Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Time!

I smell coffee brewing and it's wonderful.  Christmas day 2012 is here and I'm at home with the kitties, while Mr. Grumpbump is at work until 2:00 p.m.  Macy's Christmas gift to me is that she is sitting on the couch with me and exposing her fluffy belly and accepting a few rubs from me.

I attended my knitting group's Christmas party a few weeks ago, which was a super fun evening, and in the course of buying presents for secret santa and door prizes, I ended up buying 10 skeins of a discontinued cotton yarn by Adrienne Vittadini.  It is the most lovely shade of red.

I knew I wanted to wear this color but the yardage for each ball was only 87 yard so I had to start with something small.  I found a really cute, easy pattern for a cowl on Ravelry called Sweet Memories.  Of course, I made a mistake right off the bat and only cast on 170 stitches and I used smaller needles than the pattern calls for (size 7 instead of size 8).  I was worried that this would be too small to loop around my head and that I would just end up with a yarn necklace.

I finished it yesterday and worn it to dinner at my mom's house.  I would like it to be longer (and probably will be if I knit it on size 8 and cast on the required 200 stitches), but it's really cute for a first try.  And my first tries don't always work out.

Me and my cowl

Love this red

My mom tried it on and it looked great on her.  This red is a really pretty color.  I wish it were in something other than the cotton yarn.  I cast on a new attempt this morning and hope I can have this done by next week.

I told Mr. Grumpbump that I would not buy anymore yarn until I had made a significant dent in the stash in my closet.  I also told him that I found it odd that no one ever gets me a gift related to knitting for my birthday or Christmas.  He said that everyone just assumes I buy everything I need for myself so they don't have it.  And he doesn't believe me that I will swear off yarn buying.  He thinks I'm addicted.

I did get a wonderful gift for my birthday from my mom - the gift of housekeeping.  She arranged for her housekeeper to come by my house and give it a thorough cleaning before the arrival of Mr. Grumpbump's family at the first of the year.  Those ladies did a marvelous job and my house has never been that clean, ever.  It's just so nice to come home from work to a spotless house.   I had so much stress because I was just trying to plan how I was going to get the house organized, cleaned and ready for guests while continuing to work full time.  This gift relieved all of that stress (I managed to organize most of our junk in the few weekends leading up to the house cleaning) and now I get to enjoy my two days' off for Christmas.   One of the best gifts I've ever received.

When Mr. Grumpbump gets home from work, we will open the few presents that "Santa" has left for us and I will try to make decent headway on my second cowl.   A very nice, lazy day for me and my kitties.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Grumpbump Valley Sunday

Today, we laid Tigger to rest in our backyard.  We had him cremated and his ashes are in a memorial stone that we placed in the plant beds next to our pool.  It feels comforting to know he's back home with us.

R.I.P, Tiggerman
Less than one week after we lost Tigger, his former owner emailed me, asking if she could visit him.  I had to tell her via email that Tigger had passed away on October 30.  She did not email me back.  But, in a bizarre turn-of-events, she emailed me back last night and told me that she was (understandably) devastated by the news and that her birthday is actually October 30.  We had Tigger put to sleep on her fucking birthday.  She went on to say that she appreciated us taking good care of Tigger.

Of course, her email opened up the whole loss-of-Tigger wound again and I cried for quite a bit.  Not a very pleasant evening.

On the knitting front, I have started working on a pair of socks (finally).  My next knitting group meeting is Tuesday and I wanted to have at least the heel done by that time.  That means I should be knitting right now instead of blogging.

I spent yesterday with my mom and we had a very pleasant time.  My goal was to buy a couple of cute decorative planters and some hard-to-kill and low maintenance plants.  We ended up with a hibiscus (even thought we already have those planted outside of the patio) and a croton.  Already on the patio is a norfolk island pine (which has seen better days) and a dieffenbacchia (aka dumb cane or Mother-in-law plant).  The dieffenbacchia was one of the plants at my Grandmother's memorial service.  It is so low maintenance and yet it is thriving.

Croton on left; Hibiscus on right

Mom and I went to Old Time Pottery and I ended up buying some storage ottomans for our bedroom.  Not necessarily because we needed the storage but because Delilah needs some help jumping up on our bed.  It's the same theory as us having a pool table simply for Macy to be able to sit up high and watch out for that sneaky Delilah.

But I also bought some cute lanterns and candles for the patio table outside.  Mr. Grumpbump and I moved the patio furniture to the other side of the house (close to our bedroom) because the only outlets were on that  side of the house.  However, we don't have any lights yet, so these lanterns should work for now.

Aren't they super cute?
Mr. Grumpbump has to work on Thursday, so we will be doing a late Thanksgiving lunch (around 3:00 p.m.).  I asked a friend of mine, who is a caterer, to make an apple pie for Mr. Grumpbump for his Thanksgiving dessert.  I just can't wait for two days off of work.

