Sunday, November 25, 2007

Life in the working world

Hello out there my lasting and adoring fans....both of you. :)
I's been a LONG time! Well the reason is at least a good one. I've been trying to get used to a full time job and the schedule that goes along with it. The good news is that I'm finally feeling really comfortable with the day to day of it all and the paperwork is FINALLY starting to make sense.
As for the job.... I LOVE IT ! I can only hope this affection lasts for a very long time because I also love some of the new things in my life that go along with it. (more on that later). The biggest thing to get used to hasn't really been the early mornings (that worked out in about a week) or the 5 days a week lost to my knitting (I'll never get used to that) but the PAPERWORK! I thought hospital nursing had some overwhelming paperwork. HA! Every hour that I spend generates a minimum of 5 PAGES of notes and that doesn't take into consideration if I consult a doc, therapist or even another nurse. Those all generate their own collaboration notes. If I actually have to DO something like put the patient on a higher level of care that costs me no fewer than 10 extra forms. Holy rain forests Batman! that's a lot of paper. The powers that be know what an advantage computers would be and they keep teasing us with "maybe next year". Yeah, right.
In addition to the paperwork I generate, they expect us to carry around reference books. I weighted them - 25 POUNDS of reference books! That's in addition to the huge traveling-nurse bag with our equipment. I don't think so. I took those matters into my OWN hands and bought this. It's a Motorola Q PDA/Smartphone. Now all my reference materials either reside on the pda or I can look them up online. Yup, online goes with me. I can also use it as an MP3 player for those days in the office doing more paperwork. I could also justify it's use by taking photographs of wounds or videos of behaviors if my bosses would actually get our charting ON COMPUTER for gawd's sake. The other major advantage is the bluetooth. Our company cell phones - think umbilicus to the mother ship - don't have bluetooth. Now, consider this; we are 100% mobile...we (nurses) travel in our cars constantly to get from one patient to the other...our patients by definition are terminally ill and expected to die anytime...the whole point of the phones at all is to be able to respond immediately... and we are expected to hold a phone in one hand, DRIVE with the other and take notes with what? Our toes?! COME ON. It's only months before they make talking on a cell while driving illegal in this state. Must I risk my life and that of other drivers? Nope. Hence...bluetooth.
Oh, and about all that driving... my 10+ year old Stratus that survived teaching 3 teenage boys to drive, untold rabbit shows, a house fire and 3 or 4 multi state moves just couldn't cut it anymore. The last boy-child was all it could take. I found myself putting in as much tranny fluid as gas and the oil was getting a bit worrisome again too. So my most extravagant purchase was this...
(no, that's not MY actual car, mine needs a bath at the moment) It's a 2008 Toyota Matrix and I LOVE IT. This thing was made just for me, I'm convinced. It thinks it's a small SUV but it's "me" sized. The seats fold down flat in every conceivable way, even the front passenger seat folds into a desk! It's heavy enough on the road to be extremely stable. It's built on the old Corolla frame so has many many years of bug eliminating behind it and gets some of the highest reliability ratings from all the car-geek magazines. It even has a power inverter BUILT IN and household type outlets on the dash! Very cool for a traveling 'puter geek. Of course it comes with a hefty monthly reminder of just how cool it is, so that's why I hope I love this job just as much for the next 60 months.
Remember when this was a bunny and knitting blog? Well, both activities have suffered while I became acclimated to my new life. I actually did get 2 SA does bred and they get boxes today. I acquired two of the most gorgeous Thriantas from a top breeder out in the northwest - with generous assistance from a very good friend (hugs Eric!) and I've managed to start my herd thinning a bit with more tough decisions to come.
As for knitting...not so much. Every so often I get a stitch or three on a sock but that's about all I've managed. My mental knitting is going like crazy though. In my head I have all sorts of amazing projects planned. The advent of these... (yes, they are clear sneakers) has made sock knitting even more exciting! They are the Nike Airforce 1 clear sneaks and they would make some killer work shoes. I bought just exactly the right sock yarn for work socks too (back at Rhinebeck). So as soon as I get my hands on these in a size 7, look out!
So there's my life lately in a rather large nutshell. Other little diddies include I can't leave for any of the holidays like I'd hoped but I will be able to work the Farm show (nobody else asked for those days off), I am actually on call Christmas Day and the weekend before and Thanksgiving was way too quiet. I miss Miranda horribly. And JJ is out of school before graduating. That's extremely disappointing but he has to have the chance to work it out on his own. It's not the fun part of parenting, but it's one of the parts. Good with the bad and all that.
Until next time....

Monday, October 22, 2007


.... but happy.
The job is awesome, I can't believe that I have the opportunity to work for a company that actually provides the compassionate care that every person deserves. The goal of patient care is the patient's un-questionable satisfaction, comfort and quality of life. Amazing. The staff work together and actually LIKE each other! Incredible. The company puts patient care and comfort ahead of profit and ends up profitable anyway. Un-freaking-believable.
Rhinebeck was a blast. It's funny. I read tons of blogs from people I know who were there and I didn't run into a single one. I went to lengths to avoid the Ravelry, Blogger Bingo and celebrity entourages. So I had a great time with much smaller crowds. I'm just not into all that stuff. I was there with a very real friend and a brand new and excited knitter. That's what a fiber festival is about for me. Oh, there was buying involved. :)
Convention apparently went just fine without me and 2 beautiful Thriantas came home from Michigan to my barn (thanks to another very dear friend who went out of his way to help me with this transaction), one of which is the BOS Sr Doe. Both bring with them the fur and color qualities I need in my own herd and I look forward to breedings this winter.
It's been a very busy month for me...but very satisfying and I'm very happy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

T minus 9

I have an official start date for my new job - October 11. Naturally that was the day we were to have the Direct TV installed so that will have to be rescheduled but at least my free days have a deadline now. 9 days to goof off... 9 days to sleep late... 9 days to get my house clean. Heaven help me it just might take that long too.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I FINALLY got the archive to work! Now, if I could just get the RSS feed to cooperate. Then again, if it did work I'd have made a real mess of somebody's Bloglines account by republishing my entire site. Yeah, you're welcome.

