Why Cody is my favorite

Anyone who knows me knows, I have two dogs. A rambunctious puppy I acquired from friends in April (Scoop) and a calm older dog I adopted from the local shelter nearly three years ago (Cody).

I love both dogs, I really do, but there’s just something about Cody. He has such soulful eyes, he has lived quite a life. I am uncertain what his life was, exactly, but I know his care was compromised and I know it involved some level of neglect, if not abuse. And, I think the photo of him the day I took him home speaks volumns more than I can. Here is my sweet little guy on Jan. 16, 2009:

He has, since coming home with me, lived the life of a king. Here he is as of August, 2011:

And, to prove that I do love Scoop too, here’s the little guy who came to me with precious little more than potty issues:

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Despite illness, weekend proves productive

I felt it coming on Wednesday night. The scratchy throat and sniffling. By the time I went to bed, it was constant sneezing. I called in sick Thursday, knowing I had to be at work Friday. I lasted at work until about 2.5 hours before my day typically ends. By Friday night that ick was moving into my chest and I was feeling dreadful. Not only was I looking at possibly being laid up, but I was going to miss Fort 4 Fitness, a four-mile walk I signed up for months ago. I even had to cancel breakfast plans for later Saturday morning because I had a fever.

Despite the sickness, life goes on and, being single that meant I had some chores that HAD to be done including grocery shopping and cooking. So, I made my list while I lazed around on the couch and vowed to get in and out of the grocery store ASAP on Saturday. I did, with most of the fixings for pulled pork and beef vegetable soup.

I was too ambitious for how I was feeling, but I was also frustrated that one of the ingredients I needed, chili sauce, has high fructose corn syrup in it. I don’t care what the corn lobby tells you, I don’t believe the body processes it the same as sugar. So, I set out to make my own chili sauce, which I think I did a pretty good job on. And, with that, I cooked a butterflied pork tenderloin from Gunthorp Farms in ginger ale with onions, garlic and red pepper flakes. When it was done, I shredded it, removed most of the fat and added the homemade chili sauce to return to the pan and then cook for a bit longer. It was good, I was shocked.

Pulled pork sandwich after the meat was done

If there’s any interest, I can try to post a recipe (or general direction) for the homemade chili sauce. I was particularly inspired to find an alternative to a product with HFCS by an interview I did early last week with Cleveland boy and celebrity chef Michael Symon.

(And, we won’t go into how ridiculously excited I was to interview him, but you can get a clue if you listen to me in the interview. Ridiculous!)

After getting my cooking for the week going, I set out to put up the living room curtains I bought. I have a 10 foot wide by 9 foot high patio door that faces the west. That means in the summer from mid-afternoon until nightfall, I have the blazing hot sun beating down on my apartment, making it a sweatbox. I decided on the curtains late this summer, and after shopping with my sister on vacation, I became motivated to buy them. Well, today, Monday, was the first sunny day since I put up the curtains (the energy-saving kind) and I’m happy to say they work. They kept my living room temperature at a tolerable level so I didn’t have to crank on the air when I came home. I’m glad, because I love having the windows open in weather like this (early fall).

A great vacation begins with a taste of home, ends with great craft deals

I returned Friday night from a few days back in northeast Ohio with my sister. We try to take at least one vacation a year at the same time to just hang out and do whatever we want.

We had a blast. One of the main requirements of a return to northeast Ohio, for me, is a Lake Erie perch dinner. I love fresh lake perch and there is NO substitute in my mind. Well, if you combine that great fish with the fries from Berardi’s (a family that played a big part in the early days of Cedar Point) it simply gets no better. That trip was made on Tuesday since I was returning to Indiana on Friday (the day when fish fries are most popular back home).

On Wednesday, a trip to Ohio Amish Country was on tap. My sister and I, along with a longtime friend of my sister, left my sister’s town at 7 a.m. and drove the couple hours to Amish Country. Our first stop was a farm stand and the second, an Amish farm that had a sign hanging out front advertising they sold baskets. I LOVE Amish made baskets and couldn’t pass up picking up two while there (been using ’em for organizing lately).

