Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Pug Stalker

On Christmas Eve, Vince, Oliver, me, and my bump bundled up and drove to my in-laws' house to have dinner and open gifts. At some point in the evening, we noticed that Tyler, Vince's 10-month-old nephew, had developed a rather alarming pug obsession. Everywhere the pug went, Tyler wanted to be. Now, pugs are not known for being fast-moving creatures. I think the average pug's mean speed falls somewhere between that of an overweight hamster and that of algae. But on Christmas Eve, we discovered that one creature couldn't keep up with even the pug's slow pace, and it drove him absolutely mad. Oliver would wander across the room, and Tyler would try in vain to crawl to where he was. After watching this go on for a while, I just grabbed the pug and held him still.

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As you can see, Oliver's indifference to Tyler's loving ministrations did not go over well at all.

Christmas Day was spent relaxing and doing the things we each love best. For me, that meant baking a chocolate mint torte for dinner that evening. For Vince, that meant playing eight straight hours of online Risk. For Oliver, that meant sleeping. And sleeping. And sleeping some more. It seemed the poor pug was especially sluggish, probably due to his stalker-dodging maneuvers the night before. Or maybe he was just trying to enjoy some peace before the arrival of a potential permanent stalker in his home.
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again

Every year, it seems that the holiday season arrives more and more quickly. Wasn't it just the other day that I was obsessing over buying gifts, baking cookies, and trimming the tree? Speaking of trees, Vince and I were a little late this year with setting ours up. Perhaps it's because baby madness has us preoccupied, or perhaps it's because we were still recovering from hosting Thanksgiving, but we didn't get our tree up until just this weekend. Still, we were thrilled to have found a rather realistic-looking fake tree at our favorite store, Target. And it was on sale, no less! Can't beat that.

To round out the weekend festivities, I knit the little bear you see above. I used Vanessa Carter's pattern for him, which I found on my favorite knitting website, Knitty. To my delight, I was able to finish him in less than a weekend's worth of casual knitting. Even better, he required only about half a skein of yarn! Half a skein!! Laugh, if you will, at my utter elation, but I feel like Christmas came early for this knitter.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Home Stretch

I'm officially in my third trimester now. The one in which, according to various pregnancy books and websites, I get "itchy, bitchy, and huge." These three winning pregnancy traits were spread out over all three trimesters for me. I became bitchy in my first trimester. I started itching in my second trimester. And now, I'm getting huge. If I had any doubt about my huge-ness, it was erased by something my hubby said to me last night. After searching fruitlessly in my closet for a T-shirt that would still fit me, I decided to wear one of Vince's. As I emerged from his closet in an old raglan tee, he noticed that even though there was a discernible bump beneath it, it was still somewhat baggy on me. His eyes got all big and buggy, and he whined, "Oh, my God, I'm not that big, am I?"

Careful there, buddy. Careful.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Novembers Rock

Each year around Thanksgiving, I give thanks for making it alive through another 365 days. I've always been a big birthday person who wants the song and the fuss, but this year, I almost forgot it was my birthday. Perhaps it was the pregnancy hormones, the preoccupation with hosting Thanksgiving, or the dread of braving LAX to pick up family. Or perhaps celebrating a birthday just seemed inconsequential when soon I'd be celebrating an actual birth. In any case, the fact that I was now 32 slipped my mind until a balloon-bearing pug appeared at the shower door while I was washing my hair. I lavished kisses and gratitude on both he and the hubby, who insisted that he had nothing to do with the balloon.

In the afternoon, hubby surprised me with a gift of his own: Singstar 80s for Playstation 2. This was a big surprise for two reasons. Reason 1: To save money, we'd agreed to eschew exchanging any gifts until the baby's birth. Reason 2: Vince hates singing. HATES it. His giving me a gift that required amplified, obnoxious singing was akin to my agreeing to let him keep his turntables in the nursery. Oh, wait, I did agree to that. I guess now we're even.
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To cap off the day, we went to my favorite local restaurant, where we stuffed ourselves silly, because, of course, we wouldn't be doing enough of that the next night.

