Filet Gumbo and Filet Crow

What a nice day it was, through a bit nippy. So much got done that I felt like a paragon of efficiency. The Red House is ready for the next visitors, I got a fun custom sweatshirt from the talented Kimberly of Side Hustle Shirts (photo later), and I enjoyed a really special time with friends at lunch. That was the gumbo part.

From where I had lunch I could almost see our place. It’s over the far ridge.

Community is important, and with all the restrictions easing, it’s been a real pleasure to enjoy time with friends and meet new people to expand my community. It was very sweet of our friend Linda to invite a few women over for lunch today. It felt both special and normal at the same time. It’s healing to me to feel part of a group again, and I can’t wait to do more of this, like people used to do in the before times.

And the gumbo was so good. I need to eat that more!

Of course, it’s always good to be home with one’s spouse and his fancy mustache.

As for filet crows, I finished the little filet crochet curtain I started a few days ago. It was fun to do and I figured out how to do a bigger project with other yarn. The key is extended double crochet, which will make the squares more…square. You add an extra loop to make the stitches a tad taller.

Rectangles, not squares.

As my coworker said today, it looks more like a pigeon than a crow, since I did it left to right rather than top to bottom. But, since it’s cotton, I can block and starch it to stretch it a bit.

At least you can tell it’s a bird.

Most important is that I enjoyed making this. It came out the right size to be a curtain in the tack room, too. Sadly, I used up five of my eight skeins of fancy Rowan organic cotton, so I can’t make a pair!

Tomorrow I’m starting a smaller scale filet crochet project, which I hope will get it all out of my system and I can go back to knitting. Since the temperature blanket I designed uses many colors, I’ll wait a bit to start it. Why? It’s time for another road trip! Talk to you from the road tomorrow!

Yup, Horses Make You Feel Good

I had a pretty free Saturday, so I split it between fun with yarn and fun with horses. The yarn post will be tomorrow. Today is my day to bask in my relationship with the horses.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Apache this week, mostly just hanging out with him. It really pays off, I think, because he’s so much more relaxed, yet interested in doing things lately.

Looking at his friends, but happy with me.

He seems to look forward to jumping and cantering. He seems practically athletic when we do groundwork. He looks strong and fit, not chubby and weak. I’m so happy for that.

Let’s go!!

Riding was fun. He informed me in his horsey way that my new square setup is too close to the trailer. When he stopped, I saw that he had noticed our reflection in the shiny part of the trailer front. Well, I had to agree he had a point. That looked weird.

That other horse and human look funny.

I finally, finally can relax when I ride and just focus on what we’re doing. It makes such a difference! My legs are relaxed. My arms are relaxed. I’m giving easy signals and Apache responds. He’s also relaxed, as you can see.

A relaxed horse and his cone. He stopped right there and didn’t move.

After we rode, I must have spent ten minutes just petting and talking to him, and he seemed to want to stay. Eventually Fiona indicated she was hungry, so we went in.

I got to hang out with the calves!

Drew hinted that he wanted to do something so I lunged him. He wasn’t at all into it. That was odd. I think he’s in some discomfort from playing too hard with Fiona and Dusty. Fiona had blood on a cut and Drew had some (of hers) on his neck. There is much kicking going on. So I relaxed and just spent time doing what he wanted to do, which was get his itchy head scratched. It was quite cute.

These guys wanted attention, too. It’s a new batch of young cattle.

I was all warm and fuzzy by the time we had some visitors. It was fun watching Sara’s granddaughter enjoy Fiona and Vlassic while we discussed hooves. Then the guest got to see all the dogs, which delighted her. What an animal lover she is!

I’m sure glad I had the chance to follow the leads of my horses and relax today. Oh, and by the way, no one has touched yesterday’s scary hay. I love my equine buddies.

Thursday in Pictures

Almost done! Black finishing border next.
Young pond slider checking to see if I’ve left yet.
Explorers
Sparrows inspecting my dressage markers.
I bothered a huge fire ant colony by moving an upside down feed tub.
What a beauty.
Pollination process
Flies are also pollinators.
Sunset
Start of the final edge
He makes everything good.

This week has exhausted me. I will be more wordy tomorrow, maybe.

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.

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.

Penney Goes Ballistic When I Sneeze

Here’s a new development! As you may know, I’ve been sick for a few days. That’s made me a bit sneezy. (The strep throat is way better but it’s pretty obvious I have come down the the common cold, a thing I haven’t had in a long time!) The dogs have been taking good care of me, and I appreciate it!

Always ready to serve, Suna

However, just recently, I’ve noticed the strangest behavior in Penney the Neurotic Bitch (she’s a female dog). If I sneeze she goes into panic mode, running around and whining then literally leaping into my lap.

