More to Come

I’m honestly too tired to write. The good news is all animals got vaccinated and Goldie got spayed today. All survived so far. Much tranquilizer was used.

What happened?

Vlassic and Harvey were quite the pains in the butt. Carlton hid. But he was good. Shocking: Alfred let them cut his toenails like a gentleman.

No no no no no

That’s all I can muster. Long day for my family. But we are grateful for Dr Amy the mobile veterinarian!

More Painting, but Mostly Indoors

The guys finished trimming out the shipping containers today. There were a few clouds in the sky, which helped.

Vlassic and Lee approved.

Looks good! Yep!

I, too, painted. Kathleen set up a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Foundation today, sponsored by our personal assistance service, Hearts, Homes, and Hands. For a donation (small) participants got to paint either a seashell or a dolphin.

Paint and refreshments!

This was the kind of stuff we’d hoped to do before the pandemic. There was a great mix of clients, caregivers and their families in attendance. All the paintings were fun and individualistic. I enjoyed doing mine, with all those techniques I learned painting my weird turtles.

Some of the art. Fun was had.

Kathleen says we’re going to do more of these in the future. I love to have fun for a good cause. I’m proud of the team at HHH. Our new admin, Toni, is doing great. I’m enjoying being the silent partner and cheering our company on. It’s three years old now. Time flies when a virus attacks.

Meanwhile, I’m using up that leftover yarn.

I spent most of today working like crazy, which helped me not think about some family health scares. When not working, I crocheted. I think Drew understands that it was just too hot on this summer solstice to work together. I’ll try to get up early to work with him!

Too Hot to Paint but It Happened

I felt bad for my kid today. He is a very hard worker, not doing what he thought he’d be doing at this point in his life, but learning a lot. But wow it’s hot right now. And he’s been painting.

That shipping container blends in!

He and his coworker had already painted the Suna Shack red and white. But we also had the two shipping containers over in horse world. One is to be the hay storage and one storage for equipment. Both were reddish, but not red.

Another view.

In well over 100° heat, the second container got painted without the coworker. I was really surprised to see him patiently painting on white trim on it. I guess the nephew said to make it all match. Wow, it looks sharp so far!

Not quite done on this side, but I sure don’t miss all the shipping letters on the container. (Roof is getting replaced when it cools off)

I’m glad no one went along with the idea of painting stripes. Whew. I’m feeling like I’m a fancy barn owner, but not at such a high price. This is all done by my family (and Marcus). It means so much more than some prefabricated thing! I do love my kids and wish I’d been a better mom after their dad left. Oops. Back on that topic again.

Apparently this one gets white trim, too. Let’s see if they paint the poles.

Still. The horses will rest in so much style now! Speaking of style. I believe I found the loudest nail polish on earth. It’s called Mardi Gras. Obviously I’m not painting barns.

Yow.

But I do work, and I found out today that I’ll get to stay another year at Dell. We’ll see what I decide to do after that. And tomorrow I hope to do some painting for a good cause!

I hope I don’t mess up my nails!

On the Road to Comfy

Two of our many projects are moving quickly toward a better state. The in-law suite, which will actually be occupied by my elderly and a bit unsteady brother-in-law, is rapidly approaching a livable and comfy state.

Simple and clean

The room that was our first office/bedroom for Lee, which is in the back of our garage, is looking great, especially when I don’t show the other side of the room, where there’s still papers, books, amps and such that are Lee’s. I’m looking to see if any more of my stuff got put there. All the horse stuff is in the tack room, though.

In progress

The room now has a doorway to get to the bathroom and new kitchen area. Everything has been painted, new light fixtures are in, and the fridge is in place (and cleaned off from where the chickens used to roost on it). That was a lot of work.

Nice fridge!

The recycled granite is ready for cabinets that will hold the sink, microwave, etc.

I didn’t know we had a granite saw. Maybe that was already there.

The nephew went to get cabinets today. They need to go in, and I assume some flooring. Then it will be livable, even though the outside wall still needs insulation, which will happen when the pool house gets its insulation blown in.

We already had this bathroom with a handicap-friendly shower. It’s getting a bench.

I’m very pleased at how nice this looks. Speaking of nice! They put a desk in the tack room, which looks very nice with my temporary chairs. I’m hoping to get my furniture in there soon, now that it’s pretty clean.

Sure, the chandelier look better than the fly trap, but this is good.

I tried to clean all the lids to the horse food, but one I can’t get the oily stuff off. I’ll get a more intense cleaner, I guess. I’ll get there. And it wasn’t even too hot today!

