Monday, January 29, 2007

Spencer, Shark-lover

My most recent dive at the zoo was on January 20th. Spence and Steve came with me and when I was done, I found out it was time to feed the sharks. Steve got some pictures of us on the platform at the top of the Ocean tank. Spence got to pet some Zebra sharks, which he thought was really cool (of course!!) This is the tank I just dove prior to these pictures. It's my favorite tank at the zoo, and the Zebras are my favorite animal in this tank. There are two in this picture. The guy from the zoo is holding one for Spence, and the other is coming to see what's going on. They're pretty easy-going sharks and they're used to being handled.

After Spence pet the Zebra sharks, it was time to feed the Bonnetheads (see the one in the picture that looks like a little Hammerhead?) They feed them chopped squid and another small type of fish. We don't pet the Bonnetheads, though. LOL

Friday, January 26, 2007

Neko, you will be missed

In November of 1996, I was living by myself in my first apartment. It was an apartment on the 8th floor of a building in Detroit. I decided I needed a dog to keep me company, but they wouldn’t let me have one in the apartment, only cats. A day or two later, someone at work asked if anyone wanted a cat. I think I only waited one, maybe two, heartbeats before I said yes. She said her sister had found a cat crying outside her apartment. He was a little bigger than a kitten, but not fully grown (so I figured his birthday was in July, and what better day to call his birthday than the 4th of July?). She had hung signs up and she would wait another couple of days to see if anyone claimed him. If not, he’d be mine.

The days passed and I went to go get him. I had toys and all the essentials in my car when I got there. I brought this spunky little guy home with me, and started trying to come up with a name. I wanted something kind of cool. I had a cat calendar at work that had something like 50 cats on each page, showing the names of all of them. So, I started flipping through the pages reading all the names. I found “Neko”. I thought it was perfect. It was short, it was cool…I just liked it. Of course, a few years later I found out that it apparently means “cat” in Japanese.

When he first came into my home, he was a little shy, a little standoff-ish. Shortly after moving in he got a little sick and he came and lay on his side by me and put his head in my lap. That was our first real bonding moment, I think. I remember his first week with me, we had a terrible snow storm in Detroit. There were stories on the news about record lows, bundle up if you go outside, don’t leave your pets outside…I looked down at the kitty I brought home and felt so lucky someone had saved him and brought us together. He could have been out there in that weather but now he was safe with me.

Neko was all boy. And I used to tell him that all the time. He was proud, he was smart, he was “his own kitty”. You couldn’t pick him up and cuddle him, but he had no problem coming to you and cuddling you. So MANY times he’d come lay with me and wrap his little arms around my neck. So MANY times he’d sit on the back of the couch and drape himself over each of my shoulders. And everytime he did it, he’d purr. And what a purr this cat had. It was a deep contented purr. It was like he was just so happy to be there, at that moment. And everytime he did it, so was I. I would always try to sit very still so he wouldn’t move. Just stay… He did this the last time just a couple of weeks ago.

We had our little “things” that we did. He would nuzzle me with his nose so that I would pet his nose and right between his eyes. He would just close his eyes and stick his little face out the whole time. If I stopped, he’d nuzzle me to keep going. In the morning, he always sat on my bathroom sink. He’d sit there and wait for me to come kiss him on the head. And when I did, he’d press his head up toward my kiss.

He was playful, and unfortunately, he was a bit of a biter. But, he always kept it in check and tried not to bite hard. It was just how we played. I’d try to get his belly and he’d try to get me. He’d roll over and over, trying to “surprise me” and get my hand. And over and over again, I’d pull away and get his belly again. If I stopped, he would bump me to get me started again. We played that game every morning, too.

He could also be gentle. When my son was born in 2000, I was worried that Neko would bite him, not knowing that he could hurt him. He never did. Not even when my son grabbed him by the ears and pulled him down into his lap. I have that one on video.

