Crowz Nest

Because it's time... as it was once before.

My Photo
Location: Port Murray, NJ

I'm a bit old to be starting out in life again, but that's where I am. Sadly. Or gladly. It's where I am. Come along. Watch the fun. Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I've been tagged....

What was I doing 10 years ago?

When was that? 10 years ago. I was in my third year of marriage to Bas, and at this time of the year, I was still grieving over Annie's death in March, and had just gotten Crow. So, 10 years ago today, I was playing with a puppy. Doc was still alive. Beckett was still alive. Angel was still alive. I was still training dog classes. Doing animal communication. Working at the same day job.

5 snacks I enjoy:

cheese - all five could be cheese, but I stretched it.

5 things on my to-do list today:

I was supposed to do 5 things today? I took my tire to be repaired, had breakfast with Cindy, went to a garage sale with Cindy, treated Hudson's boo-boos, and reconnoitered yard work, but then it rained. So I'm watching the Mets/Yankees game, which was the only thing on my to-do list that I cared about. And that's 6.

5 things I would do if I were a billionaire:

buy a small farm
buy horses
buy goats
buy cows

5 jobs I have had:

inventory clerk for Agfa Gaevart
kennel worker
assistant to a professional dog handler
library cataloging assistant
library technology coordinator

5 of my bad habits:

spending too much time knitting
spending too much time reading
not caring enough about money
letting the laundry pile up

5 places I have lived:

Wyckoff, NJ
Madison, NJ
York Haven, Pa.
Long Valley, NJ
Port Murray, NJ

5 people who I'd like to get to know better (this means you're tagged!):

That's way more than 5 because there are way more than 5 of you.

5 random things:

I take a long time to get moving, but once started, I can keep going and going and going.

I hate heat.

I love baseball.

If I'm not reading, I'm knitting. If I'm not knitting, I'm reading.

I am shy, psychic, and often lonely.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Patchwork Puppy

Hudson had two tumors removed yesterday. After the cousins left, I had a day off. Then, yesterday, I had to go to work for a meeting. I dropped Hudson off on my way in, and picked him up at 3:00. We've been given Fridays off this summer, so I've been able to spend today tending to Hudson's boo-boos, the worst part of which is the razor burn. Poor guy. They shave so much coat off, he looks like a patchwork puppy.

Poor boy. Look how much of his glorious coat's gone!

Hudson's handsome enough to sport this as a sort of jaunty look, don't you think?

This is what's bothering him most. It must burn like crazy. I'm putting cold pressed aloe on it, fresh from the fridge, and it seems to help soothe it. At least, he stops scratching at it and running from it as soon as I apply it.

Everything will grow back. I await biopsy results from both sites early next week. Not anticipating any problems. The growth on his head appeared to be a benign tumor of an oil gland. The site on his shoulder was a sebaceous cyst which I opted to have removed because it opened last August, but never healed up. It was oozy and ugly, and an open path for infection. So it's gone now.

Hudson, Crow and I slept a good portion of this afternoon away. It's been a long, busy week. The dogs' schedule has been topsy turvy since Monday. As much fun as we had, returning to routine is always welcome in its own way. New visitors, old friends, and an operation - that's all alot for a Goober Dog to deal with.

A Gaggle of Rebels (or the Tennessee 8)