Macy is revisiting the family room cat tree and most times of the day you can find her on the top rung, sleeping.  She's a big girl and some of her hangs over the edge of the rung, but she is sleeping soundly and apparently comfortably, so we let her be.  She's also got this very weird habit of sitting in front of the door to the garage and meowing in her little-baby-kitty-plaintive voice until you let her go in the garage.  I don't understand the draw of the garage and you can usually find her on the astroturf remnant that Mr. Grumpbump uses when he exercises out in the garage (since the floor is tiled, the astroturf gives him some grip).  Macy's confusing us but we aren't complaining because she is being very social with us and much less shy than ever before.

You dare interrupt my sleep?

And Delilah?  If she ever changed, then you should kiss your ass goodbye because that is a sign of the apocalypse.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Celebrating and Remembering

Now that my afghan is complete, I should be devoting all my knitting time to the shawl project.  And while it does currently reside beside me on the couch, I am only periodically picking it up and knitting a few rows (unless Mr. Grumpbump asks me to do something, then I'm all about, "Hey!  I'm busy knitting here!").

Macy insisted on being in the picture
Actually I'm cheating.  Cheating on this project that should be demanding all of my attention.  I can't stop thinking about getting a new project started.  I want to make a pair of socks (haven't worked on socks in well over a year) and I have a pattern for a super cute hat.  I even bought expensive yarn to make it.

Sumptuous Yarn
I really want to do all these projects at once!  And I never seem to factor in time to do my household chores, which I really resent having to do.  I am trying to convince Mr. Grumpbump to let me get housecleaning help for these last two months of the year.  He has a bunch of family visiting during Christmas and New Year's and I just don't want to waste time deep-cleaning the house. Now I just have to find someone reputable to come in and give me a quote.

Our household is still in disarray since Tigger's passing.  I don't mean to suggest that we haven't been able to move on because we have.  Life is back to normal and I don't feel so sick to my stomach at having a sick creature in the house.  The lingering feelings are those of guilt and failure.  As a result, I cannot bring myself to get another cat.  It's hard to tell if the other cats miss Tigger and therefore would thrive with a third cat.  I personally feel that Tigger brought a certain balance to our house.  We have seen serious changes with Macy, who now seems very attached to us.  Macy does not shy away from us petting her and joins us on the couch without provocation.   I can't tell if she is clingly because she misses Tigger or if she feels safer and more content without Tigger's presence.  I initially thought she seemed depressed, and I have been a helicopter cat guardian by monitoring and scrutinizing everything consumed or drunk or pooped or peed in this house.  I can't afford to miss the symptoms of any illness the second time it happens.

Next to her favorite human
Tigger is now home with us; his ashes in a paw print tin.  I am trying to find a nice memorial stone to put in our garden.  Both vets we took him to sent us sympathy cards.  Even though Tigger was a cat, he was in our life every single day.  Every single day I fed him, gave him water, petted and kissed him.  Every single day he lived with us.  I didn't even do all of that for my husband!  And to have him here one day, seemingly happy and healthy, only to lose him without being prepared for the finality of it.  I feel like my life report card has a gigantic F on it for caregiving and no matter how well I take care of Delilah and Macy, and any other cats we  rescue along the way, I can't make up for failing Tigger.

Today is my second wedding anniversary with Mr. Grumpbump, and we are attending the wedding of our good friends later this afternoon.  We are blessed with very beautiful weather and at the end of the night, there will be CAKE!  

Monday, November 5, 2012

In The Market For A Change

 I am trying to convince Mr. Grumpbump to let me have a garage sale so I can sell everything in our living room.  And use the proceeds as a down payment to the purchase of real furniture.  You know, where everything matches?  My living room is schizophrenic and a study in the various shades of brown.  Yuck.

But, when I look at the cost of furniture - oh my gosh, it just makes me sick.  Look, I am not really concerned with appearances or keeping up with the joneses.  I just want something cute and comfortable.  I predict that I will wasting a lot of time on craiglist.

I finished my ripple afghan tonight! I had this stinking project on the needles since January.  It took me forever to bind off the stitches (two nights).  I used Sewn Bind-Off technique because it gives the edge a bit more stretch and looks very clean.  I am so happy I have a completed project.

Try to ignore the cat hairs

I love ripples
Tomorrow will be one week since Tigger's passing and  I miss him every single day.  I wake up expecting to see him begging for breakfast and look for him when I walk in the door after coming home from work.  The guilt I feel is still very strong - why was I not able to save him?  I'm second guessing all those decisions from a week ago, and I have difficulty with accepting this part of the circle of life (cue the Lion King music).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Time Is Running Out

I am so close to finishing my afghan/lap blanket.  It's been on needles for months (started it in January!).  I spent lunch hours and weeknights just de-tangling and winding the yarn into center-pull balls.  My goal is to finish it by tonight, meaning off the needles and cleaning up all loose ends (there are always plenty of loose ends when you knit with many color changes).  I also want to throw it in the wash to soften up the acrylic yarn.  I used the Michael's store brand (Loops & Threads) yarn for this project, cheap but durable.  The other afghans felt so much better after a wash.

