Lazy Day, with Lego

Today I ended up not doing much after riding Apache in the morning. Partly that’s because I got a shingles vaccine yesterday, and I was tired (fell asleep for a while after lunch).

My Lego creation.

And then my evening activities with Kathleen and some Hearts Homes and Hands staff got canceled because one of the buildings on the ghost tour was on fire. Oops. So, I decided to break out the Lego kits I recently ordered.

I love all the people and their hair

I’d ordered to colorful one when someone at work shared it for Pride week. It is so cheerful! A lot of us got it and have been building them. I may put mine in my office, but I may like it too much to leave it in Austin.

Lego perpetual calendar.

The other thing I made is this cute perpetual calendar. It was on sale, but put my order high enough to get free shipping. So, it was free. I’m glad, because it was missing a red calendar face and had an extra gray one. So the color scheme is wonky, but it still works. Plus, the business dude in the middle makes me smile.

Obviously, the dogs also rested.

Goldie, who’s been here a week today, has not stopped swimming since she got here. Today she was in the deepest part of the little pond and completely submerged other than her head! It was great fun until a bullfrog jumped in and startled her!

She’s just a head.

One other lazy highlight of the day was feeding the chickens some leftover cucumber and apple. I sure love the smell of cucumber, even when it’s past its prime.

This stuff is good.

Since I’d tried apples with the new chickens when they first arrived, and they didn’t touch them, I hadn’t been giving them fruit and veg since. But, today I decided to give it a try again.

Hey, Babette, this cucumber is tasty! Yes, Betsy, the apple is also delicious.

I guess being in the pen with grass and bugs has taught them to try new foods. Next time I’ll give them more, and maybe some watermelon! I’m delighted at how well these new girls are adapting and thriving.

Now to relax some more. I’m out of Lego projects! I hope to be less puny tomorrow. If not, I’ll have more ibuprofen.

Very Brief Knitting Update

I thought it would be a good idea to briefly share how my current shawl is going. I’m really enjoying the border, because it’s simple as heck. It does amuse me that I still occasionally mess up, which just goes to show you that paying attention to your pattern by actually LOOKING at it occasionally is a good idea.

You can see that I’m a few inches into the border now.

The good thing is I’m not being graded for this, and it’s not my knitting mastery project or anything. I’m never going to be THAT good. But, I have fun! The idea here is to use almost all of the second ball of yarn for the border, leaving just enough to bind off. Kate Atherley, the woman who wrote the pattern handily tells you about how much yarn you’ll need. It’s a well written pattern, for sure.

You can see it’s getting big!

I like how hefty the shawl has become, though it’s too big to stretch out and get a photo of what the whole thing looks like. It’s going to be pretty, assuming I get more time to work on it.

I will today, anyway, since I’m going to Waco with Sara to do something. Wow. Going somewhere with a friend! To do something! I’m still not planning on any crowded indoor events any time soon, but it’s a huge relief to feel safe enough to do outdoor things.

Not much, but enough to delay the morning horse maintenance plans

And yes, it rained again. We smartly put the bags of Sakrete in the garage, so the fence project won’t get ruined. I put my car outside, but it still looks like the Dustmobile after sitting for so long while I was gone. I’m waiting for things to dry up a wee bit more before getting it washed. One of our friends is doing it for some of us now! Job creation!

Solace at the Sea, and Travel Planning

Even though I had meetings that went until almost 6 pm yesterday, Lee and I vowed to have at least a little fun at the beach. And the late afternoon is a wonderful time to go out and enjoy the water. We even went in! I had on a hat and t-shirt, so I didn’t go deep, but I got soothed by the salt water, anyway.

This is an unusual place to wade, thanks to the weird currents that keep the red flag flying at the lifeguard station. It alternates between being very shallow, then there’s a trench a foot deeper. If you successfully negotiate the trenches, you can get pretty far out and not even be waist high.

You can see how far out the people behind Lee are.

We had a wonderful stroll down the beach, where I had a good time looking for little beach fish (the water was crystal clear today, not all churning with stirred up sand and shells like it was earlier). It was fun watching the patterns of water as they flowed from low areas.

I think there are people prints, bird prints, and dog prints here by the outflow area.

As always, the gulls were entertaining. They seem unafraid of people, but not as obnoxious as some of the ones I remember in Fort Lauderdale. They enjoyed the little pools, too.

They flew all around Lee, too, which made him laugh a lot. We’ve been laughing a lot this week. This time alone together without the stresses of day-to-day chores has been really great.

That’s our building reflected in the shiny Sea Glass building.

After our nice, long walk we managed to get to the pool bar just before it closed, where I got a hard-earned beverage with dark rum and ginger beer, and Lee got two Cuba Libres. Well, we don’t have any Coke in the room, now that we’re trying to use up everything, and what we had was Coke Zero (my vice). So, to get two drinks, he had to buy them both. He got some funny looks in the elevator.

This should get me through the elevator ride; it’s a long way up!

We enjoyed our final relaxing evening at the condo, and I made the most of the chaise-lounge (however you spell that) part of the couch, and cozily knitted away at the Lines and Lines shawl. I got through my fourth pattern repeat, and now that I see how it works, it’s a very relaxing and satisfying project.

I can’t stretch it out any more than this, but you can sure see the lines!

I have a good amount of yarn left on my first skein, so I’m sure I can get at least one more repeat before switching to the border that makes up the second half of the shawl.

We Have a Plan

I was sitting around last night, thinking about going home and not looking forward to the same interstate highway scenery, when I got to wondering how much longer it would take if we went on state and local roads? I plugged it into the Maps app and here’s what I discovered:

Two travel options

We were going to take three days, anyway, so this adds less than two hours to each day of travel. We will get to see Montgomery and Selma in Alabama, which are historically interesting, plus we go through the center of Louisiana, where I’ve never spent much time. I brought the idea up to Lee, and he was sold immediately. We both LOVE looking at small towns.

By taking this alternate route, we will have a fun weekend of driving, and I won’t have to do too much work tomorrow, since I got so much of my writing stuff done already. I’m looking forward to heading back to Texas and seeing new things. Then I’ll be home and get to see both familiar and new things. Hooray for the weary travelers.

Thanks for reading, and for those of you who give it a try, thanks for listening to the podcast version.

Knitting My Way to Calabash

In addition to all that reading, I’ve been knitting the last few days. Today, after playing on the beach and hot tubbing (it was finally empty), Lee and I decided to explore the area north of us. I brought my new Lines and Lines project along with me.

Proof I actually sat on the sand.

We didn’t have any destination in mind, but when I saw Calabash, NC on the map, I suggested we go there. You see, the number of restaurants here in Myrtle that advertise Calabash seafood rivals the number of pancake restaurants (well, there are LOTS more pancake places truth be told). We figured we should see what all the fuss was about at the source.

Bargains galore

We went the scenic route, which means we were accompanied by our Bike Week friends. There were so many cool bikes, trikes, and Can-Ams. As long as we weren’t trying to converse, it was fine. And we enjoyed seeing some residential areas, golf courses, and boats. North Myrtle Beach is pretty. We bypassed the Little River blue crab fest, which was crowded, but it looked like a nice town. (Milam County humor: we couldn’t find an Academy store, which would have been a good photo op. You see, we have a place called Little River-Academy in our county.)

Calabash

And Calabash was everything I’d hoped it would be. It’s cute, quaint, small, and friendly, with much shopping if I can go there with Kathleen or Anita. There are fishing boats everywhere, which explains the concentration of large seafood restaurants. We lucked out, though, and I found the oldest of the restaurants, the Dockside Seafood House.

The dock, as viewed from the restaurant patio.

This place has been open since 1955, in contrast to the big new ones nearby. And in line with us waiting for it to open were mostly locals, not tourists. Suna for the win!

I enjoyed watching birds while we ate our seafood. A bald eagle flew by. Red-wing blackbirds were feeding babies. Gulls were fighting, while pelicans majestically flew back and forth.

Oh yes, Calabash is a way to lightly fry seafood. My oysters were quite good, but the scallops (not fried) were better. I’m glad a local guy recommended it. Lee liked his clam chowder so much he ordered a pint to take back. And the oyster stew I had reminded me of my mom’s.

We left with huge smiles on our faces, and took the quieter route back so I could enjoy my knitting. I’m through two pattern repeats, and am impressed how the same stitches make horizontal stockinet stripes on one side, and vertical on the other.

Interesting pattern.

It will be more obvious once blocked. Here are close-ups of each side.

Yeah, maybe the wrong yarn, but I like it.

Now that I have the hang of the pattern, it should go pretty quickly. I guess this shawl is for Kathleen, since it’s her yarn from Blue Mule Fiber. This will be way nicer than what I originally started.

Evening beach.

I’m so glad that I am easily amused. I always have a book, a craft project, or some nature I want to look at!

What’s keeping you going?

Practically Finishing a Knitted Object!

I’ve been diligently knitting away on the Tangerine Eyelet Wrap that’s half entrelac and half lace. It took longer, because I doubled the lace part. Today I finally bound off!

It wraps; thus it is successful. And wow, I have a lot of freckles when not wearing makeup.

I am glad I’m done, because toward the end there, my recent inability to concentrate really caught up with me and I kept making mistakes in the lace and having to go back down and move a yarn over (that’s what makes holes in lace). I was really frustrated, because it was not a hard lace pattern at all. But, here it is, hot off the needles.

There are strings, and it is lumpy, but you get the idea.

I really love the colors of this yarn. I also enjoyed working with it so much. Anything with silk in it makes me happy, I think. If you want to see the details, I took a closer photo.

Diamond lace at left, entrelac rectangles at right.

The instructions said to block the wrap before adding the crocheted border, so I filled the bathtub with tepid water and dunked it all in there. It didn’t change the water color as much as my CBD bath bomb last night did (ahh), but there was some orange in it. I swished gently, and was reminded of that special smell that silkworm thread makes (the negative side of silk). I squeezed as much water out of it as I could by hand, followed by rolling it up in a towel to remove more moisture.

Drying. It’s almost 5 feet long.

Then I laid the sad looking mass out on towels, and did my best to arrange it to have smooth edges. It would have been easier if I had blocking pins, but I figure I can re-block it after I add the edging and get back to my terribly disorganized knitting supplies.

I turned the fan in the spare bedroom on high to help the drying process go faster. In the meantime, I evaluated my options, and in a surprise, even to me, I decided to frog (unknit) a cowl I didn’t like the looks of and re-do it into an interesting lace-striped shawl called Lines and Lines that one of my knitting friends shared on Twitter. I got the pattern and am ready to start. Whee. Way to spontane, Suna.

This needed to be made out of laceweight yarn, I think. So, it will now be unraveled.

I can work on this and dishcloths the rest of the trip. Good car knitting, and maybe I can manage to concentrate on it. Darn my brain.

On Another Topic

Lee had promised me a trip to the restaurant we enjoyed so much last year, the Café Old Vienna. We didn’t want to eat in a crowded restaurant, so we went early, only to happily discover they had an outside dining area. Well, I was happy until I remembered that it’s still Bike Week, so we got to enjoy them, fire trucks, ambulances, and the arrival of a giant Cisco truck making as much noise as possible while delivering.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed my happy-hour dark Hefe beer very much, and found the red sauce my cabbage rolls were covered in divine. There were no complaints to be had about the food. Even the salad had extra-good cucumbers (thanks to the Cisco truck, I guess). Lee was feeling out of sorts, but did love the butter sauce on his chicken.

One delicious German beer.

We’re taking it easy today, and hoping the weather isn’t so horrible that we can’t go to the last State Park tomorrow. It’s at least fairly nearby. We’re also keeping an eye on the news, which says the weather is really bad at home (it keeps saying that, but then we get no rain, according to the family).

And here’s a question for the Trickster Gods: why does there have to be some disaster that comes up every time we go to Myrtle Beach that makes us wonder if we’ll make it home? Last year they were shutting the doors to the country as we passed through each state, at the start of the COVID crisis. This year some hackers with nothing better to do messed up a pipeline and now people are panicking over getting gasoline for their cars. I do hope we can go back to Texas at the end of the week!

I mean, really, Trickster Gods, this is nice, but I miss my family, equines, dogs, chickens, and large monitors!

What Did I Want to Do When I Grew Up?

Hello from the road to South Carolina. I love road trips. You can sure think a lot. You can also knit a lot. I’ve actually arrived at the end of the pattern I’m making, but because I’m using different yarn and needles, I’m going to repeat the lace pattern.

Best picture I could get in the car. You can get the idea.

I have plenty of yarn left. I enjoy knitting without disturbances. It lets me think of new techniques to try, modifications to make, and things I want to try next. I was wondering if I could crochet a border off live knitting stitches (not bound off). I think I’ve seen socks done that way, with crocheted cuffs.

I can’t wait to block it.

I could knit for my job, if I’d taken that choice when it came to me. I love the science of designing patterns, love teaching it (so much, oh so much), like to go to conferences, and all that. And I do technical writing, which helps a lot. I’d have to have figured out a niche and done a lot of marketing, like so many of my knitting friends did so well. Knitting blogs got a lot of folks started, and I loved doing that, too.

So much comfort.

That dream ended as abruptly as my work in La Leche League did. I didn’t have the self confidence and hadn’t healed enough to figure out a way to get through the hard part and start again, which I now can do. I no longer just disappear when I’m unfairly treated and no longer believe what other people say. Woo!

What Else Did I Want to Do?

