Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekly Recap

Well, even with my good intentions of trying to stay caught up with this blog and post more frequently, I just never found the time to get around to it this past week, so I'll give you the recap here in one big post.

Got my first 2012 life bird checked off the list: the Spotted Towhee that's been hanging around Austin, MN since October. I got in touch with the nice family whose backyard this bird visits regularly and they allowed Mr. Johnson and me to come and hang out in their sunroom on Saturday (when the bird was MIA) and again on Sunday (when the bird finally showed up again). I took a ton of pictures, but this was one of the best ones. Isn't this a handsome birdy? And I think it's amazing how well his colors camouflage him in this backyard setting. He spent a lot of time scratching around under these shrubs and would only come out momentarily, but thank goodness for the continuous shooting feature on my camera that enabled me to capture this photo
After seeing the towhee in Austin on Sunday morning, we turned around and raced back to Rochester to watch my niece Kathryn perform live on the 58th Annual Eagles Cancer Telethon. She did a splendid job singing "I Hope You Dance" in honor of her Grampy. The biggest disappointment was that she only sang one song. Kathy has a beautiful voice and we don't get a chance to hear her sing very often. Way to go Kathy!

Monday night was Holly's final test to pass the Intermediate Obedience class at PetSmart. Mr. Johnson's been working pretty hard with her on her sits and stays and all that practice paid off when she passed the class! She still gets pretty excited when she goes in to PetSmart, so the loose leash walking was what had me worried, but she did well on that portion of the test too and got her "diploma" and official graduation photo. Way to go Holly!
Winter has (finally!) officially arrived in Minnesota.We got several inches of snow this past week and the less welcome sub-zero temps to go along with it. But that did bring lots more activity at the birdfeeders and and fairly large flock of deer into the backyard on Friday nite for feasting on corn. Because the ground has been bare for so long, the deer were able to find food elsewhere and haven't been visiting us, so it was neat to see all of them once again.

I spent quite a few hours last week doing some therapeutic knitting. The stupid hard drive on my laptop at work died and I had to get a replacement installed. Unfortunately, not all the programs I used were recoverable and several significant queries that I need to run every day that are fairly vital to my job are still not working correctly, so my frustration level has been at about an 11 on a scale of 1-10. Grrrr! Hence the need for therapeutic knitting.

First project finished was this fluffly scarf. The yarn is a weird kind of mesh, and you actually just loop the meshes over each other on the knitting needles. I like how it turned out but I'm not sure how much I'll actually ever wear it because I really don't need any extra "fluffiness" on my front, plus it has a really annoying tendency to get snagged on my earrings and that's just not working for me. So this scarf will probably become a nice donation item for some worthy cause I support.
I ended up getting pretty heavily into "mitten mode" this week too with the purchase of the beautiful Cloisonee Mitten pattern on Ravelry. So I dug through my closet for some pretty colors and this was my first mitten attempt. Love it!
Of course, this pattern inspired me to "think outside the box" and so my second attempt was a glove -- a combination of two different patterns. I really liked this one too!
In my ongoing resolution to finish some old projects in January, I got one step closer to being able to wear these houndstooth mittens by (almost) finishing this one. I really need to get these done because they're super warm -- the stranding between the checks makes these mittens doubly thick (plus they're wool).
And finally, after languishing on the kitchen counter waiting to be washed and blocked, my Annis Shawl (a Knitty pattern) is also done! The yarn is a beautiful mohair/silk/nylon blend with a little tiny silver thread also woven in. These photos don't do it justice, but the fuzzy, sparkly yarn combined with the beads make this one of the most stunning shawls I have ever knitted.
I'm looking forward to an opportunity to wear this shawl somewhere and I'm sure it will be lovely and warm too.
Those "sticks" you see holding the edges of the shawl are called blocking wires. You put them through the stitches when the shawl is wet and then pin the shawl out to the shape you want it to be when it's dry.

So that's all for last week, I wonder what this next week will bring.......


Marianne, aka Ranger Anna said...

What a diverse and interesting group of projects! Works for me.

Mama Pea said...

Wow and double wow! I'd say you had a pretty full week! As usual, your knitting projects are delightful. Congrats on Holly's graduation. Is another class in her future?

Gaelyn said...

I love that lacy shawl with the pearly beads.

The western race of Rufous-sided Towhee hangs out at my feeders every day.

Thanks for the catch up. Hope the stress level drops soon. ;)

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Marianne. At least I'm never bored..... ;-)

Thanks Judy. I think Holly will have some more classes in the future, but it won't be until the weather warms up again. The next level is almost all off-leash and we all definitely need more homework on that before going back to school. My ultimate goal for Holly would be to get her Canine Good Citizen certification, but before we can do that she needs to learn to get along better with others. I need to keep in mind that she's only been with us for less than 4 months, so we're all still getting used to one another's routines and habits too.

Thanks Gaelyn. I unpinned the shawl and tried it on after it was dry and it's pretty warm on my shoulders (in addition to being beautiful!)
I would love to have a towhee at my feeders -- they're just not at all common around here anymore -- even the Rufous-Sideds in the spring & summer when they're supposed to be here.

Taos Sunflower said...

Holy moly, that's a lot of news! I love the photo of Holly at her girl. Also your knitting are a really good knitter (I only do easy things) and I am impressed by the hounds tooth mittens and shawl in progress. PS I'm way behind on posting also...let's promise ourselves not to be guilty about this stuff in 2012!

KGMom said...

Ruthie--let's see--big post, so much to comment on.
Way to go, Holly.
Love the photo of the winter scene and sky--sunset? sunrise? I love that the photo captures the lovely pastel shades that winter brings.
Finally, you are a knitting fiend.

troutbirder said...

Way to go with the lifer Towhee, Ruthie. I don't do much group birding anymore as hiking with my GSD is not considered regular equipment. Still I did go on the Golden Eagle survey Sat. No Goldens but having Hochema, Nyhus and Mr. Science (Gary Erickson) along upoed my Houston County list considerably and also a lifer was added to my list - a Long Eared Owl

Mollie said...

Ruth, wow, your week was packed! Glad the deer have returned and very proud of your Holly! That's so great you and Mr. Johnson are training her. Not everyone bothers, which is too bad. Dogs want YOU to be the pack leaders. And as usual, your knitting projects are phenomenal! And that's a drag about your work computer. These electronic devices are both a help and a burden! Stay warm!

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Martie. I bet you're a really good knitter too. I'm just enjoying being able to knit something other than fingerless mitts -- I bet I knitted at least 30 pairs of them from October to December for my Etsy store.
No guilt -- I promise! :-)

Thanks Donna. That's a winter sunset from my dining room window -- good vantage point for watching birds and the sunset!

Thanks Ray. Sounds like your Golden Eagle survey was fun. I've never seen the Long-Eared Owl -- only heard them once while turkey hunting near Masonic Park. Would be a cool bird to see!

Thanks Mollie. Holly is such a great dog. She's pretty smart because she's figured out that I'm a pushover but she'd better mind her dad. LOL! The training's been good for us and her -- we never did a formal training program with any of our other dogs and I want her to be a good ambassador for her breed.