Home and Away Are Both Moist

I started today very early with a 6 am work question. That’s all right, because that meant I got to see a beautiful sunrise.

Fiery and frosty morning

It was cold, but so beautiful that I just had to enjoy the crispness. During my early meeting, it sounded like rain. But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! That mystery was solved when I got outside to feed the chickens and saw just how thick the frost was on the ground.

Nature’s art

The “rain” was frost melting quickly as the sun hit our metal roof. Lee said there was .02” of precipitation in the rain gauge!

As I worked my butt off to get all my stuff done, the dog alarm went off. There was a big truck in the driveway. Oh yeah. I knew it was coming.

Note lack of frost

Today was finally the day the garage apartment and pool house would get their blown-in insulation! That will sure help the occupant stay warmer the rest of the winter.

Clean garage awaiting insulation.

The guys were all excited to do the work, but they had some equipment issues and will be back tomorrow. I’m the meantime, here are before pictures.

I won’t get to see the work, though, because I’m no longer home; I’m away. Yep. Lee and I are road tripping again. We’re going back to Hilton Head, so I can see camellias. I like working with an ocean view, as you know.

Proof we crossed the Mississippi.

The most striking thing about the drive was how wet it was. That big rain we had on Tuesday was on our route with a vengeance. There had been much bad weather and flooding.

It’s pretty barren in a hardwood forest this time of year, but I enjoyed possumhaw holly along the roadside. It provides that “pop” of color any neutral setting needs.

It was not easy to photograph this stuff from a moving car.

Honestly, this was not our most exciting drive ever, since we’re zipping along to get there tomorrow. One highlight was Buffalo, Texas, where we got to see a bored hawk by the Taco Bell. The other highlight was in Calhoun, Louisiana, home of the small but mighty CB Superstore. You just don’t see many CB stores of any sort these days.

I managed to get work done in the car and once we got to our hotel in scenic Meridian, Mississippi, so I declare today a success. I hope it dries out tomorrow and that the insulation machine perks up.

Filet Gumbo and Filet Crow

What a nice day it was, through a bit nippy. So much got done that I felt like a paragon of efficiency. The Red House is ready for the next visitors, I got a fun custom sweatshirt from the talented Kimberly of Side Hustle Shirts (photo later), and I enjoyed a really special time with friends at lunch. That was the gumbo part.

From where I had lunch I could almost see our place. It’s over the far ridge.

Community is important, and with all the restrictions easing, it’s been a real pleasure to enjoy time with friends and meet new people to expand my community. It was very sweet of our friend Linda to invite a few women over for lunch today. It felt both special and normal at the same time. It’s healing to me to feel part of a group again, and I can’t wait to do more of this, like people used to do in the before times.

And the gumbo was so good. I need to eat that more!

Of course, it’s always good to be home with one’s spouse and his fancy mustache.

As for filet crows, I finished the little filet crochet curtain I started a few days ago. It was fun to do and I figured out how to do a bigger project with other yarn. The key is extended double crochet, which will make the squares more…square. You add an extra loop to make the stitches a tad taller.

Rectangles, not squares.

As my coworker said today, it looks more like a pigeon than a crow, since I did it left to right rather than top to bottom. But, since it’s cotton, I can block and starch it to stretch it a bit.

At least you can tell it’s a bird.

Most important is that I enjoyed making this. It came out the right size to be a curtain in the tack room, too. Sadly, I used up five of my eight skeins of fancy Rowan organic cotton, so I can’t make a pair!

Tomorrow I’m starting a smaller scale filet crochet project, which I hope will get it all out of my system and I can go back to knitting. Since the temperature blanket I designed uses many colors, I’ll wait a bit to start it. Why? It’s time for another road trip! Talk to you from the road tomorrow!

You Can Certainly Fill an Empty Day

Welcome rain showed up overnight and throughout the day. That made us all happy but sure changed our plans! I had worked really hard to arrange to get the farrier to do the horses’ feet in time for me to then get to lessons for my two horses.

