More Chicken Mystery

When I got home from Austin, I found 9 eggs. They were all in one spot and all plain brown. The place where Fancy Pants lays was empty, and there were no pink or white eggs. Hmm.

Lee says he sees hens in weird places. Sure enough, I found two pink eggs in the far left corner of the garage.

Eggs were in there. Nice.

We looked in the rest of the garage, and there was Bertie Lee, sitting on a mop, in the far right corner of the garage.

Oh, Bertie.

I picked that egg up.

She makes big ones.

I still don’t see any Fancy Pants or Hedley eggs. Where can they be? Meanwhile, I found Sapphire on the mop. This is gonna be fun.

I give you nice egg boxes, but you lay eggs here??

Him reports that the brown hens are refusing to go in at night. They are in the white henhouse. Not good. It isn’t safe. I guess some chicken effort is needed! Hoping the family can help out!

Office Break-In!

Yep. My Cameron office got broken into. Don’t panic, though. Lee and I did it. You see, yesterday I left work a little early to go on a special errand. When we got back, I went to go back and do a couple of things, but my door wouldn’t open.

The door looked fine.

Uh. The door would not open. I typed in the code. Green lights told me it was unlocked. I wiggled the handle and nothing happened. Um. My laptop was in there. And a burning candle. (Oops)

We tried to call the relatives, but there was no answer. Lee went and got a screwdriver. We banged on the door. The dang doorknob did nothing. So, we looked at the windows. The interior one is painted shut. The outside one would not budge.

The beautiful wood-covered window.

That left the window that was covered in wood, that is supposed to be replaced by glass…someday. Lee poked around and managed to get the wood loose (it wasn’t in there tight, since it was planned to be replaced).

Casualties

There was no way to remove the piece of wood without hitting stuff on the other side. You know, because my office is full of “shit” and all that. But only two candlesticks smashed! Not bad at all!

We can see in!

While the wood was there so my Zoom meetings wouldn’t disturb the people in the other offices, it’s no problem for the time being. I won’t be in the office for a while. We will have to leave the door open until the door handle is replaced, but the computer is out now! Nothing else is valuable, just shiny, like a magpie lives there. I am much like a magpie, after all.

Kudos to Lee for letting me in! The door works fine from the inside, not that it helps at all!

I’ve had so much go wrong lately that this didn’t phase me one bit. It just fit with the rest of the week. Hoping we can fix it soon! And I hereby declare that a new week starts today and nothing but fun is permitted. I even got happy nails yesterday!

Nails ready for fun. Thanks, Tina!

Have a good Samhain, Halloween, día de los muertos, or whatever you celebrate this weekend.

Screw Up? Laugh at Yourself!

Like I said yesterday, I crashed hard and pretty much wasn’t good for anything yesterday afternoon. That became patently obvious as the day dragged on. Mistakes were made. Errors occurred. At least I managed to leave work, put the right kind of gas in my car, find my hair salon and get my hair cut safely (I like how much care they take there).

In good stuff, I got a nice postcard from a random person in Illinois asking me to vote. I am impressed by how many people have done volunteer work this year that’s not totally annoying.

But I’m not firing on all cylinders still, thanks to a combination of really intense work, coronavirus rates going back up, and US politics worries. Heh, I typed that and my stomach did a pang. My stress goes there.

What I Did

There was a board meeting for Master Naturalists last night, which I set up, myself. I’d made the agenda and sent it out. When I made it, I saw that there were instructions up there to do the meeting as a phone call. “Ah,” I thought, “I don’t have to do another Zoom meeting.” Later in the day I told someone how it would be easy to find the meeting, just dial the phone.

The meeting started, and half the board wasn’t there. Hmm. Then a half hour later, we got lots of requests for why the Zoom meeting hadn’t started. Well, it’s a PHONE meeting, said those of us who read the agenda.

Yep. It happens. Image from @clairegran via Twenty20.

The joke was on ME. I had actually set up a Zoom meeting at 6:30 AND a phone call at 6. I was so zonked when I set up the agenda, I couldn’t remember what I did when I set up the meeting. I’d left a whole bunch of people stranded. Perhaps my term as President will be a single term – I hear it’s popular.

UGH. We got everyone on the phone eventually, and I got to apologize many, many times, as each person felt compelled to inform us that they were waiting and waiting, and were SURE they’d done the right thing. They had. Everyone had done the right thing, depending on which set of my instructions they followed. While the agenda had phone instructions, they weren’t in bold or screaming to ignore the previous instructions, because I’d forgotten.

