31 August 2011

Feeling Knitty

I taught myself how to knit a few years ago. I got a beginner's knitting book some yarn and a couple of big needles. My first attempt was an odd shaped polygon as I seemed to add a stitch with each row that I knit. My sister-in-law/craft guru Sue suggested that I start by knitting a hat in the round. That way I could get a feel for knitting stitches without the bother of turning corners. I stumbled my way through my first hat with only a few pull-outs and interventions. Then I was off. I knit a few hats that year then I progressed to scarves. What is a hat without a matching scarf after all?This last year I knit a couple of sets for myself, one neutral that would go with many of my coats, and one in Bruins colors so I could wear the team colors to the games :-) I also knit an ear flap hat but I think I need a different pattern because I couldn't keep the ear flaps from curling?? It looks cute though. I knit a few scarves and hats for gifts this year as well. I also knit a foot guard for our chaise on the couch. Simple but took longer than I thought it would.Even though we live in a remote area there is a fabulous little yarn shop not ten minutes from my house. My SIL and I took a sock knitting class there last year. It was a cram two day course which extended to another Saturday to finish up but we did learn a great deal about socks. We did a two sock method where you complete both socks at the same rate on the same round needle. This was a little more complicated but we appreciated the logic behind getting both done at once. Yet I still prefer the little bamboo needles one at a time. I finished one pair and started on another. We did several X-mas stockings in the sock class. Most were packed up but here is one that Zdeno adopted.I was feeling pretty ambitious over the winter and thought I would try to challenge myself with a sweater. I found what I thought was a pretty simple pattern and saved up my coupons for Michael's to get the yarn and off I knit. I went around and around and around. I was feeling good. I liked the ribbing at the bottom and the yarn was beautiful. Then as I started to get a little higher I noticed how far around I was going each time. I thought it must be me so I kept going. After about eight to ten inches up it was undeniable. I had made it extra large instead of medium. I don't know anyone this size and it would swim on me so I pulled the plug. I yanked the needle out but didn't have the heart to unravel it. I still have it intact as if I will have an epiphany about how to save it without losing all that work... At some point I will hopefully come to my senses, pull it out, and start again.When we were in Ireland a few years ago we went to a woolery in the heart of the country. Art picked out some yarn and I was charged with making a sweater for him. No pressure. I spent the first year finding a pattern and picking out needles. I did start knitting last Thanksgiving but really haven't put much time into it. I generally get a few rows done at a time here and there. I am hoping to pick up speed soon so that Sue can help me when I get up to doing the arms. Thanksgiving is my goal for that.My other ambition for this year is to add gloves to my repertoire. I have a pattern for fingerless gloves that looks like an easy place to start. I am sure I will need a hat and gloves to go with it as well so hopefully I will have a full set by spring or earlier!

26 August 2011


From time to time over the summer we have seen a rogue cat or two in the yard. So shy and skittish we would usually just get a glimpse before they went off into the brush. Until three days ago. I heard meowing in the front yard and thought it was Calista wanting in, although that was strange since it was the time she likes to go out- not come in. I opened the door to see the rogue little black and white kitty meowing at me. He walked right up to me and wrapped around my legs. I scooped up his skinny little body and brought him in as it was raining.
I took him upstairs and set him in front of the food bowl. He ate the whole thing without pause. The whole time I was petting him and trying to get a good look at him. He was scruffy! Matted hair with a huge clump on his back. He had brownish dry hair weaving between his black and white hair. His eyes were dull and his fur lackluster. He was strong and hard as a rock albeit very very skinny.
He was also as sweet as could be. After he ate the dry food I scooped out a half a can of wet food for him, and gave the other half to Blizzie who was now glowering at me and the visitor. He alternated between purring and getting pets and gulping the food.
After he ate and got some water I spent some time patting him. He hopped right up on my lap and rubbed and purred as I patted him. He would get antsy and move next to me to spin onto his back so I could rub his belly. I did this for about a half an hour then he hopped back down to see if he could have more food. I let him have another bowl then we went back to the patting routine.
Art came up later with a bowl of cream and informed me that three cats was a lot of cats. I had to agree. We had three cats once and it was a LOT of cats. For some reason it is at least twice as many as two even though that is not mathematically possible. We discussed trying to have him live in the greenhouse since he seemed semi-feral and we could use a barn cat.
He slept upstairs with us, waking up Art at five am for more food then I shuttled him out to the greenhouse the next morning. He did not like it. I let the chickens out and they just rushed at him like they wanted to eat him. He hid behind me for a bit then he went right up into the rafters. I had to go to work so I put up a ladder with some treats and told him I would be back asap. At the store and at my Town job I started asking if anyone wanted a kitty since three cats is just too many cats for us. I got two leads and was thrilled.
I came home after a couple of hours and he was gone. I looked everywhere. Just. Gone. I was so sad. I texted Art to let him know. Of course at this point I was feeling guilty that I stuck him out in such a scary place and now he's going to be stuck outside when Hurricane Irene blows through this weekend. :-(
Later that evening we heard meows from the yard. I opened the front door and the kitty breezed right upstairs and stuffed his head in the food bowl like he had been doing it every day of his life. He paused to let me rub him and pat him. I was taking Blizz and Zdeno to the groomer the next day so I decided to take this guy, too.
Oh, by the way, Art named him. Guy. Short and sweet.
We took him to the groomer today and he was very well behaved. He is still a little ratty but it's probably because he's malnourished and has clearly lead a rough life. The groomer guessed that he's about five to seven years old. He has not been neutered yet. Luckily, he had no fleas or mites or other parasites.We brought Guy, Blizz, and Z home and fed them all dinner. Z got a cute Bruin bow for being so sweet to Toni and for giving her kisses while he was getting his bath. Blizzie was simply informed that she was no lady and needs to work on her manners. :-\
We will all hunker down over the weekend while Irene blows through and will reassess on Monday. I imagine the vet is next. We just paid off Zdeno's surgery and now we get another vet bill for Guy. It will be worth it. I hope we find him a good home, but worst case scenario he has already found one :-)

