Getting in on the Bear Trend

Everybody is putting bears in their windows for little kids to look for when they are out on their walks. Well, no child has ever walked by the Hermits’ Rest house, so we figured we’d put something at the Pope house.

The fox says hi, but hey, don’t trespass.

All I had, however, was a dog and a fox. I decided the fox looked most like a bear, so there it is. I hope the kids next door like it. I believe those are the only children who will go by the front of the house, since the ones behind us are too small to go on walks (but do have adorable puppies, which we have safely observed from quite a distance).

It’s really looking fine over in renovation land. Easton has single-handedly finished the subfloor on the entire first floor, which means it’s ready for the luxury vinyl flooring to go in. Before he could do the back of the house, they had to fill in a place where there was a flooring gap. The leveling stuff worked great, and dried pretty fast, even as damp as it’s been.

It will be fun figuring out a way to get a little dining set in here. A little one.

The area by the stairs looks like a real house now!

My very red bathroom, with the greenboard going in. The green wall at left will be covered with old tin.

Chris has painted both bathrooms, as well. My tomato red is very tomato-y and the honey color in the other bathroom will look really good, too. The greenboard is going down in the bathrooms, too. That will keep water from seeping through and damaging under the bathrooms.

Looking out of the second bathroom at the wainscoting.

Nicole, who just announced she and Easton will be having a baby boy late this summer, has been patiently adding more coats to the wainscoting. She is very patient. More painting is to come, and we are ready to order glass for the archway and my interior window. Squee, as the young folks say!

I think the bathroom color will be good.

Rainy Day? OK!

Today’s UU Lent word is rain. Let’s see if it’s as unpopular as “reach” was (yesterday was my lowest number of blog visitors in a LONG time). It’s all good, though, that’s the least of my worried! As for rain…

Rainy morning this morning in a strangely empty Round Rock, Texas. Photo by Amy Mathews-Muttwill, whose husband Thomas has a birthday today, so she was going to get donuts.

It’s been raining a lot for the past month or so. Here in the middle of Texas, we hope that happens every spring, so the tanks (ponds) fill up and the creeks flow for a while. The trees get their yearly long drink of water, and everything gets ready for two or three months of no rain come summer.

I spotted all these raindrops yesterday. I like them as much as “old greenbeans” (who is really Elaine) does.

Last year was the wettest year Lee ever recorded in our gauge, until the rain totally stopped for quite a while. We’ve learned to enjoy the intense green and all the wildflowers in March and April, then to have a different kind of enjoyment as it gets all brown and crispy later.

When it rains this much, I’m okay with it stopping. This is Walker’s Creek by the ranch doing its imitation of a river, April 11 2018 (the day I started this blog). Waterfront living at its finest.

I Like Rain

Lee and I used to always say, “I like rain,” to each other, after we said it at the same time early in our courtship. It was a bonding moment. I have one of those personalities that would be fine living in a damp environment, like Seattle or Ireland. Back when I had Irish inlaws, they’d apologize for the rain there, but it was mostly a light drizzle that made all the roses grow and kept the fields green. I loved it.

Rainbow in Northern Ireland. This is the kind of sight I remember from further south. Image by @joemelendez via Twenty20

And when it rains a lot, there’s always a chance of a beautiful rainbow! When the kids were little and we’d drive all over Ireland, we saw some doozies in places like the Dingle Peninsula. Good memories!

When I was a kid in Gainesville, Florida, we’d love it after tropical storms came through. We would have really big puddles and lots of water in the ditches in front of our yards. We’d get pieces of plywood and spend hours skimming in the water. Our parents would repeatedly tell us there were bad things in the water, but hey, a little ringworm was a small price to pay for all that fun.

Nope, none of these ever wandered up the ditches in Gainesville. We had a canal behind our house in south Florida, though, and it featured gators and water moccasins and such.

In high school, I lived in south Florida (Plantation, yeah I know it’s a dumb name for a town). There it also rained a lot. The typical pattern was to be all nice and sunny until later afternoon, when thunderstorms would come through for an hour or two. That always coincided with the time that 70s teen girls wanted to lay out in their bikinis and get their suntans. Probably it was Nature’s way of trying to prevent our future wrinkles and skin cancers. That rain was always warm, and if it wasn’t thundering, we’d often stay in the pool and enjoy the rain there (almost everyone had a pool back then, even the lower-middle class families like us).