In the end everyone laughed. Or at least most people laughed. There are a lot of very serious Master Naturalists, and that is fine. I just know I look like a real doofus to them. But, hey, I’ve learned a lesson, which is what I am told I should do after messing up.

It Continues

Well, I DID need to update the watch OS. In Cameron I never have the Wi-Fi to do it.

Sigh. It turns out I actually declined my boss’s meeting request for today. That could explain why it wasn’t on my calendar. I kept wondering where that meeting went. I’m great at clicking the wrong thing on the phone!

Plus, I had this goal of getting back to Cameron at 10 so I could work from there the rest of the day. Nope, my watch insists on updating right this minute. It gave me time to blog, I guess.

Thank you all for reading this. Acknowledge your own humanity today by admitting that you screwed up, apologizing, and moving on. If you haven’t screwed up, don’t worry; you will. Stories of COVID-brain inspired mess-ups are welcome.

Energy Crash, Tumbleweed Stopped

All week I’ve felt like a tumbling tumbleweed, going from meeting to meeting, issue to issue, emotion to emotion. That’s made this week feel two weeks long.

No longer tumbling. That’s good, because I was getting vertigo.

Today I finished another Program Initiative Planning week at work (lots of meetings, lots and lots of them, all intense). I ate my delicious free lunch of stuffed acorn squash and came back to blog for the rest of lunch hour.

It’s obvious this is my desk. There is a LOT of red, orange and pink in there.

Instead, I realized I was just staring into space, listening to the high whistling sound made by the industrial air conditioning system, mesmerized by my keyboard and mouse. I only figured out my keyboard did this light stuff yesterday, at about the same time that I realized my mouse changed colors.

I hope you can see the mouse…

The Chinese are very creative, are they not? But, with no English instructions, I didn’t figure out this stuff until I looked online for how to get the mouse to work. The USB dongle thing was very well hidden. Anyway, this thing SHOULD keep me awake, shouldn’t it?

It’s all black and white, and I’m slumping into a puddle of gray.

But, the point is, I just crashed. I had nothing left. All the color is gone (other than the keyboard, this place where I’m working is nearly all black and white). That’s not good, since there is still work to do, so I hope that writing this will perk me back up! It’s very rare that I crash, since I’m one of those people who always has something to do, plus two or three back-up activities. I predict some more crashing in the near future. My brain is telling me I need to slow down and breathe.

Now, I DO meditate, faithfully. But, that’s more of an “activity” to me, because emptying my brain is doing something, at least to my busy brain. It’s my favorite part of the day, but that peace rarely creeps out into the rest of the day. Hmm, the meditation peace is active in some way. This exhaustion peace is empty in a totally inactive way. Like nothing. Meditating is something.

I need some clarity on this, so I’ll go back and think about it more. Or, I’ll spend another 15 minutes watching the keyboard.

Asking Questions to Build Community?

Lately I’ve varied the kinds of things I put on social media. Sometimes I share a thoughtful meme, sometimes I talk about how I’m feeling, sometimes I share a blog post, and other times I do a check-in, where I ask people a question.

Hey, now the hair on my avatar is exactly the right color.

By far the most engaging posts are ones that ask questions. Today, I was feeling a little bummed, so I asked people to share what the highlight of their day had been so far. I was delighted to see that by 6 pm it had close to 80 comments! I heard from so many people, some of whom I hadn’t heard from in a while.

Plus, conversations got started in the comments. I love it when I see my friends “talking to each other” thanks to a conversation starter from me. That may be my favorite aspect of the Facebook, conversations. I learn so much, and I am so often uplifted and encouraged when I read what my friends have to say.

I went to get a picture of random friends, and I was amused to see my most liberal friend right next to my most conservative friend (I’m not saying who’s who, because this selection has multiples of just about every kind of person). And they are both great people. I love that my friends are a mix of ages, locations, points of view, and dispositions.

In marketing, they always tell you to put a call to action on things you post (like, click, comment, please!). I am not all that great at that, though I do add a question to my blog posts when I sincerely want to know something. Marketing is SO not my thing, which is probably why I still only have a thousand followers and don’t get 40 WordPress likes every time I sneeze (I am guessing not being young, cute, and an “influencer” may also have something to do with it). I should be grateful that at least someone reads what a grumpy old Boomer with blue hair types! (I admit that I type mostly for me, anyway…it’s been said that I’m self centered…maybe a narcissist…I do stare in the mirror a lot.)<– humor.

