Friday, February 29, 2008


Just a quickie to show off a bit. Here's a put-together-from-squares-made-by-others afghan that I am finishing up this weekend.

Squares are 7" on a side (mostly) created by a number of people who are part of The Ships Project in a variety of red and blue acrylic yarns.

Joining yarn is Red Heart Classic Olympic Blue.

Intended victim recipient is a soldier who served as Point of Contact (POC) for the Project in the Sandbox.

I have about 1/2 of the outside edging to complete, then it's in the mail it goes.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Tail of Cats (and Socks)

Once upon a time, there was a sweet catly princess named Penny.

Penny was rescued from a caged life (do not get me started) of a year and a half. She had given birth to a litter of kittens. They were all adopted, but Poor Penny stayed behind in a big cage in a window where she could look out on her kingdom. But that's no life for a Princess.

Eventually (see note about 18 long months, above), she found her way into Casa Sheepie and into the hearts of those who dwell there.

Last summer she left this realm and crossed the Bridge, but the love and sweetness she left behind was reborn in the dyepots of RabbitWorks

And so, Gentle Readers, the Rabbitch sent me a skein of Toe Jam yarn in the Penny ccolorway, and I (finally) commenced to knit it up into a pair of socks. For me. Me. Me. (Leftovers to become Prince-Feet in due time.)

Toe Jam is soft and wooly and I just know I will ove these socks. Thanks, Janice!

The only place in the world where this particular limited edition is still available is here.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Little Red Riding Hood?

Using the same pattern as the little green and eggplant sweater (but at a slightly larger gauge) I present the latest sweater for the Tiny Prince.

Regular readers will recognize "Tommy," who has been with me a good long time (oh, about 50 years) and will notice that he's no longer able to serve as model for the Tiny Prince's new sweaters.
The sweater is from Knitting Pure and Simple (and I'm too lazy to link). You can Google it if you don't already have the site bookmarked.

The pattern is free. The yarn is Lion Brand Cotton Ease. I used about 1.5 balls of (discontinued) Cherry Red (about 300 yards).

Expect to see most of the TP's stuff on hangers from here on out.

The buttons are tiny clocks (embiggen by clicking, you might be able to tell).

I didn't make button holes (next time), but rather crocheted loops to go around the buttons.

Heet the Feet 2008 is fast drawing to a close.

Are you entering People's Choice?

If you are, send a photo of your "best" slippers, socks, or booties to me: . Be sure to get your stuff in the mail by Friday, February 29.

On or about March 1, I will post the photos and call for a vote. Prizes (besides chocolate) include yarn, patterns, and a book.

Here are the socks and slippers I bought for Heet the Feet.

I mailed them today along with some hot chocolate mix (heet the tummy), a couple of Care Bears (heat the heart) and some nice foot lotion (soften and sweeten the feet).

Here's Sparky picking out her favorite pair of Feet Heeters from the ones I made.

These were mailed today, too.

Here's the address:

Cheyenne River Youth Project
P.O. Box 410
Eagle Butte, SD 57625

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Making Life a Little Easier

This one's for the "joiners" and the scrapghan makers!

I honed a tool I've been using for a while to help me with the Point of Contact (POC) afghan joining, and let me tell you, this has made life a whole bunch easier.

If you are a tactile person, this technique may mot be for you, but after a week of On-The-Floor crawling around to serve the Tiny Prince, I can tell you that these knees no longer crawl all that well!

First up, traditional method of setting afghan squares into place:


(okay, second. First is edging them all with a round of something--I used half-double crochet)

you spill them onto the floor.

Vacuuming first is optional, though recommended.

No, I didn't. Why?

Then you get onto the floor and start moving them around into a pleasing pattern.

Then you shift them.

Then you move them again.

And again.

And possibly, again.

All the while, cursing that you were too cheap to didn't buy rug padding.

Ibuprofen will be served after.

There is a better way!

And if you are reading this, it involves tools you already have (probably) at your very fingertips!