We awoke at dawn the next morning to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. Rather, Leon and Claire did most of the preparing, I scurried around obsessing over Thanksgiving minutiae, Oliver anxiously hovered about the kitchen, and Vince showed off his Guitar Hero skills to my mom. Later on, Vince did put down the guitar long enough to perform his man-of-the-house duties by carving the turkey.
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Dinner went off without a hitch, and at the end of the night we were bone tired. Vince teasingly observed that, though exhausted, I seemed to love playing hostess. I realized it was true. The mad rush of preparation was worth the incredible feeling of having a house full of friends and family. And that led me to wonder, "Hmmm... I wonder how many more babies I can convince him to have?"
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Baby's First Hat

I finished knitting Baby's first article of clothing - a red cap of washable merino wool with two little devil horns on top. My mom friends tell me that no matter how adorable he is, there will be some very trying times during those first few months in which I'll feel like he was sent to torture me. During those times, I'll just tie this hat on him so at least I'll have something cute to look at while I'm beside myself with fatigue and frustration.

Last Friday, I mailed a box of less devilish hats to the Head Huggers Project. Jenny, Cynthia, Jocelyn, Lisa, and I contributed to the cause, so kudos to us!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Backseat Pug

People seem to think that once the baby comes, our obsession with Oliver will wane. I personally don't see that happening. After all, this blog is called entitled "Ssk, Pugs, & Rock 'n' Roll," not "Ssk, Babies, & Rock 'n' Roll." Still, Vince has teasingly been calling him "The Backseat Pug." I think he does it just to mess with his little head, and it's kind of mean, especially since it seems that all this baby madness is, indeed, starting to get to him. This past weekend we started prepping the baby's room, and Oliver's reaction was one of downright despondency. He spent a few hours trying to get into the spirit of cribs, bassinets, and baby curtains, and then he vanished.

We found him sulking all by himself on the landing of the staircase. It was heartbreaking. He seemed to feel better after I assured him that babies, not pugs, are actually required by law to be situated in the backseat of the car, and he would retain his rightful place in the front passenger seat.

To ensure that my hubby didn't feel like a Backseat Pug, I made a few of his favorite things - zucchini bread to eat for breakfast and my signature pasta dish for dinner. I've heard the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so I expected that by making not one, but two of his favorite things, I'd be set. What I did not expect was that he would eat them together. On the same plate. Hmmm. Maybe next week I'll make turkey rice porridge and blueberry muffins together and see what happens.

In knitting news, our Friday Knitting Group is gearing up to send a box of hats to the Head Huggers Project. The hats - dubbed "chemo caps" - will be distributed to hospitals, cancer centers, and hospices to be worn by people recovering from chemotherapy or other treatments. It's nice to know that a pasttime as enjoyable as knitting can be used for such a good cause. If only other hobbies - such as compulsive shopping and idle gossip - could be as beneficial!
Lisa and Jenny are way too excited about knitting these caps! I mean, have you ever seen such glee in a knitter?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Isn't She Lovely?

After weeks of breathless anticipation, I finally got to meet Sienna Marie, the beautiful new daughter of fellow knitter Bernadette and her husband Steve. As I held her against my chest, she made these adorable little snuffling noises, and I thought to myself, "She sounds just like a pug!" Of course, I didn't vocalize this, because I would sound rude and crazy. The next day when I was telling Nancy about Sienna's visit, I happened to mention the noises she made, and Nancy immediately asked, "Did you think she sounds like a pug??" Ah! My obsession isn't as cleverly hidden as I'd thought!

I'm not, however, the only pug-besotted one, as the below montage will reveal. Let's call it "Creature of Habit, Part Deux."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boo!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I may be too old to go trolling for treats in the trampy Halloween get-ups that seem de rigeur for women in this city, but that doesn't mean I can't utterly humiliate my baby with a costume of his own. Man, I just can't wait until next year when I'll have TWO of them to dress up! Maybe I can save a few bucks and squeeze the human baby into one of Oliver's old costumes. Whaddya think?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Three Kids