25 August 2011


Sweet Polar. We adopted him within a few months of moving into our first home in NH. He was the runt of the litter but he was so sweet. He loved to go for walks and catch frogs in the pond. He loved the snow! The colder it was outside the less likely he would be to come in. He died suddenly on this day last summer from liver failure. He will always have a place in our hearts.
Two years ago tomorrow we lost our sweet Zoicite. She came home with us to the first house we bought in Denver after we were married. She was a sweet kitten from the start. I don't think I appreciated enough just how snuggly she was, how much she loved to be on our laps, be stretched, and most of all be loved! (1996-2009)

21 August 2011

Are corporations people?

Are Corporations People? When I first heard this story it was on an ultra-hippy liberal facebook friend's wall. My first (and lasting) reaction was, "Of course corporations are people." Since that point I have read many articles on the matter and have seen several snappy retorts attempting to discredit Mr. Romney for his opinion/observation. Most people are staunch in their declaration that corporations are not people. But then they continue on about the evil corporations and how they aren't doing their part blah, blah, blah...
So, armed with my laptop and good old Google I went on an information hunt. Looking at Webster's definition(s) I found that by definition corporations are in fact a group of people or a "person":
1:a : a group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild b : the municipal authorities of a town or city
2: a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession
3: an association of employers and employees in a basic industry or of members of a profession organized as an organ of political representation in a corporative state
Reference http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/corporation
All of that aside I used my personal and business experience to come to the conclusion that corporations are people. When we started our business we were a C-corporation. This is probably the least 'people' oriented business I can imagine. The corporation is treated as it's own entity (person) and it is taxed, then taxes are paid on dividends and payroll through shareholders personal taxes. You get to tax the business separately with a C-corp. However, these corporations are becoming a dying breed. We were participant to that process.
We own two corporations currently. One is our retail store which is an S-corporation and the other is a real estate holding company which is an LLC. When we upgraded our accountant we upgraded our corporate structure to an S-corp. The biggest benefit to the S-corp is that the business income flows through our personal taxes eliminating the dual taxation. Our LLC company also flows through our individual (personal) tax return.
I could make a philosophical argument about how my business could not survive without me, my husband, or our employees (all people). I could say that all of the people in the company benefit from the business (are employed, get paid, IRA's, insurance, holidays, etc.) and that if the business paid more taxes (a la Obama) we would (and do) have fewer employees and the people that remain will have to settle for less if big brother takes more. This is the type of argument that seems to degrade most quickly, such as I am biased because I am the evil corporate owner, I just don't want to do my share, I'm the greedy one... never mind that it isn't just our livelihood on the line, it's also all of our employees. But, it is my house that is on the line as well as all of my other savings. My husband and I are the last to take a bonus in good years and the first to not get a paycheck if need be... but I'll stick to the simple tax facts.
I read that S-corporations are the largest growing corporation type and that much of this growth occurred in the 2000's by companies that converted (like we did). By 2006 over 66% of corporations were S-corporations. After five more years I'll be willing to bet that number has grown even higher. This means that those corporations are taxed through the shareholders personal tax returns. LLC's and C-corporations make up the remaining and LLC's are also taxed through personal tax returns of the owner's.
The bottom line is that both philosophically and with regard to taxation WE are our businesses. Unless you would like to try to make the argument that we are not people...

