2020 Strikes Again! Flood!

Yesterday the wetness was just a preview. Starting last night it really, really rained. That storm system is quite intense! We’ve had over four inches so far, and others have had more. So, yeah, the ponds are now full.

Water flowing into front pond.

I was able to get out to drive to the office this morning, but soon after, Mandi called to tell me the road by the creek was flooded.

Here’s her photo showing a truck having trouble crossing.

Luckily, the surge didn’t last long and I was able to get back around 1pm. Lee had removed some debris from the road, so cars were safer.

You can see how much higher the water was. All that brown is balloon vine, which floats.

The chickens were very happy to have their new roof. The uncovered part of their run became a puddle, but the covered part was fine. They didn’t come out of the coop until I gave them some scratch.

Meanwhile, I had to feed the horses. I decided to walk, since I have that great new coat, hat, and gloves. I checked out the water, of course.

The trees you see are the creek. I’m always amazed how quickly this happens.

I dawdled a while watching the water flow, which I probably shouldn’t have done, since it started raining again. But it was cool.

Here, watch how fast the creek is flowing!

My coat protected me, and I was able to feed the horses and Big Red, who all seemed just fine. I enjoyed the exercise and once again surprised myself at enjoying bad weather.

Water flowing from the front pond to our happy stream.

So, it will be a chilly new year. I have pot toast happening, and some Prosecco for tonight. Happy New Year.

End o’ Year Stats

The year has even aged my avatar.

Last year I went over the most and least popular posts of the year, but I’ll just gather a few statistics today and sum the 2020 blogging up with that. It was, at least, a good blog year. It wasn’t all that exciting, though, because I got halfway through this post last week and never finished it. A suiting “tribute” to 2020: Not worth the effort of summarizing.

The trends

I didn’t see it as it happened, but more readers (real and bot) found The Hermits’ Rest blog, which led to more interaction and me discovering more interesting blogs, too!

Yep. Increased.

Slowly but surely, as the months passed, the readers built up, went down, and came back. I think a lot of it was better tagging, linking and keyword use on my part. I was apparently very interesting this summer.

The winners

I always wonder what causes a post to be popular, but this year I know.

Popularity Contest

The most popular post is the one linked to my recent very simple knitting pattern, and #3 is the other post about it. Yep. If I want hits, I need to write more easy knitting patterns. I know why the Passive Aggressive Facebook Posts one got so many hits, too. That’s because I tagged it with “passive aggressive Facebook memes.” That’s apparently a popular thing to search for, and I did include some doozies!

Popularity fell off after those, but I was happy to see so many posts with over 100 hits, which is high for me. Two of those were popular from being shared, the Ghosts from the Past one about my former college professor, Doc Shenkman, and the Restoring Your Historical House one, which the book’s author shared.

Of course, my heart is warmed that my post about Lee’s and my 12th wedding anniversary was a big winner. I guess it’s all the pictures of him.

Losers of the popularity contest

Of course, we will want to know what is NOT popular. I predicted which genre of post would fill the sad end of the spectrum: book reports. I figure no one reads those but me. I like just going to the Book Report page and delightedly realizing that I read 44 books last year (which I just did). Hey, not bad for someone who also reads a lot of wordy magazines!

But, look, I was wrong!

But look, I was wrong!
Virtual xox from scary me.

Only one book report was in among the sad posts that only got viewed 18 times, and that’s the one about one of my favorite books of the year, good old Barry O. I thought I did a good job on that one, too. Well, 18 people enjoyed it.

The nature posts generally don’t do too well, so I am not surprised to see lots of them down in the basement. That’s perfectly fine with me, since those are mainly to help me remember what I did and saw.

All in all, though 2020 had its challenges for living one’s life, it was a fine year for blogging. I think I’ll keep it up, as long as writing brings me pleasure and helps me meet new and interesting people. Now, go click a lot of links and get me hits. No, wait, that’s not it. Now, go read things you are interested in and that make you happy. Much better!