But, seriously, the reason I’m here is to give YOU this little hint. If you want to hear from your friends and family ASK something! It works like crazy, and if you happen to have something you want to promote along with it, feel free (some of us do prefer subtle promotion that is not constant, though, just saying). People like to answer questions, it makes them feel like someone is actually interested in them (and in my case, I am!). This builds community, and it’s free PLUS you can do it from the comfort of wherever you happen to be!

So, what would you like to know?
What shall I ask next?

Your friend, Suna

What if you’d rather answer questions than ask them? There are two people I follow on Facebook, who ask great questions nearly every day: Joanna Fontaine Crawford and Jonathan K. Horstmann. One’s a UU minister and one’s a filmmaker/musician (both are parents of attractive children, ranging from babies to young adults). I’ll try to share others as I’m reminded of them. You can “meet” interesting folks by reading other people’s answers, too, and in these times, I’ll take any kind of uplifting human content I can get!

Reaching deep to find something uplifting here. Image by @trac1 via Twenty20.

Let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to ask, either here on the blog, or on Facebook (I don’t ask questions on Instagram). Not connected? Tell me you’re a blog reader, and I’ll be your friend unless you start spamming or attacking others!

Scary, but Not the Halloween Kind, the Political Kind

If I hadn’t put out decorations in my houses, I wouldn’t remember that Halloween is in a few days. All that fun spookiness and pretending to be scared has fallen by the wayside in my circles. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY seems to have real fears right now. It doesn’t matter who you are or what social group you’re a member of, you’re probably scared, or at least really concerned.

People in the US seem to be the most scared, but friends around the world have been expressing their concerns to me or in public forums. The elections coming next Tuesday are alarming people. People are scared of fraud, roaming militias, unseemly riots, government failures, mayhem, the apocalypse, a military coup, bombs…you name it, if it’s bad, people are afraid of it.

According to an article in today’s The USA Today, 70% of US adults are anxious about the upcoming election. That obviously includes people from all parts of the political spectrum! The article describes what people around me have been saying:

The majority of American adults say they feel it. The anxiety, the fear, the dread. 

They feel it before bed and when they wake at night, at red lights and in grocery store lines, at desks and dinner tables. Quiet moments are no longer a refuge, but spaces to ruminate, contemplate, to grapple with how risky it is to hope.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/10/28/presidential-election-stress-how-cope-anxiety-and-fear/6049521002/

Only 52% were anxious in 2016 (I should have been MORE anxious). The thing is, no matter who wins, the other side will be doubtful about the results. I can see that. It doesn’t bode well. And taking deep breaths won’t help in that situation, will it? I have been wondering if there are any ideas I can share with y’all, my real-life friends, and my family (who run the gamut of beliefs and expectations).

For example, let’s not imagine the future this way, okay?

Thank goodness for Alia E. Dastagir, who wrote this helpful article, and thank goodness I found it when I was faliling around searching for ways to cope. I’ll share her ideas for dealing with the next few days, weeks, or months, but feel free to head on over to the original article for details.

Avoid doomscrolling. That means don’t obsess over the news and check outlets repeatedly. You could even take some time off.

Prepare for a period of uncertainty. Ugh, I don’t want to do that! I want things to be DONE. Well, too bad. We need to find ways to remain strong while waiting for things to settle down. And there’s where I’m grasping at straws. Dastagir did NOT tell me how to do that.

Dare to hope. Dastagir points out that many people in the US no longer dare hope. At least there’s a suggestion on this one, which is to focus on finding something you can actually DO. I think all the postcard writing some of my friends did helped in that way.

Avoid black-and-white thinking. That is easy to fall into, especially for some of us. WE’RE DOOMED! I have been doing a fairly good job of avoiding that kind of thing myself. I try to remind myself that we are all fellow humans, and that awful stuff has happened throughout history and at least SOME people make it through it…so, maybe I’m not doing such a great job of avoiding doom and gloom. But, we can all try together, right?

Don’t despair. This may be easier said than done, but we are implored not to despair if our candidate does not win. The psychology professor quoted in the article recommended that we try to avoid people who may be gloating or in ecstasy for the first few days after a contentious election is settled. That is what I did in 2016, though that was easier then than it is now.

This time, I may have to leave town.

This looks nice. Image by @ctayers via Twenty20.

Hey, do any of YOU have any good suggestions for how to deal with what’s going to be a hard time for at least half of us, no matter what the outcome?

Doing My Duty (as tumbleweeds continue to roll)

Yippee, I managed to vote today, at last. I’m registered in Austin, so I had to wait until I was there to do it. It’s the final week of early voting here in Texas, which means the anxious people already voted, and the last-minute people haven’t decided it’s the last minute yet. The process was easy and appeared secure, as far as I could tell. Of course, I am a white lady voting in a wealthy neighborhood…

I voted. But my mask blinded me.

