Monday, November 30, 2009

Kim Werker & Cleo

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Kim Werker, and Cleo last winter, on a frozen pond in Whistler, BC. It's a few days before she got spooked by avalanche blasting on the ski mountains and ran off – she was gone for around seven hours before my partner and brother-in-law were able to find her, injured but okay, stuck 15 feet up a rock face about 2km from where she ran off.

I'm a writer and blogger, currently working as community advocate and general helper-outer at LexPublica. I've written six books about crochet (the most recent, Crocheted Gifts, just came out), was editor of a crochet magazine, and have spent the last year reclaiming my crafty hobbies as, you know, recreation. This past year I've been focusing my work-related creating in other areas.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I love coffee but only drink it occasionally. I am, however, a habitual tea drinker. On days when I work from home, I make a cup around 3pm after Cleo and I have gone for a walk. During the eight months of the year when it's good and chilly – and often rainy – here in Vancouver, tea is the perfect thing to warm up with. Tea and the dog, who lays down next to me whether I'm working on the couch or at my desk.

What's brewing?

These days it's Read My Lips by David's Tea, with soy milk and honey.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?


Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Usually Cleo just curls up after our walk. But sometimes she'll be totally jacked up. At those times, it's a cookie in her Kong. She flips onto her back and holds it to her mouth with her front paws. On special occasions, I'll put peanut butter on the cookie before I shove it in there.

How did you come to be united with Cleo?

We adopted Cleo from the SPCA in Kamloops, BC, around seven years ago. It's hard to come by a puppy in Vancouver and the folks in Kamloops were more than happy to have us come out there. Cleo had been fostered since she was around two days old. Her litter had been found half frozen in December of 2002; we adopted her in February of 2003.

How did she get her name?

My partner originally wanted to name her after the Grateful Dead song "Cassidy." I hate the Grateful Dead. I fought tooth and nail against "Cassidy" – the thought of naming our puppy after the most boring band in history just made me want to scream. Luckily the name didn't stick, and by the end of our first night together we knew we had to come up with something else. As a puppy, Cleo looked a lot like a wee lab, except she had wolf eyes. They were exotic looking. Sort of like heavily made-up women in ancient Egyptian art. So we named her Cleopatra. We've never called her Cleopatra, though.

Has Cleo had any influence on your work?

Not really. Lots of crafters make stuff for pets, but I don't. Cleo's way too powerful a chewer for me to make her a toy of any sort, and she's a northern dog who's impervious to cold, so she's never needed a sweater. She's a constant companion, though. And she's thankfully never shown any interest in yarn – rolling in it, eating it, whatever.

What's an ordinary day like for Cleo?

When it's not the end of daylight savings (she's been waking me up at ungodly hours in the morning since the time change because she hasn't managed to learn how to read a clock), we usually get up around 7am. She chills out and does her business in the backyard, then she goes back to sleep. I take her for a short walk around 9am before heading off to work. My partner is a graduate student, and he takes her on a longer walk in the afternoon when he gets home from school. Evenings involve staring at the stove while dinner's cooking, waiting for food to magically fall to the floor, and cuddles later on at night.

Who is Cleo's best pet-pal?

Cleo has a few friends, but she's becoming more and more of a loner as she ages. It's really cute to watch, really. She'll meet dogs on a walk, sniff them quickly, and then she's like, "Ok. Run along now. I have things to sniff and you're in the way."

Where is Cleo's favorite place to go for walk?

She absolutely loves the beach. We live near the woods, too, and she's just as happy there.

What's Cleo's best quality?

She has impeccable comic timing.

What's Cleo's proudest moment so far? Her most embarrassing?

I don't know that she feels pride or embarrassment.

A high: finally mastering the "wookie" command – when we tell her to wookie, she speaks a lot like Chewbacca.

A low: That time a skunk sprayed her in the mouth. She was fine, but dear god what a nightmare. She was so confused. And smelly.

Kim Werker's latest book is Crocheted Gifts: Irresistable Projects to Make and Give (Interweave Press, 2009):
A collection of projects from today’s most popular crochet designers, Crocheted Gifts includes 25 designs suited for gift-giving—even if the recipient is you. From baby gifts to mittens for the whole family, from home decor to fancy lace, this book is full of perfect projects for every occasion.
Visit Kim Werker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue