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!
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’s not as cold today, but the rain and fog have been with us all day. So, since everyone needs food, Kathleen and I went off for a scenic trip to stock up on provisions. It felt like Farmer’s heading into town for our monthly visit.
We had a good omen upon departure, as I heard the interesting bird call I’ve been hearing all week and finally spotted a belted kingfisher! I was all excited, since I’d never seen one at the Hermits’ Rest before.
We wandered over to Temple, and after a few navigational challenges due to looking at birds and farm houses too hard, got some healthy lunch (no photos, it was too good). I was glad I’d brought my fancy new mask, since we had a bit of a wait.
Next, it was serious provisioning. You know we live in the country when a trip to the GOOD grocery store is exciting. I mean, the H-E-B has actual, fresh fish! We bought a lot of shrimp for a fancy meal tomorrow. Our cart was so full!
It was exciting to me to get fresh flowers for the house. Kathleen said Happy MLK Day to me.
The car seemed full, but we’re we done? Heck no. The horses need to eat, so off we went to Tractor Supply to get 200 pounds of horse food, half Apache and Fiona’s low calorie food and half the stuff Kathleen’s four eat. Drew has plenty of his muscle-building alfalfa stuff.
So, that stuff plus a storage bin and some straw for the chicken coop filled every other spot in the SUV, right? Nope. We had to make another stop!
The drive between the ranch and Temple heads straight through the heart of Czech Texas. And when you see the sign for Zabcickville (sp) you feel compelled to stop in for some traditional fare at Green’s Sausage House. They make all their own sausage and process all the meat they sell on site.
While we didn’t get the milk, we got plenty of meat products. And you cannot go to a Czech establishment without purchasing some kolaches! So soft and yeasty. Made on site!
We were finally done, and headed home, with so much to see. Farm houses, cows who climb, hawks…we did manage to mostly stay on the road while the Mexican eagles, kestrels, and huge flocks of grackles tried to distract us.
By the time we got home, we were amazed at how much we had done and seen out here in the middle of nowhere. And everyone has enjoyed their food. We will be FINE for a month or so, other than milk and bananas (must get those often at the sad Cameron stores).
Two things have happened that are a fortuitous coincidence. One is my son and his partner moving nearby. The other is reading Brené Brown’s latest book, Atlas of the Heart.
The book seems sorta silly in concept. It’s a list of definitions of human emotions. Apparently many people can only identify three emotions: happy, sad, and angry. So, perhaps at atlas is useful after all.
I learned some interesting nuances about emotions, such as how jealousy and envy differ. But I also learned a new one that explained how I’ve been feeling about the possibility of having some of my family nearby.
I feel like I can’t be happy and look forward to fun times and what the future might bring. It’s called foreboding joy. Brown says it’s a nearly universal experience, especially for parents. Yeah. What a term. Foreboding joy. You can’t let yourself enjoy good things because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
That’s it. I’ll try to slide some real joy in the next few weeks. I need some goodness, strength, and courage! And I’ll write more about the book later. I’m pleased to have words to describe the weird feeling I’ve had lately. Hmm.
As a winter storm is barreling its way toward us, it brings hope and possibility. Thanks to the rising costs of housing and the never-ending gentrification of affordable neighborhoods in Austin, my son and his partner have made the hard decision to come out here and start over.
In a lucky coincidence, our sweet tenants in the old cabin on the ranch property we share with Sara’s family moved to south Texas right when Declan and Rollie ran out of Austin options. We agreed to offer it to them as a more affordable option.
We all have good memories of this place. Ten years ago, this is where we celebrated New Year’s, while Sara’s house was being built. It’s quirky, but cool, so we weren’t sure what our young folks would think. So, they came up last week to look it over.
I was so touched to see how much Rollie was charmed by the place. Rollie has experience with basic living conditions. They can see potential and charm, like I can. Declan will have a harder time, but we think we can work it out. He will have his own music room! And hobby space.
Tonight we had our traditional meal. Those young folks ate a lot. That always makes me so happy.
Declan and Rollie wanted to go back and look at the cabin again. Did I mean toon it’s the oldest structure on the property? It predates all the neighbor houses. So we went, even though it was getting dark.
They took lots of pictures to help them figure out where to put stuff. That’s when I let myself believe they will actually move up here in a few weeks. That lowers my concern for them so much. They can find plenty of stuff to do here to meet expenses.