Which leads me to wonder, why am I posting about being so close to finishing?  Why am I now working on it this very minute?

It's still really tough adjusting to life without Tigger.  While we don't see any real change in Delilah, Macy is a different story.   Macy has taken Tigger's spot as Mr. Grumpbump's shadow.  She hangs out with him much more and he's very careful to give her lots of rubs and attention.

Of course, I have changed.  I resolved never ever to allow one of my cats to languish in a hospital with no definite plan or course of treatment.  Tigger should have been at home with us last weekend, but he was my first sick animal and I just kept wishing and hoping that he would miraculously heal.  I'm still doubting the way I handled his whole crash from seemingly healthy to terminally ill.  This means repetitious discussion between me and Mr. Grumpbump.  

Also, I am now hyper aware of Delilah and Macy's eating, drinking and bathroom activities.  I noticed Macy drinking from the water bowl three times yesterday and I almost went it panic mode.  Before Tigger's death, I never saw Macy drink water, but I can concede that she must have been drinking as I scoop out her litter box every morning.  I feel like I failed Tigger as his caregiver; keeping Delilah and Macy healthy is my penance for that sin.

Sweet Macy Gray
Queen Delilah

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Word Today is Comfortable

I've had a busy month - October ended up being full of activities.  Unfortunately, the end of the month has turned out to be devastating.

The first weekend in October, Mr. Grumpbump and I went to the beach to celebrate my mother's 65th birthday.  We had a super weekend with the family, doing what we do best - eating and drinking.  There is a certain energy I get when I'm with people who love me unconditionally, no matter how fat or obnoxious or self-centered, etc. I am.  I feel so comfortable in their presence.  The weekend was uplifting in so many ways.

And top it off, the weekend we were at the beach was sting ray mating season for the Gulf Coast.  Crazy.  Mr. Grumpbump and I were entertained, truly entertained by watching a manta ray swimming up and down the shore line.  He did the same thing over and over and we were mesmerized.

The next two weekends I got to participate in bridal activities (first, a bachelorette party, and then a bridal shower, which was actually afternoon tea at the Ritz Carlton).  I wasn't so comfortable going out to a club for the bachelorette party; however, I ended up having a good time with great girls.  The afternoon tea was so much fun.  I'm not a huge tea drinker but when it's being served in my own tea pot, with finger sandwiches and petit fours.  I loved it so much, I made reservations for this past weekend and treated my stepmother to afternoon tea for her birthday.

However, we got some of the worst news ever.  Our darling Tigger has become very ill.  So ill that we will have to say goodbye to him today.  The sensation of losing your pet is like someone punching you in the heart.  We have exhausted medical resources to cure Tigger but there is nothing more we can (humanely) do.  Tigger seems to thrive being home and in his familiar surroundings, so we will not be hospitalizing him anymore.  He will spend his last day at home, where he can sunbathe or watch the geckos and squirrels run around and be comfortable and comforted in his surroundings.

I don't have children so I don't really have an appreciation for childbirth and the joys and sorrows of motherhood.  I roll my eyes when some mothers spout that tired cliche, "I brought you into this world and I can take you right out".  Well, I didn't bring Tigger into the world, fate led me to him and we were together for 9 months and three days. But I will certainly be there to guide him on his way out and to remind him that he is much loved and cared for and I will always treasure the time we had together.

Tigger (10-30-2012)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

No Rest for Cat Lady

Just in time for the rainy season, we cleared up our pool problems.  The main culprit of our poor circulation (and therefore algae growth) was the clogged filter.  Pool guy cleaned up the algae and also replaced a gasket somewhere in the tangle of pvc pipes next to our house.   And he informed us that our pool was designed to use a pressure cleaner instead of the suction cleaner (which we have been using).  We will have to buy a pressure side cleaner, at a cost of approximately $300 to $400.   We are going to sell (i.e. eBay) the suction cleaner we have now to offset the cost of the new cleaner.

I finally finished that hat for my brother!  I was able to piece together the pattern (after it was blocked by the original author).  I actually knitted it twice because I was unhappy with the first attempt.  The second attempt is the one I will send to my brother (Surprise! if you are reading this).  I made it with a wool yarn but it's not scratchy and actually pretty soft.

Sneak Preview
I am finishing a crocheted chemo cap.   I should have it done today, which will make four hats (so far) to donate to the local hospital.

