I Got Bucked off My Horse, but It’s Okay

Last night I posted on Facebook that I hurt all over. I was busy doing other things, so I didn’t have a chance to go into detail, so here’s the story. First, I am absolutely fine, going to live, and not mad at my horse. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

I’m writing from my quiet, but breezy, outdoor office. Thanks to our friend Carol for painting my dining set red!

When I was finished working yesterday, Kathleen suggested that we go ride the horses, because the weather was just perfect and there was still some light left in the day. My alternative was emptying the dishwasher, so you can figure out that I agreed to the horse stuff.

I got Apache all groomed. His feet sure look good! The round pen work went well, and he even got going at a canter briefly. I did notice that he coughed a couple of times. I never heard that before. But I didn’t worry too much about it. We all cough occasionally.

I was trying to tell you something. Like, in this photo, I’m telling you the Vrazels are moving cattle, which concerns me.

We got saddled up and did our schooling exercises. He was a little reluctant, but not in an annoying way. He coughed a couple more times.

Kathleen and Mabel were having their own issues since Mabel was not interested in standing still to be mounted. That’s no fun if you are as short as Kathleen and your horse is as tall as Mabel. Eventually we were all ready to go for a ride in the pasture, or so we thought.

Neither horse seemed at all interested in what we had planned. Mabel kept stopping, and Apache was okay until we got past the gate out of his paddock, at which point he began acting like his old jumpy self. I couldn’t figure out what the issue was. I’d stop him, back him up, and try to go forward, but he was not happy. This is where I made my mistake. I kept asking too many times.

Finally, he took off at a canter, headed back to the pens. I tried to calmly stop him and slow him down. Nope. So, I did the kind of one-rein stop that the trainer showed me, and that did stop him, but at that point he commenced to bucking. After buck number 3 I lost my seat and fell off the saddle. It was a fairly graceful fall, and I landed properly, so that nothing broke.

I did bonk my head, but my brave little helmet did its job, and my head is fine. I’ll be ordering a new helmet shortly.

The brave little helmet, whose nails came undone at the back.

But what got into Apache? Kathleen and I noticed he wasn’t acting too perky after the fall (and after I did, indeed, get back on and do some circles and managing obstacles). He had a runny nose and coughed another couple of times. So, we petted him and told him we loved him. That made him happy, very happy.

Stop here if you do not want to read about a horse’s male parts.

When Apache let down his member, we saw that it was quite crusty. His metabolic issues lead to crustiness, and I usually remove stuff every week or so. Of course, I’d been gone three weeks and hadn’t seen his member since I got back. I took care of that issue, though he sure looked all red.

We got to worrying, because his urethra looked more red than usual, too, and he was dripping drops of pee (I’ll spare you the photos, though I do have photos). After consulting with Sara, we decided he might have a UTI and a respiratory issue, so we ran over to her house to borrow a horse thermometer. I need to get one of those, too.

Ready to do the job.

His temperature was normal for a horse, 100.4. That’s good. And I now can take a horse’s temperature. Thanks, Apache, for the farts during that process. We decided to contact a vet in the morning.

One of the things I’ve learned is that horses rarely are just “bad” or “stubborn” or “spoiled.” If they misbehave, there is usually a reason. After you check to see if you’ve confused them or something, the next thought should be that they are in pain of some sort. That’s why I am not angry at Apache. Sara says that before she realized it was an issue, he had bucked when his penile crust hurt him at a trot. Plus, if I was signaling away with my legs right on his kidney or bladder area, that may also have hurt.

I took some ibuprofen and arnica (I have to say that, or everyone I was ever in La Leche League with would start shouting “arnica” at me), so I was able to make it through a celebratory evening last night. Today I awoke to only find two bruises, including this one on my arm.

The blue part of the bruise is really pretty in person.

The other one is much deeper and more colorful and is where my lower abdomen hit the saddle pommel awfully hard on my way down. It is right next to my cesarean scar, which didn’t help. I’d say that hurts more than my back or neck today. But I’ll live, and I learned, so all is well.

