Yes. Thanks to ME the pool dreams are coming true. The show of poop came to an end today, to much hilarity.
Yes. Other than a minor adjustment, the pool is working. It is a miracle, sort of. First, the pool guys showed up bright and early with a new heater. This one worked and was not too bad to install. However, they’d been unable to find the missing mechanism for the fire pit. Bummer.
Then I worked a lot. Work, work, work, meet, meet, meet. Oh, did I mention we had our first “meal” with the kids at the cabin last night? Yes! Dairy Queen drive through! Official move-in date is this weekend.
Anyway, mid afternoon the propane guys came back. They got the heater hooked up, and now we’re cooking with gas. Yep.
We were all sad that we could not get the fire pit going. They got more stuff attached, and we’re looking around at the inside of the pit. It was all dusty and full of plastic stuff that appeared to be trash.
Ha. That was not trash. I picked up a bag and there was some copper stuff in it. Hey, is this the thing you we’re looking for?
Well. I was the hero of the day. In fact, everything they needed was under the dust from drilling the holes. Sheepishly, the guys set off to hook everything up. And soon, as you saw earlier, fire occurred.
So yes. The pool is a pool! Other than needing something to brace the fire pit mechanism against and covering the new holes, we are set. Just in time for a cold front. I do think we’ll get to try the hot tub, though.
I know the lady at the pool company got a good laugh out of me finding those parts. She no longer has to try to buy one and get it rushed here. As for me, even though I work 7 am to 8 pm tomorrow, I’m seeing nothing but blue skies. Quarantine with hot tub is way better than without.
Hot tub inaugurated. Still not hot and the cold front blew in!
We were all excited yesterday, because the propane people were supposed to come hook up the hot tub and fire pit, since our swimming pool is just a large water dish right now.
Let’s start with good news. The guy from DIRECTV showed up and stood the satellite dish back up so we can see television. He was unable to do anything about getting things set up so we can put a set in my office, because we have the COVID in the house. But, now he knows what we need, so he’ll be prepared in case we ever get the all-clear to participate in society again. This disease can make some people so sick. It’s horrible. Yes, that was the good news.
The rest of the stuff for the day did not go well for anyone involved. First, the pool company sent a young fellow out to “fix” our fire pit, because it apparently needed ventilation holes that they didn’t know about before. They’d started it last week, but not gotten very far.
So, the young fella drilled and drilled, and repeatedly said, “Oh, snap!” which I thought was charming. Pretty soon, he’d burned out the drill, so he had to go all the way back to Waco to get another one. That thrilled him to no end.
Before he came back, the propane guys arrived. Let’s just say they weren’t thrilled to find out that a) the pool heater was not functional, so they couldn’t hook it up, and b) they were supposed to install a line to the fire pit, which they had not been informed about. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication going on around here.
They went ahead and attached the gas line to the propane tank, which was the thing we were most concerned about, then grumbled a lot as they got pipe to the fire pit.
Speaking of grumbling, the nice pool kid returned with what had to be the biggest drill I ever saw. I think it’s an impact driver or something. He couldn’t even lift it! He also couldn’t change bits until our resident tool person showed him how in a rather graphic fashion that I will not share here.
I finally suggested that maybe we’d have a drill bigger than the first one and smaller than the second one, and sure enough, we did, and he finished after five endless hours of drilling and being complained to by the propane guys about sending them here with none of the stuff ready (like some vitally important key to turn the fire pit on and off, which I swear used to be there). None of these workers had a good day, though they were all perfectly pleasant to us, and we did get in a few laughs.
I was told that a new heater was coming today and that they would get the hot tub going. It’s afternoon already and I see no workers of any sort. I’m not surprised, since the propane guys have other clients. But, where is the pool heater?
I pity the poor young woman who works for the pool company and had the bad timing to email me asking how the propane went. I told her. Many excuses later, and we still do not have a fire pit, a hot tub, or a covered trench. I think the Pool of Dreams will just have to remain a dream a while longer…another cold front is coming and the wind’s picked up again!
I’m sure glad I have all those horses to fill me with joy!
