Tuesday, October 26, 2010

God Never Slams a Door in Your Face

.....without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies. (Elizibeth Gilbert)
It's hard to believe that I haven't posted since September . Things have just been crazy around here--and not the fun crazy where all sorts of new, happy things are jumping out at you--but the bad crazy where you are so distracted by your own whininess and grumbling that you end up face down on the sofa for most of the winter.

Enough of that.....while we still do not have spring yet in Michigan; the days are getting longer, the sun is shining more and the robins have returned. It's time to start looking forward.

I finally made the real, final and actual decision to retire in June. The angst surrounding that decision--well, let's not go into it here. Let's just say that it was a hard decision to make, but in the end we decided to give up some financial security for a better quality of life.

To celebrate that decision my Rog had what one of friends said was "a moment of pure brilliance" and surprise me with this:

It doesn't look like much now, but it is my very own studio. We had an unheated side porch on our house up north that we basically used for storage. It had a slab floor, was unheated and smelled of mildew. It also has the most beautiful view of the lake.

While I was working this fall, Rog had the old, nasty panelling torn down, drywall put in, had the floor raised and put in heat. And then painted it the most beautiful spa blue/green.

I had no idea this was going on--what with working and spending most of my free time with the whining and grumbling (see above). You can imagine my surprise when I finally was able to go up for a weekend, opened the door expecting to be hit by a blast of artic air and saw this beautiful, beautiful room. And to make it even better......
A doorwall with a deck overlooking the lake (look closly--it's there under the snow). Let me tell you, dreaming about sitting out there with my rug hooking or knitting is what kept me same this winter. So let me just say it here for the record: BEST. PRESENT. EVER!

So I have been taking measurments, looking online at the work spaces of others and making numerous trips to IKEA thinking about how to design my workspace. What do you think? What things have worked for you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Well, At Least One of Us is Trained.....

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at our local pet supply store and found this:the Kong Wobbler. For those of you old enough to remember, this dog toy operates under the Weebler principle.
Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down!
The Wobbler is like the weeble, in that it is weighted on the bottom so that when you push it, it kind of rolls around and then stands upright again. You can open up the Wobbler, fill it with dog food or treats and then your dog has a wonderful interactive toy which will give her hours of fun while stimulating her mind.
Of course, it takes some training for your dog to learn to use the Wobbler. Dogs are not just Wobbler-proficient overnight. It takes time and training.
Which I have been doing with Lucy.
I fill the Wobbler with her favorite treats. She noses around the hole and whines a little. I give the Wobbler a little push and a treat falls out. She looks a bit more interested. I show her how to push it. She sniffs the hole and whines a bit more. I give the thing a push, another treat falls out. I show her how to push on it using MY OWN HEAD. She whines a little more until another treat falls to the ground.
At one point, I show her the KONG website and the video for the Wobbler, which shows a beagle--a beagle for God's sake--pushing the darn thing all over the floor, gobbling down treats and having himself a high old time. Lucy whines a little more, until I push on the crazy thing until a treats falls out.
This has gone on for a week and a half. Now when I walk by, Lucy whines, I whisper a not so nice word under my breath and kick the supid Wobbler with my foot. A treat falls out, Lucy walks over, picks it up and carries it over to enjoy in the privacy of her soft little bed.
Just call me the Dog Whisperer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Having Fun

