Friday, March 30, 2007

Where the deer and the buffalo roam

Oh, give me a home where the Buffalo roam
Where the Deer and the Antelope play;
Where never is heard a discouraging word,
And the sky is not clouded all day.
Original" text by Dr. Brewster Higley (1876)

Well, not really “the deer and the antelope…” but “the deer and the chickens will play.” The pictures were taken through the front storm door. I didn’t want to spook the two yearlings by opening the door. The pair looks kind of skinny and still has winter coats, but I’m sure they will soon fatten up. With the snow finally gone, they will find plenty of food, including anything I might have planted. Oops, better get thee to thy asparagus patch and see if any spears are peaking out of the ground already. Now to find someone who can build a fence around the patch because these two are not playing shy at all and before too long will find their way to the back of the house and my miserly garden patch which I have claimed inch by inch from the sand pit the previous owner created instead of leaving a small wetlands patch. (second photo from top)

This is a picture I took the other day. A nice Klatsch on a sunny afternoon between a Buff and an Astrolorp. (Third photo from top)

And here is what one of the fawns looked like late last Fall. (Bottom photo)

Who needs to travel to far places when all you have to do is look out your front door.

Next time, on knitting again. But it was nice to get away from "1440 stitches on the circ" for a moment.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A little bit of silliness

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. We were watching M.A.S.H. when an ad for Dairy Queen came on. Jeff Foxworthy's ditty about "you know you live in Michigan if..." came to mind as we looked at each other quizzically wondering if the Dairy Queen was open yet. Alas, not yet. We have to wait a little longer. But here is Jeff Foxworthy's take on Michigan. If you've already seen it, come back another time. What is really, really sad is that I've lived now long enough in Michigan to be able to attest to the veracity of each one of these statements.
  1. If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Michigan.
  2. If you're proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Pellston is the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in Michigan.
  3. If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Michigan.
  4. If you instinctively walk like a penguin for five months out of the year, you might live in Michigan.
  5. If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you might live in Michigan.
  6. If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Michigan.
  7. If you have worn shorts and a coat at the same time, you might live in Michigan.
  8. If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Michigan.
  9. If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Michigan.
  10. "Vacation" means going up north on I-75. (alternatively I-131)
  11. You measure distance in hours.
  12. You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.
  13. You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.
  14. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching. (Who me? Not, me.)
  15. You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings). (How gauche, but I haven't owned a pair of pantyhose in at least 10 years)
  16. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.
  17. You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them.
  18. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit. 20. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
  19. You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction. (Jeff, there are only two seasons: construction and winter.)
  20. You can identify a southern or eastern accent.
  21. Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce.
  22. You were unaware that there is a legal drinking age. 25. Down South to you means Ohio. (Well, actually "down South" begins with Grand Rapids.)
  23. A brat is something you eat.
  24. Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole barn.
  25. You go out to a fish fry every Friday. (I am too frugal, I mean cheap, to go to those "eat all you can" events. I can't eat enough.)
  26. Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.
  27. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car. (Mine doesn't but the guy who does the snow plowing for me does.)
  28. You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."
  29. You drink pop and bake with soda.
  30. Your doctor tells you to drink Vernor's and you know it's not medicine.
  31. You can actually drink Vernor's without coughing
  32. You know what a Yooper is. (The folks across the Bridge between the lower and upper Peninsula)
  33. You think owning a Honda is un-American. (Not me. We drive a Nissan and a Toyota. Just can't trust those people that move to Michigan from another state.)
  34. You know that UP is a place, not a direction. (UP = Upper Peninsula. Yoopers think that "down South" starts on the south end of The Bridge.)
  35. You know it's possible to live in a thumb. (The other side--east side-- of the State where all the liberals live.)
  36. You understand that when visiting Detroit, the best thing to wear is a Kevlar vest. (Since I don't own a Kevlar vest, I don't travel to Detroit.")
  37. You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Michigan friends. (And a heartfelt Michigan, yep.)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A job well done!

While I've been slogging along with knitting, my daughter has been busy dyeing roving and spinning yarn. She does an awesome job. And what better way to thank her than showing off her work. She's also been busy with college, and has been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa. Congratulations; I knew you could do it Angela. Such an occasion deserves your formal first name. So since she has been too busy at school, dyeing yarn, and today is working extremely hard on skirting fleece with our friends from Chickasaw Farm, I thought I'd take advantage of the sunny weather and take some photographs of her latest dyeing and spinning jobs and show them off for her.

A job well done, Angela!

Monday, March 19, 2007

A thank you to Nick!

We received news on Sunday that our friends' son was injured in Iraq. He is now safely at Ramstein AFB in Germany being treated. All we know is that his right arm was penetrated by a bullet shot from a Mosque in Al-Fallujah. It apparently also crazed his stomach area. Nick reports that he recognized the shooter from the streets of Al-Fallujah. Due to being wounded, he missed the chlorine attack. I am not sure whether to be grateful or angry.

