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!

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.

Community Holiday Joy

Maybe residents of our small town are sick of hearing about it, but I’m gonna say it again: Cameron is like a new town this season. I’m so grateful to all the folks who have worked so hard to turn the town around over the past year, especially everyone on the Chamber of Commerce Board. Just wow.

Honest, the square is gorgeous when not captured through car windows

There are lights everywhere this year, unlike before, when it was a few sparse displays on some of the more chipper businesses. This year, wow!

Even this building looks good!

And check out tonight’s fun event at the new Venue, the Sip and Shop.

Look at this beautiful building and the beautiful vendors!

I had so much fun hanging out here with my friends and seeing what the vendors (some of whom also are friends) had to offer.

Beautiful decorations and snacks

I got some wonderful things, you know, to support local artists and bakers. Or for fun. My favorite thing is my hat. It has a bird on it. Pamela had a hat, too.

It was just a beautiful night, and the Venue looks so beautiful! I’m so proud of the work everyone has done on this project. I admit one team member is my kid. The new staircase is awesome and the new bathroom wallpaper made me so happy. What a great project the team has completed!

Sometimes I feel alone and like an actual hermit. But events like this, where everyone is so kind and welcoming, make me feel a part of something. We even tried to recruit our jeweler friend, Mary, to be a Master Naturalist. Community peer pressure! That’s holiday magic, right there.

I got this gorgeous piece of labradorite made into a pendant by Mary. The copper backing is stamped with an “om” stamp. It’s very special.

When we get down on our fellow humans, we need to remember how communities can come together and support each other. I saw so much networking, generosity, and fellowship tonight that I couldn’t stop smiling.

So much smiling! And sweets!

That, too, was a holiday miracle. Now enjoy some friends and vendors who made Cameron, Texas magical tonight.

Oh, Germs

My strep symptoms are NOT going away as fast as I’d like. Oh well, it rained off and on all day again, so I couldn’t have done much other than work, anyway. At least I didn’t have to talk much.

Since I took no pictures today, let’s play spot the snapping turtle from last week.

Other than thinking about project lifecycles all day, the highlights of my day were finding some snow geese in the sky and having a good talk with my dear friend, Mike. He reminded me once again that he will listen to me. Of course, when I’m all overwhelmed with negativity, I never remember to call my support network. Maybe my first tattoo should say

Remember your true friends

Tomorrow should be a good day with sun and true friends and horses. Come on, antibiotics, kick in! Back to Starburst: the blanket.

Book Report: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

Five Stars Plus

My friend Louise, who is a frequent commenter here, sent me this book after I’d commented that a short film based on it looked sweet. Sweet. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (2019), by Charlie Mackesy, is way more than sweet.

The cover gives you a hint

Everyone with a tender heart, even one hidden deep under layers of armor, should read this book. You deserve to spend time in the world these characters reside in. You need to hear the reminders that love and kindness are what truly matter and that we all are worthy of these things.

The book is gorgeous, too. It’s printed on beautiful, thick paper. The text and images are all hand drawn in the minimalist pen and ink of the author/artist. Your eye just wants to linger on the images, many of which say volumes with no words.

This is the page shared on Amazon, so I feel okay with sharing it.

Louise knew I’d treasure the book, and I’m so grateful she sent it. Lee read it, too, and he also laughed at the mole’s love of cake. I cried at one of the few things the fox said. He treasures friendship as much as I do.

I can think about the dear characters in the book as I walk through the tall, soft grass in my own wild places.

I’m passing the book around the family, then I’ll leave it in the tack room for guests to find and enjoy. I encourage you to buy it and share it. Give it as a gift to a friend you treasure. I know I’m gonna drag my local friends into the tack room to sit with a few of these poetic pages and remember the world we want to create.

By the way, you’re fine just as you are.

Who Says I Don’t Have Friends?

I have some, but most are online friends. I have some local ones, but the only one I’ve seen for the past month is Tarrin, and she got paid to show up. Just kidding. It’s my fault as much as anyone else’s!

