Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Louis Dean's Spa Day!

 Our extra day at the ranch was wonderful and we woke up more relaxed on Tuesday morning than we've been in a long time.

This little kitty slept with me in the girl bunk on our last night at the ranch.
I pull the black out curtains over the open window in the early mornings so the light won't wake me.
Samantha likes to crawl under the curtain and I never worried about it before since the screen was on the window. Well, I woke up and pulled the curtain as I sat up in bed to have my first cup of coffee and my prayer time. I could hear the tinkle of the tags on her collar and thought she was in the camper.....
until I looked outside and saw her frolicking in the clover!
That's when I noticed the screen was pushed out.
She was having so much fun but I had to bring her in for her own good.
She's a pampered little girl and wouldn't last long out in the country.

We had done a good bit of packing up and cleaning the day before so all I had to do was vacuum and put the fridge food in insulated bags and tidy up.
The horses all met us up at the gate as if to say goodbye!

It was one of the most challenging visits to the ranch what with all the water problems,
but we still had a lot of fun and made some more good memories while we were there.
Louis Dean says the thing he likes the most is spending time with his son.
Dean came down many times to help his dad and they were never too busy to sit out on the deck between working on the plumbing and taking a break, have a beer and talk.
We love spending time with Dean and Sherry and are so grateful for their hospitality.
By the time we come back in April, the rest of the carport work will be done as well as the rain recovery system. This is how we intend to water our garden! And we may well see a good bit of growth in the garden by then, too.

We stopped on Highway 84 on the way to the Interstate to take a picture of the bluebonnets.
They were thicker on I35 but it's illegal to stop and take pics.

Since we had the cats with us (in their carriers) we decided to grab some Subway sandwiches in Hillsboro. That way we didn't arrive home hungry.
We each got foot long ones so we ate the second half before we went to bed!
It was good to be home. 
It was exciting to have two working toilets, and two showers plus all the faucets giving out cold AND hot water!!

This morning, right after coffee, I gave Louis Dean a haircut.
He had his 6 month doctor appointment this afternoon and, since he was having blood work done, he had to fast. I didn't take his pic getting a haircut but you can see how nice he looks.
I'd been concerned about Louis Dean.....he's been so tired and has had some confusion - as in doing the plumbing and such. We talked to Dr. Maddox about things and he recommended he not take Benadryl anymore at night. I should have thought of that. He takes Zyrtec every morning and Dr. Maddox said that was fine. But Benadryl acts different and can be causing his confusion or at least adding to it.
When Louis Dean told the doctor about installing the kitchen sink and repairing all the broken pipes we had after that Arctic freeze, then going to the ranch and working for three weeks with all the broken pipes down there.....he thinks it is amazing that Louis Dean can still do all that he does!
That's two solid months he's been doing stressful things.
Have I mentioned that he hates plumbing???

His blood pressure, heart rate and pulse was excellent and we're not expecting any problems with the bloodwork. So it was a good report and I am so relieved!

Next stop - Hollywood Nails!
We decided to try a new salon this time.

Pedicures for both of us.....

and manicures!

Color for me but none for him!

Since he had been fasting all day and it was now after 4:30.....

We decided to eat an early supper at The Catch on Beltline.

He ordered the biggest fried catfish basket they have!
And a big Shiner Bock!
I had a good margarita and a salad.
Louis Dean ate all his food and decided to order some fried shrimp to finish up his meal.

I'm telling you, my heart is so much lighter!
I have been concerned about Louis Dean's health and it is such a relief to know he got a good report.
From now on, I'm going to the doctor with him so I will know what's going on.

My heart is full for another reason as I write this journal entry tonight.
When we got home yesterday, there was a stack of mail to go through, so I took a break in the laundry and unpacking to sit down and read several letters and cards.
My eyes filled as I read a special letter from Elizabeth......
and then I had a newsy one from Darlene, and cards from Sharilyn and Lisa and Whitney....
It is such a blessing to have friends and I have made so many through this blog.
I love it when the relationship goes both ways. When I can hear about what YOU are doing and what YOU are going through.  I treasure the messages from Jacki and Debbie.....
and the long time friendships I have made since starting my blog back in 2010.

The kindness y'all have shown by writing to Lillian has been such a blessing to, not only her, but to me as well. I've prayed for everyone who sent us a Christmas card and then I decided, instead of repeating them over again, I would use the bundle of cards that Lillian gave me for my prayer list before returning to our Christmas cards. It has blessed my heart to read your encouraging words to Lillian and they have encouraged ME. I want to do better with personal notes and letters and texts. Y'all have inspired me....and I've been humbled by your kindess.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Friday Fun, Saturday Problems, Sunday's Progress and an Extra Day.......

