It’s a Ruana. A Giant Square.

I finished this project. It’s so ridiculous it’s cute. Random yarns that are no longer available to buy, and much patience. It’s Augustina from a Noro magazine. You, too, could buy a kit.

Mine is big. It’s ok. It’s soft and warm and I’ll enjoy it around the house this winter. The colors look great! Bonus surprise.

Note I’m missing a foot but another one showed up to make up for it.

Lee made fancy photos for me. I like that I’m wearing shorts and the dogs are inspecting it. enjoy my garment. I un-cropped the pictures do my head would not be cut off.

Oh yes. Yarn for the project after my blanket for Kathleen arrived! It’s for a very macho toddler. Camo and swampy green. Gonna be CUTE.

The green yarn is very interesting. Can’t wait to use it.

Birds? A Few

Someone asked what kids of birds are still hanging out at the ranch. In addition to the ones I mentioned yesterday there are some interesting ones.

Scissor tail family

It cheered me up greatly this morning to see this family. I love these beautiful birds, and I’m glad they fledged at least one baby!

At least we had some clouds at sunrise.

The other birds we’ve been seeing are our friendly carrion eaters, who are probably pretty well fed these days. This morning (and yesterday) a large group of black vultures was enjoying the pond behind the house.

Note the patient cow and fleeing heron.

The vultures really like the island made by the tree at right. There were still a few late this afternoon. They were joined by a big ole crested caracara, too. That’s some free and easy bird watching!

I’m good. And pretty.

It didn’t even crack 100° today, so Apache and I went on a nice long ride. It was the longest solo ride we ever went on. We checked out all available pasture. And he was pretty good, too. I handled his one spook at an unfamiliar object and every time he wanted to turn around. It’s getting better!

Seating for 6!

And hey. I ordered an inexpensive desk chair for the tack room and built it today. Makes writing in my horse journal really snazzy. Come visit!

What’s Bugging Me

No, not people and what they do. It’s bugs. And they are bugging me in a good way, because at least they give me something to look at. There isn’t much else out here. People keep commenting about how quiet it s at night. Drought is no fun.

Thank you, Mr Widow Skimmer, for entertaining me today.

I’m so glad for the willow trees by our driveway, because they give me a shady place to enjoy insects when I go check the mail. Today there were many dragonflies, though I only got photos of three species.

Eastern pond hawk, female (green)

I also saw a damselfly and a Halloween pennant, but they were too busy to stop. This one was very pretty, though it didn’t photograph well.

Blurry skimmer, roseate or neon.

The widow skimmers were posing, though. I got enough closeups that you can see good details on both the males and females. the top four are the females.

I also see lots of wasps ever day. Usually it’s mud daubers, yellow jackets, and such, but I also see very pretty orangey-red wasps, and today one I don’t see much, black with a red abdomen.

There are still birds around, but not in the usual numbers. There’s the woodpecker I always hear, a few remaining barn swallows, cardinals, mockingbirds and lots of thirsty starlings. The egrets and herons (blue and green) are still here because one pond in pretty full. Today’s exciting birds were this tiny orchard oriole (they are here this time of year) and a beautiful red-shouldered hawk I saw from the car. I love summer hawk sightings.

Or a warbler.

There are a very few flowers blooming, but I found a couple. There are lots of passion vines, but the flowers look funny. I guess the herbicide got to them. And there was one sad Mexican hat flower. Of course buffalo bur is blooming and one or two others that nothing can stop. Ooh and in the best plant news: I found milkweed seeds blowing around! More for the butterflies.

I figured I should do a nature post since I had my Master Naturalist meeting tonight. It was on turkeys! The speaker had a beautiful turkey shirt on, too.

I learned so much about Rio Grande turkeys!

Handy Crafting

I’ve been steaming away on my latest project, which is a crocheted ruana called Augustina. I used a bunch of leftover yarn from other projects (mostly that Lion Brand Mandala, but with a couple of other “el cheapo” Red Heart yarns along for the ride), along with one new colorway of Mandala that I bought to be sure I’d have enough to finish. Last night I finished the last triangle (it’s a big square with three full and two half triangles, which create the opening).

All my triangles and the inspiration image, which would have cost about $400 to make, so I didn’t use that yarn.

