One of the things I like about the way Hearts, Homes and Hands does its business is that they do lots of nice things for the clients and staff. Every year, goodie bags and flowers show up out of thin air to give out to everyone.
Just kidding. Many hours are spent making those goodies. Last night, after a long day of work, Kathleen, Meghan, and CC showed up at the Hermits’ Rest to go into goody overdrive. I got to help, and even Lee measured some cocoa for fudge! (I picked and shelled a small bunch of pecans from the tree outside our office, but Lee ate most of them.)
Meghan and I made many, many pretzels dipped in almond bark and sprinkled with sugar. We got better as we went along. Everyone laughed at how I wanted to be sure every treat bag had the same number of treats. Well, MAYBE I enjoy divvying them up! (Hey, I spelled divvying right the first time!)
The other half of the crew made Kathleen’s special fudge recipe, which contains cheese product (you’d never guess). The microwave was going nonstop between melting fudge ingredients and almond bark. Good thing we have a big kitchen.
After the fudge was done, Kathleen made “trash,” which is her version of Chex Mix. It’s spicy! That’s mostly for the caregivers, since we don’t want to shock the systems of the clients.
We had so much fun making a mess, enjoying adult beverages (some of us), and telling stories to each other. I’d say the management team put a LOT of love into our gifts.
This morning, they discovered our fridge wasn’t quite cold enough, and the fudge hadn’t solidified. It got re-melted and put in the freezer for a while. Our poor saucepan was traumatized, but everything worked out, and after a good soak, that saucepan can cook Christmas foods.
Eventually, everything was all packed up and ready to be delivered by Kathleen and Meghan at some point today.
I’m really proud of them. They work SO danged hard, taking phone calls at all hours, filling out paperwork, supervising…trying to help team members better themselves…etc.
A personal assistance service is not an easy business to be in, since you tend to be surrounded by sick people, hurting people, grumpy people (and FUN people, too, don’t get me wrong) and doing your best to make their lives easier. Luckily, the great people on our team and the truly wonderful and appreciative clients make up for it. I’ve always felt that work that helps others is the best, and I think the Hearts, Homes and Hands team will agree.
There hasn’t been an update on our ranch citizens in a while, and tonight’s sunset inspired me to write one.
Last night’s solstice sunset was apparently amazing, but I was busy lighting candles and missed it. Luckily a friend took great photos for me to enjoy.
As the sun disappeared it looked like a tribute to the universities I attended (orange and blue!)
Anyway, most of the ranch residents are doing well, but we’ve discovered a new chicken killer, our resident harrier. No wonder they call them chicken hawks. Sigh. But, as always, we have a plan. Since that hawk only goes after them out in the lawn, we’re going to keep the chickens cooped up for a while.
The newly arranged coop is getting its fancy new roof. Once it’s done, the residents will get locked in. That will annoy Gertie the Guinea a lot, but we want him alive! And hopefully it will remind my buddy Bertie where she should lay her eggs.
And to end on a happier note, I got home early enough today to play with Apache and Fiona. Apache was thrilled, and showed it his usual way.
We got to go for a nice walk, and then I got him to run and trot around for a while. He seems in good shape.
As we were trotting, Fiona got all excited and started galloping around us in circles, hee-hawing away. After four or five circuits, Apache and I turned around to trot back. Fiona then zoomed into the race and began bellowing at Ralph’s cows.
I was wondering if I would ever get her back in the pen, but when Apache and I went in, she barreled in with us. I guess the both had some fun! So did I.
I get up really early here, since meetings start at 7 in this time zone. That leaves me plenty of time to get in a workout and then knit. So, as soon as I finished the table runner, I started something else.
You may recall that I bought more yarn on Sunday.
I looked around for something to make, and found a scarf pattern that used a simple garter stitch and slip stitch pattern. The best thing about it is that both the front and back are attractive, thanks to the magic of garter stitch stripes.
The colors really look like autumn, don’t they? And the slip stitches are a cute touch.