I know Ramstein AFB. Many years ago, I drove on the back of a U.S. military lorry to Ramstein to receive my shots so I could work for the U.S. military as a translator and clerk. I'm still not sure why I needed to be re-immunized, but that is beside the point right now. Nick's mother is thankful that her son is alive. He is such a polite, hard working and good looking young man (at my age, politeness counts a lot).

I am the product of the last great war, WWII. I had an uncle who fell at Soisson, France in WWI, an uncle who committed suicide either during or at the end of WWII, and a cousin who was about the same age as Nick when he was taken prisoner of war in France as Nick was when he was deployed to Iraq. I am angry that our president would take us into a war that we cannot win. I am angry that his actions destabilized the Middle East (better the enemy you know than the enemy you don't). I am angry that he apparently does not know history, or if he does, ignores it.

Please realize, I am old enough to remember the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu,Vietnam and the Americans plunder in getting involved in the area. I realize that Saddam Hussein was an evil man, but, to me at least, it is crystal clear that our current administration lied to us about the reason to go into Iraq. Presidents itching for a fight do not serve us well. To foreigners, President Bush is the epitome of the "ugly American." In fact, at this point in time, I am ashamed to be an American.

This is the second time in my life that I am ashamed of being a citizen of a particular country. I grew up with the disgrace and shame of being German. So, I suppose, I should be used to the feeling, but I realize I am not, particularly when it comes to the death of our young men and women and the effect war has on the children of war-torn countries. I know personally the aftermath of war on children and adults alike. I have lived it, lived with others affected by it, and am still living it. So I beg your indulgence for this diatribe.

In honor of all those fallen and injured in this current war, an old poem from the first war that was to end all wars. The poem was written by a Canadian while treating the wounded in Flanders.

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.

Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thank you Nick, for your sacrifice.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A tribute to Peggy

The current lace knitting is going rather slow. I've timed myself and it took 37 minutes to knit the round in between the actual lace pattern. And I knit in the Continental style. That's 880 stitches. I'll have to time one of the pattern rows, just to see how long that takes. I have about 40 rows left. So it will be a while before I can post any more progress photos on the current shawl.
Since one reader wanted more eye candy, I thought I'd post a copy of the Tea Shawl from A Gathering of Lace I made last year. The yarn was hand spun Shetland. My youngest daughter spun the yarn. The color of the yarn is the natural sheep color, raised by another friend, Sheila of Chickasaw Farm, not far from here. The shawl was knit for a friend, Peggy Y., an artist who belonged to "Dances of Wool," a loosely, and I mean very loosely, organized group of artisans who knit, spin, and grow the fiber we mostly use.
Peggy was gravely ill with cancer of the spine and was far away in a Chicago Hospital. We wanted her to have something from home, and thus Chickasaw Farm supplied the roving, my daughter Angela spun the yarn, and I knitted the shawl. Once it was finished , the shawl was sent off to Peggy. It was our way of doing shawl ministry.

After leaving for the hospital in July and returning in October of last year, Peggy Y. died in her sleep on Christmas Eve, in her beloved Geodesic Dome on the land she and her husband owned right in the middle of the Manistee National Forest in Michigan. Peggy was the driving force behind Mother Grove, a forty acre refuge for earth walkers. Her husband Lauren has decided to continue with the annual July gathering. Peggy will be missed by those who gathered annually at Mother Grove. Peggy.
I hope you have found a suitable place for your walk through eternity.
And thanks to Lizzie's simple instructions, I've finally mastered downloading pics from Flickr. Took a long time and persistence and, finally, the correct instructions based on the KISS method. Thank you Lizzie.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pet Peeves

Let me say up front, I was not born in the U.S., and I make as many typos, or more, than others do, but..... I also have a spell check and, if something is publicly offered, I proofread. I can't say that of the author of this quiz I found on another blog. I find it hard to judge the validity of this quiz, since the face validity, in my opinion, is poor due to the originator having difficulty with spelling. Besides, most people that know me would say that in both "personal responsibility" and "ethics" I am more conservative than liberal, but then the author does not define the terms. If we mean by "ethics" whether or not I am for or against homosexuals or lesbians having the same rights as heterosexuals, then I suppose, I can be labeled with what some would consider that pejorative word of "liberal." I am a champion of human rights and human equality, regardless of race, sex, or gender identification. OK, that's enough of a soap box. So, take the test yourself and see if you agree with the results, and maybe you can even find the spelling mistakes.

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 30% Conservative, 70% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

How Liberal Or Conservative Are You?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Of cars, blogging and instant gratification...Part 3

In the meantime, I am also knitting smaller things. I am making a baby blanket for Afghans for Afghans which is having a Mother’s Day project for a new clinic that is being opened. This is not your usual baby blue or pink “bankie” made from Acrylic yarn, but needs to be made from 100% wool for warmth and darker colors for less washing. I am using bits and pieces of left over yarn from other projects, along with a few balls of yarn of which there is not enough for a full project. This is Lily Chin’s double sided cable pattern. These are quite simple to make. What makes them reversible is the basic pattern is knit one, purl one, cabled.
So knit on!

