Pool of Dreams or Nightmares?

Hey, do you remember that swimming pool we had built? The beautiful one with the hot tub and nice patio? Yeah. I remember it, too. We called it the Pool of Dreams, but lately it had been turning into a nightmare.

Note the color of the water.

We had been following the instructions the pool company gave us, which were minimal, to say it kindly. And our questions and phone calls had gone unanswered. Lee had been spending hours and hours trying to get this green stuff out of the pool, which we thought must be pollen, because it wasn’t sticking. But that’s not all. Here’s what else was going on with the Pool of Nightmares:

  • The remote control stopped letting us choose fun colors for the lights. Only by chance did I figure out a way to cycle through a few of the possible colors.
  • The pool would not turn on spa mode and spa heat mode together. You had to go over to the unit, where snakes live, to manually turn on the spa heater. Then, you had to check every hour or so to make sure it hadn’t switched to pool heat mode, which wastes my precious propane and only heats to 80 degrees. That was getting tedious.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to put in it, because adding salt wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. We finally got a clue when Lee found an owner’s manual to the unit online, which explained that the reason the pool beeped occasionally (the pool company guy had said “it just does that”) was because the salt cell wasn’t hooked up.
  • The salt cell wasn’t hooked up. They simply had not done it. That could explain a lot.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to add, because the pool dude just said to look at the readout on a strip and add the right chemicals. Okay, what are those exactly?
  • The spa jets would not stay in. So, half the spa outlets just spewed forth water in a big gush, rather than going around and around and being therapeutic. I was most annoyed.

As of last week, no one had returned our phone calls. So, Kathleen called around and found a pool maintenance person and asked him to come in. He explained to her that there was a chlorine-resistant algae going around, but hinted there may be other issues.

Pool guy at work. Note that one of our plants is blooming.

Yesterday, the pool dude showed up. Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know all the details, but suffice to say that he put in the right chemicals to re-balance the pool and get it under control. He will be returning weekly to do maintenance. This will make Lee’s life so much easier, since he was not happy to be having to go out and do pool stuff every day, even with Mr. Robotto going around and getting stuff out.

Look at that. The pool is blue, and all the algae that was on the beach area is gone. We are sure grateful Kathleen called for help!

Plus, finally someone called back about the pool from the company who sold it to us. They had gone radio silent since we made our last payment, to the point where we thought they must have gone out of business or something, until I checked their Facebook page, and saw that it was still posting things.

Check out that lack of algae, will you?

I am told that the actual owner of the company will be at the ranch on Monday. I’m sorta glad Lee isn’t there to give them a piece of his mind, but I am pretty sure he will get a piece of the other male resident of our family compound, instead. That may help turn the nightmare back into a dream.

I hope it does, because we have been enjoying the pool a lot, and it’s going to be hot, hot, hot in Texas next week.

Where we are, it’s still pretty pleasant. Lee and I got some really cool rocking hammock chairs and have been sitting on the balcony watching birds, planes, helicopters and more.

These are FUN. Look for them at Costco.

I’ve seen little wildlife, other than a cannonball jellyfish and some amorous pigeons.

But we did get to enjoy some kind of aerial show featuring a plane, some red skydiving stuff, and some parachutes in formation. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it. And that’s it. Other than getting groceries, we stayed put and relaxed. That is a good thing, far as I’m concerned.

And kindness keeps happening. I bought myself some Mother’s Day flowers, knowing that’s the only way I’m going to get any, and the cashier couldn’t find the code to ring it up, so she whispered, “Happy Mother’s Day.” The thing is, I realize that I’m so unused to seeing people be nice to strangers that I get all teary-eyed when it happens. That’s sorta sad.

Happy Mother’s Day (US) to all who are mothers or who have mothered others, human, animal, or whatever.

At least here at the ole resort, everyone’s friendly and nice. A guy took my luggage cart downstairs for me, just to be nice! I’ve met a lot of nice people at the pool bar. Cute little kids keep saying hi. I’m keeping track of these little things, to counter all the negativity I see otherwise.

Close to Perfect Welcome to Spring

Sure, everything is delayed and there’s lots of brown grass here, but the first day of spring dawned to remind me what a good life I have.