Earlier today when I was writing about the Phosphorescence book, I said that being with horses was the exercise that brings me joy. Yesterday and today certainly proved it to me. After my lesson with Apache yesterday, I was so happy that I smiled my way down the dirt road, and when a big ole roadrunner ran across in front of me, I laughed aloud, all by myself in the car. What makes me so happy?
Yes, making progress with my riding skills and relationship with Apache does make me happy, but I think it’s hard not to be happy when you’re outdoors, surrounded by the trees and water Julia Baird talked about as bringing joy, and with people who are full of positive energy and care for each other. Even though I’m not able to be around people much, I can be with Sara and Tarrin outdoors (masked near Sara) and working on something with friends is another thing that lifts my mood.
Yesterday’s work with Apache was really uplifting. He made it very clear that he feels much better after the bodywork he received last week. When Tarrin was riding him, he almost floated at the trot, with no head tossing or making of faces. He seemed happy to be working with her. He even started learning how to walk with his haunches in.
And when I got on him, it felt as good as or maybe better than when he was younger and following Spice around. I guess it was better, because he followed my instructions at a trot, even, and not a scary trot. I think he also feels better about trotting than he did before.
THEN, I got invited to go out of the round pen and do something he wasn’t expecting. First, I was supposed to turn left and walk around the outside of the round pen, rather than going into the arena area. Ooh, he wasn’t interested in that, but I was able to get him to do what he needed to do pretty easily. After three times doing that, we were supposed to turn right and head toward the trailer. Oh my, he did not want to do that.
However, Tarrin coached me on how to deal with his shenanigans and I kept at it. Much backing up on his part and much calmness on my part led to him eventually doing what we were asking him to do. By the third time, by gosh, I was in charge. I was so dang proud of him. We then went back in the round pen, circled, then stood nice and quiet. This is the kind of progress I’d hoped to get from all this training.
Today it warmed up pleasantly (though there was a LOT of frost this morning), so I made time for both of the horses.
Drew was so happy to get to do stuff. He is like a little doll sometimes. I managed to get the Western saddle on him (I’m supposed to saddle him for exercise, but last week was too hectic for me to do it) and off we went. He ran in circles, did his jumps in both directions, then went on a walk, where he was surprised to find out that he had to do more work. I finally found a spot to do his hill climbing, next to the arroyo. He circled up and down in both directions then reluctantly backed up the hill, so his back will stay okay. He is so much fun to work with. I love our time together and am so grateful for his training!
He went back and I got Apache, who pretended not to want to come to me, but then did. The scamp. He’s so much happier still. I didn’t plan to do much with him, since he worked hard yesterday, but I wanted to build on the success. Sure enough, we had a good ride in the round pen with lots of controlled trotting, turning and changing directions like we’ve been doing it forever. I felt a lot more in control using the Western saddle, which surprised me. And I figured out that the leg aid I was trying to use to move him to the side of the pen was an invitation to trot to him. I figured out what to do with my leg and after that all was well.
Then comes the funny part. I was trying to leave with the tack and grooming supplies when the gate opened up more than I intended and both horses, who’d been bonding and breathing into each other’s noses and rolling around (Drew), both took the chance to dash out into the yard. They seemed so happy. I said to myself, fine, enjoy yourselves. I got the food bowls, took the tack back, and then came to find Apache and Drew.
Drew was happily grazing in his favorite spot by the RV. I just walked up to him, asked him to raise his head, put on his halter, and off we went. He seemed just happy to be with me. He exudes joy.
Of course, Apache was hiding. He was behind the chickens, I guess thinking no one could see him. I went over to him, and he bolted in a most spectacular manner, wheeling, and flying (see he, feels good). I just watched to see where he was going. I just started laughing. He ran straight to the gate leading into the pens. I walked over to the gate into his feeding area and opened it. He came over and just walked in. Obviously, dinner is more important to him than freedom. What a guy.
No matter how irritated I am that we still have to be confined to the house and that none of the pool projects that were supposed to be finished today were finished, I have the joy that comes with being around the spirits of horses. Life is good, and I’m reminded of that repeatedly these days, even though they are dark days in many ways.
