A Doggie Expedition

Requests come in for more about the dogs. Ok, fine. Today, they were all wound up, so I took the dogs out to explore the woods and creek. They love that.

Carlton, Alfred, Penney, and Harvey check out one of the ponds.

We must have looked cute, because someone stopped to take a picture of us! Alfred insisted on taking a drink out of every pond or big puddle he came across.

Mmm this one is good.
Ah, small but tasty. Carlton likes it, too.

We had a blast, even though it was a bit chilly and windy. The dogs smelled many things, rolled in poop, and found things to chew on. Penney found a possum skull. Ick. No pictures of that! She wouldn’t put it down, and spent most of the afternoon enjoying it.

Here are some more photos of their fun.

Views of Home

Yesterday I took a few pictures as I approached the ranch on my walk.

Right past the bridge.

It’s a mid-winter view only a property owner could love. There’s last year’s evil Georgia cane, some fencerow trees planted by birds, ugly power lines, and my house way in the distance. But, seeing that bottom land makes my heart swell, because it’s home.

It’s a field, all right.

I see dead trees and pretty live ones. I know the trees provide habitat and cover for wildlife, like the cottontail I saw yesterday and all those sparrows (yesterday I saw gorgeous Harris’s sparrows, chipping sparrows, yellow-throated sparrows, vesper sparrows and more). I love this winter landscape.

When you get to know a place, you see it’s beauty and unique features all year round.

Rooster Digression

Late yesterday afternoon, Lee and I took a walk around the house area, looking at the winter life. When we came back up, we saw the chickens, but heard some loud cackling from inside the garage. Lee said it sounded like someone had laid an egg. But, all the hens were nearby. It had to be Bruce.

How did I get up here? How do I get down?

We walked in and found that, yes, Bruce was making the noise. He was sitting on top of the garage fridge looking confused.

I’m king of the hill!

He does like high spots, like Gertie the guinea did. He just seemed to be having trouble figuring out how to get back down. He did, eventually! He was all cozy in the coop when I went out to shut their door.

I hope your home brings you some joy during this bleak midwinter. Some of my US friends are getting pretty snowfalls!

Seen on a Walk: Ducks, Crawfish, Murmurations

Taking a walk in nature is good for your mood, so I have been out walking today. First I walked around our stream, looking for live crawfish, until it rained. Then, after the sun came out, I walked down the road to the cemetery and back, just to see what’s out there.

I really enjoyed looking at the water around our house. It’s so pretty.

I like the reflections.

I found no living crawfish, but saw many holes and castles (mud they leave while digging holes). I also found mushrooms, raccoon poop and general beauty.

I still can’t find where the front spring is, but it’s still flowing away. I made a movie.

I was in a hurry, so I forgot to turn the camera. But it’s pretty.

After the rain, it was so beautiful out! I wish the weather was always like this. It isn’t hot or cold. Birds are loving it, too.

Yesterday I’d seen some ducks behind the house, but the dogs sent them away before I could ID them. I was irritated, but hoped they’d stay. Sure enough, I was able to see them through the binoculars this morning. They were hooded mergansers! Fancy!

From Merlin Bird ID.

I really wanted a photo, though. I was excited to see them in the pond by the road on my walk. Of course, they took off. But, ha! I had the phone camera on burst mode! I got them flying!

Blurry, but recognizable!

Then, I heard a noise. It was the unmistakable sound of starlings. We have large flocks of this non-native bird around here. I knew they’d take off soon, so I waited a minute. Sure enough, they broke into two groups. It’s fun to watch.

It doesn’t take much to entertain me, does it? I just wish I had someone to walk with. I’d probably feel like going farther with a co-walker!

Your COVID Precautions Are Perfect for You

Hey, so we’re all living through this pandemic, right? We all listen to our preferred news outlets, discuss it with family and friends, have our own experiences, and then decide how we are going to cope.

Very few of us are hiding and ignoring what’s going on, unlike Cozy Carlton here.

I know a lot of people, in Cameron and Austin, but also around the world. They sure differ in how they decide to live their pandemic lives. Here in Cameron, I know people who haven’t changed their lives at all, except having to deal with store closures. I also know people whose underlying issues and financial means make them most comfortable not leaving their house at all.

Most people are somewhere in between. My children have to work. Many people are in that position, so they do what they can, wearing masks and washing hands a lot. Some people go grocery shopping and such, but limit their trips. Others figure out what shops or services are not crowded or taking precautions and use them.

Penney stays home.

Nearly all of us have our mask collections, since we can’t go places without them, but some are more careful with their technique than others.

Here are Lee’s masks drying.

Why are you telling us this?

The point is that, as with so many other things, there’s no one right way to deal with the COVID outbreak. People choose to make decisions based on information that matters to them and act accordingly. There are a LOT of factors involved, like personal philosophy, your risk factors, and your comfort level.