Very  Quick Crochet
Two of our three cats are overweight (both Macy and Tigger come in at 11 pounds).  We've made some changes to the diet:  1) switched wet food  to a pate version, which means one can can stretch into two days between all three cats; (2) switched dry food to the highest quality on the speciality market and free feed only about one cup per day for all three cats; and (3) try to integrate play time for the fat cats (Mace and Tigg) every night.  

It's really too soon to tell if the diet is working but I can tell you what is not working.  The drama level in the house has reached an all-time high.  The cats all behave as if they are starving.   This means that mornings are crazier than ever.  This morning (Sunday) I was tag-teamed by Tigger and Delilah.  Both of them started about 5:30 or 6:00 (I'm not very sure of the time because Mr. Grumpbump was blocking the clock on the nightstand).  Tigger purrs so loudly and he sits on the pillow above my head and occasionally tries to eat my hair.  I swat him away, but he lies down next to me and head-butts my hand, alternating between licking it and biting it.  He leaves or I manage to fall back asleep when I realize Delilah has now taken the pillow spot above my head.  She simply licks my forehead, with no biting, but then she will walk down my back and over to bother Mr. G.   It's not so bad when 7 lb Delilah walks on you (unless you have to pee) but heaven forbid Tigger do that.  He's a gut killer.

I finally get tired of the constant movement on the bed and get up.  It's 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning.  I have no choice once they know I'm awake because the chirping and meowing begin.  How Mr. Grumpbump sleeps through that assault, I don't know.  I make sure to bang enough cat bowls and the like in the kitchen to awake him up, even if he doesn't bother to get out of bed.

I can't resist taking pictures of sleeping cats

Macy showed me what she looked like as a kitten

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reading the Label

I had an amazingly relaxing day.  It was glorious.  We didn't get any rain at all today, even though Hurricane Isaac is moving up towards us.  Ugh.  I just read the news reports and they are predicting tornadoes for us Sunday and Monday.  How am I supposed to go to work when my kitties are at home by themselves?  I will be so stressed.  It's a good thing I'm getting my relaxation in now.

I bought a dishcloth pattern book at Michaels (I'm not sure why I did that - I think it was the pretty pictures).  My first dishcloth from that pattern book is finished:

I really need to finish the hat I'm knitting for my brother; I've been procrastinating with it because I'm not sure I understand the decrease for the crown.  It doesn't help that the pattern is written in Finnish.  I've been searching the internet to see if someone can further expound on the decreases, which are confusingly written (possibly because of the translation from Finnish to English).

Oh no!  The pattern is gone.  Seriously, it was linked on the Ravelry web page and now the author has marked her blog as "private".  Shit.  That's what I get for procrastinating.  I'm searching the internet to see if someone has it saved.

I think I found the meat of the pattern in someone's project notes.  It's just enough to allow me to finish the hat (I think).  I'd better finish this thing up soon.

I just had the weirdest case of vertigo.  Sitting here at the kitchen table, scouring the internet for a piece of that hat pattern.  Yuck.  That didn't feel good.

I've switched food for my cats again!  I was feeling guilty about feeding them crappy food.  I haven't noticed any health problems, but they are all older cats and there are simply no positive things to be said about Friskies dry cat food.  I bought two small bags of Purina's Pro Plan (one is hairball control, the other is for urinary tract health).  However, after reading the labels on those, their ingredients aren't much better (wheat gluten, corn meal, no real meat).

So we are on our third brand of cat food, called Indigo, which is all natural ingredients (no wheat, no by-products).  The cats all love it, which is amazing considering the amount of change I've put them through.  In addition to the dry food that I set out daily, every morning and evening, I give each cat 1/6 of a can of wet food.  This means I go through a can a day.

Again, I was feeding them Friskies.  I mean, I am feeding them Friskies, but I switched to the pate version (which is so much stinkier than the meaty chunks, if you can believe it).  The pate version has no wheat gluten, so it's a tiny bit better for them.

At the wholesale club, I can get 48 cans of the wet food for $0.46 per can.  Compared to $1.59 to $1.99 per can of the higher brand cat food.  And I read those ingredients, and didn't find them that much better than Friskies.  Obviously, there was a big discrepancy between the dry foods, so I switched.  But I am satisfied with the wet food and the nutrition it provides my cats.

Surprisingly, not one cat turned up his or her nose at the new wet food, even picky Delilah.  She did take some cajoling to get her to look at the new food, but she quickly ate it up and by this evening, she was enjoying her share.

The most beautiful cat in the world
Also, shopping at the wholesale club allowed us to pick up another box for Miss Macy.  Mr. Grumpbump and I spent at least 10 minutes going through the free-box selections in order to come up with something that would suit Miss Macy's needs.