It was a landmark weekend... For one thing, I finished the first of what I hope to be many knitted items for our unborn baby boy - a little Sheldon I lovingly knit in shades of green and blue. You can see that Pug Baby has taken quite a shine to Unborn Baby's new toy, so I think it might be a good idea to knit a slobber-proof, gnaw-proof Sheldon next.
It was a landmark weekend for the hubby, too. Ever since we got hooked on Guitar Hero last year, it's been his dream to rock that plastic guitar in front of a crowd of adoring fans... at Best Buy. It seems that every Best Buy store has a Guitar Hero station set up in a prominent location, and there's always some snotty brat hogging it and showing off his GH skills. Vince won't admit it, but it's obvious by his hovering and lingering glances that he longs to be one of those snotty brats. Well, he finally got his moment in the sun this weekend when we went to a Best Buy and - lo and behold - the GH station was unoccupied. I have to say that Vince did me proud, and I got to be his groupie for three minutes that day.

In the last of my landmark news, I'd like to announce that after a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship for the past ten months, Lady E and I are finally through. Actually, I was done with the byatch several weeks ago, but I'm only just now getting around to letting the world know about it. The emotions were too raw, you know? And after all that trouble, I realized that she's not even my style. Go figure.

Monday, October 15, 2007

20 Down, 20 to Go

Yesterday marked the end of the first half of my pregnancy. Hip hip hooray! Above, you can see evidence of my burgeoning zaftig-ness. I think most of it can be attributed to the wee Chan, but I'll be honest - some of it might be all of the celebratory eating we've been doing. We're pregnant! Let's eat! We closed escrow on the new place! Let's eat! We closed escrow on the old place! Let's eat! We're done with the first trimester! Let's eat! It's a boy! Let's eat! In fact, to celebrate the halfway point of our pregnancy, guess what we did? That's right, we treated ourselves to a gluttonous feast at Chicago for Ribs. Good thing I took that 20-week picture before dinner.
..I marked the halfway point in my own way by starting a Sheldon for Vince Jr. Oliver seemed to sense that this was a special turtle. As you may recall, the pug has exhibited turtle-cidal behavior in the past, but he left this one in peace. Perhaps it's because Vince made me promise to knit him a turtle of his own.

This morning, we got a chance to say "hi" to Vince Jr. at my Level II Ultrasound, AKA Structure Check. I'd been feeling him move around since my 14th week, but man, was he a squirmy little bugger while the doc was trying to get a look at him! I'm surprised he was able to get any measurements at all. According to Babycenter.com, he's about 10 inches and 10.5 oz now, but he feels much bigger when he kicks me sometimes. I want to tell him to calm down, but I'm so rotund now, I can't get my mouth close enough to my belly to do so. I just end up looking like a crazy person. Instead, I have Vince do it. Somehow, when a man talks to his wife's pregnant belly, it looks cute rather than crazy.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Grandpug > Son-in-Law

My parents have a really soft spot for Oliver. About 99.9% of my father's emails have some mention of how smart, how funny, or how adorable Oliver is. Prior to getting together with Vince, Oliver was the only man in my life they liked. Then they met Vince, and he joined Oliver's hallowed ranks. Upon meeting Vince for the first time, they gave me confused glances that said, "How the hell did you pull this off?" Despite their approval of my choice in mate, I always suspected that the pug occupied the space closest to their hearts. After we got pregnant, though, I figured that Oliver's sway over them would relax. Father of first grandchild trumps painfully cute grandpug, right? Well, take a look at the above picture, and you tell me. It was snapped last week at LAX mere seconds after my parents exited customs, and it was the first time we saw them since getting pregnant. I found the scene to be wildly amusing until I had a premonition of my parents brushing past my newborn son to see Oliver. Maybe I'll just put them side-by-side in the same bassinet - problem solved!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Oshiri?

You know how people talk about seeing things "through the eyes of a child"? Well, I got to do just that last weekend, and what I saw was Oliver's butthole.