I had a nice chat with this friend today. She said it was hot outside. (Obscure bird grasshopper)

My car has had a flat tire since before we left for California. At least it got me home. There’s been just too much going on to get the tire off and take it in to get fixed or replaced. So I have gone nowhere except to the hospital to see Kathleen.

This friend and I chatted while I fed the horses. He said he appreciated the shade. (Differential grasshopper)

Yeah. I’m also working my butt off. No time to galavant around Cameron. Work is good though. I feel appreciated!

You know who is no longer my friend? The UPS driver. She’s stopped dropping off by the garage and now dumps heavy boxes buy the road. Today I had to wrangle a 45-pound bag of coconut stuff for the horses. I was glad I had a wagon!

My wagon is a great friend! These are the boxes huge feed containers came in. The wagon also helps with all my hay moving.

I have no idea what’s up with UPS but I’ll just deal with it. No time to fume and fuss. I’ll just be grateful for good things, like Kathleen being back again and looking better.

Wine, yarn, and a white dog friend will keep me positive, too.

Ouch, More Than One Way

The day started with an ouch and ended with a painful long-term one.

These two are hanging out so I can quickly get them for a lesson tomorrow.

I was planning to go ride with Sara this morning and ran late, but I had Apache clean and saddled in time. We were walking to the mounting block, which is in the portable round pen. As we entered, the stirrup in the right somehow caught in a panel and started following us. That rightfully scared him and he jumped. Jump number 2 landed on my foot. Ouch.

The inner part here used to be next to the outer part.

He got free, though, and said “oof” then stood still. I got up and went over to him and hugged him. He was fine! I got on him and went over to Sara, apologizing for not making it to the gate so Aragorn wouldn’t have to walk near our horses.

The longer grass shows the former outline of the pen.

We regrouped and had a nice calm ride, since Aragorn is working on a hoof issue. I was really proud of my horse and me. In fact, my foot felt fine in my good shoes. It only started hurting when I took the shoe off.

I forgot to put a picture of Harvey on yesterday’s post. Here he is with his favorite pillow.

The other hurt is one I won’t go into detail on, but I found out I’d lost a friend through misunderstandings. For the second time in recent experience, someone got very angry with me due to associating me with someone else. Assumptions were made and even when it turned out they were wrong, I was guilty by association.

The good news is at least this time I know what happened, how it came about, and that there’s not a thing I can do but apologize for things that came across wrong. Sigh. I hate losing friends I really cared about.

On the other hand, I’m no longer in the middle of something I don’t understand and can move on. I’ll just hang out with people who know I’m me, not anyone I’m associated with.

I made my nails cheerful. So there.

These lessons are always painful, even when you’ve made progress on your desire to be liked by people who matter to you.

Ouch.

An Artist I’m Not

After spilling my guts about no longer feeling free yesterday (and receiving some wonderful support and feedback), I was grateful to have something to do last night to take my mind off The State of the World. It involved “art” in a loose sense.

From a distance it appears I did art.

I’d arranged with Sarah the Bartender to go try our hand at Painting with a Twist, because I’d never been invited to go when I lived in Austin and never thought to arrange to go myself.

You can bring wine.

Sara’s girlfriend Kara came along with us as we endeavored to create paintings of turtles. With minimal instruction from Kayla, the teacher, who focused most on making a taco with your paper towel after cleaning brushes, we had a lot of fun.

Ready for the fun

I learned back roads to get places, too. At least they were impressed I knew where some stuff was. Mostly I listened to them be cute young adults my kids’ age.

Cheers-ing

I enjoyed painting, but was way better at the background than the actual turtles. We got to draw freehand, so it was an advanced class, I guess. It’s fun mixing colors.

Obviously freehand. One of us Drew the turtles going the wrong way and insisted on giving them tails. Me.

The time and wine flowed quickly. Thus my turtles could use some work. But it was sure fun. Maybe I can do this again, like putt putt! I won’t do it here, because the place is closing. But apparently the fancy Lowe’s grocery store with a bar in it will soon host wine nights. Kayla is going there, she hopes.

