Yesterday I shared the big surprise I received when I got home and found a new hen house created from my former new tack room. I didn’t share what happened to all my tack and food.
Yep. I stepped out of the Hen House and did a double take when I saw there was still a barn red storage building where the tack room was. What the heck!
Well, you may recall that we had a lovely Victorian house on Ross Avenue in Cameron. It came with many empty lots and a couple of storage buildings. We are in the process of selling that house to an expert renovator, but are keeping most of the land and the buildings.
My spousal unit, Lee, was the one who wanted to improve the chicken coop. The nephew said, why build another one? Let’s use the tack room, which is a bit cramped, and haul the big blue building here to be a new tack room? This decision was made before we left for our trip, so I can imagine everyone had a hard time keeping it to themselves!
So, they had the plan of moving that building here, painting it, and turning it into the tack room plus, all before I got back. Unfortunately the house hauling person had a problem, so the blue building didn’t make it until last Thursday, by which time they’d cleaned it out and painted it red. I’m still in shock.
My son, Lee, and the nephew worked overtime to get the flooring down, start insulating, and get some walls up so they could empty my trailer (where the tack all was), so I could take the horses to their lessons. That stuff has all moved a lot. I bet my son and our helper really hope they don’t have to move it again!
Today my son finished insulating and putting up the lower walls. Now the gambrel roof and ceiling need doing.
Notice there isn’t any horse stuff on the side of the room in the photos. There’s a good reason, other than needing it clear to add the walls. The nephew took it into his head to make half the building into a she shed. He even has it wired to put my precious former office chandelier in there. Holy crap.
They are going to bring my rugs and furniture from my old office. And my art! This will be so cool, and Kathleen, Anita, Sara and I can hang out in our girls’ club. Maybe we need a no boys allowed sign.
Wow. Stuff like this makes you just want to hug the world. I’m so grateful.
I hinted that things were different at the ranch when I came home. I didn’t notice it at first, because it was hiding behind cars and tractors, but the men in the family had conspired to upgrade the chickens’ living quarters. A lot. They even moved!
Wow! The chicken run is now attached to the tack room barn, which is no longer full of saddles and horse feed. It has a full-fledged roosting and nesting room in it.
My nephew, husband, and son (along with their helper Marcus) conspired to move the tack room over and convert it to the Hen House. It also has space for all the food, my workbench, and the brown chair, for chicken watching. That’s fancy.
Even fancier is the coop. Holy cow these are some lucky chickens. There are lovely roosts that they will probably use in the winter. They still like their branch outside. And there are a bunch of nest boxes. Sixteen! I need more chickens.
Can you stand the cuteness? The chickens have a little door to come in that we will be able to shut if needed. Plans are to put in a heat lamp for winter. Yes! Electricity! No air conditioner, though.
It’s all very charming. I think the chickens are wondering what they did to deserve a palace. I’m wondering what I did, too!
We have all the stuff needed to do babies, deal with a sick chicken, or introduce new flock members, too. I’ve got to start giving away or selling more eggs.
So, you may ask a question. If the Hen House is the old tack room, where’s your horse stuff? See next blog! I’m a truly grateful gal.
Today could have been kind of frustrating if I were hell-bent on getting what I wanted to do done. But I took the attitude that I’d just do what I could and be satisfied.
I had to check out at 10 am, which left me fancy free until a 6 pm flight. I was fine with that, and headed over to the “business” area of the condo place, where I’d never been. It’s also where the kid area and very fancy gym were.
That would have been fine, except it was not great for internet connections. My personal hotspot was lukewarm at best, making my Friday friend chat iffy, and my work quite un-fun. I did get a lot done until some employee decided to teach one of the many local homeless people how to check email. ThT was kind of him, but loud.
I decided to go ahead and try my luck at the airport. Of course there was no shuttle, and when the taxi arrived, neither the bellmen nor the taxi driver wanted to open the door for me and my heavy bags and my turtles. Finally, the cab guy shoved my things in. When I went to get my knitting bag to sit with me, I slammed my knee into some hard object under the scuzzy seat cover, getting a bruise and a rip in my favorite non-ripped jeans.
But, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the ride to the pretty airport. Since I was so early I enjoyed a really tasty veggie quesadilla at the Nacho Hippo restaurant. Honestly yummy and full of roasted things I like.
I then found a nice table with the right plugs, and tried to do some work to help a colleague. The internet continued to frustrate by going in and out and the software I was documenting was most snail-esque. I breathed a lot and only muttered a few curses.