Our good friends Herman and Sachi came over on Saturday with their two adorable kids to check out our new place. While we grown-ups were chatting about grown-up things like mortgages and the amazing decline of the dollar, three-year-old Matthew grew bored and wandered off. Suddenly, we hear him squeal, "Oshiri! Oshiri!!" He's standing about four feet away from Oliver and excitedly pointing at his backside. I ask Sachi what "oshiri" means, and she starts laughing. "Oshiri" is Japanese for "butt." I'd grown so accustomed to Oliver and his puggy anatomy that I no longer noticed that his oshiri was hanging out for all to see. But Matthew noticed. And five minutes later, he also noticed that Oliver's mini-me chew toy was minus one oshiri. As he turned it over in his hands, he looked at his mom quizzically and said, "Oshiri?" And that had us all laughing our oshiris off.
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Below, you can see Oliver has parked his oshiri uncomfortably close to my growing Lady E. He probably doesn't realize that garment is going to be worn right by my face. Or maybe he does.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pugs of the Sea

As we departed that wretched land known as The First Trimester, our thoughts turned to the gender of the baby. Vince was unable to attend my ultrasound this week, so we agreed to have the OB write the baby's sex on a card if it was discernable, seal the card in an envelope, and wait until the evening to open the card together. As it turned out, my OB saw the sex clear as day, and I left the office with a sealed envelope burning a hole in my handbag. After spending the next six hours, 42 minutes, and 22 seconds in sheer agony, Vince and I eagerly ripped open the envelope. The verdict? A boy! Boy, oh, boy! I confessed that I thought I had seen a penis on the ultrasound at the OB's office, but I didn't give it much credence, because at one point I mistook a lung for an arm. Though we would have been jubiliant with a son or a daughter, Vince was relieved to have escaped life with two Lilys, and I was looking forward to having two Vinces to boss around. Everyone wins! Actually, not everyone won. Oliver seemed less than enthused at the prospect of sharing his kingdom with a potential male usurper. I'm confident that once he realizes the new addition will be a messy creature who throws table scraps on the ground, he'll get over it.

L to R: Ed, Hana, and Grace Chan in Modesto; Wes Sen, Tracy Lam-Sen, Katelyn Sen, me, and Vince in Sacramento; Vince, me, and Joyce and Mark Yim in Berkeley. Unfortunately, we didn't get to snap a pic of Uncle Henry and Aunt Susie Chan in Oakland.
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In other news, Vince and I just returned from a mini-vacation to the Bay Area. The main purpose of the trip was to see friends and family, but we also saw the long weekend as a little "babymoon." Perhaps it's a contrivance of our spoiled generation, but a babymoon is a vacation a couple takes after they find out they're pregnant, but before the baby comes. It's sort of a last hurrah before you become mired in the inescapable black hole of parenthood. Just kidding.

I admit that I missed the Pug quite a bit. Perhaps that why I found myself strangely drawn to these sea lions we spotted lazing about at Pier 39. I swear they looked uncannily pug-like to me, and I kept referring to them as "pugs of the sea." Vince thought I was nuts, but take a look at the picture, and YOU decide. The resemblance is undeniable! Who's nuts now?

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Emperor's New Bed(s)

This past weekend, our new digs were transformed by a special delivery from two friends, Crate and Barrel. At last, the place would stop looking like it was inhabited by furniture-less squatters and start looking like a real home. Even Oliver got new furniture - a luxe bed resembling a big, fat pug throne. Of course, that didn't stop him from laying claim to the new daybed as well, which had originally been purchased for the human inhabitants of his kingdom. Ordinarily, we would have booted his puggy butt from the pristine furniture, but, guilt-ridden by his recent surgery, we turned a blind eye.

While Oliver and I were lounging on the daybed, [Pseudonym] was going mad trying to assemble the rest of the furniture. His name has been omitted from this post, because as my camera came out to capture his sheer frustration, he yelled, "This'd better not be in your blog!!" To protect his wishes, I have taken careful measures to hide his identity. I have pictured [Pseudonym], below, with his nemesis, the allen wrench. I have to admit that those things are no fun to use, especially when faced with the prospect of putting in 48 screws. [Pseudonym] eventually stomped off to Home Depot to purchase a better tool. He also somehow duped our buddy George into using the discarded allen wrench to help him finish his task. [Pseudonym] had originally tried to pass this odious task on to me, using guilt to sway me. His argument was that I had no idea what he was going through or how hard it was for him to assemble all that furniture by himself. I flatly asked him if he'd like to swallow a bowling ball, carry it around until March, spend that time cranky, crampy, and constipated, and then squeeze it out of his- I'll stop there. You get the picture. And that was the last I heard of that.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

T.T.F.N.!

