Fogged in, Mostly

It’s not like me to go on one of my trips and not post daily nature images. But, well, it’s not been overly nature-ful the last few days, AND I had a big workload. However, I’m incredibly glad I’m in South Carolina, because there has been the worst ice storm anyone can remember back in Milam County. My Facebook feed has been a constant stream of photos of fallen trees, downed limbs, dangerous attack icicles, and badly damaged buildings. Friends reported that it sounded like being in a war zone with all the cracking and crashing. It’s sad, sad, sad. I may not recognize the town when I get back.

I hope all the woodland creatures are safe!

The Hermits’ Rest is okay, just very muddy, from what I’m told. All the animals are fed and warm, though I know they’ll be happy to have some warmer weather. Anyway…

Will it get damp enough for ferns to start growing out of the buildings at home?

Here, it’s just been foggy. It’s been really foggy! We woke up yesterday and it looked like someone had put white paper over the windows. We often can’t see the edge of the ocean, and there’s no horizon whatsoever.

Sometimes the fog looked sorta artsy

Now, it’s not been all bad. I’ve enjoyed some nice beach walks, sunsets, and the usual birds. The water last night turned a color I’d never seen before, a steely purple. One of my old friends called it steel bluewinkle.

Wow, blew my mind.

Yesterday, when the sun finally came out, Lee and I had a late lunch at my favorite restaurant here, Hudson’s. It’s a really cool place with such fresh seafood – they have their own boats and everything. They also catch their own oysters. I just had to have some of the cluster oysters that Anita and I enjoyed last time I was on Hiton Head.

A few oysters. I didn’t waste any time on those crackers.

Lee’s food looked just fine, but I was in heaven. I ate every single oyster, from the little bitty ones to the giant and juicy ones. It made the fact that I had to go back and work until 9 pm much more bearable.

Today I did some of my work in the business area at the main building, because the dining chairs here are not comfortable for long stretches. It was so comfy and quiet! I got lots done!

Nice view to work with.

Once I got to a stopping place, we went to a town I’m fond of, just over the bridge, Bluffton. It’s where I got some art that I love last time I was down here (I still follow the artist, Kelley Luikey at Naturemuseimagery.com), so I was happy to go back to the art galleries there again. We also visited a recently restored house that had been owned by a formerly enslaved man who did well for himself. The house is in such a beautiful spot, and the information on the signs told all about how people lived during his life. The house was right next to a working oyster company with a genuine oyster boat. I just have to say this little town is beautiful.

We ate a quick lunch at a sub shop that Lee enjoyed way more than our fancy meals. Actually I had fun, too, because the workers were hilarious. They kidded each other and laughed the whole time we were there. It’s nice to see people enjoy what they are doing. (I enjoyed taking all these beachy pictures.)

Speaking of work, there was more of that when I got home. It’s been kind of fun taking a couple of hours to be a tourist in the middle of the day, then working a bit later than usual. My favorite part is when I rest my eyes to look out on the balcony. Just at sunset, I saw something moving in the little wooded area to the left of our balcony. It was a large buck white-tailed deer. He was way bigger than the ones at home, with a fresh set of fuzzy antlers. He slowly lowered himself to the ground and took a rest. He was nicely surrounded by brush, so he must have felt safe and cozy. That makes it worth dealing with all the fog.

Home and Away Are Both Moist

I started today very early with a 6 am work question. That’s all right, because that meant I got to see a beautiful sunrise.

Fiery and frosty morning

It was cold, but so beautiful that I just had to enjoy the crispness. During my early meeting, it sounded like rain. But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! That mystery was solved when I got outside to feed the chickens and saw just how thick the frost was on the ground.

Nature’s art

The “rain” was frost melting quickly as the sun hit our metal roof. Lee said there was .02” of precipitation in the rain gauge!

As I worked my butt off to get all my stuff done, the dog alarm went off. There was a big truck in the driveway. Oh yeah. I knew it was coming.

Note lack of frost

Today was finally the day the garage apartment and pool house would get their blown-in insulation! That will sure help the occupant stay warmer the rest of the winter.

Clean garage awaiting insulation.

The guys were all excited to do the work, but they had some equipment issues and will be back tomorrow. I’m the meantime, here are before pictures.

I won’t get to see the work, though, because I’m no longer home; I’m away. Yep. Lee and I are road tripping again. We’re going back to Hilton Head, so I can see camellias. I like working with an ocean view, as you know.

Proof we crossed the Mississippi.

The most striking thing about the drive was how wet it was. That big rain we had on Tuesday was on our route with a vengeance. There had been much bad weather and flooding.

It’s pretty barren in a hardwood forest this time of year, but I enjoyed possumhaw holly along the roadside. It provides that “pop” of color any neutral setting needs.

It was not easy to photograph this stuff from a moving car.