We did some other shopping, not the least of which was picking up some new fall decorations.

And, another favorite trip when I return to my hometown, is to Pat Catan’s, where deals abound on crafty items. This time around, I picked up about $200 (I originally thought it was $100) worth of scrapbooking rub-ons and stickers, for about $10. That’s some super clearancing on the store’s part.

It was a great time. Three-and-a-half of the most relaxing days I’ve had in a while. Oh, and, I had 7 1/2-inches of hair cut off while I was there.

The dogs were happy to see me when I got back and, out of guilt, I gave them steak bones left over from our dinner on Thursday.

So, it’s Patriot Day

The 10th anniversary reflection on Sept. 11 began for me over a month ago when my boss asked me to gather together the list of servicemembers northeast Indiana has lost in Iraq and Afghanistan since combat operations began in those countries post Sept. 11, 2001. I delayed it as much as I could and eventually, it became obvious I could do that no more. So, I put that list together and I searched our archives for those photos. And, I remembered each and every one of the 30+ servicemembers we’ve lost.

The reality of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 began for me on Friday, Sept. 9, this year. I worked. I went out to dinner with a friend/former co-worker. We laughed, we talked, we laughed (I think she laughed at me more than anything because I can be pretty animated). Then, I dropped her off at home and came home myself and I turned on the History Channel and, as it’s prone to doing, the History Channel was trying to put things in perspective. The channel’s special reviewed the events of Sept. 11, 2001 looking at the days that followed. The volunteers, the Muslims, the hatred of Americans toward Muslims, the searchers, the puppies searching, the flurry of folks looking for Americana decorations. It was good. It was what I probably needed.

I remember waking up to the planes flying into the towers. As a journalist, I knew that my day may have changed drastically, but it didn’t. I went about my schedule, which involved a Chinese restaurant for lunch with a source. He and I chatted and joked and laughed. But, out there, in reality, this “thing” was happening. This terrible, awful “thing.” This incomprehensible “thing.” It was an attack on America (most call it a terrorist attack, some will tell you one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter). Thousands were dead. No one really knew what happened. I was aware of the initial damage. Two planes, two towers, thousands dead. Two more planes, separate locations, hundreds more dead.

Now, 10 years later, the mass media has repeated those events over and over for hours, days on the anniversary date.

Friday night, I sat on my couch watching that History Channel special, not hysterical, but with steady tears streaming down my face. Watching the families of those who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald gather at a co-worker’s home to mourn and wonder. Watching the footage from the Islamic Center in Queens where threats were rolling in.

I sit now, at my computer, the TV on in the background, replaying the footage (b-roll) of that day. The talking heads chatting about it seem so ridiculous now. The supposition that it was an accident. That it was a small plane. How the hell could it be an accident? How could a small aircraft do that damage? How can no one know it was a jet, slated to travel cross country? Those towers went up like candles, and then crashed down in a cloud of smoke and debris.

Yeah, hindsight.

In the 10 years since this happened I’ve developed friendships here in northeast Indiana and one of the most important friendships is a family that has had two sons join the military. One has subsequently cycled out..the other soldier is facing deployment again (having already served one tour in Afghanistan). I know someone who has been married but whose husband has spent more time on foreign soil than at home. I think that’s made it more real to me, closer. I have listened to friends talk about how they were affected by the attacks.

As a journalist, the person in me chose to see it as just a huge ass news story. A history making event.

Now, 10 years later, I’m 10 years older, I have relationships I value in ways I never valued relationships before and, I’m devastated, probably all over again, maybe for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, seeing those bodies drop from the towers affected me then. The loss of life affected me then. But, I’m a different person now and all that is affecting me differently now.

So, I’m probably gonna spend today on my couch. Knitting at hand. Laundry to do. TV tuned to regurgitations of the events from 10 years ago. And, I’ll probably cry. Not wracking sobs as if I lost someone I loved, but the slow, streaming tears of someone who recognizes that it sucked hard, too many lives were lost and we’ve been at war for 10 years. That we lost 3,000 on that day and thousands more since, and who knows how many hence.

