Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some Things Money Can't Buy

In an effort to reduce my debt, I was considering moving competing in dog agility to my “not to do” list.  Yet, I had two more commitments to fulfill for the Teacup Dog Agility Association before I would be free and clear:  presenting an agility workshop in Vacaville, CA, and judging a trial in Salem, OR.
This past weekend, three of my agility judge friends from Oregon and I drove down to Vacaville to present the workshop.  I had been dreading the trip, the heat, and the work of putting on a trial.  But as good friends often do, they distracted me from my negative thoughts, and I instead enjoyed visiting and spending time with them!  Over dinner, we planned the workshop – laughed, ate, and made a creative plan for getting others involved with the sport of teacup agility.
We arrived early at the trial site Saturday morning and began building courses.  This was the first time Teacup Agility has been demonstrated in California.  As the exhibitors and their dogs arrived, we heard these comments, “Oh Look how cute that little equipment is!  My dog is going to love this!  This is going to be fun!”  Amidst that enthusiasm, it’s impossible not to catch the excitement.  This was the first time in California history for these handlers to run their short-legged dogs on equipment that is built specifically for short-legged dogs.  

After two days of standing in the sun, judging dogs, and building courses, in the hot still California air, I found out that I was not ready to let agility go.  I remembered that what I really love about judging Teacup agility is the watching and cheering for each canine athlete!  Although, I was burnt to a crisp, I was invigorated by the sport and rededicated to strengthening my bond with my favorite teammate – Brindle Anne.  Last October, I semi-retired my 9 year old Brindle because I was worried about her getting hurt in competition.  One of the little competitors this weekend was a 14-year-old pooch named, Lucky.  Lucky was so happy to be running with her human partner and running the smaller courses.  It reminded me that we are only as old as we think we are.  Lucky obviously still felt like a spry spring puppy!
(My very best agility partner, Brindle Anne)

I was also reminded that even though I am simplifying my life and trying to cut down on my expenses, there are some things that money can’t buy:  friendships with people who share your passions and a friendship and exclusive bond with your canine partner.  These things I will not let go from my life.  Although there is a monetary expense with competing in agility, it provides an experience that is irreplaceable.  “New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects….” According to a recent article Will it Make you Happy? published in the New York Times. After all isn’t this life about the journey and the friends and experiences we make along the way?
If you are in Winters, CA visit the Putah Creek CafĂ© for a relaxing and delicious dining experience.
If you want to learn more about Teacup Agility, visit

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Organized, Minimalist Knitter

In May, I was browsing through and a book entitled, “The Joy of Less:  A Minimalist Living Guide:  How to Declutter, Organize and Simplify Your Life,“  caught my eye.  I bought it and quickly read it cover to cover.  It was not only inspirational, but it changed my life.  
As I read through the book, a memory of visiting my father when I was about 10 flashed into my mind.  He lived in a remote little house with a bunch of goats, chickens and pond full of sunbathing turtles. On the first day, I went into the sparse kitchen, looked in the bare cupboard, and announced, “I need a glass for a drink of water.”  My dad replied rather slowly -- I have to imagine that the arrival of my brother, sister, and I were more than a little invasive to his quiet house -- “We only have the drinking gourd.”  He pointed to a dipper-shaped gourd that hung above the sink.  “Oh, . . . hmmmmm . . . .that?  We all drink out of that?” I thought.  I turned on the tap and filled up the gourd.  From that gourd, the water tasted cleaner and cooler than any I’d had before.  Maybe it was the hot day  . . . . maybe it was chasing after goats . . . . or just maybe it was the pure simplicity of it all.
That led me to wondering if a true minimalist at heart is born or made.  Do we all crave that simple, organized, and uncluttered life?  I think we do.  The decluttering spread from one room to another in my house, and eventually spread to my office.  Many of my co-workers have wandered in to see what I’ve been doing with the place.  “Wow, are you moving out?  Are you quitting?  Why is your office/desk so clean?”  I reply, “I just wanted to clean up and get organized.  I needed to simplify my life, and have less stress around me.”  The response is usually the same, “Oh I should do that too.”  
How has minimalizing and decluttering affected my knitting? 
  • It’s meant donating about 8 boxes of fabric (former quilter) and yarn to the Hospice Heartisans Shop.  
  • It’s meant only keeping the yarn that I REALLY do plan to knit into something.  
  • It’s meant only purchasing yarn when I have a specific color/fiber need for a specific project.  
  • It’s meant organizing my patterns into a filing system.  
  • It’s meant repurposing other containers for yarn containers because I am refusing to run to the “big box store” to buy any plastic bins.

(Pictured above Lanaloft Sport stored in an antique Yami Yogurt case.)

If you’d like to get started with simplifying something in your life (your yarn collection, one room, even one drawer) check out these blogs for some inspiration:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Own Velveteen Rabbit

My grandma gave me a special gift one Christmas morning when I was 5.  Under the tree sat a beautiful handmade doll, named Lindy Lou.  She was sparkly clean, white, and had long hair made of chocolate brown yarn, which I could (and did) braid for hours.  My Grandma’s sister, Helen, wrote a book entitled, Lindy Lou and the Green Umbrella.  Grandma fashioned a doll to go along with the story, and it was that special doll who awaited my friendship that Christmas morning.

Adventures we did have – Lindy Lou and I.  We went camping, hiking, and spent hours in the grass looking up at the clouds.  We played jump rope, jacks, and every summer went to stay with Grandma.  Grandma would shake her head when she saw the condition of my well-loved Lindy Lou.  As Lindy Lou accompanied me on my adventures, she became more and more tattered.  Her hair was missing some large chunks of yarn and her cheeks were smudged with dirt.  Grandma said, “I will give Lindy Lou a makeover – a face lift and a new body.”  I screamed at the very thought of Grandma performing plastic surgery on Lindy Lou.  “No, no, no!  Do not touch her face.  It’s who she is.  It’s who I love.”  Grandma and I agreed to disagree. I finally consented to let Grandma reinforce Lindy Lou’s body with some new (cleaner fabric) but her face was not to be touched.    Lindy Lou came home that summer with a fresh pink body, but she retained her handsome, stately and very grubby face.  The face I loved to kiss!  
As I changed from a small girl to an adult, Lindy Lou still accompanied me – sitting stoically on my bed watching me through my teen years, sitting quietly in the corner of my room at College, curiously watching my two growing sons from the tiny rocking chair they had outgrown.  But one year when I was in my 30’s, Lindy Lou unexpectedly found herself sheltered away in a plastic tub way up on the closet shelf.  
My two boys have grown and left home.  My knitting has curiously turned to baby things -- baby dresses, baby socks, baby hats and lovely fair isle baby sweaters.  There is no baby coming soon to this house, but ahhhhhh haaaaa I suddenly remember that I have a little old doll who is the perfect size 12 mos.  Lindy Lou eagerly climbed down from that high shelf in the closet to try on her new wardrobe, and she is thrilled.  
I know too that my Grandma is somewhere smiling down on me.  Although way too old to play with dolls, I still am in love with this sweet little doll.  Do you have something from your childhood that that can still bring up those safe childhood feelings?
The cute little tams are from Beth Brown-Reinsel's "Fair Isle Tam" class.  It's such a fun little pattern and a great way to experiment with color-work.