A familiar sight from when I was a teen. You’d watch the rain coming down the street. Image by @cr819081 via Twenty20

No wonder I like rain. I have no idea where all those memories came from, but since I typed them, I’ll leave them here. It’s nice to think about good times in the past, anyway. It’s a good distraction.

Penney loves her little pond, which is all full thanks to the rain for the past few weeks.

So, go ahead! Share your memories about rain. Are you like Pickle, Anita’s dog, who truly loathes rain and wetness? Or are you more like Penney, who is grateful rain makes her swimming hole bigger?

Reaching Out/Reaching Up

I was surprised to see reach as the UU Lent word of the day, but then I realized it’s really appropriate for me, and probably for many of us right now.

Reaching Out

For me “reach out” is most important. It’s no longer optional to reach out to friends and family, but mandatory. With so many people living alone or dealing with challenges (like schooling children…or heck, just feeding and entertaining them), it’s important to be in contact with your peeps.

Don’t do as the cattle do! Isolate!

Goodness knows, I am not a great correspondent (other than blogging), but I’m doing my part. I write a couple of letters every day and make sure to say hi to someone I don’t often talk to, especially those who live alone. Today a friend reached out to ME on the day I was going to reach out to HER, which made me smile.

Gratuitous chicken picture. They are reaching up and grabbing at clover I picked for them.

Some of the things people have been doing for each other have really warmed my heart. People who have surpluses share them (we got some bread products that way just yesterday). Restaurants are selling supplies they don’t need due to not being open to the public. And there’s all that mask sewing going on! Way to go, sewing people!

I hope that when this is all settled down we remember all the kind and good things people have done for each other, and let the memories of people who aren’t considerate, run around in public, and hoard stuff fade away.

Reaching Up

My Instagram of the day featured Spice the paint quarter horse in a quest for delicious hackberry leaves, which she deserved after going for a ride and surviving being barked at by my dogs. It’s nice that Sara and I can still ride, as long as we take some reasonable precautions (we no longer share grooming tools, and only one person at a time can be in the tack room, which I keep forgetting).

Spice stretches out while being groomed after a nice ride.

I did a lot of reaching up (and down) yesterday while painting trim. But, now that much of it has multiple coats of creamy white, it looks great.

Nicole paints away on the trim yesterday.

Today, Chris is really reaching up as he works on painting the wall behind the new stairs. He has most of the priming done and is hopeful that there will be two colorful bathrooms very soon!

Looking down from the front door. Lots of white trim, new subfloor, and a primed wall, ready to be a cheerful color.

Peace within Reach

Other than being a mirror image, this shows me all dazed in a meeting, sharing the sight I get every time I drive down County Road 140 to my house. It’s lots nicer with that field of flowers to enjoy.

Many of my coworkers are doing their meetings on their patios or porches. It’s a great way to get outdoors a bit and enjoy some peace, while still getting stuff done.

I’m stuck in the basement for meetings. But never fear, I took a couple of photos of hos beautiful it is on the road leading to the ranch, so I use it as my Zoom backdrop. A little bit of peace for all!

The view without my head in it, and not mirror image. Not bad, is it? You can see my house around the bend.

I hope you can get out in nature, reach up and touch something not made by humans, and find a little inner peace. Let me know how you’re doing!

Painting and Polka

Grr, my body is annoying me. I had to quit working on the Pope Residence the the family, because I started getting repetitive motion tingles all in my hand and wrist. I need my hands to work, so after an hour or so of it, I had to stop painting trim. I’d gotten a lot done, though, and was really enjoying myself.

Just a little of the trim Kathleen primed last night.

Last night, after I went home, Kathleen single-handedly primed all the trim in the two offices we’re working on and the hallway. She had noticed that the parts that had already been painted white looked different when over brown or light wood, so she got out the primer (I’d forgotten we had it!). So, by the time she got in this morning, it was ready for paint.

Textured bathroom. Still wet, so it is shiny.

Meanwhile, this morning Chris and Eaton got all the texturing done (a light coat), in a brief moment of less-than-100% humidity. Soon as it’s dry, they can put primer over it and then actually paint all the areas that aren’t brick. That sure feels like progress.

It looks like an actual room now.

By the time I got to the house to work (had to do all my writing chores first), I saw that Chris had also gotten a start on the flooring. Ooh, aah, that’s going to look great, though it’s pretty complex to install it right (many different patterns, which make it look more natural).