My husband, Lee, heard some people talking about this book on one of his podcasts, so he ordered it for me as a Christmas present. He said it just sounded like something I’d enjoy, and he was right! I’m so glad to have come across Phosphorescence: A Memoir of Finding Joy When Your World Goes Dark, by Julia Baird (2021). I found myself underlining numerous passages and recommending the book to others after just a couple of chapters.
Julia Baird, an Australian journalist who has had her share of darkness thanks to three bouts with cancer, shares with us the things she has done and the beliefs she holds close that have enabled her to hold joy in her life. They may be things I already knew, but I sure enjoyed the way she put them. I guess there’s a bit of confirmation bias in my enjoyment of this book, because the things that make her happy seem to be, in many cases, the same ones I turn to over and over again.
I’ll have to take her word for it that swimming long distances in the ocean before sunrise makes one happy, so I’m substituting working with horses for that one. I love the idea, though, that we all have an inner glow, sometimes literally, and that there’s a phosphorescence in us all.
The book’s a memoir, so we learn a lot about Baird as we read it, as well as about some of the pretty amazing folks she’s gotten to know in her journalism career. But most important is learning how hard she has worked to find the sources of joy in her life and seeing how gracious she is with sharing her innermost thoughts, including her spirituality.
Now, we all know I’m not fond of institutions, particularly religious institutions, and even of institutions that I have been saddled with by virtue of being born the person I am (political systems, business shit, etc.). I don’t think Baird is very fond of them either, especially patriarchal ones, but I ended up loving her religious chapters toward the end, because she lovingly reminded me that there is a version of Christianity that truly is about love, peace, and caring for the weak and powerless. And she talks about how her beliefs fit in with other religious paths, so I didn’t feel like she was out to convert, only to explain.
That was at the end of the book. The beginning, where Baird talks about how being around trees and other plants heightens our happiness and how being around water makes things even better…that’s the part I underlined a lot. Baird also explains why silence is also important (and by that she means absence of human sounds–nature sounds are good). That is making me laugh since I’ve been listening to a guy drilling a hole in my fire pit all day.
I honestly don’t want to tell you all the ways Baird talks about how we can keep ourselves positive in dark times, to encourage you to read this for yourself, but one thing that was important helped me understand my impulse to write out my thoughts, my feelings, and my mundane experiences in a blog. Women’s stories have been hidden by history, or saved in subtle ways like quilts and embroidery. When letter writing became possible, women wrote and wrote, but how much was saved?
Our history and our stories are important too, even if we don’t rule a country or run a company. Each of us humans has a story, and it is good to share them with others. Sure, all we used to have was verbal storytelling, but now that we have access to other ways to share, Baird encourages us all to do so. So I’m going to share my wild and imperfect life right here, and I hope you, too, find a way to bring joy in your life by noticing the small things and sharing them.
My goodness was yesterday a total pain in the butt and other places. Today, however, we kicked our challenges in the butt.
Yesterday I mentioned it was really windy and that the satellite television receiver was damaged. Today it finished falling over. So, we had to call DirectTV. Lee couldn’t find the customer support number, so I found that. Much dialing, redialing, cursing, and knitting on hold ensued. Finally a guy answered. And after some combined effort and cursing, we actually got a repair scheduled for tomorrow.
Next, I wanted to watch football. The customer support person just said, in a chipper fashion, you can use the app! This set me off toward many hours of trying to figure out how to log in.
Then I discovered I needed to sign on to AT&T to get to the television app. No password or user info I had worked. So I got to enjoy another customer support person. At least they answered fast. After 20 minutes explaining that I’d give them my 8 digit passcode if I had any idea what it was, I got many things reset.
Next, I tried to log in with all the various numbers and letters I’d gathered. Everything I did required a text or email verification, half of which went to me and half to Lee. By this time, even I was getting testy. They make things so damned secure that legitimate users feel like they’re being interrogated. I kept typing in the special secret passcode the nice lady had set up for me, but I could not get in. Turns out they needed the shorter passcode that had reared up way earlier in the day.