With everything that has been going on around here, I have been exploring different ways to handle stress and bring some calmness and peace into my life--not as easy thing for me as I am a worrier by nature and can drive myself crazy with all "what-ifs" and 'should-haves".
Anyway, while looking online for books, I wandered away from the self-help section and stumbled across this book by Carla Sonheim:Hmmmmm......52 creative exercises to making drawing fun. Well, this looked just like what the doctor ordered!
Not that I can draw; I can't. But I'd like to be able to. Even more, I'd like to be able to draw and not be so critical of myself. And that is just what this book is all about--helping adults relearn how to experiment and develop a playful attitude to creating.
Even better, when I went to her website, I found out she was starting an online class. 30 days of lessons, each one taking about 10-15 minutes. And, all this for only $25.00. I was hooked. A little time to play each day sounded divine. Our first lesson was last night and I can tell it is going to be fun, fun, fun.
For years I worked with preschool and kindergarten children in special education and one thing I loved most was their ability to be so involved in the process of working with art materials rather than focusing on the final product. An attitude I think most of us lose as we grow up.
I'm ready to start that journey to find that part of me again.....I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Things have been a little quiet this summer in my little corner of the blog universe. We have been in the process of thinking over Important Thoughts and Making Decisions that will ultimately Change Our Life.......whew!
Let's just say it all took up a lot of time...... talking, researching, mixed with some anxiety and a few tears, but ultimately I think we have come up with a plan that will lead us toward the life we want to be living.
Our first big change was to put this up in the front yard:
When my husband retired TEN YEARS ago, the plan was that I would work a few more years and then join him. Well, we all know what has happened and the economy has made most of us change the plans we had made for the future.
We finally came to the decision that to continue to work at a job that was making me stressed and depressed to support a house that now worth less than what we purchased it was no longer making sense and it was time to move on......and so we are.
The house is up for sale and I can officially say that tomorrow will be my last first day of school as I will retire at the end of this school year. Who knows if this is the right choice, but no matter what happens, we will face it together and that is the important thing.
So to move on to lighter matters, the rug I started at the Manistee Rug Camp is almost done. I had hoped to have it finished before I went back to school, but didn't quite make it. I want to make a few small changes in the body of the rug and I'm not too sure about the gold I picked for the border. I may dye up something a little darker.....

And our little Lucy turned one this week. She really is turning out to be a great little dog--she's just so smart and fun to train. She begins agility training next Saturday, which I am hoping we both will enjoy. I am sure she is up to the challenge, but I think it includes running on the part of the handler.......and let's just say I don't do too much of that anymore, so it should be interesting. Perhaps I should be teaching her to do CPR just in case--or at least how to dial 911!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Just a quick check in. We are back up north relaxing and enjoying life. I brought up bunches of wool to dye, and I'm just having the best time! I decided I was going to give myself a gift and concern myself with the process and not be so worried about the final product. In other words, I have been playing and trying all sorts of new things.
I've been taking pictures, but forgot to bring the thingy that will transfer my pictures to my computer! Oh well, next post.
I've also been working on my Expect Good Things rug. I generally like to hook my background as I go and not leave it all until the end. This time I got so caught up in hooking the motifs that before I knew it everything was done except for the background. So I am grinding that out right now with the help of HGTV and a couple of good movies.
Tomorrow brings breakfast with a friend from work and then off to the Blueberry Festival. Great chicken dinners and a quilt show--oh yeah--and blueberries!
And just so this post is not totally pictureless--check out my niece's new etsy shop Flying Hammer Forge.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Talented Bunch

I thought I'd share the talent of others in my family.
My niece, Anna and her husband, Ben live in New Mexico. Ben has been making his living making beautiful driftwood furniture which has been shown in regional and national magazines. He recently opened an Etsy shop and his first listing is this beautiful chair.
My niece, who is talented as well as beautiful, is a blacksmith and has made several gates in collaboration with her husband.She is now working on a series of smaller pieces. I love this one:
She will be in a show at the Range Gallery on August 14th in Bernalillo, NM. If you're in town--check it out!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Okay.......I realize that this is NOT a dog, but the dog around here is only 10 months old and doesn't seem to be bothered by the heat. Moses, however, has been lying exactly like this on the half-wall between my kitchen and family room for the past week. Obviously, he is in full vacation mode.
And speaking of vacations, I am.....on vacation, I mean. Two days after school was out, I headed out for the Manistee Rug School. I took a class on using a "painterly approach to rug hooking." A requirement of the class was that we bring a rug that we had not previously worked on. I took a pattern I've been wanting to work on: Expect Good Things designed by Brenda Beerhorst.
I just love this pattern.
I am having trouble with the worm (now there are words I never thought I'd say). I want it to stand out more from the background because it is, you know, the good thing, but can't find the right shade of light brown. It seems that everything I have is either too dark and then in fades into the background or is too gold and then looks like part of the beak. I know....I suffer so for my art!
And, because I am so cutting edge, I even put in one of those little rolly thingies that are all the rage right now. Right now, it is just auditioning. I don't know if I like it or not.
Here is one of the birds with her rosy little cheek--something else that is auditioning. I'm not sure if that will stay either.
I'll leave you with a picture of another victim of all this muggy, muggy heat.......