Nonetheless, all the electioneering around the voting site bothered me. Sure, they have to keep at least some number of feet away from the poll place, but all sorts of people were there with shelters, clipboards, and other things that I found annoying. No, I don’t want to sign your petition. And no, you aren’t going to change my mind by wagging a sign in my face. Well, at least they still let people who aren’t white males vote, so it could be worse (and who knows, may be in the future).

Meanwhile

I keep tumbling along through life like a tumbleweed gaining speed. I know I can’t fix everything, but, gee, I feel powerless to help in some situations. I tried to help a dog all day yesterday, and every time I got a ray of hope, something else knocked the hope out of me. There may be a lot more of that coming around, I guess.

My tumbleweed is practically airborn! Yow! Image by @sselby7 via Twenty20

I did get to see one of my coworkers who I hadn’t seen since March today. Here are my two teammates taking socially distanced photos of each other.

They are sharing views of each other with the rest of the folks in a Zoom meeting. That’s what passes for excitement.

All Is Not Lost

But, hooray, I managed to fix something after I voted! I had to go to the grocery store after voting, because I have NO coffee creamer at this house (little did I know that my endless fascinating meetings start at 8 tomorrow, so I probably don’t have time for home coffee). It was nice to see food, drink, vegetables, and such all arrayed in aisles and displays. There weren’t many people there, so I didn’t get too concerned about germs. I had a fun time at the checkout speaking bad Spanish with the cashier, then started to go home.

$125 to replace it. $2.50 for battery. I win.

The car’s key fob had decided its battery was end of life. No amount of trying to put the key in a better place made it start. So, I called the dealer. What to do? Can they come fix it? No. Oh, darn. BUT, the dude described how to get into the bowels of the key fob and find the battery! And I happened to be at the grocery store, a place that sells, of all things, batteries!

Back in I went. And I fixed the key fob all by myself. That tiny self-sufficient act made me feel all empowered and proud. That kept my spirits up and led to three good meetings with people on my team. Ideas were had! Progress was made! I have competencies!

I did my meetings upstairs, and even though it’s gloomy and cold outside, the Bobcat Lair is a cheerful place to hang out.

Honest, I’m not as full of mood swings as this makes me seem. I’m sharing, because right now we are all running into unavoidable obstacles or feeling unable to keep up with things that are going on around us. Finding something to center me (along with all that list of things I shared yesterday) gives me a surprising boost of well being and confidence.

Dang, it’s cheerful! It fills me with YOJ.

I highly recommend doing a good job at something, anything at all, to add to your morale as those of us in the US try our best to get through these unsettling times. What’s YOUR competency?

Roll with the Changes (like a tumbleweed)

True fact: every time you figure out a way to lessen one type of stress, another one comes up. Ha ha, life, you are SO FUNNY!

I had gotten a handle on some of my worries about the greater angst in the planet, which has helped me see our political stuff a different way (thanks to the mushroom book). And reading Caste gave me concrete ideas for working to make relationships among Americans better, so that wasn’t upsetting me as much. I even grappled myself into a place where I can deal with the changes at work in a positive and productive way. So proud of my own self.

But, no, I did not dwell in my feelings of equanimity for long at all.

Like I said not long ago, it’s always something. Image by @LittleIvan via Twenty20

The details are not important, just know they involve a not insignificant collection of sad animal tales and sickly family member tales (not just me; by the way I feel better).

BOOM. I got knocked right down and feel like a tumbleweed rolling down a hill in a rainstorm. Not a lot of control. But then, you NEVER have a lot of control, do you? I have to hand it to life, it doesn’t take it long at all to remind you of lessons you should not be forgetting.

Some of them there tumbleweeds are BIG, too. Image by @Dari via Twenty20

There are challenges out there and they aren’t gonna stop. That’s always been true, even if right now seems like they’ve sped up, like an old 78 RPM record or something. Round and round and round, zoom!

While there will always be challenges, there will ALSO always be ways to deal with them! And I know what those are, because I’m prepared!

Where I will imagine I am. Image by @Barefoot_Traveller via Twenty20

I shall:

  • Deal with one day and one challenge at a time
  • Not worry about what’s next or what just happened
  • Breathe deeply and get to my familiar place of comfort/ease
  • Light a candle and stare at it for a while
  • Read a book on a non-sad topic (I’m looking at YOU, book on the color blue!)
  • Pet a small animal (hi Pickle, since Vlassic is staying with Jim, ’cause it’s cold)
  • Go on a brisk walk (guaranteed brisk, due to aforementioned weather)
  • Send out loving-kindness to all my friends and families dealing with similar crap as mine

So, I hope you can do some of these things with me! Peace to you.