When I couldn’t upload or find the URL for the PDF I’d tried to upload, it occurred to me that I’d already worked 6 hours and things would work way better at home tomorrow. I gave up and set to knitting and people watching. The border on my blanket is looking lovely. It’s simple but effective.
The people watching showed me I have completely missed out on a fashion trend. It’s some kind of jumpsuit or romper or something. It is skin-tight, like what a DC superhero would have worn in my prime comic-reading years.
Some are skin-tone, ranging from beige to dark brown. Others have wild patterns in them. All show, um, everything about the wearer, including raised scars, cellulite, etc. I find it incredibly unpleasant yet I keep looking at them.
Kudos to the folks who embrace the look at all sizes. I did note it was mostly popular with those who appeared to be under 30, and is often accessorized with Crocs. It makes my frayed jeans seem tame and old.
I was glad to get on the plane where I could see how my new phone camera does looking out plane windows. I got views of water and Charlotte, NC.
There were more of those outfits in that airport, along with the tannest and fittest whites woman I ever saw. I think she might have been a professional body builder. Still, I’d have preferred to not see every detail of her in her tights and cropped top. I’m getting old, folks.
Plane is leaving. I’ll upload and say bye to the eastern US. And breathe for a while.
I like my job a lot. I’m really lucky to be doing what I enjoy for great folks. But whew, sometimes I need to take a break. My eyes are throbbing from looking at my tiny laptop screen and trying to write software instructions for hours and hours.
I finally stopped writing at 5:45 and had a sandwich and large beverage at the sports bar where there were no small screens. That helped a lot. I’ll be glad to have my large screen next week! And my dogs! And the horses! And the family! I keep dreaming about horses. Weird dreams where they do odd things but I’m fine with it.
I also know it’s time to go, because loud people showed up next door, for the first time in two weeks! I’m glad I have an online horse meeting tonight. That will drown them out
Tomorrow I have to work more, somehow, after checkout. And ship those turtles home. I’m sure I can do it. Then yay, I can go home.
I’m too tired to write. So, bye-bye stats! I’m gonna knit the border on this fine blanket.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You know what? I used to think I was free. I used to think more and more people where I live were becoming freer. I used to think the world was becoming a better place.
I can remember feeling especially happy to live in a place where people were free to worship or not worship any faith tradition, where people were free to love whoever they wanted to love, where people could have families or not, where people could live wherever they found beauty, where judges strove to put their personal beliefs aside and be neutral, and where people could have respectful debates over policies. Heck, people could even go to the grocery store and expect the worst thing that would happen would be a long line at checkout.
I felt like “progress” toward equality for all was being made, right during my lifetime. The water fountain labeled “Coloreds Only” was gone from the Alachua County courthouse, in my lifetime. As a woman, I could play any sport I wanted and attend any school I wanted, in my lifetime (I gave up on being a veterinarian because women were not allowed in vet schools). My gay friends got married – legally – in my lifetime. Buildings were made accessible to people who could not climb stairs, in my lifetime. I could live 20 years next to a black family and nothing out-of-the-ordinary occur, in my lifetime. I could live around people who had come to my area from all over the world and it was fine. People could choose whatever identity they cared to present themselves as, even if I got confused…all in my lifetime…and it made me happy.
I could trust that people in politics felt it was their duty to tell the truth and apologized when they made mistakes. I could trust that law enforcement officers respected all citizens and did their best to keep all of us safe. People who joined the military were assigned duties they could be proud of and were respected for what they did.
I didn’t live in fear of my neighbors because I voted for a different Presidential candidate and don’t worship the one they prefer. I didn’t feel in danger because I’m a pacifist, because I don’t like organized religion, and I think no other human is any better or worse than me.
Fuck that. It’s all over. I was so happy when 1984 came and went and Big Brother hadn’t showed up. Oh, Suna. He was just a little late. Lies are now truth. Freedom is a word only for a small subset of the population. Rights are just for old white males. Women are back to being nothing but property for males to use as they please, then are punished for the consequences of what men do to them. Again.
When I’m wrong, I can be really, really wrong. I was wrong all along, too. None of those illusions of mine were real. I gotta go back to reading about how all culture is an illusion that’s just out there to help us feel like life has meaning. I have no clue right now, other than life is suffering. Thanks, Buddha.