A little bird told me...

Frankie's day out...

Frank Sinatra the Swinger

If I sit really still.....

Hand over the apple ...or ELSE....

At the risk of being a total pet foto nerd... I really do enjoy my silly little bird.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For....

Well world, are you ready for this? I am gainfully employed in the world of healthcare!

I have been hired by Yup, I'll be a hospice nurse. Now, I'm not going to go into an exposition explaining and justifying why anyone would choose to spend their time with those at the end of their lives except to say that it is the job that I've always said 'If I ever had the opportunity to do whatever nursing I wanted....' Everyone has something like that, right? It's not explainable. If you don't 'get it' then it's best just to accept it. I find end of life nursing to be incredibly interesting, challenging and most of all fullfilling. The patients I remember most vividly in my career were those to whom I attended on their journey home. Therein lies my apprehension. It is scary enough to start something new...but to actually get what you wish for? I've always had a whole list of excuses why I couldn't take a job with hospice and this place shot them all down. So now I have the job I have always said I wanted and on my own terms. Whoa. Is it getting hot in here? I've never been so nervous about a new job.
So now I'm off to go pee in a bottle. Once the drug test, license check and background check come in I'll get a start date. As boring as I am I don't foresee anything interesting there. So what changes will I make around chez Harvey? I'm not sure yet. I guess that will make for blog fodder over the next months, eh?
I have to go drink some water now...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This is not a drill!

Apparently there's a new virus (actually a trojan) out there that people are downloading. It comes as an email to your box telling you that you have a card or postcard from someone you know and directs you to click on a link in the email to retrieve the card. I'm not one to jump at these things but when says 'real' I pay attention. Please note though...Generally only UNPATCHED Windows systems are vulnerable. Lesson: 1. Pay attention to your computer hygiene just like you do your personal hygiene and 2. STOP CLICKING ON STUFF IN EMAILS.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Home of the Free, because of the Brave!

I can't do it better so I prefer to do it justice. From my nephew's blog:
Following the attacks which occurred on September 11th, 2001, I pulled my site
from the web and replace it with a memorial page. This page grew into a site
containing artwork, poetry, and other writings from me and my friends. In
remembrance of that horrific day, I am making the site available from now
through Friday. You can access the site by clicking the image above.
May We Never Forget
As for my own reflections: Note: this is a frank telling of what I experienced first hand. It is not a complimentary veiw of the 'Plain People' so if you want to preserve your Norman Rockwell image of the Amish and Mennonites then you don't want to read this one. This is probably the first time I've spoken so openly about 'what happened' to me that made me leave the church.
The morning of Sept 11, '01 I was still in the conservative Mennonite church (Eastern Mennonite Conference) but having grave doubts and concerns. The thought has materialized that I might need to leave but it was a frightening thought. Then the world I knew and trusted came tumbling down around me. I was at a large, busy farmer's market when the news of the Towers came across the televisions. The entire place was like a hornet's nest that had been shaken. No one moved a lot but they moved in groups humming and buzzing away. The facial expressions were more of confusion yet than anger. Shock but not yet horror. Out of an odd sort of fear of the crowd (or was it my reaction to the crowd?) more than the event itself, I left to go home. Mennonites ignore such public displays and 'rise above' mob mentality and I was having a very hard time doing that. On the way home I cheated and listened to the radio for the news. By the time I got home, the other two shoes had fallen; The Pentagon had been attacked and a plane had gone down in PA not an hour from me. My thoughts came fast and furious but the prevailing always was "How will the Mennonites respond to this?" I would soon have my answer.
NYC..Mennonites: well, that was a target waiting to happen and all "real" Christians know how sinful that place is. God just smote Soddam and Gommorah again. They deserved it. Me, as a nurse: So many potential patients! The hospitals will be overwhelmed! My VA license is still active maybe I could help somehow? My horror was later realized when there were almost NO PATIENTS to treat. This is the ultimate worst case scenario for any nurse to endure.
The Pentagon.... Mennonites: it's the seat of war and arrogant human resistance against each other. It was bound to fall sometime and God chose to make it an example. Me as a child of a proud Navy retiree and native of Norfolk/Va Beach: The Pentagon is the epitome of the strength and superiority of our fighting men and women. A home of honor and courage but most of all, it is impregnable. How can this icon of military strength be compromised?! I realized how devoted my heart is to those brave souls who stand between me and tyranny. The military is order, civility, courage, strength, HONOR and I was mortally offended that it would be compromised.
Shanksville... Mennonites: well had the passengers been non-resistant the blame would have been on the hijackers and the others would have died in the hands of God but now they have ruined perfectly good farmland and died in a sinful state of aggression. Well, none were "real" Christians anyway so I just pray they found God somehow before their death. Me as a resident of a foreign state, culture, and environment: Am I not safe even here? I moved here to be rid of the things that tempt me, to immerse myself in Mennonites so I'd blend in better, I'm not safe, I don't blend in and I can't feel contempt for people who don't sit next to me in church.
I actually prayed at one point that my reserve unit would be activated and I'd be forced to choose my allegiance. The more time went on and I witnessed the lack of concern - TOTAL lack of appreciation! - for the results of this cowardly act of terrorism by the Mennonite community, the farther I felt from them. As far as they were concerned it was just another typical over-reaction by a society obsessed with violence and emotion. They are not 'citizens' of this world so it doesn't concern them.
Need I say that it was a defining event in my disassociation from the Mennonites and the birth of my own self examination. I can tolerate lack of compassion sometimes, I can tolerate ignorance...but arrogance and emotional vindictiveness in the name of "christianity" is not within my ability to tolerate. The terrorists didn't destroy a part of my life, they gave birth to a renewed patriot and advocate.
America - Home of the Free...BECAUSE of the BRAVE!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bunny office supplies?

