Hannah and the CoalBear: Bad CoalBear, Bad!!

Hi. I’m Mateo (AKA the CoalBear)

I’m the most handsome young cat ever, right? Emphasis should be on the word young. I’m not even two years old, I’m still growing, and I need lots of attention and play opportunities. Usually, the Mother of Cats and Hannah support my needs, but not this week. For reasons that I don’t understand I have been yelled at ALL WEEK LONG!!!

Okay, I was standing on the pizza while the Mother of Cats’ back was turned. Oh, are you having trouble seeing those prints?

How about this one? Hey, this is what the Mother of Cats gets for eating in bed, right? It’s not my fault that I tracked catsup footprints all over the white linen duvet cover. See the above comment about eating in bed…

Then I was caught bunny kicking and chewing on a library book. Umm… maybe if I got more attention, I would have to resort to stuff like this. I need lots of time with the laser light, and Hannah should be chasing me more, and why don’t I get more toys? All of my toys are old and I knocked all of the ping pong balls under the sofa so I can’t play with them now, and I AM SO BORED!!! I do play with the yarn every time the Mother of Cats knits, and would you believe I get yelled for that, too. I get yelled at EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!!!

Hannah: <sigh> I keep telling the CoalBear that he needs to spend more time being cute, but does he listen to me? Nope. Not so much.

See how cute I am?

Now it is really, really cold outside and I can’t even go outside to look for the bunny. Maybe the Mother of Cats will knit soon so I can chew and chase yarn for awhile…

Sigh. Guess I will go see if I can get the tiger cat to play with me.

This is Mateo, signing off.

Hannah and the CoalBear: Snow Bunny Caturday

Hi. I’m Mateo.

It’s my favorite day of the week. I get to go out first thing in the morning with the Orange Monster to check out things on the catio. We see birds, and squirrels and lots of fun things while we are out there. We also get our paws cold, but that’s okay, because if you want to play with the Orange Monster, you have to be willing to deal with little stuff like that!

You won’t believe what we saw today…

The backyard bunny was out in the garden! I mean, the bunny was RIGHT THERE at the side of the catio where the Orange Monster and I hang out in the mornings. The Mother of Cats has been feeding the bunny acorn squash (I know, right?! Why would she do something like that… but the bunny does eat it… thank heavens she isn’t giving it our TUNA!)

Personally, I think that acorn squash flavored bunny would be a little weird, but I was certainly willing to try it out. Nope. Darn chicken wire… there needs to be a FREE MATEO protest, right? Can you hear my big cat sigh? The bunny finally left and the Mother of Cats put some more ACORN SQUASH out for it.

Now we are back indoors knitting on the scarf thingy

while Hannah snoozes…

and we both dream of the backyard bunny.

Happy Caturday, everyone!!

The Scleroderma Chronicles: So, there was this flare…

Wow. It has been some time since I last posted. Ironically, the last post was about the Mother of Cats being broken. I felt really good, and I was casting on a plethora of projects and was all over the place with my knitting, reading, projects, you name it. Hannah was complaining in that post that I was broken, and that I wasn’t devoting myself to making her a blanket.

Then scleroderma lowered the boom on me. I went into a flare of epic proportions. I hurt all over, I struggled to do just simple tasks, I started sleeping 10-12 hours a day, and I had to go back onto daytime oxygen. I kept heat packs on my sore joints, but I really needed a total body heat pack to cope with what was going on: every single tendon in my body was under attack!! I couldn’t regulate my body temperature and took multiple naps a day because I was too cold to stay awake. I developed chest pain. My brain fog became so bad I wasn’t safe to drive anymore… Yep. Broken.

Okay, I also accidently drank some Miracle Gro fertilizer that I had stored in a Snapple bottle. That is some serious brain fog, people!! (Yes, I did have to call poison control, I did eat burnt toast and I did drink a lot of water, and I don’t want to talk about this anymore…) Yep. Broken.

I managed to get some knitting done in spite of my ill-behaved health. I got some wristers made as Christmas presents and sewed zippered pouches for my sister and cousin.

Wristers and a zippered project pouch.

Sewing was a riot as I had to get the sewing room organized so I didn’t have to stand up very much as I cut, sewed, and pressed fabric to make the bags, but with some creative thinking and furniture arrangements I pulled it off.