Whee! Yesterday was so much fun for me, as it tends to be when I go to a state park in any state. As we do every year we visit this area, Lee and I made a pilgrimage to Huntington Beach State Park, which is just a beautiful place full of nature, in addition to being a beach where zillions of people go. Last year we looked at the house where the Huntingtons lived, which was weird, to say the least, but this year, I just wanted to look at some birds. So I did.
We lucked out, because since it was a Sunday, the place was getting crowded by the time we arrived. But, in we got, and we were pleased to see only fellow bird nerds at the nature center boardwalk. I really enjoy learning more about birds and the marsh from people who know more than me, so I was in heaven. In fact, I learned a lot from a couple of little kids and their grandparents. It must be such a joy to have grandchildren to teach about things you care about.
There were birds a-plenty on the boardwalk , mostly dunlins and sanderlings, but I was happy to get to watch a beautiful plover in breeding plumage and the big thrill, a clapper rail. It’s a fairly large brown bird, but since they are shy, they are often hard to find. This one was preening, so we got to watch that really well.
There was also a very pretty snowy egret, who was later joined by a buddy. I love all their fancy feathers this time of year. There were lots of great egrets (bigger white birds), too. The best in the heron family, though, was a tricolored heron that I got to be the first to spot. It was gorgeous, with shiny feathers, red eyes, and a bright blue bill. We got to watch it for a long time, and the dude with the immense camera lens must have gotten some great photos.
Birds weren’t the only attractions, though. In addition to listening to the fun sounds of popping shrimp, we got to watch hundreds of fiddler crabs busy at work in the mud, and we were enthralled watching the oysters spitting. Some of them can really spit (sorry, no photos). It’s how they breathe, so when they are exposed, the water turns into a fountain. I also so lots of pretty fish and a blue crab doing its crab work. There is SO much life in a marsh!
In the wildlife center, we watched birds at the feeder for a while, then I enjoyed seeing what they had in some aquariums with native life in them. Watching the ray swimming around was mesmerizing.
After we left there, we headed over to my favorite nature walk along the marsh. I was happy to see that the area is recovering nicely from a fire a couple of years ago. I can tell woodpeckers are loving all the dead trees. You can hear them everywhere. As usual, I took lots of pictures, many of which I shared on Facebook, but here are some highlights. We were charmed by the signs some group had hung on some of the trees. Every sign had an uplifting, positive message that added to the pleasure of walking among all the huge trees and listening to the variety of birds.
I was pretty thrilled to see many painted buntings on this trip, but the best sight was in one eastern red cedar tree on this walk, where there were so many songbirds it felt like you were in an aviary. There were multiple painted bunting pairs, a cardinal family, a blue jay, tufted titmice, and a tiny, tiny bird that I think was a vireo. I had to take a picture of the tree and thank it.
After getting some pictures at the Octopus Tree (one that fell in a storm but didn’t die), we moved on to the next exciting portion of my day.
I knew I couldn’t leave without walking across the dam the road into the park is on, checking out that boardwalk, and seeing what was there. On the little boardwalk, I turned to take a photo of some “old man moss” and scared the heck out of a large white-tailed deer doe. I was happy to see something other than a bird! As I looked out across the water, I saw multiple alligators, and I soon learned why there are so many.
Another Diversion into Memories
As I walked down the dam, on the side that’s a lake, I saw a familiar sight, mullet jumping out of the water and making a big splash. It brought back memories for me. One was when my brother and I were pretty young and took the bus from Ft. Lauderdale to Gainesville to visit our grandmother. We ended up on the local bus that stopped over and over. We befriended an older black woman, who told us all about where we were. When we got to Lake Okeechobee she told us to look out the window, NOW. There, in the light of the setting sun, were dozens and dozens of mullet flying into the air and splashing down, creating diamonds of water droplets. I’ve never forgotten this sight.
When we lived in Plantation (1972-1980 or so), there was a Corps of Engineers canal behind us (C-10). These were the canals they used to drain the Everglades so crappy suburbs could be built where the alligators once roamed. Well, alligators still roamed there, but the best part for my family was sitting on an old footlocker we’d found and labeled “Davy Jones’s Locker” and watching the mullet as the breached in the late afternoon. Dad said they did that to kill parasites by exposing them to the sun. All I know is they sure were pretty. I’m glad I have some good memories of that place!
Back to the Present
Anyway, I enjoyed watching the fish jump and move around right under the surface of the water. I was watching a particularly rollicking roil of fishie exuberance when I realized I was not the only audience member. Someone was trolling for lunch.