I went on a job interview recently that sounds very much like what I want except for one little detail....I would be working in a cubicle. Yes, they are trying to box in the essence of what is "ME". So I've gotten a good bit of ribbing from the hubby and friends about working in a 'rabbit warren' of Dilbert style cubbies. Hubby offered to build a wire top and cage door ala bunny hutch style to help me feel at home. Nice. So I've been making myself feel better by checking out the incredible array of accessories for office cubbies. Of course I looked for rabbit themed stuff and didn't find much...except this. A bunny letter opener. I must have one of these for my own office. Must!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I'm just saying...

Why repeat what other folks have said much more eloquently. Read this then....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Critter has taste!

It seems my little feathered friend has good taste! I have spent the day playing various CD's to see what the little guy might like. It seems that his taste runs to the eclectic (as does mine). Every time a selection from Sting's Songs From the Labyrinth came on Frankie would just trill and chirp along with the lute. Absolutely delightful!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Meet Frankie

I have a new buddy to pamper. Meet Frankie. (Short for Frank Sinatra of course) He's a 4-5 week old Canary that was hatched at my MIL's house. Isn't he just adorable? DH and I went down to Va Beach for a mini vacation last weekend and my MIL had 5 of these darling babies in addition to the mom and dad canaries. Each morning and evening the sound of these guys singing was enough to put a smile on even a tired traveler's face. Music really does sooth the savage beast it seems. So this little guy came home with us and now resides in his own little mansion in the living room. We can't be certain he's a male but I did catch him "singing" rather animatedly this afternoon so chances are good. I was surprised to hear him doing his little baby bird best to warble and trill like his Dad and he kept it up for a good 20 minutes while I set up his cage and got his food and water dishes filled. Of course I then had to catch him to move him to the new cage and he was quite offended at being touched so he stopped singing. He has a swing and a bell and a couple of hanging pretties that I just couldn't resist making for him. MIL also sent home a tape of canary song that DH and I enjoy as much as Frankie does. Actually the rabbits seem to be a bit more alert while it's playing too. I really think there is something to this bird-song thing.
I'm not sure what it is about fiber people and pets but nearly all the fiber folks I know have rabbits AND either cats or birds. Well, a couple also have poison dart frogs, comodo (?) dragons and chameleons but I've proven I don't do amphibians well. So the cat thing didn't work out for me, maybe I'm more of a bird person. I did enjoy my cockatiels (also thanks to my MIL) years ago and miss silly birdy faces. You know, birds give you the very same disapproving faces that rabbits do. Maybe that's the attraction. LOL
So current indoor zoo count is 2 fish, 3 hermit crabs, a handful of snails, 3 rabbits, one dog, one bird and a cricket that I can't seem to find and is driving me nutso at night.
I was reading a delightful article on handtaming canaries last night so I suppose I'll use my time between searching job postings and printing resumes to work with the little guy. The other thing I re-discovered over the weekend is just how very homesick I am for the Va Beach area. Ah well, maybe someday.


Cocaine? no...CAFFIENE!

OK, those who know me...REALLY know me and don't just think they do...know that I love nothing more than a good challenging conversation and if you can seriously challenge my thinking to the point that I have to research your answer...well, I'm happy to admit error in exchange for enlightenment. I found out this weekend that my nephew Joey (Joel or Joe to people who didn't diaper his butt 22 years ago) is just such a person. He challenged me with the question; 'Why is there caffeine in soda and where does it come from?' His premise was that there is no ingredient in soda that naturally would cause caffeination and that the caffeine added to soda comes out of coffee that is decaffeinated. I was ready to admit that no obvious ingredient in most soda could account for the caffeine and that it IS added for effect (Pepsi Max anyone?!) but out of coffee and into my soda? Sounded way too much like urban legend. Well, I'll have my crow pit roasted with sage and ginger thankyouverymuch.
So if you watch that video clip (which is totally worthwhile and nicely done) you will find that decaffeination is a rather unappealing process. The sludge that later becomes caffeine additive in the soda is rather nasty. Is my conclusion that caffeine added to soda is bad? No. My conclusion is that decaffeination is a terrible thing to do to poor defenseless and oh so wonderful coffee beans. I say we end coffee bean abuse! Drink your coffee fully leaded!