Opening from Lee’s side.

They’d taken a break on that to finish the opening between the two offices and to put the crown molding (which I painted!) in Lee’s office. It will need a little filling, but will look super when it’s done.

Opening from Kathleen’s side.She plans to paint her side brown.
Alfred Vrazel, from polkabeat.com

All of this was taking place during Alfred Vrazel’s polka show playing on KMIL. It’s the nation’s longest-running radio polka show, you know. I kept hearing harmony that didn’t sound like it was coming from the radio. Hmm.

It turned out to be Kathleen, whose Czech heritage was coming out in a big way. It was wonderful to hear her singing along to the songs of her childhood. Now, that’s a true Texan.

I bet you didn’t spend your day with painting and polkas, but I assure you, it was a good way to spend a few hours. Like Mr. Vrazel said, you can’t go away from 2.5 hours of Czech polkas and waltzes and not be a bit happier.

I’ve Had a Rough Relationship with Love

Oh, who hasn’t had a rough relationship with love? (Not a surprising UU Lent word, is it?) If you haven’t, count yourself as fortunate and give yourself a big hug. Wait, everyone else, also give yourselves big hugs. And now for some brutal honesty.

My issue, like so many of us, has been with romantic love. I was always a big fan. And boy oh boy was I full of it. Those happy hormones it kept pumping into me were my drug of choice. I kept seeking it out, even when I had perfectly good relationships. This here was my biggest failing, because I repeatedly did really inappropriate things in my quest for my love drug.

No, I do not blame my parents for how I came out. They did their best.

And, what did that do to me? It made me love myself less. And that led to the feeling that I was worthless if nobody loved me, so I did more unhelpful things to try to get the people I loved to love me or continue to love me. I worked way too hard for my Dad’s love, which spilled out to romantic relationships.

That led me to like myself less and less. My inner monologue consisted of, “No one likes you…you have no friends…you are so fat…you are a failure…” I’m surprised I could get up every morning and go to work, take care of my kids, or volunteer constantly.

Do you see a downward spiral looming? I sure do, in retrospect. I ended up with the pathetic tendency to do just about anything to get love, romantic or otherwise. I was one of those people you read about who change themselves to try to be the person their object of affection wanted.

Note: That does not work.

It never occurred to me that it’s very hard to love someone who doesn’t love themselves, and I certainly didn’t love myself. I needed to learn about other types of love than romantic love, obsession, and sex hormones.

I did it! Was it easy? Nope. I had to admit a lot of icky things about myself (see above) but thanks to a good therapist, I was able to figure out what led me to end up the way I was, and forgive my past self. I was able to see that all those past actions were leading me to current wisdom and peace.

Loving myself just as I am. Pink hair is all faded, too.

Learning to love myself has let me love others in so many ways without having to have all that hormonal stuff mess with my mind (I still have hormones; I just recognize them for what they are).

What I Can Do Now

I can love my family without expecting anything in return (thank goodness, since one of them seems to not love me back at the moment). And I can appreciate their love without basing my self esteem on it.

Shine on, Suna.

I can love my friends and be okay if they go away or have a problem with me. If they want to work it out, I’m there to do so. If not, I’ll love them from a distance.

I can love people I don’t know. For all I know, my loving vibes may be helping in some way I can’t be consciously aware of.

I can love all my animal companions and enjoy their love back.

I can love my planet.

Will I have bad moments? Will I get jealous or envious of someone else’s relationship, or hurt when things don’t work out? Yep. But I’ll pick myself back up and keep going.

Gratitude

I’m grateful to everyone I’ve ever loved and hope you got some good out of it. And I’m sorry for those I hurt.

My favorite picture of my spouse. Thank goodness for his love.

I’m grateful for my spouse, his patience, and his ability to love me as I am.

I’m grateful to Victoria.

I’m grateful to Brené Brown. Even if I generally find self-help books annoying, her conversational style and repetition of the same point in different ways helped me break through and shut my inner voice up. Go read a Brené Brown book.

“I know something about love.”

Renovation Is a Family Affair

Fun historical house fact: apparently the Pope House was once blue or blue-gray. This is where the old front light fixture was. It will be covered up by our sign, eventually.

As you may know, we Hermits are doing our best to isolate ourselves just with the folks at the Hermits’ Rest property. We’re lucky we all work for Hearts Homes and Hands in some way (except Lee’s brother, who has taken on mowing our property and hanging out with Vlassic as his life’s mission), so work isn’t a problem. And our renovation of the Pope Residence is right across the street from our office. Oh boy, I get to walk across the street!