But, who knows, I have a lot of years left! There’s another alternate route I could have taken, like the road less traveled. Yes, it’s exactly like two roads diverging in a woods, because I didn’t choose the one leading into a forest.

I do love those plants!

In college, I concentrated hard on classes leading to an interdisciplinary degree in linguistics. I loved studying all the different areas, and was strongly tempted by neurolinguistics. Brains fascinated me. (Still do; notice what I read about now.)

But, I had to get those darned prerequisites out of the way. I did most of them in the wonderful honors program, but I got burned by an awful teacher in Biology who gave exams that were ten essay questions where if you missed any part of the answer, the whole thing was wrong. That ended up ruining my boyfriend and his best friend’s GPAs. I was like, “You ain’t messing with my summa cum laude, asshole,” and got the only A in the class. I gave him one scathing evaluation.

Crimson clover to cleanse your palate from that guy.

That preamble was intended to explain why I took my second biology class as a normal class, with a grad student TA instead of a mean full professor. The class mostly covered genetics and biochemistry. I ate it up like ice cream. Figuring out chromosomes and proteins and all that was like figuring out puzzles. It was so fun.

I always wanted to know how plants worked. This is a beautiful invasive vetch in Georgia.

I stayed after and asked the teacher questions. This guy was studying bees for his doctoral research, so I asked a lot about insect genetics. All I now remember is that he always wore incredibly wrinkled shirts, apparently because his girlfriend didn’t have an iron. There was much good-natured kidding, and he rewarded us with wearing an ironed shirt to the final exam.

Like this wild azalea hiding in a prissy trimmed hedge, I was nature girl stuck in academia.

Because I answered all the extra credit questions right, I didn’t need to pass the final, but I did it for fun. Then came the fateful question. The TA took me aside and begged me to switch majors. Biology needed me! I said I’d think about it. With my love of trees and springs and swamps, I imagined becoming a wildlife biologist and working with a State agency.

But, by that time I was already accepted to grad school in linguistics with a full fellowship. I had to take that path. Plus I was following my boyfriend. Hint to young people: your vocational choice should be determined by your brain, not hormones. I’ve been stuck working with language a lot longer than I had my boyfriend (a great human, don’t get me wrong).

The Good Part

But, all was not lost. I came to the Hermits’ Rest and got to hang out with Sara, the genetics PhD. And I met Dorothy, who’s not only a blog/podcast sponsor, but also got me into the Texas Master Naturalist program! I now get to do biology every day if I want to, I get to study the natural world, and if I can’t BE a wildlife biologist, at least I get to hang out with them! And I do work with a State agency.

Like this fine plantain, I’m choosing to find beauty wherever I am and grow where I’m planted.

It took me a while, but I did get to be what I wanted to be when I grew up. It just took patience.

So, have you attained your goals? Does your vocation match your avocation?

Got Knitting All Ready for Upcoming Storms!

It’s always good to be prepared, isn’t it? And I was once a Girl Scout after all, with all the badges except ones about cooking and house keeping. That may explain why I’m so thrilled we will soon have someone to clean my house again.

I have two hours before it rains, according to this app.

Oddly enough, though, preparing for storms is one of my favorite activities. I love it when it’s all dark and gloomy out, because I feel cozy and sleepy, which is perfect for knitting and watching storms. I’ve been busily catching up on all my work, knowing that I’ll need to shut down if a big storm hits (see, I’m prepared!). And my current knitting project is beckoning me from right next to my desk. Ahh.

I enjoyed my lunch and am now taking my lunch-hour blogging break. As soon as I finish reviewing some work and doing one more meeting, I’ll shut down and enjoy that Severe Thunderstorm Watch that just popped up. I’ll be hoping it passes in time to take care of horses and Fiona!

The knitting is going slowly (mainly thanks to how sleepy my current mental state has made me), but it’s going well. I alternate between dishcloths and my beautiful Noro wrap.

You can see the beginning of the border.

The entrelac section is finally complete. It took exactly one skein of the yarn, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty for the second part, which is a lace-patterned border. That border is simple enough I don’t have to look at the instructions every row, too, so it is perfect for a lazy afternoon of rain-watching. I’m very happy that this yarn has such a long color repeat, because it will make a nice ombre effect on the border. The yarn the pattern actually called for has shorter and more abrupt color transitions, so I actually think this one will come out better!

I will have to block the piece once the border is done, which should square it up and flatten the little rectangles. Then there’s a crochet border that will really make the piece look finished, I hope, because the top edge that doesn’t have the lace border is pretty uneven looking to me. Gosh, I think I may actually finish this thing!