Book Review: A Place for Everything

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There’s one final book review for this year, and it’s a book I always wanted to read: the history of alphabetical order! Be still, my heart! A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order, by Judith Flanders is a book that begged me to read it. And with its huge index (alphabetized, of course), end notes, and all the hallmarks of a modern nonfiction book, it did not fail to disappoint, at least if that’s the kind of reading material you like.

Nice cover!

I’ll have to resort to memoirs to explain my excitement at finding this book. You see, when I was in second and third grade, I was annoying to teachers. They could not find enough work for me to do to keep me quiet, and I kept raising my hand to answer all the questions. I probably annoyed other kids, too. To remedy this, they passed me off to the patient librarian at Sidney Lanier Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida (also at the time home of education for deaf, mentally handicapped, and otherwise challenged kids, which was GREAT for teaching us that those are regular kids that are fine for playing with at recess). And yes, I know now that Sidney Lanier served in the Confederate military, but we were told he was a poet. The End.

Anyway, I proceeded to read through the contents of the library that matched my reading ability. I also needed books that matched my social development, which means not books with a lot of sex or overly “adult” themes that would confuse me. The librarian was very glad that I loved horses, because that made it simple. Just give Sue Ann books about horses, she thought. Then, she taught me how to find them myself in the magical card catalogue. OOOOOOO.

I loved the card catalogue. I’d just browse through it, amazed at its orderliness. I aged a bit and started my own collection of books, of course starting with Black Beauty. Duh. Once I had more than a few books, I was compelled to alphabetize them, by author, of course. There WERE a few I organized by size (which I learned from the book I’m supposed to be reviewing was common).

By the time I was in middle school, I had my own card catalogue (always spelled that way in my mind), made from index cards. I had a title index and an author index. Each card said when I got it and had an indication of its type (mainly F, NF, and SF for fiction, nonfiction, and science fiction (I moved on from horses)). This went with me and was updated throughout high school.

Sigh, alphabetized by author, but not title.

Even as I got older, I obsessively alphabetized my books. It made me happy. It also made finding books easy. I was an academic. I had a LOT of books, but added categories like Japanese, linguistics, knitting to the system.

Once I had children, I gave up and just shelved books by type. Every time I’d get them alphabetized, something would mess them up, so I gave up.

Back to the Book

Judith Flanders taught me a lot about books and their organization, or lack thereof. First off, there weren’t many books for a long time, and they were often bundled together randomly. That’s parchment books. Papyrus ones were scrolled, of course. And you generally read a book from start to finish, so there weren’t many organizational helps like subtitles, page numbers and such. All those things had to be invented!

Once libraries showed up there were lots and lots of ways to organize them. Some organized by size, some by topic, and some by the conventionally used systems of organization, which were fascinating hierarchies. God always came first, then rich people, then other subjects. That’s how lists of all sorts were organized, not just books. I have no idea how anyone found anything in the olden days. People also wrote all over books, and no two copies of any book were the same, since they were hand copied. Challenging.

Eventually, typing and carbon paper made organizing correspondence less complex, while double entry bookkeeping made financial stuff easier, but that all depended on having notebooks and files. So many things we take for granted today are NOT that old, like filing cabinets, file folders, staples, desks, and more. This book will blow your mind and really, really make you respect all those humans of the past who had to memorize everything.

So, as you can see, Everything in Its Place shares the history of a lot more than ordering systems! There’s writing systems, ways to permanently or impermanently record things in writing, storage methods, and of course, organizing systems.

Today’s shelves are beautiful, but disorganized. We are still unpacking books. I still have a lot in Austin. Eek.

That brings me to my favorite discovery in the book, which is about Dewey of the Dewey Decimal System. I was always very annoyed by this whole thing. Topics just didn’t make sense to me, especially the order in which they were arranged (all that Christian stuff in the beginning with lots of numbers, but then just one number for each other religion, for example, and science was weirdly arranged). I never arranged my books by that system, nope.

