Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The sun has set on summer

Yeah, I know, it's the last day of October and summer is long gone. It certainly felt so earlier this month, when the cold rain settled in for weeks on end. But lately, with the sun shining brilliantly, a bit of produce remaining in the garden and flowers still blooming, I could delude myself about the changing seasons --
-- IF I didn't look at the leaves!
Today I took advantage of the continuing dry, sunny weather to pick the last of the garden veggies, except for the carrots. It was a nice little haul of eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini, as well as four small Casper pumpkins. Now it truly does feel like summer has ended, but we shall eat well for a little while longer.
That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Handcrafted ensemble

Here I am in my Lacy Shawl and Fingerless Gloves, both knitted from free patterns I found on the internet and knit from ShepherdChik's handspun Shetland/angora yarn. My sister took the photo for me before I wore them to church yesterday, over her protests that fingerless gloves are JUST TOO WEIRD. :-)
The hillside on which we live is clothed in far finer garb than I could ever craft. The photo above is a bit blurry, but the only one I took in which you can (barely) discern Mt. Hood on the horizon. The weather has been glorious this past week, sunny and beautiful during the day with crisp fall nights illuminated by stars and a full moon. My sister is finally getting her minimum daily requirement of sunshine after three weeks of nearly constant rain, which she bore admirably well, by the way -- for a Texan. :-)

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Date night

Rick and I don't go on dates often, like all those marriage books and counselors say you should. It's not that we disagree with the advice, although we DID get 20+ years (between dating and marriage) to do things as a couple before Brian came along. It's mostly that Rick's schedule as an ambulatory large animal vet is pretty unpredictable; we can MAKE plans, but a colicky horse can derail them with one phone call.

Last night was one of those infrequent exceptions, made easier by the presence of my sister to babysit and throw supper hay to the four-legged beasties. Rick got tickets to a pre-season Portland Trailblazers game from a friend is who one of the team dentists (who knew they had team dentists?!). He managed to block off his schedule from mid-afternoon on, so away we went to downtown Portland. Rush-hour traffic was predictably bad, but we arrived in time to eat at a Thai restaurant near the Rose Quarter, find a parking space within walking distance, and get to the game. The seats were AMAZING -- we were about five rows up from the court! It was a fun game to watch, too. The Blazers started off strong in the first quarter, faltered a bit in the second, stumbled badly in the third, and then rallied to win by two points in the final moments of the game. Sitting that close you get a much better sense of how physical a game basketball is (I've played, but women aren't as rough). Watching the players shove and bump each other, especially when it wasn't necessary, reminded me a lot of rams jostling for dominance. I guess testosterone works pretty much the same across the board!

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Make a list, get a list pad (and maybe more!)

While at the women's retreat, I picked up two of these little magnetic list pads with John 10:11 and sheep at the top. One is for me; I HAVE to write things down or I forget half of what I need to do. Since I've enjoyed other bloggers' contests and the chance to win something (anything!), I thought I'd offer the other as a prize if I could think up a contest. Actually, I HAD thought up a contest the week before Rosie died, faltered with the idea, and then decided to run with it. So with an altered total, here is the contest: the first person to identify, by name, all eleven of God's creatures who share Boulderneigh with the humans ("meadow rats" and other wild things excluded) gets the prize. All have been named and pictured on this blog at one time or another, so the information is here for the looking.

That's it for now from ALL of us at . . .

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"A little less of me"

If Braveheart could talk, that's what he might have said to me yesterday morning when I went out to do chores. After leading him and his harem to their turnout, I noticed while filling their hay feeder that sometime since Friday, he had knocked off his left scur (the one on the right side of the photo). As you can see, the right one that he knocked off earlier hasn't regrown much. Since "smaller is better" when it comes to horn material on Boulderneigh rams, this is good!

In other sheep news, Rick said Bella escaped from her turnout Sunday and then somehow managed to force her way into the breeding group's turnout (she left Brava behind). Thankfully Braveheart was more interested in butting her than breeding her, and after a long chase and several attempts with a lariat, Rick managed to rope Bella and put her back where she was supposed to be. Personally, I would have used a different method to capture her, but I am thankful Rick got her out of there one way or another. That Bella really needs to find another home and have the high-tensile apron strings cut! And that man deserves a big hug and kiss for being an all-around good guy, especially on this, his birthday. We're going to celebrate tomorrow night with dinner and a Blazers game; he has a professional meeting tonight.

That's it for now at . . .

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm back...

...from the brink of despair, from a wretched abyss of emotional pain, from Bend, Oregon. You knew I'd be back, right? After all, I am a "journaler" at heart, so it is my wont to write down things, to think on paper/computer screen.