Blue water and blue skies as far as a dog can see.

We spent most of the day outside messing around with our projects. Lee worked on his pond project, while I decided to put some plants up around the pool and try again for some vegetables.

New plants and knitting project progress

The kids came and sat with us on the patio for a while this morning to soak up the rare total quiet out here (no barking, mooing, or crowing). That’s so special. I doubt they have any clue how much I appreciate family time. It was just so wonderful.

Spring did appear. Whew.

I got some nice plants and planters for two reasons. One, I need something to keep our killer winds from repeatedly messing up my outdoor rug. Two, we finally will be able to enjoy our back patio all summer. So flowers and plants will be able to be cared for better. I can jump in that dang pool any time I get hot.

I think it’s pretty.

I got marigolds to perk up my tomatoes and peppers, but they also add color to my red plants, whatever they are. I’m better with wildflowers.

Trying again. This year I’ll move them before the farmer sprays herbicides.

It was just a good day. I have the kids a bunch of pepper plants for their garden, too. Nice to see them growing stuff! That will be fun for them. As for me, while I did run around a lot and plant things, I also got to relax with Lee, spend quality time with the horses and chickens, and watch the dogs run and play.

Vlassic stopped running to sniff the spring air. Hi

Wishing you a pleasant Ostara, full of peace and hope.

Can Horses Give Birthday Presents?

Horses don’t know about calendars or birthdays, though I guess they are aware of seasons. But I’m going to choose to believe they can give gifts! So, thanks to Apache, my American horse, for the gift today!

Seconds earlier, he was trying to taste the flag. Guess that doesn’t spook him!

My birthday gift to myself this year was a Working Horse Central clinic, which happened to be at Tarrin the trainer’s place, quite familiar to my guys. I decided to take Apache, to see how much he’s improved. By the way, a clinic is like a group lesson, where you get to see how others are doing. You can learn so much.

Apache paid careful attention.

We went with Sara and Aragorn, which made the day that much more fun, and Trixie also added to the birthday friend fun with her very lively little stallion, Archie.

The sun shining on my friends!

The clinic was fantastic. We learned a lot from the advanced people, who included a young girl who’s also a trick rider. It was fun seeing how the cantering crowd had stuff to learn, just like us.

Practice with the dreaded pole.

Our group had a very young woman, too. I was so impressed with how much she wanted to learn, even when her horse gave her trouble. She just got on another horse and kept trying.

I missed the dang birds.

She was a great role model for not giving up. My favorite thing that happened with her was that I heard a familiar noise in the sky. It was the Sandhill cranes migrating. I told her to look up. It was such a tender moment to introduce a child to this Texas wonder. She was enthralled. For many reasons, she won’t forget today!

I won’t forget this hay.

Well, you don’t need the details, but I was so happy with how well Apache and I did with all these new things! We learned to try trotting. We will score better. And I learned he backs up well.

Having a great birthday.

We learned so much from everyone else, and from what we tried and realized we could do. There was a lot of trotting. It went well and I got better and better, but I sure hurt now.

I was really tired, too. So much trotting.

I’d forgotten how well Apache does in clinics. He is like a learning sponge. And he was so patient waiting for his turn. He was calm and didn’t do one squirrelly thing. Nothing the other horses did phased him, even when a horse rolled onto its rider. I was so proud. What a great birthday gift.

Patiently waiting. All these guys were so good.

I can’t believe we did so well at things we’d never tried before. This sure makes up for Drew just not wanting to do anything yesterday. If he messes up tomorrow, so what? We will just keep learning. That’s the fun part.

Yee haw! It looks like I’m pulling on him, because I’m trying to get him to look at Sara.

I hope that Drew learns to enjoy clinics and shows like Apache does. In any case, my horse gave me a good birthday. No need to worry about people, parties, or presents. Perfect.

Who’s My Valentine?

Drew’s my Valentine! And Lee. And the relatives. And the dogs. But Drew. I didn’t know they made horses as nice as him.

Who me? I’m in love with salt. Mmm. Salt.

I built a new playground setup near the new round pen with jumps, circles, brush, and the obstacle he doesn’t like for circling.

