Knittin’ and Readin’ and Regerts

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.

Nothing here is where it was yesterday except the lovely water trough.

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.

Distraction from regrets: These barrels blew about 50 feet. They are not light.

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.

So, far, not so great.

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’m aware some followers aren’t actually people. But I appreciate the real people a lot.

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!

Poo on Pandemics

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.

The peaceful tulips at full bloom

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.

Germs can’t go that far, I hope

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.

I am NOT the Germ Police in this neighborhood. Just the Coyote Patrol.

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.

Until then, I can just enjoy the animals. Vlassic and Gracie Lou look so cute together. Our small doggies deserve some time in the spotlight, or sunlight.

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.

Bonding with the Funny Equines

It was a horsey day yesterday, which is good, because we are now quarantined other than outdoor stuff. I’m so glad the horse work is outdoors!

And donkey work. Don’t forget me!

Right. As I was saying the horse day started early. I’d asked Lee to put the bale of hay that was on the tractor out, since the horses need it and he’s the only healthy person who can drive the tractor. Well, he went in through Drew’s paddock but didn’t realize Drew was there (because no one knows my horse schedule but me).

Mmm. Forbidden grass.

Drew made his escape, but didn’t go far, since he found green grass. All I had to do is put his pretty new halter on him and lead him back. He was curious about the “this is an equine facility and you might get hurt” sign. But then he said bye and headed to the hay, where T chased him around.

I think they’re talking about T

Back to work I went until late afternoon when Trixie was due to work on Apache and his body issues. I spent quite a while grooming the filthy Apache, which took longer due to Fiona also wanting grooming.

She also had lots of those giant burs on her front legs and was trying to get them out with her teeth. I found the hoof pick was a great tool for getting those out. She now has nice, smooth, hairy legs.

Focus on me now!

Apache did great with his body work. He seemed really happy with his head and neck treatment, and made such cute faces!

Look! My neck works!

He was less thrilled with the work on his adhesions near his hips, but wow, it made a difference. I’m hoping this will make our training easier on him and help him develop good posture. Enjoy some fun faces now!

This morning I went out to let Drew back into the big pasture. It’s cool but sunny out, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find him napping in the sun. But of course, I thought he was dead.

I’m breathing, Suna.

Of course, he’s fine and in a playful mood.

Howdy, Mama!

He happily walked with me to the gate, but not without stopping to play with Vlassic. He wanted the squeaky toy, but not enough to fight the dog over it! That just made my morning.

Let’s play!

It’s good to have these sweet animal friends to bond with while you’re confined. And writing about them gives you something to do in an endless line to get a COVID test.

My little gray friend.

Try to stay safe, friends. It’s hard, but we can get through this!

Empathy for Those in Chronic Pain

It’s been a rather painful couple of weeks for me. Since my ungraceful exit off Apache, I’ve been healing in some ways and getting worse in others. What does an “older” person expect, anyway?

Yesterday’s sunset, to remind me that I am in my sunset years.

The funniest injury I found turned up when I was getting my hair cut. Dan put me under the sink and started scrubbing away at my dirty hair, when I said, “Hey, that hurts!” Apparently, I had hurt the top of my head during the fall. I would assume that the helmet squished down on me. It’s odd that I hadn’t noticed it, but then, I don’t brush my hair often.

But, it sure is a cute haircut.

My back is also not as happy as it was at first. I feel all right in my recliner and in bed but sitting up and standing aren’t great. Sitting up in a desk chair is no fun at all, so I made myself some lumbar support. I think it is just going to have to heal, or I am going to have to go to the local chiropractor. At least I have insurance that covers it!

The worst has been my pelvic area. That bruise was bad news, and it went deep. I got swollen so much that some of my pants felt tight, and I could feel hard lumps under my protective layer of belly fat. It just hurt, that’s all, and going up stairs was always a reminder that I’d fallen. I still feel it a bit, which makes me glad I was too busy working to go to the Christmas Parade with Lee yesterday (he was helping the Chamber of Commerce). The lifting and toting would not have been a great idea.

Autumn is such a nice time for tree photos. Plus, this is much nicer than a photo of my bruises.