Excel, my sisters and brothers! Tool of the debbilMicrosquish. (any spreadsheet program that is installed on your machine will work. I happen to be Excel-literate or thought I was until we installed the latest version which has so damned many new features as to overwhelm the casual user, but I digress).


Okay, open up Excel your spreadsheet program!

See all those cute little squares (okay, rectangles)?

You can manipulate the size of those puppies through the "format" tab. I changed them to square by setting the Column Width to 4.57 and the Row Height to 35. That gave me nice square squares. Your mileage (and your version) may vary, so be prepared to play around a bit.

Next, figure out how many squares of each color you have to work with (I counted, then jotted that number on the spreadsheet)and start playing with the "fill" function. Fill will generally allow you to pick through (at the very least) the basic "crayon" colors. Some versions have subtle variations. Go crazy, here. You aren't marryingthe colors!

If you have a color printer (I don't) you can go nuts with intense colors. If you are limited to black on white printing (like I am) you might consider using less intense color, but more obvious "shades" so that when you print (assuming you plan to) you will be able to tell one color from the other.

You can save your doodling and come back to it later (that's what I did), or print it out (assuming that you have a color printer). I plan to work right from the screen.

Or, you can print it out on your black and white printer and use your trusty colored pencils (or crayons) to indicate colors (I've done that, too).

For the red and blue 'ghan (with two "duo-colored accents" that aren't as abrupt as they look in the graph), I'll be using the layout in the upper left.

The jury's still out on the red/white/blue one (since I haven't edged the squares yet). A couple of these layouts use exactly the number of squares I have on hand. One (upper left) requires that I make 2 more red squares before I start joining.

The whole process is lots of fun! And sure beats crawling around on the floor.

You're welcome.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Once a Year

(Male readers should avert their eyes. Ladies, this one is for you!)

I went for that appointment today. No, not that one, the other one. Where I always shave the pits and leave off the "powder, lotion, deodorant" because it ruins the films. That one!

So it's over for another year (or 20 months if history repeats).

I'll know in a week.

If you've been putting off getting your own girls mooshed because of the pain or the embarassment, consider the alternative.

Just saying.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Overstating the Obvious

This was delivered to the house today. In case we couldn't figure it out on our own, it is a "little box."


And sheep, too!


Monday, February 18, 2008

Not Much To See

Today marks the second 3-day weekend of 2008. What did I do with my day? I ironed [!] I cleaned the bathroon [!] I scrubbed cat puke off the (very porous) cement basement floor [!]
It's all excitement all the time here at Casa Sheepie!
And I packed up these beauties to mail off to the Tiny Prince and his mom.
On the left is a basic beanie (cast on 72 stitches) in 2X2 ribbing. I decided to finish off the top thus: Continue knitting in pattern except that I decreased 1 stitch at 6 points EOR by k 2 tog. It made for an interesting top "star" and unfortunately, the photos I took were too blurry to show it. The ending off was pointier than I would like for a beanie, so I added the top knot. Yarn is the very last of some ancient superwash (Knitaly) that predates the current ubiquitous mooshy superwash.
The other two are basic bulky roll brims. I followed Kim Salazar's 42-stitch hat pattern except that I cast on 48 stitches for Mom and 36 stitches for the Tiny Prince. The yarn is LB Landscapes (50/50 wool/ack) in a color called Deep Sea. Two balls was enough for both with a little bit (3 yards?) left over.
Tomorrow, we go Back To Work. I am so excited! ::not::

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Knitting For The Community

Can we Talk?

Yes, this is another rant about charity and what it means to me.

I started joining Contributed Squares into afghans shortly after 9/11 when the folks at XRX (Knitter's Magazine) collected thousands of them to make afghans for the families of victims. I have joined for kids in foster care, and for Project Linus, and I have been contributing squares to various causes like Warming Grace, Native American Support, and Ship Support since dirt was new.

I am putting together some thoughts and observations. These are not meant to offend anyone, but if the shoe fits. . .

Let them provide some guidance to the folks who are creating squares for various community efforts. I was asked to get my thoughts together for Ship Support, because I am one of the new "afghan joiners" for our POC (Point of Contact) afghans. I've posted some of this to that list already; the photos are the icing on the cake.