Now, if you will excuse me...I seem to have way too much blood in my caffeine steam.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Weekends, Birthdays and Shetland Sheep

Another weekend, another road trip. This weekend it was down to VA for Granddaughter Miranda's second Birthday. What a wonderful weekend for traveling it was too. The weather was good despite minor showers on the way home that only served to increase the humidity to "DENSE". Miranda's mom wisely planned an outdoor water party for the gaggle of young'uns so for them the weather couldn't have been better. If she made any mistake at all it was the classic rookie error of serving the cake AFTER the water activities. tsk, tsk..... She'll learn...we all do. :) It was a great party with lots of laughter, visiting and pranks involving a certain Arctic Blaster water cannon that shoots ICE WATER. Payback is a bitch boys, remember that.
I did manage to finish a pair of socks on the trip though. I've been having the hardest time finishing things lately. I have a certain pair of socks on the needles - ok, sock...singular - since last MAY! That's not entirely like me and it's made me a little antsy. So I made concerted efforts to get stuff moving this past month or so. I finished my friend's prayer shawl out of VERY fuzzy mohair and ladder ribbon yarns in pastel colors. No photo, sorry. This one stunned everyone who knows me because I don't knit with fuzzy mohair yarn, I don't knit with novelty ribbon 'yarn', I don't knit with pastels and I don't knit with size 13 telephone poles (at least they are AddiTurbos). It's just because I love my friend dearly and it was yarn of her choosing. I am happy to have it done though. I also passed to that same very dear friend a circular shawl that had grown into a black and lilac albatross. I loved the center flower motif with it's never repeating lace rows but towards the outside when it keeps growing and growing in nothing but knit stitches.....knitting purgatory for me, knitting heaven for her. So she took that project over and is happily knitting away. But this project was for me. I saw this roving in an etsy store about 3 weeks ago and just loved the colors. So I spun it up into what I call a winter weight sock yarn, allowing the colors to do whatever they like, then knit a simple cuff to toe sock with just a scalloped edge at the cuff. Love it. The colors are very Trekking like and that suits me perfectly. These will be fantastic as the weather cools.....IF the weather ever cools.

While I was down in VA I received a call from a dear friend, made all the more dear by his opening question: "What is your favorite color of Shetland?" Knowing he has been planning to add sheep to his livestock made that question all the more stimulating. I knew he'd been planning to work with another rarebreed sheep but I've also expressed in no uncertain terms that my favorite sheep/wool/yarn is Shetland. Now he wants to know a favorite color? Ah come on! Why not ask which of my sons is my favorite? Which of my rabbits is my favorite? There is no good answer to those questions and never will be. So, in lieu of answering his question (short of saying 'one of each') I'll present some photos and a link to the most amazing Shetland sheep site I've ever run across. (thank you to another good friend who raises Shetties for reminding me of this site).

First of all, here's the link to the site Now, once you click over there, you'll spend all day reading the many fantastic articles on fleece, history, colors and multiple uses of Shetland sheep so hold off just a minute, ok?
Late Edit: Said kindly breeder sent me this second link which has articles which explain the three distinct styles of fleece extremely well This is information that is WELL worth reading if you have any interest in buying shetland sheep or fleeces.

I could never begin to cover the history or qualities of Shetland sheep and do justice the way that site can so I won't even try. What I will mention is why I prefer them over any other fleece / sheep. If I could choose one breed to raise, this would be it.

Shetland sheep are versatile. They can be used for Fleece, Meat, Milk and cheese, Vegetation control and by products such as horn.

Shetland sheep are thrifty. They are primitive enough to be efficient foragers only needing supplementation when kept in small lots and over winter and even then require significantly less feed and water than other breeds.

Shetland sheep are good breeders. Again their primitive nature makes them un-fussy lambers and good mothers. They often twin, sometimes triplet and are willing to breed right back again (especially if that wasn't your plan to begin with).

Shetland fleece will do anything I want it to do. I make no secret of the fact that my ultimate measure of any fiber is how much of a control freak it allows me to be. The finest fiber on earth is meaningless to me if it doesn't bow to my demands. I want a fiber that allows me to spin it into a strong rug wool for dense warm outerwear garments AND lets me spin a fine lace for next to the sensitive parts accessories. I want fiber that doesn't require me to bend over backward or spend gobs of money to process it. Fine fiber is great but if it takes too much time and effort to wash out the waxy lanolin, I'm annoyed already.

Good Shetland wool is

  • fine enough to be soft,
  • dense enough to keep out the dirt and vegetation and
  • has a light lanolin that is pleasant to spin raw or easy to wash out.

Shetland wool/sheep comes in an amazing array of natural colors. I have never learned to really enjoy dying. I do know how, I even know some cool tricks to make great yarns. I even teach a class in coordinating fabric colors and patterns for quilts...but I don't enjoy dying wool and yarn. I discovered a long time ago that natural colors NEVER clash. There is no such thing as natural colors that don't work together. Natural colors don't bleed, fade or rub off. There are 11 main colors with many modified varieties and many more patterns! Shetland knitting is known for it's color work. Most of that wasn't even done with dyes! You can achieve everything from the blackest black to orange-red to sparkling white and every shade in between with just the natural colors of Shetland wool. What's not to love about that?

White, Charcoal/Pewter, Black, Mioget, Light Moorit

Now, if you are inclined to enjoy the dying arts, how many colors can you achieve with 3 primary dyes and 30 some natural wool colors to overdye? It boggles the mind.

