I’d Do It for Free

What job would you do for free?

…a job, that is. This blog prompt is probably too easy, since I’ve done a LOT of volunteer work, some of it hard and thankless. My favorite one, though, has always been reaching people to knit and crochet.

I have no photo to go with this, so here’s banana pecan bread I made.

I loved it so much that I taught at a yarn shop way longer than I should have. I did get paid some, but mostly I did it because it’s so cool to take someone who’s never held a needle or hook and a couple of hours later end up with someone who has a new lifetime hobby. You’re never bored if you have a project.

You’re also never bored if you like weeds…err…wildflowers

Now, at the same time, I want to assure you that I believe teaching these skills is worth paying for and that professional knitting and crochet teachers deserve to be compensated. I happily spend money learning new skills from amazing and creative folks.

Grape flowers.

I’m not sure if blogging is a “job,” but I do know folks who make lots of money doing it. For me it’s a practice, not a job, so I’m happy to blog for free. Writing is so important in my life that I just have to do it, and I enjoy sharing what I write with a few folks to exchange thoughts with.

Enough of jobs I’d do for free. I guess if I retire my job will be to keep learning and growing. It’ll probably cost me, not earn money, but that’s ok. I just hope I can afford to keep the horses!

And us dogs!

It finally stopped raining, but wow is it muddy. So, no horse riding happened. I was able to set up for the stuff I’d hoped to do all week, though. And I played with the chickens, down to seven, sniff. They got to go out and forage a bit.

Billie Idyll was laying an egg. I’ll miss Betty.

They were all out at the horse pens, but when I called them, they ran with those little children legs and followed me into the chicken run for a treat. That’s more responsive than certain horses.

Here we come!

I’m glad for a day where I could be out with the plants and bugs, knit on my blanket, and hang out with the family. Plus, we have a guest, so I got to leave the house and eat at a restaurant! Woo.

Here are random photos from the last two days. It’s been wet, but relaxing!

Roses Are Red, but Bluebonnets Are REALLY Blue

Not much exciting going on today, so I’m sharing some jaw-dropping photos of bluebonnets on our property, taken by the great photographer and legendary hermit, Ernest Lee Bruns, Jr.

My contribution to the theme is the latest temperature blanket square, which is grass green and celestial blue.

This also happens to be the colors of the kids’ high school, McNeil High School. Not easy colors to work with.

One more photo by Lee. He and Carlton balance each other out beautifully.

My sleepy boys

More tomorrow, perhaps!

Working through Horse Challenges (and others) Pays Off

It’s been a challenging few days. Have you ever been through a period where even the simplest things turn complicated? It’s felt like that lately. I mean, I just wanted to wash my car yesterday and every one I went to was closed. No wonder I don’t like going to Austin anymore. And the dentist said I need two crowns. All that flossing didn’t prevent that.

You need a better perspective, Suna

But I got to see my former coworker for lunch, and that was positive.

Austin never fails to charm, though. The maintenance people at the hotel where I stayed mowed around the wildflowers.

Plus, I got through row 4 of my temperature blanket yesterday. The black and green square is where February starts. That was the ice storm, too.

It looks like abstract art.

The horses have been challenging, other than being so good getting their feet done. I was really looking forward to getting a lesson today, at long last. They were, at least, good getting ready to go, but that challenging life thing struck again and we couldn’t get into the road to Tarrin’s because a huge, stopped train blocked us. Sigh. But we went the other way!

We were between a rock and a hard place. (Actually this is another thing I miss about Austin, the limestone karst)

For Apache’s lesson, Tarrin tried to get him frustrated, so we did new stuff. To our surprise, he was all calm and learned to trot over small jumps. On the last one I did everything right and he JUMPED! And it was FUN! Hooray! Our hard work paid off!

That’s right. I did it.

