Fanfare Please! A Milestone!

Our little blog about the ranch and personal growth has been growing steadily, and one measure of that is the number of followers we have on WordPress. This afternoon, I was greeted with this:

Ta da!

We have 300 followers, and from what I can tell, a good portion of them are actually other human bloggers, and not some SEO-seeking drones, or whatever you’d call that.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who reads, comments, shares, and provides your perspectives. I may not be infallible, but I’m lovable, so you tell me.

I hope I sometimes encourage you to think or move outside your comfort zone. My favorite blogs do that for me!

Thanks for reading about ME!

I Get to…

Lee has been talking about how he’s reframing sentences that start with, “I’ve got to…” with the alternative of, “I get to.” sometimes a simple change like that works!

I’m trying it right now! Earlier I’d asked Lee if he wanted to pick me up some lunch, and join me, since I didn’t see anything at home I was hankering for. He suggested Domino’s, which has sandwiches we like and curbside pickup.

He checked with the folks working across the street, and they said they would join us, and said what they’d like.

Scenic Domino’s. Formerly the fancy farm and ranch place.

Next, Lee told me he has an online meeting he must take from home, so he can’t come (hmm, why did he agree before and choose the venue?). So, I practiced saying, “Oh boy, I get to drive to the pizza place.” And I envisioned getting out of the dungeon and such.

I got there. No food. Had to talk to the owner. Turns out, Lee had ordered in Rockdale. I “got to” call Rockdale and cancel, then “got to” go inside the store and re-order. (Or, I could have gotten to drive to Rockdale and pick it up, which would mean cold soggy food.) Luckily, I was the only customer in the restaurant, we were appropriately masked, and no one touched my credit card. And I have hand sanitizer in the car!

Now, I “get to” sit in the car while the food is prepared. That’s okay! I get to blog, and I came up with a blog topic for today. Score!

Later

I got to have a nice chat with the pizza store guy, and still had piping hot sandwiches and pizza when I got to the office. We all enjoyed our meals.

Mine was actually the veggie sandwich.

See, that have to/get to reframing really does work! All’s well that ends well!

We’re Doing the Best We Can!

In my recent post about core values, I mentioned the guiding principles I try to live by:

  • Treat others how you’d like to be treated
  • Assume good intentions
  • Love yourself

They go along with the core values I figured out that drive me: kindness and making a difference.

It’s important to revisit your intentions, because if you don’t keep putting them out into the world, they can just whither away. The stressful state most of the people I know are in right now makes it really, really easy to wallow in sadness, self-pity, or anxiety. People like me can experience some remarkably steep reversals in their personal growth (which I’ve mentioned a couple times in the past few weeks, so no need to beat that topic to death).

Perhaps I need this sign in my new office. Image by @dunahoot217 via Twenty20.

The Golden Rule’s been taking a bit of a beating lately, when I find myself getting defensive and not saying things as kindly as I would prefer to, and it doesn’t help that my attempts at being kind or helpful can get misinterpreted, leading to an ugly circle of no one being at their best. Knowing perfectly well that the only person whose behavior I can change is mine, I’m going to try to stay a little more in my higher self zone, and not reflect back any perceived negativity I get from friends and family, which might stop the circle.

trying
I deserve a reward.

This brings me to the second principle, of assuming good intentions, or that everyone’s doing their best. This topic has independently come up a number of times in the past few days, which hints that I need to be paying attention, right? Just as I’m firmly convinced I’m doing my best (in other words, I’m not being mean just to be mean…ever), I need to remember that the people I interact with are ALSO doing their best. I have fallen down at this lately, but now’s the time to get started again!

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who’s a jerk just for fun (I’ve probably de-friended them), and even people with whom I disagree strongly usually have their hearts in the right place or are acting sincerely based on their upbringing, culture, and experiences. I have started practicing making a conscious effort at remembering that, and am amazed at how differently I act. I just need to keep it up, both online and in person!

Coming from a place of love, not anxiety!

Bear in mind, friends, that sometimes things just don’t come out like they are intended, whether from tone of voice, lack of tone of voice (text, email, social media posts), nervousness, or simple misunderstandings. I need to give people a break. People need to give me a break. We all need to give each other a break!