At long last the DirectTV and AT&T accounts are merged. I know the username and password, not that dang passcode or the other passcode. I watched football. Ironically, I watched it on Paramount+ not the thing I took hours to set up. Can’t watch live TV on the app without the upgrade. Crap.
Today I also wanted to watch football. We had been unable to get the phone to stream to the TV on Bluetooth yesterday, also frustrating. So, today I got the game on my laptop. Woo! Then Lee moved a shelf into the house, found an HDMI cable, and got the thing to work. Ta da.
You may be a millennial or younger person, which means you’ve been watching television on many different apps for years. You may find our challenges funny. But I have an excuse!
We never watch streaming services here at the ranch, because we don’t have good Internet. We can’t stream without using up our limited data. No 5G. No cable internet. No fiber. No nothing. So, we never had to set all this up before.
Now I have some choices for emergencies. I’m not gonna get Netflix until we have something more viable. But that was sure a lot of work.
Looking forward to tomorrow. Both the hot tub and the satellite dish should function! And maybe our sick relatives will be on the mend?
Today it is windy as all heck. All my chairs, all the barrels in the horse area, and everything else that isn’t tied down has blown to new and interesting locations. Lee and I had tried to put together a storage shed yesterday, and placed it against a wall, where we thought it would be safe. It took a little jaunt around the corner of the patio.
Even worse, the wind blew the satellite dish around so we can’t even watch something on television. But Lee says it’s a good opportunity to get the dish moved and bring in wiring to let me have a television in my office/den for when I want to cocoon. No complaints about that!
This is the LAST day I wanted to be trapped inside. It is my annual Day of Regrets (or “regerts” as the apocryphal tattoo someone got said), where I mourn the loss of my older son on his birthday. He’s 31. Happy birthday to a person I still love.
Obviously, I need to have stuff to do to keep my mind busy, but I sure as heck am not going out there to mess with horses. I did go out and stand in the shelter with them and provide some love, even to Mabel, who stood with me for five minutes! And, of course, the chickens are taken care of. I just don’t want to linger.
So, this morning I got out my hair toner stuff to make my white ends more silvery. And you know I was bored, because I took pictures of the entire process using Snap Chat filters. The good news is that the bit of longer hair in front that was somewhat discolored now looks beautiful, and the dark part sparkles.
Well, that wasted a whole half hour or so. I needed more distraction. I decided to find something to knit. What I truly want to work on is some unspun beautiful Icelandic yarn my friend Mike brought me from Iceland (duh). It’s all natural sheep colored and everything. But, I do not need a sweater. So, I spent an hour looking through Ravelry for ideas, then gave up. I think I have an idea now, which I can do next. Stay tuned.
I decided to make something with two beautiful yarns that were hiding in my closet, instead. They are a gorgeous wool/silk hand-painted yarn in coral tones and a natural-colored baby llama yarn. Baby llamas! Crias! They are so cute. And their first haircuts lead to dreamy softness.
So, what to make with those? That was easier, because I am making my favorite plain striped shawl that I have made before using Noro Silk Garden (it’s a hand-painted Japanese silk/wool blend all the knitters will know). I got a slightly different version off Ravelry and started going.
It will look better when it’s farther along and the Freia starts changing colors. Who cares what it looks like, anyway, because it feels so good on my hands, which have been hurting lately. I can look forward to finishing this quickly and sitting by the pool wearing it (keeping it away from dogs). Speaking of whom, of course they are always with me when I’m doing my projects.
The rest of the day of super-confinement will be spent reading my wonderful book, listening to music, and making a nice dinner for my sickly family and Lee. (And not rearranging the holiday closet; sorry, that brings up regerts.) Please continue to keep our ranch residents in your thoughts! The COVID is hard on them.
Celebration, a Little
I haven’t been going on about blogging achievements much (mainly because the blog is mostly for me…more on that soon), BUT, I am happy to see that I now have 800 WordPress followers! That combined with the 1500 or so people who get the blog by email, means somebody’s out there! So, thank you for reading, however you receive the blog, and that goes for you Facebook fans of the Hermits’ Rest, too!
