year of wonder

Posted on 42 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, home and family


hello everyone! how do you like my thanksgiving photo? we couldn’t believe our luck at having such a beautiful sunny sunday—very rare in ohio these days. we walked for miles and miles to take advantage of it, too.

i bet you thought we fell off the face of the earth, right?? but we didn’t. we’ve just been finding that with all there is to do each day since i moved in, it’s always very late before we can settle to catch our breaths and think—and by then, it’s time for me to go to bed.

but now that summer is truly over and there’s no more garden to tend, we think we’ll have a bit more time to write to you about life at the ranch (and beyond), our myriad ‘making’ projects, thoughts and feelings, and most of all— knitting.

but first, let me catch you up on what happening with me—since so many readers have written to ask and it is time for giving thanks, after all.

i’ve had an incredible year, thanks mostly to my family and friends. when i think back, i can hardly believe how stuck i was inside my shell for so many months after my adoption. why, last christmas i was still no able to be petted, even by my dear friends ellen, lillian, and doug at “work”. even david was not my friend yet. i was lonely, but still too scared to do anything about it.

slowly, slowly, and with lots of encouragement (everyone was SO patient, especially lillian), i built up the nerve and the trust to begin approaching people.

oh, who am i kidding?? what really greased the wheel was TREATS! once i got the hang of getting a treat for going outside my comfort zone, i was a sucker for it. anne makes sure that everyone has a jar of treats on their desk and she keeps it filled so that when we visit the office, they were ready with the bait. what can i say? she makes good treats.

mind you, it was still very, very hard to be touched. taking a treat was one thing, but being petted was a different ballgame.

then we stumbled on a cool trick. anne taught me to “high five” and “shake”—this way, instead of others touching me, i would go first and touch them. WOW. such a difference; i don’t mind this at all. and once we shake hands a few times and i know the person is safe, i’m fine with sitting near them and letting them pet me. they can even do it a LOT if they want (doug doesn’t want to, but that’s ok; we have an understanding).

this is our friend scott, that we visit on our long walks; his dog, casey is my friend too, but now i’m actually better friends with scott, who has biscuits and hands them out freely. i probably should be ashamed of being a traitor to casey but i’m not, cuz i’m a dog!

and there is also my friend and neighbor jean, who is so sweet and nice to me that i can sit right up next to her on her porch and let her stroke my back and love on me all she wants (especially if she keeps feeding me those yummy frozen bananas!).

my friend liberty has grown up SO much this year that she won’t take no for an answer when it comes to petting me and how can i resist? she’s so darn cute and she can walk on her hands!

at home, david and i are best buds now, too. anne put her foot down and kind of pushed me to get to know david better, because when she goes away, he’s the one who takes good care of me. at first, it was just all about treats between me and him, but now i love hanging out and taking walks with david.

i especially love making dinner with him because well, you never know what could fall to the floor 😉

and david is responsible for teaching me my first game. of course it involved treats, but who knew that searching for them could actually be fun. he hides the treats around the house and i find them; sometimes they are under canisters or cups. then he showed me that they can also be inside a ball and i can push it around to get them out. i was really afraid of that ball at first, but now it’s one of my favorite things. when anne and david go out to the movies, they leave music on and set the ball out for me to play with and i barely notice any more that they are gone. anne is upping the ante now by putting bigger treats inside that are harder to get out; it takes longer and requires more finesse, but i’m very determined (do you like my new word, finesse??).

i used to think that looking for food and eating it was simply a matter of survival, but now i see the light—it’s also entertainment for humans when it involves a trick or a toy.

in exchange for doing so many nice things for me, i help david by sniffing each package that gets mailed out before we take it to the post office. in the car, i watch over to make sure that none are left behind when he takes them inside.

i actually have many jobs around the house, now that i’m getting outside of myself and have shown interest in so many more activities. here i’m helping anne block a “shawl”, which we will hopefully photograph this week. as soon as the new batch of jacob’s dream sport comes in, this kit will be listed the store.