And sigh. No vet is available to make a house call today, and I would not want to take a potentially contagious horse anywhere with other horses. So, I will see how he is on Friday (tomorrow is a US holiday). Besides, we do not have the trailer here. It should be back this weekend, though.

Another thing I need is a horse trailer that our vehicle can pull! If only I had a lot of money all of a sudden…oh wait, that’s the next post.

I Follow My Own Advice about the Woods

Any person who has read dozens of books about how wonderful trees are and how going out in the woods is so good for the psyche had BETTER go check out their own woods as often as possible. So, yesterday, after a day of writing and staring at screens, I went to check out the woods around here. Much has changed, but much has not.

Ah, trees and water.

As I mentioned earlier, fencing is going in to make a better experience for the dogs and us. To accomplish that, they had to make space for tractors to get in and build the fence. Many cedar elms and mesquite sacrificed their lives for that, but it was unavoidable if it’s eventually to be part of the residents’ cattle ranching empire.

It was a scorched earth policy.

I know perfectly well that a whole bunch of wildflowers and such will pop up immediately, so the earth will not be scorched for long. There has been talk of benches for viewing the woods and a treehouse being erected. We’ll see how long it takes for cattle to eat it, if it comes to pass (one thing I’ve learned about this family is they like to make plans, but only SOME of the come to fruition (probably for the best; I’m not complaining, just stating).

Currently, the chickadees think we built this pile just for them.

On my forest bathing adventure, I went past the tree cemetery and enjoyed some time listening to birds, trickling water, and leaves gently falling. While we probably do have an over-abundance of cedar elms, the wonderful thing about them is that they’re deciduous, so we get to enjoy some autumn color and a new view while the leaves are gone. They also explain why the soil is so rich and beautiful.

Where the fish and crawfish live.

I ended up just following the deer paths that wind through the wooded area between our house and the creek bottom. It was fun, but once I got home, I realized that all that ducking under branches had left me with interesting tree stuff in my hair. I washed my hair this morning, for your edification.

The path the animals use.

I checked out the pond in the bottom, which still has plenty of water in it, though it really didn’t rain much the whole time I was in Colorado.

I do love this pond. And hello, neighbors.

I also enjoyed the wide spot in the stream that leads to the creek, which I always called Deer Haven Pond, but now realize is a part of the stream and only a pond when the stream stops flowing. It is where all the animals hang out, because it’s quite hidden.

The “pond” enjoyed by deer, cattle, and apparently hogs.

The smells in the woods (other than cow poop) are so rich and earthy that I ended up just standing around and enjoying the scents and sounds. A little bunny hopped by, which alerted me to the many holes in one spot that must be their dens. Many little animals must enjoy all the fallen trees (mostly from the drought over ten years ago) as well.

The drought damaged many trees, so they keep dying off, slowly.

The coral berries are also decorating the woods. They don’t have a nice smell, but the color livens up the place and provides bird food all winter.

Cheerful coral berries.

In any case, just visiting my favorite area on the property was enough to keep my good mood flowing, even when the Bobcat Lair property failed to fund yesterday like it was supposed to, and our plans for the evening all changed. Big deal. I’m just living day by day and enjoying whatever comes up. I must have excellent blood pressure now!

Enjoy a few more images, and have a good day, whatever is going on in your part of the world. Unless it’s shopping. Ugh. I’m tired of Black Friday ads. Who had to invent that just to make yet another holiday all about shopping?

Projects? We Always Have Projects

There always seems to be some house or another than needs to be worked on in our little community. The focus right now is on Anita’s retirement house, Pickle’s Pink Palace. I’ve probably mentioned that a few things have come up, so she isn’t in there yet (she’s in my office, right where I am typing).

Yes, it needs some work.

The crew (the nephew and his helper, Marcus) have already taken down some walls, made some openings, and come to the conclusion that the whole place needs rewiring and insulation on the outer walls (there is NO insulation).

On the other side of that tar paper is the brick. No insulation.

