Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wearing a Rain Stick...

Here's my Tippi. We figure this is a great name for her, since when you go to pet her, she "tips" so that she gets a belly scratch, too!
Anyway, as most of you know, we rescued her this January. She's 3 years old, and we don't know a lot about her history, but we know enough to realize that she really needed a stable home with a Pack she could love and be adored by, and where she'd always have good vet care, good food, and no fear.
Now comes the Rain Stick. For those of you who don't know, a Rain Stick is essentially a cactus branch that's about 3" across, and it's dried out; sometimes painted with "aboriginal" art, and it's got seeds in it. When you tip it one way or the other, the seeds cascade, and it does sound like a soft spring rain on your roof. We use it in church sometimes, when there are sprinkling rites, because it makes a nice addition to the music.
So Hubby and I are getting ready to go to Mass, and he brings the rain stick down the hall. Tippi and I were in the dining room, where she was getting her ears scratched. All of a sudden, she catches sight of Hubby and FREEZES. Her eyes get big, and she looks as if she wants to say, "Oh, noooooooooooooo!" She stood stock still, and Hubby commented that she must be skittish of the sound of the stick.
Nope. I saw the look on her face. Man + Stick + coming toward me = maybe I can disappear and he won't hit me. I took the stick from Hubby and set it on the floor. I called Tippi toward me and put my hand gently on her back, and asked her to sniff the stick. She did. She looked at me as if to say, "Only because you're standing here." And then she walked over to the dining room table and crawled beneath it till we left.
I know she's had trauma in her life. As a re-cap: her first owner bred her to a pit bull (and I have NO bias toward the breed; just against idiot breeders) and the puppies were apparently vicious. Her second owner kept her in a fenced yard with 3 or 4 Rottweilers and she had to fight for her food; this guy's idea of discipline was to throw the dogs. Her THIRD owner "accidentally" bred her with the male Norwegian Elkhound she had. Imagine that?? And again - remember, Tippi's three years old. She rejected that litter and then we became aware that she needed a new home.
See, this is the hard part about adopting and rescuing a dog. You don't know a lot of the history, and sometimes, you really don't WANT to know.
I want to go find her prior owners (except for the last one; she was just stupid and in over her head, not deliberately cruel that we can see). And I want to plant the rain stick. Somewhere where they'll be needing a doctor's care to remove it. Just far enough so that they can't walk or sit comfortably - or even bend. That would make me feel better.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baby Gifts...

...can be such fun to do! Even quick ones like these are both decorative and practical. Babies burp, after all, and while the infant-sized bib isn't necessarily what you'd use for feeding, for an adorable photo-op (and tell me what new parent doesn't have his or her camera glued in-hand) - this little bib will suffice for that, and even some drool.
I whipped these together for my friend's first grandson. They're all walking on air, and Heaven knows we could all use some good news for once.
The cloth on each is 14-ct. aida. I used DMC floss, and I got the cute caterpillar out of a "motifs" book - there must be over 1,000 in this book, and of course you could combine them into samplers by groups (baby, holiday, toy, profession, etc.) and the alphabet was also in there. Of course, I used the same colors for both things; they're bright colors and I thought it made it more of a "set."
With the burp cloth, it's also 100% terry and just the right size to fling over your shoulder or lap. It's a decent weight, too - not a flimsy little piece of fabric. The saying? Well, it's pretty much what you do with babies - the only thing missing was "change me" and that can go on a diaper bag!
I hope they like the gifts and I hope they get a lot of use out of them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Beg to Differ...

