Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Jasper - a Very Good Dog

Last night we had to make one of the hardest decisions anyone has to make in their lifetime if they are a dog owner. My little terrier, Jasper, has been failing for a few weeks now which was only to be expected as he was nearly 15 years old - a damn fine age to reach for any dog. He started to lose the sight in one eye over the summer, and a couple of months ago began dragging a front foot a little when he walked. We took him to the vet just before the end of October as he had started circling on the spot at times and appeared to be in the early stages of dementia. We were given some high strength vitamin & Omega 3 tablets to see if they would help - which they did for a while.

However, the week before Christmas it became very apparent that it was more than just dementia as his sight deteriorated, his legs became more unsteady, and the circling grew to obsessional proportions. During the snow he became incontinent and more and more confused. Last night he would not settle and began to cry and whimper constantly, and we decided the visit to the vet planned for today could not wait and we took him to the emergency animal hospital.

It would seem that he had a probable brain tumour and also a mass in his stomach - possibly further cancer. We were told all the options by the wonderfully kind and sympathetic lady vet, but faced with putting Jasper through a barrage of tests, prolonging his discomfort in order to find out if there was any hope - a very slim possibility which could then have been followed by surgery, chemo-therapy and the prospect of perhaps only giving him another two or three months - we chose to give him the dignity of a swift and quiet end.

If you knew Jasper, you would understand this was the kindest thing to do. We got him thirteen years ago from Battersea Dogs Home in London. We had tramped round the whole place just about before coming across him sitting quietly in his cage together with a manic fox terrier which had already taken a chunk out of poor Jasper's ear. We weren't allowed to take him there and then - we hadn't allowed for the fact that Battersea insist all members of the family meet the dog before it is re-homed and we had left my children at home with the intention of surprising them with a dog. We had to wait for two more days until we were all free to go again, keeping our fingers crossed that he hadn't been re-homed in the meantime as Battersea would not 'reserve' him for us.

However, he was still there and we got to take him home, sitting in my lap the whole way with a stop off at McDonalds where he devoured chips like there was no tomorrow. He had been found a month previous wandering the streets of London, very, very thin and although there was an address on his collar, no-one replied to the dogs home's enquiries. I think all through his life he never quite got over having been a hungry stray - he'd eat anything and everything, sometimes without even chewing.

Right from the start he was house-trained, quiet and well-behaved - most of the time. I don't think he'd see the countryside before, as he would stare out of the window at the trees, sky and birds for hours on end and when took for a walk, he would charge off after squirrels and be found half an hour later looking up a tree at the empty space where that squirrel used to be. Thankfully he grew out of this behaviour and turned into the perfect dog...apart from still scarfing down any rubbish in the street, particularly chewing gum!

The children adored him, as did just about everyone who came across him. He was bright, friendly, lively, gentle, and lots of fun. Fetching a ball was one of his major pleasures...and then diving past you at the last minute with the ball still in his mouth, expecting the fun of a chase. He'd join in other dogs' games of fetch too and had to be bribed with biscuits to give the ball back.

We had several unsuccessful attempts to get him a companion, but finally acquired a saluki pup and from the minute that pup came in the house they were inseparable. I got very tired of 'little and large' jokes while we were out an about! Four years later, the saluki ate something poisonous while on a walk and died within a few hours. We were distraught, but so was Jasper and after weeks of him moping after his best friend, we acquired a second saluki pup - and sure enough, as soon as it entered the house, Jasper perked up and decided this pup could be his best friend too.

And so it has been for the past thirteen years, thirteen years full of twice daily walks, charging through the fields chasing rabbits; giving cats a darn good scare if they dared to show their face in our garden; snuggling on the sofa with his pal; doing anything to score a biscuit or hoover up a crumb; summer nights sitting on the patio watching the frogs; winter nights using my balls of yarn as a pillow; being my daughter's 'cuddly-bunny' without ever complaining. Even a few months ago he was still running full tilt round a football pitch chasing rabbits and keeping up with the saluki.

So you see, a future of confusion, blindness and being unable to walk straight let alone run was not what we should have consigned him to. However hard it is for us, it was the right decison for that sparky, bright little dog. A little dog maybe, but he is going to leave a very big hole in our lives.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Be sure to watch out for Santa, but don't let him see you awake when he calls or you'll get no presents!

Nothing is better than lying in a pile of wrapping paper and playing with your presents on Christmas Day....

These are old photos, but still cute. Have yourselves a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I Know It's Not Exactly Festive.....

...but I did enjoy painting this! It's the Granary Burial Ground in Boston, site of Paul Revere's tomb. I was fascinated by the tiny dark gravestones when we went there, especially against the bright autumnal leaves, and have been itching to paint it for weeks now. It's a simple watercolour, just using a couple of sable brushes.

Potato Number 99 awaits in the fridge....the penultimate spud! I wonder if I can get it done before Christmas....

Jingle Hell...

I'm sure those of you living in countries where two inches of snow does not cause the infrastructure to grind to a halt in less than an hour are going to laugh your socks off at my tale of how I spent yesterday........

We had a bit of snow last Friday, it was quite pretty and a fun send off for the children on their last day of school before Christmas. It lasted over the weekend and yesterday we decided to take the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping while my daughter spent her last day at her craft placement before the holidays. We went to Basingstoke and I had a lovely belated birthday lunch....we noticed afterwards when we were pottering round the shops that it had started snowing a bit outside, nice big flakes but it wasn't really settling.