Was I ever thrilled to discover that Melvil Dewey was an asshole! A sexist! An anti-Semite! A homophobe! A creep! I just knew it. And these biases of his made finding certain topics really hard (there were changes made…but now I see why they use other systems now).

In the end, while Flanders didn’t make the book overly exciting, she did add some fun footnotes that I enjoyed, and she was certainly thorough in her research, which was complicated by the fact that there actually hasn’t been all that much research on organizational systems and alphabets. People just take them for granted. I was glad she addressed how to organize information in non-roman alphabets, like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. I really feel bad that typewriters are still based on Western principles, which can make typing and printing take a while.

When It Rains, It’s Wet

Ya know, because of the pandemic and all, Lee and I don’t go anywhere very often. But, today we really had to go to Austin, since my car has a tire with a big ole bubble in it that needed to be fixed, and we hadn’t given my son and his partner anything for Christmas yet (we knew what they needed/wanted).

I wish.

Naturally, today is the day it finally rained some real rain, rather than in dribs and drabs and hundredths of inches. It’s the big storm that’s going to mess up New Year’s for the “important” parts of the US, i.e., the east coast. We always need rain, so yay for the weather.

Except we had to drive, and Lee doesn’t like driving in the rain, even in his new vehicle with the spooky features like adaptive cruise control. Nonetheless, I’m the one in the family who does what they say they will do when they say they will do it, so off we went.

Rain and drenched Christmas decorations.

Yep, it rained a lot. But, there were fun clouds to look at (especially if you were in the passenger seat, I grant that). We managed to find the Costco store in south Austin, and got somewhat wet going in there. Still, the trip was a success, because though the store looked crowded, people were distancing themselves like old pros, AND we found a darned large television for a good bit less than $300. In my mind those cost three or four times that much, so that was a deal (and the picture quality was great!). Plus, the rain let up while we loaded the car.

We easily found the apartment complex of the young folks (Lee had never been there, since he doesn’t go to Austin unless he HAS to), and handed over the television in the parking lot, avoiding any meetings in confined quarters. They appeared to be pretty thrilled.

They look sneaky to me.

Then, they gave me a VERY thoughtful gift that they’d looked hard for on Ebay. Sniff. That was so sweet. And, off Lee and I went again. No dilly dallying.

It will do.

The new car told us in no uncertain terms that we needed to get gas, so we planned to stop halfway home. The horses and chickens needed food, and I needed a calendar to mark horse feedings on (because SmartPack, the supplement supplier, didn’t send us a calendar for the first time in many years!).

Well, our luck with the rain ended there. A real downpour began, and there was no way to avoid a real soaking. My boots, pants, sweater, and most of all my hair…all soaked through. I looked like a young man of some sort who just swam across a lake, and no amount of SnapChat filtering would fix it. I did laugh a lot at myself, which confused Lee, poor guy.

To be honest, I’m blathering a bit, because I am sad. I’m happy I got to write about Carlton. And I’m so glad I got to see the kids today, because this week has just been chock full of bad news that really isn’t blog material. And no, it’s not all people from our business, though our staff and clients have gotten some raw deals from the hands of fate, that’s for sure.

The worst. Today I found out a young man I’d always liked passed away in a house fire, and that was just the last straw. My heart just aches for his parents and sister, who have always been incredibly kind to me.

Please tell people you care about that you’re there for them. I’m gonna even tell the son who won’t speak to me. Because I do still care.

Happy Birthday, Carlton!

When we got my very pale dog, Carlton, he was around 4 months old. Sandra told us he’d been taken from his mother at 4 weeks and given to a child as a birthday present. Once the novelty wore off, he was chained outside for a couple months until Sandra rescued him and took him to the pound.

Just a blue-eyed boy.

She babied him and socialized him until I decided I wanted a small dog to commute with me between Cameron and Austin. He looked perfect in size and temperament. And he was so beautiful. He had weird blue eyes and we weren’t sure how well he could see.