I also finished my Emma sweater. I made a hat. I made some socks. I made some slippers. Everything was on big needles and used heavy weight yarn as I got too tired to knit more than a few minutes at a time.

This sweater was knit using the CocoKnits method and I learned some new methods of shaping and finishing. The yarn was chunky weight and is warm and comfy. I got it done early in the flare and it was just perfect for the days to come. The yarn that was left over was used to make a hat and a pair of slippers.

I did read some nice books, but mostly I slept and waited this miserable thing out. In the weeks while I was mostly bedbound my orchids started to grew stems for future blossoms, the first snows arrived, and my son moved in with his cats.

This is handsome Jonesy. Hannah does not like Jonesy, so there is now a chicken wire barricade at the top of the stairs to keep the two groups of cats separated. My son also has a long-haired tuxedo cat who just doesn’t care about my cats. Hannah, however, has a complete meltdown if Jonesy comes near her, so… barricade.

Mateo: I love Jonesy and I go through the barricade every day to rough house with my new best bud while Hannah hangs out with the Mother of Cats. Jonesy is the wild playmate of my dreams!

So, I think that I am out of the flare now as the multiple naps a day have stopped, and my appetite is back. Yesterday we made lasagna for Christmas and here is the present that I got from my son:

Perfect, right?

Can you see my blue lips? The bad news is that the Blue-Lipped Zebra is back in full force. I finally emailed my cardiologist to let him know that I am once again panting for air and feeling light-headed from doing simple tasks like… lifting a pan out of the cupboard or grating cheese. Ugh. I’m pretty sure that I am heading back into the cath lab for another look at my pulmonary pressures, but right now I am glad to be back on my feet and out of the flare. My son is still here (he works from home, so he just moved his operation over to my house) and things are going well in the combined household.

Hannah: as long as Jonesy stays on his side of the barricade!! Also, maybe the Mother of Cats will now settle down and get my new blanket done!!

Hannah and the CoalBear: The Mother of Cats may be Broken…

Hi. I’m Hannah.

Don’t I look like I’m a take-charge kind of girl?

I’ve been really busy supervising the Mother of Cats for the last couple of weeks as she has been knitting a multitude of projects with not even a little bit of discipline. I mean, she is all over the place and I never know what she is going to pull out of her knitting bag next. Let me show you what I’m talking about…

First, she started knitting all of these little hexagon units that will get turned into a blanket someday. Like, maybe when I’m too old to make the jump to the top of the bookshelf anymore she will get this done. She stopped after knitting the four units in the picture and then started knitting all of these…

PICC line covers!

Yep. PICC line cover after PICC line cover started to happen as she kept pulling out new colors of yarn from the stash. I thought that she was settled down and would stay with them for some time, but no, you would be wrong if you thought that! Did she go back to the hexagon units for the blanket? Nope.

She found some nice wildly dyed zebra yarn in the stash and started knitting some socks and then switched over to wristers because she was cold that afternoon. Do you see what I am dealing with here? NO DISCIPLICE AT ALL!!!

I gave up and took a nap after that. When I woke up that evening, I discovered that she had gone back into the stash to find some charcoal grey yarn that she wanted to make into a sweater. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS MOTHER OF CATS!! I am concerned that this model might be broken, but I have put so much work into training her just right I hate to quit and start over with another one…

She evidently had seen the weather report and dug out this book to use in making the new sweater. The yarn and needles are really big, so she is making fast progress, but seriously, what about the blanket that we started a few weeks ago? I could use a new blanket more than she needs a new sweater!

She finished up the wristers last night and seems to be devoted to finishing the sweater. Sigh. What about the blanket? I kind of give up, but she is pretty good at keeping Mateo and me supplied with kitty cookies, so I guess I’d better keep her.

But I am a little concerned that she might need a little tune up to help her with her focus issues. I do kind of want that blanket, you know. Who knows what she will decide to knit the next time she visits the stash?

This is Hannah, signing off.

Happy Caturday, Everyone!