I appreciate your comments more than I can express, whether here, on Facebook, or in person. I am always surprised when someone brings up reading this blog as I’m talking to them. I’d love to follow YOU, too! I need stuff to read when the wind is raging and I’m trying to block out my regrets/regerts!
It’s been a rough week over at my house, with half the occupants down and out from the coronavirus, and the rest of us staying home, since we weren’t sure if we were asymptomatic but sick or not. It’s made me really glad we got some flowers last time I was at the grocery store, since I’ve needed the cheering up.
I’m glad there’s so much to see and do here, because it’s made things a little easier. We even have separate seating areas by the pool for the sick and the non sick. And to think I thought those areas were for basking in different angles of the sun.
I have some things I really want to do this weekend (outdoor things), so I went to get a COVID test yesterday at the Cameron Fire Station. So did most of the rest of the county. I’d say by the time I arrived, the line was half a mile long or more. It took about 2.75 hours to get through the line, which seems a lot longer when you have to pee, I assure you. Plus I got sunburn on my nose and arm! I had not planned ahead with sunscreen. If there is a next time, I will remember, but I hope my home tests arrive before the next time I need to test.
But, I did get in, finally, and endured the nasal swab thing. Ugh, now I see what people were talking about. That’s right, I hadn’t had a test before this, since I just stayed home the couple times I was exposed. The best news is that they called me less than 24 hours later to tell me I’m negative. Woo hoo. That probably explains why I feel fine. I guess we’ve done a good job separating ourselves, or my vaccinations worked. I’m relieved, in any case.
The book I’m reading, which is called Phosphorescence, talks about the importance of being in nature for your physical and mental health. I’m so glad to have so much woods and water to spend time in here at the ranch. (I was also lucky at my Austin house, since it was surrounded by greenbelts and had a view of the pool.)
Today the whole sitting around and looking at nature thing got a lot better, because we now have two lounge chairs with cushions on them, which makes sitting by the pool and blogging a heavenly experience. It helps that the temperature is perfect, in the low 70s. What could be better?
I’ll tell you what! It would be better if I had a hot tub to sit in (not while typing). And there’s good news on that front. I called the propane company myself and talked to the woman there (who was chatty and fun to talk to about heavy equipment we each own). That got us ON the schedule to get the hot tub all hooked up on MONDAY! It’s conceivable the pool will be completely finished by then.
Lunch hour is over, so I have to drag myself back in and work on some training material. Then Drew gets to jump over jumps and have some fun. This is not a bad place to endure a pandemic at all, nope. Not at all.
It was a horsey day yesterday, which is good, because we are now quarantined other than outdoor stuff. I’m so glad the horse work is outdoors!
Right. As I was saying the horse day started early. I’d asked Lee to put the bale of hay that was on the tractor out, since the horses need it and he’s the only healthy person who can drive the tractor. Well, he went in through Drew’s paddock but didn’t realize Drew was there (because no one knows my horse schedule but me).
Drew made his escape, but didn’t go far, since he found green grass. All I had to do is put his pretty new halter on him and lead him back. He was curious about the “this is an equine facility and you might get hurt” sign. But then he said bye and headed to the hay, where T chased him around.
Back to work I went until late afternoon when Trixie was due to work on Apache and his body issues. I spent quite a while grooming the filthy Apache, which took longer due to Fiona also wanting grooming.
She also had lots of those giant burs on her front legs and was trying to get them out with her teeth. I found the hoof pick was a great tool for getting those out. She now has nice, smooth, hairy legs.
Apache did great with his body work. He seemed really happy with his head and neck treatment, and made such cute faces!
He was less thrilled with the work on his adhesions near his hips, but wow, it made a difference. I’m hoping this will make our training easier on him and help him develop good posture. Enjoy some fun faces now!
This morning I went out to let Drew back into the big pasture. It’s cool but sunny out, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find him napping in the sun. But of course, I thought he was dead.
