. She decided to keep it (with my blessing), so she gave me two skeins of Madelinetosh Light, and that's when I got out the beads and made yet another one, for me.
And as you can tell above, it's lovely.
What I want to vote on:
It's the economy stupid. Our debt is unsustainable. We can't keep increasing the debt ceiling- the global economy won't stand for that any more than it could if we just printed more money. There are greedy people in charge with their hands in my back pocket and this has got to change. People like the Enron execs and Bailout receivers are breaking moral laws that we don't have real laws for and people are getting fucked for them.
Unnecessary wars. Why are Americans dying in places we don't belong? Why are we wasting money on this shit? We're only making more enemies in the long run.
Education. Our educational system is getting worse and worse. I can't rant enough about it.
Incumbent disposal. I like to vote out incumbents. If you've been in Washington more than 10 years, you are now part of the problem.
What I HAVE to vote on:
Women's rights. I don't need a picture from a transvaginal ultrasound (VA and AZ). I don't need to think about if it was rape or not (Chuck Winder). I don't need to be charged with murder, should I decide on termination or any procedure that may carry that risk (Colorado). I need reasonable priced healthcare available for all, and I don't need to justify WHY I want birth control pills or other therapy. It's MY body and I am a grown up and can decide for myself. I don't need to ask for my husband or my father or my son's permission for this shit either. 50% of the population is Female, and We Vote.
This is the Border strip, which I like a lot:
And this is the body of the dragonfly itself - the long torso bits:
Now comes the really hard part - the Wings. I know how I'm going to handle the thorax and head - but graphing the wings is the hard part.
My personal rules about Stash:
- Sock yarn doesn’t count as stash.
- Swapped yarn, or yarn received as Gifts, doesn’t count as stash. This yarn has Memories. (corollary: Yarn purchased for gifting cannot be stash because it is not for you)
- Yarn bought for a specific project doesn’t count as stash.
- Yarn paired with a pattern does not count as stash. This is a now a project, and Projects are Not Stash.
- Club Yarn does not count as stash, because it is either Sock Yarn or comes with a Pattern (therefore Project), or both.
- Yarn only used by you for one purpose only, such as dishcloth cotton or weaving yarn (I use #10 cotton for inkle loom projects only), doesn’t count as stash.
- Souvenir Yarn doesn’t count as stash. See Memories.
- Fiber isn’t Yarn, and therefore should not count as stash.
- Yarn you have Spun is Art and therefore Not Stash.
- Leftovers are Not Stash.
Therefore the majority of your yarn is either a Project waiting for Needles, or associated with Memories and therefore treasured and perhaps never to be used. Your stash is too small and I recommend you go straight to the Holiday Yarns website and immediately acquire more things.
In truth, I also have rules that include:
1. Never buy what you can't afford. You can't eat yarn. Insulation is no excuse, when you can't pay utilities.
2. Buy the good stuff when you can. Life is too short to knit with yarn that doesn't keep you happy.
3. If the yarn doesn't have a happy home with you, find it a new one. There is a purpose for every yarn, yea even Red Heart. Someone will love it.
Rules for a presidential debate:
Have it in a bar. They can have the alcohol of their choice, but it's going to be very public who drinks what.
The moderator is not the bartender. It's less confusing that way.
When a question is thrown to the general collection of candidates, they must chug. They get to answer in the order they finish their drink. Perhaps a pressure plate for putting down the empty glass will assist with the timing.
Every time the candidate wants to refute what someone else has said about them, they have to drink. Regardless of whether or not they get time right then to refute it.
I think this will make for shorter debates and much more interesting to watch.
My friend Rachel commissioned a shawl design. The requirements are:
1. It must feature a Dragonfly.
2. Minimal beads.
3. Aim for 2600-3000 yards. (she has 3200 yard skeins of Wollmeise she wants to use).
4. She wants the Pattern, so she can knit it herself.
I prefer not to have to purl back, so I thought either square or circular. Besides, these designs usually end up larger than triangular designs. Nor did I have an interest in a horseshoe type, either circular or square with the opening in one of the points (If I ever do something like that, I'd steek, and one really shouldn't steek a shawl, I think).
