Craft Therapy

Since ye olde pandemic set in, I’ve noticed many of my previously non-crafty friends jumping into the “craft therapy” club. I don’t blame them one bit, because there are so many reasons engaging in crafts can be soothing. I found myself so out of sorts during the Snowpocalypse and my last week at work, that I took to coloring in an adult coloring book.

The paper bent a bit, but it looks good flat. This reminds me of myself as a teen.

It felt good to just randomly pick shiny colors and fill them in. It took enough mental space to clear my mind of my surroundings, but didn’t give me a headache from thinking.

I had a sort of bad pen for the background, but I am coming to like the texture.

I’ve seen lots of pictures of things people colored on paper or on their computers, and they are always cheery. Friends with art talent are painting more, too. I’m told it’s great fun. Kathleen had made some of those things with beads, but I haven’t seen any. I’m told it’s the same kind of “just enough thinking” project.

The need to create beautiful things and concentrate on something other than the news is why I came back to knitting, too. I’m not alone, either. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see my friends taking up knitting or crochet and having fun. I was very disappointed when my friend Melanie, who gave us our late dog Brody, had someone pick on her for being a “granny” because she took up knitting. No, she’s a granny because her child had a baby, sheesh.

ANNOUNCEMENT:
Knitting is popular with young people, old people, men, women, gay, and straight. So is crochet.
Thank you.

I’m happy to report that the table runner for Lee has grown by another pattern repeat. It may get finished soon! Then I just have to finish the border on the shawl project. Oh, no, will I be out of projects?

It needs to be 50 inches before I start the border. I’ve got a bit more than a foot to go.

First of all, it is hilarious of me to ask that question, knowing how much yarn and how many pattern books I own. Still, I do have a birthday coming up…

So, I admit I followed an ad and bought a pattern for a lovely project ($5).

It is just what I need for sitting in my cold Cameron office, if I ever get to go back.

So, then I had to find yarn to make it. Luckily, the local yarn shop that I like to support, Hill Country Weavers, had the yarn, three different shades of this stuff, though not the ones in the picture (naturally).

While I was there, I browsed around and bought some more Noro knitting magazines, because I just love looking at things made with that brand of yarn. Then I found a slightly more difficult project to make that I ALSO want to try, so I got yarn for it, too. I detect a pattern in my choices. I like self-striping yarn!

This has entrelac, which I love, plus simple lace. Fun times. I picked a color with no purple in it. I have too many purple shawls.

So, that takes care of my birthday gift from Lee! I get exactly what I want!

Maybe later in the year I will make something in a solid color. We’ll see. I think bright colors are therapeutic for me.

So, have you taken up a new craft or other project to keep you a little calmer and help you feel productive?

Bah. Sick.

As if it isn’t bad enough the heat can’t keep the house above 60 degrees, I’m not feeling well. Feverish and achy. Can’t stay awake.

To top it off, I managed to mess up my simple knitting project and had to undo 1800 stitches! Ugh!

At least I got the horses fed a LOT this morning. I’m wishing for helpers today! I think I can get some food to them. And tomorrow I assume I’ll have slept it off and will see how I cope with historic low temperatures.

Anyway, no interesting blog from me today. Sleet has started and it’s really icy. Fun times.

The Aftermath: Brr + Ow

Honest, I’m not a weather wimp. I recall only recently writing a post about how much I love to exercise in the snow. I do! It’s hard to exercise on ice, though, and that’s what we still have at the moment here in the middle of the Texas icefield (subject to change). Today was just not a great day for me to have to get out and deal with the cold and its consequences.

Carlton was not about to go out with me!

But, I am doing the needful, as they say in India, where it might be warmer right now, at least in some parts. The problem is that I am that lucky rare person to get ALL the vaccine side effects! Yippee! So, my arm feels like a dead weight and prefers to not be lifted, thanks. And I have had a raging headache since yesterday, plus I feel like I have the flu. This will all be temporary, but I sure didn’t want to venture out into 26-degree F weather this morning.

As Sara pointed out to me while she was texting my instructions, you have to be a responsible livestock owner. And right now I’m responsible not only for my livestock, but the cows over here and all the horses. Sara is stuck at her other house for a few more days, so I am happy to help. Luckily, Ralph is helping out with his cattle and is going to bring over a LOT of hay, which will make things easier.

I wish I had a picture of my horse feeding outfit. I was plenty warm, especially because I had a great combo of a ear-covering band, a hoodie, and my facemask to keep my head warm. My thick gloves worked great until they got wet from breaking up ice in water troughs, but I know all the livestock appreciated it. Kathleen’s cows were looking at me like, “Help!” this morning, even though they DO still have water in the arroyo.