After months of e-mail exchanges and communications, and weeks of building excitement and anticipation, my cousin Alan and his whole family landed at Newark Airport on Monday morning. I'd sweet-talked my brother, Mark, into going with me to pick them up. They were coming in on Continental, so we blithely steered our way into terminal C, where Continental flights have been arriving for decades, and hoofed our way through the ever growing expanses of the terminal to find an arrivals board - only to discover that the only flight listed as coming in from Knoxville was a. already landed, and b. at a gate in terminal A. Ooops. Continental EXPRESS flights arrive at terminal A.
We flew back to the car, and corkscrewed our way through the airport to daily parking for terminal A, and got out butts inside. We located the gate, and checked the baggage area, but didn't see any of them standing around, so we made our way back up to the exit from the appropriate gate and prepared to wait. My cell phone rang. Using voice and eyes, my cousin Alan managed to spot us before I spotted him. Very soon, hugs were had all around, and Mark was reacquainted with Alan, and introduced again to Rhea, and to the next two generations for the first time. We headed for the air-rail, and made our way over to Avis, where we picked up the van and were on our way.
Monday was, I'm sure, quite tiring for all of the Tennessee gang. After dropping my car and Mark back at Mark's house, where the day would end hours later with a family reunion party, I hit the road with the cuzzins. I drove up to Wayne, so Alan could see the house in which he spent his early years, and to Wyckoff, where he took pictures of the house in which my family lived, which my dad built. Alan's dad, my father's brother, helped him on more than one occasion. Then we drove back over this way, had lunch in Hackettstown (pizza and mussels in hot sauce, at Alan's specific request.) Hackettstown is the next town over from where I live, and coincidentally, had been where Alan's Uncle Jules and Aunt Betty lived in the 1960s. Alan had spent the summer there when he was 16, and already living down in Tennessee. He seemed to recognize it, though it has changed substantially since then.

We then headed over to my house, so I could feed and exercise the dogs before we headed back over to my brother's town. I dropped them off at the motel at around 4:00 p.m., so they could finally rest and freshen up, and then picked them up at 6:30 for the party.

Bless my sister-in-law, Joan, and my brother, Mark, for volunteering to host this. It was a tremendous amount of work, and they did a spectacular job. Fortunately, the oppressive heat and humidity lifted, the air cleared, and we were able to have the party outside, around the pool. Cousins from the area arrived, and everyone seemed to have a really great time.

Here we are - it wasn't all of us, but most. Front: Leslie (Derek Nash's daughter), Georgeanne (Tommy & Jean's daughter), Rhea (Alan's wife), Patty (Alan's daughter), me, my little buddy, Shelby (Patty's daughter), and Camille, being strangled by Thomas (Tommy & Jean's son.) Back: Alan, my brother Mark, Tommy, my brother Steve (directly behind Tommy), Michael (Alan's son), Jesse(Steve's son - directly behind Michael), and Aaron (Patty's son.)

This was a perfectly composed gathering on the steps. All I had to do was call their names, and I got this shot. From front center, clockwise, Shelby (Alan's granddaughter,) Michael (Alan's son,) David (Michael's partner,) and my two beautiful nieces, Genny and Alison.

My lit-up brother, Mark and Shelby.

The Baby Boomer Boys: Steve, Alan, Tommy and Mark.

The Baby Boomer girls: Georgeanne (ok, she's not a boomer), Camille, me, Eileen (Gracie's daughter) and Leslie (Derek's daughter.)

On Tuesday morning, the Tennessee 8, Mark, and Joan and I had breakfast at Mark's and then headed to NYC for the day. We left the van at the Liberty Park park & ride, and caught the light rail to the ferry in Jersey City. Mark works there, but I'd not been there in years, and certainly not since 9-11-2001. They've done a very moving job with a couple of very small, but very powerful memorials on the waterfront. On that terrible day, of course, this waterfront had a front row seat, witnessing the awful disaster playing out across the river. It is sobering and powerful to see, and to realize what happened there.

Shelby, sitting next to the Firemen's Memorial at the Jersey City waterfront.

Rhea examining the plaque at the Firemen's Memorial, with Joannie and Mark in the background.

Scott, Shelby, Patty and Aaron, in front of a twisted iron beam from the World Trade Center. Lower Manhattan in the background gives you an idea of the view of the tragedy one had from this site.

Aaron reading one of the memorials.