I practiced this game today. That proves it wasn’t too hot.

Now to sit by myself again. I’d feel lonely around here, but I was so surrounded by people in my 9 meetings today that I’m actually okay that everyone has other stuff to do!

Me at work. I dressed nice to get me through things. Like my sparkly tooth?

Special Delivery, Size XL

Our pool house project is coming along slowly but surely, since it gets worked on nights and weekends. The walls are framed in and some electrical is in. There is no shortage of outlets, and it has a hefty breaker box.

Workers working on the pool house

And earlier this week, our friend Felix’s crew came by and installed the air conditioning system. They wanted to do it before plumbing or insulation went in. It looks good! Shiny!

We won’t know how it works until service is connected. That will happen…soon? I care a lot because that will also be when the Hen Haus (my new name for it, in homage to our Hermit Haus business we owned) and the Suna Shack (plus Kathleen) will get electrified. I bet the chickens will be thrilled.

But a big question about the pool house got answered today: why is the bathroom so big?

There’s something big

When I saw the truck show up and a huge box get unloaded it became clear. The pool house would also have its own “indoor pool” in that bathroom. It was a surprise for the bath lover in our family, Kathleen, who has been stuck with a standard tub while here in the guest room. Now she will be able to enjoy the soaking dream, and look out the window at our pond.

Good thing we have a big gate

That was a special delivery! I can’t wait to see how our pool house and its bathroom come out.

My son was very glad he didn’t have to lift it.

We will unveil the tub later, but I got a peek. It reminds me of the one we had in Bobcat. It was NICE.

Better News and Good Progress

I want to say something I never thought I would say: thank you do the Precinct 2 Commissioner for getting guys out to the bridge by our house by 8 am with pressure washers. They got rid of that graffiti as fast as they could. We still have the potholes over by Sara’s but the icky stuff is gone. That stuff really has made some members of my family uncomfortable, and these community gestures do help.

My wine speaks for my mental state at this time

I’ve been rather inwardly focused lately, and I have to tell you it’s because I am no longer taking my anti-anxiety medicine, so my actual emotions are coming through. I guess some of my equanimity lately has been drug-induced. I’m not as able to say, “Oh, that’s just so and so being themselves,” when I’m treated disrespectfully right now. But, I’m way better than I was before, so I think I’ll be able to handle it.

In stuff that is not me, me, me, me…other members of our ranch community are getting better lives, which makes me really happy. For one, we are soon going to be able to let Lee’s brother move out of the RV under the garage. He is 75 and a little unstable on his feet, and we worry about him going up and down the RV stairs. Plus, it’s not a great RV.

A door fit for a little black dachshund mix

So, the gang has been working steadily to take the garage room that used to be Lee’s office then was the former tack room and make it a nice little in-law suite for him. There was already a toilet and shower in there that we used when we were first living here, so it’s not too much work. They’ve added a new door, which of course has a doggie door for Vlassic.

The door goes to the bathroom. They added the little window to brighten the hallway.

There will be a kitchen area with a sink (since the guys removed the icky old utility sink that was there before), a fridge (we have a basic one that was already there or may put in a smaller nice one), and a place to microwave and store food with NO mice. The hallway is extra wide, as is the door, because we are anticipating wheelchairs some day.

As always, lots of outlets. At right is the garage fridge, home of beer and cold water.

The main room is large and nice, so he will have room for his computer, his recliner, and a couch for Vlassic…I mean for the nephew to use on his visits, of course.

Another thing that the gang has been working on that will make ranch life easier is repairing the cattle guards on the road that leads to the cabin where my son and his partner live, which also has lots of traffic from the folks who lease our communal land for their cattle. Both the guards had been sort of repaired over the years, but they needed a re-do.

A big hole with creosote-covered wood. That smells like my dad when I was a kid and he worked in a telephone pole plant.

This is NOT a simple re-do. All our tractors are involved, and very large railroad ties. I got some photos of work in progress, but wasn’t able to get over there later in the day, due to work, cooking, and such.

All the equipment. Well, we were in the truck.

These guys really WORK. I am really impressed with how coordinated the three men are with all these heavy objects. They each know their role and almost look like a delicate ballet as they move things around, measure, and place them. Both Declan and Marcus seem to be learning more and more every day!

Moving these logs was like ballet, only heavy.

One day I’ll share the progress on the pool house, which is the final installment in the “get everybody a good place to stay” campaign. We are a strong family who stick together despite our differences and struggles. Poo on haters.