The chicken water is totally frozen, but they also have other sources once they are out of their coop. I’m sure glad we built that small pond near the house!

Visual proof all horses have been moved.

When I got to the horses, my job was to move Spice and Lakota from the pasture they are in to the pen where Apache and Fiona are, so they will have more shelter and some hay. I was really glad when my fellow rancher arrived to help me open the frozen gates to the pen where the tiny calf had been (tiny calf was spotted yesterday romping through the icy field with his buddies!), which gives the horses more shelter AND Fiona a more accessible water trough. There was much banging (which totally annoyed Big Red, who was trying to eat her chicken scratch).

Those open gates were not easily accomplished. So grateful for the help!

Moving the horses went fine, and I was pleasantly shocked to find that Spice’s blanket was still on her. She’d somehow torn the back of it up, and completely broken off one of the straps. I managed to McGuyver up a way to keep it on, and by gosh, it was still on this morning! Yay! I also found one more blanket, which is good. If that one goes, there is a spare. There were none in Tractor Supply yesterday, and my friend Courtney said she bought the last one. (As an aside, her story of making their pony a blanket out of a fleece blanket, some plastic, and duct tape was pretty funny, at least to humans; the pony was not amused.)

Yep, it’s on, all right. Not shown is the makeshift attachment in the rear. She is able to poop, which is all that matters, I guess.

Spice and Lakota got all excited to be in a different place and ran around like crazy. I guess that will help keep them warm. Apache and Fiona were like, “Wow, this is a lot of hay,” and were chomping away when I left, which was hampered by the fact that the condensation on my glasses, which I’d had to remove, had actually frozen. Yep, it’s cold.

It’s only going to get colder! I’m really hoping we all keep power and heat! You may have to endure more snow pictures in the next few days. None of us remember it ever being so cold for so long here. I guess we will have to get used to it for the future. I know I plan to get a trough warmer when/if we get our horse barn here!

Got any cold-weather stories to share?

COVID +1, Ice 0

Ice is zero, because that’s how cold it is in Celsius. COVID is +1, because I got my first Moderna vaccination today. I’m really relieved to get the process started, because it means I might be able to go back to my nice office in Cameron without being so paranoid about potential exposure from Hearts, Homes and Hands staff who work with so many clients (and we are glad they do). Anyway, that’s why I got to get the shot before turning 65 or 64 or whatever age it is.

This is a good thing.

The Vaccination

The County Health Department has the luxury of two closed hospitals to use in cases like this (thanks to all the rural hospitals closing down…moving on…). That meant there were lots of rooms for counseling and giving the shots. Everyone was SO nice. You could just see how happy they are to be doing this for our citizens.

Sad room, wishing it could be part of a hospital again.

The nurse who counseled me was especially nice, and we spent a lot of time praising the County Judge, who has been quite the stoic through this whole pandemic. Half the county says he’s the Devil and half says he’s a Saint. Whichever, the job certainly has been more than he thought it would be when he ran for office!

All fogged up. And I have on two masks.

The only part about the whole thing was that, because it’s truly cold and most of the people getting their vaccines are elderly, they had everyone wait inside rather than sitting in their cars and being called in. I truly understand why they did it, but GEEZ I felt claustrophobic waiting in a hallway filled with fragile people, where there was no way to get 6 feet away from anyone. I did double mask, though, and I’m sure most of those folks were like me and never leave their houses except for things like vaccinations!

They DID have chairs spaced out. The ones next to each other are for couples.

Now I just have to wait a month to get the other shot, then two more weeks and I’ll feel a bit better interacting with folks (with mask).

The Ice

One thing I realized when I was driving to Rockdale for the vaccination is that up here in Walker’s Creek/Silver City (or wherever I live), we got much more ice than only a few miles south of us did. Some of Rockdale’s trees looked perfectly normal. On the other hand, there are lots of trees down here (and my friends in northwest Austin really, really had lots of damage).

These poor trees just keep getting smaller and smaller every time there’s bad weather.

On the other hand, ice sure is pretty.

I love this ice-encapsulated beggar’s purse!

I’m glad the temperature is a balmy 32 F (0 C) today, since I need to load up on hay for Apache for the upcoming Polar Vortex. Sara and Ralph got blankets on all the horses, but Fiona is so fuzzy, she’s fine. Everyone has shelter and seemed just fine this morning, once I broke the ice in the water troughs, which I will have to do again this evening, I’m sure.

We are fine, and have hay. And all the cattle are munching away, happy as can be.