Of course, he’s fine and in a playful mood.
He happily walked with me to the gate, but not without stopping to play with Vlassic. He wanted the squeaky toy, but not enough to fight the dog over it! That just made my morning.
It’s good to have these sweet animal friends to bond with while you’re confined. And writing about them gives you something to do in an endless line to get a COVID test.
Try to stay safe, friends. It’s hard, but we can get through this!
Another Elizabeth Strout book is now under my belt. I started it a while ago, then a few other things pushed their way into the queue. I was also savoring it. I do love to read the words of the fictional Lucy Barton, and that’s what all of Oh, William! is.
Elizabeth Strout could make Lucy Barton walk across the room to go to the toilet and I’d find it poetic and striking. That’s just how Lucy’s thought processes come across to me. Even though Lucy doesn’t stray from her theme that you can really never know what’s going on in anyone else’s mind, it’s great to see her come to that conclusion over and over again, especially when it comes to her first husband, William.
Lucy has always felt like an outsider from the rest of the world, thanks to have been brought up in an isolated setting with no media or other outside influences besides school. William was, in her view, a safe haven. The plot, such as it is, revolves around Lucy slowly realizing he actually never was that.
The contrast between William and Lucy’s second husband, David, could not be stronger. David was warm, loving, and comfortable, while William was one big, scary (but fascinating) mystery to Lucy. I had so smile as I realized that Lucy just could never shake William out of her system.
William had a glamorous mother who it turned out, was not from glamorous roots at all…much like Lucy. The other subplot had to do with this woman, Catherine, who abandoned her first child…much like Lucy felt she had abandoned her daughters (but really hadn’t).
Enough about the plot. You read these books more for the way the plot presents itself and the language Strout uses to express the ideas in Lucy’s head. It’s just so, so wonderful.
Now. After I finished the book, I began wondering why I feel a kinship with Lucy and how she relates to the men in her life. It then dawned on me. I’ve had my own William and David. I literally worshipped my high school boyfriend, but in the end I had to get away to be myself. And he was much like William. And his mother was exactly like Catherine (from poverty in Mississippi to a glamorous adulthood).
But it was how Lucy felt about men that struck me. She viewed love like I did much of my life, and I never realized anyone else was like that. I always thought I was very odd. But, certain circumstances where love is sort of withheld from you can lead you to not trust yourself to really love people, so you sabotage relationships. Huh. I’ve done that. Repeatedly.
Gosh, I’m glad Lucy is seeing things clearly, now that she’s my age. I hope I am, too. And if this review doesn’t make sense, well, it’s because I don’t make sense, either. Do any of us? I’ll ask Lucy in the next book.
Now, if you are a fan of Franklin Habit, you’ll know this. But in case you’ve never heard of such a thing, it is perfectly acceptable to mix in a bit of crochet with your knitting or vice versa. See I did it. And yes, I can crochet.
I just didn’t feel like doing that jumpy edging that was on the previous blanket, though there was nothing wrong with it. So, I got out my handy size F crochet hook and started going.
I ended up doing a row of single crochet where I did a stitch for every knitted row, approximately. That was followed by four rows of 3 double crochet, skip 2 stitches, 3 double crochet, etc. In the corners I did 3 dc, ch1, 3 dc. It worked fine.
The blanket looks pretty good on the reverse, thanks to being constructed all in one piece, and I think a baby would like to crawl on it. I do need to block it to get all the borders to ease into position and stand up straight, which I’ll do as soon as I can figure out somewhere to let it dry. Dogs make that hard. It was good that the previous one of these blankets (that’s the pattern link for those of you about to ask) was finished when I was alone in Colorado with a spare bedroom.
Currently, all bedrooms are taken, one being the COVID ward and the other being the people who have been exposed and are looking for a test ward. No need to mention that pandemics suck. But, I said it, anyway.
I don’t know what to work on next! I know I need to use up the yarn I have, as tempting as new yarn may be. I may make a vest, since they are back in fashion, and I am larger than most of my old vests. I do like vests.
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
In light and in shadow, always with ❤