We then proceeded to see if he’d leg yield at a trot. Did he get annoyed? No. He DID IT. It wasn’t perfect, but he did it! I wish I could say he never showed his Old Patchy behavior, because he did fall apart as we went to the trailer. I handled it, though, keeping as calm as I could. I’ve learned a lot!

You didn’t bother to take my picture. Hmph.

Drew, on the other hand, didn’t need a lot of prompting to misbehave. Or be a teen. He and I did ok doing some serpentine moves, but he decided I was easy to manipulate and melted down. I “got to” work through it and did a lot of leg yielding with him. No fun but we got through it with a lot of help from Tarrin and ended up able to weave through poles and go over obstacles. I was proud that I stayed calm.

Look, I’m busy shedding and neighing.

When I was done, Tarrin ride him and he continued to indicate his displeasure. I learn a lot when I watch her handle rowdy horses. And Droodles did look pretty acting pissy.

Drew kept neighing his head off, which is quite unlike him. Tarrin said she’d never seen him act that way, either. Her theory is that it’s the extra sweet spring grass. It’s not making either horse lame, but they’re not quite themselves. Other horses are acting similarly right now, which made me feel better. It’s not ALL a lack of skill on my part!

Diagnosis: magnesium. I got some to feed tonight, and I’ll order more tomorrow. Let’s hope that helps. I don’t want summer too soon!

Everyone Is Busy

You hear that a lot, right? That people fill their lives with too much stuff, make their kids too busy, etc. true, I like to be doing things and am no good at just sitting. But I declare that some of the things that occupy my time aren’t making me busy.

All the knitting and crocheting I do calms and soothes me. I’m not busy.

I would guess that most of us have ways of looking busy that actually relax us. Some take us away from our numerous tasks and duties. You know, like reading. Dang, I read a lot of magazines. They don’t make me think for overly long stretches, and there are pretty photos.

I’m glad not all magazines have disappeared. And I’m sorry I used to think this was a yucky magazine, but it’s fascinating and full of turquoise and respectful stories about Western people.

Anyway, I just wanted to say it’s okay to fill your like with things you enjoy, even if it makes you seem too busy. Your only too busy if what you’re doing makes you upset or exhausted.

Speaking of busy, for the FIRST TIME EVER all 8 chickens laid an egg today. This didn’t even happen when they were young!

Yes, everyone is busy. My goal is to be an enriching kind of busy, surrounded by pastimes I love, beauty, and interesting people. This will keep me young and vital. I hope.

We keep busy by eating. And yes, Suna now feeds our bull buddy when we eat.

Book Report: Two Crafty Pleasures AND Temperature Blanket Update

I ordered more yarn for the popular colors in my temperature blanket, and while on the Knitpick website I saw two books that looked interesting. First, let’s see how the blanket is coming along.

Third row, finished March 13

You can definitely see that the third part of January cooled off. The dark blue where it’s 30-35 degrees showed up and there’s even an all-blue day at the end (by the way, the dark blue is way prettier in person than in the photos where dark blue and green look black).

Better view of Celestial Blue
First two rows of the blanket. Finished March 4.

The first twenty days were pretty warm, into the 70s (bright yellow and the lightest yellow). It’s going to look interesting as time goes on. Next row will go into February. I decided to make the square between months solid black at first. But now I think I’ll make it’s center the most popular temperature range of the previous month. That’s Alfalfa, the light green that represents 55-60°.


So the books I got were mostly motif based. The first one is Colour Crochet Unlocked, by Jane Howorth and Dawn Curran (2023). As the title implies, it’s British. Luckily, I can translate their stitch names into American.

The cover shows projects, which are quite nice, but the part I liked best were all the interesting and not-too-hard motifs the authors share.

The back of the book. Look at those ideas!

I kept coming up with things to make with each new pattern. This book is worth owning, plus it was on sale at KnitPicks. The only part I didn’t like was the long discussion of color theory. That’s because I’ve read so many of those in various books. It’s fine for a beginner though, and quite clear.