i also help with baking dog treats—i’m the taste tester (you probably guessed that).

the kids that we meet on our walks just LOVE these treats—especially when they can high-five me for one. i’ve seen them sneaking little bites from them, too, but i’m ok with that as long as i get most of it. after all, navigating a pack of kids is a lot of work for me; you never know what crazy thing they’ll do next.

another of my chores is working in the garden. now that our yard is completely fenced in—thank you again, david!—i can go outside and run all over while david works in the dirt or when anne is picking vegetables. we had an incredibly productive garden this year, full of the most beautiful vegetables ever; it was a lot of work just to get them all picked and put away each day, but totally worth it.

green beans take the longest; we filled two basket like this on most days.

i was a HUGE help—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. i was quiet and stayed out of the way in a cool spot so that anne could work in the hot sun undisturbed. she seems to like it.

we had a bumper crop of nearly everything and all of it was delicious and perfect-looking; we could have printed a seed catalog using our garden haul. the only downside was that it takes a gargantuan effort to harvest it all and put it up for winter.

anne would separate the beans into piles to freeze—she cut up the very biggest ones into bits for me, then the medium ones got cut into soup-size niblets, and the smaller ones get frozen whole for eating with dinner and topping salads.

we worked every day from mid-july through the end of september to do it. in addition to the bags and bags that we gave away to friends, we froze over fifty bags of beans this summer! david finally tore OUT the vines just to put an end to it, even tho they were still filled with beans. it was getting too rainy and cold to pick them regularly.

we also put up forty quarts of tomatoes, a few dozen ears of corn, thirty pounds of blueberries, twenty bags of strawberries, and thirty bags of swiss chard. (we like our vegetables around here). while anne was away in october, david and i roasted the last of the sweet peppers and eggplant for freezing as well. plus, we have several shelves of potatoes, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes in the basement. we made many quarts of ratatouille, soup, and ciambotta.

as our friend kimkimkim would say . . . we are ready for the zombie apocalypse.

we even made fresh peach cake to freeze, while peaches were in season (in fact, they had some the other night and i hear it was aMAZing).

naturally all of that work is completely exhausting, but i’m managing to keep my energy up and encouraging anne to take breaks frequently when my ears need scratching or when i need to take a walk.

i try to get her out of the house as often as possible because she really needs to relax and have thinking time. you wouldn’t beLIEVE what a workaholic hermit she can be if she’s not prodded to get out. of course there is the obvious reasons we need to go out a few time each day (nature calls!), but i also need to make my rounds and see my people—i have a lot of socializing to catch up on!

of course you all know zippy already—she was one of my first neighborhood friends.

and then there is trixie, a mini aussie who lives just up the street and is probably my favorite to horse around with—she is a tireless devil-child with endless energy and we have a blast tearing around her yard, wrestling, fake fighting, and flipping each other over, while her mom talks to my mom.

lil sassy is afraid of everything but she like me, even tho i am literally, more than six times her size, haha. she makes me feel like a big dog.

i just lay down and let her sniff, climb on top of me, and pat my face with her tiny hands.

helena’s dog, KD died last winter and in the spring, she got a new dog named murphy, who is a puppy. puppies are like human children—a little overly energetic sometimes. he just adores anne, but when he came over to visit and play with me, i found it a bit overwhelming and i hid to get away from him. i think we’ll probably end up being friends when he’s a little older.

this is my very favorite boy dog—fritz. he’s a german short-haired pointer; isn’t he a dreamboat??

when i see fritz, i can hardly stand the excitement i feel—i just have to wiggle my butt and dance around; it’s hard to keep still! he’s the opposite of me; the quiet type (you might be able to tell). anne says we are like her and david, if humans had doggie equivalents . . .

i still do play with casey a lot, since we walk by his house several times per week, but he’s more interested in dominating me and i get tired of putting him in his place; plus, it’s really scott i’m interested in now, since he’s in charge of the biscuits.