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The hexagons are for the Nectar Blanket by Ysolda Teague.
  • I’m learning the Coco Knits method of knitting by following along with the book and knitting an Emma sweater, version B with bulky yarn and long sleeves. I have the colored stitch markers to go with the worksheet and everything! I was a little intimidated, but now that I’m below the yoke I am so impressed with what is appearing in the knitted object. I’m going to get this one done fast!
  • That sock yarn is from a trunk show at my local yarn store and I just had to knit it right now!!! I’m sure you understand.
  • I think that I’m going to get that blanket done next, but there are so many PICC line covers to get done before the end of the year…

Hannah and the CoalBear: Caturday Catch-up

Hi. I’m Mateo (AKA the CoalBear).

I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats with her knitting this week.

Hannah has been getting all of the attention for weeks and weeks while she was flying around on Sharon Air, so the Mother of Cats has been spending lots of time with me since Hannah came home from her adventures. She has been knitting and knitting on a smoky brown blob of yarny *something* and I have been extremely vigilant about attacking any stray ends that try to get away from her. I mean, I have sat by her side for hours watching intently… this is just exhausting! Finally, the Mother of cats got all of the stitches off the needles this afternoon and I could take a little nap while she tried it on.

Whew! She is pretty happy with how it is going, but she says that she needs to block it to see how long it will be. Whatever. All I care about is how long I get to nap before she puts this sweater monster back onto her needles. Oh, yeah. This sweater is called Lace & Fade by Joji Locatelli.

The Mother of Cats has also been busy sewing this week. Hannah decided to help her with this, which was totally okay with me because I think that the sewing machine is a little bit scary. Hannah kind of likes it and always spends all of her time in the sewing room when the mother of cats is busy in there.

Anyway, I hope that you can understand what this sewn stuff is. I think that it would be good if Hannah adds some notes here, so here she goes:

Hannah: Okay, here are my notes on the sewing we did.
  • The first picture is of the bedside caddy that the Mother of Cats and I sewed a few weeks ago. It is sewn to a towel that goes under the mattress (MY IDEA!!) and those nice pouches hold lots of things for the Mother of Cats.
  • Last week the Mother of Cats sewed the little caddy (middle picture) that is designed to hang from Command hooks on her bedside table. Isn’t it nice? The little pouches hold her glasses and phone, and the back pouch is exactly right for her Kindle tablet. It works great, but she is still thinking of how to improve it.
  • The last caddy is much larger, has two larger pouches at the bottom, and is kind of a mix-up of both bedside caddies. The Mother of Cats sent if off to her sister this week. The sister plans to do some trickery with grommets and stuff to hang it onto her bedside table.
Mateo: Hannah is asleep, so I’m taking over again.

The only other stuff that is going on around here is that trip the Mother of Cats took to the local garden and farm store. She came back with some crazy stinky roasted green chiles and also a funky pumpkin. Hannah and I stayed completely away from the kitchen while the chiles were roasting away in their boxes, but we did check out the pumpkin.

This is one ugly, scary pumpkin!!! Hannah and I don’t understand why this came home to stay with us. The Mother of Cats put it on the table with some other pumpkins and stuff. The Mother of Cats says that this is all about Halloween, but we just want our table back! Hannah likes to take naps up there, and now there is this stoopid, lumpy-ass pumpkin in the way…

It’s okay. I’d rather nap on the bed anyway. Also, soon there will be more knitting, too!

Happy Caturday, everyone!

This is Mateo, the CoalBear, signing off.

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

It is green chile season!!! Every year I get a bushel of chiles roasted and then I freeze them to use all during the winter. This year I bought two different types of green chile peppers and made two trips that netted me a total of a bushel and a half of peppers in the freezer.

If you’ve never done this, the process is really simple. The chile peppers are grouped by how hot they are… I buy chiles that are mild and avoid ones that have names like Ghost or Dynamite. This year I got a bushel of Ancho chile (the meaty green ones) and a half bushel of Marconi chile peppers. The peppers are washed, then dumped into a rotating drum that is turned over a flame until all of the skin is blackened and the peppers are roasted. They are then poured into a heavy plastic bag and packed into a box that is taken home to continue roasting for the next few hours. When they are finally cool enough to handle, I put 6-8 peppers into a freezer bag and then these are moved to the freezer when cooled. This year I froze 24 bags of chili pepper. I sure hope that’s enough to get through the winter. 🙂

When I use the peppers later on that blackened skin will just wash off, but the smoky flavor will linger. Green chile is good stuff; versatile, anti-inflammatory, and extremely addictive. I’ve already eaten two of my cached bags of chile this fall…

Green chile is also serious business in this part of the country. There is a rivalry between the governor of my state (Colorado) and New Mexico’s governor over who has the best chile crop. We do, of course. Pueblo chile forever!!

