Coop Coop! Run! 2019 Projects Done!

Hooray hooray. Today we finally were able to get the work done on the chicken coop to get it ready to hold actual chickens. Yesterday, while enduring the longest lines ever at multiple stores, Chris was able to get all the materials we needed to finish the coop, plus a feeder and waterer.

Roofing in progress.

This morning we got going as soon as we were coffeed up, and with assistance from my brother-in-law Jim and less assistance from me, Chris got a really cool arched roof on the chicken run that will thwart even the most clever hawk or owl. HA! Raptors go eat something else!

One good-looking chicken run!

It really ended up looking pretty spiffy. Once we got the roof on, Chris and I fired up Hilda the 4-wheeler and rode around the property looking for ideal branches to turn into perches for the chickens, so they can have fun while cooped up in the run.

Feed and water holders are hanging. And the big stick for roosting is installed.

Vlassic came with us, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the far ends of the ranch. I showed Chris every inch of the place, and we even visited the horses and Fiona.

Nest boxes are ready for hens!

I was very happy that Vlassic behaved well with the horses. He started to chase Fiona a couple of times, but she gave him the annoyed donkey look and he backed off. In the end, everyone got along just fine. That’s one dog down, and only four to go…

This sweet great Pyrenees will be adopted soon, we hope.

After we finished putting a wind barrier up on the north side of the chicken coop, we took a break, then went over to the Cameron Touch of Love to finish the last touches on the dog run we’re donating.

Sandra checks out the shade area of the dog run.

Chris and his dad put together the shade roofs for the entry and another area on the run, and also installed wind blocks in one area that will also provide a bit of shade in the summer. We got help from the Fords, our cat rescue folks, so it went pretty quickly.

That’s me in the hat. I’m not supervising. I’m helping attach the wind barrier/shade cloth.

I took a lot of pictures of the dogs at the pound with the camera I got loaned for Christmas. I wanted to practice taking close-ups.

A sweet puppy who’s heading to a new home in Colorado soon.

And I also took some bird pictures. I’ll still work on the photography thing.

Yes, I can identify these birds! I was far away from these black vultures.

Luckily, there was a sad dog named Bud at the pound who I felt sorry for, so I got him brought out to the dog run and played with him. He’s so well behaved that he hates to pee or poop in his pen. He peed for a full minute when he got in the pen, then we played and played. He loves kids and is sweet, but energetic. I hope he gets a family soon.

We came home, and Kathleen and her daughter kindly cooked a New Year’s meal. MMM. Black eyed peas! I hope to make some tomorrow, if I can get any when I get back to Austin.

Vaguely successful telephoto shot.

What a fun day we had! It was a perfect ending to the year. The last month has seen things start to improve, at least in our little world. I’m going to keep focusing on our family, our friends, and what we can personally make an effect on.

My favorite picture so far with the “real” camera.

That’s why I’m so glad we can help with Milam Touch of Love and the dogs at the pound. We CAN make a difference there.

Another Skill I Must Work On

Yep. I’ve found another gap in the skill set needed on my path to serenity.

I have got to learn to go with the flow

I go with the flow, sez Fiona

Today I was supposed to stay at the ranch so we could work on the chicken coop. It’s nearly sunset. I got in a whole day of Planview work. I fed the horses. I walked the dogs. I’m worried Carlton has been killed by a cow, because I tried twice to get him to come home but he kept going back. Then it got silent.

Whew. I hear him again.

The chickens still aren’t dead either.

But, no chicken coop material is here. See I thought there was a plan. I stuck to it. I did NOT go with the flow and accept that by the time the day was over, many new plans, distractions, and duties would come up.

Just like yesterday when we went to get coop material and ended up with a mattress.

Chill Suna

It’s no big deal. The coop will happen. I just might have done something else with my day. Some people are planners. Some are spontaneous. I’m in with a spontaneous group right now.

I’m not dead

What a perfect time to learn to understand that plans are just possibilities. I’m going to go back and breathe some more and greet my dirty cattle-chasing dog. He still has plenty of energy.

Full o pep.

Holiday for Harvey

Whew. I was not a hermit today, as I spent a fun bit exhausting day surrounded by people. But I did fine, laughed a lot, and made it through dinner for nine people at the ranch table this evening.

I think Apache missed me.