I need a manicure

The rain (and car trouble for the farrier) ended that careful plan, so when I finished work, I thought I’d have lots of time to think more thoughts about my next craft project (which I designed for about an hour while trying to get to sleep last night). But no.

That’s no lie!

I ended up doing practically every one of those things I’ve been meaning to get around to! Boom! Future horse stuff scheduled. Boom! Internet access at the Red House secured (guests coming soon!). Boom! Eye doctor appointment rescheduled, since the horse stuff conflicted. Boom! Packed for an upcoming trip. Wow, I’m flexible and a change management whiz!

When I finished packing I was treated to the sun coming in to light up my purple glass.

I wrote up all sorts of instructions and did a bunch of Master Naturalist work (it takes me almost as long to write up meeting notes as a meeting takes!). I guess I need more rainy days that keep me inside and away from those tempting horses and the wildlife.

I ran out to see this tiny sliver of setting sun. Ahh.

Yesterday I wrote so much about, of all things, a pretty weed, for the Master Naturalist blog that I didn’t blog here. I didn’t have much to say anyway, since I was upset at current events and annoying people. You might enjoy learning about henbit dead nettle, though, so check it out.

It IS pretty and chickens love it.

Back to crocheting a bird and not watching the news.

Trials and Triumphs with Crochet

As you are probably aware, I’ve been on a crocheting kick for about six months or so. It’s nice to take a break sometimes, even though I’m still a knitter in my mind! I did finally finish the rug or afghan I’ve been working on and wanted to focus on what I learned from my first mosaic crochet project.

Finished product — only took two months!

First, I love mosaic crochet, as long as it’s in the round. Doing it back and forth requires cutting the yarn on every row. Nope. That’s not gonna happen. I look forward to trying something else, maybe a little less chaotic, in the future. I always like techniques where you gradually build up a pattern, because wanting to see how it comes out keeps me going. That’s why I like fair isle knitting, mitered squares, entrelac, and lace.

Edging

Second, I’m happy with the sturdy fabric I ended up with, because it can be used in more than one way. So, I’ll consider this one a triumph.

It is a good pet comforter.

Third, the negatives. I ended up having to use two shades of black (one actually charcoal gray) and in my zeal to make the project a little larger chose accent colors without enough contrast. Oh, and the yarn with the long self stripes should have been managed in a more disciplined fashion. There are a few awkward bits of color in there. Nonetheless, it’s a cheerful thing.

See how some look black and some have splotches. Not ideal.

Now for the trials. I didn’t have a new project set out for an immediate start (I want to do a temperature blanket using mitered squares for high and low temperatures of the day but haven’t picked yarn or colors – I made a small one for the Tempestry project a few years ago but seem to have neglected to upload it to Ravelry). What I did have was some organic cotton yarn that had been sitting in its original box for many years, probably close to 30 now. It popped up when unpacking stuff from my old house and was nagging me.

So, I thought to myself, hey, I want curtains in the tack room. I could make curtains out of this rustic-looking stuff. All I have to do is wind it up, find a pattern, and go. I could do filet crochet! It’s a thing that gradually builds up a design and is lots of fun (it uses a mesh to make images).

This photo is from the excellent Interweave article linked above.

Yeah, right. There aren’t as many filet crochet patterns out there as I had hoped, and of course my ancient books full of patterns are still packed up. I also think I searched when I was sleepy. But that’s okay, I eventually found a free design of a crow, which fits rather well, since the Hermits’ Rest has a murder that I enjoy watching often.

Oh, if only mine ended up looking even vaguely like this, I’d be happy.

I was ready to go! However, that lovely Rowan California Cotton that has a lot going for it is not lovely to wind up.

See, it’s ll natural.

I put the first hank on the swift and started to wind it. That was an absolute disaster. The hanks are rather large, so the swift ended up very high. It simply would not wind, even if I tried to lower the yarn with my hand. I ended up having a real mess to rescue the first hank that included cutting it in half and dealing with oh so many knotty areas.

Sad little balls of yarn

Luckily I’m creative and have helpful family members to give me ideas. I ended up dragging my aluminum step ladder into the office and attaching the ball winder to it. Ta da! The heights worked out much better.