Rabbitch (who was a regional coordinator for Blankets For Canada (correct me if that name is wrong, Janice) contributed to this list.

So, in no particular order and appropos to ANY and EVERY joint effort:

1) Use the materials that are requested. For Ship Support, that means smooth, worsted weight, washable yarn. Frankly, good old Red Heart Classic or Supersaver is more than "just fine," IMHO, for these afghans, it is superior to the "soft" acrylics. It's firm in the crocheting or knitting (and joining) and softens nicely when laundered. If you like working with the "soft" stuff, use it for something else unless that's what the group has requested. If the group requests wool, use wool. If it requests cotton, use cotton. They know what they need!

2) Make the square (or rectangle) the size requested. For Ship Support, that means 7" square. Not 'about 7",' EXACTLY 7"! In the box of 96 squares I received from the afghan coordinator, I have "squares" ranging from 6" X 5.5" to 7" X 6" to 7.5" X 8" and even larger. If it's not the right size when you measure it, please rip it out and start over. (The royal blue square in the center is 7" square. All of these squares were made under the same guidelines.)

3) If you need to block your square to make it the right size, DON'T. It isn't the right size! If it is acrylic, one of two things will happen: If you use heat, you will "kill" the fabric rendering it limp and lifeless. If you use water to soak it (or a spray bottle), it's going to spring right back to the size it was. That's what "bounce back" fiber means. The square at left was either "killed" or knit at such a large (and inappropriate) gauge that it has no body. None. Limp as a dishrag.

4) If you are knitting your square, use a needle a couple sizes smaller than the ball band suggests. This will give you a denser, firmer fabric. (I typically use a size 4 or 5 with worsted weight yarn.) I will assume (and we all know what that means) that crocheters should do the same, though crochet makes, by its nature, a denser fabric. If your crocheted square is so dense that you have trouble adding rows or rounds, loosen up. The joiners won't have any more success than you did.

5a) Send the colors that are requested. For Ship Support, that means, no neon, no pastels, no lavender, and definitely no PINK! (This applies to slippers, socks, and hats as well, by the way.) Ship Support seeks "guy colors" for afghan squares: earth tones (colors of fall) bright colors (like the crayons we loved as kids), red, white, and blue (like the U.S. flag), and burgundy (maroon), navy, and hunter green. Squares in pale blue and pink ill not work!

5b) If there are no color restrictions, and you have a wild and funky yarn you want to use, please make more than one so that it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb in the finished blanket! (These are my personal squares for a blankie for Native American Support foster care program. I had enough of the "candy" variegated to make 3 squares like this, or one all of the vari. See what I chose to do?

6) Make sure that your binding (or fastening) off is firm and that your ends are woven in neatly. (One of the squares I edged last night had FOUR ends to be woven in! And a knot!)

7) Please wash your squares before sending them if they don't look and smell spotless. It would be helpful if you use an unscented detergent and dryer sheets (if you use them). The combined scents of several detergents and dryer sheets is a bit overwhelming!

8) If you have pets, please use adhesive tape to remove pet hair from your squares, or pick the hairs out one by one. At least one joiner (me) has a cat that is perfectly capable of making this afghan look "homey" all by herself. And for the record, I will be picking Sparky-hair off the finished afghan one hair at a time before I mail it.

9) Plan your squares. If you mix colors, make sure they look good together, and that the squares themselves look good. I have 3 squares that are as follows: 16 rows red, 8 rows white/ 10 rows red, 17 rows white/ 12 rows red, 7 rows white, 7 rows navy. What could have been with some planning? One red square, one white square, and one square that had a stripe of red on each end flanking the white and navy stripes.

10) Knitters, please avoid all-garter stitch (knit every row). It's way too stretchy when combined with other squares. And avoid stockinette stitch (knit the front, purl the back) and reverse stockinette (just like stockinette, only reversed), too. Those squares are really thin and limp, and they curl. For Ship Support, we've been told that the guys DON'T LIKE LACE. So we avoid stitches with yarn overs (lacy).