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Danger Girl

As if the great bee attack of 2010 wasn't enough, here I am facing, once again, danger in MY OWN HOME.

A few days ago, while innocently sitting at my feet disemboweling one of her hundreds of stuffed animals, someone.......

moved that black nose over an inch and ever so innocently chewed on the power cord to my lap top--which resulted in sparks flying out of the cord every time it is moved. And because I seem to be addicted to technology, I am now sitting here with my computer on my lap trying very hard to type while keeping the cord perfectly still.

Note to my husband: Nothing I wrote above is true. I safely at the library typing this and, just as I promised, I am not using my lap top until the new cord arrives from Amazon. Oh yeah, that little scorch mark on the carpet.......have no idea how it got there.

Actually, I do have exciting news as I am packing for rug camp! I am going to the camp in Manistee. I went two years ago and loved it. We had fun...I learned a lot....and they had chocolate chips cookies every afternoon. What more can you ask for? I was supposed to go last year, but camp started five days after I had Achilles tendon surgery. And while I was sure I would be able to go, it turns out that driving four hours with your foot propped above your heart while popping Vicodin does not a happy rug camper make. So I had to stay home, which made me kinda sad, but they were able to give my spot to someone who otherwise couldn't afford to go to the camp--so it all worked out the way it should----as most things do in life.

My teacher wants us to bring a rug that we have not yet started.......sigh.......another rug to add to the unfinished pile. The theme of the class is a "painterly" approach to rug hooking. Doesn't that sound like fun?

This is the rug I'm doing......

Well, I was going to show you the rug, but for some reason blogger will not let me download a picture right now. Maybe the sparks are scaring them away. (not really, honey. Totally safe at the library.....)

So I'm off to finish washing clothes and packing because you just know I waited until the absolute last minute to do any of that stuff.

Oh.....just so you know....no dogs were hurt in the making of this post.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Where Emily, Lucy and I Narrowly Escape Disaster

I was lucky enough to have my seven year old granddaughter, Emily, spend the night last weekend. Emily is Lucy's greatest fan--which is not easy to do because when I take Lucy for her walk each day, people in cars actually honk, roll down their windows and holler out hi to her. But Emily and Lucy have a special bond and I'm not sure who gets the most pleasure out of their time together.
Anyway, I thought that it would be a nice weekend to visit a farm, so we all piled into the car and headed off to Maybury State Park. Maybury was once a TB sanatorium. After it closed, it became a hang out for teenagers to go to at night to drink and roam the empty buildings. Finally, after decades of decay, the state stepped in turned it into a state park with walking paths, cross country skiing and a working farm.
When we got there, we thought we'd take Lucy for a little walk to work off some of her, shall we say, excess energy.
Of course Miss Sniffer S. McSniffypants (I swear this dog is part bloodhound) could not stay on the clearly marked designated path and head off for the high grass.
So Em was holding on to Lucy; Lucy was doing her very favorite thing, which is putting her nose into places it doesn't belong and I was being the grandma trying to organize everyone into something that would be picture worthy.
.............that's when I heard this loud droning, which I ignored being that I was totally immersed in my artistic endeavor of the perfect picture. All of a sudden Emily screamed and began to run with Lucy. I looked up and saw this:
Well not exactly this because this is something I downloaded from Google--couldn't exactly take a picture right then as we were too consumed with running, screaming and much flapping of hands with a side order of more screaming. But believe me when I say there were a whole boatload of bees. The kind of bees you see in a cartoon when they are chasing that bear and then form an arrow right before they overtake him and he jumps in a nearby pond. Those kind of bees.
I followed Em and Lucy and we watched while they swarmed around and then went back from whence they came--which I believe was a nest in the ground that someone who we will not name, but has big ears and a black nose, poked her nosy black nose into.
Anyway, we had a great day at the farm. Em decided that she wants a pet goat (all part of my secret plan to turn her into a rug hooker):
And I finally did get the perfect picture of my two girls.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Post in Which You See Actual Pictures of Finished Rugs