We did a lot of walking and saw a lot of things that were on their list. We started at the Winter Garden Atrium, which affords a good view down into Ground Zero. Next, we went to Trinity Church, the little Revolutionary era church which survived the 9-11 terrorist strike, which you can see across Ground Zero from the Atrium. It's one of the nice stories of survival from that day. By all rights, the church should have been destroyed. It wasn't touched. A 100 year old Sycamore tree, which burned from the heat, protected the church. Not a single window was broken. Inside, rescuers and workers rested and were fed and treated. There are several memorials, largely impromptu and put in place by visitors, inside. It is a powerful and affecting apace.
Patty and Shelby in the Winter Garden Atrium, overlooking Ground Zero. If you look over Patty's shoulder, you can see a small copse of trees. Out of the center of it, the steeple of the Trinity Church can just be seen.

From the church we walked over to Canal Street, and through Chinatown, into Little Italy, where we had lunch. Then we took a subway to the Empire State Building, and then one over to Times Square. From there, we walked to Rockefeller Plaza, and finally caught the E-train back down to the World Financial Center and caught the ferry back to Jersey City. It may not sound like much, but it was a lot of walking, and a full day. Everyone seemed to see what they'd come to see, and a number of things they never expected.

One of the experiences the kids wanted was to ride on the subways. Here's some of the group at the end of the day, riding the E train back down to the World Financial Center, on our way back to catch the ferry home. This is what happy, tired Palmieris look like. Too bad pictures don't show pain, 'cause there's a bunch of very sore feet in this picture. This is Michael, Shelby, Mark, Joan, and David, all looking a tad worse for wear.

More than anything else, we all just really enjoyed one another's company, and the pleasure of discovering the kinship that underlies "family." When my father was alive, he was the one who kept in touch with everyone. He was the "glue" to a large extent, that kept everyone close. I kept thinking throughout these few days how thrilled he would be if he could know that we all were together. Maybe he does. It was nice to think he did.

Alan and his family got up early on Wednesday morning to make their way down to Atlantic City.By now, on Friday afternoon, they are back in Tennessee. I hope that the rest of their stay in the North was as satisfying and enjoyable for them as their time with us was for us.

Ya'll come back now, y'hear?

Friday, June 20, 2008

More finished objects

Lauren once commented to me that I must knit fast. At the time, I think I responded along the lines that it wasn't so much a matter of how fast I could knit as it was a question of how long I could knit.

I'm making two-at-a-time socks now, as I posted a couple of days ago, in a self-striping yarn. When I sat down this evening and picked up my knitting, I had finished the gussets and finished about an inch on the instep. Around 9:00, I had about an inch to go before it was time to begin the toe decreases.

Well, they're done. Because I knit on the back needle whenever I work on circulars, I worked the socks this way, too. So, when I got to the directions for the Kitchener stitch, I screwed it up on the first sock, by working the graft on the wrong side. Taking a page from the Navajos, I left the error in place. Um ... ok, I left it in place because I'd done a great job of weaving in the end and it wasn't worth picking apart the yarn to undo it. They're mine. I don't care about the error. I love these socks. Even though I hate how my left foot and ankle swell by the end of the day (a result of an accident four years ago when the steps to my deck collapsed beneath me as I was coming down them, and I speared straight into the ground, catching all of my weight on my left foot) I love these socks enough to show you a picture of them even with my ugly, swollen left foot and ankle (gotta look into acupuncture for that!)

I think it's the way socks look so perfect when they're done that makes me like making them. Like baking bread, or making a slip cover, there's something incredibly gratifying about making something that looks so perfect when it's done. For me, that's always been one of the beauties of knitting - the results can be so surprisingly perfect. And, it's not really how fast I knit that gets me to the finish line. It's how curious I am to see the final product that keeps me going, stitch after stitch, round after round, hour after hour, so that the instep that was under my fingers at 9:00 p.m. becomes the sock that is on my foot at midnight. (And like an artist, I'm going to recommend you click on the photo so you can see the brush strokes stitches.)

Peonies popping

I think everyone who grows them knows: there's a tremendous design flaw to peonies. The flowers are too heavy for the stems. They smell heavenly, they're dramatic and exuberant blooms. But they seem to need the help of a million ants crawling on the buds in order to open properly, and they always seem to pop open about three hours before the heavy rains that beat them and batter them down to the ground.