I continued to watch the alligator as I defended my spot on the observation deck from a couple of barn swallows who were busy building a nest next to where I was standing. That reminded me of hanging out on the patio at home!
As I prepared to leave, I heard a noise where the fish were and picked up my binoculars. What a sight I saw! The alligator had found something to nosh on and was chomping away. I’d never seen a gator eat a meal before, despite living in Gator Country much of my life (really wish you could hear my mom’s gator call). There was lots of stuff sticking out of its mouth, and I could not tell if it had caught a blue crab or a mullet that had been surrounded by reeds (a recent storm had really filled the water with reeds).
All that gator action made up for the fact that there weren’t all that many interesting birds out, since I was there around mid-day. I enjoyed the ones I did see, then graciously allowed poor Lee to go back to the condo, since he was distressingly hangry. Here are a few more bird and people and landscape pix!
We had a surprisingly good meal at the Mexican restaurant next to the condo building. The food was very fresh and different from Tex Mex. The salsa was obviously fresh, but not quite what we were used to. However, when I declared it to be gazpacho, I loved it.
We just chilled in the room the rest of the evening, so I made great knitting progress and caught up with HGTV.
Lee is driving home today, so that’s it for me traveling anywhere, unless I take an Uber to the nice shopping center one evening or a guest magically appears (it HAS happened before). I have plenty of work to do, have the beach and hot tubs and pools at my disposal, and there is always someone friendly downstairs. I’m good. I do miss my friends, family, and animals, though.
When I finally get a day off, I can cram a lot of fun into it, that’s for sure, and yesterday I even stepped outside my comfort zone successfully, more than once. I’m so proud.
One thing I’m happy with myself for doing is finding my own fun by myself. As Lee has gotten more and more into the Hermit Life, I’ve found myself slipping into it as well (and COVID helped form the habit of being solo). Since I wake up ridiculously early here, I usually have five hours or so to kill before Lee is able to do anything. I sit on the balcony, read, or knit, but I’m so used to getting up and doing a bunch of chores that I’ve taken to just leaving and finding stuff to do outside.
Admittedly, some of the stuff I do involves fruity drinks and beach chairs, but I wander around, take pictures, and talk to folks. I swear I’m turning into my dad with all this talking to folks stuff. Not very hermit-like.
When Lee was awake, he suggested we go take advantage of the free putt-putt golf we get as part of our stay. I think the hotel chain bought this sorta run-down course, since it’s right across from one of the properties and counts as an amenity. Here’s an admission. I had NEVER played putt-putt before, or any other golf-like activity.
A Chapter for My Memoirs
Backstory: In my horrible only year at Plantation Middle School, some person without much forethought had the great idea of having a bunch of young girls, many from backgrounds that didn’t include elitist sports like golf (back then, well-to-do white people played golf), learn the sport in physical education. Golf includes golf balls and golf clubs, both things that needed to be treated with respect. There were rules, like only swinging your club behind a certain line, not swinging without checking your surroundings, and not driving the ball while people were out retrieving their shots. Good rules. Who can guess what happened?
Yep. I had finally hit my ball far enough to get an extra point (a thing I needed because PE was my worst class) and was about to pick it up when WHAM, one of the little darlings in class swung her club onto my head. I was so focused on getting my extra point that I simply went back to the teacher to report my success. She asked me what was on my gym outfit. That would be blood. I had to go to the nurse’s office, which was hard to do when you had no idea where that was in the crazy building and you were dripping. I was so angry that I smeared blood on the exterior wall of the school, quite an act of rebellion for the rule-follower I was at the time.
The nurse washed me up and called my mom to come get me. Mom was in the middle of her nervous breakdown from having to move away from Gainesville, so she was not happy to have to drive down Sunrise Boulevard (she didn’t like four-lane roads) to come get me. She looked at the hole in my head and declared something like it was just a flesh wound and took me home with no doctor visit or anything. Mom was frugal and didn’t want to waste health care dollars on us kids when she needed so much (thus, we had no trips to the dentist until our teens, my brother’s lazy eye was not addressed until too late to fix it, etc.).
The results were that I had headaches for years and sharp pains if I moved a certain way. I have avoided golf entirely. I wasn’t the only one permanently damaged by middle school golf. Another classmate had a chunk of her chin removed by someone who didn’t check her surroundings, and as far as I know, still has a nasty scar. I believe that was the end of the golf program at Plantation Middle School.