Here is a Dragonfly pose I want to capture:
I want to center that in each triangle of the square, with a lovely diagonal border stripes. Then, depending on yardage, I may knit a border around the edges. I determined what the cast on will look like for a square.
But first - the Gauge Swatches:
Starting with upper left, going clockwise:
Size 6 needles, 6 stitches/inch, Holiday Yarns Sunset
Size 4 needles, 7 stitches/inch, unknown but same base
Size 5 needles, 6.5 stitches/inch, Holiday Yarns Olive
I've got lots of scraps of lace, and we're going to use them all for this project. I'm going to knit enough of the center to establish patterns, then bind off 3/4, then focus on one triangle, with tons of lifelines. It'll be fun. I've stuck my nose in Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and have a few ideas of my own on top of that. But here's what we have so far.
Someone asked what I felt about Christmas carols. I answered I hated them. They asked why - so I typed this out to them.
It’s the fact that it’s the same bob-damn songs over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and…
And then you have the variations of the same songs, because every new singer has to produce the same damn songs only make them Unique. So the caterwauling is slightly different and you can no longer sing along.
And then inevitably someone greets you with a smile and is so bob damn happy for the season, and you just want to eviscerate them a rusty spork. The commercials yell BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY and if you aren’t a good person, you won’t buy X item for your loved ones. You don’t love them if you don’t buy them this thing. And the guilt of if you really loved your family you’d go see them and buy them this shit and let’s sing another carol to drive the point home and don’t you have plans for the holidays? and haven’t you just fucking consumed enough?
This is why I just want to consume alcohol, turn off all the lights, unplug the phone and crawl under a pile of blankets and not come out until it’s warmer.
FUCK the holidays. There is nothing Holy about them these days. They’re all fucking cursed and can die in a fire already.
That all being said, I am trying to have a better attitude. I'll go spend time with the family this year and be genuinely happy to see them. And truthfully, if it weren't for the holiday, I'd put off visiting. And put it off. And put it off some more. They'll always be there. Until they won't, and I'll kick myself for what I missed.
Today I am thankful for many things.
I am thankful my family isn't coming here, so I don't have to worry about being trapped by family in my own home. I have car keys. I can leave if I really get pissed off.
I am thankful I have a roof over my head that isn't leaking. I have a new water faucet in the kitchen that doesn't leak. I don't have carpet that smells like years of cat pee. I am thankful for the little changes we have made.
I am thankful I have the funds for my mortgage payment, groceries, and gas.
I am thankful I can breathe. Sometimes this has been in doubt. I can move without needing a wheelchair. Again, sometimes this has been in doubt. I am grateful the cane is optional most of the time.
I am thankful for Max the dog and the cats, Spider, Tiger Tom, and Pepe, and how they make me smile every single day.
And I'm thankful I have a sweetie who loves me very much, even when he's a grumpy stressed out bear.
There will be a World's Dumbest marathon today. I bet we can play a drinking game when we get home. Because then we can relax... and I am so looking forward to that.
I am petting a cat.
Miss Spider is sitting on my shoulder, her claws digging in ever so slightly in, and she is purring gently.
I am holding my knitting firmly in my left hand. I am racing in the Tour de Sock
, and I want to win this round, if I can. It's colorwork and challenging, and I hate this sock already because it isn't finished yet. I've only slept a few hours and will have a nap again later. The sock can wait while I hold her. Some things are more important than winning a sock knitting competition.
Later, Miss Spider goes back to the vet today. They will do blood work to see how she is responding to the thyroid medication, but I'm pretty sure already that she is not responding at all. She is losing her fur and has lost half her body weight. She is at least 19, and my sweetie has had her longer than he has had me. We've decided against surgery because her age and fragile state.
