Reluctantly, the Dogs Have Their Vet Visit

Every year there are more dogs to look at here at the Hermits’ Rest. It makes the fee for the vet to come to us rather than us going to her quite the bargain. Yesterday, while I was in Austin away from the heat, Dr. Amy came out to see all seven dogs (Alfred, Goldie, Harvey, Carlton, Penney, Gracie Lou, and Vlassic). I always feel like I’m forgetting one, but it’s probably because Fiona is the size of Alfred.

They didn’t get rid of all my grass burs.

The big deal was that Alfred got his big problem dealt with, his dew claws. Both of the ones on his back legs have been problematic since he showed up. They grow in a circular shape, and eventually start growing into his leg, leading to pain and infections. Every time we cut them, he has to be sedated, and too much sedation isn’t good for dogs like him. So, we came to the decision that he’d need to have them removed, even though we’d wanted to avoid it.

So, when he finally got zonked out, they put sterile cloths under him where he fell (the floor in the entry to the house), and did it there. Lee has instructions for caring for the wounds and keeping him out of pain. He already walks better. Let’s hope this makes a big difference in Alfred’s quality of life.

Surprise! I’m overweight.

The other dogs got ALL their many shots (including rattlesnake vaccine), got de-wormed, and checked for heartworms (all negative). Lee says they all are getting a bit skittish. Maybe the horses warned them about vaccines?

We knew there’s have to be another sedation, because Vlassic was awful last time they went to trim his toenails, but his sharp toenails are a problem for poor Jim (and the rest of us, to be honest). When they went to get him, he showed up with a big…thing…on his nose!

What the heck?

Both Lee and the nephew had been playing with him earlier in the day, and he was fine then. Whatever it was happened during the afternoon yesterday. Dr. Amy said it looked like an encounter with something sharp, like a cactus or barbed wire (things we have in abundance).

Yuck.

It’s just horrible looking, though he doesn’t act upset. We have stuff to put on it twice a day, so it doesn’t get infected or worse. If he isn’t better in two weeks, she will try to remove it. It’s very weird that it came up so fast! Keep him in your thoughts. At least his toenails look way better!

But, he’s still happy

In other ranch news, chickens laid eggs in one of their new laying box choices, so I took the two that didn’t work out away. Now let’s see if the young hens ramp up and start producing.

And Drew was so happy to see me when I got home that it made up for the fact that I had a tire blow up about a quarter mile from the ranch entrance. I knew those potholes would be my downfall! But, I was driving slowly, so I didn’t lose control, and it’s entirely possible to get it fixed, eventually. I’m not going to stress about that!

What Makes a House YOUR Home?

Last night, while waiting on some guests to arrive, I took some pictures to remember the Bobcat Lair, my house in Austin, where Anita and I have enjoyed about four years now. I mentioned earlier this week how much I’m going to miss the neighbors, but I’ll also miss having a house I could set up however I wanted and decorate with what pleases me.

I got to have orange things, and dainty furniture (just a bit too much).

I know I’m lucky. Anita’s had to live with my stuff since she moved to Austin (well, she had her own area with her stuff in it, but no kitchen of her own). And Kathleen and her spouse have had to live much of the past two years in someone else’s house, crammed into a bedroom. That’s got to get old pretty fast! Most of the ranch house I tried to keep neutral, brought in the big furniture our residents prefer, and confined my collections to small areas. The Bobcat Lair was all me, with touches of Anita for good measure of course.

I got it all modern, where you can see all through the house.

I love how airy the place is and how well Anita’s plants grow in it (most of my plants are gone). I loved my little kitchen with lime green accents and shiny counters, too. I love shiny things.

Such a pleasant kitchen, and I designed it myself!

I guess I just want to honor all the work and planning that went into fixing this house up (at last) to be a nice home. I wish I could have spent more time here, but the time I did spend was restful, calm, and free of stress. That was the real luxury of the Bobcat Lair!

And my happy yellow bedroom, just for me and my stuffed sloth.

The fact that I got to have my happy colors, my flower art, and my quirky décor items just made my parts of the house MINE. I think we all deserve a place like that, where you we comfortable, because it’s ours. It’s been great having a whole house like that, but now it’s time to move on, and I will, after dwelling a bit on how much I liked my home. I’ll just work on sprucing up my Hermits’ Rest office, and it will be great. There are always options, and I am not complaining at all, just remembering. Enjoy some photos of what made this house mine.

This post was mainly for me, to act as a photo album, but I hope you enjoy peeking in at someone else’s house. I always do!