Honestly, this was not our most exciting drive ever, since we’re zipping along to get there tomorrow. One highlight was Buffalo, Texas, where we got to see a bored hawk by the Taco Bell. The other highlight was in Calhoun, Louisiana, home of the small but mighty CB Superstore. You just don’t see many CB stores of any sort these days.

I managed to get work done in the car and once we got to our hotel in scenic Meridian, Mississippi, so I declare today a success. I hope it dries out tomorrow and that the insulation machine perks up.

You Can Certainly Fill an Empty Day

Welcome rain showed up overnight and throughout the day. That made us all happy but sure changed our plans! I had worked really hard to arrange to get the farrier to do the horses’ feet in time for me to then get to lessons for my two horses.

I need a manicure

The rain (and car trouble for the farrier) ended that careful plan, so when I finished work, I thought I’d have lots of time to think more thoughts about my next craft project (which I designed for about an hour while trying to get to sleep last night). But no.

That’s no lie!

I ended up doing practically every one of those things I’ve been meaning to get around to! Boom! Future horse stuff scheduled. Boom! Internet access at the Red House secured (guests coming soon!). Boom! Eye doctor appointment rescheduled, since the horse stuff conflicted. Boom! Packed for an upcoming trip. Wow, I’m flexible and a change management whiz!

When I finished packing I was treated to the sun coming in to light up my purple glass.

I wrote up all sorts of instructions and did a bunch of Master Naturalist work (it takes me almost as long to write up meeting notes as a meeting takes!). I guess I need more rainy days that keep me inside and away from those tempting horses and the wildlife.

I ran out to see this tiny sliver of setting sun. Ahh.

Yesterday I wrote so much about, of all things, a pretty weed, for the Master Naturalist blog that I didn’t blog here. I didn’t have much to say anyway, since I was upset at current events and annoying people. You might enjoy learning about henbit dead nettle, though, so check it out.

It IS pretty and chickens love it.

Back to crocheting a bird and not watching the news.

Rolling with Changes

Oh you never know what’s going to happen around here. So today’s agenda changed, but it’s all good!

Since I needed to skip Drew’s lesson today, I just worked with him a few minutes, which made it clear I needed to rearrange my obstacle area, or horse playground. So I moved a lot of barrels, cones, posts, and other objects around to make more riding options.

Tomorrow Tarrin will help me figure this stuff out better and set up a slightly off-sized dressage arena wannabe space to practice for this year’s shows. I just hope I can found one of our many giant tape measures that usually are in plain sight but are now hiding. I may have to run to the hardware store to get one!

Oh I forgot I had this fine sunrise image from this morning

And, as always, I used nature to take my mind off unexpected events. Look at this beauty!

Mmm. Nectar.

And I scared everyone on Facebook by posting what I thought was just a fun photo of a boho bird nest. I didn’t provide enough details so folks thought we were gonna burn the house down.

The lights are disconnected. Sparrows and hermits are safe.

I’m any case, I’m interested to see what tomorrow brings. I’ll be outside at sunset again but not going an hour away in yet another direction. Today we went west, rolling down the highway!

Come on changes! I can take it! I’m flexible!

Too Windy

I had many outdoor plans today but ruled many of them out due to a pounding wind from the south. Activities like cleaning up trash and shoveling horse poop were curtailed pretty quickly. I did manage to get some square bales of hay out to the horses with minimal bits of hay going into my eyes.

A living carousel

Once I put the bales in, each horse seemed certain that the next horse over had a better selection, so they ended up moving in circles just like a merry-go-round. Such comic relief.

Soon they got a new round bale, which calmed them down. Maybe having enough hay will keep them out of the dang cockleburs. Fiona apparently slept in them, because I got 20+ off her right side and there are still some left. I wore out her patience.

The rest of the day included highlights such as kitchen cleaning and re-organizing my nail polish strips. Whee.

Nails currently match the pool.

I watched US football playoffs and worked on the last border of the rug project. I’m growing quite fond of the back side of the rug!

At least I got to see friends at dinner and laugh a lot. Our conversations veer off into strange territory sometimes! I’ll be more interesting tomorrow, perhaps. There will, at least, be horse riding if the wind stops. It might have toppled me today—the gate nearly did so today!

Nature: Good Role Model for Resilience

It was awfully cold, then it rained a lot and warmed up. All of nature seemed to think it was time to wake up my get moving until the next cold front comes along.

I hatched and found a flower. I’ll be fine.

I took a lunch break walk today to see how all the water features are doing. A heavy shower last night got the front pond flowing a bit, so I walked around and looked at the stream. It was pretty in the winter sun.

There were dozens of minnows darting around. I didn’t see any of the larger fish, which might have washed downstream in the flood last week or were in the deep parts. I always feel good when I see fish, because that’s a sign of healthy waterways.