You’ll be relieved to know it won’t be a rainbow when I am done. It’s going to be a wrap of some kind, depending on how long it ends up. I have 6 skeins of yarn, three of each color, so it will be substantial, I hope.
Since it’s inexpensive (not cheap!) Red Heart yarn with no dye lot on the brown, I could probably get more if I need to. We’ll see!
This yarn is easy on my hands, so I can go faster than the thick linen stitch of the runner let me. What’s best? I’m letting myself knit something easy so my mind can rest. I’ve lost my drive to make complicated things!
Want to Make One?
Grab a few skeins of a solid and a self-striping worsted or Aran weight yarn that contrast or blend (mine blend). I ended up using 3 skeins of each color.
Get your favorite needles. I use size 6, because I knit loosely. You may want 8.
Cast on 150 stitches (or a multiple of 4, plus 2).** I used a knitted cast on. Knit 2 rows in the solid color (or more for a thicker border). Then use this pattern:
1. K2, *P1, K4* until last 3 stitches, P1, K2.
2. K2, * slip 2 with yarn in back, K4* to last 3 stitches, slip 1 with yarn in back, K2.
Change yarns every other row, carrying the unused yarn up the side.
End on solid color, K 2 rows (or same number as you started with), bind off.
I found the stitch pattern on “Striped Delight” by Marni Farniere. Search for it on Ravelry for two scarf ideas.
** If you don’t want the borders to look a little wavy, cast on 10% fewer stitches than you want and increase to the desired number on the last row of stockinette. At the end, decrease a comparative number on the first stockinette border row.
This morning, they announced the winner if the US Presidential election. You probably heard that. It was a close call, for sure.
Anita and I had already planned to go shopping before it snowed. We made a pact to keep our mouths shut and not act all jovial. Half the people are sad and half are happy, after all.
But the second we got into our Uber car the guy started talking about feeling hopeful, so we had to tell him. Then his friends called him. Everyone was so happy. I honestly haven’t seen groups of happy people in so long…
So, we went to have lunch at a nice brew pub. I went to scan the online menu, and uh oh. My phone was not there. Shoot. It’s my lifeline.
The server came up to take our order, and we asked for some time so I could look for my phone. It wasn’t in the store we went to before. The only other possibility was the Uber car. I got all worried, as one would.
Rather than go fetch water, Nuria stayed and helped me try to find my phone using my watch and Anita’s phone. It was so frustrating to try to log onto Uber using another phone. I kept getting things sent to my phone, which didn’t help.
I’m sure Nuria spent 20 minutes to a half hour helping me. And she was so patient, kind, and funny. Eventually we called my phone from Anita’s and the Uber driver picked it up. Hooray for Adam the Uber guy! He quickly brought my phone back and we all elbow bumped. That was another close call, for sure! Whew.
The rest of the day was so much fun. We visited fun stores, got a couple of Christmas gifts, and interacted with some wonderful store clerks. In one place, we had a great discussion, followed by some subdued jumping up and down. The women were so happy to share their relief.
The same happened at a couple other places. And we found a new hemp store full of such cute women it almost seemed impossible. More crying and laughing happened there, and we had a good talk about hemp. We all shared how much less pain and anxiety we have (it’s true). I ended up with sore cheeks from smiling.
That’s rare. Smiling and less stress. Now, we all know the same problems we had before are still here. But maybe people will be kind, civil, and caring with each other. I hope all of our interests will be heard and count. Everyone.
Good news! Entertainment has arrived! I’d been expecting a package, so I went down and asked the sweet young man, who obviously just got back from his two-year mission, to look for it. No package. I thought, hmm, that money for overnight shipping was totally wasted!
But, when I finally went back to my room, I saw that there was a message on the phone. I admit it, I never look at actual analog telephones. A perky woman told me I have a package! Well, how about that? Another trip to the lobby (which had been deserted all week, but suddenly has (ugh) people in it. Lo and behold, the package had been right behind the earnest young man. He sure looked embarrassed.