I’m glad to be able to provide options for these two as they figure things out. They can have their independence but not feel alone. And they can plan their next steps.
I have no expectations. We talked about it tonight. This weird time has helped us learn a lot about ourselves. We don’t have to expect others to be anything other than themselves. But if I can help, I will.
One day at a time, with intention, off we go in our expanded family compound. Thanks to Sara and her family for helping us help our family.
And we aren’t really traditional Christians. Still, I’ve always enjoyed the gatherings of family and friends each year. But it’s 2021. Not a year for fun, comfort and joy, or peace.
It’s okay to be sad this year. We’ve all lost a lot, one way or another. For me, I’ve been sitting with the sadness and allowing peace to replace it in my heart.
My husband loves me. My dogs, horses, and chickens love me in their animal ways. My family love me, from their respective holiday locations. My dear friends are full of love as well. I’m grateful for all the kind messages. Nothing cheers one up quite like newborn baby pictures, so I’m happy to have my unofficial grandchild.
So, since the damned COVID kept our intended guests from coming, I told them I’d send pictures of how I decorated for the meal and relaxing with snacks. I was making lasagna, and Anita was bringing the other stuff. Here’s my decorations:
I also spent an hour or two getting the back porch ready for guests. Everything was dusty and dirty from pool construction. I swept everything, which is so futile, since the wind deposits Alfred hair in every corner as soon as I sweep. And I arranged the newly cleaned cheap patio furniture in a way that gives us a shady sitting area and a sunny one.
I’ve enjoyed butterflies today, so here’s a gift for Anita, Declan, and Rollie to say I miss them but am glad they are being responsible.
I’ve been putting off writing about this for a day, hoping to get some insight into how my little brain works. One thing I know for sure, or think I know, as Lucy Barton in the books I’m reading would say, is that once I lose my confidence in one thing, I start screwing up other things. That’s how it’s been the last 24 hours or so. I’ve had lots of time to ruminate, however, so maybe I’ll find that I’ve had a good learning experience.
Yesterday was, for the most part, a pretty rough day for me and horses. The challenges just kept building and building all day. First, I went to get Apache ready to go to a training lesson. He just seemed to be in a very uncharacteristic bad mood. He didn’t seem to want me near, and kept coming at me with his teeth. He has only bitten me once, and that’s when I stuck my hand in his mouth quite foolishly. But, he acted like he didn’t want me around. Too bad, we had to do this stuff. Yep.
He was all shifty and stompy when I groomed him. This is a horse who usually stands still and enjoys the grooming experience. He didn’t like being tied, no matter where I took him, either. At least he got into the trailer nicely and was not too hard to tie up, though the teeth came at me again. What the heck?
Once we got to the training place, he was fine, though, and other than truly not being interested in trotting, did well in the round pen. The trainer said she could see improvement in our relationship, which cheered me up some. She got on him to work on straightness and walk-trot transitions. Apache was not thrilled and was really not thrilled when he was asked to do shoulder-in walking, which makes sense, due to his internal issues, which I’d hoped to resolve a bit today, but that’s another part of the story.
I even got on him and practiced walking, trotting, then backing. I had some trouble at first, but in the end, I had an aha moment, and now that is really a nice thing to do, and we both seemed happy. This was the highlight of the day. The video below is what I was doing. Thanks to Sara for taking it.
Sara’s videos and photos really made me sad, though, because I can see what a little, old lump I look like in the saddle. Even when I’m doing well, I look pretty awful. No wonder I have to start over.
Next, we took Apache back to the trailer to hang out while I did a lesson with Drew. This is where I did another thing that messed with my confidence. I tied Apache next to Aragorn with a hay bag between them. I guess my knot that Chris insists I use doesn’t tighten well enough, so Apache was too loose. It enabled him to show what a bad mood he was in by kicking poor Aragorn. We got a call from the trainer’s son saying the paint was kicking the white horse.
I was mortified and afraid the expensive horse had been hurt and I’d never be able to apologize enough. Sara went to move Apache and was upset about my knot, which she didn’t know how to untie it (it just unties itself once you undo the last pull, but I obviously suck at knots). I also feel awful about that.
Yesterday was already not a great day for me emotionally, since I was still pretty shaken up about Ted dying and the five or six other deaths I’d heard about that day (really, SO many people lost their mothers!). The Apache thing got me shaky.