That pumpkin is called a Warty Goblin pumpkin. I think that they are so ugly they are cute!!

Hannah and the CoalBear: Hannah Earns Her Wings!

Hi. I’m Hannah.

Do you see this?

There were lots of adventures on the flight back from Japan (well, I slept through most of it because… I’m a cat) as Sharon threw a gobshite passenger off the plane (with a parachute, of course), discovered Chad that Golden-Bag-of-Cat-Treats-Thieving Worm hiding in the wheel well of the plane, took a nap in the catnip-scented oxygen of the cabin, and then finally tackled Chad off the plane in a butt-waggling zoom of epic proportions that allowed her to recover the priceless bag of cat treats while Chad fell through the clouds. She did throw Chad a parachute and an inflatable raft, but we kind of don’t care what happened to him because there was sushi and Meow Mix for all of us on the flight. Did I mention that there was catnip-scented oxygen in the cabin?

(Okay, Sharon did post a photo of Chad falling through the skies in his parachute, so he did get it on and hopefully landed safely…)

Anyway, the Mother of Cats finished the shawl, and I got my wings!!

I’m adding these wings to my passport!!

Now the Sharon Air MKAL is over and the Mother of Cats has returned to knitting a sweater that had been hibernating in a bin for the last few weeks. I still have my blueberry box from the flight, and since I returned in Cardboard Class I brought my blanket and all the wonderful yarn that I bought the Mother of Cats in Japan home with me with no problems.

Mateo: I’m helping the Mother of Cats with her sweater!

So now the Mother of Cats is happily knitting away on her new sweater (the Lace & Fade Boxy sweater by Joji Locatelli) with Mateo (the CoalBear) and I’m catching up on my sleep in my blueberry box. The Mother of Cats taped my wings to the box, and I’m still dreaming of all the places that I visited during the MKAL adventure. Cairo. New Zealand. Paris. Istanbul. Japan. So much fun!

Do I look sad? This is just my dreaming of catnip face…

Now it is fall outside and the flies seem to have vanished with the backyard robins but there are crickets and bunnies. Luckily it is cooler so I can play with the CoalBear in the daytime, and I’ve started sleeping on the bed with the Mother of Cats at night again. The Mother of Cats bought me and the CoalBear a lot of new toys, and we are playing chase-chase through piles of crunchy brown shipping paper. I’m returning to my old routines and I’m actually glad that my adventure is over. It is good to be home.

This is Hannah, signing off.

Hannah and the CoalBear: Left turn to Tokyo!

Hi. I’m Hannah.

The chase to apprehend Chad took a wicked left turn last week on the Sharon Air MKAL!

There I was, all cozied up in my cardboard blueberry box, flying to Morocco, finishing off my inflight drink of warm milk with whiskey when the news came in… Chad had gotten on a flight to Tokyo! WHAT?!!! How did that happen?! We were really looking forward to Morocco!! The Mother of Cats had just made her favorite quinoa dish (Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto) and had settled down to chomp some while getting all her knitting supplies organized for the next clue drop of the Sharon Air MKAL, and … no Casablanca? Nope. The plane made a sharp left turn and pointed its nose towards Tokyo.

Oh. We are kind of excited about Tokyo! The Mother of Cats has been there before and she used to live in Yokohama, Japan. We weren’t in Tokyo long as we had to grab the bullet train heading south to Fukuoka, Japan. Sharon ate 4 bento boxes on the way, but mostly we knitted and drank tea on the trip as we had stuffed ourselves on katsudon (which the Mother of Cats just loves!) before we got on the train and the Mother of Cats was sort of regretting the decision… hey, I told her to not order a second bowl, but does she listen to me? Anyway, Sharon ended up recovering from the chase in a hot spring, and that Fungus Boi Worm was there too, but he got away somehow, and we were left in southern Japan to knit, relax, and have fun with Chad’s AMEX card.

