R.I.P. Bas

This was one of the last photos taken of Bas.  Wednesday was Bas’ last day with us.

It was 2.5 years ago that I wrote about the tumor we found in him.  We didn’t expect him to live another 2.5 years with a tumor on his pancreas and taking prednisone every day.  He got slower and more unsure on his feet as the months went on.  Finally he couldn’t be trusted to go up and down stairs (after falling down the stairs 3 times) and had to be kept on the ground floor.  He still enjoyed laying in the sun and sitting on our laps during this last very cold winter.  He had his routines, and the last one he liked was to sit on our laps, but not until we had put the white blanket on our legs to make an even more comfy spot for him.  Every morning when we came downstairs he’d walk over and cry until we put the blanket in place and he could hop up.

As with all old animals that are loved and taken care of, whether people or pets, as they get older we spend more time and money on them.  Bas had special food, vitamin shots that I gave him in his neck every few weeks, and trips to the vet more and more often when he was out of his routines.  This last week DB took him to the vet Tuesday because he wasn’t pooping very much.  The vet didn’t find anything wrong.  Then Wednesday morning we came down to find that he had thrown up in several places.  He walked calmly over to one of his sleeping beds and pissed in it.  Then walked out into the garden, laid down under a small bush, and didn’t move again.  This really was not a good sign.  At the end of the afternoon we tried to get him to walk a little but he would move a few steps and head back under the bush and lay down.  He was clearly not getting better and was laying down to die.  It was time to help him this one last time.

When I picked him up to put him in his crate he peed a little bit on my arm.  Clearly he couldn’t control himself anymore.  He wasn’t even talking and he was a really talkative guy.  We drove to the vet and she very nicely and gently put him to sleep.  We cried a lot. DB said “dooi Bas” and that just broke my heart.  He loves that cat more than anything.  Bas has been his cat for nearly 18 years.  Even when you know this day will come, it’s so hard.

We didn’t come home right away.  We went to the beach.  We ate some dinner.  When we came home we picked up his beds and blankets and litter box and took them to the garbage drop.  It would be just too terrible to see his things.  This morning when I came downstairs I swore I heard him meow.  It’s so different without him in the house.  We will miss him for a long time.

Lace Progress

Above is my progress on the 22 Leaves shawl.  From here on out I have to pay even closer attention to detail as it’s nothing but leaves from here on out.

While I really like the look of the finished shawl, and I’m enjoying the result, I would not recommend this pattern to a beginning lace knitter.  So far I haven’t found any mistakes at all.  I don’t think I will find any either – the charts are correct.  My issues with the pattern have more to do with logical layout and user friendliness.

If you are a knitter you know that every country, and even within the same country, you will find different symbols for the same stitches.  It’s only a little annoying because once you start knitting a pattern you quickly remember what symbol means what.  But in this day and age you would think there would be more work towards standardization.  One reason I think Japanese patterns are works of art in themselves is because they are so beautifully consistent.  Charts always use the same symbols and everything, and I mean everything, is charted.  I have a couple of Japanese knitting books, all in Japanese, but I can still figure them out and make the patterns because everything is charted.  Not just the stitch patterns, but the entire sweater!  Fabulous.

This 22 Leaves pattern uses some symbols I haven’t seen anywhere else.  It’s not a problem, it’s just that I don’t understand why.

I had to read the pattern several times to understand where to start the instructions.  It starts out talking about 22 Leaves and all of a sudden it begins instructions, including charts, for a larger version, and then at the end you find the charts for the 22 leaf version.  Not user friendly!  She should have given all the information for one size in the first section, and then put the alternate larger version at the end.

But I’m just nitpicking.

Maybe it’s just how I feel right at this moment.  I think today is the last day for poor old Bas the Cat.  He’s been laying under a bush in the back garden all day.  He went there after he peed in his own bed this morning.  Neither action is normal.  Not at all.  More news tomorrow.

Gardening – Not for Wimps

I’ve been spending a few hours every day working in the garden.  I’ve been digging and hacking and pulling and then planting.  My back aches.  I’m stiff and sore.  Gardening is not for wimps!

Here was the ‘before’ photo of part of the back garden:

And here’s ‘after’:

And that’s only part of the work we’ve done.  Here are some more photos of the new and improved garden:

I think we’re going to have a lot of blackberries this year.

And the faithful Christmas tree, bought 3.5 years ago as a small spindly thing (a real Charlie Brown Christmas tree).  He keeps growing every year and looks better and better all the time.  We haul him into the house each year and throw some lights and balls on him and put him back outside when the season is over.  I hope he keeps doing this well for years to come.