I knew what was in it, because my friend, (f many, many years) Laura, realized I needed knitting on this long and soon-to-be snow-filled hiatus. She sent me random yarn and some needles!
There were bonuses, too, like needle holders and a darning needle (believe it or not, I needed one, because the scarf I brought with me needs a little repair). And there was a fun bag and a note!
Since I had to stay up a long time waiting for the fun to arrive, I had fun starting what may be the world’s ugliest scarf or table runner. My idea for the pattern is, at least so far, not really pretty. But I’m not giving up on it. It made my obsessive watching of election results that do not change at all much less stressful.
Query to me: why did you start watching results on FRIDAY?
I got over an inch done plus got free exercise winding up the yarn, because my watch thought I was using an elliptical machine. Fooled that watch!
Then, suddenly, my cable news reverie was interrupted, and the door to the condo opened. Was it magic? No! It was Anita! I’m no longer vacationing solo. Anita immediately settled in and declared the fireplace good. Relaxation with conversation and wine has commenced.
I guess today we have to run out in the newly brisk air and have fun before it starts snowing. I’ll be more substantive later. I have been substantive enough the past few days! And the world seems a little brighter!
If you’re reading this, it means we’re both still alive and kicking! Woo hoo! After a night of little sleep, I woke up feeling pretty good. And I worked really hard, other than a half-hour walk in which I found the liquor store.
You will be relieved to know I have not gone through the wine and Gentleman Jack I bought for the condo. I’m quite proud of my moderation, though I have been drinking alone, all by myself.
After work I took the hotel shuttle into the actual town of Park City (I am in Canyon Village or something like that). I visited the quaint and pricey Main Street district, thanks to the resort shuttle. I was relieved to see very few shoppers, but enough to keep the stores open.
I found more fur coats, dreamy sheepskin coats, and down coats over two thousand dollars. While I need a coat, I don’t need those. In fact, one store was so fancy I felt like a fraud looking there. There were some incredibly well made clothes and dishes and such there. But not for me.
I liked all the art galleries, but there was one with amazing horse paintings and prints. I’ll have to share some. The same artist also had luminous depictions of trees in snow. No way I could get a print, but they do have postcards! I can’t wait to show Anita.
I did get a new coat at Athleta, on sale. It has a rose print. It was less than $200 and uses recycled material. It will keep me as warm as one of the amazing fancy coats.
I wandered more and more, and found a small candle, which was my goal other than a coat. I do like candles. But then, I wandered into one of the actually old shops, one with nice clothes but not stiff for the mega-rich Park City folks. I tried to just look, but love at first sight occurred.
I initially was drawn to the pattern. Then I saw the trim on the zipper. Next I found out it’s cotton, so it won’t be too hot for Texas like many jacquard knits in wool are. Then, the sales person told me it’s from a company in Serbia. Sure enough, even made there!
So I tried it on and boom, I realized the inside is as pretty as the outside. That means if I hang it on my chair, the inside that shows will look good. Sold.
My little shopping trip was fun and cheered me up. But, I better stick to hiking from now on, or at least until I have a shopping companion. Nature is FREE!
As I find ways to do more things that help me feel like a regular person again (while still being COVID-aware), I’ve started making a mental list of things I want to do, and figuring out whether I can actually make them happen. Have you been entertaining similar thoughts?
But Wait, I’ve Done So Much!
I managed to get out of town for a weekend with family successfully, so that knocked one off the list. I’m going to spend more time away soon, and I’ll fill you in on that when the time comes. The plan is to not do my beloved shopping and eating out, but still enjoy another place.
Another thing I want to do is hang out with fellow Texas Master Naturalists. The annual meeting starts tomorrow, and I’m taking time off from work to sit at my desk and hang out virtually. I think that will be a good time, but I’ll have to figure out how to get all my movement goals made! If it were in person, I’d be there hiking around Houston already!