Shetland sheep also come in a variety of color patterns. Now, from a handspinner's point of view, a patterned animal can be amusing. I didn't say great, I said amusing. The different color areas are very often of distinctly different textures. That can be good...or not. White areas are often much more soft and fine than dark. If I plan to blend or use the fleece together, this might cause quite an issue. Patterned animals in a commercial venture are almost useless. Since there is no consistency of color, the patterned fleece can only be used to overdye black or navy. Remember what I said about limiting my choices? there ya go. For my own handspinning uses, I do enjoy the black variety badger-faced fleeces. In Shetlands this is known as Katmoget. They have a soft range of color from very dark to lightest silver and I enjoy playing with those colors. Aesthetically, patterned animals are pleasing to many people and let's face it, if you look at the critter every day, you might as well enjoy it.

So there is my treatise on why I love Shetland sheep and fleece. If you have interest in working with or learning about these amazing little critters, please do check out the site I mentioned. It includes everything from wool qualities, history, husbandry and breed standards.

Shetland Wool, taking all its properties together, is perhaps the completest
article of the kind in the universe, possessing at the same time, the gloss and
softness of silk, the strength of cotton, the whiteness of linen, and the warmth
of wool.
Sir John Sinclair
September 22, 1790

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cathy Patrick Memorial Show - Part 2

Best Of Breed Thrianta - Cathy Patrick Memorial Show
July 28, 2007 Judge Howard Keller
Thrianta Senior Buck - Ear #MAN CCR's Mannetjevos
Bred and Owned by Elaine Harvey
This is probably my favorite show award to date. It's not the biggest, worth the most Sweepstakes points, the most famous or the most valuable...except to me. This second part of my show report is about why this award means so much to me.
Cathy Patrick was not a personal friend of mine. We didn't go to dinner after shows, we didn't sit and chat between classes, I never bought a rabbit from her nor did she specifically mentor me. I expect she would recognize my name because I'm active in the hobby, in shows and on public discussion groups, but I doubt she would come up and address me by name at a show. So why would Cathy's life and presence mean so much to me? Because I'm one of the many people she touched (as we all do) as she went about doing what she loved, judging and working at rabbit shows. Cathy was a tough as nails judge and an outstanding teacher to those with the fortitude to listen. For the breeders and rabbits deserving of her praise, she was equally generous of her support and admiration. Cathy taught me some very valuable lessons about raising and breeding rabbits. Some of those are:
-Never compromise. If the rabbit is not what it should be, go breed a better one.
-Don't accept mediocrity just because you can. Don't keep anything just because it is a rare color or you feel sorry for it. BREED BETTER.
-Listen to critique. Don't show your rabbit just to hear how 'pretty' it is. The judge has the opportunity to tell you what you NEED to hear, not just what you want to hear.
-Listen to EVERY judge. Even a judge who knows little about your breed can offer information that you can use to improve your breeding program.
-Listen to judging on any breed you can. Same concept. You WILL learn something that will help in your own program but only if you are LISTENING.
-Follow the rules. Cheating and cutting corners never bred a better rabbit. Ribbons and trophies and sweeps points are worth NOTHING if they are not earned honestly.
- WORK your program. Plan, Learn, Critique, Cull and keep working.

These are the reasons why this BOB award is so meaningful to me. I won this with a Thrianta of my own breeding in a program that I'm working hard on. The competition was worthy and challenging and the showmanship of all our breeders was excellent. I believe Cathy would have truly approved of the work and diligence I put into it. That work is my tribute to Cathy and that hat my reward.

Regarding Cathy Patrick herself. I really rale at the statement I hear so often "..she lost her battle with Cancer..." Cathy Patrick lost NOTHING. Cathy's life ended at the appointed time established by her creator and God. Only He knows the number of our days on this Earth. At the time of Cathy's death, she was valiantly fighting a disease that sought to destroy her body. The only way that Cancer would have been victorious is if Cathy had ever chosen to sacrifice the days given to her, curl up in a ball in the corner and stop living while her body still breathed. SHE NEVER DID THAT! Therefore it is Cathy Patrick who won and not Cancer! Cathy lived every single day of her life. She didn't allow Cancer to steal any of those days away.
Cathy Patrick fought valiantly and victoriously against Cancer and now rests free from pain and sorrow in the arms of her God.
Another lesson I'll accept from her gladly. That pink hat is not a memorial to Cathy's death, it's a testament to the life she lived and a hope that I could live as well. Thank You Cathy.

Cathy Patrick Memorial Show

You might want to go grab a snack for this one, it just might be lengthy. I will probably break this into 2 posts because I just can't quite find the right segque for my thoughts. First, the show.
This weekend was the Cathy Patrick Memorial Rabbit Show in Millersburg OH.
Many of you might ask "Who was Cathy Patrick?" Well, if you were a rabbit exhibitor, you might already know that she was a well respected Judge, District Director, friend and mentor. If you don't raise rabbits, you may not have heard of her, but you would have appreciated her...maybe or not liked her, but appreciated her. Let's suffice it to say that her life was such that a whole lot of people felt compelled to travel at no small expense to money, time or trouble to gather in her honor and do exactly what she liked most to do - Show RABBITS.

Total entries around 1600 for the show! In addition to the entry fees being donated to Cathy's family, the food was all donated, the raffle was all donated, the sanctions and even awards were donated! So much love and respect for such a great lady.

Bill Patrick (Cathy's husband) visiting with show friends outside.