I haven’t even taken photos of the work we did in the front garden.  Both our front and back gardens are postage stamp size, but we get the most out of every square inch.  It’s frustrating going to the garden center, or the flower market, and seeing so many nice plants I’d like to buy, but I have nowhere to put them.  Oh well.  If this small space makes my back hurt so much after a few days of upkeep, maybe I’d better just be happy for the small space I have!

p.s. I haven’t listed the names of the new plants, or roses.  I imagine the only person really interested is my mom, and she can ask me about that. :-)

New and Revised FOs

Several days ago I finished my blue summer sweater and complained that it felt too big.  Remember?  Well, I put it through the washer and dryer and I think it’s a little smaller.  What do you think?

Before:

After:

I also did a chain stitch (an embroidery stitch) all around the neckline so that it wouldn’t stretch too much:

I think it’s better.  It feels better and that’s what counts.  I will wear it for sure now!

Two days ago I finished sewing a summer top that I wanted to get done before we head off to California.  Of course I didn’t make the pattern as directed.  That wouldn’t be like me at all!

I was supposed to put in a zipper in the center back.  I didn’t.  With the deep v-neck I didn’t think it would be a problem to get in and out of it.  Well, I think if I make it again I’ll use fabric that has a little stretch to it, or I’ll put in a zipper.  I can get it on and off, but just.

On the inside, the pattern instructions would have you finish the band around the middle like this:

That just seemed silly to me.  Why leave it with interfacing showing when everywhere else in the top all those sections are lined?  So I cut some other fabric I had and lined it.  Better, yes?

I’m very happy with how it turned out and I would like to make another one.  Sewing time always fights with knitting time.  You know who usually wins.

While DB was taking these photos this afternoon he also took a few of the cat, who is still with us.  How can an animal move less, and more slowly, every day and still be hanging in there?  He’s still cute as ever.

Old Turf and Music Weekend

This morning we drove to Sloterplas, in West Amsterdam, for our Sunday run.  It’s a 6km loop around a small lake and most of the running route looks like the above – nice trees and park setting.  This is my old running turf.  I just did a search of my blog on “Sloterplas” and am reminded that the first time I ran here was May 11, 2008.  Four years ago almost to the day.  Funny.  In my mind I thought it was actually a year earlier than that.  Time plays tricks on the mind often.

When we lived in Amsterdam and I ran here I would listen to Brenda Dayne.  Today I listened to Science Friday.  It makes the time and the running just fly by (again, a trick of time).  They talked about an extinct giant turtle the size of a Smart car, and why humans are omnivorous, and working towards a commercially available tomato that actually tastes good.  Science Friday is always interesting.

There were a lot of joggers making their way around the lake today.  There were also quite a few Muslim women doing a fast walk, and some even jogging, dressed as they are always dressed, in long dresses or pants and a long coat over the top, plus headscarf of course.  I can’t imagine trying to be sporty wearing so many clothes.  They must be sweating and so very hot in there.  Hats off to them.  That’s sporting dedication for sure.

After my short 6km run I took a few photos with my phone, trying to capture the feeling of so much green and water.  This is the best I can do.  It makes me feel peaceful – always a good thing.

The rest of my Sunday?  I finished sewing a top that I want to take on vacation with me – photos tomorrow.  And watched Pink Pop on tv.  Why pay to go stand with 30,000 other sweaty sun burned people when you can sit on your couch and get a front seat view to (nearly all) the bands?  Here’s a fun one we watched – “Boss Hog”, a band from Berlin who take Top 40 songs and transform them into Texas country-rock, complete with the hats, boots and Texas accents.  They were great fun!  If you live in NL, tune in to channel Cultura 24 to watch it live, or watch it streaming on your computer on the 3voor12 site, or listen to it on national Radio 3 FM.  Plenty of choices for choice music this weekend!

Butterfly Circus it is!

Christine left her suggestion on the contest blog post and I think it’s a lovely name for this sock pattern.  Butterfly Circus sounds so cheerful and fanciful.  Can you just see butterflies making their own circus?  I can.

Thank you so much Christine for your name!  I’m ordering these lovely stitch markers from Crimson Orchid which will be shipped to you.

I’m finishing up the pattern layout today, complete with the new name, and will get it up on Ravelry before the end of the weekend.  I’ll email a copy to everyone who left a comment and a name suggestion.

Thanks everyone for participating.  It’s so much fun to hear all these ideas and to open up to the world.  I’ll have to do this again….

Edit: Here’s the pattern on Ravelry.