Before moving on, I want to thank you for all your comments and personal emails in response to my last post. Friends really do multiply joys and divide sorrows. I haven't said a lot about Rosie on this blog, but she was the "Dog of My Life." There WILL be other dogs, of course, but the next one will probably be "Brian's dog." It will be awhile before I can devote the time, emotions and energy to a puppy; at this time in my life my higher priority is to be Brian's mommy.

Last weekend I was signed up for a Christian womens' retreat in Bend, OR. I was prepared to cancel when Rosie got sick, but decided to go after we had to put her down. Figured I was more likely to be distracted from the aching void Rosie left behind while off somewhere else, listening to inspiring speakers and being with a bunch of nice women. Twas true. It was a good retreat, in a beautiful setting, that kept me thinking mostly of things other than my sweet dog. The suite I shared with seven others looked out on a small river, and on both Saturday and Sunday mornings I got up early with a friend and went for long, brisk walks before breakfast. The view from our room (there was a dusting of snow on the ground Saturday morning!):
Some photos taken on our Sunday morning walk:

While in meetings, I knitted. It's a wonderful way to listen without getting sleepy. Before leaving home I had bound off my lacy shawl, so I took the rest of the yarn from Becca and a pattern I found for lacy fingerless gloves so I could have a matching ensemble. I finished two pair, and a ribbed headband! (Photos later; my camera batteries are charging and I still need to weave in ends.)

The fingerless gloves were knit on double-pointed needles, the first project I've done on DPs start to finish. I may actually feel brave enough to try socks now -- but don't hold your breath. There's a sweater pattern I want to try first. :-)

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Trying to end on a good note....

Losing a pet is never easy. Losing the most beloved of all that you have ever shared your life with is excruciating.

After Rick tried unsuccessfully to get enough blood Monday morning to run a chemistry panel and CBC, he told me to take Rosie into a small animal clinic to have that done, as well as chest and abdominal x-rays. Our "regular" small animal vet isn't in on Mondays, the second one I called couldn't do it because their x-ray processor was down, so I drove Rosie to a third vet Rick is familiar with who had an afternoon appointment available. The lab results looked good except for a couple spikes that could be attributed to the prednisone we've had her on; no pancreatitis. But the chest x-ray showed a large, undefined mass in her chest that was displacing her trachea way over to her right side, explaining her difficulty in breathing. Obviously something that large didn't happen overnight; apparently she's been compensating for it for a long time before her "crash" on Saturday.

The vet sent us home with a couple cans of easily-digested prescription dog food; I softened it even more with warm water and got her to eat a bit from my hand that evening. She ate from my hand again Tuesday morning, enabling me to get a dose of prednisone down her. That helped her feel better; by Tuesday noon, although still weak, she was able to stand up and eat warm, softened food by herself.

Meanwhile, Rick sent her x-rays to a classmate from vet school who is now a board-certified radiologist at the WSU vet school. Dr. Roberts advised we get Rosie ultrasounded at a referral clinic to get a better idea of what we were dealing with. Some kind of cancer was the most likely diagnosis, but a treatable cyst was another. So today I drove Rosie to Portland. It was so hard to deny her food and water when she was now perky enough to want both (she's actually been drinking well all along), but I had to in case anesthesia was needed (it wasn't). There we got the news we were dreading; a large, inoperable, heart-based tumor that was putting pressure on her trachea and other structures, and causing fluid to collect around her heart. Rick and I conferred by phone. Since the referral practice doesn't do euthansias anyway, we decided to bring her home, make the most of her steroid-induced comfort, and lay her to rest here. Before leaving, I asked for a bowl so she could get a good drink and gave her a dog biscuit I had in my purse. When we got in the car I gave her a tennis ball I had stumbled upon under the seat; she happily gnawed it into little pieces. I swung through Burgerville for some sweet potato fries, which we shared. When we got home, she got another drink, a nice, big dish of warm, soupy canned food (with another prednisone), and a new toy to chew between rests. She even played a bit of tug-o-war with me. Now she's dozing next to me on the couch. Brian is out and about with his Aunt Kristine (bless her!) so I can spend this time with my "Baby Dog;" Rick is not yet home. Tonight after he has a chance to dig her grave, I will stroke Rosie and tell her how much I love her while Rick administers a final mercy and I fall apart for the umpteenth time since I realized a few short days ago I might lose the best dog I've ever had. One final blessing for all three of us: the catheter used to give her IV fluids Monday is still in and open, so we can do this without any final poking.

For now I am going to close this without any photos, because I can't bear to look through my files and think of how much I am going to miss this dog -- my dog. I am going to sit here and absorb every bit of being with her I have left. Seven years has not been long enough....

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sweatin' and smokin'

We've enjoyed a few beautiful fall days, but it started to rain again in the night and will continue all week, say the weatherpeople. At least my sister can't keep complaining that she hasn't seen the sun since she arrived (just in time to experience our rainest October ever!).