I can’t wait! Hey, T, wanna jump?

All the horses were so sweet to me and the offspring-in-love after they dropped by for a few minutes.

We had on Valentines outfits, too.

Drew, Fiona, and the Buckskin Buddies just stood around saying hi and asking for pets. It’s hard not to smile with them around.

Buckskin love.

Once again, Drew followed me to the gate, then walked back with me, perfectly matching my steps. I think I can easily get him to do like Apache at liberty and more. It’s just so awesome.

T expreses her opinion.

Later, after feeding time, I went to let him out (I’m keeping him in to try to get him to eat more), and instead of rushing out to freedom, he hung around and sniffed me to figure out what I’d been cooking. Then he “asked” me to scratch his neck a while, gently “kissed” me, then left. Yep. He’s a good Valentine.

Three very loving guys.

Did I give my humans love? Sure! The kids got hot tub time. And I made dinner for the men. I’ll share the recipe in another post.

Eye of Remington, full of love for all humans and horses.

St. Bridget Would Approve

It’s Imbolc if you observe ye olde Celtic traditions. It’s been modernized to St. Bridget’s Day. I love this celebration of the first glimpses of light after a long winter. I always light candles and try to have a fire.

Candles, St. Bridget’s cross and a tree of life for today.

I’m not too big on organized religion, but I do enjoy honoring the changing seasons, the passage of time, and one’s cultural heritage. Lee and I enjoy our “wheel of the year” hanging calendar that lets you move through the year with the most recent observance on top.

How appropriate for a day that celebrates the keeper of an eternal flame than to finally get the fire pit working by the pool! Yes! We can sit in the hot tub and celebrate with our own flame tonight! However, fuel prices being what they are, our flame will not be eternal.

Flame on!

It was no easy task, but one can now light the fire like magic. Or the magic of propane.

And if that’s not enough light, I got some small solar lights for around the pool to make the steps and edges easier to see. I’m charging them up now, since it’s sunny and warm.

It’s hard to believe we are under a winter storm warning. Tomorrow may be another story. I’ll just enjoy today while it lasts.

Moving on from the Alottest Year

A Facebook friend named Melissa, who went through so much this year, just summed up 2021 as the “alottest” year, because everything has been a lot. The lowest lows, very high highs. Hope and despair. Sure, every year has good and bad; that’s life. But wow, my head is spinning as I reflect back.

I had to sit and look at water to still my mind.

So, rather than dwell on the losses and setbacks, I’ve decided to look forward and figure out what how to use the learning, strength, and bravery I’ve worked on for the past couple of years to make the best of 2022. And I’ll try to keep my sense of humor.

Humor

Another Facebook friend, Emma G, has inspired my outlook for the immediate future. She said she isn’t going to wish her friends a happy new year. No, she is going to wish them a year of intention. I love this.

Starting my year out with Brené, who will remind me of who I am and that I’m fine.

If we all live our lives putting positive intention into everything we do, we will be able to continue to weather the literal and figurative storms we encounter, and maybe even make the world a little better.

I put good intent toward my homemade Bundt cake, even if it came out poorly.

And keeping our center will at least let us truly savor the beauty and goodness we run into, too.

The equines are enjoying the goodness of their first ever round bale of hay.

I wish you peace and discernment in 2022.

Let’s Knit Stuff

Knitting has always been my go-to centering activity (after actually meditating, of course). I’ve been knitting up a storm the past month or two, which explains the lack of book report posts! I’ve finished one thing and almost finished another one this week. Let’s see.

The secret project I was working on just before Christmas was a dish towel in cotton yarn for Anita’s new house. I tried to make it approximately the right colors, given the options that I have (one ball each of many shades of Dishie, which is a cotton dishcloth yarn from Knitpicks). It turns out a dish towel takes a bit more than one skein, so I added a second color to it. The pattern is called Dixie’s Dish Towel Recipe (don’t blame the messenger; Dixie was the person’s name). I like it, because you can improvise different knitting patterns in it, though I liked her original ones just fine.