Last night, I spent some time looking at different ways to join crocheted pieces, since I wanted to try something new. They certainly could not stay like this forever!

You can sorta get the idea of how it’s constructed. I am also really impressed with how okay all my random colors from unrelated yarns look together.

At last I decided to try a zigzag slip stitch join for the squares. I even endured a video with sappy music playing over it to be sure I understood the technique. That’s dedication from this gal who hates to learn from videos (I just MAKE educational videos, not USE them). I think it comes out interesting and I’m happy at how flat the join is.

It looks like a braid and seems quite decorative.

Then, I looked on the other side of the first triangles I sewed together. Well, huh, that looks pretty good, too. As long as I use that shade of yarn, it’s almost invisible.

Not bad at all. I guess the ruana will be reversible.

Now, the colors didn’t work out quite right, so one half triangle ended in the gold color, but I think it will still look fine as long as I don’t run out of that tan color, which I’m pretty sure I won’t. Once the seaming is done, the ruana gets a double crochet edging all around, and then it will be ready for any hippy-dippy outing I care to take it on. I swear it looks just like the vests my grandmother crocheted for me in the 60s. I could probably still wear the turquoise and purple poncho she made me back then. (Yes, she DID make me stuff.)

Anyway, I’m ready for my next project! And what do you know, the yarn for it arrived today in a giant box. I’m making a blanket for Kathleen out of these lovely colors, which she selected and surprised me with.

The colors!!

Now, my job will be to put all these colors together and surprise her back. The blanket (shown below) will have a cream center rather than white and use these purples and pinks. I can’t wait to get going on yet another crochet project, one that takes me back to my granny square roots! Yes, my first childhood project in crochet was a granny square afghan in many bright colors with black borders. I still have it stored in my blanket box.

I will have one more crocheted item to make before going back to knitting. That yarn may be here tomorrow. I’m so glad that stress makes me crochet fast, because I’m just churning stuff out!

Cooling It Down

I’m visualizing calm and coolness. Neither is easy, since poor Kathleen is still racking up the challenges and trying to avoid the hospital, and it still hasn’t rained again.

Like this persistent variegated fritillary, we just have to keep going until we find our equivalent of a frogfruit blossom.

It didn’t go over 100° today so far, so that’s encouraging. And the cumulus clouds seem bigger today that they have been. So I’m patiently hoping it all turns around. Like I keep telling folks, I’m fine as long as I have peace and hermit time.

Vlassic and I both appreciate the cool tack room now, especially since I finally got the vent set to blow on me in my chair.

Yep. My she shed is working out great. I even have a stool that lets me write at the desk AND serves as a footstool. Classy. Unfortunately, the comfort and A/C droning make it clear that this could be a nap shed.

Ooh. I can even crochet or knit in here!

Things will get more settled soon, and I’ll be able to share some cool renovation stuff.

We are much cooler and calmer when we eat separately.

In the meantime let me share a cool tip one of my local horse friends shared: you can fertilize by dropping horse apples (poop) into the gaping cracks in the earth right now, then when it rains, the crack will close and the poop will help the grass grow back. Maybe wishful thinking.

I’ll poop for you! It’s my best skill.

You’re Doing the Best You Can

A couple of folks in my circle need to hear this.

YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN

Yep. You may have screwed up. You may not meet others’ expectations. You may not be able to do all the things for all the people (or animals) you wish you could.

Here’s Dusty doing the best he can do jump this huge (to him) pole.

I think you’re fine. I’m glad you’re trying. I know you’ll keep doing your best. Thanks.

Mabel did her best picking up her feet and enduring painful body work today.

We all are challenged and fall short sometimes. But like Tarrin told me today about our horses, making someone’s life a little better is success. (She helped my horses today on what was a hard day for her, so I really appreciate it. She did so much good today.) We can all show we care and help out someone who is struggling.

Here’s the face of someone whose life is great now.

You? I bet you’ve done some good recently. Bring up those memories when disappointments try to bring you down. You matter to me, even if I don’t know you.

Blessed be.

Horses in Heaven

It’s been a hard summer for the horses. Not much grass, much heat, not as much attention as last year. But today has been a good one! To start, I was able to get out early enough to give all the horses nice baths. I know Dusty was happy. He’s such a level-headed dude, but he liked the suds. And he ended up looking fine, considering his scratches from trying to eat on the other side of the barbed wire in the new pasture.