But the place actually looks a lot better already, thanks to painting the walls a neutral color and removing the old cabinets and scary appliances (the stove is not scary, just dusty, and the fridge holds beverages for the crew). The biggest eyesore, a heater that took up the best wall in the living room, is also gone. The hole it left is much more attractive.

The heater hole is exactly the size of a full-length mirror, and I tried to look at myself in it.

An electrician and a spray-foam technician have already been scheduled, so that will be taken care of soon and the walls can go back up.

The kitchen also had no insulation, but at least the cabinets are gone.

Then will come more painting, flooring, cabinets, and the all-important HVAC installation. And oh yes, new windows and roof.

The garage, which is on the other side of the wall that’s been removed, will be the main bedroom and bathroom.

Much landscape cleanup has been accomplished, but there are a lot of nandina plants and other nuisances to get rid of. I hope we can save some of this beautiful little “weed,” though.

Tahitian wedding veil. Tiny blossoms.

There are a few very large, very old trees that were planted when the house was built in 1955. They are in their old age, but we hope to pamper them a few more years. The oak and pecans make Anita look even tinier!

We’re all extremely excited to get this house livable. We know it has a good vibe from back when we bought it. Anita is going to make it so true to its lineage, and so livable as well.

Want to see “before” pictures? This post from 2019 has some!

Ranchin’ Time

I had fun today getting reacquainted with the ranch and its inhabitants. I sure was glad to see that Peeper, the only chick we ever got past babyhood, is still peeping and growing. She has her comb coming in, and she looks like a darker version of her mom.

The dogs were glad to see me, ranging from black and white to copper and gold!

And of course, I was so glad to see the horses and Fiona. Apache is as furry as a teddy bear, but sound and happy.

I’m not out of condition; I’m fuzzy.

We went for a ride with Kathleen and Mabel. We had a good time until suddenly Kathleen disappeared.

Where did they go?

I looked and saw them zipping away. Mabel was dancing around. Finally Kathleen got off, and we went to check things out. She was waving and Mabel was kicking at her belly.

Kathleen yelled, “bees!” and I saw a bee around Mabel’s legs. It appeared to be a ground bee. They hadn’t bothered Apache, but Mabel must have stepped on their nest! Finally, the bee that chased them stopped on Mabel’s belly and Kathleen killed it with her shoe. Poor horsie!

After that we tried to ride again, but neither horse was remotely interested. They wanted their saddles off and some petting. As did Fiona and Remington, who were out with us.

Enough drama for one day.

Everyone was apparently starving by dinner time, because Fiona kept grunting at the dogs, and when she was done, she tried to drag poor Remington’s food away from him.

Remington is not pleased. Note strongly braced donkey legs

We guess she was tired from her own antics, which included getting into the swimming pool when I was riding. Sigh. And we were worried about the dogs! luckily, the new fencing that should keep donkeys out of the area around the house is being worked on now.

More to come tomorrow! But now it’s time to get some rest, because tomorrow starts another work week. Once again, Anita and I will share an office, except when I have to talk. I’ll show you why she can’t work in her own house in the next post.

Sunset, dog, and ranch stuff.

Back in the Lower Elevations

I spent all day going from the Continental Divide down to near sea level. It’s a long way down, but now I’ve got bonus red blood cells to enjoy.

Coming into Austin.

I’m glad I got to ride from Breckenridge to Denver in the daytime, because there are cool little towns, old mines, and many rocks (hence, Rocky Mountains). I want to visit every funky town and all the parks. Guess I’ll have to go back.

Once I got to the airport it was the usual lines, walks, and waits. I just tried to stay away from people. But, all was well, and eventually I got to Austin. Lesson: next time take a nonstop flight.

Everything fit.

Thanks to my giant, inexpensive suitcase, in which one will find Lee’s smaller suitcase and all my yarn, etc., I got everything I purchased or made on my trip home with ease. I’m glad Ken and Cathy talked me into that. But wow, that’s a big suitcase.

The most negative part of my trip was listening to a pilot expound on his beliefs about vaccines and other current news events. If I hadn’t just read a similar set of thoughts from someone else I know, I’d have thought he was making it up. But, no, it’s the narrative accepted by many in this country. I’m listening and learning, rather than name calling and labeling, hard as that may be. Maybe it’s good for me?