I am pretty sure I messed up something toward the end, but hey, it still looks like a dish towel. I like the kind with buttons that will hang from your cabinet and not fall down all the time, so I’ll probably make myself a couple of these. The only one I have was one someone sewed, and it’s getting really old.

Neither of the photos here show the color of green the yarn actually appears to be to my eyes. It’s a nice, soft sage.

One reason I was so disappointed in Christmas was that I had knitted on that darned cotton yarn for three days to get the dish towel done in time, only to have Anita be unable to join us. But, I stuck it in with her mail, so she got it when she dropped by to visit her house in Cameron.

The other project I have been working on is another one of those six-sided baby blankets. I really like doing those. This one is for a baby due in March, so I made that deadline with no trouble! This pattern takes just a wee bit more than two skeins of yarn, so I had to borrow a bit of yellow to finish out one set of stripes, but it’s right where yellow would have started anyway. The other skein had enough. That’s either because skein lengths are just approximate, or the first ball was used for more of the longer rows. Who knows?

I am not sure if these are what folks would call “baby colors,” but I think they do look sort of Western or cowboy-like, so it should go over fine in the family who’s getting it. I am going to do the border in the happy yellow color.

I’m not sure what’s next. I do know that you could easily make a Christmas Tree skirt from the six-sided pattern by just using happy holiday colors and maybe some shiny yarn for the stripes and binding off at the end rather than joining into a hexagon. Maybe I will do that.

I hope you have something fun to pass the time when you need to keep your hands and mind busy. I am quite glad I’m back to work, myself, because it’s really good to think about work problems instead of my own crap.

A Different Winter Wonderland

I’d planned a fun nature walk with my little group yesterday, but thanks to COVID, I ended up on a solo walk. I explored a part of the woods that’s near the house, but not often visited. It was warm and sunny, but still a winter wonderland to me.

A dream in green

The green you see is a mix of rye grass and chickweed.

And mushrooms!

I went over to the tank/pond on the other side of the woods from the one behind our house. It’s the most attractive one and is always full of life.

Cows love it, but they haven’t pooped all the life out of it.

It’s often hard to get to from our place, because there’s a fence marking a property line that ends in a place that stays damp for a long time after it floods. But, the recent tree-killing knocked it down in a spot, so I could explore the pond while it’s full.

We only have a couple of months when the trees have no leaves. You can see more!

This pond has lots of aquatic plants in it. Some are blooming. I forget what they are, but it’s pretty.

The water looks brown, but there are lots of fish.

It always smells nice and earthy around the pond when it’s wet. Admittedly, some parts smell more cattle-y. It smelled fresh today.

Looking towards the dam.

The highlight of my little walk was checking out where the water comes into the pond, which I’d never seen from this side while the stream was flowing.

Coral berry lines the little stream.

The stream had dozens of minnows in it. It was fun to watch them dart around. In the photo you see their shadows better than them! I also figured out that the stream comes out of a spring at the base of our pond. It doesn’t seem to drain our pond, or if it does, it’s slow.

I felt like an explorer in my own back yard. I found a freshly dug hole where some animal lives.

And I encountered an ant swarm on a log. Probably fire ants but still cool to watch. I didn’t stick my fingers in there to check.

Can you see the ones with wings?

It is always refreshing to hang out in nature, no matter what time of year. It’s healing and reminds you of the big picture. None of us is alone. Please enjoy more images of our small, green wonderland.

Christmas for Two

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.

Peace to baby Ruby!

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.

And Kynan. I miss you.

Downward Spiral of Confidence or Competency

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.

The source of my downward spiral. Who couldn’t love that face, though?

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.

Mr Grumpy was all manners and goodness later, when he got a slight hoof adjustment.

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.

Unhappy Apache not being allowed to curl in his neck.

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.

I was being good at this!

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.

There’s a reason her arms are crossed. I look clueless.

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.

More lumpy Suna riding. Good news is his head is down and he looks more relaxed.

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.

Drew being longed properly.

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 love this photo showing what all the horses are probably doing, at least mentally, while we analyze their behavior endlessly.

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.

Aragorn is making lots of progress and you can hardly see where he got kicked.

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.

Whining Digression

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.

And I wondered why I was surrounded by circling vultures all day…

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.

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