I’ve shared a few photos in other blog posts recently, but today I thought I’d share where we are now. We’re all pitching in, so things are progressing, even though we miss our other helpers.

Trimming

There will be two or three shelves here, with glass behind it.

We’re finished with most of the window trim (except the front room). We decided to put shelving back on the window between my office and the entry hall, with some opaque glass behind it. I’ll put my glass collection on those, and it should be really pretty.

One of the big projects right now is putting up the trim around the ceiling on the rooms whose ceilings aren’t getting painted. There is plain wood trim, with crown molding on top if it. I’d say it looks pretty spiffy. All the trim in the house is the same shade of creamy white, which looks great against the brick and really brightens the place up. It almost doesn’t feel like the same house.

Easton is putting up trim. More about the door frame below.

The trim is a challenge, because of course the walls aren’t 100% square. That gives Easton and Chris a lot of fun calculating and trimming. But, it’s moving right along, and they’re on the second room.

Continue reading “Renovation Is a Family Affair”

Surrender? Who, Me?

I ordered a bookcase for only $250. I must be confident things will improve.

BAH. I’m not surrendering to defeat and negativity. In only two days my self-imposed extra-carefulness after coming home from our vacation will be over, and I’ll feel a lot better to know I didn’t get sick or make anyone else sick when we traveled.

Rather than surrender (word of the day for UU Lent) in a “giving up” kind of way, I chose to surrender my expectations of how things should be. Getting rid of that will let me enjoy things the way they are now.

Actually, I think rattlesnakes are at the end of the path. I’ll wear boots if I go out there.

I have bluebonnets to look at. I saw whistling ducks at the ranch. The trees and grass are so darned green that it makes my eyes hurt. My chickens make me laugh every day. It’s thundering big time outside while Kathleen plays “Amazing Grace” on her phone. I’ll surrender to that beauty and wonder of the day.

There are always sweet surprises out there, even when we feel imprisoned by our lack of choices right now. (Baby blue eyes just on the other side of the fence)

If this is my last spring, by gosh I’ll enjoy every moment. And if it isn’t, I know I’ll appreciate all the future springs even more. It’s a privilege to be here now. Since I can’t change what others do or what happens to the rest of society, I surrender to the lessons I’m learning and the love around me.

I am part of the love around you. And I lost weight.

Peace to you all in these “interesting” times.

Birds and Bees, and a Weird Morning

It’s not even noon, but it’s already been a weird day. I got to the Hermit Haus for work, and was just making my coffee when the lights went out. Well, most of them did. For some reason, my red lamp and the light over the kitchen sink kept glowing, eerily.

It was just barely glowing when the power was out. Wonder why.

So, Kathleen and I went outside, and saw Chris talking to the neighbor (at way over 6 feet away) about the power being out. We got a text from Mandi saying Oncor (power folks) knew about it and would get the power back on in a couple of hours. Great. I had a couple of things I’d wanted to get done immediately.

Grr.

After standing around and thinking for a while, we each went back to our respective areas to do work that could be done on the phone. Kathleen made phone calls, I did weekly employee reviews, Chris painted trim.

We opened the doors in our office for more light, and Chris did the same at the Pope house. A mistake? Maybe.

That’s when the invasions occurred. Chris heard noises and saw that he had a new coworker, but one that just banged on things randomly. This poor mockingbird was not helpful at all.

Hey, you’re not paying me enough to work in here!

At the same time, all the honey bees that have been out enjoying our wildflower meadow (the one with all the yellow flowers) decided to check out our basement. At the time it was no problem.

Then at 10 am, the power came back. Yay. The bees were still in the building. They decided to visit my office, with its bright lights. At first they checked out the monitor, but then I realized at least three of them were on my light fixture. Kathleen could hear them all buzzing away.

This moon is beautiful!

Finally I couldn’t concentrate on my work, so I turned the light off. Hooray, the bees went out. And we shut the doors, so no more can come in. We’ll shoo them back out at some point today, since there’s not much nectar down here.

I’m glad the June bugs are only at the ranch. I don’t think I could take them all bouncing around down here. Back to work.

Who Supports Whom?

I was thinking about support even before I saw that it was the UU Lent word for today. Right now pretty much everyone needs support, right? Times are so confusing for everybody. Still, many of us are called on to support others. And sometimes the people we support need us to support them, too.