Back to Put-Putt
Anyway, Lee likes golf and used to be really good at mini-golf, so I agreed to go. I’m so glad I did. It was great fun, and I was nowhere near as horrible at it as I feared I would be. In fact, I was even under par on one hole, and made par on a couple more. The first hole was pretty bad, since I had to figure out how hard to hit the ball to make it do what I wanted it to do, but after that, I found it most amusing to see where the ball would go and what it would do.
I declare that I would do it again, perhaps at a nicer course. But, we got a lot of laughs out of the outing and it was great to see Lee actually enjoying an activity on a trip.
Off to Calabash
We decided we wanted some good seafood, so we motored off to North Carolina (barely) to the beautiful little town of Calabash, where we’d had a great meal last year. Once again, I knitted a lot. I am trying to get that baby blanket finished before that baby is born. We tried the restaurant next door to the one where we ate last year, and were not disappointed.
I got a huge amount of food in my platter, unlike the small serving we had in Murrell’s Inlet a couple of days ago. And it was fried so beautifully that my grandmother would have approved (the great connoisseur of Florida seafood). The oysters were immense and the scallops delicate and tender. The shrimp were local (from right next door!) and the fish was glorious.
While the service was a little slow, I could not complain, since there was quite a show among the local bird population for me to enjoy. Grackles were mating and building nests, so they were in great form (and loud, being grackles).
The seagulls were also in squabbling mode, so there was lots of action. Plus, there were pelicans zooming around and catching fish. They are so beautiful to me.
After the meal, I went for a walk on the little boardwalk and boat docks, where I got to enjoy pelicans having some kind of bird party next to a party boat, which cracked me up (easily amused).
I also realized why all the birds are so dang happy right there in Calabash. The water was literally teeming with little fish. No shore bird could go hungry with all those fishies everywhere they looked!
While I was gone, Lee was paying the check, and since he was alone with our leftovers, the laughing gulls got bolder. He got a great shot of a laughing gull taking one of my shrimp.
Once we got home, I needed to burn off that fried food, so I walked on the boardwalk until I got all my steps in, then decided to enjoy an Old Fashioned and knit a table at the upstairs bar (I had been outside until a loud family arrived). A lady said I shouldn’t be sitting alone and invited me to the bar to sit with them. I ended up talking to them and another couple for a long time. Lee even came down for a while.
And in talking to the staff, I discovered that Kevin the bartender is also a history professor who specialized in my very own ancestors in Florida! His family is also from north Florida with deep roots there. Who would have guessed? This condo has the best staff, that’s for sure.
I ended up meeting another couple and stayed too long and had three drinks, so I was not at my best when I got home. Lee said I was cuddly, so I must have been out of my mind, ha ha. It was worth it, though. I truly enjoy hearing the stories of all the people I run into and finding our commonalities without ruining things by getting into politics or religion. Granted, anyone I meet here fits certain criteria or they wouldn’t be here. Hilton sure does check your credit scores and incomes. But I’ve met people from many places and backgrounds, and that’s what I like and have missed so much the past few years.
While I’m still primarily doing outdoor things (we’ve been eating on patios), at least I’m no longer scared to talk to people. I’m back to having a nice balance of being alone and in peace and interacting with others.
As usual, Rashid tells a lot of stories about his younger days with his mentor, as well as stories about people and horses he met during his clinics. One of the things that struck me with this book is how well he combines intuition with knowledge of how both people and horses work. His clinic attendees must really get a lot out of their interactions.
From this book, I learned how important balancing your reactions to things, so that horses can mirror your reactions and minimize their own reactions. His discussion of using energy to cue horses as much or more than physical cues makes a lot of sense to me. I can see where I’ve done my own horses a real disservice, but at least I have a plan for what I can work on moving forward.
I just hope I haven’t ruined poor Apache’s life with all my emotions, fear, and inability to remain calm no matter what. I’m getting better, though, and hope I can be more consistent. That’s the other thing Rashid talks about, how horses learn to trust people through consistency. That has always been hard for me, since most of the time I’ve been with Apache I’ve not lived with him, and have been gone a lot. But you know, I also have to live my own life, so I’ll just do the best I can. I’m sure that’s what he’s doing too.
And I will try my best to forge a good relationship with Drew, now that I am getting more training and have learned more. I guess the oldest “child” is always the one that has to deal with inexperienced caregivers.
I recommend any of his books to people who want to learn more about how the relationship between horses and people works. The more you learn, the more nuggets you can take and apply to your own life with equines. Plus, you’ll grow to love the horses he has worked with as much as Rashid did.