I also wanted to remember how nice the back of the house looks with the new flower beds and electrical box surrounds. The neighbors did great work.

Do You Have What You Need?

It’s yet another transition time in my life, as a lot of Anita’s stuff got loaded into a trailer and headed out to Cameron. We’re both very grateful to the guys who did all the heavy lifting, which combined with all the stairs makes for a long hot day. We’re getting ready to put the Bobcat Lair house on the market, because houses are selling so well in Austin these days.

I’ll miss looking at lesser goldfinches through my neighbor’s windows!

One thing is for sure, neither Anita nor I want to leave. The neighborhood women are all such good friends and so kind to each other. That won’t be easy to reproduce. Having a supportive community that can listen to each other and support each other, even when we disagree is priceless. At the end of last night’s book club I realized that such a community is what I’ve always needed for staying happy and centered. A lot of my unsuccessful attempts at making friends or joining groups have come because I have that need (and reinforced that just because you like some people doesn’t mean they’ll like YOU!).

Precious neighbors at book club. I’ll drive back to Austin for that!

I’ll be sure to stay close to the Austin neighborhood friends as I move on, just as I’ve tried to stay close to my close-knit La Leche League friends.

As we prepare to leave our Austin sanctuary, I realize that another thing I really need is a place where I can just be my own raw self. The nice thing about having known Anita since we were so young is that we know each other’s personalities so well that we can pretty much say and do whatever the heck we want to around each other and there aren’t hard feelings, misunderstandings to straighten out, or topics to avoid bringing into conversations. If we disagree, we talk about it. That’s rare, very rare, at least in my experience! (I can only think of two other people who fall into that category right now.) It’s just so great to be able to relax and not self censor for a while. It’s been great to have the Austin house to be a place of respite where we can simply be.

Goofy Friends For-Ever

I’ll still have Anita in the future, and I hope spending time with her at her new house will be a good break from the fun and adventures of home and work (which also have their great points and are important to me)!

That’s important, because the third thing I really need is that mythical “place of one’s own” where you can surround yourself with what YOU like. My Austin living room and bedroom were that for me, as was the beautiful office I made at the Pope Residence, which needed to be used by others for business reasons. I only got to use it a few months, at most, but wow, I loved having my desk, my window of glass objects, my pretend fireplace, and my beautiful chandelier surrounding me while I dealt with job issues, did volunteer work, and thought my own quiet thoughts.

I loved this office, but never got to come back after the Snow Event.

My office at the ranch house isn’t quite that, and I’m not sure why. Probably because there are so many dogs, interruptions, and things I don’t like in the room. I’ll bring in things I DO like and make it better, though. Whining about it won’t help get me where I feel comfortable, productive, and at peace, now, will it? I’ll just get stuff from my Bobcat house, my beautiful Cameron office, and elsewhere, and fix things up. And shut the door, even if it inconveniences the dogs.

So, what do you feel like you NEED to live your best, most comfortable, and most productive life? I was surprised that the things I talked about today were what came up for me. But, at least I know, now, and I can keep working on enjoying what I do have (my amazing family, friends in Cameron, and ranch of wonders) while tweaking my environment to best meet my needs, but not interfering with others who are meeting THEIR needs. Because, yep, other people’s stuff is also important, right?

What I Learned at Work Today

There was a speaker at work today, part of our women’s employee resource group. She was a very interesting woman named Lisa Eggerton, who has made a name of herself by being a leader in the software industry (she’s CMO of BigCommerce). Her talk was really just a chat with the two women with the most authority in the company, which is a wonderful thing right there.

Eggerton gave a lot of good advice, such as not over-volunteering and assuming positive intent, both things of which I am very fond. But one point she made was that when she wanted to make a change in her career path that wasn’t an obvious one, she had to let someone know about it. That made so much sense!

It occurs to me that I am doing a lot with diversity and inclusion at my Austin job, but I never went out and told any company leaders where my interests lie. So, thanks to the prompt in the talk today, I did mention it, aloud, to the two company leaders who led the discussion, and made an appointment to talk to another leader about it.

I’m apparently not the only one making hay while the sun shines

What can it hurt? Nothing happens all that quickly in the corporate world, so I have plenty of time to keep doing what I’m doing (currently making great content and ramping up new folks). Maybe I can get some additional volunteer DNI work, or maybe they’ll consider me if they develop a position like so many other companies have. At least I will have offered to contribute in whatever way I can.