Now I just have to get the thing home. Hmm.

These were growing wild on yesterday’s walk.

Yesterday I also met with Tom the super sales guy to learn how to set up to rent out one of our timeshare weeks on Vrbo or some such stuff. If he’s telling the truth, that would pay my maintenance fees. I feel like such a capitalist elite, even if I am a second-class piece of chattel to so many.

Yes I have sunscreen.

Drew Goes to Summer Camp

It isn’t summer yet, but Drew went off to Camp Wild Type yesterday, like a little man.

I’m gonna cry cause you’re making me leave.

Really, what’s happening is that I’m going out of town later this week, and Sara offered to take care of him most of the time I’m gone, since she has a really healthy pasture someone needs to nosh on while Aragorn deals with some issues. It’s like going to camp!

Camp? With food? You can see my ribs, you know.

We walked over to Sara’s property, and Drew was such a gentleman. I never had to pull on his lead, he never bumped into me, and he walked with me. That boy has learned. Even when he neighed, he paid attention to me. I was so proud. Once we got there he went to meet Lakota, the older palomino gelding who she’s taking care of in his retirement years.

Hey there.

We were a little worried, as you are when two strange horses meet. But these guys just sniffed faces, sniffed shoulders, and sniffed butts.

Yep. You smell just fine.

It was sweet to watch them immediately start hanging out together. Drew hasn’t made any good friends in our herd, so that pleased me so much.

We like each other.

I hope they are going to have a nice time together. The beautiful Sully is also going to be there. She’s probably going be a boss mare, so introducing her is going to take a while. Sara is on it! It’s so good to have a trusted friend who cares as much as I do about our horses.

Reptile Season

I’ve mentioned the snake that was in the henhouse last week and the snapping turtle that visited. The reptiles and their ilk have not stopped coming, though.

This morning my son was mowing the back yard when I went out to feed the horses. He said to go get my camera, because he’d just seen a different kind of snake.

A different kind of snake

He was right. That wasn’t another rat snake, it was a thick ole water snake. Like everything else, it seemed to be moving from one body of water to another.

The bad thing was that it went over to the swimming pool equipment, where there is already a garden hose that looks just like a water snake. Now we are very careful over there.

I’m not a snake

Only an hour or later I went to put something in the tack room and spotted a movement that looked familiar. Nope, not a snapping turtle, but one of the native cooters. It didn’t stick its head out enough to ID it, and it’s shell was covered in algae. A fine little specimen.

The algae is a good disguise

These guys are breeding right now. I know for sure, because my friend Jeremy, who does all his ranching at night, saw one laying eggs and burying them last night! I’ve never seen that, since I do NOT ride a tractor at night.

I’d like to be going now.

We are still getting rat snake visitors, too. There was one in the henhouse last evening, another full-grown one, who had already gotten an egg. I got the other ones out, and just left the snake, since I was on my way to a Master Naturalist party for our graduating class. I did post it on Facebook.

Apparently my photo startled the aforementioned Jeremy when he saw it. Then only a little while later, he nearly stumbled across one doing his yard work! It looked exactly the same, which gave him another start! Like me, he’s a snake fan, but they still can startle you! I love having interesting friends who share stories.

Speaking of startling, the colors in this selfie startled me! It even made my hair look good.

By the way, I had a blast at the party last night, which was held in one of Milam County’s numerous Mexican restaurants. This was in Rockdale. The folks I sat with were so much fun and told great stories about the area and it’s history. I’m sure everyone noticed how much we were laughing.

Of course, we talked about reptiles, too. I heard that last year, Gene Rek, the guy who sells us our chickens, had over twenty rat snakes in his turkey pens. Yow. That’s more reptile visitors than even I would want.

My friends Gene and Carolyn goofing off.

We all realized it had been a long time since we’d had the chance to just relax over a meal and get to know interesting people better. It felt good to laugh and share.

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