Say Cheese!
I can always count on Mr. Tigger to be hanging around, so it's easy to take his picture.  Except when I try to catch him in a pose, he decides he needs to make a beeline directly to me.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My First Cake

Please don't tell Mr. Grumpbump.

I went to a yarn store today at lunch.  Not a big-box craft store, but a locally-owned yarn store with fancy yarns I've only read about (on Ravelry).  Don't even bother asking if I purchased something. Of course I did!

The front of the store contained a lot of needlepoint yarns and notions, but the two back rooms were dedicated to knitting and crocheting.  The employees at The Black Sheep were so nice to me and helped me find the perfect yarn for my next project.  I also bought some locking stitch markers (I've been using a safety pin and I'm sure that I'm going to stick myself one day) and some cable needles that match my interchangeable needles.  But the best purchase was the fabulous Malabrigo yarn, which was spun into a "cake":

This is a cake
It's hard to tell in the photograph but the yarn has varying shades and tones of red and should knit up very nicely.  I'm planning to knit a zigzag shawl (I love those chevrons/ripples).  The yarn was a ridiculously expensive purchase ($22 per cake - and I have two).  But I don't regret it for a second (as long as you promise not to tell Mr. Grumpbump).

I finished the second of my crocheted chemo hats (this color scheme is a mirror image of the prior one).  I like the pattern but will need use a smaller hook (size F) for my next attempt.  With this hat, I tried another flower pattern, but I don't like the way it turned out (my sewing skills suck).

Chemo Hat
The crochet hats can be done in one weekend - crochet is fast but it uses almost twice the yarn that similar knitting projects would use.  I am currently working on a chemo cap now (tight to the skull and without a floppy brim).  I picture it with a gigantic crochet flower so I'll have to track down a good pattern for one.

Finally, a picture of Ms. Delilah to make your day.....

The Lady Delilah

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Crazy Old Man

Mr. Grumpbump has a new soccer team.  He's in an over-40 league and previously belonged to a team that practiced/played about 30 miles from our house.  That's a lot of driving; not only to play in games but to practice/scrimmage every week.  This season, he joined a new team, one that is much closer to our home - probably 10 miles away.   He's very happy when he's playing - even if he gets injured, which is all the time given that he is an old man (he's 45).

And, to honor his time on the previous soccer team, Mr. Grumpbump is making me go outside with him and take pictures of him in his old uniform.  Right now, he's running around the house, collecting his old uniform, looking for comb so he can style his hair, and grabbing his soccer ball (presumably to pose with it).  Yep, this is who I am married to.

I finally finished a crochet project that doesn't look like a hot mess.

Chemo Hat
A co-worker (who crochets hats for chemo patients) gave me this pattern because it's so simple, in that it only uses one type of crochet stitch (single).   I got the flower pattern from this website.   I'm going to crochet the reverse of this (all pink with grey stripe and flower) but with a size-smaller hook.

I also finished my slouchy hat, which is to be sent to my sis-in-law.

I need a mannequin head for pictures - candles don't work

Hoping it looks better on her head

I think I might try to take the bus to work three days a week.  Yes, it would take me more than a hour to get to work, but I could knit/read while traveling.  If all goes well, I could relax before I get to work!  We'll see because Central Florida's mass transit system is not exactly top-quality.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Modifying and Tailoring

I'm knitting a hat with some cute pink bamboo/wool yarn.  It's for my sister-in-law (who, according to my brother, has a very small head).  I went down one needle size on the ribbing and two needle sizes on the psso stitch.   I've knitted this twice before.  The first time was with a cotton yarn and that was a mistake!  Cotton has no give in it at all.  The second attempt was with a wool yarn from my stash and the results were 180 degrees different.  That was perfect yarn for this project.  The pattern is a free one (of course!).  It's called Slouchy Copy Cat Hat.  The passed stitch over two knit stitches makes the hat look more intricate than it really is.

Problem is that I'm not sure my sister-in-law is a "pink" person.  And this dyelot is really pink (the label says "Snapdragon" and I'm not sure how that translates to this really pink color).  I'm sending it to her regardless and whatever feedback I get will determine how I tailor the next hat.

Pink Lady
I was supposed to start a new knitting project (a beginner sweater) but I didn't buy enough yarn for the project.  I need 9 balls of yarn but misread the pattern in the store and only got five.  I can buy more yarn, but, mostly likely, the dyelots will not match.  It should not be fatal to the project but that fact, and because I was swamped with work at the end of the month, meant that I missed the cast on date.  I think I'm going to move it to the end of my project list.  That project list being solely composed in my head so it's very easy to move anything to anywhere since I problems focusing when it comes to knitting.  I don't stay on one pattern very long before I see something else I want to try or when I just want to knit for knitting's sake and that results in me just knitting a washcloth with my stash of cotton yarn.   I'm so close to finishing my third ripple afghan but it's been relegated to the bedroom (the issue with that is that yarn is so tangled that I spend most time just detangling in order to knit a few rows).