Why do all this brave stuff? So my family can thrive along with me.

Still trying to have some fun, be brave, and do good work. That’s pretty much a recipe for a satisfying life. I think focusing on what I can do rather than what I’m unable to do is helpful, too.

It’s time to shine like a mottled tortoise beetle! Isn’t that thing cool?

New Chicks Are Laying, I Hope in the Right Place

There’s good chicken news all around. First, Star’s three days of solitary confinement seem to have worked, and she is now running around and acting like a normal hen again. That’s just in time, because this morning I found a new egg, on the ground, over by where the new hens hang out.

Big for a first egg

It’s a different shade of brown from any of the others, so I know it’s a new one. Plus, it’s really not much smaller than the eggs the older hens lay, so good job, whichever one of you laid that! However, the middle of the ground is not a great place to lay. I thought I’d better get some fake eggs to put in the boxes, since I keep taking up every egg I find (to thwart the snakes).

So, off I went to the local feed store. Of course, they didn’t have any, so I sat in my car and pondered other places where I could get some fake eggs. It dawned on me that I have some about ten feet from where I am sitting at my desk right now.

Yes, the bird themed bathroom has fake eggs in it (and non-bird items).

That was quite a duh moment, when I realized I hadn’t had to make that trip into town (though it was good to get gas). I went home and gathered up the fake eggs, as well as some sturdy cardboard boxes. The reason I did that is that the new chickens still seem more comfortable over in the west end of the chicken run, where they were when they first got here. So, I made a few nest boxes and stuck them in various potentially enticing spots. Since it probably won’t rain again for quite a while, cardboard will be fine, and when I figure out where they like to lay, I can get a wooden one made, or buy one.

Blondie is already checking one box out, and Betsy had been looking until I bothered her.

I also took some of the endless supply of grass clippings and fluffed up our other nest boxes, to try to get them interested in laying where the other hens do. I’ve seen them going in there and looking around, so maybe someone else is going to start laying soon!

Enticement

And if my fake yellow eggs disappear then, more’s the better. I’d like to see a snake digest one of them!

We’ll see, as Lee’s dad always said.

Lee Has a New Project

This is exciting! Lee has been thinking of doing something for a long time, and decided that now’s the time to get going on it. He’s working on a series of decorative ponds for the front of the house (these will not be cattle tanks, but nice ponds, with water plants and such).

A project begins. That orange paint got all over Lee, by the way.

He got started over the weekend, and spent much of yesterday digging the holes to hold a waterfall and a main pond, next to our new walkway. Since it was a very hot day, this all went in stages! Kathleen and I served as consultants and beverage fetchers. That’s very important!

Water will flow out of the top one, which will be covered by a big rock.

The idea with the pond is to eventually have the current one flow down a little creek lined with river rocks into a much larger pond, then recirculate back up. Rain overflow will go into another planned diversion.

The general idea of the pond. The pipes are for going under the path, I think. I need to get rid of that grass.

We will have to see whether we can put anything in there other than native mosquito fish, because we don’t want goldfish washing into Walker’s Creek, which is bad news! And we realize birds will want to snack on fish, dogs will want to mess with the pond, etc. So, this is all to be determined. At this point, Lee is going to get the small pond and waterfall going.

The stream will go down that low area, over to the new pond at the corner of the house. We like ponds.

And Dogs

I can’t resist sharing dog stories. Yesterday, before our biweekly Board meeting, Goldie decided I was a chair. I guess anything’s a chair to her.

I’m gonna nap right here.

We’ve also been enjoying watching all the dogs play. Goldie and Carlton have ended their embarrassing love affair, now that Goldie’s heat is over at last, and are now just buddies again. They have a lot of fun together.

Playtime is all the time!

Let’s see what further adventures this new week brings!

Broody Hen, Moody Horses

What better thing to do on a full moon than to try new things? Right. I did it anyway. Good ole Star went broody again, and with something taking the eggs every night, it was fruitless to let her set on them. What to do?

Do something about that hen!

She was also hogging the preferred egg-laying spot, which made me worry about the new chickens when they go to finally start laying. Hmm.

Enjoy a passion vine in bloom while imagining me trying to figure out what to do.

Finally, reading the backyard chickens for newbies group paid off. Someone shared that if you put a broody hen in a dog cage with airflow under it, they would feel the cool air under them and go back to normal. It’s called a broody breaker. Why, there’s one of those in our coop. So…

What are you in jail for?