Back to the weather, we’re getting reports that lime-sized hail may come with the next storm, at least to my friends around Austin. I guess that’s good, since most of them are already planning to get new roofs after the previous storm, with “just” golf-ball sized hail. The spring storm season around here sure can be a doozy! Oh, and of course that is always followed by a couple of months of no rain at all. Love that Texas weather.

Indian blanket! Next come black-eyed Susans.

Hoping you are safe from whatever weather is afflicting your part of the world, and if it’s not being afflicted, that you enjoy a wonderful spring or autumn day! And don’t forget to let me know if you have anything you’d like to see me talk about here!

Quick Knitting Update

Yes, I’m still knitting, but I’ve been working a lot in my usual “spare” time, so it’s going slowly.

Shouldn’t I mail these?

I finished the first set of dishcloths for my podcast sponsor, but have run into one of my worst challenges: I hate mailing things. But, it’s going out next week for sure.

This is the basket weave one. I already gave her the grandma’s favorite one.

My sister mentioned that I hadn’t knitted her any dishcloths in years. I thought she wasn’t impressed with my knitting, so it hadn’t occurred to me. She also felt that the ones I make for others are too tightly woven. So, I made her blue and white ones on big needles. The colors match her good china. Hope they get a lot of use!

It’s still going.

My pretty wrap is still moving along. I only have ten inches left of the entrelac part. I will work on it this week unless I get a new sponsor. My next recipient wants to pick colors in person. There are still lots of colors left!

Lee and I toasted with these cool glasses!

And hey, I did go to that Zoom wedding this afternoon! It was so nice to see two of my oldest friends, who are still best buddies, support each other at the event. I’m just SO happy Gail found the right guy for her. Love is grand.

Hope you have a fun Sunday. Mine is just getting started it seems.

Happy COVID Freedom Day to Me

Today’s a milestone that never could have happened before this year. It’s been two weeks since my second COVID vaccine, so my immunity has officially kicked in. I am free to move about the country now! I even gave myself a bouquet of wildflowers to celebrate.

Toadflax isn’t a beautiful name, but it’s in the snapdragon family, which is cool. This stuff is everywhere right now. Small but mighty.

Look, I know this doesn’t mean I’m immune, nor that I can’t transmit the virus if I somehow became infected (no idea how that could happen, since I haven’t been going anywhere). But it does mean I don’t need to have that fear hanging over my head if I need to go to the grocery store or want to do something fun. And I WILL wear a mask when going to crowded places, because I’d prefer to avoid getting even a mild case, seeing all the long-term effects those around me are experiencing.

Even a cute, little bug is a bug, right?

I look forward to being able to hang out with vaccinated friends and have a chat, with coffee or wine. I can sit on the porch with Mandi again! I will feel okay traveling and seeing my relatives who are vaccinated. To be honest, I simply feel lighter and freer than I have in over a year. And by gosh, I’m going to go HUG SOMEONE. How rash!

Small things CAN be beautiful, both hanging around with friends and a tiny blue-eyed grass blossom.

There’s still plenty to do right here at the ranch, though. I’m still reading all those books on bias, knitting away at my current project while waiting for the yarn for my supporter gifts to arrive, and hanging out with the animals. It’s a full life, right here on the ranch. That’s especially true at my favorite time of the year, when every day brings new flowers (also, the swallows have returned!).

Getting closer to 60 inches of entrelac, so I can start the lace border on this wrap.

I hope you and your circle are starting to become more fully vaccinated. I know we all want to see friends and family sooner rather than later!

Even the trees are blooming! This is black willow that’s grown up by the driveway.

Plans for Today Cancelled

I had so much confidence that I’d have few side effects from my second COVID vaccine. But, while it’s not as bad as last time, just a couple hour after I woke up I got the bone tiredness that’s common. So, Sara will ride my horse today and I will read knit, and nap.

But, at least I have a nice new bed set and valances for the dogs…I mean for me to sleep under.

I ordered these Western linens (on sale, too!) to see if they’d make me like my brown walls better. They do look good with the headboard Lee made, and the valance looks pretty good, though we plan to stretch it out a bit. We also have valances for the windows, but need something to hang them on.

The dogs always enjoy morning walks, even when it’s cloudy and breezy.

It’s a windy, gray day, anyway, so I’ll be okay inside. The clouds were really pretty, in a gloomy way, this morning, a nice start to the last day of Standard time.

Is it important for your clothing and dog to match your knitting? I think it’s classy.

I’ll get back to my knitting and resting at the Hermits’ Rest. I hope someone listens to the podcasts! Enjoy my lisping. You will also get to enjoy music from my son, Declan Murtagh, on the podcast. It’s just what I wanted!