Thursday, November 30, 2006

Celebrating like crazy - or is that GOING crazy?

The older I get, the faster the holidays come -- and go! We chug along to Rick's birthday in October, then to mine in November. Then Thanksgiving arrives, with Brian's birthday and Christmas hot on its heels, and before I know it, we're into another year already. I'd enjoy it all more if it would just move S-L-O-W-E-R. But it doesn't....

Rick's mother and step-dad flew in on Thanksgiving Day; I had dinner ready when everyone walked in the door. What do vegetarians eat for Thanksgiving dinner? LOTS! Let's see, there was a stuffing casserole, oven roasted potatoes and carrots, butterhorn rolls, cranberry jello salad, steamed broccoli, sweet pickles, and white concord/lemon-lime punch, all homemade. Then came the country apple pie and pecan pie, with butter pecan ice cream. We didn't miss the turkey....

The day after Thanksgiving we cut our Christmas tree, a 15-foot Noble fir. (No, we aren't ridiculously wealthy; we have friends who have a small plot of overgrown Christmas trees.) Saturday night we invited our easterly neighbors up, ate various holiday goodies, and decorated our tree. Then our neighbors went home to enjoy the lights on our tree from their house, since they don't "do" a Christmas tree. It IS a handsome sight from inside and out!
I put this garland up on our fireplace for the first time this year, and think it looks nice there. Rosie just likes the heat....

Sunday night we rolled four occasions into one, with Rick opening a late birthday gift, Brian and Grandma opening early birthday gifts, and everyone exchanging early Christmas gifts. Whew –- that made FIVE holidays celebrated in one visit! But that wasn't all. We woke up Monday morning to SNOW, so the grandparents from Mesa, AZ got to celebrate winter, as well!

I took some photos of the girls in the snow, but there wasn't enough of the white stuff under the trees in their pasture to make for any great shots. Guess I'll have to leave those to the Midwestern breeders like Nancy Krohn. :-) Did get a neat shot of the birdfeeder on our deck during a sun break....

By Tuesday morning we'd gotten more snow and some ice on the road from refreezing during the night. I had to chain up to get down our hill to take the grandparents to the airport. No problems from there on, or getting back up the hill later.

Tomorrow we leave for San Antonio for a week. Rick will attend a conference for equine veterinarians, while Brian and I have fun with my folks (from Amarillo, TX) and sister (from MD), who are flying in to join us. We'll celebrate Christmas early with them, too. When we get back, we have several Christmas functions to attend. By the time Christmas itself rolls around, I'll be too pooped to party! A quiet evening at Boulderneigh with the men in my life and the animals that enrich it, giving thanks for our many blessings, sounds good to me.

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A fiber surprise!

Friday I got a box. Since I was expecting an order of yarn, I was surprised to see the return address of Kathy LeFevre, fellow new Shetland shepherd and cyber-pal. She had not mentioned sending me a box in any of her recent emails, so I opened the box with great curiousity. Out tumbled FOURTEEN baggies of fiber!

Her enclosed note said: "I got to thinking about you and your spinning – I remember when I started (30 years ago) how fun it was to try new wools and other fibers. So – I went through my 'stash' to see if I had anything you might like to play with. I know the samples aren't huge, but you'll get some ideas on what makes yarns that you like.... I hope you have a ball playing with these!"

The samples include:
Gotland roving
80% New Zealand Romney/20% New Zealand possum roving
dark BFL roving
white BFL roving
brown U.S. merino roving
white Icelandic lamb roving
white Navajo-Churro roving
dark New Zealand Romney locks
white U.S. Romney locks
white New Zealand Gotland roving, with a note that it's from the very same fleece from Stansborough from which the Fellowship of the Lord of the Rings cloaks were made(!)
very dark Pitt Island roving
very dark Pitt Island Hogget roving
white angora rabbit
Sea Island cotton roving

Kathy also included a page from Oklahoma State University's website on livestock breeds describing the Pitt Island sheep (, a subgroup of Saxony merino sheep and the source of two of the samples.

I can't describe how touched I was by this thoughtful gift. Thank-you, Kathy! I have met such wonderful people since entering the world of Shetland sheep and fiber addicts (some in person, some only via my computer), and they keep surprising me with their kindness –- and by what else we end up having in common! (I think I will have to dedicate a post just to that some day!) I can't wait to try all the samples and start my education about the differences between various wools and fibers. Right now I'm still in the first few weeks of Kindergarten, figuratively, having only worked with my own Shetland fleece and a bit of purchased top.