Harvey points out that his comfort level is high.

Because of all this, I’ve made the choice to not judge people on their choices, even when I disagree or am not comfortable with them. I don’t know their reasons much of the time, and when I do know them, I figure it’s their business.*

What’s the issue?

I was a little surprised that when I shared my recent hair update, most of the comments were from people who seemed uncomfortable with going to salons. I felt a bit judged, I have to say. Of course every single commenter had higher risk factors that me (age, illness, immune system stuff, etc.). If I was in that group, I might have made a different decision, myself.

I can sure see how people who can’t get their hair cut might wish they could! I don’t blame them. I wish I could travel as much as some of my friends have. And I know people weren’t thrilled when I did travel. Yep.

I completely respect those of you who haven’t cut your hair in a year. You are doing what works for you, having evaluated the risks. But, I also evaluated the risks. I chose a small salon that has made many modifications in the last year. They require masks at all times, don’t let clients near each other, and sanitize like crazy. I know the hairdresser. I took the risk based on my comfort level.

We are all under so much stress these days. Let’s consider giving others a break and assume they are making their decisions based on what works for them, even when it’s not what you’d do.

Anyway, now you know why I didn’t mention my previous two haircuts! And yes, if I was under one of the endless quarantines I’ve been in, from being exposed to someone who’s been exposed to someone, I’d have canceled.

I like you! Unretouched photo of morning face.

Note that I love you all and want you safe and healthy. If you think I’m talking about you, know that I understand where you’re coming from, which is from concern for my well being. I appreciate all you readers, wherever you land on the precautions continuum.


* I realize that people choosing to take few precautions do endanger others. I’ve seen the results in my community. I still can’t MAKE people who disagree with public health policy make different choices.

What Did the Horses See?

I know my friend Sara will enjoy today’s horse story. I made it back to the ranch between meetings. It was a beautiful afternoon, so I took off to feed the horses after my last meeting of the day. I felt so good that I even jogged there. I guess the Wolf Moon DID make the world feel like a better place for me!

There were no problems feeding Apache, Fiona, and Big Red, who enjoyed their hugs (not the chicken) and grub. Then, I went over with the food for Spice and Lakota. Hmm. They weren’t standing there waiting for me, like they usually are every afternoon!

So, I called them. I saw Spice raise her head, way at the far end of the pasture, over by Sara’s house. I called again, and the head didn’t move. I them spotted the immobile form of Lakota. Why on earth weren’t they thundering their way over to me?

I walked and walked. I got to the narrow, muddy space they have to go through to get to where I feed them. There they were, staring at me in the way that horses that are nervous stare. I called them. More staring, then turning around and going the other way. That was NOT like them.

I really didn’t want to walk across the mud. Ugh. But they were WAY over there.

Now I was really curious as to what was up with those two. I finally walked up to them. Lakota was pacing, turning, and breathing hard. Spice was frozen, staring across the fence.

I see something. I don’t like it.

I looked across the fence. There I saw a whole lot of robins, a couple types of sparrows, random meadowlarks, and some brush. I couldn’t imagine that rowdy robins were that scary. Was there something in the brush or the woods? Meanwhile, Lakota is breathing hard and flaring his nostrils. Spice looks like she sees a ghost. Maybe she did.

Lark sparrows blend in with the background.

That was enough of that, so I started back, encouraging them to come with me. They did, slowly. When I got to the muddy spot, they froze again, this time staring at the wooded area they usually hang out in all day JUST FINE. I began to wonder if there were hogs in there or something. Or a bobcat. Eek.

Bravely, I went back through the squishiness. As soon as I got across, Spice decided it was time to make her escape. She zipped through the mud, followed by Lakota. Luckily no mud landed on me as she flew by me. They proceeded to leave me in their galloping wake as they beelined toward the water trough and area where we feed them.

Getting the hell out of there.

I looked carefully for unfamiliar things as I walked back. Nope, nothing was out of the ordinary that I could see. No hog evidence or any other oddities. I guess there were ghosts in the woods.

When I finally reached them, they were drinking water like crazy. I guess they’d been “trapped” over at the other side of the pasture for a long time. You can rest assured, of course, that they weren’t so frightened that they couldn’t eat. They ate just fine.

I have absolutely NO idea what the drama was all about, though I was glad to see this little trailer that had apparently brought some fill for the biggest of the potholes on the driveway to the cabin and barn. That will be fun to ride the horses near and see what they think.

I will not miss that hole.

That made a nice break for me!

Should I Step Off a Cliff?

Of course, I mean a metaphorical cliff. Something’s been mulling around in my brain for the past few weeks. It would entail a change in what I do in my work, but not leaving my job(s) or anything.