Some members of our group are also planning some outings to other counties to count what wildlife can be found there. I hope that will bring us together safely, outdoors, and let us enjoy ourselves while doing some valuable work!
More along the lines of vanity, I really wanted to get my nails done by my friend, Tina, at the nail salon. I hadn’t gone since I had St. Patrick’s Day nails put on. That’s because there are often lots and lots of people there, along with their families, friends, and such. We wanted to avoid crowded spaces, because we wanted out clients and their families to be sure that they knew we were putting their safety ahead of our vanity.
Luckily, Tina came up with a plan for me to go one evening at the end of their open hours (which happens to conveniently be when her husband is disinfecting things), when no one else is there. So, yay! I have nice new nails on my hands and feet, and we got to catch up on a LOT of each other’s goings on. Masks were worn and hands were washed obsessively.
Another thing I want to do is buy fresh fruit and vegetables. I’m a little put off by farmers’ markets, since around here there isn’t a lot of mask wearing. And I seem to always have meetings on Wednesdays, when there’s a lovely small market here in Cameron. However, I did hear about a place nearby that sells hydroponically grown stuff. Maybe they deliver! I’m checking it out.
This probably sounds selfish, but I miss wandering through art galleries, too. I just love to look at hand-made stuff, whether paintings, pottery, jewelry or sculpture. I managed to sort of do it today, when I managed to go to the new antique store in town when it was just about empty. I found a painting of trees that I just loved. $25. I thank the woman who painted it, wherever she is.
I also got a piece of Navajo pottery by A. Joe, who I can’t find anything about other than he’s contemporary. It is just what my fireplace wanted, however. I think this satisfied my desire to enjoy art, since I even brought some home! Check out Chelle’s if you’re ever in Cameron!
I realized I have very few other things on my list, other than eating out at a nice restaurant and having our book club indoors without masks, so that all the members can hear each other. Masks are really difficult for the hard of hearing! But, no wonder I feel better. I’m finding ways to do what makes me happy. And I got a flu shot, so that’s one less thing out to kill me.
It’s funny, I intended to write about things I want to do, but ended up writing about how I’ve done so much of what makes me happy already. What have you figured out a way to do, while keeping to your personal standards of safety? What do you still want to do?
I guess the family isn’t used to me really, really enjoying myself. But I did this weekend. I didn’t have to worry about work issues, people issues, or world issues. I just hung out with nature and relaxed. I recommend that.
I’m a taxonomists at heart. I like labeling things. That’s why I feel such satisfaction identifying things successfully on iNaturalist. It tells me where things belong (when I get it right).
I also enjoy helping research on what grows in Texas, especially places that hadn’t had much coverage. While Jacob’s Well had lots of observations, since Master Naturalists volunteer there often, the place we stayed at had only three that weren’t by me, all from 2018! I did science! No wonder I was happy.
Plus, I got to “spontane.” I could go wherever I wanted, as long as I wanted. No one told me to stop taking pictures, walk faster, or stop talking to the birds and cows.
And there was something new around every corner. Yes. I WAS happy. I still am. I got to see my animals tonight, including the chicken that just doesn’t seem to lay eggs, ever.
Before I get back to thinking about Kanban cards (and yes, I dreamed I was trying to capture my weekend activities in Agile stories), I’ll leave you with a few more interesting plants I saw. I can’t believe I made over 100 observations this weekend. All fun.
I say to you, go find your fun. Now more than ever, we need to balance our lives and bring in some fun. Have a good work week!
Yep, I am a collector. My whole life I’ve enjoyed collecting things like books, leaves, rocks, yarn, and things with pansies on them. As a kid, I had a collection of electronics components that my dad would bring me home from work. He inspected things ranging from telephone poles to potentiometers for Western Electric/AT&T. He’d bring me rejected items and tell me what they were. I had them in shoeboxes, all labeled. Later he brought some very early printed circuit boards and explained how they worked. That led to my first “real” job after high school, which was working in a printed circuit board plant – wow, some of those were HUGE, thick, and sturdy.
