Corgi-life

For most of my life, I had been firmly in the NO DOGS camp. There are some breeds I’m allergic to, which makes me miserable. I preferred to avoid all dogs as much as possible to avoid misery. I also dislike being licked, sniffed in delicate regions of my body, jumped on, scratched, and bitten. So many dogs I had met were so poorly behaved, that I thought that was normal dog behavior.

Then I made a new friend who had the best dog I’d ever met. He is a short, long, sheep-doggy dog, and I fell absolutely in love with him.

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Look at those fluffy stumpers!

He is so well behaved, that he helped me to understand that not all dogs are assholes and their behavior is probably a reflection of their owners. Upon some critical thinking, I realized that most of the “bad dogs” I’d encountered were owned by people who I believed were not the best parents, which meant that their dogs were likely just as neglected. Additionally, a search to identify what kind of dog Best Dog  is led me to a greater understanding of breed differences, which clearly has a big impact on a dog’s pleasantness or jerky-ness.

Around this time I hung out with a few other folks who had really wonderful dog-pets, and a seed was planted. I had a job that wasn’t the safest and I thought it would be nice to have a dog in the house to alert us if something was off. A home security system who loves us, I told my partner.

I researched and researched and researched. Costs (short-term and long-term), breeds, temperaments, required life-changes, food, exercise requirements, veterinarians, training.

I made sure that if we got a dog, it would be a good dog for our family. I made a solid guess on types of coats that would work best based on dogs we had come in contact with an not had allergic reactions to. Labs tend to set me off, Australian Shepherds didn’t. My husband was similar.

I seriously considered about 4-5 breeds before I found… Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

I feel head over heels for their little stumpy legs and fluffy, wiggling behinds, their big smiles, and bossy attitudes. But I couldn’t make the decision based on pics and GIFs. So I researched. And they were perfect.

They love their people. They will bark if they notice things are out of place or they interpret a threat (squirrels and passing UPS trucks are threats, in case you didn’t know), but otherwise tend to be quiet. They’re one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs, so they learn quickly. They sound like sawed-off German Shepherds. They’re active, but not so much that they can’t live in a city.

They’re not without their downsides. They shed all the time. And a lot. They have to be entertained and worn out or they will destroy your life trying to keep themselves busy. They shed. They can develop back problems (genetically or by injury). The shedding, ohmyholyhell, the shedding. They can be bossy, especially with other pets or small children. They may attempt to herd, including nipping, other pets and people. They shed. They can be very loud – a downside for apartment living (even in our house, the neighbors commented on our dog howling when we left shortly after we moved in – they even talked to other neighbors about it because they were worried we might be horrible dog-parents). Did I mention the shedding?

How bad could the shedding really be? REALLY BAD, Y’ALL. But we were committed by the time we figured it out. And, honestly, once you’ve accepted that every piece of clothing and every meal you will ever eat will have a corgi hair on it….. It’s still bad. I won’t lie. But you can just snuggle your corgi and that helps you get through.

It was about two years ago that I really started to make a plan. We’d buy a house with a yard, then get a dog. I sent an email to a breeder to see if we could visit and rub our faces on some corgis to verify that we weren’t allergic, expecting that if we were to get on a waiting list, then the timing would work out perfectly.

It was late April when I first contacted the breeder. She said she’d be happy to have us visit next time we were traveling that direction. In late May I had our next travel dates and went to her site to email her to confirm plans. That was when I saw him.

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I took this photo of my laptop screen to send to my partner immediately.

I fell in love. He was 3 years old and needed a new home because the other dogs he lived with were bossier and he was timid and scared a lot. The breeder was helping the current owner find a new home for him and the current owner lived in the next town.

There is a story in there that made me feel like were were kindred spirits. I didn’t fit into my family either and had to make a new one.

I immediately filled out the application on the site and emailed the breeder to make sure it went through (THEN I texted my partner to tell him that this was our dog, gods willing).

After an exchange of several emails, we scheduled a time to meet the following weekend. My husband had to drive because I was so excited that my hands were shaking. He was waiting in the front yard with his owner when we arrived. We chatted with her and petted him and threw his ball and rubbed our faces on him to make sure we weren’t allergic.