I think the bruising, congestion, and pain are improving. The lumps are smaller. We will see if I am able to get on a horse tomorrow. At least the mounting block at the trainer’s place is taller than mine. I probably shouldn’t have gotten the bare bones model.

Whenever I get a temporary pain it makes me think about people who don’t have the option of healing and have to live with chronic pain. I am so grumpy when I hurt, which doesn’t make me fun to live or work with! I hope I get better at dealing with chronic pain, since my guess is I’ll end up with some sooner or later as I continue my march toward deepest crone-hood.

Fiona’s with me on my march. This is on our walk yesterday.

But, as for today, I’ll take a nice, gentle walk with my horse and donkey, like I’ve been doing all week, and get back to the knitting. The latest striped blanket is coming out different, but just as interesting as the last one.

Perhaps that background blanket is not the best choice.

I’m wishing you all a good weekend. It may cool off, but I’m all prepared after getting some key items in Colorado. Ooh, and I booked another trip there in late summer of next year. Hiking here I come!

Under the Weather in Chilly Weather

I have no idea why, but I felt awful today. I was sleepy, fuzzy headed, and stuffy. It made being all brilliant and with-it difficult. Of course, times being as they are, I was sure I had a coronavirus. I took a nap and all that, and got through the day, which was long, long, long.

At least I had a winter wonderland to watch all day. Many flurries.

You know how some days all kinds of issues come up all at the same time? So I was trying to figure out a new part of the software I document, right when someone else really wanted me to edit something right that minute, and I was scheduled to try to figure out how to get Lee verified as my spouse so he can be on my insurance. With my fuzzy head, none of that was working, when the phone rang, and it was my old professor. I got scared he was sick, so I answered it, and he was like, “Hey, are you OK?” I said I’d call back when I was less unhinged.

Cute little flakes

Nonetheless, I actually managed to solve all the problems once I stopped going around and around in my head. Go Suna. I learned the software thing, found my marriage license online, had a great talk with my former coworker about our work stuff, and had a lovely talk with my former professor. It’s all okay. I even have energy to send to friends and family dealing with their own stuff.

The best news is that the yarn came to finish Ellie’s baby blanket, and I think it’s going to work out. I’m even finishing it as I go, since the darning needle I thought I ordered did not show up.

Pool equipment came!

In the meantime, I’m just striping it up like crazy and making a square baby blanket. At least I am sure it will be blanket sized and will go with the other one. It’s in softer yarn, too, Sridar Snuggly. Too bad I’m so wiped out from a very long (but good) Master Naturalist meeting, so not much knitting will occur.

But hey, snow, yarn, online conversations, phone calls. I may have been stuck in the condo all day typing or interacting, but it is a fine life, with ups, downs, and cute little animals to cheer me up.

Two Things under Control

Getting two things under control in one day is sort of miraculous for me. I’m on one of my rare “get things done” kicks, and wow, I’m doing great. In addition to the big things I have taken care of, I’ve also scheduled the movers to take my stuff from the Bobcat Lair to its storage location, made a plan for dealing with all that stuff once it’s in Cameron, filled out my timesheet on time like a good employee, updated all my kanban board cards, and drafted two new job aids for work. Go me.

Two weeks old!

The biggest thing I remembered to do today has been to get my flu shot and COVID booster scheduled. I figured if I was scheduling, I might as well just get it over with today. I might feel sorta icky over the weekend, but I think I’ll be able to power through like I did last time. And since I’m going out of town next week (why yes, I am going to Colorado to hide out in a condo and continue to work hourly, but with better scenery and food), I wanted to be as safe as possible while traveling.

Ready for my jabs

The other thing I did isn’t quite as big in the health department, but I have two little chirpers who are very happy with me, and one big squawker as well.

It’s good to see the floor.

Yesterday, I watched Star once more knock over all the food and water dishes in the baby chick cage and I just had enough of her. She didn’t seem happy, and she wasn’t actively caring for the chicks anyway. So I shooed her out. At first I had her in with Babette, but I noticed Babette would not leave the top of the cage, even to lay an egg, so this morning Star went back to the big flock.

Not Babette, but I was happy to see Blondie using the chicken swing!