I enjoyed looking at the coral berries and other colorful plants that remain, and was extra happy to see the spring flowing away. Hooray.

I wasn’t alone on my walk, though. My buddy Vlassic was as interested as I was! We had a great visit and walk, until he raced back home down the path I use for leg yielding with Apache.

And when I was about to come inside, I stopped to admire the dandelion blossoms. That’s when the gorgeous butterfly appeared. A friend joined him or her, and I basked in my winter surprise. They were soon joined by honey bees, who’ve been out the last few days, especially in the chicken coop. They like the feed.

In addition to all these guys, I saw lots of turtles and little frogs. Plus, I was happy to see tgat the greater yellowlegs are a pair. They look so interesting when they fly, swooping and calling as they go from one pond to another. Since I didn’t get photos of these resilient winter residents, I’ll share the sunset we enjoyed on our way home from Drew’s lesson.

I liked the reflection on the Tahoe

I’m glad to be back at work, glad to have my routine back, and very glad for so many signs of resilience around me.

Sharing a Skill in a Soggy Field

Right after I wrote last night, we had the most intense rainstorm we’ve had since before the drought started. Around 2.55 inches fell quickly as a narrow band passed over. The water came up high enough to require the backup culvert to kick in so our driveway/dam wouldn’t be breached. Whew. The new pond flooded for the first time!

When morning dawned, we were inside a thick cloud of fog. It was ethereal and made everything around here look better! I especially loved to look at the horses sort of looming in the distance.

There were puddles everywhere, and I had a hard time enticing the chickens out of the hen house. Leftover bean soup did the trick and allowed me to gather the egg of the day, which I believe came from Star. You just have to wonder sometimes what goes on inside chickens. Or, maybe it’s better just to not think about those things.

It’s sorta like a space capsule

A few puddles didn’t stop me from working with the horses, who dodged the threat of getting bodywork, because the direction the rain came in made even their covered area full of puddles. It was weird having big wind coming in from the south!

I know the bluebonnets appreciated the rain.

The best part was that my son joined me today and brought his new Christmas-gift helmet with him. He’s helped me groom and worked a lot on the tack room, but not ridden with me before. I lengthened the stirrups on Apache’s previous saddle so he could use it. Finally I figured out how to do that myself!

After practicing some groundwork skills, I showed my son how to mount and turn by demonstrating on Drew, which conveniently gave Droodles and me some time to practice our newest skills. We turned on the forehand and did some mighty fine side passes. Even my son could tell he was going sideways. I was so proud.

Apache was NOT stressed out about this. They both enjoyed each other.

Drew then had to stand petulantly as he was ignored in favor of Apache. He was a very good boy and patiently carried my son around and paid attention to his cues. First, I led them and practiced stopping and starting. Then we put the bridle on, and my son walked Apache in the round pen, trying to get the stopping thing correct. He did well with turning, though. When you’re on your first ride, I’d think it would be hard to relax and say, “Whoa” calmly. Saying, “Easy,” in a calm voice also takes practice.

We will do more practice next week! Now, of course, Apache had to test my son. He ignored the request to turn, and just marched out of the round pen. I got to channel Tarrin and tell my son to shorten his reins, spread them wider and get Apache to stop. And he did!

Thinking about nature helps deal with horse shenanigans.

Then I got to pretend to be Tarrin and take him back in that round pen and do some work. We did the square exercise and a lot of side passing and leg yielding. It was fun for me, because I didn’t have stirrups due to having much shorter legs than a 6’3″ person. I discovered I was leaning forward but fixed that and did well. Hooray, I got to practice something new, too!

I deserve more food.

I really had a lot of fun, even without being able to let the horses trot. I don’t think they wanted to, anyway. They’d been slipping a lot in their pens. Speaking of slipping, Fiona slipped into Drew’s pen as we were getting ready to feed. They began a mud fight, where Drew would go nip at Fifi and she’d kick him. I’m sure it was a ton of fun for Drew, but Fiona looked annoyed, so we got her out of there.

Later, when Lee and I took a walk, there were Fiona and Drew, still picking at each other, but voluntarily, since they had the whole pasture at their command. I do enjoy watching the animals interacting. Thanks to watching them, our walk lasted until the sun (which had barely come out from the foggy clouds all day) started to go down. We got rewarded by some beautiful clouds, which helped me feel better after finding out how much my car repair was going to cost (YOW).

Not Everything I Did the Past Two Days Was Boring

Now, there’s a blog post title that will draw dozens of readers, right? I’ve had lots to do during this week of no work, but much of it consists of mundane chores that aren’t interesting even to me, much less other folks! You know, farm tasks, applying for Social Security, making medical appointments, taking the car in for its very expensive five-year checkup, etc.

News flash: chickens are laying 1-2 eggs a day.

