Friday, March 20, 2009

Big Sky Country

We're in Montana visiting our son, Forrest, who is attending University of Montana in Missoula. Houston has a meeting next week in Salt Lake City so we flew there, then drove the 530 miles to Missoula. We'll be driving back to SLC next week, then I'm off to Arizona for a week to visit my mom. As the sun was setting, this massive cloud was changing color.

I like Montana, even though I prefer the softness of the mountains in the east. I lived for many years in Colorado, grew up in South Dakota and now I love the green, mostly lush landscape of the Catoctins, the Blue Ridge and Allegany mountains. The huge skyscapes are something to behold though.

Montana Pride, you bet.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yarn Party

Last Sunday I was a vendor at the second annual Yarn Party, held in the great room at Savage Mill in Savage, Maryland. The doors opened at noon and a crowd of about 300 swooped in to feel, fondle and hopefully buy hand dyed fiber, hand crafted soaps and paper. Overall I think maybe 500-600 attended. Phew, what a frenzy! My crates of yarn were in such disarray, skeins thrown this way and that.

My tables were mobbed and I was quite busy writing up tickets, so much so, that I didn't notice that many of my knitted samples were missing until there was a lull. When a customer asked if I had anything knit in a particular yarn, I said yes and went to grab my 'Fetching' hand warmers. I looked and looked, but no hand warmers. I also noticed that my hiking socks, 2 neck warmers and a scarf were missing. How can someone do this? Here I am, a small time dyer and business owner and right in front of me, my hand knit items are stolen!!!! I can't tell you how violated I feel. So if anyone sees someone wearing a pair of handwarmers in a deep red, orange color or my retro scarf in Mermaid colorway or my hiking socks in Woodsey, ask them where they got them. Jeez! In spite of this, I still plan to do the Yarn Party again as it was fun and I hate for one jerk to overshadow an otherwise great show.

These are some of my fairy batts that weren't stolen. Very spring like. I'll be doing more of these for the April tour and Sheep and Wool. They have wool, silk, mohair, bamboo, corn, and whatever else I can find laying about the studio.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Sad Day for Dalis

This will be my hardest blogpost yet. Today I lost my best buddy, Taz. He came into this world in March and he left the world in March. Tonight is the full moon and I'll think of him and my many full moons that I had with my furry friend. There are many names for the March full moon, the Fish Moon, Windy Moon, the Lakota Sioux version: Moon When Eyes are Sore From Bright Snow, the appropriate Death Moon, but the two I like best are the Last Winter Moon and the Sleepy Moon.

Someone who came by the farm one day said that there were seven great dogs alive at one time in the world. He told me that he thought my dog was one of them. I had to agree. Tasman's main objective in life was to please me. He would tear across our field in chase of a deer or rabbit. I would yell, "Tasman, get back here!" and he'd turn right around ("she needs me!") and be back at my side wondering what I wanted. I realized that I spent more time with this dog than I did with my boys. They went off to school after 5 years and Taz was with me all day long as I work from home. He was always close by. He was my boys best bud too. They'd throw sticks into the river over and over, or lacrosse balls across the field. Taz would camp out with them in the back yard.

Tasman was born while we were living in Australia for 4 months. He was from a litter of 10, born on my friend, Penny's farm. She e-mailed me that she had a great pup for me. I e-mailed back saying we weren't looking to get a pup. She said she would save this one for us anyway. Everyone that came to pick out one of the puppies wanted this big, friendly yellow one. But Penny told them that one was taken. When we got back, the pups were 6 weeks old. We went over there and fell head over heals in love. We could hardly wait the 2 weeks to pick up our cutie. We named him Tasman, after the Tasman sea in Australia. Occasionally we would call him the Tasmanian Devil, although he really didn't do too many bad things.

Tasman was the official mascot of Dancing Leaf Farm. He greeted the customers, escorted them into the shop, then waited outside for anyone who would give a free pet. He wore his "Need Yarn?" sign proudly.

Taz and I have had many fun adventures together. When I turned 50, I wanted to walk the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. I soon discovered it was almost 1/4 of the entire AT, 500 miles!, so I scaled back and did just 50 that first year. It was just going to be Taz and me so we trained by hiking on Sugarloaf Mountain. Taz just didn't seem like he was on his game, couldn't keep up and seemed to tire easily. I took him to the vet and found out he had severe Lyme disease. The vet thought it wouldn't be a good idea to take him on such an arduous trek so I talked Bev into going with me. As an alternate plan, my husband, son, and another friend, Tina, hiked in part way through our trip and joined us, bringing Taz along for just the last few days of hiking. But he was so hyper in the camp that night that I told him he had to hike back off the mountain with the other boys. He kept me up most of the night, skittering after rodents, growling at night noises, all the time thinking he was protecting the campsite. But he did have a great hike and even got his pic taken by a photographer who was doing a shoot for "One Day in the Life on the AT".