Let’s see how long she goes laying eggs until she gets broody again. I hate to tell her, but she doesn’t get to raise chicks when it gets really cold outside. She was really happy to get out, as she was molting away in the little cage and desperately wanted to take a dust bath. I’m glad I made her happy.

Now that the Black Chick and the Brown chick have reached the mighty age of two weeks, they have their own quarters. I took the opportunity at lunch to clean Star’s mess up, so they could actually see the floor of the cage, and get to their food and water. I have them both hanging, which means it is a lot harder to knock them over. The only thing is, I believe I have the world’s cheapest hanging chicken feeder and waterer, in the most flimsy plastic ever. I figure it will last long enough to get these guys into the bigger area (i.e., soon as they are too big to squeeze out of the fencing).

We can now get to all the perches!

It was pretty unpleasant doing the cleaning, since I had to scrape it up. I couldn’t just slide the bottom out and wash it, because the chicks would escape. Next time I will put them in a box or something, if I have a helper.

Look at me! I’m up high!

I feel a lot better about the chickens, and there is a lot less stink now that Star is out. And I am all sure I’ll get all my other annoying chores done, like changing my driver’s license address and registering to vote in Milam County, where, alas, my vote will rarely count.

Well, darn it. The internet went down hard over here in Milam County for a few hours. That meant I couldn’t work, even after I got my shots. I assume someday this post will upload.

Poor Patchy Horse

I tell you what, Apache is one good horse. Yesterday he was scheduled to have a lesson, but when I looked at him after work, he seemed down. I went to say hi and saw he was crying and blinking like crazy. His right eye was a mess (sparing you photos).

Look. I’m in a building.

I cleaned him up, though he did not like the eye wash (who would?). He seemed okay, but he stepped on my foot, like he was unaware of his location. Or he was nerved out because the tire on the trailer was getting changed while I groomed him. Here’s why:

All the tread fell off on the way up here. Oops. It was ok. Lots of wheels.

He round penned very well and seemed happy, so off we went. When we got to the training place, the trainer took one look at him and said he might be contagious. He looked awful.

I did get to see Drew and check on his progress. He’s doing so well.

We decided to take him straight to her vet, which is only a half hour from her place. He was already in the trailer, and it would be better to get him looked at fast, before he hurt himself rubbing on the eye. She was nice enough to call and get us in, just before they closed.

Pretty Drew.

We got to the place, and it was SO nice. I filled out the forms, then Apache politely got out and walked to the waiting area. The vet tech commented on how calm he was. He even went in the building like he did that every day. He never had! And the door closed so loud.

The tiny vet did a great job. She flushed out his eye and stained it. He didn’t like the shots much, but between than and getting twitched, he was great.

A twitch is a thing they use to settle horses for being worked on. It doesn’t hurt; in fact it relaxes them. Who knew?

She said he was not injured, and probably just has a blocked tear duct. When she checked his nose, it had very thick mucus. So she decided to clean him out. That was something else to watch!

Look closely at his eye.

The vet used a syringe of saline and slowly squirted it up his nose. It came out of his eye! Horse anatomy is weird. But he should feel better. She sent home some ointment with antibiotics and steroids. He also got an antibiotic shot.

Getting him back to the trailer was funny. He was a very relaxed horse. Apache walked out with his wee wee hanging out (why his name used to be Dingle). I had to get a nice man to pat his butt to get him to go in the trailer. But wow. Drugged Apache is easy to tie up.

I was so pleased with how well he behaved. And I sure hope he feels better today!

Go Away Anxiety. I Need a Nap.

When you’ve been graced with a genetic predisposition to anxiety, you can meditate, breathe, do talk therapy, and take helpful medicine all you want, but still have days when you can’t deal with the symptoms.

Current co-napper

I woke up that way today. I was dealing with my personal “stuff” fine yesterday, but since I woke up this morning, some chemicals are flying around my brain that are decidedly unhelpful and unpleasant. I got through my meetings, and through the screaming haze and fuzziness, I was even able to contribute. But wow, I feel like I’m in a vat of buzzing jello, with a high-pitched droning soundtrack. Oh, with bonus eye tic and chest pains. Thanks, anxiety.

Napper to my far left.