It’s working!

I’m pretty sure I wound the rest of the skeins of yarn in less time than I did the first one. That was a little frustrating.

Here you can see the ladder better, and evidence of my love of clutter.

Then I started to do my project. Of course, I had to add to it. There are now checkerboards on the ends, which look all right, I guess. I also decided to crochet the crow from end to end rather than from bottom to top as was suggested. I think that means my crow will be a bit more squished and look more like a robin or something, due to filet crochet squares not being actually square.

The right side shows the branch beginning. Yeah, not so great.

Well, I’m the only person who will care, since very few people go into the tack room other than me. Maybe it will be a tablecloth instead. It turns out the thing’s pretty big. Most filet crochet is done with crochet cotton, not DK weight yarn, you see. I have a feeling I’ll be trying something else to fulfill my filet crochet itch, a project that makes me appear more competent!

Let’s hope I have enough yarn.

PS: Just to let you faithful readers know, I have come up with some ideas to make the blog more interesting again, so stay tuned. I will get my blogging mojo back!

Yup, Horses Make You Feel Good

I had a pretty free Saturday, so I split it between fun with yarn and fun with horses. The yarn post will be tomorrow. Today is my day to bask in my relationship with the horses.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Apache this week, mostly just hanging out with him. It really pays off, I think, because he’s so much more relaxed, yet interested in doing things lately.

Looking at his friends, but happy with me.

He seems to look forward to jumping and cantering. He seems practically athletic when we do groundwork. He looks strong and fit, not chubby and weak. I’m so happy for that.

Let’s go!!

Riding was fun. He informed me in his horsey way that my new square setup is too close to the trailer. When he stopped, I saw that he had noticed our reflection in the shiny part of the trailer front. Well, I had to agree he had a point. That looked weird.

That other horse and human look funny.

I finally, finally can relax when I ride and just focus on what we’re doing. It makes such a difference! My legs are relaxed. My arms are relaxed. I’m giving easy signals and Apache responds. He’s also relaxed, as you can see.

A relaxed horse and his cone. He stopped right there and didn’t move.

After we rode, I must have spent ten minutes just petting and talking to him, and he seemed to want to stay. Eventually Fiona indicated she was hungry, so we went in.

I got to hang out with the calves!

Drew hinted that he wanted to do something so I lunged him. He wasn’t at all into it. That was odd. I think he’s in some discomfort from playing too hard with Fiona and Dusty. Fiona had blood on a cut and Drew had some (of hers) on his neck. There is much kicking going on. So I relaxed and just spent time doing what he wanted to do, which was get his itchy head scratched. It was quite cute.

These guys wanted attention, too. It’s a new batch of young cattle.

I was all warm and fuzzy by the time we had some visitors. It was fun watching Sara’s granddaughter enjoy Fiona and Vlassic while we discussed hooves. Then the guest got to see all the dogs, which delighted her. What an animal lover she is!

I’m sure glad I had the chance to follow the leads of my horses and relax today. Oh, and by the way, no one has touched yesterday’s scary hay. I love my equine buddies.

The Great Scary Lump Mystery

Oh the poor horses! Today we looked out the front window and saw something out of place. There was a brown lump where there is usually smooth grass.

What the hay?

I looked to the left of the lump and there were the horses and Fiona. They were standing transfixed, with their heads and ears pointed at that mysterious lump. It must have been perceived as a threat.

Two seconds earlier, Apache was also staring.

I had to work so I went back in the house. When I came out to get the mail later, they were still on high alert, not letting that lump out of their sight.

Drew and Dusty are ok, but the other 3 are watching.

I walked down the driveway, cautiously approaching that threatening lump, which got less and less scary as I got closer.

Hey, that’s some hay!

I was a little confused as to how that fairly significant pile of hay got in the pasture. Then I noticed more hay on the road. Okay, so someone had lost some nice fresh hay as they went down the road. It must have been very windy to blow so far off the road??

Road hay.