I always keeping the current project on the end table next to the loveseat.  Right now, it's the pink slouchy hat.  But that can be problematic because Macy, who loves to lie on top of the pool table, uses the end table as a bridge between the pool table and loveseat.  I have to make sure the end table is fairly clutter-free and stable for her to walk across.   She makes me so happy when she wants to be near me so I encourage her if I can.

Macy's other favorite hangout is her box.  Just a plain cardboard box.  I recently increased her habitat by one by setting out a wicker basket.  Although she just accepts the cardboard box without modification, this is not true of the wicker basket.  She will pick at the reeds and actually pull them up and out.  I haven't heard her do this recently and she's been spotted sleeping in it so I think she's    taken care of all the pieces that were bothering her.

Unfortunately, Macy threw up in her favorite cardboard box and I had to discard it.  We had nothing else to replace it with until Mr. Grumpbump came back from BJ's wholesale yesterday.  Mr. G thought the box was too small for Macy, but I set it down to see if she would like it.

The cat trap is working!
It's definitely not as roomy as her former beloved box.  But she makes it work.   She's utilizing her wicker basket much more for sleeping.  However, for Macy, her box is her hassle-free zone with a special shield around it so she is immune from attacks or other stresses.  I'm not sure that this one will ever be comfortable enough for her to sleep in but she will sit in it and watch us while we sit in the living room.

One of the things that Macy likes to watch is when we can convince Delilah to actually be in the same room as us and we play with her.  Delilah can be so kitten-like when we use the cat dancer toys.  You can get her to put all four paws into the game, where she grabs the ribbon or cloth or boa with her front paws and pushes against it with her back paws.  Delilah doesn't bite the ribbon, instead when she gets a good grip with her paws and nails, she will lick it.  That's what she does when she makes a catch.  She licks her prey to death.


 Our pool pump is broken!  And, of course, it is not covered under the home warranty.  The pool is now five days without the moving water and it is a lovely shade of green.  Pool guy is supposed to come out on Tuesday, but Mr. Grumpbump is going to purchase the pool pump separately at Home Depot to cut down on on costs.  The old pump was so loud!  I'm hoping that the new one will be a bit less annoying.   I hope this is the last thing we have to replace for a while.  Since our one-year anniversary in this house will be on August 16, we are trying to determine if we should renew the home warranty.  I don't think it will be worth it since we have all new appliances with their own warranties.  The only variables are the a/c and the roof, but I'm not sure that the coverage would help us with either.   I'm asking Mr. Grumpbump to investigate and figure out if it is worth the expense.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Just Getting Along

Last night, while lying in bed reading, I watched Delilah jump onto the bed and walk over to me, looking for some scratches.  In the evenings, Delilah is pretty friendly, hoping up onto your stomach or chest but only for as long as you scratch the top of her head between her ears or her neck under her chin.  I gave her the necessary attention but wanted to get back to my book, so she quickly hopped off of me and stretched out next to me.   I was surprised when a few minutes later, Mr. Tigger jumped on the bed (on side of me opposite of Delilah).  He stayed in that position for a bit, while I gave me scratches.  However, his real goal is to be near Delilah, so he moved down to the foot of the bed and within a foot of Delilah.  Delilah gave no indication that she was bothered by Tigger, but I know her and she likes to have the entire bed to herself (usually), so I watched as Delilah showed Tigger her disdain but rotating herself around so that she was in the same place but facing away from him.  A few minutes later, Delilah jumped off the bed, followed shortly thereafter by Tigger.

Tigger is my "the-glass-is-half-full" cat because he tries and tries to make friends with Delilah and Macy.  He's smart too because he knows his best bet is with Delilah so I often find them in the same room.  Tigger's plan is to get Delilah used to seeing him everywhere (he likes to eat in her presence, he sleeps in the same room as her during the day) before he makes his big move.  Yesterday, I was happy to see that Tigger took advantage of Delilah's sleeping to get closer to Delilah than I have ever seen.

They are practically cuddling.  This is the closest I've ever seen them and they were like this for several hours.  I love the Tigger so much for his willingess to try and to never accept defeat (or a swat from Delilah).  

Now, Miss Macy, she's been making some strides as well.  I believe we suffered a setback with her (in terms of socialization) when we moved and then when she had her teeth cleaning.  She was more skittish, less accepting of our touch, and only comfortable when she was in her cardboard box.  However, in the last few weeks, Macy has given up her solitary ways and actually comes to sit next to us on the couch.  We are also getting moments of her demanding to be petted, which results in her purring.  I've been late to work because one of these "pet me NOW" moments happened as I was leaving one morning.  I had to stay and take advantage of Macy allowing me to pet her entire body, in addition to her purring like mad and rubbing herself against me (again, rarely exhibited behavior by the Mace).