He also was not wearing his mask, the only person not eating that I saw not following the airport rule.

I’ll be listening a lot in the coming weeks and months, as all heck has broken loose in Milam County politics. I think listening is the best plan for an outsider like me. But hey, now I can vote here. Hmm.

Back with my sleeping companions. Yes. The lump is Carlton, glued to my feet.

Book Report: A Year in Provence

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This is certainly not the kind of book I usually read, but it’s what the Bobcat neighborhood book club chose, and I want to stay in the book club, so I read it. As many of you who read this book years ago already know, A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle, came out in 1989 originally. The copy I have contains an update from ten years later.

Much wine and pastis are consumed in this book. And why is that doomed fox smoking?

This would not be a beloved best-selling novel if it didn’t have its charms, and Mayle most assuredly can paint a picture of a culture in just a few words and a few bucolic tales of the neighbors and neighborhoods. I think any Francophile would just love the little vignettes and word portraits of the people in a remote area of Provence and how their activities and non-activities change from season to season.

There’s the problem. I’m not, alas, a Francophile, even though I once married one and have beloved friends who adore France. Too many years of watching French cinema could be a cause. Or it could be the particular set of grumpy, chain-smoking French people with strong superiority complexes I’ve known. (Before you rebuke me, I realize there are plenty of people in this continent who could be characterized similarly.

I didn’t find the way the contractors working on the house just disappeared for months with no warning nor any explanation (this may be because our pool workers have done the same). I didn’t find the smelly, mean-spirited neighbor, who Mayle seemed totally enchanted with, at all fascinating. He reminded me of half of Milam County, Texas.

And I know he was a sweet old man with much going for him, but Mayle came off to me as someone with more money than he knew what to do with, and no ability to make his own decisions. He just went along with everyone else and their ideas and timetables. Oops, I hope I didn’t just describe myself. I may have described how I must come across sometimes (I assure you; I do NOT have more money than I know what to do with–each horse and swimming pool expenditure comes with sacrificing something else and with the sad bonus of annoying my dear spouse).

This book review is not about me, it’s about Provence, an area of France where it gets quite hot and is often very windy…much like Milam County. Maybe I found too much of my own life in this book to find it a real getaway.

Oui, c’est un gros trombone – I did not know paperclip was “trombone” in French.

And also, I’m a linguist and all that, but I didn’t know what a lot of the words in the story meant. I’m not ignorant in French, but I wish more context from which to figure out the meanings of some of the liberally sprinkled French words and phrases had been included. Some of us studied Spanish, you know.

Still, anyone will enjoy some of the little bits you learn about Provence, the stories of grapes and mushrooms, and learning about how hunters of over thirty years ago a lot like the ones are today (they need their modern conveniences!). At least there is a lot less trash on the side of the road after hunting is over in Texas. You can enjoy a few days with this book and not get upset, angry, or bored, so it’s worth a shot.

Monsieur Renard is not happy about what is happening to the fox on the book cover.

My favorite part of reading A Year in Provence, though, was that I got to use my new bookmark that I got in Breck. It’s a cool fox, or dare I say, renard, on it. Its little face looks très amusant” peeking out from the top of a book. I can’t wait to use it again.

A Last Trip Up

It was really cold last night, but warmed up with bright sun, so I decided to talk a walk at lunchtime. I wanted to do the path on the other side of the Blue River from downtown Breck, just to see what I’d see. It was a pleasant walk, and I took pictures of statues that the town has put up, as well as views of the river.

That one must have been fun to make.

The problem was that all the smells from the backs of restaurants made me hungry. After checking to see if the distillery shipped (nope), I looked for a place to eat. I ended up in the Thai/Japanese place and treated myself to some sushi.

It was quite a rustic Thai/Japanese place, no doubt because it had to fit in with the town theme, which is that everything is a mountain lodge or a mine.