11) Crocheters, for Ship Support avoid granny squares for the same reason knitters should avoid yarn overs. The guys have told us THEY DON'T LIKE THEM.

We all need to be reminded constantly that Ship Support* is NOT a Charity Effort. These are not homeless guys who would freeze to death without our afghans. This is a way for us to say "thanks" to the men and women who volunteer their time and their lives in support of our defense. No matter your feelings on the war, they are young people (and some not so young) who deserve our support and our best efforts. It is, after all, ABOUT THEM, not us.

Knitters, consider dragging out your stitch dictionary (or google "knit
stitch patterns" or some similar phrase) to make interesting textured
squares. Beginners might like to try stitches like bamboo, seed, rice,
and basketweave. More exprienced knitters might want to do some simple
cables or other fancy stitches. Spread your wings! Experiment! A 7"
square is so small that if you have to start over, it's not as tragic
as, say, ripping an XXL sweater back!

Crocheters, try squares of single or half-double (or double or treble)
crochet and variations. I am a neophyte crocheter, so I am really
talking through my hat here. I will fully admit to being intrigued by
pictures of 1X1 Raised Double Crochet Rib! I'd love to see it in real
life in an afghan square!

Note: Personally, I hold the same standards in crafting for homeless people. They are people first and deserve respect. Someone once said something about "the least of my people."

*Truthfully, the same could be said about efforts like Warming Grace (cotton 'ghans for kids in cancer care) and Project Linus. Those kids need the comfort that a blankie brings. They are not "charity cases." And neither are our service people!


Friday, February 15, 2008


After seeing the Harlot's socks (revenge), I thought I'd make myself a pair. (A girl can never have too many socks!)

Besides, I had mine (eyes left) before she did (I'm pretty sure) and it certainly has had time to age!

So I put that skein of wooly goodness onto my swift and balled it right on up!

Where, you ask, did this bit of wonderfulness come from?

Why, RabbitWorks , of course!

Janice dyed this colorway up special, after Penny's passing.

The colors are pure tortie. I plan to start my socks this weekend. Stay tuned!

And in Knitting Knews, here's the latest for The Tiny Prince of Wails. Yes, it really is a knitted donut.

According to the development charts, he should soon be reaching and grasping and holding.

What better thing to hold than a donut?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just Adding a Picture

Here's a good shot of the Tiny Prince with his mom in his green sweater.

Nice, warm, wooly. Just the thing for a cold winter day.

Sleep tight, little Prince.

The Other Grandmother has been there for weeks. I am as green as Rowan's sweater

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Who Ordered This Weather?

The East Coast (or at least the part where I live) was under Winter Weather advisory yesterday. I knew this because it took me twice as long to get home as usual. Schools across the region had early dismissal. It was a nightmarish evening.

So what was Weatherbug's encore?

How about a flood advisory?

My workplace is low-lying. Okay, my workplace is in a flood plain. We have creeks on each side of the building which makes in idyllic in the spring and summer, what with all the wildlife (the Attack Geese, for example), but not so much during downpours and hurricanes and such.

I am back home after 2 hours on the road. (It's a 17 mile drive each way. Normally takes 25-30 minutes.)

Drove to work at 6 over icy roads, dodging tree branches that fell because of the overnight ice.

The access road to our access road's access road was blockaded by the police (that usually indicates high water), so I pulled over and called my boss to tell him, then turned around to head home.

By the time I passed the blockade again, it had been removed and the road was open, so I drove in the last 1/2 mile.

There was a tractor trailer stopped on our entrance ramp, and my operations manager was there, talking to the driver and the guy that plows our lot.

Clearly, it was a matter of a few minutes before the culvert overspilled its banks and our lot would be under water. Drat! Had to come back home, though I'd have paid big bucks to stay watch the truck driver navigate the uphill side of the ramp. :snicker: I wonder if there's a video.

Sadly, my noon meeting (off-site) is still on, probably.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Out and About

The Tiny Prince took a little dinner out with Mom, Grandma, and some friends the other night.

He was fetching in his green and eggplant sweater (with mouse button) made by Mammo (that would be moi).