Enjoy some more photos of our icy time. By Sunday we should be getting snow or worse. It may get down to the OTHER 0 degrees! This is NOT normal Texas weather!

Your COVID Precautions Are Perfect for You

Hey, so we’re all living through this pandemic, right? We all listen to our preferred news outlets, discuss it with family and friends, have our own experiences, and then decide how we are going to cope.

Very few of us are hiding and ignoring what’s going on, unlike Cozy Carlton here.

I know a lot of people, in Cameron and Austin, but also around the world. They sure differ in how they decide to live their pandemic lives. Here in Cameron, I know people who haven’t changed their lives at all, except having to deal with store closures. I also know people whose underlying issues and financial means make them most comfortable not leaving their house at all.

Most people are somewhere in between. My children have to work. Many people are in that position, so they do what they can, wearing masks and washing hands a lot. Some people go grocery shopping and such, but limit their trips. Others figure out what shops or services are not crowded or taking precautions and use them.

Penney stays home.

Nearly all of us have our mask collections, since we can’t go places without them, but some are more careful with their technique than others.

Here are Lee’s masks drying.

Why are you telling us this?

The point is that, as with so many other things, there’s no one right way to deal with the COVID outbreak. People choose to make decisions based on information that matters to them and act accordingly. There are a LOT of factors involved, like personal philosophy, your risk factors, and your comfort level.

Harvey points out that his comfort level is high.

Because of all this, I’ve made the choice to not judge people on their choices, even when I disagree or am not comfortable with them. I don’t know their reasons much of the time, and when I do know them, I figure it’s their business.*

What’s the issue?

I was a little surprised that when I shared my recent hair update, most of the comments were from people who seemed uncomfortable with going to salons. I felt a bit judged, I have to say. Of course every single commenter had higher risk factors that me (age, illness, immune system stuff, etc.). If I was in that group, I might have made a different decision, myself.

I can sure see how people who can’t get their hair cut might wish they could! I don’t blame them. I wish I could travel as much as some of my friends have. And I know people weren’t thrilled when I did travel. Yep.

I completely respect those of you who haven’t cut your hair in a year. You are doing what works for you, having evaluated the risks. But, I also evaluated the risks. I chose a small salon that has made many modifications in the last year. They require masks at all times, don’t let clients near each other, and sanitize like crazy. I know the hairdresser. I took the risk based on my comfort level.

We are all under so much stress these days. Let’s consider giving others a break and assume they are making their decisions based on what works for them, even when it’s not what you’d do.

Anyway, now you know why I didn’t mention my previous two haircuts! And yes, if I was under one of the endless quarantines I’ve been in, from being exposed to someone who’s been exposed to someone, I’d have canceled.

I like you! Unretouched photo of morning face.

Note that I love you all and want you safe and healthy. If you think I’m talking about you, know that I understand where you’re coming from, which is from concern for my well being. I appreciate all you readers, wherever you land on the precautions continuum.


* I realize that people choosing to take few precautions do endanger others. I’ve seen the results in my community. I still can’t MAKE people who disagree with public health policy make different choices.

One Last Day of Rest

One thing I’ve figured out in the past year is that I need more rest than I’d been getting. My mental health is so much better now that I’m allowing myself more downtime. I’m going to try to keep that up. After all, I’m at the Hermits’ Rest. I should rest when I can.

My role model.

I’m not even going to pressure myself to blog if I don’t have anything useful to say. My plan for today is to finally ride Apache again, and otherwise knit and play with dogs.

My role model can snooze under the afghan while I knit, now (that’s the back).

I guess there IS good among the challenges of this era. I do see more self care and kindness to others. Let’s keep it up!

Front of afghan, actually with Carlton under it, too !

My Best Accomplishment of 2020

Now that it’s getting near the end of the year, I guess we can look back and see what we’ve accomplished. I’m grateful that so many of us are still here, and sad to have lost others in this pandemic. But, in a more cheerful vein, I learned only today what my best accomplishment of 2020 has to be.

This is a hint

Happy Horse News

Yes, today at his farrier visit, Apache was declared to be in his best physical shape ever. Trixie kept repeating how good he looked. He also is in great mental shape, because she also remarked many times about how well behaved he was.

Here is Apache behaving well during a delicate procedure on his back quarters. You can see his heart-shaped chest patch.

His feet look really great, and that’s a tribute to how carefully Sara and I have managed him since he got all lame after eating spring grass in the big pasture. I’ll be able to ride him now! I’m very grateful for all of Sara’s and Trixie’s help and advice (and everybody else’s, too), because apparently putting him in the little pasture with poor fodder and supplementing with last year’s hay was what he needed.

He is at his ideal weight!