This shawl is getting long enough to cuddle up against!
Here’s the shawl after finishing Clue 5. This thing is getting too big to fit in the picture, but if you use your imagination, you can pretend that you can see the points on the ends towards the bottom of the picture.

Here’s a closeup of the new section of knitting.

Look at the cool textures and use of color in this side of the shawl.

So that is what’s going on with the Sharon Air MKAL. I’m so happy that I had cardboard class for that long flight, but I’m a little concerned about what is going to happen to my blanket if we need to fly out tomorrow in another class. Please, Sharon, no litter class for me and my blanket, okay?!

This is Hannah, signing off.

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • One of the hugely serendipitous events of my life was being sent to live in Yokohama as a young bride in the early 1970s by the US Navy. Why? More than 50 years before my own grandmother had arrived there as a young bride herself. My mom was born in Yokohama, and her first language was Japanese. How crazy was that?
  • My mom, by the way, was Swedish-American, and her mother could speak Swedish.
  • I still miss the Katsudon that I ate there.
  • Many members of the MKAL posted pictures of fabulous bento boxes that could be eaten on the bullet train. I’ve eaten bento boxes, but never came to love them, because… katsudon!!

Hannah and the CoalBear: Back in Cardboard Class Again!

Hi. I’m Hannah.

I’m back in cardboard class for the latest flight to catch up with Chad and the stolen Golden Bag of Cat Treats.

While I was shopping for yarn for the Mother of Cats in Istanbul, Sharon from Security (Officer of the Paw, Defender of Snax) got out of the pokey because there was a sighting of Chad with a big bag and the sparkling (diamond-laden) yarn that Sharon was accused of stealing. Obviously, the wrong person had been apprehended, so she was out the door and off to the nearest full-service sushi restaurant. That’s one important question answered: you can get sushi in Istanbul! Also, she seems to have gotten her flamethrower back, too. How does she pull these things off? Anyway, knowing that Sharon scored a three-foot-long platter of sushi made me hungry, so I did a little cookie liberation operation of my own:

Sadly, the Mother of Cats found me before I had polished off the entire container of cookies…

Then Sharon left me in Istanbul and took off on the most incredible adventure of all time. She caught a sub and took off through the Mediterranean waterways in chase of Chad. She broke down and got the sub fixed up in Greece, and then broke down again off Gibraltar. Luckily some sneaky people arrived to give her a tow to a sub-repair facility in Atlantis, and since Sharon was sworn to secrecy I’ll never find out where it is. I wonder if they had really nice kitty stuff there? I can always use a new blanket, some toy mice, and why does Sharon get all of the exotic sushi…????

Anyway, Sharon finally got the sub all fixed up and following intel provided by her new friends she was back on the chase and followed Chad and his bag of stolen goodies to… Morocco!!!

Doesn’t this shawl look like it belongs in Morocco?
Clue 4 is done now and the Mother of Cats has cast off this side of the shawl. In case you forgot what this shawl is, this is the Sharon Air MKAL adventure that I am on.

Now I’m stuck in Morocco until Friday when the new clue drops. Did I mention that I still have Chad’s AMEX card? Time to head out shopping!!!

Sushi time!!

I sure did love being back in cardboard class again! I brought my blanket along and even got some new yarn for the Mother of Cats shoved in there. If I have to go by Litter Box class for the next leg of the chase, I’ll be shipping all that stuff home. Hopefully I can use Chad’s AMEX card for that, too.

This is Hannah, signing off.

Hannah and the CoalBear: Hannah hops onto the Orient Express

Hi. I’m Hannah.

You will not believe everything that has been happening this week!

First, I caught my flight out of New Zealand on Sharon Air to Paris. Paris!!! Can you believe it? I had a great flight because I got to fly Squeaking Mouse Class this time which meant I had a nice seat to sleep on and I was allowed to bring onboard luggage. I brought my blanket to sleep on, of course! Then we landed at Charles de Gaulle airport in the morning and grabbed the bus that Sharon had arranged for us. I hardly had time to look at the city because I had to do some shopping (Chad dropped his Merican Express Card and Sharon gave it to us because… she really hates that Chad!!) before rushing to Gare de l’Est to board our train to Istanbul.