So today, on my "Knit-A-Day" calendar, the Yarn Harlot says: "I think knitting is just about perfect. In fact, I would change only one thing: It'd be great if it counted as a cardio workout." Obviously, Stephanie hasn't seen me when I've screwed something up for the FIFTIETH time, or I can't get my project done by a deadline (like a birthday or wedding - pretty much set in stone)... Or I'm trying to find the yarn or needles or pattern or bag or buttons or stitch holders or markers or....whatever it is that I absolutely urgently need to start or finish or work on a project. So I go buy the thing. Just to find it afterwards. Right where I put it. And I put it there so I'd remember where I put it when I needed it. Feel free to join in here, if you've sung this song before! If' you've read her books, you know she has a super sense of herself as a knitter, and is ready to recognize all the quirky we Yarn-a-holics have (How and Where to Stash, or The Attack of the WIPs, anyone???). And I've read stories where she's worked herself into a frenzy. To me, that IS a cardio workout!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finally Done!!

Well, let me qualify that. Remember the February snowman that I posted a while back? Well, finally, he's done. See the picture? With extreme respect to my quilting friends: Wowza. I can't imagine doing some of the more intricate quilts I've seen. This makes exactly twice that I have "quilted" and I think this is the least "quilty" of anything you gals can do!
Anyway, I also couldn't find his buttons. Yeah, the heart-themed buttons that I spent a good 45 minutes selecting. Aggggggggggghhhhhh!! No doubt in the wormhole that is my craft closet. I'll find them. Just about the time June's snowman is done.
And also, for my knitting friends, a little story. It's sad, too. My friend's son is in the midst of a bad struggle with a traumatic brain injury. Due to a miscommunication of doctors, it was at first thought that he had digestive issues. Turns out, not so much. It was a brain tumor. They thought it was one of the "over 90%" that were benign, but not so. He's 40. Anyone who wishes to send good thoughts to this man and his family, please do so!
I thought my friend might like a prayer shawl. I spent a little while discussing it with my LYS (local yarn shop) owner, a friend of mine and an absolute knitting maven. We finally picked out the yarn shown here: a beautiful Cascade brand - their ultra pima line, a fantastic, rich garnet color; 100% pima cotton. You can see the sheen in hank and in the wound ball. I thought that with cotton, and with the pattern I chose, it would be warm enough but not too warm. If she's sitting in the hospital or even just at home, it's got enough body to keep her warm without feeling stifling hot. And I wasn't sure how she felt about wool. There are folks out there who don't like it, and also - when you have a sick person at home, the last thing you need is to worry about caring for a garment. Cotton is king in that regard because she can just toss it in the wash and either hang it to dry or put it on "cool" in the dryer. Either way, much more user-friendly for someone who's likely to be distracted.
Take a look here, at the shawl I've started. It's about 1,000 yards of yarn, so we're talking 5 hanks, which is actually 1,100 yards total. This is stitched using size 6 needles, and is color number 3701. I did a variation on a "little arrowhead" pattern, and as it goes, I'll post a new photo. It's a little hard to see, but the arrowheads are going to all be going ^^^^ as the rows build, and at the beginning, I did a 6-row stockinette - which is annoying me so I may end up doing a single-crochet "picot" type edge on both ends, just to tack it down. In a way, I'm kind of proud of myself. Essentially, I'm knitting lace! No, it's not a spider web shawl or any of the absolutely phenomenal qiviut patterns. But in its own way, it's lace. And pretty simple, too.
Look at the stitch definition with this yarn! I'm really pleased with it, and I think it's on my list for a shell or tank top in the future. The colors that I saw ran from gorgeous whites and creams to pastels and the more jewel tones. I was sort of thinking of a spring-ish green, but when I saw this garnet color, I was hooked. You can find out more information at http://www.cascadeyarns.com/ - and I also encourage you to shop your LYS. Particularly, get to know the folks at your local store - not the big-box Hobby Lobby or Michael's - but your small local yarn shop where you can get great lessons, find knitting circles and make friends. Your LYS owner is there to help you and only by your support and that of other local knitters will he or she still be there!
Let me know what you think of February - I've got 3 months down, and March is on the scroll frame. I don't know if I'll quilt him or if I can find a good frame. Green is always a difficult color to match. I've only framed December, in a lovely folksy red frame. After that - of course - Michael's discontinued the style!! If nothing else, I can get dear hubby to break out the router and do a frame for me. I can pickle one and make it match better than I might be able to match with shamrock fabrics. I'd also love some new ideas for framing these little guys. I had an itch once to do a bunch of them in a row - but quickly discarded that because I don't have wall space to put a "bell-pull" type of picture anywhere.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Rule # 1...