If you need inspiration for blankets, pillows, and such, this will be a fantastic reference book. They do have garments in the pattern collection, but I like the home decor options.

The second book is from KnitPicks, Block Party: Modular Blankets (2020). You can probably guess why I got this one. I do love modular projects. Yum. The cover drew me right in.

That’s a cute blanket

There are only ten projects in this one (all knitted), but it was inexpensive. I think there was only one pattern I wasn’t interested in making, but I think I might even like it done in other colors (it was solid gray). The book is thicker than you’d think, though, because there are many, many photos of each one, including extreme closeups. I enjoyed looking at them, but if you just want patterns, it’s sort of overkill.

Back of book with more projects.

I will certainly find my next project in one of these books!

By the way, I’ve had a really good blog week. Yesterday was by far my most popular single day on this blog. Thank you all for the stories you shared about your family’s naming traditions both here and on Facebook. It was nice to write something cheerful that was popular, for once. So, here are flowers to thank you all.

Happy (?) March

It felt like the longest day ever. 11 meetings. Lots of challenges. Sweat (me and Apache). Learning. Helping others. Receiving help. Normal stuff, just lots of it.

So many temperatures. I‘m up to January 16 on the temperature blanket.
Smiling because I managed to ride between meetings. Sweating.
I was cheered up by shiny, chunky shoes. Great gift!
Bluebonnets for March.

Signs of Spring

Wheeze wheeze. I guess I’ll wheeze forever. I’m ok if I do things slowly, so I hang out with the horses and wander around thanking Mother Nature for showing us signs of spring. I think she’s blowing it in from the south, since today has been blustery.

What’s this? Our first bluebonnet of the year!
And what’s this? Our first Indian paintbrush! Beauty is coming.
Bye bye cranes! Enjoy the North!

I’ve continued to be absolutely captivated by the beauty of our yearly carpet of tiny friends. It’s impressive that something as teeny as tiny bluet can make the ground look purple.

These come in many shades and mix in with chickweed (white), Field madder (pink), and corn speedwell (blue). And the yellow of black medick or burr clover.

There has been so much crow poison this year that it scents the air, which isn’t bad for something named “poison” (or wild garlic). I know I showed some recently, but it’s so pretty I want to share more.

Sorry for all the plant photos but it’s all I’ve got other than farm animals. But here are other early beauties from today.

I did get the first row of my blanket done. It’s still January on it.

The dark squares are green.

The News from Walker’s Creek

Honestly there is not much news from here. I rested most of today to let the healing continue. The antibiotics seem to be helping, so I’m less wheezy. I am up to January 8 on the temperature blanket. So far it looks pretty warm.

That one bit of blue is the only time it got in the low 40s so far.

Lee is getting over his hurt back and I’m wheezing, but we managed to take a little walk by the creek on our property. Things are waking up. And I woke up when I spotted a familiar shade of purple on the creek bed.

Hello dear friend!

I was so excited to see a violet on our ranch! This is the first one I’ve seen here, though I’ve seen some on the creek bank at my friend Pamela’s nearby property. There are no cattle on her property, so her banks are more stable. I’m happy to see these. There are very few reports in the area.

A beautiful sight we found were the blossoms on our only little stand of eastern swamp privet (Forestiera acuminata). We are at the western end of its range. These cheerful yellow puffs are gorgeous from a distance.

A final sighting were two very large turtles. It’s a bit cool for turtle sightings, but the one sluggishly meandering in the creek was large enough to not be too bothered. The other one we found was no longer alive, but it was interesting to see it’s bones under the shell. The turtle had enjoyed a long life, for sure.

It was fun finding all these surprises. Also, while I didn’t ride today, I hung out with the horses and helped move some cattle. I protected the gates and kept the horses in! At least I got to be outside.

What’s a Temperature Blanket?