The Orient Express!! Everything was going just great, and we were having a exceptional dinner when suddenly the lights went out and… when they came back on the fabulous diamond skein of cashmere yarn that this lady with a really loud voice and super bossy attitude was showing to Sharon was gone! Sharon was accused of taking it (well, there was this little bit of red sparkly yarn on her whiskers) and before you knew it, she was locked into her berth and Chad was running (slithering?) across the roof of the train with just the tracks to show that he had been there. Now we have to find The Golden Bag of Cat Treats and this diamond yarn. What a mess. This is going to be hard because I think that Istanbul is a big place and there are a lot of places where a Death Worm named Chad could hide the goods…

That was our week in the Sharon Air MKAL. In the knitting story we ended coming into Istanbul where Sharon was going to go into the slammer while her security contacts worked behind the scenes to get her released, and in the real-world Sharon was thrown into Facebook jail for an entire month which basically is for the rest of the MKAL. What unbelievable Egregious Bullshittery (EB for short) that is!! The Mother of Cats has been wondering how to report EB to Facebook when she hasn’t been knitting.

I’ve been closely overseeing her work.

This week the clue took a turn that we didn’t see coming. The shawl had been a growing “V” shape, but this week the clue said to only knit on one side of the “V” so that is what the Mother of Cats did. Look at what is happening now:

One side (the left) is now bigger, and the other side is just hanging out on some yarn holding the stitches for the Mother of Cats.
This is what the new stitches on that side look like.

So now we are done with the third clue and the Mother of Cats is just sady knitting away on a pair of socks while we wait for the new clue to arrive on Friday. Poor Sharon. Will she get out of the slammer? Will she get her flamethrower back? Do they have nice sushi for cats in Istanbul? I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Stay tuned! I can’t wait to see where we go next week!

This is Hannah, signing off.

Hannah and the CoalBear: Hannah heads to New Zealand on Sharon Air

Hi. I’m Hannah.

I got into my Blueberry box really early Friday morning while I was waiting for the next clue in the Sharon Air MKAL.

I was so excited while I was waiting for the clue 2 to arrive so I could know where we were heading next to catch Chad the Mongolian Death Worm who had stolen the priceless Golden Bag of CAT TREATS. He had been last seen in Cairo wearing a parka, so I knew that I was catching a flight to somewhere cold, but I never expected that I would he heading to… New Zealand. Oh. It’s winter there. The other thing that I didn’t expect was that I would be flying…

Litter Class!!!

Yeah. Litter Class is like coach in people airplanes. It’s towards the back part of the plane and all of the litter boxes are there at the back of the section. You don’t get a nice chair, or a cardboard box, or a blanket, or anything to sit on.

I really like blankets, but they wouldn’t let me use mine on the plane. I didn’t want to make a scene because it you act like an Eejit on the plane you get a parachute and get escorted to one of the exits… Sharon really doesn’t tolerate any in-flight nonsense!!

You are assigned your own spot on the floor and have to stay there. You need sharp claws because you need to dig in really, really hard during the takeoffs and landings or you’ll slide into some other cat’s territory, and you know how that is going to end up. Personally, I don’t like inter-cat conflict all that much, so I really used my claws! We did get a nice Fancy Feast meal and there was an interesting bird movie, but I was so glad when we landed in Auckland… only, our flight continued on to New Plymouth because we had to go to Mt. Taranaki because that’s where that annoying beyond belief Death Worm (named Chad) slithered off to with the CAT TREATS!! What a beautiful mountain! Why did he take the treats there, and what am I going to do to get my paws warm again!!! I hate cold!

Seriously, I spent the weekend working on the shawl with the Mother of Cats.
Here’s Clue 2 all knitted up! The Mother of Cats made almost no mistakes because I gave her lots and lots of support.

The Mother of Cats also took nice breaks to give me kitty cookies (I don’t work for free!! Seriously, what were you thinking of?), and even with the breaks we were done by the end of Monday.

Sigh. Now we have to wait until this Friday for the next clue. I wonder where we are going next? I would love to go to somewhere tropical with lots of fish to watch. Good think I still have one baby bunny in the yard to watch.

Well, that’s all the news.

This is Hannah, signing off.

The Mother of Cats is so bored she is knitting this pair of socks in the airport while we wait for the next clue to drop…