Eric, smiling and ready for a day of judging.
Eric, later in the day after about 2 zillion Netherland Dorks (oops, Dwarfs. LOL)

WHAT a great raffle table!!! There were many special donations such as the customized nestbox (which Eric won) and the lovely stepstool. I won a beautiful fleece throw with an angel and bunnies on a pink background. The card with it said it that it was to represent Cathy's love of rabbits and the pink represented her valiant fight against breast cancer. I consider it a special treasure.

The Thrianta showing was FANTASTIC! There were 40 entries total with 17 (SEVENTEEN!) junior does!
The best part of the show of course - Look at all those smiles! T breeders really are just the BEST. The writters started off commenting that they'd never even heard of the breed. Half way into judging and just look at those faces. New interest maybe? ;)
Honorable Judge was Howard Keller who did a great job with this new breed.

Show results:
BOB - SrB (8 shown / 5 exhibitors)
Ear # MAN (CCR's Mannetjevos) Owned and bred by Elaine Harvey
BOS - SrD (4 shown / 4 exhibitors)
Ear # DG3 (CCR's Sunshine) Owned by Kim Kroak, Bred by Elaine Harvey
1st Place Jr B (11 shown / 7 exhibitors)
Ear #ORV Owned by Leanne Kelly
1st Place Jr D (17 shown! / 8 exhibitors)
Ear #THR (CCR's Thrintjes) Owned and Bred by Elaine Harvey

HUGE Thanks to the show committee for putting together this event where so many could gather and celebrate the life and work of our friend, mentor and favorite protagonist.
Cathy Patrick, ARBA Judge

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pretty Sheep

Gratuitous Sheep photos today. I was telling a friend who breeds Icelandic sheep about photos I'd received from another Icelandic breeding friend. First friend asked to see the photos and wondered if she knew the other breeder. (confused yet?) Well, the names didn't ring a bell but first friend still wanted to see the photos and I love showing pics of pretty sheep, so here ya go. If the owner of the sheep wants to identify herself, I'll let her tell me so and then I'll edit to add her name. I don't like doing that until someone gives consent. Anyway, enjoy these beautiful sheep photos with me. Icelandic wool isn't one I've worked with extensively as it's usually a bit coarse for my liking, though I've handled some lamb fleeces that were yummy. My preference is for the Shetlands which are very similar but finer textured. Both are beautiful breeds of small sheep with fleeces that serve many different purposes. Both have fine undercoats (thell) useful for next to the skin garments. Both have strong outer coats (tog) useful for outerwear garments or even utility purpose. Both are small, independent and VERY thrifty breeds to raise. Both come in a huge variety of colors and patterns. Both come from similar environmental and geographic areas and obviously are related back somewhere.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Remember me?

I hinted about it before and now it's really coming together.
I've been absent from this blog so long because I was working on big stuff. Lots of big stuff! So where is the BIG stuff? Right here!!!

You can click on the Logo above or go directly to the URL at

I'm still learning my way around the fine tuning aspects of that site but it's working really well so far!
The official GRAND OPENING will be Saturday July 28 so for the next few days you can enjoy a sneak preview especially for my loyal customers who are checking this blog and my email lists.

There is also a YARN GIVE AWAY! Register your name in the entry by creating an account. Specific contest details to follow*. All information is used ONLY for site promotions and newsletters. Yup, newsletters. In the future there will be periodic newsletters with news of upcoming sales, articles, projects, patterns and photos from our customers!

Keep checking back to the store. I have tons more adding to do including yarn (if you have a specific color request, please let me know, I bet I have it.), spinning batts, angora fleeces, knitting needles and patterns.
*no purchase necessary but always appreciated. :)
This blog will remain my personal space for all sorts of stuff, bunnies, babies, bitchin'...all sorts of stuff. :) Can I start by saying that my behind was never meant to spend days on end sitting at a computer?! I really like the yarn photography stuff though. I've discovered all sorts of fun to be had there. The scary part? this is a dress rehearsal for even BIGGER things to come next year! yikes. :)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Safe or boring?

Check that out.
Online Dating


I'm not sure if I should be pleased...or bored. Oh my...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I finally got around to doing it. I've opened my own e-store. You can join me for some first class enabling at
I will be featuring handspun specialty skeins in wool, alpaca, ANGORA(of course). Soon there will be custom stitch markers, needle cases and counting tools, hand spindles. Look for commercially prepared luxury rovings and angora wool for spinning.
There will also be notices of classes and events in the central PA area. Payment is accepted via PayPal and can be made in the form ofcash transfer, checking account and all major credit cards.
Set your RSS aggregator to catch all the updates as products will be added every day or two and you don't want to miss anything. In factjust today there will be a few updates just to get things rolling.Check back often and don't miss a thing! Out Of Hand Sales' Yarns for Sale photoset Out Of Hand Sales' Yarns for Sale photoset

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pirates #3... yourself a favor...SEE THE MOVIE! Your deserve it. This is a 2 3/4 hour vacation for your mind, body and soul. Brush up on your marine lore first though. This movie is not only the best action feature I've ever seen (and my dad is a movie buff) but it will keep you thinking throughout the entire movie. It truly exercises every part of your brain and takes you on a ride. Compared to the other 2 movies in the trilogy which were so fantastic in themselves, this movie completes the character development and you find out that there are no shrinking violets, no predictable goody-goodies, and the bad guys are really have heart and reason and they use all of it. Every single character was hero-worthy and not just Jack! Fascinating!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mothers too early..