Sometimes Ranch Life Is a Bit too Much

Like today. I was awakened in the night by a familiar odor. Someone had been skunked. That someone was Penney.

I was just helping Goldie

And more stink arrived in the form of Goldie. I tried to sleep but Penney kept pushing, which she does when she is scared. I ended up with my legs off the bed, which gave me sore knees when I woke up.

I’ll spare you the carcass

After only a little coffee I was told to remove the skunk from the side yard, where most of it lay. Other parts were scattered around, as if a large animal had gotten to Goldie is a large animal.

Suspicious hole

As I went to get a shovel, I noted a large hole under the pool equipment base. Oh goodness. The skunk was trying to build a burrow in the yard where the dogs live. Skunks aren’t bright, cute as they are. It was doomed.

This was all over the yard.

Anyway, the skunk is now turtle food in the pond, and I got over my nausea from looking at its innards. The hole is gone, too, since this morning, Lee and the nephew created a new walkway from the back of our under-construction garage apartment, the garage side door, and our main path. It also made the pool equipment area look better.

After the skunk thing, I cleaned my giant closet and the kitchen, which had turned into a housefly buffet. I’ve now kept up with the dirty dishes stacked near the dishwasher for 6 hours and emptied the dishwasher twice. Lee has washed the stinky sheets. Yay.

This young lass had her own skunk adventure over at Sara’s but has bathed herself. Good dog.

I was tired of ranching and chores so I helped Sara film Aragorn on this dressage work, now that he is all shod. He did great. While I was there, I found a new (to me) plant, a swan flower. It is beautiful, and nothing like any other flower around here!

Swan flower

I wrote an article for the Master Naturalist blog with more details. I was surprised to see this one is the northernmost sighting of this plant, which is only found in Texas. How about that! This has been the highlight of the day and was a nice break.

When I got home, we got a hay delivery of square bales for the horses this winter. I did my best to help, but I really suck at lifting hay bales. The young man who brought it, though, was damned good at throwing it, and the nephew was good at stacking it. I counted.

The young woman who also lifted many bales.

Half the hay went to our house and half to Sara’s. Sara was much more helpful than me. But I wish I had a video of the tossing. They were amazing at it. Nice hay kids! Whew.

I was hot and the day wasn’t half over. This ranching can be hard and keeping your cool can be hard. I tried to cool off by the pool, but no. Neighbors dropped by to ask if we’d seen the obscene stuff painted on the bridge over Walker’s Creek next to our property. They had all sorts of theories that some teens who’ve been riding up and down the road in a “gator” (motorized golf cart utility vehicle).

That proves it wasn’t ME.

I had no idea there was stuff down the road, but I remembered seeing red stuff when we came back yesterday afternoon. That day teens did indeed go up and down the road endlessly. And I’d seen them earlier messing with cane on the bridge. I thought it was just kids having fun on summer break.

But no.

Nope. There was obscenity, anti trans stuff, cruel stuff about people with mental illness, and the coup de gras (whatever) the flourish of Let’s Go Brandon. Hardly necessary.

So welcoming to their trans neighbor.

And you know what, in today’s society, you hesitate to report vandalism in the community, because you worry some asshole will come shoot you. Nice. Rural living can be beautiful. It can be scary. Here’s a flower.

And yes, I called the sheriff. I just hope my beloved county commissioner will paint over the offensive stuff. I’m not wanting anything it peace and quiet.

Pain, Worth It

I seem to be dealing with the hurt of my lost friendships by replacing it with physical pain to distract myself. I’m pretty sure I have a stress fracture in my foot, because it didn’t bruise much, but hurts unless I wear supportive shoes. And falling in the hole definitely sprained my second toe on the other foot. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I also twisted all my back muscles. I’ve been walking around all hunched over like a person my age. Ha ha.

I did buy these cute boots.

To help me stop slipping and sliding while I’m trotting beside Drew, I got the fine Justin boots above. They qualify as Western boots, but have a rubber sole that will give me traction in sand and arenas. Plus, turquoise and black! Drew’s theme colors!

Too cute!

I’m just pushing through the pain and doing fun stuff anyway. Anita and I went to the local nursery today and I got some bright and happy plants. I hope that cheered her up a bit.

Photos of the plants are to come, when it’s light. I was too busy all day to take photos. There was lots of work, Zooms with friends, and fun chores like hauling horse poop. I think I should have dumped this load sooner.

Growing a mushroom crop.