My favorite picture of when I got him.

So, we took him to doctors and such, determining he could indeed see at least some, and that his coloring is a rare double Merle variation. Luckily, he has a Fox terrier spotting pattern that covers his ears. So he can hear!

Beautiful.

Carlton didn’t work out as a commuter dog. After he pulled me down a steep, wet hill and messed up my ankle (still hurts often) we decided to leave him at the ranch where he could run and grow. Soon, Vlassic appeared out of nowhere and I had my small dog!

Today!

It’s the day we arbitrarily decided is Carlton’s third birthday. He now weighs around 40 pounds and looks like the Greyhound Bus logo. He’s very fast and seems to see just fine. We think being confined on the short chain as a pup delayed his vision development, but he’s good now.

He does like to chew. And Alfred taught him to find food on the counter. Grr.

The most important thing to me is our bond. We sure love each other. The thing I look forward to most every evening is when he delicately steps onto my recliner and settles between my feet. He will lean his head way back and stick that pink nose upside down in my face. After a tiny lick he will settle down with a big sigh. That makes my day.

Night night.

Every night, he sleeps at my feet, or at my side if Needy Penney lets him.

Hiding from the lights.

Carlton is now a really good dog. He’s grown out of his youthful barking and jumping, which helps a lot. We enjoy watching him play and run with the other dogs and don’t have to worry about him chasing cows, because we don’t let him out much. Well, no dog is perfect.

My Best Accomplishment of 2020

Now that it’s getting near the end of the year, I guess we can look back and see what we’ve accomplished. I’m grateful that so many of us are still here, and sad to have lost others in this pandemic. But, in a more cheerful vein, I learned only today what my best accomplishment of 2020 has to be.

This is a hint

Happy Horse News

Yes, today at his farrier visit, Apache was declared to be in his best physical shape ever. Trixie kept repeating how good he looked. He also is in great mental shape, because she also remarked many times about how well behaved he was.

Here is Apache behaving well during a delicate procedure on his back quarters. You can see his heart-shaped chest patch.

His feet look really great, and that’s a tribute to how carefully Sara and I have managed him since he got all lame after eating spring grass in the big pasture. I’ll be able to ride him now! I’m very grateful for all of Sara’s and Trixie’s help and advice (and everybody else’s, too), because apparently putting him in the little pasture with poor fodder and supplementing with last year’s hay was what he needed.

He is at his ideal weight!

Not only did he lose the fat, but his coat is in much better shape now, too. Even his winter coat is shiny and soft. That may be the result of worming him sufficiently, for which I thank Sara very much. His mane and tail are growing back in well, too.

Yes, it’s a horse’s butt, but it’s an important image. That is a straight tail.

Best of all, now that he’s lost weight, Trixie can see what’s going on with his skeleton and musculature much better. This let her figure out what might have been causing his tail to veer to the left so significantly. So, she was able to don some gloves, put on some lotion, and manipulate some “intimate” areas to where they are looser, which loosened the tail.

Whee, my tail feels good. So does the rest of me.

We decided not to photograph exactly HOW happy the manipulation made him, but it was mighty impressive. We thought it might hurt, but apparently it was quite the opposite.

Through all the prodding, tail pulling, and leg stretching, Apache was a true gentleman gelding, albeit a happy one. In fact, when a leg stretch didn’t quite work, he cooperatively picked his foot up and angled it over to Trixie as if to say, “Try again, I’ll do better this time.” At a certain point, Trixie and I just stood there grinning at how great he was doing. She said that this is why she does what she does, seeing an animal with an improved quality of life like Apache has.

“Who am I, chopped liver?”

Not to be outdone, Fiona was quite a little lady as she got her tiny little feet trimmed. It had been twelve weeks, and all the little issues she’d had were also completely grown out. It amazes me how Trixie can sit on the ground and trim Fiona’s feet, with Fiona just standing there and picking up whatever foot is asked for. This is most un-donkey-like!