Thinking about that metaphorical leap. Photo by @alexrhymethat

They always say to follow your passion, and my passion is not necessarily technical writing. It’s more like enabling people to do their best work possible (which is, indeed, what I do, or try to). I have an idea where I could do more of that in my so-called career.

Inspired by reading so many darned books about envisioning what you want and then making it happen, I’ve actually scheduled to talk about my ideas with someone who could help me out. That’s like jumping off a cliff, for me. I don’t do it often, though the last time I did, it worked, and it led me where I am today.

My gut tells me I only have a few more years left in the standard workplace, and I want to figure out how I can make the most of them. So, I am putting my intention out there and acting on it, as well.

Leap of faith time! Image by @jryoung via Twenty20.

Good thoughts are welcome! Share your success stories, while you’re at it!

Not as Butch as I Am in My Mind

My mental image of myself is some tomboy wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and boots. My actual self keeps wearing a lot of jewelry, growing my nails (not at the moment), and messing with my hair. It’s been so many colors and shapes. But at least I’m now going for a color found in humans.

It’s blazing white.

No not platinum blonde. White. Icy white. It looks kind of butch, right? Tell me yes. I am going for a neutral look. Why? I like it. But I have the girly option at any time!

The good news is I don’t have to indulge in fancy hair often. My roots didn’t look all that bad before I went in. So, twice a year I can look like the human version of Carlton and Gracie Lou, our whitest dogs.

Pre-cut root examination.

Kathleen just reminded me that self care is important. And it is. I actually feel a bit better today. Even pretty in my gender neutral way.

Part of that is thanks to y’all. Your support has helped! Tell me, what’s your favorite self care activity? Mine is HAIR.

Sometimes Bland Knitting is a Friend

Most of my life, I’ve done a lot of fancy knitting. But, lately, with all the other things weighing on my mind, simple stuff has been better. The past few things I’ve made would show that (I’ll share at the bottom of this post). I have found that simple, comfort knitting is a great thing to add to my coping with crisis mode toolbox.

(What else is in the toolbox you ask? Well, if you look in the comments of yesterday’s post, you’ll find some great suggestions by a fellow blogger, Julia, that include what I do: healthy snacks, exercise, get out in the light, enjoy cute animals, good music, etc.)

So, since I inadvertently left my current project AND the shawl I was going to finish off at the ranch, I started the little blue shawl I mentioned on Tuesday. Only, it’s not so little anymore. Apparently, my fingers have needed to knit, and my mind has needed to concentrate just a little on something pleasant to give itself a rest.

It has grown so much that I need to get longer needles when I get back to the ranch. This makes it look like a mushroom or a hat.

I’ve knitted up a storm each evening, while watching bland television shows, mostly about cute little animals on Animal Planet Wild. To take your mind off current events, a little Dr. Pol works wonders.

You can see the start of the lace pattern, which gets bigger and bigger as the shawl grows.

I felt confident enough to add some spice to the shawl, so have have thrown in some lattice lace. Yes, it’s making holes, but no, I don’t have to look at a pattern to do it. I just add one yarn over and decrease to each side, which is easy to spot the right place to do. I’m experienced enough to do a left-leaning decrease on the right side of the shawl, and vice versa.

For the tree readers who understood the previous paragraph, here are some ugly decreases.

The decreases aren’t all that attractive, but this thing is mostly wool and will block out. Since I’m not using lace-weight or floofy mohair yarn, it’s not exactly a traditional shawl anyway. It’s gonna be warm for whoever ends up wearing it.

Anita dared me to put a picture of my evening ensemble, in which I actually went out to walk the dog, and ran into a bunch of neighbors. I was obviously feeling like I looked.

If I didn’t have to lead a meeting at the happy hour of 8 am, I’d still be asleep now, because that felt good last night. I’m feeling well enough to send out some strength to my lovely family, my dear friends, and all of you who are facing challenges and keeping going!

Oh yeah, here are the two bland projects I made the last couple of years. One is a rectangle. Zzz.

Not an Easy Time to Be an Empath

Oh no, not another post where someone, specifically Suna, whines about how horrible the past year’s been on those poor pitiful empaths. Not to worry, I, Suna, am also tired of that, especially when I hear it coming from the mouths of some of the least empathic human beings I know. But, who am I to argue about how others self identify? So, go right ahead and say you’re one. Maybe really most of us ARE empaths after all.

Hey, this jasmine plant is blooming already, even after being severely trimmed. Life WILL return to something better after struggle!

So, I’m not whining. I’m just noticing, like one of those intrusive thoughts that come up in meditation that you notice and then let float away while you enjoy the breath moving in and out, if you can (not all folks can!). I notice that I am not alone in experiencing a greater-than-usual amount of death and loss during the past week or two. I notice that, when you combine that with a LOT of change in areas we can’t control (work, politics, family), stress, anxiety, and worry starts running high. I notice imbalance.