Blue River

The lunch was fun. I watched dogs as I ate, since I always try to sit by a window when I’m alone. There are certainly more huskies per person than anywhere I ever have been before. At least they are in their element! They must enjoy the weather.

Happy cowboys

I then carried on, like someone’s wayward son, and just kept walking until I realized I was at the end of the historical part of town. When I turned back, it was clear that I had also passed the gondola. Should I go up? It would make my lunch hour very long…but when would I have another chance?

Sack race.

So, up I went. Perhaps it was not a great idea to go on a swinging high-rise conveyance after a large meal of fish. I did end up getting a bit gondola-sick going down, but the views were worth it! I still like that wetland area that the gondola goes over the best. The mountain views are second, and the woods (still stubbornly free of animals that I could see) are third.

I stumbled out of the gondola car at the end, and decided I needed a break, so I went in a place called Cashmere and Chocolates. Living in Texas, I do NOT need any cashmere items, but being me, I could always use some chocolates. I got one that looked like the Earth!

It contained a smoky tequila truffle.

I survived the walk back, happy to have hit my exercise goal again (I’d have to raise it if I lived here, because my heart rate finally speeds up at this altitude). I’m glad I allowed myself to be spontaneous and eat nice food and see the scenery again. There’s plenty of time to finish work now!

(I wrote this post during a particularly lengthy update process on my work computer that failed, so I had to do it twice.)

Absent from My Big Day

My eyeballs are all blurry from trying to make job aids on a very small computer screen. That hurts my eyes. But, it could have been worse. I could have been supervising my move from the Bobcat house. But on the contrary, Anita did that for me. She deserves a big reward. Well, I did pay to move her stuff from Austin. A small token of thanks.

And then, the relatives in Cameron helped with the unloading. I am incredibly lucky to have such a fine support system. I’m sort of at a loss for words to express my gratitude. Yes, me, all inarticulate.

Something else I am thankful for is that Lee hung up the curtains in our bedroom and finished turning it into his office/den. I’ll just sleep there.

According to the team in Cameron, Anita’s and my stuff totally fill the place they are stored. As soon as I get home, MY work of unpacking, downsizing, and organizing begins. It did feel weird to miss my own moving day. And I hope to heck it’s the last one! For sure!

Anita in the empty house.

The moving company we used is Square Cow Movers. Or moovers. They are small and local. Sort of. They are also in Denver. There was no hassle at all booking the move, and from all reports, they were just great. They even helped move this giant refrigerator.

Lee and the nephew has to disassemble it to get it in. It replaces the nonfunctional wine fridge in our pantry.

I highly recommend that company. And the price was reasonable, too! It feels good to have positive things to say about a company.

Over here in Colorado, a nice guy at the condo place found me a good box to mail things home in. That makes up for the unfortunate fact that they installed a family with children who never stop moving the entire time they’re awake upstairs from me. The parents are also stompers, thumpers, and droppers of heavy objects. That’s good, I think, because it makes me want to go home.

It was a bit cold for hiking this afternoon, so I shall visit the hot tub and rest my eyes. And I’ll soothe my muscles from not helping with the move. Ha!

Hexagonal Rainbow Stripy Glory

Hooray! My mistaken “invention” is finished! It’s perky, trippy, stripy, and glorious. If I were a baby, I’d want it for my floor mat, and I’d want to gum those wormy fringes.

It’s different, all right.

I had so much fun watching the stripes develop. And the fringe cracked me up. It makes the blanket a little feminine but won’t hurt babies.

It’s easy, too.

How to Make It

Intermediate and above knitters will want to know how to make one of these, so here we go, informally. Beginners, make the actual pattern! It’s easy.

Lion Brand Mandala in Gnome and Sprite with a little Honeycake.
from the Lion Brand site.

The basic pattern is NOT by me. It is an adaptation of Meadowland Baby Blanket by  Irina Poludnenko. (It’ a free download.) The pattern is supposed to create a square blanket, and if you follow the instructions correctly and pay attention to the diagram of how to make the triangles link up, you will, indeed, get a square blanket, just like the one on the pattern front page. Lots of people have made it, and it comes out quite cute.