I am composing this blog post in my head for later, when I know I can cry without disturbing her.
I am smiling right now because she is purring and curled up with me.
I am petting a cat.
Today I drove to the Binghamton Humane Society on Jackson Street for the first time since the flood. The water line of the flood was obvious if you know what to look for, but the main street nearby managed to stay deceptively dry. Inside the Humane Society, the water clearly rose to a couple of feet.
Fortunately, they have relocated all of the animals to a vet's office in Chenango, and are offering adoptions there while a crew of volunteers come to the shelter to clean. The pile of trash is very large, like most of the businesses and homes I drove by today. The smell is not overwhelming, but it is pervasive, and I associate that smell with the feeling I'll never be clean again.
They had a table out front for donations of things. I added the cat blankets to the small pile of Clorox, pet food, and trash bags. There were other people coming and going while I was there, doing the same. A worker with an air filter mask greeted me and thanked me, and went back to work.
I wish I had more time and a better immune system, so I could join in. I peeked inside. The interior was unrecognizable. There was no sign advertising when they hoped to reopen - it will depend on volunteers cleaning in their spare time. The boarding expense is probably high as well. And the horrible part is that this is only one shelter hit by this flood, and many shelters have been hit worse.
If you're thinking about adopting a pet, now might be a good time - so the shelter doesn't have to pay extra to feed and house that mouth, and they can use the adoption fees for putting things right again.
There are days when this is all I can focus on. Excuse me, but I have some cat fur to go bury my nose in.
There are a lot of people mad for the Beekeeper's Quilt and Hexipuffs
I am not one of them. Here are a couple of mantras to help.
I must not puff. Puff are the mind-killer. Puffs are the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face the puffs. I will permit them to pass over me and around me. And when the puff fad has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the puffs have gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain, with other uses for my left over sock yarn.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the Puffs,
I will fear no Puff: For Yarn is with me;
My needles and my patterns, they comfort me.
Though I knit on other things in the presence of mine enemies;
I will still gladly swap scraps; My cup runneth over.
Surely fiber and yarnshall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will knit what I choose forever.
This summer, we lost Rascal T. Basset, which is devastating. Less than two weeks later, Tom died in my arms at the vet’s while we tried to figure out what the hell just happened. We noticed that Miss Spider, the last of the original three, was looking poorly, and at the age 19, we realistically can’t expect much more from her. She is getting treatment for her teeth and her hypothyroidism, so maybe she’ll stick around for a bit longer. But that put us at 2 cats and 1 dog, and this is too quiet of a house for us.
I have a friend who runs a local cat shelter called Wildrun. Since her husband left two years ago, she’s been trying to stop running the shelter. And I know some of her adults have been there a long time. I’ve visited the shelter and given cat blankets and catnip toys regularly. And I met Tiger Tom and some of the other cats who live in the Long-term Care room. According to her Petfinder Page, Tiger Tom had lived at Wildrun since at least August of 2005. That’s almost six years in a shelter. That’s too damn long. So we had room at the food bowl, and there was a cat who definitely needed a home. It was a very easy decision, except that we also wanted to take Wings and maybe Bug, and some of the other cats who have been there a long time. But I can’t afford to take them all. I know this, and it’s hard not to. We agreed to take him, even before I dragged Jazz off into the wilderness to meet the cat. Wildrun is almost an hour away by car, not to slight the wonderful no-kill right here in my town.
Susan, the lady who runs the shelter, agreed to arrange for an Exit Vet Visit, which indicated he would need dental work. This was arranged, and it was also arranged that he would recover in the shelter, in familiar territory, where he could be reached and pilled easily if needed. And then Susan brought him here last month on a Sunday. She brought a box from Petfinder that doubled as a hidey hole, where he promptly moved in.