The highlight of the day came toward the end of the delayed present opening. For some reason, Harvey really likes presents. He tried to take Lee’s wrapping paper, then was just SURE some hand cream I got was a treat for him. Glad he didn’t chomp down on it.

Kathleen admires Harvey’s dignity.

Here’s the cutest. My sister gave Lee some pint glasses that were carefully wrapped in bubble wrap. Lee threw it on the floor. Harvey, usually a slow mover, pounced on that precious wrap like the happiest toddler in America.

I’m so happy.

He then proceeded to vigorously shred it, tossing each piece gleefully in the air. Triumph!

Action shot!

He spent five minutes on this, before getting distracted by some tissue paper.

Visitors Easton and Nicole crack up as Chris watches.

Only then did Carlton and Penney take a turn.

Yay! Our turn.

That wasn’t the end of Harvey’s holiday fun. Chris and I had built the first fire in our outdoor fireplace this evening. We all took turns sitting by it in the chilly air. At one point I looked over, and there was Harvey, sharing a loveseat with our friend, Mike. He genuinely looked like he was part of the gathering as a fellow friend.

Romantic outdoor fire.

What a good dog.

I’m a good dog.

Surprise Guests!

Yesterday, we were going shopping in Bandera when we saw a car that looks just like Blackie, Lee’s late-life crisis sports car. Out came the relatives, Kathleen and Chris. What a fun surprise!

Hey. We know them.

I now had a co-shopper, which made the last couple of stores way more fun. We stopped in a little boutique that is sorta like a mini Bling Box (they go to the same markets). The woman who was obviously the owner said, “You’re wearing Effie earrings.” I thought it was impressive she recognized who made my earrings. It turned out, she and her husband own the jewelry shop. That explains it. The original owner left it to them, so she’s getting a crash course in Native American jewelry. Ha!

Dang. Should have brought Apache.

We got a couple of things. I had to get this ring, of white buffalo turquoise, with a tiny blue spot. It fits so comfortably!

It’s big, but fits great.

We had a nice meal and got some jeans, then decided to go hang out at their bed and breakfast. We needed beverages, so headed out to the winery near our resort. We had a fun experience even though we were hurrying to get to the cabin before sunset.

White wine we had last night. Once it breathed a bit, it was great.

We found Chris at the brewery next door. He was having a great conversation with the owner about how they can their beers. We got Lee a surprise stout in a can. They canned it and made labels for us!

Continue reading “Surprise Guests!”

You Know You’ve Been in Bandera Too Long When…

…you start to give the feral cats names!

Yep. I was sitting on the porch a long time yesterday, since it was my designated day to not do anything in particular. The gang of feral cats kept wandering by. One of them kept sitting there, staring at me. No, feral ginger cat, I am not going to feed you or give you water, because my spouse would be Most Displeased. Besides, I happen to know you have plenty of food and water.

Cat looking through bars.
You’re the one in a cage Suna, and I’m watching YOU, says Ginger.

I was feeling all smug, because I’d already made my Move and Exercise goals on the Watch. It’s easy around here! That made my December goal, which was even more smugifying. I’m doing what the doctor said and increasing my exercise; I even raised my Move goal last week.

exercise app screenshot
I did just fine yesterday. Christmas was even better.

In addition, a Facebook friend graciously told me how to make the Exercise app on the phone show up on my watch, which means that if I stop for a second to take a picture, the app will pause. That will make my walks “count” more than they have in the past. Nothing’s more frustrating than walking for a half hour and getting one minute of “credit” for it. (Yes, I know my body counts it as exercise, but I want to make my watch happy, too. And yes, I know one of my goals for 2020 is to stop trying to make other people happy. But, this is a watch. It’s different.)

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Festive Nestivus to All Fellow Hermits

I was taking the day off from blogging, but when I read this post on the Sweatpants and Coffee blog, I had to share this wonderful new holiday, which I’m apparently celebrating today! I’m already in the mood, as my Snapchat picture shows.

Santa after Christmas.

I love the idea of a celebration of introversion. By sitting here on the balcony, drinking coffee, and watching the marauding band of feral cats go back and forth. I’m properly celebrating this Holy Day.

We’re not a gang, we’re a club. (SNL quote from long ago).

According to the creator of Nestivus, Nanea Hoffman, this defines the holiday:

Brilliant! From the blog linked above.

