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    How I Start My Days

    I think I've told you all that I am very much a morning person; most days I am up no later than 5:00 a.m. In the summer I will get up even earlier. I like mornings because it's quiet and I can drink my coffee and read my e-mail without a thousand interruptions. 

    So I get up, come downstairs, let Lila out and put some food in her bowl on the porch while Rusty heads for his pouf in the living room (sometimes he eats a bit of food in the morning, too, but usually not). I make my coffee, and by the time I am done, so is Lila. She comes in and goes for her pouf and I wander in to my office where I sit down at my computer.

    I check my e-mail, answer any pressing questions, and make a few notes. Then I look at Ravelry and Facebook. Sometimes this is a speedy process, and sometimes it's not. When I am done with the social media, I pull up Google Reader and see what RSS feeds have been updated. The husband, who is a Libertarian, reads every day. I find a lot of the articles there to be pretty thought-provoking (even if I don't agree with them), so I've begun reading it, too (and I agree with a lot more than I thought I would). From I get led down some really strange rabbit trails. Today, for example, I started with this:


    which looked to have some good information. Our home is pretty tight, but we can always use suggestions.

    Of course, I was tickled when I got to this part:



    Excellent advice, especially considering we keep our house at 63 degrees and I would really prefer that it felt more like 67 degrees! Naturally, I had to click on the "putting on a sweater" link, and I was led to this:



    A Man's Guide to Sweaters. It's fascinating. Go there and read it yourself. Besides the sweater style advice, there are lots of wonderful pictures from old Sirdar pattern books, including one of a man in a sweater and a kilt. The husband likes sweaters, but I highly doubt I could ever get him into a kilt. 

    I should note that the Art of Manliness website has some very interesting posts and is well worth reading. If only more men would practice the art of manliness, the world would be a better place. 


    On another, completely unrelated note: We received our annual letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Montana yesterday. This letter comes once a year to announce the rate hike in the health insurance premiums for our family. Because the husband and I have been self-employed most of our married lives, we've always paid for our own health insurance. The premium hike from 2009 to 2010 was $50 a month—not great, but I found a way to fit it into the family budget, and this year we paid a little over $700 a month to insure the four of us.

    The premium hike from 2010 to 2011 is—get this—an astounding $185 a month. We will now be paying over $900 a month to insure the four of us. That's only a few dollars less than our mortgage payment. Believe me, with the current state of our personal economy, that increase will be a little harder to absorb. And that's for a policy with a $5000 deductible on each of us which pays for neither vision nor dental. And before anyone leaps in and tells me that the Republicans will save us all from the Democrats who forced the health care bill through Congress, I think that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM (except for perhaps Ron Paul) needs to be fired and sent home. The Republicans are no more sainted than the Democrats. The husband has a great idea. He thinks that anyone who wants to "serve" in Congress or any other public office needs to plan to live in dormitories and pay all their own expenses (including their own health care premiums). And then we'll get people who will be there for the right reasons and who will do things for the right reasons. 

    Now you know why I read every morning. 



    I've had an amazingly productive couple of days, dogs barking at chickens notwithstanding. I got most of Melanie's patterns done, and I am more than caught up on my coursework. I also had time to knit, and the husband and I got our hunting licenses last night. 

    We're up to 19 chickens, and the neighbors said they'd bring one more. I don't think I've shown you finished pics of the Hyatt Regency coop:

    or the chickens:

    They seem to be settling in nicely. Now we're on to the next project (I don't know what that is—I just know that there will be one). 

    I am teaching a class today at Camas Creek (my Christmas Stocking pattern). I think this is the last class I have scheduled for this fall. It's time to start picking out classes for January and February. If you're local and have ideas of what classes you'd like to take, be sure and let Melanie know. 

    Now it's time for an omelette.


    Houston, We Have Eggs

    I went out to look at the chickens and noticed that one of the hens was in one of the nesting boxes. A little later I went out again and this is what I found!

    Three eggs. Just enough for my breakfast tomorrow. Yum. 


    Dogs Barking at Chickens

    I was so excited when I woke up this morning, because for the first time in recent memory I have TWO WHOLE DAYS (today and tomorrow) where I have no meetings, no subbing, and no trips to town on the calendar. I needed to write half a dozen patterns for Melanie today and get caught up on my classwork, so I was looking forward to having a quiet eight-hour block of time in which to get things done. How sad that the prospect of a quiet day at home turns me into a quivering mass of anticipation. 

    As the husband was leaving, he casually mentioned that our neighbor might be bringing over a bunch of her chickens. She has an excess of chickens at her house (they were roosting in the trees) and offered to provide us with some.

    The dogs were inside, because they like to sleep in for a while in the morning. Around 10 a.m., though, they started pawing at the door and barking. I had no idea what they were getting so riled up about. I let them out and they both went into the yard, hackles raised, and began growling. I still couldn't figure out what was going on. Mountain lion? Bear? 

    I walked out by the chicken coop and heard the unmistakeable clucking of chickens. Sure enough, there were about a dozen of them in the coop. Our neighbor must have sneaked over without me knowing and let them loose inside. 

    The dogs would not give up. They kept circling the coop and jumping up on the walls. I finally put them back in the house, then went out and moved the wire for the invisible fence so that it comes in front of the chicken coop. They can get to within about four feet of the coop and then they have to stop, although I lost track of the number of times Lila got shocked by the fence because she refused to believe it was there. Big learning curve, that one. 

    So all day I've been listening to the dogs barking at the chickens. The chickens, for their part, are not helping the situation because they get up on the ledge and look out the windows at the dogs (WHAT WAS THE HUSBAND THINKING WHEN HE PUT WINDOWS IN THE CHICKEN COOP?). This is going to be so much fun. The husband assures me that when he gets home, he will have a talk with the dogs ("Blah blah blah blah Rusty blah blah blah Lila."). 

    It's really hard to concentrate with dogs barking incessantly. I can only hope that the novelty wears off sooner rather than later. 

    And now it's time for some knitting. 


    The Arrival of Winter

    What's happening outside:

    What's happening inside:

    Rusty is getting old and I know he has arthritic hips, so his preferred activity these days is sleeping on his pouf in front of a roaring fire. Unfortunately, if Lila sleeps too much during the day, she has too much energy at night. I've said to the husband that we almost need another puppy or young dog for her to play with. She tries to entice Rusty to come out and run around (usually by taking a flying leap and landing on his head), but he's not interested. One option is to get him a heated pet bed that we could put on the porch. Unfortunately, Lila has chewed every bed we've put on the porch into little tiny shreds. If she's going to do that again, we'd prefer it not be with one hooked up to household current. 

    I was home yesterday with some hideous stomach bug. It started Monday afternoon and landed me squarely on the couch, wrapped up in about three blankets, sipping ginger ale. I felt a bit better yesterday. I don't know what it is, but this year the germs seem especially virulent. A few weeks ago we had half a dozen kids at our elementary school out with pneumonia. Pneumonia! Maybe it's because we've had a string of fairly mild winters. Who knows?

    I felt sick enough that I didn't even want to knit (that means I was pretty sick). I'm hoping to get DD#1's afghan finished soon. I'm more than halfway—in fact, it's reached the point where it isn't exactly portable anymore. I'm thinking maybe I'll start a pair of socks . . .