But hey, after dropping the car off at a new-to-us dealership, we did get to go to a restaurant and eat different foods from what’s available around here. Sushi is a rare treat, so we enjoyed the place that just happened to be on our way home, knowing we could linger because the horses were fed for me. What a luxury!

The ex-wife roll. Spicy.

Actually, I got to eat out TWICE yesterday, which is exciting for a hermit. Some friends invited me to join them for lunch (Mexican, of course), which is always fun when it’s me and a bunch of people from the Cameron area, because I learn so much (and get to laugh).

Then, I spontained, as Lee would say, and after running an errand went to check out the new coffee shop in town. Lo and behold, it was open! They were training staff. I texted Anita to come join me, and we had a nice coffee and chat. I look forward to when they will have food and be a lunch alternative, but I won’t give up the coffee trailer, either. Wow, a CHOICE of coffee spots here?

Other than that, it’s the usual. In bird news, I got a photo of the greater yellowlegs who’s making its annual visit. I love the sounds those guys make. I realize this photo isn’t great, but you can at least recognize its shape and bill. My “photos” of the weird kingfisher who has been visiting didn’t even capture its distinctive shape, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get one of these darned lark sparrows to hold still. Why won’t the birds come closer so I can get an ID?

And of course, there are horses, who were due to get ridden today, but every time I went out to groom, it started to rain. Then it would stop, and I’d be annoyed with myself. Finally, I just fed them in a gap between showers, which was good, because now it’s raining hard enough that I think the ponds will refill. Now, THAT isn’t boring.

I guess it’s a perfect night for leftover soup, hanging with the dogs, and putting that afghan together.

Thanks. We don’t like lightning, so appreciate your nearness.

I have been avoiding a lot of ruminating and deep thoughts for a little while, so I realize my posts are a bit mundane. I’m focusing on living in the moment right now, because it’s a very painful time of the year for me. The present is good, however. I’m thankful for the supportive folks around me and that life is pleasantly boring.

A Hermits Christmas Eve

As the years pass and our circle grows smaller, the holidays have stopped being about visitors, travel, and togetherness. Television commercials keep saying that’s what we should want.

This one goes from lap to lap.

But Lee and I are happy to spend time with just each other these days. We have plenty of animals to stand in for friends and family, and they’re certainly entertaining. The dogs have been going all out to make us smile!

The horses have been playing a lot, as if the cold weather makes them frisky. They do have really thick coats right now.

It was a beautiful day, though, so I did the usual bird watching (highlights were cranes and a butcher bird) and weather observation. All the ponds iced over, but melted when it got above freezing. I have new inexpensive base layers that made being outside okay. Nice!

It was lovely spending time with myself, giving myself holly nails, watching football, cooking dinner, and working on a present. It’s important, I think, to be comfortable enjoying each phase of life, and each new situation. That’s the way to inner peace.

Holly jolly fingers.

Tomorrow and next week will bring more people to the ranch and that will also be enjoyable. You can’t hermit every day! it will be good to celebrate with people.

I’m hoping you find peace with whatever life hands you this time of year. Maybe you’ll find comfort in traditions and maybe you’ll try something new. Just remember that we’re all dealing with “stuff” and doing our best. I sure remember that and just want the members of my own circle to know they’re loved.

Still Cold. Alive.

We are all alive! Me, Lee, the rest of the local family, horses, dogs, and chickens. It’s a lot worse in other parts of the US, so I’m thankful for my knowledge of how to dress for really cold weather and that it only got down to 10° F last night.

It helped that it wasn’t rainy.

I brought the chickens fresh water and received cold eggs is return. The horses appreciated me opening up their water troughs and giving them some energy-filled food. My snow gloves made that hard, so I ditched them. I’m glad Fiona has extra food dishes, because hers blew into the next field. Yow. So much wind.

Our heat stopped working, just like last year, so I went up to the landing and finished my work where the sun was shining. It confused the dogs. Then we went shopping for holiday food in the warm car. We had fun!

We figured the propane would get better soon as it got a little warmer, which it did. We weren’t alone. The same thing happened all over the area. It’s not like we suffered! We have dogs and many handmade items to keep us warm. And whiskey.

So, I went in the kitchen to pour myself some medicinal Jameson’s Irish whiskey with a little water. Then I sat down to crochet on my unfinished Christmas gift. First, I checked Facebook. Guess what the first damned ad I saw was for? Jameson’s!!

Can one of my conspiracy theory friends explain that? I didn’t SAY what I was doing. I haven’t mentioned that stuff, perhaps ever, except when Lee tells people he prefers Clontarf instead. (Which is why I am drinking the perfectly adequate other stuff.)

That was today’s mystery. Tomorrow’s big agenda includes cooking pork chops. I lead an exciting life when the polar winds blow.

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