I thought I’d need help, so I gathered Lee and Kathleen around. But all I needed was someone to open the door for me. I just picked her up and set her in there, with food and water. She is not happy. I hope this works!

It’s cute how all the other chickens keep checking on her. Bruce is especially concerned. He’s such a good rooster.

Moody Horses

I’m not having a lot of horse luck. I’m beginning to think it’s user error, and maybe I should not be riding until I get my lessons going. After not having much luck with Apache the previous day, I figured he’s not feeling well, so I just walked him (and Fiona) around.

Yet another picture of Apache eating.

He had just gotten out of his pen, so he really wanted to eat. That was frustrating, but we had fun anyway. Fiona followed us, and really seemed to enjoy exploring her new territory.

Hey, wait for me! (She’s that fit in the horizon)

Both of them liked the change of scenery, and I enjoyed the restful interlude.

This poison ivy looks fascinating.

I then tried to ride Andrew. I managed to eventually get the saddle and bridle adjusted for him. And he did okay in the round pen, but will now only go one direction. Anyway, I mounted, and he acted all barn sour and was hard to get to move out. Eventually he followed Dusty some, but I had to hood on through some spooking, and he crowded poor Kathleen and Dusty. In the end, Kathleen walked us around until neither he nor Dusty would do anything but investigate a feed dish. I’ll try another day. Who knows where the issue lies? I need help, but will get it soon.

I’m so glad Jim mowed. There’s hay everywhere. All I want to do is eat and gain weight and go lame. I’m a load of fun.

I just want a horse I can go riding on and learn new skills. I can’t do any of the exercises in the working equitation book, because I don’t have a clue what driving through the hindquarters means, and no horse of mine can side pass. I need patience! It’s not a race and is supposed to be fun. Maybe I’m the moody ones here.

Saturday Morning Ranch Sightings

Here at the Hermits’ Rest, weekend mornings start early for some and slow for others. But there’s always something lovely to see or fun to do. This morning was typical. Lee has started taking a walk every morning and asked me to join him. He may not do it again, as I had him go with me to feed the chickens and move Apache into his pen for the day, but we did eventually get to walking and looking at what’s growing and changing along our arroyo, which is still springy after the recent rains. I’m rather fond of the native plants and even the bad ole invasives (the water primrose) that line the stream.

It’s pretty to me.

Heck, to me tie vine is as lovely as fancy morning glories, and the ruellia is as pretty as a garden petunia. Plus, they are free!

A plant I hadn’t noticed much before is blooming right now, and the blooms are so tiny and hidden among the leaves that you almost wouldn’t notice them. It’s called scarlet toothcup (Ammannia coccinea). It’s a riparian plant, which means it grows in moist areas along streams and such. I think the little flowers are lovely.

Lee and I enjoyed many sights. What a great start to the day!

Next it was time to do some work, since the rest of the household had already been up working with horses and other chores. I got to help cut mesquite down where Sara’s horses currently are, in preparation for the cows that live here to rotate there. That was a lot of fun, and I saw some beautiful iron weed growing in that field.

It was good to be able to help by loading branches and opening gates. Plus, I got to see the other horses and more native plants and insects. I’ll spare you the endless supply of grasshoppers.

Everyone was busy this morning. The tenants were haying and Kathleen was horsing with her herd. I enjoy watching her ride. They’re all progressing according to plan, from what I can tell.

The dogs are just having fun, as usual, swimming, running, and rolling. I love seeing a happy Alfred!

Welcoming Deaths and Treasuring Lives

It’s an interesting time for me, when it comes to life passages. While I’m fine and not going through a life change, I am privileged to know people who are heading toward the end of their time on this earth, as well as people who are honoring lives of loved ones whose spirits left before their bodies did. I’ve never been one of those people who feared death or worried about it much, but I have always been intrigued about the legacies our loved ones leave behind. So, I’m going to share some stories that have been causing me to think. Some readers who are mutual friends may be familiar with some of these, but I’m not naming names.

Coincidentally, I spent some time this afternoon with my friend Holly, who’s documenting graves at Walkers Creek Cemetery. This one was like a jigsaw puzzle.

The Strong Spirits

My colleagues at La Leche League tend to be people of great fortitude and spiritual depth. My very first role model in living a good life while facing death was my mentor, Roberta Bishop Johnson, who shared many insights and nuggets while she dealt with breast cancer in the 1990s. She made sure she was participating in the lives of her friends, offering up ideas, and sharing her love for her family right up until when she passed. That stuck with me.