She suggests we cuddle in blankets, pet your animals or squeeze something soft, and communicate in our preferred introvert method, avoiding eye contact, if desired. Ahh.

A vulture just flew by so close I could count its feathers. There are titmice, chickadees, and cardinals in the trees (when the cats are elsewhere), and the child in the next building has stopped hysterically squeaking a toy and yelling , “Here kitty kitty!”

Mrs Cardinal is quietly chirping in the bushes in this photo I made nice and cozy for the Nestivus celebrations.

Mrs. Cardinal and I are both relieved. Festive Nestivus to you, unless you are out in a crowd celebrating Boxing Day, the extrovert alternative.

Talk to Strangers! You Will Learn a Lot!

The older I get, the more I end up like my dad, who loved to talk to everyone he met. On this trip, even Lee has gotten into the action, and met a delightful older couple who happen to also be staying at this resort, who clued him in to other fun places to go. By yesterday, I’d also talked to the office lady about the cats, did my Master Naturalist spiel to a large family, and chatted with one of the maintenance men.

Yesterday morning, I set out on what was supposed to be a brief walk to get some steps in before whatever other activities Lee and I were going to do. I walked down the hill to the complex entrance, and saw two guys standing under the two huge oaks that guard the entrance. I heard the word “flood” and pricked up my ears. Maybe these guys would know why the river is so dry, since I know it rained some this year.

Here’s what the area I walked in a couple of days ago looks like with normal rainfall.

So, in Dad-like fashion, I walked over and butted into their conversation. It was great! Both these guys have been in the area a long time, and worked on this resort property for many years. They told me about the last couple of floods, which raised the water up to the trees we were standing beneath.

The most knowledgeable one, Dale, told me that what we cross coming into this place isn’t the Medina River; it’s Privilege Creek. Where the would-be swimming hole is marks the confluence of the creek with the river. I asked why this part is so dry, when I see other parts of the river that are flowing.

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Angsty Holiday Introspection: Christmas Eve with the Hermits

Here I sit, alone with my fellow Hermit, each of us typing on our separate keyboards, listening to a dog bark in the distance. Ah, Christmas Eve.

More than one of my friends, and one family member in particular, has asked why I’ve gone out of town for the past three Christmases. So, I’ll answer that instead of giving another boring nature report (I’ll do that tomorrow; I did cool stuff today). The short answer is: self preservation. The longer answer, and how I plan to deal with my holiday angst follows.

We interrupt this angst for a cowboy Christmas display. Carry on.

Background on how I’m wired: One of my major “love languages” is gifts. I’m one of those people who hang on to things for years, just because they remind me of the person who gave them. I have my Kathy Dettwyler Faberge pansy thing, my cake cover and weird quilts from my Granny Kendall, a pod sculpture and a goddess from my friends in Illinois…on and on.

Because of this, I always loved Christmas. I treasured so many gifts, even ones I didn’t actually like, because I knew some family member or friend took time and effort to choose it. That made me feel loved. I looked forward to my sister’s gifts, as well as those from my brother and later my boyfriend, because they were just what I liked (all three of them have the gift knack, which I don’t think I actually got). I just loved being with family and enjoying each other as we exchanged thoughtful and fun gifts (we were never much for expensive ones).

Pause to enjoy a ranch in Bandera County.

When my kids came along, I just loved buying and making gifts for them, because I loved them so much and wanted to see them happy. Same for the rest of the family.

At some point, I realized I was going way overboard and buying too many things for too many people I cared for. It became clear when I found many carefully chosen and hand-made gifts discarded when Declan’s first girlfriend moved out. I realized many of the nice/carefully chosen things I’d given my own kids weren’t treasured; they were just tossed in a pile in their rooms to be found when I cleaned them out. (I KNOW some kid gifts are just for fun and don’t last forever!)

Mr and Mrs Goose honk a holiday hello.

Then it dawned on me that no one in my current family was big on giving gifts. I guess it isn’t their love language. (My spouse likes to give surprise gifts, but doesn’t like Christmas.)

PLUS, I always wanted to have a wonderful family meal for Christmas. When it began to also include all the neighbors and many friends, I got overwhelmed, though, and the planning started to stress me out. The last time I hosted a dinner, I looked out and saw three people cooking and serving like crazy and the rest just staring at each other.

Ah, deer. They prevent angst.