...Federal Air Marshals have no sense of humor. Rule #2: Jokes about shoe bombs? Not a good idea, particularly if you're on a flight from Washington DC and you're a "diplomat." Rule #3: Diplomatic immunity apparently does NOT cover "stupid." Apparently, a minor "diplomat" from the country of Qatar has a raging case of nicotine addiction and couldn't manage the relatively short flight from DC to Denver, since he tried to smoke in one of the bathrooms. And then decided that joking about "setting his shoe onfire" was a cute idea. Really? A half hour before the jet landed, a flight attendant smelled smoke, this boob comes out of the loo and thinks that making jokes, which caused a huge uproar, including fighter jets scrambling outside of Denver, was a good idea. Maybe he needs to go back to Diplomat School. Maybe, since he's all of 27 or 28, he needs to grow up and not hide behind the "immunity" thing. Be a man and say you did something stupid. And apologize. The crew and authorities handled this quite properly. According to the story posted on MSN's website, the US will have to decide whether to ask Qatar to waive this idiot's immunity. Qatar could decline, and then the man would likely be expelled from the US. It's certainly good that this was handled swiftly and safely, but it sure is stupid. Qatar owes us the costs for dealing with someone who apparently likes sophomoric stunts.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I'm Not Sure What to Do With This...

So the scandals continue to mount for the Catholic Church - at least the Catholic Church outside the US. And I fired off an e-mail to one of the guys at work who's "in the biz"- i.e. a religious. He said he'd call me and he did. We talked for about 45 minutes. When he gets questions about why he's "still a Catholic after all this stuff," he says his response is this: My faith is in God, not in the man-made rules of the Church. What I believe comes from God, and not from some hierarchy. I thought that was pretty radical, and I know I need to chew on it a bit. My problem is that it's the CHURCH that has disappointed me. The specific set of Catholic rules is one thing I've always had problems with. (Birth control, anyone???) And I find some statistics to say that I'm not alone. Why are Italy's and Poland's birthrates so low? They're REALLY Catholic countries, but someone, somewhere, isn't buying the Papal Encyclical on birth control. Which is fine. I don't buy it either. I need to chew on his theory of why he still believes. I know it's a good one; I just have to get past my anger at what I see is the Church's unwillingness to (a) change; and (b) acknowledge that there IS a significant problem. Benedict's letter to Ireland seemed to indicate that he was demanding answers. But it also seems to me he should have demanded the answers years ago and he now needs to streamline the process and make it transparent to those of us warming the pews. My friend also said that he reads a wide variety of media and gave me some info on things I might want to look at. And he reminded me that there ARE good religious out there. And I do get the whole "if it bleeds, it leads" thing. It certainly sells more papers!! The US Conference of Catholic Bishops met in 2002 or so and had at that time instituted a "zero-tolerance" rule. And it has helped in the US. There have been only 6 cases of abuse recently. And yes, six is STILL TOO MANY, but it's proof that the zero tolerance rule is working. I was under the mistaken belief that what the USCCB said was meant for ALL the bishops everywhere, and my friend told me that wasn't so. And he told me that the US bishops have been giving the other bishops a lot of grief, and telling them, "You HAVE to follow our protocol - because it's working." And I hope other countries take that protocol and go further with it. The only way we're going to come together as a Church and a Body is to make sure that everyone plays by the same rules. I mentioned that I had a hard time with some of the clerical chess games. My friend said that he knew of two cases. In one case, the guy has died, so he didn't know what happened to him. In the other, the priest was sent to a high-intensity treatment facility, and upon his completion of the treatment, an extensive report was issued to his superiors. The report stated categorically that the man should never be put into contact with children ever again. The man is now answering phones in an office in the Order, totally out of the sphere in which he can ever be around kids. And I applaud that. I really do. Because I think some bishops "pish-toshed" the advice of doctors and figured, "Ok, I'll put Fr. A in a GIRL'S school since he's got problems with BOYS." No, Bishop.... NO CONTACT WITH KIDS means NO CONTACT WITH KIDS. With that thinking, we had more instances of Fr. A doing what he did but now only with girls. Also, the priest and bishop who spoke out on the altar at Easter services at the Vatican??? Bad, bad, BAD.... During Holy Week, we mourn and we celebrate. We mourn the death of Jesus and we celebrate His resurrection. The altar during that week is not the place for diatribes against the press and hollering about how "mean" everyone is - and Benedict tacitly endorsed this because he could have - and should have - shushed those men. But now? Now is Benedict's time to speak. Quickly, and truthfully. Too bad if he feels it's past history. Only by discussing the history and openly acknowledging what went wrong will we ever hope to fix it. And I also think that there should be stories about the treatment programs: warts and all. Show the priests who have successfully come through, and show that the superiors followed instructions. Show what happens if they don't succeed, and show what's done next. The Church MUST do this - the story is in the news anyway, so it's not like we're invading privacy. The matter has been sensationalized (which is the new normal for journalism), and if it hasn't been, then at least it's public record. Also show the good guys - the guys who do the hard work of having a vocation and do it with their hearts in the right place and who have done nothing deviant - they don't deserve to be lumped in with those who haven't been able to keep their vows. They certainly deserve our prayers and our praise. But not our sweeping generalizations. My other radical thought: It is so far past time to ordain women. Now is the time. This is the season. I'm whistling in the wind because Benedict is a throw-back. But he'll find himself heading a church that is incredibly smaller if he keeps on this path. He may like that. I don't think that's what Jesus wanted, though.