Not only did he lose the fat, but his coat is in much better shape now, too. Even his winter coat is shiny and soft. That may be the result of worming him sufficiently, for which I thank Sara very much. His mane and tail are growing back in well, too.

Yes, it’s a horse’s butt, but it’s an important image. That is a straight tail.

Best of all, now that he’s lost weight, Trixie can see what’s going on with his skeleton and musculature much better. This let her figure out what might have been causing his tail to veer to the left so significantly. So, she was able to don some gloves, put on some lotion, and manipulate some “intimate” areas to where they are looser, which loosened the tail.

Whee, my tail feels good. So does the rest of me.

We decided not to photograph exactly HOW happy the manipulation made him, but it was mighty impressive. We thought it might hurt, but apparently it was quite the opposite.

Through all the prodding, tail pulling, and leg stretching, Apache was a true gentleman gelding, albeit a happy one. In fact, when a leg stretch didn’t quite work, he cooperatively picked his foot up and angled it over to Trixie as if to say, “Try again, I’ll do better this time.” At a certain point, Trixie and I just stood there grinning at how great he was doing. She said that this is why she does what she does, seeing an animal with an improved quality of life like Apache has.

“Who am I, chopped liver?”

Not to be outdone, Fiona was quite a little lady as she got her tiny little feet trimmed. It had been twelve weeks, and all the little issues she’d had were also completely grown out. It amazes me how Trixie can sit on the ground and trim Fiona’s feet, with Fiona just standing there and picking up whatever foot is asked for. This is most un-donkey-like!

“Look, as long as someone is petting or brushing me, I can stand here all day. Treats never hurt, either.”

Even Fiona’s health seems better. Her normally pretty dull winter coat has shiny parts, too, though she’s still a bit plump. It just doesn’t take much to feed a donkey, even one as active as Fiona.

“You’re gonna WHAT?”

Trixie and I talked about getting her a little cart and sending her over to learn driving (cart, not car), if Trixie’s first donkey-cart training client goes well. I think that would be incredibly fun. However, we’re pretty sure Fiona won’t be thrilled at the idea of having to work for a living, having gotten by on cuteness for all these years.

I am SO proud of having the patience and receiving the good advice needed to help my horse friend back into good health. He’s back to cheerfully going wherever I lead him and doing whatever I ask him to. He and Fiona run happily together. And I get the benefit of the love my horse and donkey give me.

What’s All This Fuss about Butts (Bums)?

Yes, this is not my normal topic, but it’s something I’ve been noticing lately: there are a lot more depictions of, advice about, and media coverage about people’s rear ends these days. Is anyone in the US (don’t know if these are everywhere) tired of looking at that family of bears who are obsessed with having clean hineys?

Apparently, I am not alone in my opinions of these guys.

Then there are all the advertisements about products to make your poop less stinky, like “Poo-Pourri“- they are all into the poop puns, too. I’m mighty impressed with the Yule Log. They also have hilarious commercials, where some lady in a fancy blue dress sits in bathroom stalls and talks about when you GO, nudge nudge, wink wink.

Ha ha, I get it.
Dookie

I almost forgot the Squatty Potty, for those of you with poor poop posture. You know, it’s the “#1 way to #2” and it’s email list sign-up asks you to “join the movement.” I do believe it works, according to people I know, but I own a stool if I need to assume the position. I found an article in AdWeek about a war with Squatty Potty and Poo-Pourri, but I’m not subscribing to learn more. Oh hell, I have now found that you can buy toys of…get this…Dookie the Pooping Unicorn, the Squatty Potty mascot. ARGH. This is not something I’d put an order in for, or for which I would put in an order (grammar).

Not that kind of stool, Suna.

You know, when I was younger, people didn’t have many conversations about poop, unless they were dealing with babies or were close elderly friends talking about their going too much or too little. You didn’t hear it mentioned, even in Metamucil or Pepto-Bismol commercials. You had to sorta know what they were for. I can remember wondering why stools needed softening; shouldn’t they be hard? Somehow in the last year or two, that social taboo has been blasted away.

However, poop humor is universal, I guess. Even I find some of the ad copy groan-worthy but funny.

Continue reading “What’s All This Fuss about Butts (Bums)?”

Do What You Can

I’m having a pity party about this damned pandemic. The germy people are everywhere and no matter how we try, there’s some random exposed person lurking around. I simply can’t hide in the house 24/7. It’s frustrating and scary.

That’s right, I’ve resorted to Snapchat filters to diffuse my ennui.

I complained on Facebook, and probably offended some super spreaders, but wow I see a lot of party photos and long trips being shared. But, everyone has to weigh pros and cons. I did, when I went to Utah.

