Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Of hay and holidays, help and hope

Getting the words flowing into blog post form is sometimes like moving a 100#, three-string hay bale – heavy lifting! In responding to a blogpal's email this morning, I realized I was sharing much of what I wanted in a post, so I'm going to riff on that. Adding photos, of course!

Good morning (afternoon now)! It's foggy here, and now drizzling. I missed my opportunity to ride Lance before the rain started because a friend called and we talked a loooong time, but connecting with friends is important. He and Ollie got to run and play in the arena last night for quite awhile, so at least he got some exercise then – and probably would have had even less than usual to give me today.

Still no tree or indoor decorations here, but last Friday after school, Brian put up Christmas lights outside. By the time Rick got home with his mom in tow for Brian’s birthday supper, the house looked very festive. Other than missing a spot to put presents (not that we go overboard with those), I am not missing having a Christmas tree. I did get to go to an annual Christmas party I enjoy last Sunday. It meant leaving Brian home alone which I do with trepidation, but it seemed to work out okay. (Or at least what I don’t know won’t kill me….) And several of my horse acquaintances who were there have come out on the other side of teenage boys and lived to tell about it, which is always encouraging to hear.

Birthday boy in the jacket my sister sent him
It was a busy weekend, starting with prepping for that Friday birthday supper. My MIL spent Friday night here so she could ride with us to a church where Brian's bell choir was performing the next day. Saturday evening we went to a talent show (where the bell choir performed again) and senior class fundraising dinner at the school; we went early to help, then Rick left early to clean out the clogged-up woodstove and pack while I stayed for the full program and all the clean-up afterwards. At o'dark thirty Sunday morning I drove Rick to the Portland airport, getting back before sunrise (and son-rise), took a short nap, got the son to RISE so I could take him to work, came back home (the scenes below caught my eye on the way home),

picked him up from work, came back home, then took him to Salem for the third bell choir performance of the weekend. 😳

This final performance was a prequel for the Salem Pops Orchestra concert which many of the high school students were attending followed by dinner out (a "vegetarian" version of public school prom), so most of the bell choir members were dressed in their fancy formal attire. (No, Brian didn't go. His 'girlfriend,' who doesn't go to his school and we've never met, couldn't get off work for it.)

Something I haven't mentioned before is that I'm tentatively horse-shopping. Lance is so compromised that when it comes to a riding horse he is no longer my "mental health mustang;" instead he is my "heartbreak kid" – and could end up being my neck-breaker. At first it was all online window-shopping, without seeing anything in my price range of real interest. Then I looked up a Morgan sales flyer I got last spring and contacted one of the breeders who had advertised in it, resulting in a road trip with a friend to see his horses. None suited me, but he told me about one he had at a place closer to me that I've since looked at as well. This last horse does interest me, but I have two big obstacles – hay and husband. We didn't have enough hay just for the horses and sheep that we have, not to mention what we’d need if we added a third horse, and hay has been really hard to find around here. And my husband has been predictably poo-poo on the idea, although there are mixed signals. (I have enough funds set aside for the purchase, but I do need to have Rick to do the pre-purchase exam and I want his consent. Many moons ago he bought a horse without consulting me 😡 and I am determined not to do the same to him.)

That is a rather long explanation of what transpired yesterday. The Morgan's helpful owner had texted me the name and number of someone with hay for sale (and offered to haul it for me 😮 which of course I couldn't accept without a commitment to buy his horse), and yesterday afternoon was the only window of dry weather and available time (the seller's, Brian's, and mine) to get a load. So I left work early enough to wrestle the sideboards off our flatbed trailer, pick up Brian from school and drive nine more miles SE to the hay seller's.

A treat for the eyes before the unloading began last night

Folks, I've been spoiled by our favorite local grower. His bales are 60# or less; that's 68 three-string, 100# bales. But beggars can't be choosers, and I was just thankful to have found decent hay relatively close without breaking the bank! Most of it was loaded for us on the farm; when we got home last night it was pure man- and woman-power to get it stacked in our barn, and we were both hurting by the end (and still are). There is NO WAY I could have done this without my strapping son's help! Now I have to wait and see if my husband will relent on the horse....

My latest gift-knitting project is coming along; I think I’ll finish them in time to gift them for Christmas:

Gotta pick up the kid from school so bye for now from . . .

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Out of the funk fog

The inner gloom has lifted, thank the good Lord. Yesterday morning I recognized and captured beauty;

this morning I gloried in it:

Nothing else has changed, really. I shipped off two Christmas packages yesterday, but still have no desire to 'deck the halls' of home. Maybe after getting through the teen's fraught 18th birthday this week (he thinks everything should change in his favor at that magic age) I will start getting in the spirit, but I rather doubt it. My old dog is still failing and my not-old horse is still compromised and my husband is still . . . well, anyway. In spite of it all, my outlook is brighter and a good friend came to visit me today with a little pick-me-up (ha!)

but she was actually the pick-me-up and I was able to give her her birthday present a few days early (I think it's a winner!):

I'm getting ready to cast on (hopefully tonight) another gift knit with this skein of spindle-spun beauty:

It feels good to be spinning up some of my fiber stash, and finding good homes for some of my handknits. It's nowhere close to the Swedish Death Cleaning that Julie Zickefoose is doing, but there's no time like the present to start downsizing and minimizing, even in small ways.