Lee and I have been having some good conversations on these kinds of things lately, and we’ve found our own communication getting a lot easier. I am proud of both of us! By explaining where we are coming from, we can be a lot easier on each other’s little foibles (because we ALL have them!). His support and understanding mean so much to me (along with some other helpful and trusted confidants). I suggest you try out the whole assuming good intent thing on those closest to YOU and see how it works!

Image may contain: Sue Ann Kendall, eyeglasses, selfie and closeup
Teamwork! That’s what counts, say the blue hairs (this picture is from early 2019 I think).

And one more thing, if anyone is at their best right now, firing on all cylinders, working at 100%, and treating everyone they encounter with kindness and understanding, please write a book really quickly and tell the rest of us how you did it! It would be a major blockbuster best seller!

Guinea Freedom

Sigh, we only have two guineas left, but they are big enough to do okay in the main pen. So, today my sister was here for dinner and got to see them enjoy their first taste of freedom. It’s fun to share bird stuff with her.

Fancy Pants still knows she’s the queen. For such a bulky gal, she can really catch grasshoppers.

At first they ignored the open door. They’d just gotten fed, after all. Then they hopped around and got confused when Hedy went in to check on their food. Of course, I was watching too hard to remember to take pictures.

Finally, the gray one went out. Then she went back in. They did that a couple of times when they realized there was some scratch on the ground.

The first guinea is on the branch.

Suddenly, there was a frenzy. The brown one flew across the pen and landed on the branch. The gray one looked confused, then dashed over to join its remaining buddy, knocking a couple hens off.

Get out of the way, hens.

I think they will be okay. Now if anything tries to go after them, they can get away. I do hope that trap catches something other than Vlassic or Gracie, though.

Two guineas and poor Henley, trying to roost. Gracie is trying to find that delicious tuna she smells in the raccoon trap.

The Vines of Hermits’ Rest

I thought I’d take my own advice and get out in nature this morning, so I made up a project to see how many different vines I could see along the fence in front of and beside the ranch house.

Mustang grape. I know because it’s silver and hairy on the bottom.

It hadn’t gotten stifling hot yet, so Vlassic and I set off. I knew a lot of what I’d see, but figured I’d find at least seven different vines.

Vine
Looks boring, right? But if we hadn’t been aggressively mowing, it would produce cool little lanterns. It’s Cardiospermum halicacabum

I actually ended up with 12! At least I hope so. Most weren’t blooming, but I recognized them. The white morning glory had closed up and I couldn’t get to the flowers to photograph.

I was especially glad to see passion vines in more than one place, because I’d worried the poison ivy had crowded it out.

Passion vine with no beautiful flowers.

Also I was glad to confirm that we have sorrel vine here, since the Master Naturalist who lives not far from here has a lot of it.

Sorrel vine or Cissus trifoliata. It’s known as possum grape, too.

Otherwise, it’s the usual prickly, rash-inducing, invasive and/or pretty plants.

Of course I had to snap a few other pretty sights. Plus, there’s action around the hen house. There’s a new spider building a web right in front of where I get the eggs from. Luckily I have another way to get eggs.

And Chris put a live trap by the chicken run. We need to stop whatever took almost all the guineas and a hen! Hopefully, once it cools off, he will come up with more safety measures.

These are prettier than water hose, right? Lady Bird’s Centaury.

We do have a much more elaborate water system, though, since the other one was trying to make the hoses explode. Chris used new water hose/pipe and fittings to make a safer temporary setup until we make the fancy underground one. It’s also too hot to safely dig the trench for that.

At least the dogs are happy we’re inside all day. 102 is too hot for any of our outdoor projects! Happy July.

It’s weather fit for sunflowers!

Almost There at Pope House

Every day it’s looking better at our future office. The hallway is empty.

It’s all clean! And the American flag is ready to go up.

The front reception room just needs two more blinds. And the bling hung on the chandelier.

The big blind will keep it cooler!

We have a snazzy cover over the breaker box.