20 August 2011

Bird's Eye View

A long time friend of ours recently got his pilots license. He was kind enough to take us on a flight around Southern NH and over to Vermont one beautiful spring morning. The only turbulence we experienced was when we flew through our own air on a turn. Here are some of the shots I got to take.Our friend and Art with his new toy! It was a perfect day for a ride.
Our first view was of Mt. Monadnock. This mountain defines our region. The name means mountain that stands alone. It does and is so beautiful especially in the fall. It has many hiking trails. It is more challenging than you would think. We once did a midnight hike that was unforgettable!This is Temple's downtown! You can't see the Fire Department/Town Offices though. They are just off screen to the left. To get to our house you head down the road to the left of the house on the bottom of the picture.This pic is coming around on our property. You can also see the pond across the street, the little cottage by the pond, and our little trailer parked next to the greenhouse!
Here we are honed in our our little patch of land. It is early spring and we had been doing a little work behind the pond so it looks a little scratchy in places. You can also see the fields where Damon grew his yummy veggies! We miss him so! The long rectangle at the bottom left is our glorified chicken coop, the back half at least. We are redoing the front for tractor parking.
Above is a shot heading on the back side of Temple Mountain. It is a part of the Wapack range. The Wapack trail is a great interstate hiking route that we have not done in full but we do frequent the portion around us. Some day it would be nice to hike the whole trail!

18 August 2011

Lake Umbagog

At the Northern tip of NH on the border of Maine there is a beautiful body of water where three rivers converge. It is remote and there are few power boats. Just go to Errol and turn right. It is a small town but an important land mark. Most people access the remote camp sites by canoe or kayak. It is a unique mix of state park and private property with both scattered along the rocky shores and islands.
My husband has done a previous adventure down the Magalloway River into the lake and to the camp site. He is very good at coordinating an annual camping and hiking/kayak trip. All are welcome and he will adjust the plan accordingly. This year it ended up just being three of us and Zdeno which was nice. We went with an old and dear friend of Art's and a friend of mine as well.
We had a nice easy 4.5 mile paddle to our campsite. We arrived much sooner than we thought.We had a great time playing cards, swimming and kayaking/canoeing. Ted was firemaster and we all enjoyed our stay. Our camp site was half in NH and half in Maine. Always fun!Zdeno loves swimming but he had never been in a canoe, much less for 4.5 miles! We were also camping right on the shore so I had concern that his puppy brains might get him in a little trouble so we got him a life jacket. He just thought he was the bees knees when we put that on him. He ended up being very good in the canoe dipping down to get drinks but mostly sitting in the front sniffing the breeze.
He is a bit of a sloppy swimmer in general. He doesn't like to get his face wet so he has a very splashy paddle to keep his head high. With the life jacket he is buoyed an extra few inches and it smoothed out his paddle. He just loved it! I am sure whenever that comes out his excitement meter will spike!