Anyway, I had a fun serendipitous addition to one of my collections yesterday. You see, right after we moved to the Hermits’ Rest, I bought a beautiful little resin horse figurine as one of our first Christmas decorations. It lived on the mantel, and I got a few more as years went by. They are from the Trail of Painted Ponies collection, which, I soon discovered consists of a LOT of little horses. People collect them and apparently pay some pretty ridiculous prices for them.
As time went on, I got a few more Christmas ones, and branched out to some that weren’t Christmas, too. I like the Native American ones. Each is painted by a well-known artist, though some by lesser-known people who win design contests. A large part of the sale of each figurine goes to charity, which made me feel better for buying them.
Originally, they were large statues in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is why so many of them feature Western themes. Since I have had a small (growing smaller, thanks to our house cleaner) collection of porcelain horses my whole life, this was a natural outgrowth. Plus, Lee liked them. The pansy items I collect, not so much.
A year or two ago, Lee got me a nice hutch to display the horses in, since the mantel was getting full. It housed my ten or so horses and a couple of other nice things. Which leads us to yesterday!
I was finished with work, and just browsing around, when I got one of those random Facebook notifications that there was a garage sale coming up in Rockdale. I like to occasionally look to see if there are any glass items for my office, so I opened the link. There, in all their glory were a LOT of Trail of Painted Pony boxes. The guy said to ignore the prices on the boxes (that was good, since the lowest one was $75, and I’m not paying that).
I asked Lee and Kathleen if they wanted to go for a ride, and they said they would, so off we went to Rockdale. How spontaneous, right?
There, we met an interesting guy who does auctions and is selling off inventory from a store he used to own (hence the price tags). It turned out the horses were all from the early years of the Trail of Painted Ponies, starting in 2004. The newest ones were from 2007.
So, Kathleen helped me look through all of them. Not all are to my taste, but a couple were really, really cool, like Willing, here, who is a heavy metal horsie, with a fake hair tail and tassel. Whoa. You just have to have THAT.
I ended up selecting nine horses, which was over my initial goal, but some of these were just SO cool, and I knew they were all retired (and some first editions with 1E labels) and would cost a lot in a store or on eBay (I went to a store in some tourist town that had most of them, but some were over $200, and I don’t want any figurine THAT badly). We settled on a price that was reasonable, after I made a ridiculously low bid, because I apparently can’t multiply by 9.
Lee agreed that it was a good deal, so I am happy and not broke.
The seller also threw in this beautiful Fenton pitcher, since it has a little crack. I don’t care, because it’s just going to set on a glass shelf, once I have them. Right now it’s in the entry room at the Pope Residence, but that’s just a temporary location.
I love that each horse comes with a story, and that they are so detailed. They aren’t just painted, but they have engravings, accessories like leather reins, and other trimmings. These older ones aren’t labeled on the base like newer ones are, but that’s an easy way to tell which ones are old!
It’s hard to say which of the horses is my favorite, but two of them stand out. The Saguaro Stallion has a beautiful moonrise painting on it, along with very interesting lines embossed into the mold. I love the colors. And the base has rocks on it.
The other one I love is a very traditional looking horse, all dressed up for a parade. Plus, he’s a paint.
I you enjoyed this journey down the Trail of Painted Ponies. I enjoy looking at them every day, and they fit in nicely with the ranch theme of our house. Last year I wasn’t feeling too well, and didn’t get a holiday horse or any other, but I plan to make up for it and get at least one horse every year. It’s something fun to look forward to.
That’s what collections are for, right? Fun. Share what you collect, if you’d like to.
Hmm, the adventures thing may be exaggerated a bit, but I did get a new gate to go from our part of the property to the rest of the ranch. In addition, Chris smoothed all the dirt that had been disturbed when running the water line, and did a bit of grading, too. The chicken house area looks marvelous.