Osama Bin Laden is dead. Saddam Hussein is dead. But we keep sending our boys and girls over there and we will for who knows how long. And, there’ll be more loss. And, I’ll probably cry (again, not wracking sobs, but streaming tears).

God bless our servicemen and women. God bless our public safety workers and God Bless America.

Regrets only make you feel worse

I had a heckuva morning today. It started out pretty great. We got up, the dogs went out and I prepared myself to arrive at the Pigeon River Festival in time to see Spencer Kane perform. And, of course, to catch the Boondock Queen competition.

So, I crate the dogs and head out, first to get gas. I go in, prepay for my gas and a Diet Coke and go out to pump gas. I open my driver’s side door, push the lever that opens the gas door, pick up the pump hose, turn aaaannnnndddd, the gas door is shut. So, I hit the lever again. This time, I notice 1) the lever has too much give and 2) my trunk has popped open. Panic.Set.In. Especially because my trunk now would not latch.

I spend a few minutes jamming my key into the gas tank door hoping I can pop it but to no avail. A lovely gentleman who was on his way out of the station walked past me, then came back and offered up a suggestion. When I showed him how much give the lever had, he said “Oh, sorry.” Yeah, man, me too, me too.

I go back into the station, where the shift leader offers to try to help me (they credited me for my pre-pay) and when he and I can’t figure it out, I head over to Hires, which is a short drive that I could make through the Meijer parking lot in case my trunk, which is barely latched, pops open.

After telling them what the problem is, the guy at the counter tells me it’s going to be $25 to figure out what’s wrong and who knows on the fix. Panic.Getting.Worse. See, I don’t have a lot of disposable income. Sure, I could’ve swung a couple hundred bucks (which is what the kid at the gas station said a cable had cost an uncle), but who knows what woulda had to suffer because of it.

Henry the Honda during a Spring Break 2010 snow flurry. He's 10 and has 96,000+ miles

Now, for the point of my post…The panic was exacerbated by guilt at one of the initial feelings I had. See, I had done some “nice” things for people that cost me money on Friday. I won’t go into details because that’s not important. What’s important is that I began to feel “well, hell, had I not spent money on THAT Friday, I wouldn’t be in such bad shape now.”

Never fear, I berated myself but good for thinking that even for one second. Because, here’s the thing, doing things for people feels good not because of what you get in return, but just because. Altruism. How could I be having regrets for having done something nice for someone, especially since they didn’t ask it of me? How DARE I have those regrets!

Right about the time I got my mind right about the financial burden this could cause me, in walked a mechanic (having taken my car into the shop and promptly returned it to the parking lot). Panic was still in me and when he tossed my key and work order on the counter I thought “Oh, shit, they can’t even contemplate fixing it. Hell!”

But nope, problem wasn’t they couldn’t fix it. Problem was, there was nothing for them to fix! Ha! He noticed my trunk was unlatched, fixed that problem, took it into one of the bays and There.Was.Nothing.Wrong! I was thrilled. I was willing to pay the $25 for the good news, but it was no charge, they’d done nothing. I suppose they (all 8 or 10 guys standing around) did get a good laugh when I left though. I know I did. And, I was, of course, incredibly grateful it cost me nothing. Someone is looking out for me and for this I am thankful.

Oh, and, PRF was fantastic. And, I got to judge the fashion and interview part of the queen contest.
Watch three of the four contestants sing a Lady Gaga song to earn my respec… errrr, extra credit points.

I.Love.Mongo! Probably gonna do more on that in a separate post.

Glass Addictions offering tutorials and a surprise

My friend Jennifer from Glass Addictions is offering up a tutorial today on lantern earrings. She’s been enameling lately and combined some enamel beads with some chain to make the earrings she talks about in today’s post.

I love the idea of the tutorial, AND the concept of her offering kits for sale. Let her know what you think. You could win something.

Holy crap! Did I do that?

I just took up knitting. By that, I mean, THIS YEAR. I’ve dabbled before, trying and becoming frustrated I couldn’t get the yarn, needles and my hands to work in harmony. It Just.Never.Worked.Out.