I've recently tried to ramp up my independent study of teaching myself conversational Spanish.  I've got the Pimsleur CDs in my car which I listen to during the drive to and from work.  While this is very helpful, it's not enough and so I started looking online for (free) help for accelerating my studies.  One website was very useful and gave me the great idea of watching a Spanish soap opera (telenovela) and putting the closed captioning on (in Spanish) so I could hear the language and see the words at the same time.  So far, I've only done this with one episode and I'm watching it over and over.  I can also submit the transcript to an online database that will translate it for me.  Another really good idea is getting some children's books in Spanish.  There are several free online and I might try to download them to the iPad.  However, I know the best teaching I could get would be to try to speak with a native Spanish speaker.  But I don't have any close friends who fit this description.  I'm going to work on that and see what I can figure out.

I have several big projects in mind.  At the end of July, I want to knit a cardigan.  I think I've found an easy pattern here.  And I can use yarn I find at Michaels (red heart is a mass-market yarn).  I also want to finish the ripple afghan that's been on the needles forever and start another one.  But I'm in search of a pattern with more of a ripple (waves)  than chevrons (points).  One big hinderance is that most ripple patterns are crochet, not knit.

I am almost done with a washcloth that I knitted as part of a set.  I made the hand towel and one washcloth.  I didn't realize that the color combination was so Charlie Brown-looking.  You will have to see it as a set when I finish the second washcloth (probably today).  Until then, this is the hand towel.

Mr. Grumpbump's birthday is tomorrow!  He's going to be 45 years old.   I have already given him his presents (I'm very bad about keeping gifts surprises) but I have a card for him and we will probably go to dinner somewhere.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Explanation

Being over 40, childless, and living with three cats classifies me as a crazy lady.  Being married doesn't save me from ridicule or judgment.   I could argue that having three cats is not in any way related to being childfree, but I'm not sure I completely buy into my own argument.  

Facts are facts, and I'm not having kids.  So all of my emotion and love and maternal feelings are channeled into my cats.  I am not their "mother".  They are not my "children".  I am always aware that they are cats.  

However, I love these guys.  They are every bit my family as are my parents, my brother, my husband, my friends.   Delilah, Macy and Tigger live with me and I am responsible for keeping them healthy, fed and sheltered.  When I think about them in pain or unhappy, it hurts.  I want them to be happy and, in turn, I feel happiness through them.  All of these things define "family" to me.   As I watch Mr. Grumpbump watching the basketball game, and Miss Macy jump up on the couch to settle in next to him, I feel joy and love in my heart because I'm looking at my family.

I am passionate about my cats and love to talk about them.  I try to contain myself with people who aren't as understanding or enthusiastic about hearing about my cats.  I don't show them the almost 200 pictures of cats on my cell phone, although I am polite enough to oooh and aaah over the many photographs of their children no matter what.  

And, then there are the truly special friends who share the same passion for their pets as me; the ones who get excited over a new brand of cat litter or with whom you can share stories of how amazingly serene your cat looks while sleeping.  It is a pleasure to be in their company.

My cats are unique and so different between themselves as a group.

Tigger is so friendly and gregarious.  He enjoys being in our presence and will follow us around the house, to lie down wherever we are.  As the only male (and declawed cat) in the house, he's got to deal with the female bitchiness and takes it in stride.  He never seems to get mad.  Tigger is also a skilled hunter and is very clever at catching the geckos and lizards that live on our patio.
 Delilah is so exquisite.  She knows how beautiful she is, and therefore can be as bitchy as she likes.  She wants to be the queen of the house but is confused by Tigger's failure to bow down to her.  Delilah sleeps all day but you would never call her lazy.  It's beauty sleep.
 Macy is the sweetest cat ever, but so quiet and shy and keeps only to herself (and her box).  She absolutely believes that her box is surrounded by a force field and she is impervious to pain or harm while in this magic box.  She hates being touched and she dictates the terms upon which you will approach her or be in her presence.  I wish she felt more confident and comfortable, but until then, she has her box.
I keep these guys in my heart every day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chores Are Done; Time to Knit

In my absence from this blog, I finished a baby blanket.  Mr. Grumpbump's niece is expecting her first child, a boy, in September, I believe.  Mr. Grumpbump liked my first Gradient Baby Blanket, so I picked up baby yarn in cute boyish colors (green, blue, purple) and went to work.  I slipped the  first stitch of every row so that the edge would look cleaner.  I toyed with the idea of adding a crochet border, but I was afraid that adding it would take away from the effect of the "bleeding" of one color into other.