However, I made a mistake after finishing the first triangle and picked up the stitches for the second triangle along the edge with the decreases, not the straight edge. If you look at the close-up above, you can see that I picked up the 96 stitches along the edge with a little jog in it (where the decreases that create the triangles are). So, you do this, too.

Other than that, follow the Meadowland pattern, but don’t stop after four triangular wedges (because it will NOT be a square). Keep going and make one more.

It really adds that pop of color to one’s bland timeshare condo.

For the sixth section of the blanket, you’ll attach the new triangular wedge to the first one as you go. To do this, end each right-side row with K2tog, knit next stitch together with the next cast-on bump from the first triangle. There will be 96 of them, and since there are 96 garter ridges in the triangle, you’ll end up having invisibly seamed the blanket. (In the close-up photo, the blue stripe was where I cast on, and the pink stripes are the last triangle.

You could also just knit the last wedge the same as the others and use mattress stitch to sew the edges together.

When you’re done, work the same edge as the Meadowland pattern calls for, or any other edging you’d like, such as single crochet.

Note that the two extra wedges meant I needed to start a third ball of yarn. If Sprite had been available, I’d have used it, but I used another color instead.

There you go, how to make a hexagonal blanket from a square pattern. If you read this and know a better way to describe the way I finished the last wedge of the blanket, let me know.

An Elevated Experience

Yet another day of fun and new sights happened yesterday, which was good. I’d gotten irritated that the Cowboys football game stopped showing on the television here, because the team was doing “too well.” I went off to climb the hills around here, and just when I discovered it was perhaps too muddy, Cathy asked if I wanted to go with them to Leadville, Colorado to have dinner at one of their favorite restaurants.

Basically, I just wanted to see more of this stuff.

Well, Leadville was the last of the places I’d really hoped to get to see on this trip, so I turned right around and came home to change out of my muddy attire. Why did I want to go there? Well, it is the highest-altitude community in the US where people are living. And it has a cool history as a spunky mining community with not only saloons and that kind of fun, but a Jewish temple and a more museums per capita than any city in Colorado. Here’s an example:

The House with the Eye Museum. See the eye?

Of course, the scenery all the way to Leadville was beautiful. I was surprised to discover that, as the crow flies, it’s pretty close to Breckenridge. But, you have to go around all these mountains to get there. It’s fine with me. I enjoyed looking at mines, trees, hills, and rocks, though we picked a bad time to drive directly west, and I picked a bad day to decide to wear my glasses that don’t adjust to the sun. Enjoy some sights, though:

When we got to Leadville, I felt as if I’d found MY place in Colorado. It sure looked like a lot of hippies lived there, judging from the art, statues, rainbow flags, and brightly colored houses. Plus, there were houses here that non-wealthy people could live in. And double-plus, there are 360-degree mountain views. Awesome is the RIGHT word for it.

There were so many fun paint jobs, stained glass windows, gingerbread, and all that fun stuff.

I found myself amused when I went to see the highest-elevation high school, hospital, churches, Odd Fellows Hall…you name it…in the US. I really loved the look of the town and the different sights. I’d love to come back to go to some of the museums and ride the narrow-gauge railroad that’s up there. I keep coming up with excuses to return here, don’t I?

Finally, we went to dinner, fashionably early as always. The restaurant, Treeline, was beautiful and in an old building.

More important, though, they had amazingly good food. I had a pasta with lamb, where the lamb was marinated in red wine and olive juice. Huh. I wonder how venison would be cooked that way? There were also crispy and saucy grilled vegetables that I loved.

There was SO MUCH food, and such good wine! And the prices were very reasonable considering the quality and quantity. I’m so glad Cathy and Ken brought me! That sure zonked me out, though. The good news is that I didn’t have to get up so early this morning, so I have been very perky so far today at work.

Take care, friends. I appreciate all the feedback that people are enjoying my photos. I know some of you are really struggling (especially Anita, who just moved all her stuff to Cameron and has to supervise the moving of my stuff the next two days). If I could give everyone a fun and stress-free weekend like I had, I’d do so!

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