Well, perhaps it’s having a knitter at my disposal at work, someone to watch knit, listen to talk about knitting, it has finally clicked. I get it, I got it and I’m not all that intimidated by it anymore.

So, I set out to make something with this new-found skill and settled on a shrug from the Lion Brand website. I’d post a link, but unless you’re a member, you can’t see it.

Anyway, I don’t know why a shrug and I don’t know why I didn’t read the other knitters’ reviews of the pattern (seems anyone who has made it has found that it comes out looking nothing like it does on the model in the picture and the sizing is a bit off). I guess I just figured I needed to jump in and the yarn was on sale so…

I finished the shrug about two weeks ago, put it on and nearly did a spit-take when I saw myself in it in the mirror. You see, a shrug requires a body type I do not possess. In fact, I had a friend put it on to model for a photo shoot for my Crafty Living blog and she wasn’t happy with how it fit her.

Thankfully, I do have friends whose physiques are more shrug friendly. This week, it went home with Rebecca. I hope she likes it.

For purposes of this post, here’s another co-worker modeling it for my phone camera at my desk so I’d have a picture to post.

Check out the Wordless Wednesday post at my work blog for a close-up of the sleeve.

Crafting for CrabFest

I have a good friend, well, I’ve written about her, it’s Rebecca from ..all things visible and invisible. Anyway, her family gets together every year on Labor Day weekend with a huge pile of crabs straight from the East Coast and they throw themselves a CrabFest.

Earlier this summer, Rebecca’s sister emailed me a crochet pattern (a badly written crochet pattern) asking whether I thought I could make the crab it was designed to make.

Once I translated the pattern, I was off (with red, blue and white yarn) to make cooked and uncooked crabs. And I was so stinking happy with the first one, I rushed out on my deck with beach-themed props to take his picture. I present you Kirby (yep, was so excited I even named him).

Well, when we returned to work from the holiday, I found this tile pendant on my computer keyboard (Thanks Martha)

I love the puppy, I love the puppy, I love the puppy

I got a puppy, from friends, back in April and it’s been a fantastic ride since. First it was the house training, my number one priority. Now, we are working on making sure Scoop knows to stay out of stuff that doesn’t belong to him.

Scoop (in front) and Cody

At night, I let him sleep outside of his crate, but I block my bedroom door with the crate so he can’t get out and get into trouble (I sleep like a rock).

Monday night, I worked second shift and came home absolutely exhausted. I must not have paid close attention to how I placed the crate in the doorway because after only about 4.5 hours of sleep, I woke up to an absolute mess in my living room Tuesday morning. It nearly made me sick to see a $20 skein of sock yarn, and the sock toe I had worked so hard to get JUST right, laying in a knotted mess, knitting needles scattered. I had planned to go back to bed after an initial trip outside with both dogs.

Instead, I took the dogs out and spent the next five hours rewinding that skein of yarn into a ball so I could, yet again, make a sock toe. Eventually I’m hoping it becomes an actual sock.

Here is the sock toe before Scoop’s adventures

Here it is Tuesday night after I finally got the yarn rewound and the sock toe remade

In fairness to Scoop, whom I wanted to kill Tuesday morning, this sock toe is the best out of the seven or eight that I’ve made (using this same yarn).

And trust me, last night before bed, that ball of yarn and sock toe went on a nice, high counter, out of puppy’s reach.

Things that brighten your day

I’ve had a crap day today. Nothing earth shatteringly crappy, probably just my exhaustion from my work schedule lately.

In fact, the only thing that made me laugh out loud today was when I posted “I give the eff up” on Facebook and a friend posted “I’ll give up the Gee.”

Then, late this afternoon, while I’m waiting for work to wind down, I stumble across a video on another friend’s wall that is entitled “Surprise.” In fact, there are two of them, just about the time I’m going to go check it out, I get a wall post from another friend. It says simply (and in all caps) “TREY IS HERE!!!!! TOTAL SURPRISE”.

Trey is said friend’s son and he’s in the Army stationed at Pearl Harbor. We haven’t seen him in a while and her sister and Trey conspired for a surprise visit.

It brightened my day. I’m glad Trey’s home (he’s one of my favorite kids, now that he’s an adult).