All Night Flower Market

From 4pm Friday to 11am Saturday is the Haarlem Luilak Bloemenmarkt.  Yes, this is an all-night flower market.  It’s been going on in Haarlem since 1890, every year, the Friday night before Pinksteren (Pentacost).  I had no idea this market existed until my in-laws said they wanted to go.  How did I miss the best flower and live plant market in the country?

The Singel is closed off on both sides of the canal and is filled with tables and stalls selling all kinds of flowering plants, shrubs and small trees.  My father-in-law was in search of some particular plants, but didn’t find what he was looking for.  He wanted to replace a small tree that was killed in the Big Freeze of February 2012.  I think the plant farmers are having a good Spring this year because so many plants were killed in the very cold weather this last winter.

We lost our faithful fig tree.

I bought this tree about 7 years ago.  He lived in a pot on the roof terrace in Amsterdam.  When we moved to Haarlem we planted him in the ground and he lived happily, giving us loads of figs, for years.  This last winter the cold got him and he’s slowly dying.  I haven’t entirely given up on him.  I’ll give him until the end of the summer to show any signs of life.

At the market we came upon one seller who had small fig trees.  They were all beautiful and healthy.  My in-laws insisted they buy one for us.  So sweet.  Here it is.

My in-laws ended up buying 7 shopping bags full of flowering plants.  We hauled everything to the car, then sat outside in our back garden for a while.  That was at 10:30pm.  Still warm enough to sit outside and just dark.  When the weather is good, it’s an even better place to live.

Oh yes.  The other day this cloud was passing overhead.  I immediately thought to myself what it looked like to me.  What does it look like to you?

BBQ

The weather was really warm today.  The high temp was 24C/75F.  Coming from California this doesn’t sound very hot.  But in NL this is a very impressive warm temp.  I’m happy it wasn’t hotter!

In the morning we went for a (short) run.  Mine was short anyway.  Then we got busy in the garden while it was still cool.  Plants were planted and other plants were dug up and thrown out.  We aren’t done yet so no “after” photos yet.

For dinner we decided to BBQ.  Throwing a couple of steaks on the barby is so quick to do and eating them outside makes it even more special.  Above are the steaks, baked sweet potatoes and a salad.  Simple but Yum.  I don’t see the point in making a big fuss of BBQ-ing with sauces and lots of meat.  Just keep it simple and tasty and that’s all you need.

Tomorrow both DB and I have job interviews.  Wish us luck!

(Almost) Finished Sweater

Yesterday I finished my blue summer sweater.  I ended up making elbow length sleeves because that’s all I had yarn for.  I had 4 skeins of this Cascade Ultra Pima and that’s as far as I got.  I just didn’t want to buy another skein to make the called for 3/4 sleeves.

What do you think?  I think it’s too big.  I’m a little bit sad about that.  It would be ok, but the problem big-ness is in the neckline and the drape of the yarn.  Cotton, especially mercerized shiny cotton like this, is slippery and it drapes really nicely.  The pattern, however, called for wool, which doesn’t drape like slippery yarn.

I wore it around Amsterdam in the afternoon and it was just annoying me with its big-ness.  I have decided to put it in the washer (it is washable) and dryer (it’s not meant to go in the dryer).  It should shrink a little and that will be good.  I’ll put it in a lingerie bag so the fibers don’t get banged around too much.

I’ll do another photo shoot in a couple of days when this is done so you can see if there’s any difference.  Hopefully for the better!

Working Away

As you may have noticed, my goal is to post something every day in May.  Today is the first day I’ve really struggled to find anything to write about, or the enthusiasm to think of something.  It’s day 22, so I figure that’s not too bad.

Today was a day for chores.  I was inspired by the Yarniacs #9 podcast where they talked about washing all their sweaters.  I’ve taken it a step further (since I have time) and I’m washing all my sweaters AND shawls.  Above is a photo from the other day.  So far I’ve washed 5 shawls and 6 sweaters.  Just a few more things to go.  Oh! I’ve forgotten all about the scarves and mittens and hats!  Oh my! I’ll be busy all summer.

This afternoon I started working in the back garden, clearing out a flower bed.  My back is killing me now! It was really hard work with a shovel and hoe.  I filled our green bin and a garbage bag with greenery and roots.  Of course I took photos but I’ll wait until all the work is done and amaze you with before and after shots.

Also tonight I finished knitting my blue cotton sweater. Yea! Tomorrow I’ll weave in ends and block it and take photos and show it to you.

Gosh, I had more to talk about than I thought I did.