He even has some mane!

Mabel really needed the bath, because she was covered in salt crystals from sweating. She’s sure a lumpy thing, but I got lots of excess hair off her and cleaned her sweet face. She is now shiny, especially her tail, which almost looks normal again. She was so patient as she waited to dry off, too.

Look at my tail!

Drew is looking pretty ragged these days. He’s a busy boy. Somehow he got a big owie on his belly. I treated it so flies won’t get in it. But he enjoyed the suds and drank a lot from the hose. I used enough purple shampoo on him that I think his tail looks whiter. The parts of him that aren’t nicked up are soft and shiny.

Note my shininess.

Apache and I went for a nice ride before his bath. He still seems a little sore, so we mostly walked and practiced transitions. He’s doing so well now with riding around. It’s so fun. And of course he loved his bath. His mane looks so white now and I got all his brown dirt spots off.

Yes. I’m chunky. But pretty.

What he didn’t like was waiting while he dried. He stomped and complained. To make his point, he pooped right after I’d cleaned all the poop up from the grooming area. Message received! But I didn’t want him rolling while wet, which he loves to do.

I don’t care how much you like my blinding whiteness. I don’t like being tied when everyone else is free.

After all that pampering, they got another surprise. The hay ring got set up. I’m told Drew and Dusty ran up and immediately started chewing.

As they say on the Internet, nom nom.

Then the gate was opened! Freedom! Grass! Excitement!

Big deal. I have hay.

I hear that Apache, Mabel, and Fiona exited rapidly, but Dusty and Drew stayed with the dry old hay.

What made me laugh was that they all barely left the area. They found grass and stopped.

Eventually they found other grass and figured out how to cross the trenches for the electric lines (they will get filled in next week). These are some very happy horses. And the grass isn’t so green it will be a problem!

Of course, ya get thirsty eating all this grass. I love this one!

I hope your Sunday was as good as the one these guys enjoyed!

Electrified!

Yesterday had a lot of happiness to it, so let’s celebrate that! The electricians came in and hooked up all our new outbuildings so we can enjoy some light, air conditioning, heat, and fun. Yes, the pool house, chicken coop, and most important, the tack room, are all hooked up. Whoop! Some work still needs to be done, but the tack room was all ready to go.

Look, a light!

The lights are good, of course, but the most important thing that happened was the perky new air conditioner got up and running. I enjoyed basking in its coolness while I rearranged all the new feed I got when we went out yesterday.

Why, no, the air conditioner will NOT be set to that temperature in the future. Lee requests 78. We will see.

To celebrate the advent of the electric age, I also upgraded my floor cleaning technology and installed a cute little stick vacuum cleaner that’s cordless. It arrived all charged up, so I gave it a whirl. It worked great and now there are no crumbs laying around to encourage vermin (they can easily get in through the doors, because they have a gap–plan is to replace them one of these days with a nice barn door.

Vacuum cleaner, ready to go (plus stored bags and my helmets)

I’m all excited to finish fixing up the tack room. There is some painting to do, a light fixture to install, and the small refrigerator to obtain. That will all be soon. In the meantime, I have art to put up and things to allow me to get a bit of work done in there. I’m also going to get a small coffeemaker.

Also, light bulbs will go in those lamps today.

However, no coffee will be made today, since we are under a boil notice from the water company. Boo hoo. Hope that is fixed soon. In the meantime, I have bottled beverages to take over there.

Outside view of the little air conditioner that CAN! (It will also heat)

There was a lot involved with getting the electrical work done. Many things needed to be hooked up, large pipes needed to be filled with wire, and hookups made to all the little breaker boxes (we still need one more larger one, which I think will show up later today). The horses were fascinated when the workers were at the tack room!

We aren’t interested in the electricity. What’s on that trailer?

Yes, the horses got a present yesterday, too. I bought them a hay ring. It’s not as nice as my dream one, which is what my friend Cindy had on her beautiful ranch, but it will last a long time and was “only” $300. Livestock stuff ain’t cheap.

Hay ring, and chicken food that has to go over to the coop. That porch light ALSO works now, by the way.