Love this background.

The Good Stuff

Still, my heart is warmed by how people around me are doing what they can for others. I can’t share details, but our Hearts Homes and Hands team is making a real difference in someone’s life, and we’re seeing first hand how community support keeps people in need going. That’s holiday spirit.

Does this filter creep you out as much as it does me? Bye, Snapchat.

And my friends at MTOL have gotten together to help a woman and her dog. They will be safe now. No matter what our personal differences are, our board will stick together and work to help animals (and their people) in need. This kindness, creativity, and generosity is what gives me hope.

The fact that Big Red is still coming up for her daily ration also buoys my spirits.

So, though I know our business puts us at high risk and I get annoyed that people who could easily stay safe choose not to, I’ll do what I can and keep trying to be helpful. I will trust others to make decisions that are right for them and evaluate their own risks.

Fiona has decided she wants treats.

I’m Not Sick, Just Tired, But I MUST Be Supportive!

Please let me first apologize for making my discomfort with plane travel over the weekend appear like I think I am sick. I have no symptoms of COVID-19, and have been taking my temperature. Still just fine, as far as I can tell. I was just really uncomfortable being around so many people in the Dallas airport and sitting next to a woman who was coughing. Like I’ve said before, I’m a special snowflake who believes the pandemic is real and would prefer not to take chances. But, I’m not sick.

As it does every day, noticing nature’s beauty keeps me feeling well. These are two red-tailed hawks circling above Marbry’s Ridge.

And by saying I’m tired, I mean I’m spending a lot of energy (and rightly so, I think ) supporting friends and family who are going through really hard times right now. It may be tiring, but it’s important work, and I don’t plan to stop.

Examples and Inspiration

For example, I know how to not get overly sucked in by others’ needs, but when your close friend’s husband passes away, you can’t help but send your energy out to them. My friend Vicki was the only person who came to my dad’s funeral to take care of ME, and she’s stuck with me since we were teenagers, despite our political and spiritual differences. That’s true friendship. I’m so sorry she lost her beloved husband so soon after finally reuniting with him. True friends need to be there for each other and truly listen, so I’ll so what I can in these WEIRD times.

A circle of friends surrounding a cactus seems an apt illustration!

Coincidentally, I just read this beautiful article in the New York Times, by someone famous, but who suffers just like us.

“[W]hen people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”

The Losses We Share, by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, New York Times, November 25, 2020

She recently experienced a miscarriage, a devastating life passage she shares with so many of us. She shared that just having someone actually express that they care about how she is getting along was helpful and healing. And her overall point, that checking on others during this time of isolation is VITAL, is something we all need to think about.

I know reaching out is not one of my best skills, but I’m prioritizing it. I’m very GOOD at responding, though, and boy do I send out those healing thoughts (which I’ll go along with the organized religion fans and assume do some good).

This is where I send all my vibes to. Hee hee.

Another example: someone I know mentioned that none of their local friends had checked up on them during the pandemic until very recently. That hurt. It made me wonder who I should be checking up on (yes, I will call my stepmother). Who do you need to check on, just so they will know they aren’t alone?

As Meghan pointed out this morning, we need to really see each other right now, even if we’re covered up:

“We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes — sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears. For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another.”

Ibid.

I truly hope she is right. With so much loss and pain going around, we need each other to see us, accept us, and show we care.

A final example: a blog reader wrote me a long email yesterday, in response to one of my blog posts on Highly Sensitive People. He was worried that he was using his sensitivity as an excuse to indulge his other issues (fears of various things). Now, this man is also dealing with autism and other mental health issues, and I felt so bad to think he worried that his personality type was an excuse. I’m glad he reached out, because I think he expressed something many of us experience, which is that our thoughts or feelings aren’t good enough, or are a cover-up for something else. In reality, many people share the HSP trait, and some of them have other issues, too. It’s just who we are, and dealing with it becomes a lot easier if we accept our limitations and challenges, and work to be the best unique individual we can be. Who that man is, the way he is, is fine. No one should judge him without spending some time in his reality.

Of course, I told him this, in other words. It’s what we all should do, listen and be supportive. Everyone’s struggling with something!

Looking out my window, it’s easy to see how we feel isolated, each of us up on our own hills.

Listen to the Universe

Wow, it sure seems like the Universe is conspiring to tell me something this week. Clearly, the effort it takes to be supportive of others, to listen to what people are concerned about, and to reach out is worth it, even if it can make you tired. We’re all we have!

Just another cool hawk photo to enjoy. I like how the sun made the interesting effect. Nice to end on a note of beauty.