The highlight of the day was seeing this big gate that swings open mightily and allows me to easily head to see the horses. We had the gate already, so it didn’t cost anything. It’s very sturdy on the hinge side, since Chris drilled a big ole bolt through the roof support pillar. The other side is only temporary. The fencing project is not done, but at lease those of us who have to go into that pasture can do it easily (thus, Jim could drive the riding mower over the the horses to mow this morning).
The entire family was pretty giddy about getting the new fence, as Lee shows here.
Surprises and Adventures
I’ve used the new gate to go visit the horses twice already. Last night, I went to join Sara to feed them, and I got quite a surprise. In the field where the 18 cows should be, there were just three cows, each with a little white baby.
These are not the 18s. First, they were afraid of me. Second, their ear tags were in the left ear, not the right. Um, where were my friendly cow buddies? Where was 18-1, bravest calf ever?
As I walked up to the barn, the Vrazels were driving by. They warned me of another surprise, a large cow and her newborn calf were in the pens. I said, hey, um, where are the 18s? Tyler laughed and laughed. “They’re in Oklahoma!”
Oklahoma? Yep, they sold them all and trucked them off when I was at work one day. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Cattle ranching. Not for the sentimental. I am sure they got a HUGE payday out of those young cows, all of whom were due to calve in November. But still. Sniff.
On I went, and sure enough, there was a very large red Angus cow with a very small and shiny black Angus calf. I blurted out, “Hi, Sprinkles,” and Sara asked if I had to name everything. I guess I do. In any case, Sprinkles is cute as can be, and seems to have recovered from being sick and needing to be penned up. Mama, on the other hand, was mostly pissed off.
She mooed and snorted and ran around until we left.
This morning, I came back to do some horse fun, around 9 am. It was NOT hot outside! But, dew drenched my shoes, since I wore the wrong ones. Sprinkles and Mama were still there. Between Sara’s dogs and Lakota having the utter gall to stand quietly tied to the gate, she was in a huff.
Lakota just stood there and ignored her. A real quarter horse! We proceeded head off down the race, to see how Apache would do. Sara rode Lakota, who plodded along like a livery stable horse and was generally uninterested in anything. I led Apache (hope to get riding permission soon). Here’s where it became and adventure, the good kind.
We walked all the way down the race, the place where he was refusing to ride earlier, and the place where he has been all nervous and pushy when we walked for the past month or two. Today, Apache walked beside me, not in front of me and not behind me. He stayed about two feet away from me. He did stop to get a mouthful of grass, but started right back up, every time. He did not crowd into me. He did not try to turn around. He did not rush ahead, or refuse to move forward.
He completely ignored all the “scary” parts of the path where there are big ruts. The scary tree got a nod. When all of the 19 heifers came thundering over to check us out and walk along with us, he and Lakota both looked at them, then kept going. The giant bull didn’t phase them. DAMN!
We then went on out to the big pasture where it floods (the bottom). We all walked and looked at stuff. Sara’s dogs came along, and no horse paid the least bit of attention. Even Fiona didn’t dawdle and pitch a fit. She followed right behind us cheerfully. Every time we went through a gate, everyone was fine. Even when Jim drove by on the lawn mower, they just stopped and looked for a minute.
WHO WERE THESE ANIMALS AND WHERE DID MY JUMPY HORSE GO?
I have no clue. Sara and I tried to figure out what was different. Well, we had Lakota instead of Spice…but Apache likes Spice. It was morning, not afternoon. He wasn’t starving. That’s all we could come up with. My attitude is the same (I am pretty calm even when he’s jumpy, to try to keep him calm).
I’m just going to have to accept that we had a wonderful morning, got lots of exercise, and ALL enjoyed ourselves (even Lakota, I think). I look forward to more of this kind of adventure and these kinds of surprises (but I do hope Sprinkles and his Mama go back to the pasture soon; she didn’t enjoy Sara and me pulling up some grass burs right next to the pen, either).
I hope you have some bright spots in your weekend!