But, everything is clean, including the trailer. I even towed it all the way to Sara’s tonight! That’s maybe a mile on the main road.

Here we go

It wasn’t all work today, though. I managed to work with both horses while waiting for Trixie to come do feet this evening. Drew really paid attention in his last lesson, because since then he’s like a new boy, with no more Zoolander problems. We turned right at all speeds, transitioned between gaits, and stopped on a dime consistently. There was no crowding or pushing. All his lunge line work was spot in today, too. He got the reward of being done quickly, because he did exactly what I asked!

We were all tired, too.

Apache, well, he was an absolute DREAM today. We had the best ride of our lives today. It was relaxing and fun. I think he may be a bit woozy from all his shots yesterday, because he was not terribly interested in trotting fast. But, he trotted when asked, and did his jumps like a man. We rode all over the pasture with zero issues. Once or twice he started to go astray but all I had to do was refocus him. It was GREAT. He’s becoming the horse I knew he could be.

I’m tired, but a very good boy.

It’s been a good week of spending time with all the horses. Even Mabel and Dusty are enjoying all the togetherness.

Nap time.

When Trixie got here, she was able to just do Drew and Apache’s feet. She has only one good hand after being scratched by an angry cat that didn’t want to get in a crate to go get neutered. Cat scratches go septic so easily! I’m amazed she could get anything done, so I’m happy to wait for Fiona and Dusty. But Drew is now ready for the clinic tomorrow, since Apache’s Coggins results aren’t in yet (not surprised).

I’m more ready after pain pills and a visit to Carlton’s favorite chair, the massage chair.

It’s really great to enjoy all your tasks so much that pain is inconsequential. I just looked at the sunset and felt better. I’m content right here. Where I belong and am loved.

Sunset over chickens

Ouch Number Three, Balanced by Kindness

I keep falling down so much I wonder if I need a walker. No, I don’t. Anyone would fall if a large horse knocked them over or, as today, if they fell in a deep hole cleverly hidden by overgrown Bermuda grass.

I had fertilized the back porch plants and was heading around the side of the house to get the front plants. It had rained (yay) so it was slippery. So when I stepped in the hole left from when the dog fence was moved to the front of the house, not only did I fall, but I slid. There went the second pair of pants this week. I managed to sprain my toe! How weird.

I still managed to make some darn good pork fried rice with fresh veggies and eggs.

Other than a headache and the toe thing, I’m fine, though. The holes will be dealt with soon, I’m sure! But, ouch.

Better things did happen, though. I looked up from my Working Horse Central meeting last night to see a beaming fellow wearing one of my straw hats. No way was it coming off, either, because the nephew had gotten all the findings needed to put “stampede strings” in my hats. They are classy, too.

No more flying off my head.

The findings he used are really nice. The slide looks like engraved silver. I’ll look spiffy when I do my next show with Drew and will keep my hat!

Quality workmanship!

After I made my delicious dinner tonight, the nephew said he’d made me some lightweight towel racks. When I went out to see it, I was delighted to see it was the beginnings of one of those games where you throw objects that wrap around the bars. I can’t wait to play. I think we’re also getting a cornhole game, too. How kind! This is gonna be a fun summer! We will have games, swimming, a pool house, and so much more. After ten years, I finally feel home.

What the heck?

I feel so lucky to be putting together a nice fun ranch home. I don’t miss Austin as much as I was for a while. Everyone I’m around here is at least open and honest about whether they like you or not, so you know where you stand. Hmm, apparently ouch number 2 is still hurting. I do miss some of my friends, though and will figure out some way to visit soon.

Here at the ranch, one can relax. Some more than others.

Harvey, He Loves Babies

Yesterday my friend Mandi visited. She recently gave birth to a tiny boy named Cuyler. Yes, she’s got a 22-year-old son. But also has this surprise gift.

I’m a baby.

We sat and talked with her in the rocking chair that I sat in when my kids were born (which reminds me that I gave birth for the last time 29 years ago today).

Declan being rocked to sleep by the dryer.

Anyway. I enjoyed meeting the baby, and I guess I wasn’t the only one. Harvey was fascinated. I’m told he also loved a visiting toddler that came when we were out of town, too.

Mandi and Cuyler

What warmed our hearts, though, was that Harvey went over, got a toy, squeaked it a couple of times, and then tried to put it in Mandi’s lap, for the baby to play with. Isn’t that sweet?

We also got to sit on the porch.

I’m enjoying all the new life around here. I wish them peace and safety throughout their lives.

Peace.
Crissi McDonald

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