Friday, August 8, 2008


Four miles a day. So far I'm not seeing a big change in my size, although I'm hoping for a noticeable difference when I go back to the clinic for a re-check at the end of the month (especially since I'm finally off the medication with the bloating side effect). I'm not stiff after walking any more, and sometimes the walks are really enjoyable. And Nora not only has experienced a huge shift in personality for the better during the course of our walks, but Rick says she is starting to assume a vaguely "dog-like shape." The trainer agrees. But boy oh boy, sometimes I'd really rather not get up!

The guy on Calling All Pets last week was talking about the benefits of having an animal as an exercise partner. You can't call in sick to a dog, or tell a dog you have too much going on in the office. The dog needs to walk, and expects to see you on the other end of that leash rain or shine. For the next ten years or so.

I keep fantasizing about a scooter, and just letting the dog run beside me like Shelly Long and Steve Gutenberg in Don't Tell Her Its Me. And I keep picturing myself trudging through a blizzard in a few months, wearing Dad's down mittens while the dog is geared up in little fleece booties.

Nora is great - we've bonded well, and I really enjoy having her around. Rick has even warmed up to her. But gawd, the walks . . . stretching on in front of me ad infinitum . . .

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Can't Get Much Better

The weather over the last few weeks has been generally fabulous - the kind of climate that we're really, really going to miss in about five months. Days where the sun plays across your face but doesn't try to beat you into submission; and warm clear evenings that envelope you like a soft dark security blanket while providing an incredible display of stars. (I even saw a shooting star last night, the second in less than a week. I love the Perseids!) Perhaps it's due to my much increased walking schedule with Nora, but I've just been in awe of how wonderful a Wisconsin summer can be.

But the days are already noticeably shorter, and it's only going to get worse from here. It's getting harder to fit in the time for 2 or 3 miles before dusk, so for safety reasons I popped into Fleet Farm last night and bought a reflective vest for me and a reflective collar for Nora. I was really hoping for a reflective vest for her, something with a little more area which would show up better when she's facing traffic; but since Fleet Farm failed me, I may have to swing into PetDumb or someplace like that. In the mean time, I hung a thumb-sized mini-flashlight from her collar and carried a mag light in my inside hand, and we both felt very virtuous and safety conscious. (Nora kept sniffing the ground in front of her for the first mile, trying to get a scent on that dot of light by her foot.) I put her gear on again this morning, so she could model her "safety dog" look for the blog.

I remembered all that gear, and my camera, and my phone. What I forgot was training treats, which really would have been handy when we passed the cows again. Nora is still highly suspicious of cows - especially curious ones that walk towards her making unidentifiable noises. The best think I could think of was to put her in a down/stay and make her see that I was in control and nothing was going to happen. Treats would have been better, since I think she doesn't always trust my judgment when a photographic opportunity presents itself. Oh, well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gorgeous Fabric and Boring Knitting

I took the afternoon off from work yesterday to drive up to Green Bay and check out some more complete fabric stores. The Sheboygan JoAnn's had some $25 per yard shantung stuff in the decorating section which might have worked, except it was a little more rust than copper; but they were certain their Green Bay "super store" would have a wider color selection of that line. Then the seamstress suggested I look at Hancock Fabrics in Green Bay while I was in the neighborhood, and Rick volunteered to drive with me so he could look at headliner fabric, and suddenly I had an adventure of exploration on my hands. We found the perfect fabric (at $6.99 a yard!) and thread at Hancocks, and some "close enough" zippers for the skirt at JoAnns. The top calls for a separating zipper, and those don't seem to come in any sort of decent color selection, so I'm going to ask the seamstress to do a covered button placket down the back of the dress instead. I'm meeting her tomorrow to deliver the materials and measurements, and she thinks she'll have the dresses done by Labor Day, so we're on track to actually put this thing together on time!

Meanwhile, with Rick driving back and forth to Green Bay yesterday and Tasha driving back and forth to Appleton on Friday, I've made some progress on the "boring knitting" project. I wanted a cotton tank top, and cast on with an Artful Yarns shell pattern from my stash, circa 2004, which was discovered in the "free" bin of my local yarn store after the yarn was discontinued. I'm using a cone of Peaches & Creme cotton - big surprise, since that's one of my favorite yarns. It's about 7" from the bottom hem now, and I'm thinking I should have enough left on the cone to do a short-sleeved shrug to match. Or maybe I'll ditch the tank concept and do something like Klaralund from Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton. (See? This is how I get into trouble . . . )

Finally, the latest from the great outdoors: I managed to harvest the food pantry produce on the actual, real food pantry day this time around (who had the bright idea to put 5 Wednesdays in July, anyway?) and delivered 3 more bags of swiss chard and a big bucket of squash this morning. There are lots of snap peas out there still in desperate need of picking, but I just haven't had the time to do it.

And look! My Lady Baltimore is finally blooming! Love the flower, just wish it didn't take so long every summer to make its appearance.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Plans, and What Happened In The Mean Time

I spoke to the Bride on Sunday morning, and we're in agreement about having the dresses made locally. I'm now the proud owner of the pattern, and have spoken to the seamstress about pricing and deadlines, and have a line on a suitable silk shantung fabric that I'll be driving to Green Bay to view and person (and hopefully approve for purchase). It's all down hill from here.

Meanwhile, the other day I did something completely out of character and forgot to shut the chicken coop overnight. I've been keeping birds for a dozen years or so now, and I've almost always day-ranged them - let them wander at will during the day, but shut them in a secure coop at night to prevent access to predators. That door has been left open occasionally over the years, but usually it's something like me delegating the task to a kid who then forgot. Otherwise, I go down every night, climb a ladder to remove the three birds who always nest in the tree, tuck them onto the roost with the rest of the flock, and shut the door.

Maybe it's because I'm spending so much time on the dog and my new routine is still getting settled, but on Thursday night I just plain forgot to go down there. But everyone was accounted for on Friday morning (I think), so I just scolded myself about it and went on with life.

On Friday night, I got home about midnight and climbed my ladder in the dark. The three birds were not on their regular limb, and I figured they must have decided to sleep in the coop on their own for once. But Saturday morning when I went down to open them back up, I noticed two of those birds on a completely different limb where I never would have thought to look in the dark. The third bird was a no-show, and I haven't seen her since. And those other two have continued to roost in their new place, which could mean something bad happened in the old spot and they're too nervous to go back there.

Still, I'm not seeing any trails of feathers or other dire indications. And the missing hen is the same one who went walkabout last summer, and turned up with a new batch of checks weeks after we'd given up on her. This could still turn out fine, with a little luck.

Meanwhile, I was feeling a bit lazy about dragging that old wooden ladder over to the new roosting branch to retrieve my birds last night. Instead I hopped up on a rickety plastic garden chair on uneven ground, stretched as high as I could - - and then suddenly found myself lying face-down in the grass with bits of broken plastic around and under me. I'm fine but for some rather dramatic bruises from falling on the chunks of broken chair, but Rick points out that I could have fallen on a sharp point instead of some dull edges. Point taken; I moved the stupid ladder over, then picked up the pieces of the chair.

That's about it. Big storm last night, which helped us discover that the dog does NOT like thunder. But we got almost an inch of much-needed rain, and everything looks refreshed this morning. All is well.