I may have mentioned recently that I was waiting on yarn to arrive so that I can make a 2023 temperature blanket. The yarn arrived yesterday, which made being sick at least a little less annoying.

So many yarns

Because I still hate moths, this will be in acrylic, but I chose the sport weight of Brava by Knitpicks rather than the thicker stuff I’d been using. I bought one skein of each color I think I’ll need until winter of this year. That’s because it didn’t get very cold here so far in 2023. Why does that matter?

A temperature blanket is a knitted or crocheted project that records the temperature at a specific place over a specific amount of time. Here’s an article from Modern Daily Knitting (MDK) about some projects they were working on. Click either of the links above or look at these Ravelry projects to see lots of photos and get an idea of what the deal is. I made one of the “official” ones (link is below) back when I lived with Anita at the Bobcat Lair, but I apparently did NOT put it on Ravelry or mention it in a blog. That’s annoying. I have no idea where it got off too, but it covered Austin Texas temperatures for I think 2018.

My blanket will cover College Station, because there’s no great data for Cameron on any weather site I could find. That was disappointing. Lee collects rainfall amounts, but not temperatures, as far as I know, so I can’t get them from him. I selected yarns to represent five degree increments going from 0 to over 100 Fahrenheit, knowing that I probably will not need the lower colors with all this global warming.

I love mitered squares, as you may be aware, so I am making a blanket using that technique, with the high temperature for the day on the outside of each square and the low temperature on the inside. I’ll make ten days per row, and I’ll indicate the end of each month with a black square. The blanket will make a lot of sense if you’re used to reading Arabic or Hebrew, because it goes from right to left. It’s just how I always do my squares, so why stop now?

I’m really looking forward to working on this. It’s a fun project, until you see just how hot it gets every year around here. Maybe it will cool down toward the end. I encourage you to learn more about temperature blankets. Another great resource is the one I found first, which is the Tempestry Project. They make wall hangings for different years in the same places and it makes the changes over the years VERY obvious. They have temperature tapestries from all over the world and for the US National Parks. It’s fascinating.

Here is my messy set of instructions for January and part of February. It didn’t get cold until the end of the month, when the ice storm hit.

Working on this project is a good distraction from coughing. I’ll update you on my attempts to get my condition diagnosed later.

Animals, Accidents, etc.

Today was fun until it wasn’t. I mostly practiced Tunisian crochet, thanks to a little book called Tunisian Crochet Workshop that I found on Kindle for free. It has good photos and clear instructions, so I was able to get through a bunch of different stitches on a sampler.

Left to right, Tunisian double crochet, extended stitch, mesh stitch, reverse stitch, knit stitch, purl stitch, and simple stitch.

Simple stitch is the standard. The other ones I liked were knit, mesh, and extended. Reverse is icky. Good thing purl is similar. Anyway, now I know some stitches.

Woof woof.

I spent some time today enjoying the dogs. I always hear them in the backyard barking. I realized they were barking at cows, but today I got proof that it’s fun for all involved.

Those cattle are having fun!

The dogs bark, the mamas paw the ground, and the calves bounce up and down, trying to play. It’s so much fun to watch!

Alfred didn’t want me too close to the scary cows. When he realized I was approaching, he got between me and the action and herded me back. What a sweetie.

Ima keep you safe.

I wish Alfred had been there to protect me later. I’m having a lot of awkward moments. Yesterday I hurt my shoulder tossing saddles around. Today Drew and I got entangled in a rope and both fell down! That could have been a lot worse. He got clover stains and I hit my head and hand. No one bled.

No photos of the accident, so here are my cute Black History Month nails.

I managed to get Drew saddled and we did all our stuff just fine, so I guess we weren’t hurt too badly. But when he was free, he sure rolled a lot. Thankfully, Apache is still calm and cool, so I managed to do fine with him. I’m so grateful for him. And glad Drew is forgiving.

Tomorrow I shall spend time in the hot tub. I need it.

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