Classy breaker box.

The upstairs ceiling is textured.

Hmm. It will look better soon.

My office awaits floor repairs.

I brought in a plant.

I see stair rails in the very near future. I celebrated by building the little bistro tables for the break area.

We hope we have space for two of these. They are small!

Yes, that’s a leftover screw I had trouble with. The second set came out better. I just need a stronger hand with the Allen wrench!

Birds Sure Are Resourceful

As hard as it is to find equilibrium these days, I’ve always found my bird watching greatly helpful. Birds just keep going, breeding, eating, being silly. Here are today’s examples.

Finch Family Time

You can’t get close enough to us to get a good picture, Suna!

Over at the Hermit Haus/former church office, I’ve been watching all the birds raising families. The mockingbirds have moved on, but the house finches are doggedly determined to produce offspring in the carport. They built one nest in one corner, but lost that little one. Wah.

But, lo and behold, the second nest they built has a little fellow in it. Yesterday I got to watch it waggle its little head around as its parents looked annoyed at me from the telephone wire a few feet away.

Can you see the little head?

When I arrived this morning, two finches flew away, and I realized a second pair was building a nest in yet a third corner of the driveway. I guess those little notches make house finches feel secure (and it IS hard for roaming feral cats to get to them).

The new nest, in the back of the carport, right by where I park.

Earlier Today

As you may know, the past few weeks I’ve been going over to the sad, grass-less horse pen to give Fiona and Apache hay to tide them over until their evening feeding. Well, Big Red, the only hen remaining from my previous flock, has figured this out. She didn’t get to be the only one left by being a slow learner.

Most mornings, there she is, barreling toward me, wanting her sunflower seeds NOW. The only morning she didn’t show up, Chris found that she had laid a sad egg with no shell (she’s old), which has inspired me to get her some actual chicken food this weekend to go with her seeds.

Today, she didn’t charge at me, because she was busy. I’d actually been wondering where she got her water, because I’m not sure her old water trough made from the cabin’s air conditioner runoff is still there.

chicken balanced on a water bucket
I may be old, but I’m still quite flexible!

Well, there she was, on the edge of Fiona’s water bucket, drinking away. It was so cute. That inspires me to keep filling the bucket all the way up!

A red hen
The water was great! Now I’m ready to have my sunflower seeds.

Once she was done, she strode right over and requested her morning ration. I just love that hen.

I’m sending love and hopes for understanding for each of us. Remember, everyone you meet is pretty stressed out right now and probably not at their best.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

That seems to be my hobby this week. It would be funny if it weren’t so annoying that I’ve managed to offend or upset people every time I try to be nice and accommodating. As my dad always said, I really have a way with words. Just not a GOOD way sometimes.

Anita said it’s Mercury in retrograde, so I’ll go with that. But in advance, if I’ve said, written, or texted something you think is horrible and mean, I probably lacked proper tone or was so wound up trying to not be offensive that I failed. Inarticulate is putting it mildly. These are not my favorite points in my life. Luckily they do get better!

And on that note, I do have a couple of happy little things to share. One is that the inexpensive little rug I got from Overstock.com turns out to really go well with my “guest chair” for my new office. (Ironically, there will be no guests in the chair until after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, so it’s now my “reading chair” instead.)

Rug goes well with the chair. Not so well with the box under the chair.
About as exciting as a trash can gets, I guess.

I also got a nice rustic office trash can, so that I can leave the generic black plastic one in the dungeon office. Yay.

And look how pretty the reception room at our new office looks, now that all the saws are gone and the floor is clean! It’s almost done, too. Of course, it’s just for show until some time in 2021, but maybe we can have internal meetings there, or something.

Just a little tape to remove, and sparkly things to add to the chandelier. Oh, and the blinds.

Virus news around here is really sad. I don’t mind one bit being careful if it means someone else might stay healthy! You all take care, and try to choose your words more carefully than I do, because foot-in-mouth disease is unpleasant in so many ways!

Cheerful last image! The big mirror above the fireplace goes up soon! Woo!

