I'm well into the ribbing on my last pair of gift socks! I can actually see these things done in my head now. (I was hung up in that "Geez, I'm never going to finish these things" mindset for a while, probably because I've been speed-knitting gifts for the past seven weeks.) I'll be glad to get them done, partly because I want to get them to the recipient, and partly because I want to go back to knitting for me. I did take some time on New Year's Day to cast on the first of the 2009 Lottery Socks (choosing which yarn to use next by drawing a slip from a bowl, as described in my previous post). The lucky winner was the Red Heart Heart & Sole in Spring Stripe. I worked on the New Year's Day socks (two at once, toe-up, Magic Loop method) Thursday, and then went back to the gift socks Friday.
Armed with the Hobby Lobby gift card my bro so kindly gave me for Xmas, I went today to shop. Scored some cool fabric dyes, and a crochet hook I needed to begin my little Creepy guys from the book I got for Xmas. Somehow, out of all the crochet hooks I have managed to acquire, I did not have the right size for my Creepy guys. (BTW, do size G and size H hooks breed when we're not looking? I have no recollection of buying four G hooks and five H hooks, yet I have them.) I also got a skein of Lion Brand's Sock-Ease, not because I am starving for sock yarn, but because (a) I have wanted to try it, and (b) I wasn't spending my money, but gift money. :-)
Incidentally, Lulu Notalab survived New Year's Eve without freaking out too badly. As expected, the neighbors shot off fireworks, but I think the cold (around 28F) and the wind (which was very gusty) discouraged them from launching as much boomage as they would have preferred. Neither of the dogs appreciate boomage, so they both stuck close to me (by "close to" I actually mean "on top of"), and gave me pitiful looks as if to say, "Can't you make it stop?" I have not yet been successful in explaining to them that fireworks won't hurt you. I'm just glad that Back Neighbor Guy (who lives behind us) has limited his pyrotechnics to the traditional fireworks-launching times. He hasn't always done that, although he has seriously curbed his boomage activity. That's my fault, I'm sure. A few years ago, when I was fostering a ginormous (17.2 hands tall) rescued formerly abused Thoroughbred mare, Back Neighbor Guy was in the habit of launching fireworks whenever the heck he felt like seeing something blow up. I don't know if he actually thought, 'Hey, it's Tuesday. Let's celebrate- woo hoo!' or what. I just know that he'd shoot off fireworks for no discernible reason, and I presume it was because he wanted boomage. The most memorable night was during a miserably hot summer in which apparently every fly in Guilford County had got into the Viagra. Thus, the fly population that summer was enormous and driving horse people as well as horses crazy all over the county. I had been keeping the mare stalled during the day (and practically swimming in fly repellent), and letting her out to graze at night when it was cooler and she could actually eat without the flies driving her insane.
A word about Thoroughbreds, for those of you who aren't familiar. They are the paranoid schizophrenics of the equine world. They're hardwired to run, eat, run, make little Thoroughbreds, run, think that everything is going to get them, and...oh, there's one more thing. Ah yes, it's run. This mare had been horribly abused (by a guy claiming to run a "rescue," no less), so in addition to the breed-specific predisposition that encouraged her to believe that everything was going to eat her, or at least hurt her, she had also learned some very painful lessons about how mean people can be. There were days when she reacted to a bucket like it had teeth, and when anything scared her, she wanted to shove her big head up into my armpit as if she could hide there. (Incidentally, another neighbor - one who does not shoot off fireworks - witnessed this "hiding" behavior, and didn't know whether to weep because it was so sad that the mare was afraid, or laugh at the ridiculousness of this humongous horse trying to hide in my armpit.)
Anyway, around 9:30 p.m., Back Neighbor Guy starts shooting things off. Not surprisingly, the mare did not react well to having the frog-and-cricket serenade of her night grazing interrupted by screaming sparking things flying up into the air from a quarter of an acre away. Our pasture, which is small anyway, is right next to the house, close enough for me to hear her thundering around in terror and actually slam into the fence at one point. The only reason we humans can keep livestock inside fences is because they don't know they could blast through pretty much any fence structure short of steel or iron. They just accept that there is a barrier, and they don't try to push the issue. It's never a good thing when one of them figures out that they can breach the perimeter. We have wooden fencing, and even though it's sturdy, this mare could have charged - and nearly did charge - right through it, letting her weight (which, I am proud to say, was back up to where it should have been, after months of very careful TLC to get her to gain back - without foundering or colicking - the 250 pounds she'd had starved off her while in the hands of the bogus "rescue" from which she was rescued) and momentum carry her. It took me almost 20 minutes just to get my hands on her. DBF tried to help, but she was still in her "All men are going to hurt me" mindset, so his presence just freaked her out worse. I distinctly remember telling her - loudly enough, I'm sure, for Back Neighbor Guy to hear - "Baby, it's okay. Easy - eeeeeasy, now. It's just the stupid ###%$#@$##@#er behind us who doesn't have a brain in his #$@%#@#$@ing head being #$$&#$#ing stupid with his stupid #$%*&@#$ing fireworks!" This poor mare was in equine hysterics, dripping sweat and so worked up that I had to hose her down and walk her for another 30 minutes while I explained, in a slightly calmer voice, that even though there are lots of stupid ###%$#@$##@#ers in the world, they're not all actually out to get her.
Given the way Back Neighbor Guy sent his wife over a few weeks later to politely tell me that they would be shooting off fireworks on the 4th of July (so I could keep the mare stalled that night), I gathered that he did not appreciate being called a "stupid ###%$#@$##@#er" even though I was not speaking directly to him at the time. Since then, the light shows from the back of our property have been far less frequent - although not infrequent enough to please the dogs, both of which try to sit in my lap whenever there is boomage. I won't even get into explaining how challenging it is to try and knit while you've got a Chihuahua and a 45-pound satellite-dish-headed Shepherd mix jockeying for position in your lap.