Oh now, don't get too excited. They're not my rugs because as we all know I have some sort of severe psychological problem that prevents me from actually finishing anything I start. (For those of you interested, you can google SOS or Shiny Object Syndrome for more details. Or here's a link for the google-impaired among us.)
The rugs that are finished were at the Saline Hook-In weekend before last. Yeah, I know I'm a little late in writing about it, but all I can say is see above.
The whole event was great fun. I talked with friends, shopped, looked at all the rugs, ate lunch and shopped some more. The actual time I spent hooking......that would be none. Yep, never pulled my hook out. I did, you know, show my current work in progress to others and we did talk about said rug. I even bought wool to use in the rug. But actual hooking.......no.
Here is the wool that I purchased. I think I showed considerable restraint........
I actually bought a couple of yards of the brown/black/blue plaid to use for a background. The dusty lavender is for the Crazy Horse rug and the others are for "just because."I also bought this, which may be offically considered my new Shiny Object: It is a Notforgotten Farm pattern from Kris Miller. And seriously, couldn't you just die from the cuteness? Fortunately, summer vacation is coming up soon and I hoping I will be able to finally finish that crazy Crazy Horse rug and move on to this. (My new mantra: "I will finish the Crazy Horse rug.... I will finish the Crazy Horse rug ...... I will, I will, I will..............)
And no, I didn't forget the finished rugs that were on display. Oh, they were stunning. Really, you all must come next time just so you can see all the talent we have around here. I loved this antique reproduction of the chicks and hens:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Prom Night

Last night was our prom night and I've gotta tell you, it was a blast! I know you're thinking that what with the gray hair and the fact that I now pretty much have to wear sensible shoes (read orthopedic) all the time that my prom days are much over. But go to prom I did and enjoyed every second.
Every year we--and by we I mean my friend Karen--put on a prom for the high school and post secondary students with special needs in our district. We invite everyone--current students, past students, general ed students who work in our classrooms and have lunch with our kids. Some kids even come back from college to attend. It is, as you can imagine, a night you don't want to miss.

We rent a beautiful room at the Radisson Hotel in town. We hire a DJ. All the kids dress to the nines. The girls in their prom dresses; the young men in their suits or tuxes. There is a beautiful catered meal. And then the dancing--oh my--the dancing. Dancing like you can't even imagine. We dance until we can hardly dance anymore and then we dance some more.

And here is the magic of prom night......all of a sudden it's not the autistic kid or the mentally retarded girl.....it's not guy in the wheelchair or the the boy with CP.

It's just kids doing what kids like to do....dressing up, hanging with their friends, talking about things that are important to them, eating a meal together, laughing and having fun.

And that, my friend, is what life is all about.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

My plans were to write a post about the Saline Hook-in that I went to yesterday. However, when I looked around I saw that my housemates had different ideas. Moses and Josie found a quiet spot to wait out the rain......
Jasper was at the other end of the sofa.......

Even Lucy who, although sweet, could not exactly be called lazy and laid-back.....