Two of my other long-time LLL friends are nearing the ends of their journeys here with us, and both have been incredibly open about sharing their ups and downs, feelings about their bodies and what’s happening to them, and coming to terms with the fact that things are winding down. I really appreciate their openness and willingness to share.

Not everyone is up to doing this; I’ve known people who didn’t share what was going on with them at all, which is a completely understandable option, but takes away their friends and families’ ability to share life with them as fully as possible while they are here. But I get it; people don’t want to appear to whine, to bring others down, or to share the painful details.

For me, learning about how these two women have made sure to do things they’ve always wanted to do, while they can (one married the love of her life, and one made sure to get in travel with her children, especially to the beach), how they carefully planned for things after they are gone, and how they enjoyed their friends and family to the fullest all contributed to making me much more comfortable with dying on your own terms. I’m not saying they are lucky, but they do have the luxury of knowing what is happening and being able to plan accordingly. I know my dad would have liked that chance, so much.

One thing that comforts me greatly about knowing I won’t have these friends around much longer is that I know their spirits and legacies will remain. After Roberta passed away, I could still hear her tell me what she thought about what I was doing in my life. And I also still hear my dad (and tell him stuff; I can’t help it). We will feel these generous friends with us for years.

This tree growing around a t-post reminds me of the struggle to fight unwelcome things growing inside us. Sometimes you just have to accept them and keep growing anyway.

The Ones Whose Losses Happened before Death

Another set of friends I’ve learned a lot from in the past few weeks are two dear local friends whose mothers passed away recently, but had been gone in spirit since an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. These women felt like they’d lost their parents long before they actually passed away.

One just had the memorial get-together with her extended family, and it was more of a nice gathering to share good memories and enjoy each other. The mourning had happened years ago, when they lost her personality, or essence, or something. The other friend seems to have gone more into business mode, of taking care of details. She had been so kind to her mother, though, even with the difficulties of COVID. Who could blame her for feeling some relief and just wanting to move on to the next phase?

I feel a lot of sympathy for these people and their families. They’re sad, yet relieved that their parents aren’t dealing with confusion now (though, I know some people with dementia who are happy just as they are…it varies so much).

Takeaways

Watching all these events as a third party, not intimately involved like families are, has taught me some lessons, maybe not consciously. I think the reason I’ve gotten a second horse and plan to start lessons again is that I want to do these things while I still can. And getting a swimming pool installed and making the ranch house look better, too, were things I’d been putting off or giving up on. But, if I can’t have fun now, when am I supposed to?

To show how far I will go to make things fun, I spent quite some time trying to line up my head and my hat so it would look like I am wearing a tiny cowboy hat.

AND, as I’ve been telling myself for the last couple of years, I need to recommit to being with people who bring me joy and make my life pleasant, go places and do things that expand my mind, and take the time to find the fun in whatever I’m doing. I think that’s the key to enjoying whatever time we have here in this life–enjoying where you are and who you are with NOW.

With love in my heart for my friends heading toward big transitions or recovering from them, I invite you all to do something fun with someone you care about.

Penney’s Adopt-a-versary

My memories on Facebook alerted me to the fact that we have had Penney for two years now. I can’t say she is the easiest dog to own, but she has her own special charms, and has come a long way in her behavior.

Penney likes to be on my lap, when Carlton isn’t there, to supervise activities, like playing with toys.

She no longer insists on licking me in the face and sleeping on top of me. She sleeps by my feet, which is just fine. She is a lot less “needy” but still doesn’t like it when other dogs get attention. She does love to sleep in her little bed beside my office chair (usually with Goldie and Carlton on the couch, and Harvey on the floor).

Her spot by my chair.

She enjoys swimming and playing with the other dogs when they are outside, even Vlassic, who occasionally comes in the house now, after she attacked him in the night for daring to sleep beside me, soon after she arrived. It’s a good thing Vlassic enjoys sleeping over in the RV with Lee’s brother (and he is so good for the brother, too)!

Everybody having fun.

Penney is a real wiggle worm and cracks us up with her extra-submissive behavior sometimes. We just wish it didn’t make her pee on the floor. She was doing a lot better with that for a while, but since Goldie showed up, it’s worse. The two of them get annoyed with each other, especially in the house, when they both want Lee’s attention.

Pay attention to ME!

But, outside, she and Goldie are buddies. Lee told me this morning that they went on a little exploratory walk together, and they looked like they were having a lot of fun.

I’m glad we have her and can take care of her, special needs and all. Penney is full of love, just expresses it funny sometimes!