Yesterday I took advantage of the last dry day (and the presence of a second parent to help supervise) and mucked out the Shetland Sheraton, reconfiguring it as well. We have to have a "fold within a fold" to keep Bella and Brava out of the breeding group; I moved the inner fold around to give them a bit more room. This move also created a corner where it will be easy to set up a lambing jug or two when that time comes. If I were a betting woman, I would take wagers that that time will begin in early March with Rechel. She and Braveheart both have that "air" about them, like a young couple just returned from their honeymoon:Valentine has stopped taking continual pot-shots at Braveheart; they even eat side by side sometimes. Maybe I will get some beautiful brown lambs from them yet! Dinah, for now, is leaving me guessing.

While I "changed the sheets," so to speak, Rick and Brian worked on another fall chore (it wasn't sunny ALL day):Ah, one of the smells of fall. It always seems a waste not to break out the marshmallows when we light the burn pile!

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In the pink - and not

Today I noticed that a third volunteer dahia, a delicate pink, was blooming. Not too far away there is one sedum blossom hiding next to the blue fescue (the meadows rats haven't read the Sunset Western Garden Book's notation that deer don't like sedum): Then there's this rich pink mum in one of my pots on the deck:
Dampening my enjoyment of all this beauty, however, is Rosie's current state of misery. We're not sure what's causing her pain and loss of appetite; Rick suspects pancreatitis. He'll run blood work on her tomorrow before we get too aggressive; we don't want to give her painkillers if her kidneys are struggling. She's never been this sick, and I'm worried. Please keep her in your prayers.
That's it for now at . . .

Friday, October 12, 2007

More favorite things

A couple times this week my sister and I have gotten to enjoy downtown McMinnville, "our" town. McMinnville is a wonderful place; big enough to have most everything you need while retaining a lot of small-town charm. The downtown area is vibrant with interesting shops and restaurants, beautiful plantings, hanging baskets of flowers, and lovely old architecture. I've always loved beautiful details on buildings; architecture-oogling is as much fun to me as leaf-peeping. So you can imagine my rapture when these two favorites are combined! (It doesn't hurt to add in a couple of favorite people. :-)
I hope you enjoyed the show!

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Spinning: the agony and the ecstasy

Ecstasy: Finally finishing Bill Withers' lovely grey mohair given to me by dear Lauren.

Ecstasy: Actually seeing the beautiful cable yarn I've envisioned take shape from one ply of Bill Withers and two plies of red Wensleydale.

Agony: Having my driveband jump off my wheel every few seconds because the groove on my bobbin doesn't line up with the groove on my drivewheel!

By putting a book under the back of the floor supports to tip my wheel forward, the driveband isn't popping off QUITE so quickly. THIS is the reason I'm putting up with the frustration:
I LOVE this yarn! I'm calling it "Rubies and Rain Clouds." I don't know yet what I will knit with it; I'll have to see how much I end up with. I ALMOST did a two-ply in order to stretch my yardage, but am really glad I stayed with my original three-ply plan; the round result is very appealing to me.

That's it for now at . . .

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lovin' the colors!

Fall is my favorite time of year. The sunrises can be amazing (and I'm awake to see them!), the weather is cooler, the late harvest is coming fast and furious, and the foliage is breathtaking. I think I like the intensity of the fall colors better than the pretty pastels of spring. Most of the spectacular colors around here are in planted landscaping (or the nurseries that are growing the landscaping plants); so many things grow well in the Willamette Valley.
I also have to include a photo of this bush I saw with a different kind of fall color. I think the blue flowers and the yellowish foliage are a striking combination. I wonder what it is and if the meadow rats would eat it?

*BEEP*BEEP*BEEP* We interrupt our regularly scheduled post with sightings of unusual objects. First, yesterday afternoon I spotted a small snake on the driveway. It's definitely not snake weather, snakes being cold-blooded creatures and all, but there it was. I prodded it with my toe to encourage it to move off the driveway and out of harm's way. At first it didn't respond; I figured it was cold. Then it coiled up and rattled/hissed at me! I ran into the house to get my camera while questioning in my mind whether it could possibly be a timber rattler, the only poisonous snake found (very occasionally) this side of the Cascades. No, it did not have rattles, but it sure was acting like it wanted to strike! After taking a few shots from a safe distance, I googled bull snake as well as timber rattlesnake and satisfied myself that the reptile did not need to be dispatched; the bull (gopher) snake could live on to catch mice and other small varmints.

Later, while I was taking pictures of our own colorful leaves (oak and dogwood, above), I was surprised to see this:One of the rhodies Rick planted this spring has a blossom on it! I have never seen rhodies re-bloom before; what a nice little treat!

That's it for now at . . .