Three-quarters of an hour later(2.30 pm), we decided to head for home in order to be there in plenty of time to walk the dogs and be there for my daughter's return at 4.15. However, when we got to our car which was on the roof of the shopping centre's multi-storey car-park, we were met with a huge stationary queue of cars waiting to leave. So we joined the queue and waited to go....someone told us that there had been a crash due to the snow on the ramp at the bottom of the car park and we would have to wait until it was cleared. So we waited......and waited.....moved about fifteen feet...one hour passed....I decided to ring round to arrange someone to either be there to meet my daughter or a different drop off point for her taxi.

The snow continued to fall, and we continued to wait....two hours....moved ten feet......three hours...beginning to panic as my daughter's taxi had still not made it home from what should be a ten minute drive.........four hours....couple of people in front gave up, parked their cars and left on foot...we moved twenty feet.......discovered my daughter(who has Down's Syndrome) finally made it home after THREE hours in the taxi with no way of going to the toilet - enough said. My partner and I debated what on earth to do, whether to abandon the car or take the chance of getting out and at least on to a road. After five hours, we called it quits and parked the car fifty feet away from where we had started out and walked to the train station, where luckily we caught a train back to our town after 20 minutes, although we had to walk 2 miles home in freezing slush as there were no taxis. We got home at 10 pm, tired, cold, wet, aching from carrying heavy shopping bags (3 kilo bag of dog kibble anyone?) and thoroughly fed up.

This morning we took a chance and caught a train back to Basingstoke and managed to complete our Christmas shopping and recover the car ( which still had to be dug out by two obliging chaps with spades) and drove home through the slush and many abandoned cars by the side of the dual-carriageway.

What we cannot understand is why two inches (yes, TWO inches) of snow can cause complete and utter gridlock in a large town. Roads weren't gritted, traffic jams built up to ridiculous proportions, hundreds of people were stranded overnight - we were lucky in managing to get home. How on earth to you people in Scandinavia, Canada and North America cope? Please give some lessons to the British, who for the second time in less than a year allowed half the country to grind to a halt over a bit of snow......which we knew was coming......it's pitiful.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Hare Today...

In amongst all the knitting and painting for other people, I managed to complete a jumper for myself. This is from a pattern in November's Yarn Forward magazine. It was knitted from the top down, which makes life very easy as there are no seams at all, the only difference being the hare pattern was worked 'upside-down' - not a problem.

This has been knitted in green arran weight yarn with the hares worked in baby camel wool. It is nice and warm, which is just what was needed today among the flurries of snow here in rural Hampshire!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Half a Century..........

Tomorrow is my birthday - see the title to get an inkling of just how old I'm going to be! Never thought I'd get this far.....

The above is part of a most unusual bouquet I received this evening...can you guess what kind of flower it is?

Does this help? Yep, honest to goodness cabbages! Very beautiful though.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Not a Potato in Sight...

Just a little watercolour commission completed today in plenty of time for Christmas. It was a lot of fun using watercolours again after so long, despite it being a subject I wouldn't normally tackle - hope they like it!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ticking Over Nicely.....

Well, I'm just about recovered from the madness of last week after a quiet weekend and an enforced day off work yesterday due to my daughter's streaming cold.
The above necklace was made last week but didn't sell......I may modify it a little bit before putting it on Etsy. There will be quite a few new items on Etsy soon when I can get some decent photographs - of we ever see daylight again the the UK that is. We've had I don't know how many weeks of rain, cloud, rain and heavy rain.

Meanwhile, guinea pig production is in full swing as are the final few potatoes......chill that champagne, the end is nigh.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Thank You!

Well, that's the Christmas fairs over and done with and I can relax for a little while. Thank you to everyone who bought items from me, I'm glad that so many little toys went to good homes and will be loved and played with. I can't quite believe the popularity of the guinea-pigs - they sold so fast and I have orders for more. Thank goodness they knit up fairly quickly!

Please note that I am always willing to take on commissions for any craft featured here - I will consider pretty much anything knitted/crocheted and will only refuse if I genuinely can't figure out how to make something or if the time-limit is too tight. Bearing that in mind, anything needed for Christmas should be ordered NOW, and I wouldn't be able to guarantee getting anything to the USA on time with the postal service being as it is this time of year.

Thank you again lovely customers!

P.S. Please note that I am having a special offer on all purchases made through my Etsy shop between now and Christmas. Any order, no matter how small will receive a free knitted/crochet scarf randomly chosen from my current stock. It's time to have a bit of a clear out and rather than have them hang around in storage, I'd rather they went off to be worn and make space in my house for me to make some more!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A Bit of Skullduggery......

Some more last minute pieces as I received some larger skull and bone beads in the post yesterday.

A bead and thong necklace........

....a handbag dangle.......

...my personal favourite, a skull and bones bracelet........

...and a mini-skull and bead bracelet. These are all for sale at the Christmas fairs today - not very Christmassy I know, but I like to fly in the face of convention. If you see anything here that you fancy, let me know as even if I sell the above pieces, I can replicate them for you.

It's taken a week of very hard work, but I have everything priced and packed and ready to go - wish me luck!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

That's Better!

All guinea pigs have been sold - I am taking orders for more, but please leave plenty of time if you require them for a special day.

Hooray! The squeakers arrived just in time, so the four little guinea pigs have been stuffed, had their voices inserted and been sewn together. Just for good measure, I've given each of them a carrot and a lettuce leaf each to keep them sustained until they find some new homes.

If you fancy owning one of these or one just like it, e-mail me to the address above and I will be happy to oblige. They will cost £12 including p&p.

p.s. sorry about the pretty awful photo - it's very early in the morning and dark as night outside, so relying on electric light isn't the best way to photo these.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Four Sad Guinea Pigs.......

Just for Laura, this is as far as I have got with the guinea pigs who are sadly awaiting squeakers from America.....who knew the mail would take over a fortnight? If the squeakers have not arrived by Thursday, these little chaps will be sewn together and sold as they are and I will just have to knit some more.