Here's the finished product:

For Baby Boy Swanson
I've picked up my ripple afghan to try to finish it.  It's been forever since I've touched it.  I also bought some really cute pink wool yarn for a hat for my sister-in-law.  Apparently, she's got a very small head so I have to force myself to knit it like it was for a child.  For some reason, I always want to knit bigger sizes even in the face of what I'm supposed to do.  It means that everything I knit is always too big (which is why I love blankets, throws, afghans....no sizes to worry about).

Part of my absence from blogging is because I had to get my house organized.  Things were way out of control (laundry, housekeeping, papers everywhere...) and not getting any better until one day I just cleaned one room.  One room.  And all of sudden, I could not stop.  The entire house got  cleaned and organized in a few days.  Mr. Grumpbump helped too (and he is in the process of getting our garage in a manageable state).  And now, I actually make the bed every morning; dishes get done on time; and there are not massive piles of laundry to do every weekend.  We are keeping up with the neat and orderly Grumpbump household.  It is very relaxing in a funny way.  I don't get stressed the second I walk into the house.   Now, I'm not bragging, nor am I saying that my floors are so clean you can eat off of them, because I have three cats and my house will never be completely clean.  I will always have cat hair dust bunnies no matter how much I sweep.  

Miss Macy is the biggest shedder in our house.  It's insane how much hair comes off of her.  The easier way to see evidence of that is to look inside her cat bed.  I wish I could say that she enjoyed the comforts of the soft and overstuffed cat beds we inherited from my stepmother.  No, instead Miss Macy loves her box.  A cardboard box.  I don't know how it's comfortable but Miss Macy runs to that box for safety, for sleep, for her sanity.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pecks of Peppers

I got a plant from my office for Administrative Professional's Day, the politically correct term for for the commonly-known Secretary's Day.  The plant is a type of ivy and it's dying.  I put it inside, it withers.  I put it outside, it continues the death spiral. I water.  No change.  I spritz it with water.  Yep, you guessed it.

However, Mr. Grumpbump seems to have a way with the plants (as he does with the cats, who love him so much more than me).  He started planting all kinds of everything once we bought the house.  There is no real plan to what he is doing.  I know he enjoys color, so anything with a bloom brightens his day.

Although our area has suffered from lack of rainfall, Mr. G has managed to keep some of his garden alive and thriving.


But Mr. G's real promise seems to be with vegetables.  He admittedly went a bit beserk planting peppers because we must have 50 of them growing and so many more flowering.  The majority of the pepper plants are sweet peppers (light green in color).  Yes, you can add them to salads or eggs or stir-fry, but they are not that versatile.   Interspersed with the sweet peppers are a few hot pepper plants, and the peppers on those plants are small and tight and a very dark green.  They practically scream "hot pepper".  I'm not touching those.

We have at least 10 more plants like this.
 Mr. G has one bell pepper plant.  So far, we have picked two peppers and they have been on the small side.  However, they taste great.  The plant has two more almost ready to go.
Bell Peppers
 So, with the garden feeling a little too green, there is a promise of something different.  I have yelled at Mr. G to plant some more damn tomato plants.  Tomatoes are my absolute favorite thing in the whole world.  You see those itty bitty red dots?  Say a prayer that they have lots of babies who grow up to be red juicy delicious.

Grow, dammit!
 The vegetables and sunflowers are growing outside of the patio area, in a small patch of ground called our backyard.  The lantana, catnip and other greenery are growing in the areas to either side of the pool.   With the addition of all of these plants and shrubs, we have fooled Delilah into thinking she's really outdoors and she has stopped her incessant whining at the front door to be "let outside".  Now, she will cry at the back door, which we will gladly open to let her out.  Many nights, she will sleep outside and you can find her in the catnip/lantana area, where she had matted down the mulch to make a nice, comfortable spot for herself.

I'm still working on washcloths but I might pick up my scarf project and try to finish it today.  It was 90 degrees yesterday so knitting a scarf seems counter-intuitive.  However, I don't have that much more to go before it's done, clearing space for me to start that baby blanket.

Crazy Colors Scarf
I bought a new computer a few weeks ago.  Mine was just becoming too slow, even after I re-installed the OS and cleaned everything off of it (most stuff I have is stored on an external drive).  Mr. Grumpbump's computer was replaced last November and his prior computer was about 6 months old than mine, so I knew the time was coming.  I'll probably sell the old one on eBay, but I'll have to do a lot of cleanup on it (both internally and externally).    You know with new things you make all kinds of promises to keep it looking perfect and new and fresh.  That's where I am right now.   I am trying to keep it free of cat hair, crumbs and the like.  I'm not very good at sticking with my commitments and typically I just give up.  I'll be abusing this computer in no time.

Finding My Treasure

Now that my shawl is complete (yarn purchased during the Orange Blossom Yarn Crawl in March), it is just hanging out in my foyer until I de...