I’m so excited that I have a place to cool off when working with the horses and Fiona, and that I can write in my horse journal there, have horsey friends over, and whatever. I am also glad the chickens will be able to have a heater in the winter and a warmer if we have chicks again. The coop still needs to be finished, but it wasn’t a high priority. The chickens are happy enough to have the new coop to hang out in when it gets hot. Every day I go to get eggs and find them all in there, relaxing comfortably!

I’ll show you just how happy I am. Lee gave me a flower sticker and it fell on my nail polish box just right. I’m as happy as that donkey looks!

Have a good weekend!

Why Acrylic and Superwash Wool are My New Friends

Those of you who know I love to knit and crochet may be scratching your heads and wondering what in earth has happened to their Suna. It’s true. Suna loves natural fibers like wool, silk, mohair, alpaca, linen…mmm. She loves to touch the soft or scrunchy loveliness of natural fibers. Mmmm.

Natural fiber wonderland

Kendall Sue, however, knows the value of quality acrylic or Superwash wool that’s been treated so it can be machine washed. For one thing, it’s machine washable. Baby items and things made for non-crafters hold up way better when made from sturdy, colorful acrylics. Kendall Sue is practical.

Current project made from a variety of unnatural fibers, but still nice looking enough.

Wool is Suna’s (my) favorite to knit with. But I’ve known the heartbreak of moths in Texas so much that I no longer have the heart to make socks. All my socks have holes now. I’ve also known the heartbreak of having your wool handknits accidentally put in the regular washing and drying cycles. Felt is great when done on purpose, but…

Fancy ass knitted item on couch with dog-proof covering.

Sometimes your fancy ass knitted item is needed. Last winter, it got really cold and we lost power. I happily lent a blanket I was almost finished with to a family member who was cold. Now, this item was knit from a Noro yarn from Japan. Lots of it. A few hundred dollars worth. Because I’m worth it, ha ha.

I forgot it was there, and thought I’d folded it up in my cedar closet. Nope. I think Vlassic was sleeping on it. And then it got washed, I’m sure by a very well meaning caregiver or something like that. There was no label saying “Fancy Blanket – cold wash and lay flat to dry” on it, after all.

Hmm

The good news is that the yarn is a blend, so there’s silk and cotton in it. So the blanket just got somewhat smaller, stiffer, and fuzzier. It’s still pretty. I can’t finish it, since the original yarn doesn’t go with it. I’ll just say the missing squares are on purpose. And I’ll remember to keep precious stuff up in my closet. Lesson learned!*

Fewer than 30 seconds after I put the blanket on the couch. This is why I need to stop making fancy ass items.

And I’ll channel Kendall Sue, my practical alter ego and make my next things washable. Luckily, Kathleen ordered the yarn already and it’s Kendall Sue approved.


I’m not mad. Just shaking my head that I didn’t think to retrieve the blanket. It was my error! All is well in the world.

Hey, Hey, Hay

I’ve mentioned that we’re in a big drought, as big as when we first got to the Hermits’ Rest. You may be in a part of the world with too much water. Neither is ideal!

That’s a sad pond.

As you know, there’s not much for the horses to eat, even though we’ve been supplementing with hay and built more fencing to give them access to an ungrazed area.

Johnson grass. Yum.

The cows the family own are also hungry, So our friend Pamela came to the rescue with some round bales of hay from the end of last year that we could afford. As you can imagine, with high demand cones high prices.

Hey, hay!

To save our good square bales for winter, we’re going to get a feeder for the horses and give them a round bale for the duration of the dry and hot spell. The feeder will keep them from wasting hay. It will eventually pay for itself, I hope.

We will love this as much as we love each other.

So, we have plans, and that’s good. I’ve just got to get over my heat issue. I can barely do any horse stuff. They don’t mind too much, if at all. Much petting and bonding occurs.

You don’t see me. I’m hiding.

The heat is really a pain when it comes to deliveries. Since UPS lady won’t drop things off, we can miss things dumped by the gate. I was not happy my wine delivery sat outside for a long time yesterday. But, only one cork tried to pop. I “had” to open this perky orange rosé tonight for that reason. No one had to beg me!

Wine is Noisy Water Winery from New Mexico.

The good news from today is that I got a beautiful Creature of the Day. She a neon skimmer dragonfly. Look at her sparkle!

Well, I’ve had a hard work day, so it’s time to crochet, drink wine, and eat boudin. It’s what’s for dinner.

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