17 August 2011

The Power of the Ball

When I was growing up we had a black lab next door, Rowdy, who would play ball with you any time. I used to love it when he would come over. He would settle for a rock if he couldn't find a ball. I didn't understand the obsession. Our own dog had a soccer ball that he would chase around but he did not share or play well with others.
So when Z showed an affinity for playing ball I was pretty happy. From day one he had a great time chasing after the ball and he was pretty good at bringing it back.
Of course, being new to the puppy/ball game it took me a minute to learn that I had to teach him to drop the ball and wait for me to pick it up. For a while it was a game of keep away which he was much better at than I was.
He would play ball inside or out. His green nubbly ball was his favorite for his first couple of months. It was a soft ball so he could play inside or out with it. This was a good fetch ball but hard to catch.
I would be remiss if I didn't say that not everyone in the house was quite so happy about all the ball playing... Blizz is skeptical about the dog (even today) but she has been more accepting than Calista.
Zdeno is the luckiest pup on earth. My parents are avid tennis players. What could a ball lover love more than a non-stop stream of tennis balls to play catch with? This, and most mornings, his first task is to empty his toybox out onto the floor. We now separate 'inside' and 'outside' balls so that he can't mix them up.
His new soft soccer ball became a hit when he learned that he could catch it when we threw it up in the air for him. Who knew you could have so much fun with balls!
We were a little worried when the snow started to fly. We were able to play for a bit while the snow was still shallow. Art also plowed a path with the Bobcat for playing. Toward the end of winter we ended up playing ball with snowballs. This way he would get his exercise running through the snow but we wouldn't have to worry about tracking down lost balls.
Of course, if there were no ball to be found Zdeno could usually find a stick (or branch) to fill in.In the spring he started swimming in the local ponds again. Chasing a ball or stick into the water and rescuing it was a new way to enjoy his favorite activity.
He isn't proud. He will let anyone play ball with him. There is a little girl who helps pet sit while we are gone. She will do her homework down where Z stays at their house. She will throw the ball, get a little work done, throw the ball...for hours. Doggie heaven!
At this point Z has countless balls. Outside we stick to tennis balls as we have a launcher that can throw them the length of the field. Our skinny mini pup probably runs 5-10 miles a day! Maybe a little less when it is really hot as he splits his time between sitting in the pond to cool down and running after the ball.
The ball is the training tool we have used with Zdeno. He is not a foodie so we bribe him with ball. If you want him to come you better have the ball. If you wanted him to sit, lay down, stay you better have a ball! There is something for everyone and for Zdeno there is a ball for every occasion!

15 August 2011


Last summer our nephew Kevin married Jamie. They are a sweet couple and the wedding was so much fun. The sunset was absolutely amazing and since they got married on July 4 we were able to see fireworks from different towns up and down the water. My Mom-in-law even got up for a dance with Dad-in-law.
Abbie came with her boyfriend Zeb. He is from Colorado and we had fun getting to know him!
The day after the wedding we went to Halibut point with Art's folks. It is one of the first places I visited in New England. They looked so sweet overlooking the water I just had to get a shot :-)
Our Thanksgiving ritual of going to Plum Island was a success as usual. The weather was pretty darn nice and we, of course, listened to Alice's Restaurant all the way there.
Keeping warm by the fire. Zeb even fashioned a pot holder over the fire so we could keep the soup warm. So ingenious and fun!
Introducing Maggie! Sue, Sam, and Charlie adopted Maggie just about a month before we got Z. She is exactly one month younger and the two of them adore each other and have such fun playing together!
They played together so well and they slept for a whole day afterward! No one wanted to nap lest they miss something!
The goal- global domination. The result- lots of fun!
Lindsay's pup Bailey also joined in the fun. She is a bit older so she is in charge. They had a great time together. They played in this room all night!
Our annual Christmas picture. We had Sue take it when everyone came over for a pre-x-mas dinner. Usually it is just me wrangling everyone into one shot.
Went to Colorado for Christmas. We got to spend time with the kids and also got to know Julie better. We went to the Bronco game one afternoon and Julie introduced us to a fabulous Mexican eatery in Denver called La Loma. Delish!
Julie has a son Harry who is half way between my brother's two boys. Now they have five kids between the two of them. Wow! It can be loud and is usually chaotic but they are all a lot of fun and seem to get along well.
Mom turned 80 this past June. She had a fun party at Stratham Park and lots of family and friends came. It was a rainy day so we all cozied under the pavilion and caught up. I met a few new family members and some old friends of theirs. Great day and Mom seemed to have a wonderful time!
We moved the party back to Mom and Dad's house after the extended family cleared and the day wore on and got cooler. Such a great family! I love how often we were able to see each other this year!
For Father's Day we caught up for the traditional lobster dinner. Sam and I had hamburgers ;-) I try them every year but still don't like them. I do like the occasional mussel though, if there is enough wine, butter, and garlic on top!
We rented a house on the beach with Art's oldest sister this summer. It was a fabulous time! We were only fifteen minutes away from Art's folks house so they were able to visit often. It had a little back yard so Zdeno was able to come and enjoy the ocean. He had Maggie and Bailey come to visit a couple times which was great. We also got to meet Kevin and Jamie's new (older pup) Lester. He is a retriever pyrenees mix. He is a love with people but sadly did not really get on well with the other dogs.
The dogs, and us people, really enjoyed walks on the beach. It was early in the year so the water was still cold but we had some pretty hot days that made it feel refreshing. I even had a girlfriend that was able to come and spend the day on the beach with her three kids. Great time!
I definitely would like to do this type of vacation again. Super relaxing. We were close enough to home that we could go back if needed (Art, Karyn, and Ralph all had to work at least one day), we were close so family and friends could visit. The best was that we got to bring Zdeno and he even had visitors!