Book Report: Fantastic Fungi

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Yes, another book report. That’s what happens when you take time off from your usual busy-ness-hood. Today’s book is another really special one that I bought after the Master Naturalist meeting. Fantastic Fungi is a companion to a film I need to see. The book is edited by Paul Stamets, an expert on mushrooms, who also contributes essays.

Cool book cover, plus Penney.

Before I go on and on about the writing, though, let me gush about the illustrations, which are mostly gorgeous photographs by Taylor Lockwood and others. I could look at them all day. The variety of shapes, textures, colors, and forms that mushrooms and other fungi can take surprised me. There are things in this book that I’m awed by.

The inside back cover. Look at those things!

And now for the content of the book. There are lots of short essays, interrupted by annoying large subheadings (my only complaint). The greats of mushroom science contributed, and it’s weird to read “and I discovered x in my research,” rather than “this famous person discovered x.”

Since mushrooms are an area where I lacked knowledge, I learned a lot about how mycelium and fungal networks are organized. I knew they could be very large and very old, but the contribution they make to life on this planet are way more significant than I’d realized.

My favorite page, because of all those shapes.

And that’s where this book switched from being a pretty book about a part of nature I only knew a little about to something much more significant. Over and over, the contributors to Fantastic Fungi, stressed that fungi have much to teach us and may even be able to save us, if we learn how. The subtitle is: How Mushrooms Can Heal, Shift Consciousness and Save the Planet, after all.

Reading about how we seem to be designed to use the nutrients, chemicals, and other aspects of mushrooms makes me realize we are related. And that’s the point the contributors are trying to make. Without mushrooms, plants and animals would suffer greatly. Paul Stamets, especially, speaks eloquently.

A core concept of evolution is that, through natural selection, the strongest and fittest survive. In truth, (and scientifically proven), communities survive better than individuals, especially communities that rely on cooperation. Acting on such a principe, people want to give in order to receive, which I think reflects the power of an essential goodness.

Paul Stamets, p. 66

It becomes clear from Stamets and others that all of the organisms here in Earth depend on each other. Humans have been woefully ignorant of this.

Then, they bring in the heavy hitters, Michael Pollan and people he’s worked with to talk about how mushrooms (psilocybin) can help humans realize this (which I did read about in How to Change Your Mind). And they bring in more research on the experiences people have with these mushrooms. Good stuff.

What they mainly say is that people overwhelmingly have experiences of oneness and connection with other people and the earth. Maybe this is what mushrooms are trying to tell us? If so, I’m all for it. A bit more acknowledgment of our commonality and less artificial differentiation would be fine with me.

I’m inspired. And it strikes me that focusing on this kind of mutual connection is yet another way we can help get past racism, bullying, and needless antagonism. Thank you, fungi.

Hmm. I seem to be on a journey, don’t I? Are those mushrooms growing on the cow patties what I need?

(No, I’m not gonna do it. Too law abiding. And don’t want to poison myself.)

That’s a Big One

Even not feeling great, I’m finding things to be excited about. I think that’s part of my charm. Perhaps. Today’s theme is big. For example, this is a big grasshopper, especially for a male. And it’s one of my better photos, right on my driveway!

Differential grasshopper, apparently tired, because he let me get really close. Note wings.

The extent of my walking yesterday was patrolling the back yard with Lee. While I regretted not meeting my activity goal, I still managed to find something big and beautiful. It’s one of my favorites, a yellow garden spider.

I had to take this over the fence. Notice her silver head. The scientific name, Argiope aurantia, means gilded silver-face.
This is her belly and some of her web. Obviously she’s an orb weaver!

And now, I’m sure you’ve been waiting for us to see what was inside Fancy Pants’s giant egg from a while back.

Giant egg!

It was still big after peeling. and still rather lumpy.

Peeled. Normal egg in background.

I got out the sharp knife and carefully sliced the big bruiser. Would it be a double yolk? Would it look weird?

That’s a BIG yolk.

I can’t tell if it’s double or not, but it sure is big! Way more yolk than white.

Compare to normal large egg. The normal one has way more white.

I wonder if this one would have had enough food in it to grow a chick? We will never know. But it does make me want to raise chicks. Maybe the next broody hen will get lucky!

So…what’s big in your life?