I actually took Drew some of the hay, but nope, the group would NOT go anywhere near the hay pike, which is larger now, because I added the road hay. They hadn’t by feeding time. Who could blame them? It appeared out of thin air.

This didn’t appear out of thin air, but I’m finally done.

Now, did all that hay really blow into the pasture? No. The mystery was solved later when Lee casually mentioned that he’d found hay on the road on his way back from his daily walk, and tossed it in the field.

Oh.

The horses aren’t sure about it, nonetheless.

Thursday in Pictures

Almost done! Black finishing border next.
Young pond slider checking to see if I’ve left yet.
Explorers
Sparrows inspecting my dressage markers.
I bothered a huge fire ant colony by moving an upside down feed tub.
What a beauty.
Pollination process
Flies are also pollinators.
Sunset
Start of the final edge
He makes everything good.

This week has exhausted me. I will be more wordy tomorrow, maybe.

Well, Today Was Good for Making an Arena

Too bad I had so much work that I didn’t have time to take photos or put together deep thoughts. But it’s fine. Stuff got done, I enjoyed lunch with friends, and bought myself a big ole tape measure.

It rained a bit, which made for a lovely mist that rose over the henbit that’s feeding all the bees.

Why did I buy a hundred-foot tape measure? Because I had a plan! I missed my horse lesson yesterday, so I conspired with Tarrin to do a FaceTime lesson in which we turned one of my small pens into a dressage arena!

Anticlimactic photo featuring a big pile of poop

It’s not quite regulation width, but not too small, and the length is 120 feet (thank you, tape measure). The interesting part was measuring the correct places to put the cones with letters on them (note to self, look up why the letters they use appear random; it must be a French thing).

Tarrin told me I’d get a lot of walking in. I did. There was a lot of moving tape, fetching cones, and measuring. Tarrin ended up watching bugs in the sky when I’d throw the phone down. At one point I put her in a cone. She was so patient as I dropped things and coped with weeds.

I did at least have some clever innovations. I marked the fence where the cones and corners should go with bright red duct tape. I know Fiona and Drew will play with the cones. But the tape on the fences will withstand amusing animals and weather both. I hope. Do cows and calves eat tape? That’s what’s on the other side of one edge. Only Cone A will need a rock or something to mark it. Cone A is in the center. It’s doomed.

Here’s what the cones say and how they are positioned By the way, D, C, and G aren’t labeled on the arena.

Why on Earth did I do this? It’s because the Working Horse Central shows’ functionality tests use standard dressage arenas. You’re supposed to turn, make circles, move sideways, and such at certain points. I used the nice one Sara made at her house for filming last year, but I know I’ll practice a lot more with an arena closer to home.

The FaceTime meeting was fun. Neither of us had done it before, but it worked. But now, after even more work meetings, I’m tired. So is the family!

My preciouses

PS I tried looking up what those letters mean. Apparently not much.

Rolling with Changes

Oh you never know what’s going to happen around here. So today’s agenda changed, but it’s all good!

Since I needed to skip Drew’s lesson today, I just worked with him a few minutes, which made it clear I needed to rearrange my obstacle area, or horse playground. So I moved a lot of barrels, cones, posts, and other objects around to make more riding options.

Tomorrow Tarrin will help me figure this stuff out better and set up a slightly off-sized dressage arena wannabe space to practice for this year’s shows. I just hope I can found one of our many giant tape measures that usually are in plain sight but are now hiding. I may have to run to the hardware store to get one!

Oh I forgot I had this fine sunrise image from this morning

And, as always, I used nature to take my mind off unexpected events. Look at this beauty!

Mmm. Nectar.

And I scared everyone on Facebook by posting what I thought was just a fun photo of a boho bird nest. I didn’t provide enough details so folks thought we were gonna burn the house down.

The lights are disconnected. Sparrows and hermits are safe.

I’m any case, I’m interested to see what tomorrow brings. I’ll be outside at sunset again but not going an hour away in yet another direction. Today we went west, rolling down the highway!

Come on changes! I can take it! I’m flexible!

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