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Love at first ear lick.

This was happening much earlier that we’d initially planned (by a year or more, remember). But I was in love, my daughter was in love, and my partner was much less skeptical than he was initially. We made a plan to have him over to our house for a trial run the next weekend. His owner would drop him off the following Saturday and return on Sunday evening. If it wasn’t a good fit, she would take him home. If it was a good fit, he could stay.

I spent the entirety of my free time in the following week gathering supplies. I decided to keep track of our expenses the first year. I’d read that $2,000 was average for owning a dog in the first year and wanted to know if that was true. I started a spreadsheet. I entered the actual cost and retail cost for everything since we got some gifts and waited for sales on several things.

In the first year of dog ownership, we spent about $2,600. If things were not gifted or on sale, this would have come out to $3,500. My husband went out on Black Friday to buy this dog a fancy bed because it was cheap. Now, we did buy multiples of a couple things because it was a learning process. Also, I tend to think my dog is smaller than he is. So, we had 4 beds (one for the crate, one was too flat/insubstantial, one was too small, and then we got a good one). A few leashes (I prefer round once to flat ones, short ones to long ones – except the Weiss Walkie). Two or three collars. He gets a 5-star food and regular bully sticks and Yeti cheese. We bought a lot of toys he didn’t like so we gave them away. We’ve replaced his favorite ball twice. So, someone who has done this before can probably do it less expensively. But if someone is new to dog-ownership, they are probably going to do some of this trial and error and it’s good to know what to budget for that.

That week was excruciating. I just wanted that doggy in my house and I wanted it to work out.

It did.

 

This dog has changed my life.

We adopted him in early June 2014. I had graduated from grad school only a few weeks earlier and I was burned out. My job was hard and sometimes scary. I changed jobs that fall, hoping it would be a better fit and that job destroyed my faith in the goodness of human beings. But my dog lifted my spirits every night. I changed jobs again about 5 months later and it’s a much better fit, though I still have occasional days where I can’t talk to people after getting home and my dog seems to know and he just loves me. He is a Snuggle Champion.

 

He has nursed me through two surgeries. Providing excellent lateral support after my recent knee surgery.

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He was a much needed comic relief during one of the hardest times in my life, after the murder of one friend, the untimely death of another, and the suicide of yet one more in a four month span. All three of whom had been encouraging and offered advice in my quest to adopt a dog.

Sometimes for self-care, I buy him outfits and dress him up. During a local election, I let him rip up anti-choice literature, which was cathartic.

 

When we were house-hunting, we dismissed many homes because the yard wasn’t big enough/wasn’t fenced, or otherwise wasn’t good for the dog (like stairs being too steep, nowhere we could identify that we could keep his food dishes, etc). He was really excited when we bought our house. He got to help get things from Home Depot (though we have yet to determine who pooped in the paint aisle). He “blessed” the new home on his first visit, so we knew he liked it a lot. He really loves the squirrels who live in the big tree in the back yard but he’s very confused as to why they don’t love him back.

 

He was a huge hit at our wedding and reception. My dress has muddily paw prints on it and I don’t care.

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Lastly, this dog. He’s knit/crochet-worthy. He sleeps with his blanket every night, after he scritches it into the perfect shape. He wears his bandana cowls with pride. Orange is his favorite color. Gingers can totally pull off orange.

 

Anyone up for some belly scratches?

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Stash

If you craft, you are likely familiar with the concept of STASH. Whether it is yarn, fabric, paper, wood… If you make things, you likely have  stockpile of materials with which to work with.

Yarn is my downfall.

I love color and feel of yarn. Hand-dyed, interesting texture, soft, squishy, cotton, wool, silk… Little moves my heart more than gorgeous yarn.

Because of this, I have a significant backlog of beauty.

For years I bought yarn that I didn’t feel competent to turn into the works of art they were capable of being.

Then I got better, but there were so many new options that I just.kept.buying.

Every time I instituted some sort of plan or “diet,” I failed miserably. There would be an exclusive/non-repeatable/special edition colorway or a great sale.