I’m going to try to sleep it off, me and the canines, who are great napping role models. I’ll share some nice sleeping dog images to entertain you, since I can’t put two thoughts together right now.

Napper to my immediate left.

My sinuses are yelling, too, because it’s dusty and the air pressure keeps changing. I’m a big ole negative whiner!

Napper in the next room.

Tomorrow is another day.

He was napping, then I came downstairs.

Careful Where You Stick Your Head, Goldie!

Kathleen’s precious Great Dane, Goldie, turned up with a marble-sized lump on the side of her head a couple of days ago. We wondered what it could be, but noted that it was near where she had some marks from a tussle with Harvey.

I gots an owie.

It kept growing, and by yesterday evening, it was WAY bigger than a marble, more like a plum in size. We knew Dr. Amy would be in town today, so she went into town first thing this morning.

The lump, after treatment started.

The diagnosis was either a snake bite or a dog bite. We aren’t sure which it is, since there is a lot of neck chewing going on in this house, mostly in play, though. And, of course, there are a lot of snakes a curious dog could run into.

An example of neck chewing fun.

We think Goldie had fun on her outing, though it was reported that she didn’t want to leave the juice place where her friends work and had to be lifted into the truck. That’s getting harder, because she now weighs 106, up six pounds since we got her. She is filling out to be just right for her breed!

Yep, could be a snake bite, all right. And doesn’t she have lovely gums?

And, with all the playing and running she gets in with Carlton and Penney and with chasing Fiona all over the place (grr), a lot of her weight has to be muscle!

And Harvey, he also gets in on the frolicking.

We are glad that she has the medicine she needs to deal with the infection. The injury certainly didn’t put a damper on her good spirits and cheerfulness, however.

We live on a ranch. Things like this just happen as a normal part of life! I bet Goldie is a lot more careful where she sticks her head from now on.

Lessons Learned about Medications and Their Pricing

Yesterday I mentioned that I paid an unexpectedly high price for some prescription medicine I take. Half my usual dose cost three times as much, which came as a bit of a shock, but because I needed to up the dosage, I paid. I resolved to later figure out what the heck was up.

My pills are not in this picture. @SteveAllenPhoto via Twenty20

I spent a good portion of my morning on hold or in chats with the “Health Joy” representative, then with a woman from my health insurance company. I’m glad a meeting was canceled, and that I can keep working while on hold. More on that later.

I discovered something I didn’t know, and wanted to pass it on in case any of you find this kind of thing happening. There are lots of reasons prescription costs go up and down, so it is not always easy to figure out what is going on with them. Prices just go up on a whim, or when a medication becomes scarce. They go down when generics are available. BUT, here’s the thing I learned: not all generic manufacturers price things the same!

I am glad I only take one prescription med. @Barefoot_Traveller via Twenty20

I checked to see if I’d been accidentally given the name-brand version of my medication, but nope, it was a generic. But, it was made by a different company. And that’s what the insurance representative explained to me. You not only have to be sure you’re getting a generic, but also that you’re getting the least expensive generic! I guess I’d always gotten the least expensive one back when I was using the grocery store in Austin, but the tiny drug store in Cameron must not have had the cheap one, so they gave me a costly alternative.

If I had refused the medication, the insurance company could have called and told them to switch it out, but I needed it, so I paid. I’ll know better next time, and now you know, too!

In happier news, I’m once again glad that I am so friendly and patient when some task takes a long time. I ended up having a nice conversation with both the Health Joy person, who was in Mexico and surrounded by chickens that I could hear, and the insurance person, who asked me what kind of ear buds I was using, because I sound so clear. I made her day by telling her what I have, that it isn’t expensive, and she can get it on Amazon. It’s so great to laugh a little.

They look simple, but they work!

I’ve also laughed a bit at work, thanks to my team members, so it’s one of those days where life does not suck at all. I am even moving forward on getting the Austin house sold.

The grass is always greener in the middle of a pile of rocks, says Mabel.

I think that’s just the way life is, with a few bad days, a few good days, and a lot of days with ups and downs. As my circle of friends lost a valued community member yesterday, I have been reminded that I’m lucky to be here, be healthy, and have people who care!

Katie Zapfel

Children's book author. Mom blogger.

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