This is the third year I've been in this house, and it's the first that saw more than a few buds on the peonies. There were dozens of buds promising a magnificent display.

So, I waited. And sure enough, I came home from work one afternoon with the skies heavily ominous, and the warning of severe thunder storms in the news. When I opened the door and went out with the dogs, I could immediately smell the perfume of the peonies in the air, and I knew that they had opened.

It got dark as night, and began to drizzle, so I ran inside to get my camera to capture the beauty.

By the next morning, the storm had destroyed the display, and by the next afternoon, 90% of the petals were on the ground, about to be mowed over by my tractor. I'm so glad I captured these few shots. I brought some of the petals inside, thinking that they might release some of the scent of peonies in a potpourri, but that didn't work.

They sure were pretty while they lasted, but someone's got to breed a variety with a stem that can hold up the flower! Anyway, I had some pink and some white. The white had a lovely pinkish blush in the center, and smelled heavenly. The pinks didn't have as much fragrance, but they had a deep, saturated color that was breathtaking while it lasted. And they did both look beautiful against the wet bushes in the glowering light before the storm hit.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Family reunion

In two weeks, my cousin, Alan, is coming up from Tennessee, with his whole family in tow - three generations of them. We'll be getting together with family up here who haven't seen him since this visit:

Oh my gosh, I just realized I'm wearing my hair that way again - minus the silly, over-sized barrette.

This was probably either 1967 or 1968.

So there we were - back row is cousin Susan, my brother Mark, and my cousin Brian. Front row is cousin Camille, my brother Steve, my sister, Cathy, me, my cousin Tommy, and cousin Alan.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Objects, finished and begun

The knitting goes on. Years ago, it used to be constant, too, but then I got the Shih Tzus in 1995, and for the first time, I had a dog who found yarn irresistible. I took the path of least resistance, and put things away. That turned out to be, more or less, for about a decade. And when I picked it up again, I rediscovered the zen of knitting.

Now, I twitch if there isn't a project on the needles. This year, apparently, is the year of the sock. I finally tried some self-patterning yarn. After working with wool and silk blend this past winter, I couldn't believe how icky acrylic felt in my hands. But, as with the book ethic (you start it, you finish it) I forced myself through. I wasn't in love with this yarn. But the colors are bright, and the patterns were sort of fun to watch emerge, and these will make a nice enough gift for someone as "house socks. I even have someone in mind.

While the acrylic socks were on the needle, I placed another order with KnitPicks for some more fingering weight sock yarn. I got some of the self-striping merino, and some more of the Essential tweed, this time in a black tweed, which should be really pretty worked up. While I was at it, out of curiosity, I ordered a book on doing two socks at once in the magic loop method, and a 47" inch size 0 circular needle.

Ok, I'm thoroughly in love with these colors, and these are going to be really fun socks. And they're going to be mine! This is inside-out, which is the way they're worked, so you're just seeing the backside of the left-twist faux cabling here, which just looks like ribbing. Aren't these going to be fun to wear? The merino is soft and bouncy. The socks are going to be nice and light weight, but warm. And bright - just the perfect counter for my Goth outfits, right?

Here they are, turned right-side out. It's a simple pattern, with just a little something to amuse your hands every third row. Before they're done, there will be more yarn to order and more socks to look forward to. I'm not sure if I love this technique - I've never been a big fan of playing with multiple balls of yarn at one time, and even though this only involves 2, that does mean a bit of untwisting to tend to, plus an awful lot of arranging cables and socks before beginning each round - and after steaming through a sock every two nights, I'm not sure that this is actually going to deliver me to a complete pair of socks any faster than doing them one at a time, but when I'm done, I'll be done, and I'll have a new pair of socks to put on. I have to say, it's a kick to work with the self-striping stuff, and I can't wait to wear these. Just another reason to hate summer!