And it appears that I have a new book that calling my name--so I'm grabbing a quilt and some pillows and claiming my stake to the couch.
We'll save Saline for later in the week. Have to grab these moments when we can!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Break

Lucy made it through her surgery just fine and thanks you all for your well-wishes. Everyone at the vet thought she was the best dog ever!! When I came to pick her up later in the day, even the vet came back out and told me that she thought Lucy had such a wonderful temperament and was really a great dog. Laura (Lucy's first mom and breeder), if you're reading this--be proud!
So I brought her home all fuzzy and drugged up. I put her on the bed and spent the rest of the day with her reading while she slept. I carried her outside a couple of times to do her business, which she promptly did and then would fall right over sound asleep! By the next morning, she was up eating and running around being her usual silly self.
Unfortunately, I haven't done as well as Lucy, spending my week off work on the couch with what started out as some kind of virus and ended up as asthmatic bronchitis. On one hand, good to have the time off to recover and not have to worry about work--on the other hand--hey, it's my vacation! I had hoped to finish up on my Crazy Horse Rug, but didn't even pull it out one time. I did try my hand at some punch needle--which I will save for another post....

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hoppy Spring!

We are having some beautiful spring days--so much so that I just may break out the capris! Here is a little spring bunny rug that I have sitting on a table in my living room. Actually this was the first actually "real" rug that I did. The bunny is textured wool and I dyed the blue for the sky (lupine blue from the book Beautiful Wool). That was also my first attempt at dying wool. The border and the grass are both upcycled wool from two different pair of wool pants. I love that green and just have a little bit of it left to work into some other project.

Yes, that bit of black in the upper left corner is a little cardi nose! Lucy has to be involved in just every little thing that goes on around here.
Speaking of Lucy, she is off to the vets in an hour or so. It is time for her to be spayed. I know it needs to be done, but oh is it going to be hard to leave her there.
Right now she is sitting on the window seat (her favorite spot in the whole house) just watching the world go by. This picture was taken during our last snow storm. It's a lot greener out there now. Don't you just love that corgi stretch?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rainy Days

Ah....'tis spring!
Or well not so much in Michigan where spring is more like another three months of rain and mud and gray skies with a few days of sunshine thrown in to make us all wander out of our houses like little mole-people, squinting at the sun.
This weekend was one of those rainy times, the times that just want to make you crawl under your covers and not come out until, I don't know, you move to Barbados or something.
I, however, got to have a little sunshine in my life by spending it with these two:Now if those two faces don't brighten up your day--well, all I can say is that you have one cold, cold heart.
This is Emily, my granddaughter and, of course, you all have met Lucy.
And Emily, God bless her, is my kind of child because as she told her mother, "I don't really want to do sports. I really just want to do crafts." Could there be any more perfect character trait in any grandchild?
So we just took that old rainy day and crafted the heck out of it. First we made Easter eggs. Not the old boring dip in dye and wait four hours to turn into a pale pink Easter eggs. Oh no. We made cool tie-dye eggs.
It's just food coloring, paper towels and some plastic wrap, but so much more fun than the traditional egg dying. I found the directions over at Oakadoodle Primitives and since she has done such a great job spelling it out, you can go right over there if you are in the mood for egg dying. Here is a pic of Emily contemplating the design process: And the beginning of one of her designs:Hmmmm....I don't know about you, but I definitely see the beginnings of a quilt or rug designer here.
Afterwards, we had the great cupcake bake-off---just to make sure that every artist had adequate nurishiment.
Lucy approves and will take her cupcake in liver flavor please.
Here's hoping that all your rainy spring days can be filled with sunshine!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I just may have to change the name of this blog to Cats and Corgis In My Wool. I give you exhibit A:I put it on the floor to take a picture and before I could pick up my camera, look who comes along and makes herself at home! But with a face like that, you can get away with just about anything even when a certain miss someone has a perfectly brand new comfy, comfy bed all of her own.
So excuse me one moment while I get little Miss Lucy moving.........