On Friday, Annie broke the news to us that she would be - SOB! - leaving us for greener pastures, AKA San Diego. Oh, cruel world! We beseeched her to stay, plying her with promises of exciting knitting projects to come, but no matter. Her mind was made up. I'm not sure how Friday Knitting Group will be once Annie is gone. She's leaving some very stylish and funny shoes to fill. We'll miss you, Annie!

In other cruel news, I have, as predicted, left Lady E for a younger, thinner project. I'm sure that I'll be back with her once the new fling bores me with her lack of witty repartee on current events.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Frankenpug

Over the weekend, I took Oliver to the vet for a re-check on a few cysts I had been monitoring for the past few months - a red bump on his belly that had grown noticeably bigger and two smaller lumps on his head. We shared the waiting room with a miniature dachsund and a presa canario mix, neither of whom wanted to be there.

The dachsund was a shaky mess who tried to hide inside his owner's shorts, and the presa canario mix couldn't stop whimpering. I was very proud of the Pug, who sat silent and brave, but once on the vet's examination table, it was a different story. He snarled and clawed and reared his stubby little head as the nurse tried to weigh him, look at his teeth, and exam his lumps. The only time he didn't fight was when his temperature was taken. Rectally. Hmmm. Anyway, the vet recommended surgical removal and biopsy of the cysts. She also suggested having a full blood panel done because "he's approaching middle age." Finally, to add insult to injury, she said his teeth were "pretty bad," so he'd need a dental workup done, cautioning that extractions might be necessary. I was already getting teary hearing that my beloved was a middle-aged pug who needed surgery, but man, the teeth thing made me feel just AWFUL. It was like being the parent of the kid who gets sent home from school for having head lice. I hung my head in shame as I left the office.

After dropping Oliver off for surgery the next morning, I spent the workday wringing my hands and torturing myself with images of a small and defenseless pug on the operating table. At 5 o'clock sharp, I raced back to the vet's office. As I waited for the nurse to bring him out, I had to choke back tears, but the second I saw him, I found myself having to choke back a laugh instead: He looked like Frankenstein. His head had been shaved, and across his bald puggy pate was a line of stark black sutures. There was a similar line of sutures on one of his pug udders, too. In my own defense, I will say that if he had seemed more upset or tore up, I would not have been so amused. But he was the same wriggly, wiggly Oliver, only more Frankensteinian. And no extractions were needed, which meant I wasn't quite as horrible of a mother as I had thought. We left with strict instructions to give him his meds and carry him up and down the stairs.
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That night, he woke us up about every other hour with hacking and coughing, a side effect of having been intubated. Vince and I took turns getting out of bed to comfort him. I was a little grumpy over losing the sleep, but I suppose we could consider this practice for when our human baby arrives. In the meantime, we'll just enjoy taking care of the baby we have now.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

And Then There Were Four (Well... Sort Of)

Vince's eyebrows shoot up in alarm as he educates himself on the finer points of childbirth and labor.
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Back in May when we were preparing to move into our new home, Vince and I realized Oliver might get lonely spending each day by himself in such a big place. To combat potential pug depression, we came up with the perfect solution - we decided to have a baby! When we excitedly told Oliver that he could expect his new playmate to arrive next February or March, his reaction was lukewarm to say the least. For one thing, he tried to chew up the positive pregnancy test we showed him. We assured him that no matter how adorable the new baby might be, he would still be Numero Uno in our hearts, but to no avail. The pug was inconsolable. Below, you can see him sulking in every corner of the house.