Must save Suna!

Now, if she just jumped into my lap, it would be fine. But no, she climbs up my torso and glues herself to me, shuddering, whimpering, and worst of all, licking any skin she can get to. It’s like having a licking tornado in your lap.

And there’s the pawing, too. She scratches my delicate old-lady face.

Once she’s up there wriggling and writhing and pawing and licking, it takes forever to calm her down. It’s gotten to where I run into the bathroom or somewhere safe when I think I’m going to sneeze, to avoid the onslaught.

I’m smiling, but it’s not actually fun.

I think she thinks I’m hurt? Or the sound scares her worse than even thunder? She doesn’t go into a panic when I cough or blow my nose (my current secondary pastimes after typing and crocheting). I’d love to hear your theories on this! In the meantime, no sneezing for me!

It Rained without Flooding

A cold front blasted through this morning. Declan mowed the yard, and we were comfortably discussing how he should wait to trim until later, when a huge gust of wind came and instantly lowered the temperature. Declan said, “Hello, winter.” It’s a powerful front that has lowered the temperature at least 20 degrees and brought a lot of rain.

The downspouts got their first workout. Gurgle.

Usually if it rains hard here, we get a flood. But while we got a lot, it didn’t instantly refill the ponds. I was happy to go out to the new pond a couple of times to see it wasn’t full all the way, and now was slowly filling.

The arroyo and front pasture are nicely draining into the pond, and I hope not washing too much dirt away. Some grass had started to grow. I’m encouraged, though.

The dogs weren’t thrilled by the thunder and stayed close to me all day. Well, except when the cows and calves decided to stand right by our fence and moo. And the calves enjoyed the rain and we’re playing, which especially outraged Harvey. It was hard to work (in between internet outages).

It may be cold and wet, but we’re cozy. Sending cozy thoughts your way.

Yep. The pool is full!

Goldie + Carlton = True Love

Over the past month or so, the friendship between Goldie, the Great Dane, and Carlton, the extra-white mutt, has blossomed into what can only be true love. They’re together almost all the time and keep each other in great shape, in between long naps on the couch.

And of course there’s the running in huge circles around the house, the dog play (like horseplay only with dogs), and the long drinks from the pool when they need a break.

Hmm. I must also mention the barking at things in the night. Cattle? Rabbits? Coyotes? Skunks? Armadillos? Raccoons? Big cats? So many possibilities, all real, judging from poop.

Dang bunnies been eating chicken feed, what little the Devil (English) Sparrows leave behind.

They just plain enjoy each other. Often I see Goldie’s paw on Carlton, asking him to either join her on the couch or play. And they hardly use dog toys. They have each other (giving Harvey and Penney time to play with the squeaky toys).

This morning they must have spent 45 minutes gently playing, licking each other, and chewing on body parts. Penney just watched. Lee and I could not stop laughing at their antics. They just don’t get tired of each other. I remember being that much in love!

In other events, We had a nice party last night for our friend, Mike, who turned 60 this week. Martha cooked a delicious pasta dish and Lee and I contributed a big ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. It was really good. We all prefer ice cream to actual cake, so it was a hit after some time time in the hot tub! and Anita got to have a second birthday celebration, since we’d already enjoyed a meal in Temple on her actual birthday. Celebrations of people you love — I guess that’s good for people AND dogs!

Friends and fun!

Ups, Ups, Downs

Things have been good here lately. I spend a lot of time watching cute animals.

That’s a relaxed dog.

I even rescued a trapped English sparrow today who couldn’t figure out how to get out of the henhouse. I caught her and took her out. She was so exhausted that she just sat on my hand. Poor dear. No photos, since I had five hen eggs in my other hand!

So, here’s another friend, the gate spider. Apparently a Western spotted orb weaver.

There’s just so much joy in our animals. The dogs love evenings when we’re in the pool, because they can run and play with an audience. I take them out in the mornings for a little play, too, which makes for a nice work break.

Things continue to be good with the horses, too. We had good lessons today. Drew showed Tarrin how hard we’ve been working and then learned new backups. And poor Apache struggled a lot with moving his butt when asked. My left leg is tired! But, those two bring me such joy. I’m so lucky to be able to learn and grow with them.

But there are so many animals to enjoy here. My son found this really cool snake in his cabin. He just caught it and took it outside and caulked up the hole it came in. That’s my boy.

And today, I went to water the plants and was startled when I reached to turn on the spigot. Along the house was a complete snakeskin, I’m pretty sure it was one of our rat snakes. I love it when you get the whole skin.

I guess that’s enough animal fun for a Saturday evening. Hoping all is well with you. We’re having more family illness stuff. That’s the down part of the post title.

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