“Look, as long as someone is petting or brushing me, I can stand here all day. Treats never hurt, either.”

Even Fiona’s health seems better. Her normally pretty dull winter coat has shiny parts, too, though she’s still a bit plump. It just doesn’t take much to feed a donkey, even one as active as Fiona.

“You’re gonna WHAT?”

Trixie and I talked about getting her a little cart and sending her over to learn driving (cart, not car), if Trixie’s first donkey-cart training client goes well. I think that would be incredibly fun. However, we’re pretty sure Fiona won’t be thrilled at the idea of having to work for a living, having gotten by on cuteness for all these years.

I am SO proud of having the patience and receiving the good advice needed to help my horse friend back into good health. He’s back to cheerfully going wherever I lead him and doing whatever I ask him to. He and Fiona run happily together. And I get the benefit of the love my horse and donkey give me.

Boom! Stats Galore!

Well, yesterday was a fun one for me on WordPress. Innocently enough, I’d posted the pattern for my Fireside Wrap on Ravelry (the popular fiber arts community website), thinking someone else might like to make one. I thought no more about it, and spent most of the day watching clouds.

Sunbeams shining on our house, way in the distance.

Then, I started getting notices that my stats were booming. Hmm, I didn’t think the post about the chicken palace was THAT interesting. So, I checked out what was happening. Oh, of course. The pattern.

Don’t I look all official.

I’d forgotten that new patterns go into a little featured area, where people can look through them. People were obviously looking (drawn by the photo of Penney, no doubt). I monitored the posts all day long, figuring I’d have more hits than usual, but not all that many more. I underestimated how many people look at the Ravelry site on any given day. Lots.

Whoa, that’s some stats!

I never had more than 200 views per day, as far as I can remember. This is not a hugely popular blog (and that’s fine with me; I write it for me, my friends, and nice other people who happen to find it). Thus, 558 blew me away. It certainly makes the rest of the week look sad, right? I’ve already got 78 this morning (written around 10:15 am), which is more usual for a normal day or a medium-popular post or posts.

As expected, the two posts about the wrap/blanket accounted for most of the hits. Still, even without the surge, there were 146 views, more than usual. I think what’s happened is that I hit the magic number of followers that gets the blog picked up by WordPress to display under certain keywords, so my tagging has done its job.

It looks like the mother ship is about to beam the Hermits’ Rest up!

Actually, I noticed that since I hit 400 WordPress followers, I’ve gotten new follows at a much higher rate. I’ve gotten 50 followers since December 4. Also, more and more people are “liking” past posts, which means they got displayed somewhere, because certainly no one is searching for them! Algorithms are pretty interesting, even for people who don’t blog JUST to attract hits and followers.

I’m glad I’m doing something right, and I’m glad that a few people might make a simple, yet pretty wrap like I made. It’s good to give back to the community in a small way. I’ll never be the fancy pattern designer I’d hoped to be, back when I was trying to be a part of the cool kids in the knitting community, but I’m there, and that’s what counts.

Bitmoji Overload

I didn’t know you could paste Bitmoji images directly from the keyboard into a WordPress blog.

Well, this is perfect.

I guess you can. Now if I could only make the avatar actually look like me. Some people do great. Not me.

Back to watching the blog hits add up. I put the wrap thing I made for Kathleen up on Ravelry, so it’s showing up as a new pattern. That frenzy will end soon!

It’s a Chicken Palace!

Yesterday was just beautiful, sunny with pleasant temperatures, though a little breezy. It was a perfect day to do some more work on the chicken run. When we last saw it, the run was squared off, the roof frame was up and some cover was on it. Today, the chickens have a nice, big roof that will protect them a bit from rain, and most important, give them some shade in the summer.

chicken run
At most hours of the day, this roof will give the chickens some sun protection.

After that, things got even more fun. The water dispenser has been repaired, and even more fantastic, it’s level, so water dispenses through all the holes. I’ve detected chicken action at it, so they know it’s there.