Yesterday, when I blew on this dandelion, I imagined each seed was flying off to touch someone in need of care and support. Cheesy, but what the heck.

My boss at my software job made this point yesterday in our Zoom meeting, when he said he’d probably be needing to reach out to us sometimes, too. We’re all glad we have jobs that we can do virtually and that we haven’t been laid off yet, but it’s still challenging. Remember, it may not be all that great for your boss, if you start to feel gripey.

I am really glad that I can be there to listen to the people I manage, because it’s hard enough to work from your personal cell (mine is even in a basement, and at the moment a bee is trying to attack my monitor), but it’s even harder when your work gets frustrating. A couple of my team are dealing with that, and they NEED to have someone to vent to and to tell them to just do their best, because none of us is at our peak of efficiency right now.

This wonderful friend curls up to me, sighs, and sends calming vibes. Well, he does that when he’s not running around like a goofball and barking for attention.

The concern I have right now is for the people I know or work with who are isolating all by themselves. It’s easy for me to immerse myself in my tasks, but I’m hereby reminding myself to check in on people like my sister, my stepmom, my coworkers, etc. We have all these fine ways to keep in touch, so don’t think, oh, their other friends/family members are supporting them. Your support is also important!

Suna’s Support Team

Hello Zoom, my old buddy.

As for me, I’ve got my precious dogs to help. Carlton has been especially good, since Vlassic is hanging out with Lee’s brother, who’s mostly alone in his RV. I do treasure my daily walk to see the horses and Fiona with him! (Fiona is healing, I think.)

I have to say, though, that the Zoom company, whoever they are, is my biggest support system. I’m sure they are getting rich, but I don’t care. It is so great to be able to talk to my coworkers, my friends in my nonprofits, and groups of online friends. I am so grateful for the technology that some of us lucky and privileged people have for keeping in touch.

He has no fat, because he is on the go all the time.

And of course, there’s the Hermits’ Rest commune. It’s so helpful to have the family around to support each other. I just wish I had ALL my family with me. I guess I better go send those supportive texts, letters, and emails now!

Need Inspiration? Here’s Some!

Now, here’s a thing. Hard times bring out the best and worst of people, right? It seems like a lot of folks are concentrating on the stuff that makes you just shake your head. The economy is more important than the lives of the elderly, having a lifetime supply of paper products is more important than other people having it, the world is just going to fall apart if you don’t have bread NOW. Wipe those thoughts away, right this second!

The UU word for today is inspiration, and that sent me right off into a wonderful frame of mind, where I realize that I am inspired by people near and far, ever single day of the Great Isolation.

Be inspired by our revamped shiplap wall. Lee and Chris worked so hard on it. I later cleaned all those bits of wallpaper off.

My family come first when I think of inspiration. We’re all sticking it out as best as we can. I wish I could be with my kids, but I’m impressed by how well they are handling themselves. I drive by my sister’s house every day and wave, knowing it’s safer to stay distant, but proud of how she’s coping.

Look how light and bright it is in Lee’s office with new window trim.

And then there’s the family I live with. Kathleen has been working herself so hard to get our business going in these hard times, and by golly, she’s succeeding! We have so much business that we have more staff and had to buy a bunch of scrubs for everyone to wear. And all the safety and health precautions keep adding up, but she keeps everyone on track. And I think I’d explode if I had to print as many forms and information as she does. She’s a real inspiration to me and to the rest of us. You just deal with what you get!

Kathleen says I can have these lovely, huge scrubs.

I’m also inspired by Chris, who is keeping our renovation project going with just occasional help from Easton (because Easton is also working for our business). He has so many great ideas and the skills to make them come to life. It’s really awesome to see someone find creativity in physical things and get as much joy out of it as I do with writing and making help systems.

Chris surveying his domain.

In the rest of the world, I see so many ministers out there helping people in new and innovative ways. They inspire me to keep in touch and support the folks who depend on me, as well (shout-out to the Live Oak UU team and so many others). People need spiritual support, and these folks are figuring out ways to provide it.

Bluebonnets on the sidewalk. Inspirational beauty.

And, well, you know this was coming. Every day I’m inspired by Mother Nature, as spring keeps on springing, butterflies and birds are mating, and the grass is so green it hurts my eyes. That’s inspiration to keep on keeping on: just the chance to enjoy one more spring.