  Friday Sherry and I went back to Homestead Heritage - this time with both of our Deans.

We visited the Cheese Cave first, since we missed it on our last visit.

It really is a go down two flights of stairs and you can see all the cheeses inside the glass enclosed room. I like the first pic in the collage top left! Both Deans were hightailing it out of the photo!

We ate at the same cafe as last time and only had a 45 minute wait.
This is a popular place.

Louis Dean prononced the chicken fried steak with extra gravy the best he's ever had!
High praise, indeed!

In one of the shops I found a collection of butter bells.
These are made out of pottery and are used to keep butter at room temperature.
I have one of these and never knew what its purpose was!
$41 was the price at the shop - and, of course, I got mine at Goodwill!
When I get home, I'm going to look for it now that I know what it's for!

After lunch, we went off in different directions to do our errands, having come in separate vehicles.
Earlier Friday morning, our power went out. We weren't worried about it, assuming Dean and Sherry's probably went out, too. But, no, that was not the case. Louis Dean went in to the shop next to us where the meter box is to check it out. He did something and the power came back on and it was still on when we returned.

This is the earliest I have ever started my Christmas painting!
My favorite train memories are when my sister Deanie and I traveled as children to Kansas City.
That started us thinking about taking another train trip soon - back to Kansas City - to meet my newly found brother and two sisters. 

Louis Dean and I were drinking coffee and reading the Bible Saturday morning when the lights started to flicker. Every time the refrigerator kicked on - the lights would blink. Then they all went out.

Dean came down and called the power company since he couldn't check on things until the electricity was turned off. Bottom line - they came out, turned it off and then hung around while Son Dean tightened up all the connections and cleaned out where dirt daubers had been in between the meter box and breakers. Love small town power companies! They charge for coming out on 
the weekend but assured us that - if we could wait until Monday - it would be free!
Money well spent and thank the Lord for son Dean!
Power was back and crisis averted!
The water heater that wasn't working before now works!
Apparently, it didn't have enough electricity coming to it!

There's something to be said for Saturday night hot showers!
I took the very first one!
I'm loving the big bathroom!

Saturday night porch sitting with a glass of wine and a full moon!
The lightning would flash and color the clouds with a soft peach hue.
Rain came in later after we were already in bed and fast asleep.

Late Sunday morning Sherry was out 'shredding' the fields.
The dry dead grass and trees get shredded leaving the new green grasses under it!
I walked down to the front pasture and she picked me up.

We went to the back of the property that we can't even see from our places due to a thicket of trees.
I rode beside her for awhile and then she asked, "Do you want to drive?"
Boy! Did I!!!

She got off the tractor and took this picture of me driving it all by myself!!

She got back on and continued to let me drive!
How exciting to whack down small tress and bushes!
That was just so much FUN!!!

She dropped me off at our camper/cabin and then went back down to finish the front pasture.

I came in all happy and relaxed and did some more art while Louis Dean played his guitar.
This painting will be finished next month and for the first time in years - I will not be frantically trying to finish a painting so I can print up my Christmas cards!

I was on a roll!
The cat and boots painting is all based in, as well!

Dean and Sherry stopped by to visit on Sunday evening.
Sherry has such a sweet heart.
Louis Dean had meant to put the linoleum down in the bathroom but had spent nearly all afternoon on the toilet 'hole' in the floor. That part of the flooring is screwed down so he can get to in case of broken pipes, etc. I'm not sure what he was doing but it had something to do with that.
It was going on 8:00 and Louis Dean was so tired and stressed that he was having trouble measuring to cut the linoleum.

Sherry to the rescue!!!
Within an hour she had it cut and laid!
The bathroom is coming together......

Rufus and Remmie came up to the door looking for treats.
Can you spy Samantha and Tabitha?
There's always something to see out that red screen door!

My Facebook Memories brought up this picture of me and Nita, Deanie and Lonnie.
Thank you all for the prayers prayed on behalf of our brother.
I am happy to say that he is continuing to improve and is now back home.

We woke up this morning expecting to go home.
Louis Dean had an appointment for Tuesday for an EKG and a heart monitor.....
until the office called and said they needed to reschedule.

So we had an extra day!
I fed the horse a few small apples - she's an old rescue horse as are the other two here at the ranch.
The donkeys live next door at Mr. Jackson's place.
When I went down to feed the goats - I cleaned out the fridge and cupboards since we are leaving tomorrow - and Remmie the Great Pyrenees came along to keep me company.

We used this extra day to install the toilet and it took both of us to do it. 
Louis Dean bought a new wax ring for it and it was a fancy kit that we had to figure out.
I felt like we were rocket scientists by the time we got it done!