That was 2016, the same year that half the people invited didn’t even have the courtesy to bring a token gift or food contribution. I’m all for giving. Honest. It just suddenly struck me as really unequal, and I felt like I was giving like crazy without even thanks (I am sure I was thanked; I was over-exaggerating, a thing I have been known to do.)

I looked around after that Christmas dinner and exchange of 90% gifts from me and very few gifts for me. I said this isn’t working for me. It’s also not working for them. Why am I trying to give them the Christmas experience I want? What do they actually want? I decided that next Christmas would be different.

High-quality fencing is all one needs for Christmas.

The next year I booked us a week in New Mexico, and my kids, the current partner of Declan, Lee, and Anita all showed up. We drove around, hiked, shopped, relaxed, and played games. It was great.

Continue reading “Angsty Holiday Introspection: Christmas Eve with the Hermits”

Bragging on Our Family

I‘m so proud of the work that Lee’s nephew, niece, and brother (Chris, Kathleen and Jim) did yesterday at the Cameron dog pound. On behalf of our company and through the Milam Touch of Love organization, they put together a huge, safe dog run so the pound puppies can get exercise and play with each other. It’s also a great place for potential adopters to get to know the dogs. Below is a slightly edited version of what I wrote for Hearts Homes and Hands this morning.


happy woman and dog
Here’s Sue Ann with Carlton, the day she adopted him from the Cameron Touch of Love.

Yesterday was a fun day for Hearts Homes and Hands! We got to fulfill our promise of building a big dog run for the City of Cameron Touch of Love facility, which is our local dog pound. Lee and Sue Ann got two of their wonderful dogs from the facility, which strives to adopt out all dogs that come in, unless they are too sick or injured.

We donated the money to buy the materials to the Milam Touch of Love organization, which supports the welfare of all animals in Milam County, and on which Sue Ann has served on the Board since it was founded. As we shared earlier, we got the materials on Thanksgiving weekend, but had to wait until our crew came back into town before the big job of building the dog run could be done.

Teamwork!

Unloading the materials

Early yesterday morning, our team arrived at the pound, where Sandra Ritch, the Cameron Animal Control Officer was eagerly waiting. Our Administrator, Kathleen Caso, led a team consisting of her husband, Chris (the mastermind of this project), Jim Caso (Chris’s dad AND one of our clients), and our dedicated office queen, Meghan Land, who is also on the Board of Milam Touch of Love.

The run uses lots of sturdy fencing panels
Buiding the vestibule.
Lots of toting.

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Went Down to the River, but the River Was Dry

When I go on a trip, my main goals are to look at the nature and the architecture of wherever I am. Even in small towns, I love looking at buildings. Check out the Bandera County Courthouse, especially the manger scene. I don’t think they actually had turkey vultures in Bethlehem a couple of thousand years ago!

Jesus is visited by vultures, a longhorn, merino sheep, white-tailed deer, a cactus, and cowboysl

It’s So Cowboy Here

Lee and I had a lot of fun shopping today, especially since I actually needed a couple of “cowboy accessories” and so did he. I got a Resistol summer weight hat that fits me like a glove, and has already made walking around here in the bright winter sun easier. I really loved my other hat, but it got set down within the reach of certain blue-eyed dogs, and became a former hat. Grr. You only have to forget to hang the hat high ONCE to lose the hat. I’d had it five years or so, though, which is good for the kind of hat you sweat all over (it’s a work hat).

New hat protects me from blazing winter sun.

And I realize most women don’t wear cowboy hats unless they are in a rodeo, but too bad. Baseball hats aren’t as comfortable to me, and they don’t provide as much shade for my pale little European face. At least I live in a hat-wearing part of the US half time!

Lee got a new belt, which is really nice. The Cowboy Shop had a better selection than other Western shops we’d been in lately.

Anyway, after a protracted stop at a Native American jewelry store, where I got some Effie earrings (Hopi ones by an artist who always puts snakes on her jewelry) and some lovely Navajo White Buffalo turquoise earrings (white stone with black in it)…and Lee got a RING, we came back so Lee could yell at Verizon about a mix-up. I left.

River?

I headed back down to the river where I saw all the armadillo munching away yesterday. I only saw one today, but that’s because I walked through the river. The bed is glaringly white, since it consists of polished limestone with a layer of white sediment on top of it. It’s positively lunar.

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