Not long after I got him, I was watching a show about pumas on TV. They reminded me of him. Some of the things they did and the way they moved. I started calling him Puma Kitty. When I was growing up we had a cat named Sox. For some reason, my dad started calling her Pooh. So, after a while of having Neko around, Pooh just started sounding “right” as a term of endearment. I called him Pooh a lot. I bet he was confused about what his name was.

Puma Kitty
Kitty Kitty
Pookattie (from Pooh-Kitty), pronounced POO-ka-tee

The list goes on and on. What ever he was, he was loved so much.

We found each other when I was in my mid 20’s, single, in my first apartment. He was there by my side through so much. A marriage, a divorce, a new baby, and now a new fiancĂ©. But Neko was always there. Always my buddy. Always ready to hug me, eat my hair, or just purr in my ear to let me know he loved me. And I’m sure he knows how much I loved him, too.

A week ago today he got really sick. He spent this past week in the hospital, where he was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. The vet tried everything he could to save Neko. But today my fiancé, Steve, and I went to say goodbye. We spent some time with Neko. I got to hug him, kiss his head like I always did, and call him Pooh. He was so sick but he still wiggled his tail and pressed his head to me. It was so hard to say goodbye to such a great friend.

He was more than a cat. He was a beautiful loving spirit, a wonderful companion and a cherished part of my life.

I love you, Pooh. I’ll miss you always. God bless you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How I did it...

I've received several requests for information on how I expanded the Prairie Star pattern.

It's not an easy answer, but if you're willing to play, I'll tell you how. I started in Microsoft Word, but I've found Excel actually works a little better.

If you don't already have the Drawing toolbar visible on your screen (mine sits at the bottom of the screen and has buttons for Autoshape, Fill Color, etc.) then goto the View menu, select Toolbars, and Drawing.

I used the Autoshape feature to create a diamond shape that was about the right proportions. I then just kept copying and pasting that shape, so my proportions were always the same. You can use the rotate functions in the Drawing toolbar to situate your shape the way you need it. You can change the fill colors, etc. Once you have a group of shapes the way you want them, you can group them together and copy that whole group so you can continue the pattern. (If you get stuck, try Help. They can tell you how to use these features.)

It was alot of just playing with the drawing features to find out what worked best and going with that. One thing that was nice about Excel was that I could adjust the size of the columns and rows so it was a bit like graph paper on the screen. Once you get into it a bit, you'll get the hang of it and you'll be creating patterns all over the place. lol

Good luck! :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Another idea for expanding the Prairie Star

I started thinking maybe I'd want something more than a square. So I came up with this.

Prairie Star

I started a Prairie Star afghan ( several years ago. I've been trying to remember when, and I think it was about 5 or 6 years now. When I found this pattern I got ambitious from the beginning and decided it was so pretty it needed to be turned into a duvet cover for my queen sized bed. I worked on it feverishly, in the beginning, but for the last several years it's only come out during the winter.

Well, the other day we got hit with a snow storm just as I was ready to go get some yarn to start a working on a bag I'm supposed to be doing for a Crochet Along on So, instead, I stayed home in my comfy clothes and pulled out the ol' blanket.

Some of the girls in the crochet-a-quilt CAL on the 'Ville have asked to see my progress. This is my first post on this blog, so I'm going to attempt to post some pics here. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this works. :)

This is a picture of my cat, Neko, laying on what WILL be a very large afghan for my queen sized bed. (I've abandoned the duvet cover idea, now I'm just going for a queen sized afghan). For those of you familiar with this pattern, you can probably see where I've added motifs to continue the pattern out past where the original one stopped. I didn't make my motifs any bigger, to extend this, I added motifs to the pattern.

Here are my plans for the extending the pattern.

A regular comforter for a queen sized bed is 86x86. So, my thought is to complete the square (the part inside the light blue border) and use the borders to adjust the size.

I couldn't resist one more picture of Neko. Besides, you can see a little of the detail of the motifs here.