And now an episode from the Chuckie Channel. I was trying (unsuccessfully) to get some good pictures of my hens today when I heard something and they all started looking up. Chuckie had gotten up on the roof of their run to survey his kingdom:

He thought I should love on him, but didn't seem to realize I couldn't get close enough to accommodate his desires:

Time to start knitting at . . .

Saturday, November 30, 2019

I'm not knocking November, but...

It has been an interesting month.

 The weather has been mostly beautiful – dry and sunny, with very little of the fog and rainfall we are used to seeing this time of year. November is usually our wettest month, and this one has been the driest on record (good for cleaning up leaves!). Lately it's been freezing hard at night, and not always thawing out during the day up here on the hill. Hard on the plants, I'm sure; it's definitely hard on the skin. It would be hard on a Christmas tree as well, to be parched before cutting and then brought into an even drier house. But there has been no talk here of getting one this year, so I may not have to worry about that. This year getting into the holidays feels like a side trip I don't need or want to take; that is for people with the luxury of more time, energy and interest. Low-key sounds good to me; "life" provides enough drama!

Take this morning. Rick stoked the fire, leaving the insert doors slightly open for airflow to get it going good. A piece of wood tumbled out onto the hearth – twice – smoking up the house and causing the smoke alarms to sound off. We opened doors and windows even though it was below freezing outside, turned on the ceiling fan and even engaged a box fan to no avail; the ear-splitting beeping went on for over an hour. I finally left, late and cold, for church; Rick and Brian came even later. I've been trying to warm the house back up ever since we got home; Rick has been gone to a memorial service, and Brian napped the daylight away in his room.

The last two weeks have been off-schedule, which is unsettling to my little rut-loving mind. This week Brian was off early on Tuesday for the rest of the week for Thanksgiving; last week he was off early on Tuesday for the rest of the week for a suspension. Next week should be back to 'normal,' then Rick leaves for eight long days. There will be lots of driving to get Brian to and from school and me to work; the first high school basketball game is Thursday night but Brian has to bring up grades in two classes in order to participate (he hasn't been able to practice, either).

Jackson, dear Jackson. After going to town with me a week ago, he made it very clear that he wanted to go with me Monday morning. But he wouldn't have been able to manage the stairs to my second-floor office; so hard to disappoint him! Dozer's only been gone 20 days, but it seems like months....

And so life goes. There are blessings, always blessings, and I am thankful (although never as much as I should be, I'm sure). Life is a gift, even when it's hard. Amen.

That's it for November from . . .

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Yesterday's sunrise colors . . .

. . . are reflected in this slouchy hat:
It was dry, so I pulled it off the dinner plate and tried it on to see if it's giftable. It is, so it was set aside for a friend's December birthday. And that scarf that was in the gift dresser?
I wore it to church yesterday. It coordinately perfectly with my dress and kept me cozy. (Don't worry, that little spindle is cozy now, too, dressed warmly in Shetland top from Jamieson & Smith.)

Today I tackled more outside clean-up, raking and hauling leaves, pulling grass from the iris bed, pulling weeds from the gravel driveway. I didn't finish any of it, but made visible progress which gave some satisfaction.

When my back needed a break, I got Lance out for some exercise – and watched the fog move in!

Or maybe a big cloud enveloped us and then moved on, because by the time I headed back the the house, the sky looked like this!

This evening I got around to roasting three small winter squash I bought last week. These are varieties I'd never seen before so I decided to do a taste comparison. Verdict? They're all tasty, but butternut and sweetmeat as good or better. Still, I'll enjoy them.

That's it for the weekend at . . .

Friday, November 22, 2019

Our used car lot

I took that photo this morning. With the wrecked Ranger in the garage, my VW (which had better be feeling pampered after getting an oil change, front bushings replaced, and four new tires yesterday! 😳) and Rick's vet truck are staying outside, along with Rick's old vet truck/now our general farm truck (the red Ford full of leaves), the previous general farm truck (the long-dead and moldering blue Chevy that my guys won't part with 🙄), and now Rick's 'new' vet truck (navy Ford; same year, make and model as his current vet truck but with 400,000+ less miles on it, purchased from a client). And that's just the BIG stuff sitting around. I admit to sometimes daydreaming about all the things I'd purge if something happened to Rick. I could see myself in a 'tiny house' – with a big barn (or maybe one of these combo jobs.)

Oh, and Wovember? I quit. Every evening my increasingly tired brain struggles with inspiration to meet the daily prompt. Certain others in my life saddle me with enough responsibilities; I don't need another one.

But it was a good day with my BFF (Best Furry Friend). This morning he made it clear that he wanted lap-time, and when I got ready to run to town for a 'Blue Friday' sale at the feed store, he made it clear that he wanted to go along. It's been ages since we've had an outing like that, and he seemed to enjoy it all – the ride, checking out the sights and smells at the store, meeting people and dogs, and of course a special treat for the ride home. 😋

This afternoon I washed the 'Skittles hat' and have it blocking on a plate. I'm not as thrilled with the hat as I am with the yarn, but that's the way it goes. I think I'll go grab another sample of dyed Shetland top from Jamieson & Smith and do some soothing spinning – or maybe I'll just go to bed. 😴

Good night from . . .