Since we were feeling so brave - I took the girl bunk apart because that's where the water reservoir and hot water heater for the camper is. We turned the water on to determine where the problem was - and we found it. The hot water heater. I have no clue how to fix it but Louis Dean said he would address it when we come back next month. So when we return, we will have a working shower with hot water and a working toilet! He can hook the sink back up in there pretty fast - once he finds the missing parts!!
"I HAD them," he said......."but I don't know what I did with them!"

Never a dull moment!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Kitties, Edible Greens, and Al Fresco Dining! Our Thursday.....

Tabitha is really and truly Louis Dean's cat!

When we are at home, every morning she comes in while we do our reading and wraps herself around his neck and purrs loudly. Here at the ranch, she still pays him a lot of attention when he's sitting in the big green wing backed chair. She keeps trying to position herself around his neck but the chair back is too high! She is the sweetest and most loving kittie. Samantha is beautiful and as sweet as she can be - but she's a real cat - life is all about her! She seldom has time for humans.

They both play and race through the camper or front room or both if the door separating the two is open. They play hard and then they crash on my girl bunk and sleep pretty much the rest of the day.

I worked on my art today and Louis Dean worked on all sorts of things. No plumbing but lots of thinking and he cleaned up his 'shop' and did a lot of this and that.
Bottom line, it looks like the brand new high dollar water heater we bought FOUR years ago will not work. It has been sitting down here all this time and it's wired up and getting electricity - but it will not turn on. At this point I have given up all hope of a hot shower or running water in the camper in the next few days. We will have to come back next month and pick up where we leave off this trip.
Louis Dean does think he can get the shower put back together and lay the linoleum down, install the laundry sink and the toilet - before we go back home. YAY! I will take what I can get!

This afternoon, I made a pan of brownies in my little toaster oven.
The pan barely fit put I angled it and got it in there.

Dean was smoking a pork loin and some chicken while Sherry was making Pablano Pepper soup and homemade guacamole.

I was making the salad.
I went out to the gardens and searched for edible geens.

I had to use my Plant Snap app to identify this one. I've never seen it down here before.
It's varigated milk thistle. 
While it is totally edible and actually very good for you - especially your liver - it has prickly points along the leaf edges. I decided to pass on that one.

I have two kinds of lettuce growing in my herb garden so I picked some of both along with three small stalks of asparagus and a handfull of other edible greens.
Many of the wildflowers are edible, as well, but I saved those for another time.

I like to put lots of stuff in a salad.
Today I used tomatoes, celery, carrots, boiled eggs, an apple and an orange, a little onion, half of an avocado, a little fresh broccoli and some diced jicama (HEE-kah-ma) which is an edible root vegetable native to Mexico.

Louis Dean and I sat out under our new carport and had our own personal happy hour.
Bringing the rug that had been in the bathroom and our metal table (which he gave a fresh coat of paint this afternoon) and the two metal chairs made a nice little place to enjoy el fresco dining!

And we pulled another couple of chairs around when Dean and Sherry got here and that's where we ate supper tonight.

It was delicious!
Sherry had the pablano soup at the Homestead Heritage Cafe when she and I were there last week.
This was her version of it and it was really good.
We are all going back there tomorrow as an outing and we intend to eat at the cafe again.
Plus we are going to make a point of going to the Cheese Cave!

What better way to end our evening than fireworks???
It is so much fun!!
I squeal like a girl and sometimes I scream a little, too.
Mostly I laugh!
There was a big one we've never had before and it was amazing.
My pictures don't turn out well so I only take one to post and the rest of the time I just enjoy the show.
Sherry and I always have a few of the ones you hold in your hand and they shoot out like rockets!

Louis Dean is already in bed and I will close tonight's journal entry and go back out to the front room and do a little more painting.
Can you believe I started on a Christmas one??
This year I am not painting two of everything.
I discovered having my art printed on canvas!

As I was writing, I glanced up and noticed Samantha sipping my iced tea!

Reminded me of Maggie.....our sweet senior cat who loved to drink her water from wine glasses. 
Picture from 2014.

Goodnight from the country!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

This and That.....

 This is Day #15 here at the ranch this month.
As always, there's been a lot of things going on.
Louis Dean has continued to work on the plumbing and he is so weary of it.
Thank the Lord for son Dean! He has stepped in and rescued his dad several times.
Still the breaks keep happening - all because of that below freezing weather we had!  Dean fixed two leaks today - one while his dad was gone to Home Depot and Louis Dean was delighted about that - and then another one showed up.
He fixed that one and - would you believe - once the water was turned on there was a hole in the pipe going from the water heater!
Good grief! How long can this go on and on and on.....
I confess, I have needed a few attitude adjustments during all this.