Just as I was beginning to worry that Oliver might one day eat his adversary in a jealousy-induced fit of rage, something funny happened. Implausible as it seemed, he began exhibiting signs of Couvade Syndrome, AKA Sympathetic Pregnancy. This phenomenon - by which expectant fathers experience pregnancy symptoms such as nausea or weight gain - can be brought on by anxiety, guilt, identification with the fetus (huh?), or jealousy. Vince had a little tummyache and some blemishes, but that was it. To be honest, I was rather miffed he wasn't sympathizing more. If I was miserable, my hormone-addled mind reasoned that he should be just as miserable for putting me in this state. The pug, on the other hand, seemed to be over-sympathizing. One morning when I was on the brink of throwing up, I found that Oliver had beaten me to the punch and already puked on the floor. In the evenings, I would struggle to stay awake long enough to drive home, only to find that Oliver was already passed out cold in his bed. But the strangest thing was that when I started breaking out in pregnancy pimples, a big, shiny zit showed up on Oliver's face, too (see Fig. A, below). At that point, I stopped worrying about his jealousy and started worrying about him. He'd been matching me symptom for symptom so far, and I feared what might happen once I began ballooning. Do pugs even retain water? Or maybe I was missing the big picture - why is my pug's Couvade surpassing my husband's? Isn't that a bad sign? Well, I suppose that as long as the hubby exhibits some sympathy pregnancy symptoms, I shouldn't worry. Even though I'd be secretly delighted to witness sympathy bloating, I'd take a sympathy footrub. Or later, some sympathy diaper-changing.

Fig. A: Oliver's Couvade zit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pugicide (pŭg'ĭ-sīd')

Pugicide (pŭg'ĭ-sīd') -noun. The killing of a pug by murder.

Lately, I've been having a lot of trouble falling asleep. I'm not sure if it would qualify as bona-fide insomnia, but it has been taking me about an hour to an hour-and-a-half to enter sleepy dreamland. As a result, any sleep I do get feels hard-won, and God have mercy on the wretched soul who dares to rouse me from my slumber. Last night, that wretched soul was Oliver. Let me preface the following story by telling you that the hubby left for a business trip a few days prior, leaving me to spend my first nights alone in the new place. As a result, my insomnia has been futher aggravated by paranoia that intruders are causing the creaking sounds I hear in the night.

Last night, I turned out the light at approximately 1000 hours, and fell asleep after much tossing and turning. Suddenly, the sound of a thousand hounds of hell wrenched me from my blissful state of unconsciousness. I bolted awake, terrified; however, there were not a thousand hounds of hell, just a solitary hound of hell, howling his flat puggy face off. Man, you've never seen a woman move so fast in your life. In a split second, I was at the perp's bedside with a hand around his neck and a knife pointed at his giant eyeballs. Ok, that didn't really happen, but that's what was playing out in my head. Anyway, I did get out of bed and add to the ruckus by yelling at the pug. "What the -BLEEP- is your problem? Do you want me to -BLEEPing- kill you? Your father is gone, so there won't be any witnesses!" After he looked chagrined enough to satisfy me, I went back to sleep. An hour later, the same thing happened. Hysterical barking from the pug, expletives and threats from me, then shaky slumber. This repeated itself throughout the night about four or five times.

Morning broke, and I very grumpily got up. Oliver, too, arose and lazily stretched. Just as I was about to plant a foot in his pug butt, I realized that perhaps he was trying to assume the man-of-the-house role in Vince's absence. Despite the fact that any burglar would laugh in his face, I was touched by the idea that he would want to protect me. So I've decided to banish all thoughts of pugicide. No promises for the rest of the week, though. Let's just hope Oliver makes it alive to Friday, when Vince comes home.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lady E, My Fallback Guy


A few weeks ago as I was finishing turtle #8, I realized with dismay that I had no new project planned. No yarn had been purchased, no pattern had been selected. However, my dismay was short-lived when I realized that my hands wouldn't be empty for long, because I have Lady Eleanor. Ah, good ole, faithful Lady E. You remember her, right? I first made Lady Eleanor's acquaintance back in January, and even now, more than seven months later, she's still there for me in my time of knitting need. She's the yarn equivalent of a fallback guy. You know, the guy you always call when you're in between guys, the guy who never asks why you haven't come around or makes you feel guilty for being absent. So I brought Lady E out of hiding, and we'll be hanging out until another younger, more attractive project catches my eye.

Speaking of young and attractive, below are scenes from a recent Friday Knitting Group. Lady E, none of these hussies would love you the way I do!
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