In everyone.

I have not spoken to or texted a single person today who is not at just about their limit of 2021-generated agita. I am one of those people. This makes for an uncomfortable circuit of communication in which people share their issue, I share my issue, they share another issue, I share an issue, and in the end, we realize rather than helping each other, we’ve just ramped each other up into sniveling balls of angst. There has been sniveling and sniffling in my life today, none of it unjustified. I feel their pain, and then, because I’m not exactly at my peak of highest self, send pain back, rather than being a good, supportive listener.

I’d like to stop that, now.

  • One choice I have is to remain comfortably numb. If I stop typing, researching, creating, etc., I just stare forward, like I was this morning, with a thick buzzing in my brain, like I’m still asleep. This doesn’t sound like the picture of good mental health, to me.
  • Another thing I tried was to go learn something. That always helps me. So, today, because I was asked to, I did a whole bunch of research on bullet journals and the full focus journals that Lee uses. The women’s group at work is interested in journaling methods for improving their work efficiency. And I made a PowerPoint NOT with the corporate template. That was a treat that perked me up for at least twenty minutes.
  • My best choice I can come up with right now is to talk to someone who doesn’t feel like I do, so I can vent and not have to receive jittery vibes back. Oh good, I’m home, and Anita’s doing fine. I’ll try that.
Read my socks, 2021.

So, if you’re having one of those days where empaths are trying to be empathetic to empaths, go find someone who will just listen and say, “Tut tut, there there, that’s a LOT on your plate, my friend.” And then go read, knit, color in your coloring book, or find another creative outlet. Feel free to ignore the news unless it’s something like transgender rights to serve in the military or getting rid of private prisons (those pleased me yesterday).

I hope to soon notice more of a balance between positive and negative life events, if this works.

If it doesn’t work, what ideas do you have for dragging on through more of the unending negativity and working back toward a more balanced life?

Logic vs. Superstition

What with all the deaths and sicknesses going on in my extended community, I’m a little shell shocked. This morning I’m awake, but feeling like a part of me is still asleep, in the two-story hammock I’d been dreaming about before I awoke.

I don’t own a hammock, but if I did, a double-decker one would be nice. Image by @Barefoot_Traveller via Twenty20

I’m usually a fairly rational person, but in my rationality, I know for sure there are things we don’t understand, don’t know about yet, or defy our current modes of thinking. So, when I remembered I’d been thinking about my friend who passed away much of the day he’d died, I found it a little worrisome. Coincidence or what? The renovation dude is probably fine. I’m just shaken up by all the losses 2021 has already brought.

2021: Like 2020, Only with a Different US Government

Then, last night I dreamed of someone who used to be in my life every freaking day when we did home renovations. I rarely think of him these days. So, I’m all wondering if he’s all right. There are some logical issues in that. But it’s a feeling I get, and I have feelings that are right a LOT.

I think back on it, and I do engage in a lot of “magical thinking.” My mental image of Suna is of someone who’s not superstitious, but I may well be fooling myself. People just seem to have a deep-set need for the comfort of superstitions, or omens, or signs. For example, I feel like it’s going to be a good day if I see deer on the side of the road. No idea what’s up with that one.

Have a nice day, Suna!
Yes, I do have a whole bunch of these, and one at each desk. Image by @adhgraphicdesign via Twenty20,

I have often worn jewelry I think might help me with difficult people or situations. It helps me focus on taking care of myself, no doubt. Or those stones have helpful vibrations. Who knows? I’m not ruling anything out that I don’t have a good explanation for.

Traditional signs or superstitions don’t stick with me, though. I don’t think a cardinal is a loved one coming to visit, though. I’d feel surrounded by ghosts, seeing how many dang cardinals are at the ranch at any time.

Dead person, coming at you! Image by @stacey.haycraft via Twenty20
I’m watching you, from over in Ireland. Image by @mandymy17 via Twenty20

Maybe we all just get comfort thinking there are unknown things beyond ourselves that are out to help us or warn us. Even those of us who believe that it’s Jesus, Mother Mary, or some other deity watching over us seem to often see other signs or omens, or avoid walking under ladders. I guess it can’t hurt to double up.

I’m laughing right now, because my watch decided to update, just a few minutes before I was going to leave for work, and is being particularly pokey about it. I don’t want to stop, so here I am, staring at it. I thought, hmm, maybe if I start something else, like nail maintenance, it will magically speed up the update. That did not work, though now my cuticles smell like roses. No wait, the watch is done! IT WORKED! MAGIC.

I’m curious as to what little signs, omens, or superstitions bring you comfort, even when your logical mind tells you there’s no evidence that it’s going to make a difference one way or the other?