I was weak. I bought. And then the plan-diet was screwed, so why bother? Right?

The result is… I have a large, beautiful stash. One I truly do love.

And now, I have finally come to realize that I don’t have to buy every colorway I fall in love with, even if “it can never be repeated”or whatever. There will be more gorgeous yarn in the future, yarn I might even like better.

I’m not on a yarn-diet, but I am trying to rediscover the gems in my collection. I only buy with purpose and try to wait until there is a sale, but I don’t have to. But I really, really try to wait.

I get tempted frequently. As evidence: I took a short break from typing this and a post in the Ravelry group alerted me that one of my favorite dyers had been restocked at Eat.Sleep.Knit. I went to the site, I looked at all the colorways and dreamt of knitting beautiful things. I even searched for patterns on Rav. Then I took a deep breath, thought of all the things I want to do with the house (bathroom update, new sofa, kitchen update) and came back to reality. I have a lot of yarn I love. This yarn may sell out again in minutes, but it will be restocked eventually. This happens several times per week.

Last weekend, I catalogued all of my knitting needles and crochet hooks in a new bag and gifted a friend all of the ones I don’t like. I weeded out bags and notions I don’t like. I organized the Raskog I have dedicated to my knitting/crocheting supplies. I added a new crafting lamp and ejected the crappy Ott-Lite I never liked.

I always feel better when things are in order. I’ve noticed an increase in my knitting time in just the past few days since I made the changes. I’m now in the last quarter of a biggish project, which has lingered for a long time.

I’ve picked up a few patterns recently (on sale!) that will work well with some stashed yarn. I hope to start something new soon.

What is your next project? Will you use stash yarn or buy new?

The List

I’ve been running things through my head over the past week that we need to still do.

Life toppled over soon after we moved in and there are little things that never got completed.

  • Putting on a different doorknob to our back yard (there is an interesting story behind this).
  • Painting the doors.
  • Finding and printing photos for a shelf.
  • Making drawer dividers.
  • Verifying that all outlets have a cover.
  • Changing out a couple light fixtures.
  • Painting some trim.
  • Destroying all of the sticks our tree gives us.
  • Finish adding gutter protection.

Then there are the bigger projects…

  • Building bookshelves and display shelves in the living room.
  • Covering windows that used to face the backyard and now overlook our built-on laundry/mud room.
  • Pulling up plastic liners from the flower beds near the house and planting things we like.
  • Other landscaping like adding some flower beds around our trees, pulling out an old stump, moving some large plants, and adding a garden area.
  • Building a pantry area in the basement.
  • Possibly tiling our bathroom.
  • Adding a patio in back.

Some of them more dire than others, and none are the big, far out projects like redecorating the kitchen from bottom to top or finishing the basement, including adding a nice bathroom (instead of the minimalist/utilitarian one there now).

My goal is to have two “work” weekends per month now that the weather is better, where we knock out one or two things on the list.

Stitch

I knit.

I crochet.

I desperately want a loom so I can weave.

I love color.

And soft yarn.

On a good day, my workplace is pandemonium. There are a million moving parts and I drive most of them. I love it. It changes every day and I am never bored. I am reminded constantly of how hard the world and so many of the people in it can be.

When I come home, I want soft and nice and quiet.

Rhythmic clicking of needles. Soothing motion of hands. Feeling of fiber slipping through fingers. It comforts me.

I am sure I will post about projects in the future, but I want to share one of my favorite features of our house.

The moment I saw it, I knew what it would be.

Our house has an original built-in cabinet in the dining room. It’s likely designed to hold dishes or fancy trinkets. In my house, though, it holds the yarn.

 

 

 

It didn’t latch when we moved in. My husband took his drill and added an indention to hold a small magnet. He hammered a couple tiny nails into the facing. And voila! It holds nicely until we have earthquakes. I added some pretty shelf liner I picked up at Dollar Tree (it’s in my kitchen cabinets and drawers as well).

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Love Affair

This is a story about a love affair.