That's it for now at . . .=

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oreo, Brian's miracle cat

A couple weeks ago a client called me, asking if I knew of anyone who would like a cat. A sweet little stray had been hanging around her neighborhood for four months getting food and attention from several families, but winter was coming on and no one was able to give "Oreo" a permanent home. I immediately pricked my ears. This summer Casper (as in friendly ghost), a little tomcat who had adopted us years ago and had been adopted by Brian as "his" cat, disappeared. Ozzie (short for ocelot, because of his exotic looks as a youngster), our other barn cat, is now 17 years old. Even though he doesn't look or act half that and loves attention, he will turn and bite you WHEN you are petting him, and will snag your hand or your ankle when you STOP petting him. Needless to say, he's not a "kid-friendly" cat, and Brian has missed his Casper. So I mentioned my interest, but also expressed my concern about getting Rick to ever neuter the cat, since he had never gotten around to Casper. (Remember, the cobbler's children have no shoes!) When my client said the neighbors had already agreed to take up a collection for Oreo's surgery before placing her (Oreo was assumed to be a female), I jumped at the opportunity and spoke for the cat.

Oreo's surgery was scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 2, pending a negative test for feline leukemia. I got a call before I picked her up from the veterinary clinic that evening, saying she was negative AND already spayed, so there were no post-operative complications to worry about - hurray! Brian and I picked up Oreo just before going to his first swimming lesson. She was calm and quiet in the crate, and rubbed against Brian's fingers when he tried to touch her through the door. When we got home, we set Oreo up to have the run of the garage, and we stayed up late (for Brian) loving on "his" new cat. He was delighted with her loving nature, saying, "She's the best cat I ever had!"

By Friday mid-morning, I wasn't sure what to do, as Oreo had not yet used the litter tray and seemed desperate to get outside. I also felt pressure from Rick (which he told me later he hadn't meant to convey) to get Oreo accustomed to the barn, where she would be living. So with much trepidation, after introducing her to our dog Rosie through the carrier door (no reaction from Oreo), I carried her down to the barn. There we introduced her to Ozzie through the carrier door (he's MUCH bigger than she is). Oreo hissed. I moved Ozzie away, and Brian and I talked to and petted Oreo in the carrier. Finally, I shut the barn door and opened the carrier door. Oreo wasn't so sure she wanted out in this strange new environment where lived the biggest creatures she had ever seen in her life (the horses)! She peered out the sides and door of the carrier for awhile:

Finally, she came out and set about exploring the barn, mostly around the hay stack. Ozzie watched – and reacted with temper when Oreo tried to jump up where he was hiding (I don't think she could see him, because his hidey-hole was several feet off the barn floor). We kept talking to her, and loved on her whenever she circled back by us. She still seemed to need to go outside, so I opened the barn door, which she eventually went through. Sure enough, she found dry gravel in the adjoining tractor shed and relieved herself. Then she walked around the corner of the shed, down the bank and into the woods. Brian had been tailing her all along, and immediately got worried. I called to her, but she was walking away purposefully. Brian followed her as far as the brush would allow, and then came back sobbing about his cat leaving. What I had feared had happened, and I didn't know what to do or say! Of course we immediately prayed that Jesus would take care of Oreo, and bring her back to us. We also hung around the barn and woods calling to Oreo for quite awhile, before heading back to the house. Periodically, I looked and called again, and even more frequently, we prayed for her again, ending with bedtime prayers. I knew God could answer my little boy's pleas, but I also know He sometimes says no, and I was feeling heartsick for him, for me, and for a lost little cat alone in the woods with predators.

That night after Rick did chores, he felt compelled to search for her in the woods, with a flashlight, in the rain. He looked and listened; nothing. About the time he was going to give up, he thought he heard something. Considering that Rick has had compromised hearing ever since he fell from the back of the pick-up and landed on his head on the pavement, it truly is a miracle that he heard her, for she is a very soft-spoken kitty! He continued to call and search and found her, hiding in the trees on the edge of our pasture. He carried her back to the barn (where she panicked at the sight of the horses) and put her in the tack room, setting her up to stay in that secure area awhile with food, water, a warm bed, and a bigger litter pan (which she is now using).

You should have seen Brian's face when we told him the following morning that God answered his prayers and helped Daddy find his cat. He had to go down to the tack room in the barn in his pajamas and boots to see and love her before we left for church. He continues to go down several times a day to see "his" cat, and Rick and I give her more attention during morning and evening chores and any other time we go to the barn.

I'm not sure what our next step will be. We don't want to risk another wilderness excursion (do cats have guardian angels?); we've even discussed the possibility of making her a house cat. In the meantime, she is "queen of the tack room" and a "thief of hearts."

That's it for now at . . .

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's raining, gold

Yes, it's raining AND it's raining gold! We're in the midst of a Pineapple Express, a weather pattern that brings mild temperatures, LOTS of rain, and often wind to the Northwest. So the bright gold of the maples, cherry and peach trees, and even the vineyards is coming down with the rain. Pretty much all the counties in Western Oregon are under flood watches or warnings. We never have flooding problems because we live on a hill, but as you can see, our little outdoor arena is sand soup. (That's why those who can, build covered arenas, and those who can't, haul to one – like I did today!)

A lot of folks complain about our gray, rainy winters. Me, I always marvel at the fact that about the time the skies turn gray, the trees light up. (I've also noticed that photos of fall colors turn turn out much better when taken on overcast days.) Here's one of my little Japanese maples:
the peach orchard down the hill:and a vineyard nearby:

Coming soon: a post about Oreo, our miracle cat!

That's it for now at . . .