Judging from the background, it was the Mexican place with the sombreros, not the hummus place where the birthday song has a cha cha beat and there are flashing strobe lights. The Tiny Prince is all about strobe lights!

I guess a fellow can't have everything.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Yes, Pink!

Very pink, in fact!

Here is just a tiny bit of the yarn that Mary sent me, all made up into Heet the Feet booties for a tiny baby girl at Cheyenne River Reservation.

They sure are pink!

Pattern (pictured underneath the knitting) is from 101 Knitting-To-Go Projectsfrom House of White Birches. Yarn is a very soft, now-discontinued acrylic/nylon blend (Passport Yarn Company St. Tropez) from Michael's.

Bubblegum has nothing on these.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Whole Town Must Be On Fire!

We came back upstairs after watching a night of bad stuff to the sounds of many (dare I say dozens?) of blaring sirens. The Other Half had just taken the trash our and swore he detected a smell of "smoke too strong to be someone's fireplace."

It sounded a lot like they were approaching our 'hood. Then it sounded like they were lost (the sound of circling sirens, ya know?). Then is sorta faded away.

Then the Other Half remembered. League basketball championships. . .

Small town life. Every winning team gets a parade. Even if it's 11 o'clock at night. And even if it's just the team riding on fire trucks and parents waving from the sidewalk.

Afterthought: I just checked the newspaper, and "Our boys" did indeed win the Colonial League Championship.

Unlike the girls' basketball teams which are perennial winners, our high school boys' teams were so terminally bad for so long that this is a nice surprise. (And I had already determined that I would need to rewrite this entry if the town had actually burned to the ground while the firetrucks circled endlessly.)

Way to go, Bulldogs! Keep those wins coming!

The Younger Kid got us a Netflix subscription for Christmas, so we've been exploring a bunch of different genres that we wouldn't couldn't find at our local 48 Hours (in some cases, with very good reason). Many of these movies are so obscure that Netflix is probably the only thing keeping them alive.

One such movie is The Corpse Grinders, an achingly bad B horror movie from the early 70s. The cinematography is reminiscent of the porn of the era (go on, admit you saw some in college) with really bad acting, really bad costuming, really cheap sets, wobbly camera action, no story line. Okay TCG had a story line (silly, unbelievable) but it had all the other features as well. The scary thing is that the producer made a sequel in 2000. (We will not be requesting it!) I can thank Janice for the recommendation, and now you can thank me.

I was directed to this cute pattern and I am giving serious thought to changing the colors and making it for The Tiny Prince of Wails. Discuss. He's a baby for lord's sake! Babies can wear stuff like this no matter what the gender! (Navy, red, white, maybe light blue. I dunno. No pink.--Pink makes me break out in hives.)

I gathered all my Heet the Feet donations into one corner of my "office/studio" this morning for a glamor shot. The big box is the socks and slippers I have purchased, mostly at places like the Dollar Tree where Fruit of the Loom socks with an MSRP of $5 for 2 pairs are 2 pairs for a buck.

The smaller (emptier) box is the slippers I have knit. Clearly, I need to get busy!

My plan is to mail the last week of the month.

For those of you coming late to this Challenge, the goal of Heet the Feet is to provide warm Feet Heeters (socks, slippers, etc. to the Lakota Sioux kids (and adults) living on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota (where it is very, very cold. If you are interested in helping with handmade or purchased Heeters, start knitting (or crocheting) and plan to send me a picture of your Very Best Effort. A People Choice Award hangs in the balance. Very Cool Purchased Socks are eligible. After all, it's People's Choice.

If you'd like to join Native American Support you are very welcome.

And on another knitting note, here are the first (of I hope many) Hugs From Home that I have knit for Ship Support this month.

Lest anyone think I added the pattern because I am cheapfrugal and was running out of yarn, I present the leftovers from each of the hats. There might be slippers!

It's snowing here in eastern Pennsylvania, USA. I have friends in the Southern Hemisphere where it is summer. I wonder how they would feel about houseguest(s).

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

This Is Not A Test!