Not every Mother's Day happens as we expect it. Some mothers have the opportunity to express their deepest love very early in the lives of their children. As all of us with children know, that isn't always easy or happy. For those times there is a very special organization that supports those mothers (and fathers) and God's tiniest children. I'd like to introduce to you Newborns In Need.
Newborns in Need, Inc. (NIN) is a 501(c)3 charity organized to take care of sick and needy babies and their families; and in cases of crisis, to help where help is needed.

Newborns in Need, Inc. is founded upon Christian principles and provides essential items without charge to those in need. We have been serving God's tiniest children since 1992.
I was a member and BOD officer of a chapter in Norfolk until my home was destroyed by fire and we moved. I can honestly say I never worked for a more rewarding cause. At first it sounds morbid to enjoy making clothes for very ill babies or babies who die early in their short lives but imagine the compassion of saving that child's mother from having to go to a TOY STORE to shop for a special garment for her precious child. No grieving parent should ever suffer such indignity. You can be the person to share this mercy with another.
Now I am trying to organize a chapter here in Myerstown and I need your help. There is only one other chapter in PA about 3.5 hours drive northwest of Harrisburg. Our area of PA is devoid of active guilds, clubs or casual meetings for knitters, spinners and sewers. Let's correct that omission and be a blessing to others too. I am proposing an organizational meeting in Myerstown on Thursday May 25. There will be day and evening meetings. Decisions to be made will be location, days and times of meetings, choosing a Board of Directors for our chapter and a format for our meetings.
A typical chapter meeting includes brief business updates, planning events, the occasional speaker or short program and lots of time for working together or individually on projects. Oh...and food. :) The business part of this first meeting will include filling out the application for chapter recognition from the national group and discussion of the duties of the officers. Oh...and food. :) Not a knitter or sewer you say? We'll teach you! Do you have a pattern to share? let's do it! Can you cook? Did I mention that knitters and sewers like to eat? :) An important part of meetings is socializing. Making new friends, enjoying 'old' friends, welcoming those who needed help into a circle of those who are helpers. Oh...and food. :)
So if you think you could join us for meetings once a month, day or evening, then please contact me at for directions to the first meeting. If you know others who would be interested in attending, please pass this info on to them.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Getting to know you...

Pearls...surrounded by diamonds.
Night At the Museum
Coffee and plain yogurt with fresh fruit
Elaine (If you know the first name you've been entrusted with a State secret, don't make me kill you for exposing it.)
Movie soundtrack of Pirates of the Caribean or Sting Songs from the Labyrinth
Dodge Stratus
Toasted smoked ham and swiss on rye
a fancy flowing nightgown
Tibet, Ireland/Scotland, Egypt
Old white with gold metalic 'marbeling', preppy green and blue plaid curtains (NOT MY CHOICE!!!)
Rural VA
30 was traumatic but not particularly recent (which is also traumatic).
The ethernet
Anyone with good sense
Those who read the blog.
Coke for full sugar, Pepsi if diet.
April 30
Oh dear.... 3 that live in the house. ;)
MDSW TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Grown up
Excited to leave for MDSW TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
30. What is your favorite candy?
Valrhonna Dark chocolate
May 5 and 6 which is MDSW TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tina is one of only a very very small group of people I can spend an entire LONG week at Farm Show with and never tire of her company.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Who the Hell ordered the DECAF!!!???

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Please define: ILLEGAL

Dobbs: A peculiar day for immigration rallies
POSTED: 8:52 a.m. EDT, May 2, 2007

Lou DobbsCNN
Editor's Note: Lou Dobbs' commentary appears weekly on

NEW YORK (CNN) -- What a spectacle, what a mess. What a day for thousands and thousands of illegal aliens and their supporters to march through the streets of many of our biggest cities demanding amnesty for illegally entering the country.
Tuesday was given over to illegal aliens and their supporters to demand forgiveness for using fraudulent documents and assisting others in entering this country illegally. What a day for illegal aliens and their supporters to demand not only amnesty but also the end to immigration raids and an end to deportations.
May Day was a peculiar choice for those demonstrations, a day in many countries in which international socialism is celebrated and a reminder of those old Soviet Union military parades.
It was also an unfortunate and ironic choice on the part of the organizers of the demonstrations. May 1 in the United States is actually Law Day, a day first established by President Eisenhower in 1958 and ultimately codified into law in 1961 at the beginning of John F. Kennedy's administration. The purpose of Law Day is to give all Americans an opportunity to reflect on our legal heritage, and by statute, encourages "the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life."
I'll bet you know about the illegal alien amnesty marches, but I don't know of a single news organization, electronic or print that pointed out that May 1 is America's Law Day. The cable news networks gave almost wall-to-wall coverage to the illegal alien demonstrations, but they apparently couldn't find any American celebrating Law Day.
And no one seems to want to take note that we are first a nation of laws, and that without those laws and their enforcement, the foundation of our great republic turns to sand. What a spectacle on Law Day for demonstrators to demand amnesty for those who broke the law to enter our country, many of whom also broke the law with fraudulent documents.
And what a mess when the president of the United States and the U.S. Congress are pandering to a group of people who are not citizens and refuse to demand enforcement of our immigration laws, our criminal laws, and fails to secure our borders and ports.
I couldn't help but wonder as I watched monitors bringing images of the marches and demonstrations from all across the country, who should really be protesting on May Day. What about the millions of legal residents who followed the long, drawn-out process to secure a visa to enter the United States lawfully? Maybe they should be protesting. What about the seven-figure backlog at the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency of people who are following the rules. Should they demonstrate?
What about all of our fellow Americans who are being marginalized by the massive importation of illegal, low-cost and mostly uneducated labor into this country? Perhaps those citizens should take to the streets. And what about the more than 250 million Americans who make up our middle class and those who aspire to it whose wages have stagnated and who are paying for the social, medical and economic costs of illegal immigration? That's a big march.
If yesterday's demonstrators and their supporters in Congress and corporate America are serious about their deep desire for American citizenship, why don't we hear any of them clearly say they're willing to give up dual citizenship? Or that they're willing to learn English and surrender demands of bilingual education? Or declare they embrace English as our official national language? Or demand that illegal employers of illegal aliens pay for the social, educational and medical costs now borne by the taxpayers?
Yesterday was Law Day. I hope that we celebrate Law Day with a great national enthusiasm next May 1. I guarantee you I'll march in that demonstration.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