Monday, April 05, 2010

One Intelligent Comment...

In full disclosure, I like Bob Schieffer. I find him to be honest, and straightforward in his delivery, with professionalism and no hint of sensationalization. Therefore, I offer you this video... due to copyright issues, I can't post a link here, but go to www.huffingtonpost.com and search for Bob Schieffer and watch his commentary entitled, "Catholic Church Has More Than PR Issue" which just aired on Easter Sunday. Finally - someone who's got some sense and is MAKING sense of the issue. It's not the abuse (well, it IS, but take a moment and let me make a point) - it's the COVER-UP that has Catholics steamed. And yes, it IS the abuse, too. We see our Church playing the ultimate game, lying to us, all the while preaching the Gospel and the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have it done unto you." So you want me to donate to your Annual Appeal? You want me to help you with many charitable endeavors. I'd love to. Unfortunately, I don't believe for one minute that my money isn't going to a big bucket and being parceled out as legal fees for various areas wherein the priests have finally come to trial. All the while, Pope Benedict washes feet on Holy Thursday with a gold bowl. Somehow, I think Jesus didn't have a gold bowl. The lavish externals of the Vatican are covering up something as vile as the hidden picture in Dorian Gray - the vestments, crosses and gold are hiding something worse than leprosy. Worse than the most vile thing you can imagine. The gold bowls are hiding abuse. The vestments are covering the sins of the Fathers. And the Pope is maintaining a stony silence that does him no good. I realize church processes are not quick. And sometimes there's a reason - for example, when you're discerning a vocation, you want to take time to make sure you're being "called" for the right reasons. And the congregation that accepts you wants to make sure you fit. But there are times that call for swift action. And whenever children are involved, "swift" beats "slow" any time. I can't recall any abuse victim who's finally seen justice ever saying, "I'm glad they took their time and it was 12 (or 15 or 20) years till they finally got around to my case." This will cause an exodus from the pews. And Rome has only itself to blame. You take time when you're praying. You take time in meditation. You don't take time when there are issues of child safety. Ever. No matter who you are.