Gentle reminder that February is Knit and Send month for Heet the Feet!

All of you are welcome to knit and mail socks, slippers, booties, tights, sneakers, boots, etc. to Cheyenne River Reservation this month, and I sure hope that you will.

There will be a People's Choice Award awarded right here at the beginning of March.

Here's how to get your chance to win a fabulous fiber-related prize package:

1) make or buy at least one really great pair of feet heeters
2) take a picture
3) email the picture to:
4) mail the feet heeters to
Cheyenne River Youth Project
P.O. Box 410
Eagle Butte, SD 57625
before the deadline (February 29)

On or about March 1, I will post all of the pictures here and call for a vote. Picture with the most votes gets the prize.

Any questions?


Monday, February 04, 2008

You Make My Day

I read lots of blogs. I follow links in emails (from my lists) and from other people's blogs. Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised and add the blog to my favorites. Other times, I look at the purty pictures, but don't bookmark.

There are some well-known blogs I read (Harlot, Wendy, for example) that I will not list here. You folks already know who they are and how to find them. instead, I will list some of the lesser known "daily reads," and some of the "check in once a week or so" blogs.

Okay Amy and Lizzy,, here's the list of blogs I try to read daily*:

Rabbitch who is my friend and who can be counted on for something snarky, creative, or sarcastic most days.

Franklin whose cartoons make me giggle, inspire me to greatness, and hold my cup of tea.

Lolcats which is always good for a LOL! (Go on, admit you love it too!)

Gladys Quimby has good photos and inciteful plays on words.

Nicole's political commentary is usually spot on. She sews and she rows. What more could you want?

Steph is smart and interesting, and a freakin' AWARD WINNER! Yay, Steph!

Mariella is one of the other folks who knits for Cheyenne River. Pop over and look at her sockies!
Laurel aka Crazy Cat Lady, Lady Builder of great things, and a hellofa knitter to boot!

Bill White, the other guy on the list. He's local to me and writes his opinions in the Morning Call on the days he doesn't blog. (Like old movies? Check out Bill's Blog!)

All the others (it's a long list).

*Besides Lizzy and Amy

Sunday, February 03, 2008

New Setpoint

In my mind, I have forever had a weight Above Which I Will Never Weigh.

On January 1, 2008, I woke to find myself 4.8 pounds over that number. Naked. After peeing.

I was shocked. Appalled. And depressed.

And I swore that I would get down below that number pronto.

It took nearly a month. But I fell below that number about a week and a half ago (my digital scale was at home so the exact moment is unknown). When I got home from visiting the Tiny Prince and His Mom, I was pleased to find myself back on This Side of That Number. So pleased, in fact, that I set myself a weight Above Which I Will Never Weigh that is 5 pounds lower than the original number, vowed to get below it and never stray above again. Ever.

This morning, I was .2 pound below it! I'm stoked!

Here are pictures of the cat mentioned in yesterday's post. She decided to cooperate this morning.

Sparky's not a yarny sort of cat. But she has latched onto this piece of white acrylic yarn and made it her own.

Do not touch the yarn tangle!

(Photos judiciously cropped to eliminate the bare belly of the cat.)

I think it's Red Heart. Sparky's a cheap date.

Tip I'd like to share: When gathering the final stitches of a sock, slipper, or hat, use a darning egg (or suitable substitute like a light bulb) to firm up the knitting.

You will get a much nicer finish. I don''t remember where I saw this tip, but I'm happy I "discovered" it!

Note to Amy and Lizzy: I am not ignoring your very kind nomination of this blog as a "You Make My Day" site.

I have a short list of blogs (many already nominated by others) that I read every day, and a much longer list that I try to check in on weekly.

I promise to play.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

St. Brigid's Day Poetry

My Cat by Judith Viorst (from If I Were In Charge of the World and other worries)

My cat isn't stuck up,
Even though
He's the handsomest cat in the world,
And smart,
And brave,
And climbs the highest trees.
My cat will sit on your lap and let you pet him.
He won't mind.
He thinks human beings are
Almost as good
As he is.

Happy Brigid's Day!


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