Then, when I was asked to longe Drew over his hill, I just could not do it. Yes, I was unable to guide a horse going in a circle. I completely lost my ability to do this thing that I thought I knew how to do in my sleep. Well, I need to do it differently now, and hold the rope a certain way, move my feet a certain way, never nod my head, put my elbow into my stomach, and keep level with the horse’s rump. I did none of those things correctly.
I asked Drew to speed up too violently (I did it the way I’d been told to do with Apache) and was told I’d traumatized him. Then I went into a downward spiral of doubting everything I was doing, and being afraid to hold the rope. When Drew got out of control, I was told to draw him in, draw him in, and I blanked on what that meant I was supposed to do. It meant to shorten the rope and bring him closer. Makes sense NOW.
It was a total cluster of insecurity, loss of confidence, and incompetency. I have no idea how I will ever do anything with Drew other than pet him when I get home. He is so sensitive, yet so boisterous. It’s great, and he is wonderful, but I only have experience with a horse that is slow and ignores me. Versatility eludes me. I have lost my positive outlook. Where did it go?
I ended up pretty damned weepy and wondering what the heck happened to my carefully nurtured equanimity I’ve worked so hard on this year. I’m glad my step-mother called so I had to force myself to be cheerful for a few minutes. It’s always good to hear a few stories from Flo.
Of course, the trainer had kind words for me, and pointed out that all training is peaks and valleys rather than a straight incline, and that we all have our bad days, both people and horses. I know she’s gone through her own bouts of feeling incompetent and judged, so I appreciate her insight, even if it will take a while to set in.
I did eventually get able to watch Sara’s lesson and see how she and Aragorn (who didn’t seem too badly injured and was happy to do his lesson) deal with straightness and transition issues, just at a higher level. Those folks who say the problems stay the same no matter what gait you’re working on are right about that.
We decided that Apache will go in for some training next month when I go on my next condo sabbatical. He will get worked and I will get to stare at my favorite beach. It should do us both some good. The trips are truly helping to keep me on an even keel.
What I suspect is actually bothering me is my regrets about my family and people who were once close to me. They really build up during the winter solstice period. Most of the year I am at peace with the fact that so many people I love and care deeply for do not reciprocate the feelings. This year I am down to ONE person biologically related to me for Christmas, now that my sister also no longer cares for me. Not all of this stuff is my fault. Or their fault. It’s all gray. I just miss them.
So, I will hug Lee, Anita, Declan, and Rollie on Christmas and thank the Universe for the larger community of caring folks who do surround me, even if I’m grumpy, sarcastic, negative, harbor unpopular opinions, and am just hard to live with. Most people are, to some extent. I’m smiling as I write this, so I’m not feeling too sorry for myself. What would that help, anyway?
Back on Topic
On the horse front, I’d expected to spend most of the day with them again, but Trixie forgot about our bodywork appointment. It’s all for the best, though, because I finished a secret Christmas gift, and Sara also got some work done. That’s the attitude we need. Sure, there are setbacks, but there are good things that can come from them.
Merry Christmas to all of you out there. You are a true gift to me! My gift to you is this pink evening primrose I found blooming in the pasture this afternoon. I took it as a sign of hope.
I started work extra early today, so I got to stop before the pre-solstice sunset caught up with me. It had rained and misted much of the day, but the late-afternoon sun was shyly peeking out from the clouds. It turned the ranch into a jewel box of shining droplets hanging from every fence, blade of grass, and plant.
I walked along just wishing I had someone to share this with. Lee was up working. Kathleen isn’t here. Mandi was at work, sigh. I know the little things I was enjoying so much weren’t the kind of things a lot of people would even notice. I mean, there was also a lot of holes from hogs or something, animal poop, and normal ranchy things.
It came to me that these were the kinds of things my friend Christi often posted as she looked out on her own ranch. Trees, sunsets, random cactuses, weird mushrooms, corn in the middle of the field. Tears came to my eyes, because I’d just been reading about when her memorial service would be held, fittingly enough, right in the middle of Sara’s and my lessons with her trainer friend. She’d probably get a chuckle out of that.
Well, then, I said, as my heart literally began to ache, I should share the shiny and quirky things I see around the Hermits’ Rest today, in honor of her memory and her love of this part of Texas.
I hope you enjoy how even the lowliest blades of grass became shimmering waves of diamonds in the sun today. It’s a real tribute to a shining soul. Be sure to look at the pictures up close, so you can see all the droplets.
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 ❤