And the count is on!

Friday, April 20, 2007

getting there..

New side effects. No, I'm not driving right now but I'm not doing much of anything else either. I'll get used to this in a little time.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I'm out for a while folks. I'll be back after a visit to the neurologist.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter!

Photo Credits: Photo by Dianna of TLC Photography,
Caption by beadntat aka Kristina in Knoxville, TN, USA thought it'd be a bunny didn't ya? Well, all the bunnies are out delivering eggs and baskets and had NO time to pose for silly photos. :)
Happy Easter everyone.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hancrafter's spin off, Spinning

The long awaited next step in judging. This is the part of the judging process that I actually like much more - spinning.
Basically, each sample needs to be evaluated for it's actual PERFORMANCE in the hands of a spinner. The resulting yarn quality will be evaluated in the final step.
Tools of the trade: The spinning wheel. Now, any wheel can work, but this is my preference. I use an Ashford Elizabeth 2 Saxony style wheel set on single drive with Scotch tension. The reason I like this wheel in particular is that it has so many possible variations. It can be used double drive, single drive with Scotch tension (pictured), or direct drive. I choose SD with Scotch tension for this application because it allows me to fine tune and fine FEEL what is happening in the fiber. It also allows me to very quickly remove the tension completely so that I can wind the skeins.

Other tools: A small niddy noddy to wind the 4-5 yard lengths into a practical skein for evaluation. Pencil and score sheet obviously. The "flicker brush" is ESSENTIAL to this process. 10 points is assigned to 'preparation of fiber'.
Some people have used a mechanical drum carder to prepare the samples for Spin Off. The first problem here is that it takes at least an ounce of fiber to properly card on a drum carder. I don't NEED to actually work that much fiber in order to judge it adequately so anything over a handful processed is wasted. As far as I'm concerned, the person sending the sample deserves the assumption that their fiber is valuable and should not be treated wastefully. I am not going to spin a full ounce of fiber just because I already carded it and it is plain out WRONG to waste that fiber. The second problem is that you simply cannot compare how one fiber drum cards to how another drum cards. The drum is intended to make ALL fiber easier to work. There simply is no judgement to the process. Alpaca is known for needing minimal processing for use and that means flicking.
The last tool in the photo might be my hand but in reality, it's what is ON my hand; namely the bracelet. I find it essential to my process but that is better shown than explained.

Flicking. The flicker - yes, it is a cheap cat slicker brush and it's served me well for the $3.50 I spent on it 4 or 5 years ago - is bounced, not dragged, over the ends of the fiber. This serves to simply open up the fibers. On really long staples like the suri pictured it takes a patient effort to work from the end to the middle of the staple without breaking and losing the fiber. Fiber that is brittle or tender won't stand the process and ends up wasted. How well the fiber opens up and the amount of loss contribute to the score. I give every staple 3 taps per end. More than that and the points start decreasing. Extremely long fiber may well lose points here, but may gain them right back in the spinning and as a fine yarn later.

Drafting is an important part of how the fiber is scored for spinning. The best fiber is one that is not so slippery as to resist twist but no so tacky as to resist drafting. A great fiber lends itself to any type of draft I choose; short draw, long draw, spinning from the fold or novelties like slub or boucle. Huacaya fiber almost always drafts evenly from the cut or tip end but suri often spins well only from the tip. Basically, the more the fiber allows me to do, the better it is and the higher the score.

This is an example of what you do NOT want your fiber to do! This fiber was so covered in a black (?!) substance that my hands were covered after spinning just a small handful. The fiber was very sticky and required a lot of work to keep it reasonably smooth and even. This fleece would require washing before any preparation could be done. It's unpleasant and un-versatile. That equals a very poor impression on the customer and a very poor score for the fiber.

And here is my personal secret to success. After the fiber is spun into a single strand, the tension is released completely and the strand is drawn back out through the orifice. I catch the end of the strand under my bracelet (if I lose that end, I'm skunked!) and then wind the strand around my hand into an Andean bracelet.

Once I reach the far end of the strand, I release the bracelet, meet the near and far ends of the strand (effectively folding the strand in half) and then ply the two ends together into a 2 ply yarn. The strand never leaves the bobbin.

The plied yarn is wound on a Niddy to make one large loop of yarn.

The plied yarn skein can be evaluated for it's performance right off the niddy. Does it balance easily and allow it to lay (lie?) relaxed? Does the fiber resist twist causing slubs and excessive barbing of the fiber?

The next step will be to wash the skeins and then evaluate the finished yarns. The photos of that might take a few days since I can't for the life of me find my battery charger. It's here someplace.