I'm finally getting some of the background put in. This is most definitely the busiest rug I've done. I think the dark border will help tone it down a bit--and, if not, it certainly will be a day brightener! This rug has been a great learning experience for me and while I'm enjoying the process I'm looking forward to working on a nice, simple project when this is finished.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

There's a New Girl in Town

.....and her name is Lucy! She is a Cardigan Welsh Corgi and just turned six month old. Just look at those ears! I got to tell you there has been some serious ear nuzzling going on around our house lately. I am just having so much fun with her--even the five AM potty calls on Saturday mornings aren't to bad. She's just so funny to watch.
We brought her home about three weeks ago. I--being a serious reader and watcher of the Dog Whisperer--told my husband that I would take her for a walk around the neighborhood while he set up her crate in the living room. My thought was she would be tired and happy when she first entered her new home and she would go straight into her crate so she and the cats could get to know each other a little before we gave Lucy a walk through of her forever home.
Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. We did go for a walk, my husband did set up her crate and we did come up to the house tired and happy. That's when things began to fall apart!
We walked into the living room, went right to her crate and this is what we found....
Oh yes....Gracie had already claimed the crate as her own. Now instead of putting Lucy calmly in her crate, she is now jumping around wildly on her leash. Gracie starts hissing and spitting and will not leave the crate and the other cats are howling from the back of the couch upset from all the commotion and this new creature we have brought into their domain.
Needless to say, we got it all sorted out and Lucy and the cats have come to a semi-truce. Lucy can't understand why these little funny looking puppies don't want to play with her. And the cats, being cats, have just decided to ignore the whole matter and pretend nothing has changed. We still have some hissing and every once in a while, a yelp when Lucy gets a little to forward and the cats come down with the paw o' doom on her nose. But right now the cats are asleep in their spots in the living room and Lucy is asleep in the bay window, so we are making progress.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oh Yeah....We're Rock Stars!

We have been having so much fun in my classroom this week, due to an article in the Detroit News about our classroom business! We named our company Puppy Love and make natural dog treats. If you're in the area you can pick them up at Premier Pet Supply or you can get them from http://www.fidodogtreats.com/.

But wait.....our 15 minutes of fame is not over yet! One of our local news stations picked up the story and will be out to film the kids a week from Tuesday!

I'm telling you it is only a matter of time before The Today Show calls..........or perhaps our own reality cable series..........

Really, though I'm just so proud of my guys and my staff. Everyone works so hard to give the kids a good experience and help them develop vocational and life skills. Just had to brag a little!

Crazy Over Crazy Horse

Like I said, I am beginning to get my mojo back in regards to my Crazy Horse Quilt rug. Taking a class with Kris Miller has made all the difference. Kris has a great eye for color and guided me in some of my color choices, as well as giving me the confidence to continue. Of course, with this rug, as in all my rugs, I still seem to be hooking everything two or three times. Hook it once--don't like it--take it out and try something else. And then, sometimes I take it out again and go back to my orignal wool. This is why it takes me forever to finish a rug! Well, that and that pesky little full time job that really cuts into my day.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see a closeup of the hearts in the rug. They are all different and were really fun to hook. In this one I tried beading for the first time. I won't say it was fun, but it certainly wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

Some pretty little stripes:
And last but not least, some subtle color changes:

Right now, I'm working on the last of the four leaves and one last flower. And then I'll be ready to move onto the background!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Already Behind.....

So here it is the first month in a new decade and already I've broken my first resolution to be more organized and timely. >Sigh<
For a brief moment I thought I would do this whole thing about everything that I had accomplished the past ten years (not much) and then do a big write up on my goals for the next decade. But then I, as my English friend Liz is wont to say, I had a bit of a lie-down and thank goodness that foolishness faded away.
I can show you my new digs for 2010. Ha! I so totally amuse myself....we went to Asheville over the holidays to see the Biltmore estate. They decorate the place for Christmas and I've always wanted to see it. Unfortunately if you'd like to see the decorations inside you will have to shell out $65.00 PER PERSON because for that price you are not allowed to take pictures. It was beautiful tho, in all it's excessive glory. Hicks that we are, neither my husband and I could imagine using all those rooms or having a fireplace so big you could walk into it. And for that matter, why in the world would you even want to walk into a fireplace?
So......still working on my Crazy Horse Quilt rug. I was getting a little stuck because there is just so much......stuff in this rug and my worry was that if I wasn't just a little bit careful it would end up looking like a big mish mosh. However, my husband gave me a class with Kris Miller of Spruce Ridge Studio and with her help and the help of the other women in my class, I've kind of gotten over the hump and am excited about it again.