I bought him a back pack so he could carry his own food and water. I called the outdoor store to ask about packs for dogs and they said to just bring him in and they'd fit him. Taz didn't get to go into town much (at all!) and got really excited as we entered the store. The packs were on the second floor and I took off for the escalator. I got on and started up and nearly fell backwards. I looked back and realized that Taz had come to a screeching halt, sitting down with his front legs forced forward. No amount of tugging would move him so I had to jump off quickly. We took the elevator up.
Adjusting his pack took a bit of time. If it wasn't perfectly even, it would list to one side. He often forgot he had it on and would bolt through the woods, sometimes getting stuck between two trees.

He loved walking through the woods with me. He was at the perfect height for me to rest my hand on his head.

I had my coffee mug and he had his 'outward hound' collapsible bowl.

He even had his own Trail Dog patch.

Being a retreiver, he LOVED the water. When he was just 2 months old we took him to the Potomac River to see how he would do in the water. There was an enbankment about 4 feet above the water. He saw that water and without hesitation, jumped off that enbankment, front legs tucked in, back legs extended, and landed with a splash. Love at first splash.

He would swim and swim and swim. One time I brought my knitting and sat by the creek and knit, seeing how long he would last in the water. It was a hot summer day and I think I knit a half a sock before he got out, shook off and laid down by me.

He also liked getting really muddy. He tore up his inside card that day!

Tasman's favorite thing by far was to ride in the back of the truck. He'd leap in as soon as the tailgate was down. We went on many mountain bike rides together. I'd ride along the trail and he'd run in front or behind me, never getting in the way. When I was on the C&O canal, he'd take off and I'd clock him on my bike computer. That 115 pound dog could run 18 miles an hour for one mile, then I'd make him take a swim. One Christmas I took him with to pick out a Christmas tree. Whichever one he peed on, we'd take. He picked a nice one that year.

If I'd open the back of the car to load anything in it, he'd jump right in, ready to go.

We got Casey 5 years ago and Taz welcomed him and adopted him as his brother immediately, even though he was a different color. They played and wrestled, tumbled and rolled and had a great time every day. They were rarely apart, even slept curled up together.

Posing during the Holiday Studio Tour.

Every year we donate to the local fire department. We get a professional photo shoot in exchange. We used to send whatever kids were around at the time and have some nice shots of our boys with their girlfriends, lacrosse sticks or other friends. But one year, no boys were there so I loaded Taz up and we went off to the upper floor of the fire department. Luckily no one but the photographer was there because Taz was just WAY too excited. There was a platform with a big white backdrop and we nearly knocked the entire thing down. I don't really think the photographer was too keen on having a hundred and fifteen pound dog swirling around but he shot away and we got some ok pix. When my friend, Ann, moved to California, she put this pic near her dog's food bowl so Boomer wouldn't forget Taz.

We had a litter of kittens awhile back and all four of them adopted Taz as their uncle. They played with his tail, climbed on his back, tugged at his ears and Taz took it all in stride. But the look in the above photo shows that maybe he had had enough already.

Uncle Taz

Every Christmas we'd buy him the biggest bone we could find. He tried to carry this one through the doorway and figured out if he turned his head, he could get through.

I even included Taz on our holiday cards.

Keeping me company by the hottub.

Dog days of summer.

Give your dog a special treat tonight, a pat on the head and tell him/her that Taz is watching over them.

This last month has been really hard for me. Tasman was 13 years old, but could keep up (and run cirlces around the other dogs) while we walked the 5 miles down Harris Road at least once a week with Casey, Tina, and her dog Rocky. Taz knew if I got my running shoes on, it was time to go and he'd wait by the truck. We went on our last walk down Harris Road a month ago. He couldn't keep up and I knew something was off. His back legs got stiff, he lost his appetite and lost 20 pounds. We played drug roullette and that bought a couple more weeks. I knew I would have to face this day. I did get a chance to load him in the truck though, and we took a final drive down Harris Road, while he sat in the back looking out. I stopped at the creek where he swam and went to the top of the hill where we always turned around. I kept looking back at him and he seemed to like it although I don't think he realized it would be his last time.

I thought this plaque would be so perfect to memorialize Taz. It's a golden retriever with wings, heading for the stars. Here is something my friend, Mary sent me today.
Just My Dog by Gene Hill
He's just my dog. He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds, my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out to sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being - by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him - I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive me. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.His head on my knee can heal human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.He has promised to wait for me - whenever, wherever - in case I need him. And I expect I will, as I always have. He's just my dog.

Goodbye buddy

Rest in peace my friend. And dog number 8, you just moved up in line.