There is some good news!
Cheyenne and his crew used up every last bit of material and he's ordered some more to finish things out. The carport is up and it is awesome! There is skirting yet to put up along the west side of the carport to give us a little more protection from the sun. Then they will finish out the east side and along the back, install gutters and a rainwater harvesting system. AND more gravel for the driveway and road! We leave on Monday and they may be here to do some of it before we go home but it will be done for sure by the time we come back! YAY!

Cheyenne brought his bobcat over and leveled the gravel we already have.
He explained that what he is ordering will be smaller and easier to walk on!
I'm all in favor of that!

This was the first time he parked the big white truck under the carport!!

Last October I planted a big bag of Texas wildflowers and some were already up and blooming during the winter. But that Arctic freeze knocked them back.

I'm glad wildflowers are so hardy.
Our honeybees were all over them back there.
This area is along the back of the garden Louis Dean fenced in last year.

This small bumblebee was so determined - he looked like he was going to eat up the blue bachelor buttons and flew to every single one of them, completely ignoring all the other flowers.

I've been finishing up a few art projects from 2020 before I start on new ones.

This one was fun to paint!

Yesterday I started on fresh clean canvases.
The top left one is simply based in with background colors and once dried, I will put my pattern on and start will be a bench with several pair of cowboy boots lined up underneath it .....and a cat stretched out on top. I've decided to paint it to look like Tabitha because I don't think I'm good enough to do the colors on Samantha!

These kitties keep us smiling!
See how hard it would be to paint her?
Samantha goes down the back of that little sofa she's perched on and has a hidey hole underneath.
We have had two other cats here in the camper before - our Maggie and then after she died we got 
Maddie - both were senior white cats - and they could get down there but couldn't get back up!
Samantha is young and agile and she can wiggle herself straight up and out!

Tabitha is a bigger girl and she gets stuck.
Since she's also a very smart cat - I bet she doesn't go back down there again!

Last night was our monthly beekeepers meeting.
While we used to meet in McLennon County College, since Covid happened we moved to an open air pavilion in China Springs. Now we get to meet indoors at the same location which is the church our vice president pastors.
This is about an hour's drive from the ranch outside Mart.
Sherry and I usually go out to eat before or after, so this time we drove on into China Springs.....

and found Taqueria Mexicano Bar & Grill!
The food was delicious as was that margarita!!
Our friend and sister beekeeper, Rosey, usually joins us and we missed her since she was out of town.
Next month, Rosey!!

When we left for our meeting, father and son were working on the shower in the big bathroom.
They fully expected to greet me with the news that I could now take a shower. Maybe even a HOT one!
Instead, Louis Dean came out as Sherry pulled up to drop me off.
It happened that they had more to repair than they thought and, while he THOUGHT it was fixed, he didn't have it in him to turn it on and find out. He needed to wait until this morning when he was more rested.
He said, "Linda, if I turn it on and there's a problem, I think I will go stark raving mad out of my mind. I simply can't handle it right now."

Good thing we waited.
Both of us got a good night of sleep, and, indeed, there was a problem with the water.....
two and three problems.
I think we have a new rule.
Throw old pipe AWAY!
Part of the problem - MOST of the problem - has been he's been using old materials that didn't LOOK damaged - but they were! Dean showed me one this morning that when he had cut ot off, he could see a tiny hairline crack nearly all the way down.

Hopefully, in the morning we will turn the water on and pray it works!

After Sherry got off work this afternoon, we went down and checked our bees.

Spring has greened everything up.

In the late winter/early spring, we treat for varroa mites....

Varroa mites are external parasites of adult honey bees, as well as drone and worker brood. Adult female mites may be seen on larvae, pupae of adult honey bees, while juvenile and adult male Varroa can be seen on larvae and pupae. Adult female Varroa mites are oval, flat, red-brown coloured mites.

We use Apivar strips and place them in the brood boxes. They have to stay 42 days and at 21 days you open up the hives and move the strips to another frame. So now we won't be opening the hives for another three weeks. The timing is important since you cannot harvest any honey with frames that have been treated. You want to have this all done before you put the honey supers (boxes) on top of the brood boxes. The supers are where the honey we will harvest is made.
So we have that chore done now and can turn our attention to building new boxes and frames and getting things ready for when we split our hives - and set them up for the honeymaking season.
The spring honey is the best! 

While I have been in here writing, Louis Dean has been out in the front room singing and playing music! That's so good for him! Puts his mind in a good place and he relaxes.
Now I shall join him for our evening glass of wine and we will sit and visit a little while before bed.
No TV down here so sometimes we go to bed early.
Tonight he may wait up for Dean to get home from the karate class he teaches.
He said he might stop by on his way in and check the water pipe repair.

Here's hoping we get WATER - running water from a faucet inside the house tomorrow!!

My theme song!! clear water.