i have lots more friends, like sadie and macy and booker—plus, there is a new puppy in town named luna that i am absolutely gaga over. i like little dogs a lot, especially after being attacked again this summer by a couple of big brutes. no major harm done to me, but anne got beat up pretty badly when she stepped in to shield me; she was all messed up for a while with cuts, bites, and bruises.

another new thing i’m into is chasing bunnies, squirrels, and chipmunks—just for fun, i’m not seriously trying to hurt them; i like to watch them run. but i did NOT chase this baby bunny that we met one night on the way home form our walk. it was SO little, like a mouse! i almost pounced at it, but anne told me not to and instead, she showed me that we can just watch it instead. we all stayed very still and after a while, it let me come close to sniff a little before it hopped off. that was kind of magical . . .

you might wonder about why i have suddenly become more sociable and fun-loving. well, about six months ago we started seeing the holistic vet because i had hit a plateau in my socialization. i was also dealing with some chronic physical issues that were not getting better with traditional medicine. anne decided that if natural medicine worked for her and david, it might be a good avenue for me, too.

the first thing we changed was my food—we took out a couple of things i was likely allergic to and switched to a semi-raw diet, using a dehydrated raw vegetable base that anne mixes with lightly cooked meats. and WOW, did i feel better almost immediately.

everyone noticed almost right away that i felt calmer and happier and more approachable. since it was springtime, we saw lots more people outside during our walks and i had lots of opportunity to work on my skills. we also treated my seasonal allergies with some drops that made me feel much less itchy and irritable. being touched and played with was suddenly much more pleasant!

now, anne cooks up a turkey for me every couple of months—and on thanksgiving we made the latest one.

she skins it and take off all the fat, then cuts it onto pieces to boil it. when the meat is done she chops it up and freezes it in containers that we use weeks by week. then she puts all the bones back in the pot and cooks them for more than a day to make bone broth, which is incredibly delicious if you’re a dog.

my job is floor patrol, which i am good at—you won’t find even a speck of turkey on that floor, ever, nor a drop of bone broth. guaranteed.

she also cooks lean beef and buys canned salmon so we can rotate the flavors each week (i know; i am SUCH a lucky ducky!). when she mixes up my bowl each night for the next day, she stirs in chunks of my favorite things, like green beans, blueberries, sweet potato and other things from the garden. now i totally get how beautiful our food is—it’s a real treat to eat things that we grew all those months ago and i make a BIG fuss whenever it’s time for a meal.

our thanksgiving was really great this year; during the day, we just cooked, lounged around, knitted, and went for a walk and then at night, those guys went to a movie while i stayed home to play with my ball of treats.

while i waited for them to get home, i had some time to think back about my wonderful year and begin composing this post. i am such a lucky girl; my life is now filled with love and all good things. even when something bad has happened, i’ve managed to overcome it because our family is a team and we have a community that is an even bigger team. now i really get it!

which is why i’m so excited that the holiday season is now underway—it’s a good time for me to pay it forward and help out with our red scarf scholarship fundraiser. we’ll be talking more about this over the next few weeks, but we hope you’re excited to support it, too. as an adopted child, this cause is of utmost interest to me; i know first hand how much it means when a kind soul extends their hand, heart, and a bit of change (or a treat!) to help.

there are lots of yummy patterns this year by many of our favorite designer friends—big thanks to andrea mowry, mary o’shea, kathleen dames, kirsten kapur, and kate atherley who joined with anne to contribute an array of deliciously festive options. the last of the festivus 4.0 yarn is going fast, so if you want to snag some, now’s the time!

like i said, we’ll be back soon with much more; anne has a whole big post about knitting stuff that will probably be of interest, though i may have to make a cameo appearance to add a truly special element. leave her a comment once in a while just to let her know someone is out there to read it, ok? see you later . . .