Of cars, blogging and instant gratification...Part 2

The other project on which I have been working is a Dale of Norway sweater. I took it to the hospital with me since I had two hours free time in between being poked. I knitted a whole inch, whoopee! Again, no instant gratification, but just slow slogging away on a project which will eventually be a finished object of which I will be proud. After all, it is my first Norwegian sweater.

Of cars, blogging and instant gratification....Part 1

I've not blogged for a few days, not because I am lazy, but since this is mostly a knitting blog I haven’t had much to show although I've been knitting diligently.
I was without a car this past week. My daughter’s car needed repair so she used mine to gob back and forth to college. On Wednesday morning she dropped me off at the nearby hospital for some tests. We had arranged for a friend to pick me up and take me home since there is no mass transportation in this mostly rural and tourist dependent area of north western Michigan. I got done a little early with my tests and was waiting for my ride to come. The sun was shining and although it was only in the low twenties (Fahrenheit), it seemed like a heat wave since the day before it was -11 degrees. I was enjoying the sun, but acutely aware that I couldn't’t just jump in my car, turn the key and drive off. Most of us are no longer used to having to wait for a ride. I cannot remember the last time I had to wait for a ride, although when I was a young woman that was the norm.
This got me to thinking about blogging and how having a blog also fits in with instant gratification. If it’s a knitting blog then you want to be able to blog about finished objects, or at least, about work in progress that has grown enough to show a marked difference from the last post. But, alas, knitting doesn't’t always lend itself to these demands. (Could that be why those fun fur scarves were so popular?) Currently, I am working on two rather large and involved projects. A shawl knit from lace weight yarn and a Dale of Norway sweater. I am now on row 125 of the shawl and each round has already 662 stitches. Although I am a “picker,” i.e. Continental knitter (or according to my mother, “knitting the French way”), a row of 662 stitches still takes some time, particularly when each row also contains a lace pattern. So here is what I’ve been working on. And it's starting to look stunning, if I say so myself.
And since I still have not mastered Yahoo 360 and Flickr, the progress pic of the shawl will be above the post, and the whole post will be in three sections.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Lent, Easter and Chocolate Bunnies

On one of the knitting lists to which I belong, members have been discussing Mardis Gras, the beginning of the Christian Lenten season and Easter Bunnies. This got me to reminiscing about being a child in WWII and Post War Germany and the traditions my mother's family (aunts, uncles, cousins) practiced.

One of the memories I have is coloring Easter eggs with my cousin Lisa. After we had colored the eggs, we would pour all the remaining dye into one container and color an egg for my uncle which we then would hide, usually in one of the ceiling lamps. My Uncle Emil would search for it Easter morning with gusto and lots of misses and near hits, drawing out the search to the delight of Lisa and me. He would gush over the expert coloring job we had done to which we, of course, giggled because he apparently didn't get the joke we thought we pulled on him. We would only color one egg for him because wasting food was not in our vocabulary. But oh the fun we had.

Then there is my recollection of an Easter egg hunt my Aunt Agnes, my cousin Sigrid and my mother cooked up. It must have been during the war or right after the end of the war. Our Easter egg hunt was during our Sunday afternoon walk in the forest (a tradition in itself in the Black Forest). Times were hard, but my aunt had chickens and, thus, eggs. The three of them must have colored only one egg which my cousin got to hide over and over again in the woods. I was allowed to search for the eggs, but each time I found one, I would put it back, ostensibly for the next child to find it. My aunt had told me that I would be able to keep the last egg I found since there were lots of children who would also be hunting for eggs and keeping more than one would be ill-mannered and greedy. Later in life, I realized that "all" the eggs were the same color. But I had lots of fun that afternoon and also learned a lesson in sharing.

Then there were the red sugar bunnies one could get at the local bakeries. Chocolate must not have been available as yet, but not having been exposed to chocolate, the sugar bunnies were the top.

Finally, there was the evening I announced to my mother (Mutti) that I no longer believed in the Easter Bunny. By then we had been assigned living quarters in an old converted farm house. While our kitchen, bed room, living room and dining room furniture were all in one giant room, it was a step up from the previous housing. Anna Nicole Smith had nothing on my mother when it came to procuring housing. But to get back to the end of the Easter Bunny, I was in bed pretending to be asleep while a neighbor woman was visiting my mother. Their conversation was more interesting than going to sleep. And then I heard my mother saying, "I still need to color an Easter egg for Renate." Of course, I had to pipe up saying "You don't have to do that, I don't believe in the Easter bunny any longer." My mother replied laughingly, "That child is still awake." I can't remember whether or not Mother actually colored eggs that Easter, but I do remember the end of the Easter Bunny.