End of an Era

Today we said a fond farewell to one of our favorite buildings in Cameron, the old Trubee house. It’s where we first had our offices for our real estate business, and there were lots of good times in that place. I loved my little area, which had windows I could look out of, and I liked the beautiful dining room where our conference table was.

Back when we decorated a LOT for holidays. I guess this was for our big open house in 2017.

Mandi and I enjoyed having coffee on the porch and playing with the feral cats outside. And we got a lot of work done!

This sign always embarrassed me.

My dear friends from my old church, Mike and Martha, have been living there since we moved our office to the Hermit Haus/former church building. They finally decided to bite the bullet and buy the place. It has plenty of room for all the things they like to do, but is also cozy! The pecan trees are another big plus, too. Yum.

They’re very happy. You just can’t tell.

We’re very happy for them. I look forward to visiting the house often, soon as we are allowed to visit anyone again. It will be fun to see all the projects Mike comes up with now that there’s nothing stopping him.

It’s a little easier to tell Lee and I are happy.

We had a nice, simple closing over at our lawyer’s office, which meant a chance to see friends! Luckily, we recognized Liz and Hollis with their masks on, and we could even tell when we were smiling. We did the closing in the biggest room in the office, too, so we had as much space as possible.

This is our post-signing hug.

I’ll miss the old house, but am very happy for my friends. And, hey, the income is nice, too, right?

My Poor Nails!

Just a quick funny story (to me). Historical background:

I bit my nails until I was 14. Nothing could stop me; I was an anxious child, and this was one of my soothing behaviors. I really had me some ugly hands.

But, a week before high school started, I got it in my head that I could have a new start, not be the outcast I was in 8th grade, and look a bit better. So I managed to not bite my nails. I can remember being so proud in Algebra I class, when I could see some white at the ends of my nails. The next week, I painted my nails red.

I interrupt this story with a picture of the lamp I had to bring into my dungeon office, because the ceiling light has gotten so dim I can’t see. Note bonus mask holder!

And, most weeks for the ensuing many decades, I’ve painted my nails. I had them really, really long in high school and painted them all sorts of interesting ways (this was LONG before nail salons and professionals; it was all me).

Once I got to college and had to type a lot, the nails got a little shorter, but other than a few brief hiatuses, my quest for great nail polish and perfect nails never ended. I always acknowledged the irony that other than a love of sparkly eye shadow and long nails, I was quite the gender neutral dresser.

Actual Story?

Fast forward, and I’m still an eccentric dresser, but also with weird hair color. I hardly ever had professional nail applications; I can remember one in San Francisco in 2005…and a few toenail polish bonding events.

But, I got a hankering for something that lasted longer, and started going to the salon here in Cameron, where I really like the people and had a lot of fun. This blog has plenty of photos of my fanciful dip nails. I miss them.

Ah, so pretty.

When the coronavirus stuff started, the salons all closed. I also noticed that the tools they used on my nails had made them paper thin. Well, I thought, a great chance to let them heal a bit.

The salon opened back up, but because of my very visible position at our personal assistance service, and my own desire to stay away from people who are less careful than me, I haven’t been back (and I am so sorry for the nail salon people!).

Golden toes. These should be fine.

I found some Essie products that are really strong and last over a week on my fingers, and have been using them. Except last time, I discovered you need to pay attention to what you’re doing.

I put the top coat on as my base coat, and the base coat on top. Hmm, I thought it didn’t come out very shiny. Then, two days later, all my fingernail polish peeled off in sheets. What? I did NOT take a picture.

Base coat left. Top coat right. Memorize. I am not compensated for this photo.

Yep, that shiny top coat doesn’t stick well to bare nails. And that grippy base coat isn’t shiny.

In fact, the base coat is so grippy that it would stick to my socks when I wore my boots. I kept the toenails for another week, but wow am I happy to have changed to the right polish in the right order.

Nice bronze nails, all my own. And a bonus donkey.

You’d think that after doing my own nails for so long, I’d learn to read the bottle of clear polish and put on the right one! Sheesh!

What have I learned here? Give me 15 minutes and I can write a long blog post about almost anything. Back to work.