I love the tree in our back yard. It’s a sycamore and I would guess it is about 90 feet (27m) tall. It is gorgeous.

And as with most things we love, they sometimes give us problems.

This tree drops sticks like 3 year olds drop their pants in public when their parents aren’t watching them.

My dog is short, so he trips on the sticks when he chases his ball. We have piles and piles for kindling for fires we rarely build. I step on then when I leave for work in the morning (in the dark) and more than once have barely avoided death by falling. My husband takes forever to mow because he has to pick up all the sticks first.

But, oh, the beauty. I take pictures of it frequently because I’m awed every time I look up.

And she keeps the house cooler and I can enjoy my yard more often than I could otherwise. I remember a 100+ degree day when I was miserable from work and I came home, sat in the swing underneath for an hour and pet my dog and wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable. In the summer when it’s raining softly, I can stay dry under this tree.

Love.

It isn’t about perfection, it’s about loving something despite the troubles. And I do.

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More Paint

One of the things I least liked about our house was the fireplace. Or, more specifically, the hearth.

We can’t afford to tear out the old, ugly-ass tile just yet. But every time I was in the room I remembered how very much I loathed the look of it.

The previous owner says it is original to the house. Usually, I like old stuff. I do not like this.

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I hate the colors. I hate the design (if you can even call it that). I hate that it doesn’t go with anything else in the house. I hate that it looks dirty (the fireplace is not functional any longer).

So, one day when I could no longer stand to look at it, I painted it.

I used the same Dutch Boy Cabinet and Trim paint I mentioned in a previous post in the color Waimea White for the hearth and brick. I used Rustoleum Metallic Accents that was left over from painting an accent wall in the kid’s room for the firebox.

I added a silver tray and white candles from IKEA to dress it up a bit. I plan to add more candles on my next trip to IKEA (they were out of the largest ones when I visited).

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It needs a bit of touch up, but otherwise, I love it. I can live with this for a long while until we can have the hearth re-done in a gorgeous tile (I’m leaning toward mother-of-pearl tile).

Bonus pic: Since I mentioned the accent wall… Our offspring likes to make art. She wanted a “gallery wall” in her room where she can display her varied paintings, drawings, and other works of art and craft. A couple coats of the Rustoleum Metallic Accent did quite nicely. She loves it.

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Spray for Change

One of the first little projects I completed was to paint the cement planters on the stoop.

They’re not really my style to begin with, and seemed dull. Especially given that our house is white with pale trim… Adding more dull

I used some Rustoleum Universal Hammered  in Copper and sprayed them down. It took a couple coats as the cement soaked up the paint. Added some new flowers and done!

The little geranium was a gift from our new neighbors.

Next, I worked on updating some light switch plates and a light fixture.

Mostly we used basic white switch plates. A couple we got nicer ones for. For our laundry/mud room though, we had a gold light fixture which had yellow paint on it from when the ceiling was painted.

So, we used the leftover Rustoleum in copper to paint both.

While we were spray painting, we went ahead and painted a couple other items.

I had a small storage bench I’d bought a few years back at a second-hand market in Kansas City. I liked its functionality, but never cared for the color. And I had the perfect place for it in my room.

I picked up a large mirror at a Goodwill a long while back. It used to hang in a bathroom and hadn’t been used in two moves. I wanted to hang it in my bedroom, over my dresser.

My work moved buildings over last summer. We swapped buildings with another department. They left behind a lot of random belongings which were out on a table for anyone to take. I found a small desk-top bookshelf that I thought had potential. I imagined it going on top of my dresser to hold the books I cycle through.

A friend had given me a small side table. I thought it was cute. But, again, a bit dated in color. I thought it would work well by the current sofa to hold a lamp until we get around to updating the living room furniture.

We primed with Rustoleum Self-Etching Primer. Then used the Ace brand white spray paint on top that we had from other past projects. No sanding required.

(After photos pending.)

I am mystified how a little can of spray paint can make such big changes. I love when things match, or at least “go together”. It makes me happy. While I like the shape of all of these things, none of them matched. It would have made me irritated to see them all in the same room. Painted… I kind of feel like I have my life together.