He hid for two days in his box. Then he hid for two days elsewhere in the bathroom, which we declared his safe room. He let me pet him starting Wednesday, in terms of not running away when someone reached for him. But Thursday night, he actually responded to petting, including Rising Butt Syndrome. So we put the baby gate up in front of the Bathroom and opened the door, so he could see the household and still be safe. He stopped hiding in the bathroom. Two days later, the baby gate moved from the bathroom door to the office door. He found places to hide in the office, but also decided that my desk was lovely of an evening or early morning, and he could be petted then. We then took the baby gate down entirely, and everyone came into the office freely, and sniffed out where he hid, and ignored him when he wasn’t hiding. And slowly he hid less, and explored more of the house. The living room we knew would be the hardest room. It’s where the Dog spends his days, as does the Man who gets Excited and Yells things. For a scared cat, both are terrifying. So to sit between Dog and Man is Amazing. There are a few small things it would be lovely to see, but they’re little. We’ve chased him off a kitchen counter. I’ve had to rescue knitting from being chewed. He still hasn’t met the spinning wheel in action. But, he’s home and relaxed, and comes out during the day, and Demands petting. He drools slightly and makes biscuits. He’s a lovely boy.
This is Tiger Tom now:
Welcome to your home, Tiger Tom.
This is Tiger Tom. Apparently, either I take crappy pictures, or he has a grumpy expression.
It's okay if he has a grumpy expression - I like grumpy cats.
He's rather shy and didn't want much attention from us today. He's going off to the vet on Monday and get a thorough going over. Then Wildrun will deliver him to us Tuesday or Wednesday.
We anticipate he'll get on well with Miss Spider and Pepe. However, he hasn't been dog-tested, so we expect Max to be a gentledog and behave (as he is good with the other cats). We hope Tiger Tom will be a love.
Sometimes the only way to start plugging a hole in the heart is with some Do Goodery. This is the desk of the Broome County Humane Society, after I piled it with blankets from Tata and Friends.
She explained that these blankets are used to line the cat carriers the cats go into every morning while their cages are cleaned, like this one:
Then when that cat gets to go home, the cat blanket goes home with him, so he has a comfort thing to help him adjust.
This particular blanket, modeled with the help of Butler, was made from squares found in someone's stash after their passing. Butler says they make a comfy blanket, and he'll get to keep it in his cage.
If you want to donate yarn for the cause, email me for more info.
Last night in the wee hours, Tom didn't want his gushy foods. I thought it odd, but otherwise, he seemed fine. This morning, he was lethargic at best, uncoordinated, and uninterested. We decided we'd be taking him to the vet as soon as they opened. Then he started to pant. By the time we got to the vet, the moment they opened, he was noticeably worse. He died in my arms while the vet was examining him. She said there was a definite mass and nothing we could have done would have likely helped. We've buried him out back.
Tom was the cat we got after Katrina happened. With the huge exodus of pets to Northern shelters, we knew that our local no-kill would want to adopt a bunch of Katrina rescues, so we went there and brought home a cat who had been there a long time. He had one bad eye and a bum leg, and had an ear tip signifying he lived for a time in a feral cat colony managed with TNR. The other ear was feathered from many fights, and he never took much guff from anyone.
Tom never liked dogs much, especially after we babysat a friend's Jack Russel Terror who was fond of attacking all of our cats. Kenya waded in one argument with Tom and the JRT, and since then Kenya and Tom got on okay. The basset and Tom developed an agreement - don't corner Tom and the Basset could keep his nose intact. After one incident where Tom and Pepe cornered Max, the schnauzer and Tom had a non-aggression pact. Pepe and Tom however loved to argue.
Tom did loose all of his teeth while he was with us. We called him our Pirate cat because of the one eye, stiff leg and attitude. He was roughly 12 to 15 years old.
Rascal T. Basset, Esq.
1994? - May 11, 2011
He loved Paydays, short walks, the woods, Jazz and me. He hated being alone. He had the ultimate dog bed upstairs and down. He didn't play much, but he never needed to. He liked rubs under his chin and to shake his head and shower you with water after having a drink. His head bumps could be lethal weapons. Most importantly, he was loved.