Ready for their drinking pleasure.

Next, CC built a sturdy device to hold their newly improved food dispensers. Now, the food doesn’t spill out, and there are lots of holes for them to eat out of. Plus, the food is in the middle of the run, which means it’s way less likely to get wet unless there’s a particularly driving rain.

chicken coop
You can see how there are two feeders, at two different heights, well away from the edges of the run.

With the basics taken care of, we had to make sure to provide fun and entertainment for our fowl friends. What could be more fun than a double-decker swing, right?

chicken swing
I know a particular rooster who will be all over this for crowing and announcing his glory. And Gertie back there will probably use it a lot, too.

We realize that if there is one on top and one on the bottom, there may be some poop collateral damage, but what the heck. It’s fun!

We also added a few more perches for them, and I put a branch in there, so they will have something fun to peck on (and maybe it will attract some bugs to eat).

You can see random pieces of fun wood at left, and sorta see the branch at rear right.

At the moment, the infirmary/baby cage is not in the run. We plan to put it in when we need to, and surround it with protection, like more tin, to keep young and injured birds safe.

Here is the entire chicken palace. There are 5 nest boxes. One gets used. Dang chickens.

We have also been discussing getting yet another dog run to turn into an area for new chickens, and making a place for chicks, with a heat lamp. Buying all these adult chickens is getting expensive. But, we plan to keep them inside for a while, to deter the chicken hawk and teach Bertie to lay in the coop, not the garage. This explains why we put so many entertainment items in the run.

chickens
This food is NOT enough entertainment for us. But, we like it.

Now that things are pretty well set up (I’m so grateful for it!), and Springsteen (the black Jersey Giant) appears to have gone broody on us, I decided to just let her try to raise some chicks (yes, it’s winter, but we will put the family somewhere warm if babies show up and it gets cold).

fertile hen eggs
There’s one egg from everyone currently laying but Bertie (so, Hedley, Star, and Buttercup). Springsteen isn’t laying, because she’s setting, and Bertie lays in the garage. I only have five hens left, sniff.

This may give us some less expensive chickens, if it works. It can’t hurt to try. Plus, they may lay cool colored eggs, if we get any to adulthood, with Bruce the Easter Egger as the Baby Daddy!

Bertie Lee, a hen
“Today’s shoe had no laces, but I went after the shiny bits,” says Bertie, the nonconformist hen.

Thanks to all of you who put up with my chicken posts. These birds are sure entertaining, even if they are hard to keep alive.

And hey, have any of you thought of a Word of the Year yet?

Bring Back the Word of the Year. Enough.

For a few years, I participated in the practice of selecting a word of the year. The idea is to look at the year through the lens of the word you chose.

Inspired

I didn’t do it for a few years, and haven’t since I started this blog. But, through the miracle of figuring out where the option to search my old Facebook posts is located in the interface, I found my choices from previous years. It appears that the 2013 word was “Flexibility.” Good choice.

And here I found out the 2014 word was “acceptance” (that’s done me good ever since!) and 2015 was “vulnerability.” Whew. I’m glad I’m healthy for my age, because I can see how long it takes to really assimilate concepts that require fundamental changes in my outlook and mindset.

I’m not sure how I got out of the practice of setting a word for each year, because I enjoyed it in the past. Maybe 2016 was a hard year for focusing. It was the year we spent at the little casita. That was, indeed, a confusing year. Of course, I’m glad I didn’t pick a 2020 word, as interesting as that might have been.

2021

It took very little meditation to have this year’s word come to me. My year’s focus and mantra need to be this.

2021 Suna Word of the Year

Yes. Whatever happens, I want to find it to be enough. I’m not going to push this year. I want to appreciate what I have, how things are, who is in my life, and what happens. I’m not looking for perfection. I want to abide and accept my circumstances. It’s enough.

I encourage you to find your own word for 2021. Please share, if you would like to.