Goldie the Great Dane Goes Mudding

You don’t have to go out of town to have adventures, as the Hermits’ Rest’s biggest canine, Goldie, discovered today. We made it home from Bandera and getting new job paperwork done in plenty of time for daily chores and a bit of fun.

Explorer Goldie.

The deer stand on the property had gotten blown over by the wind, so I went along to watch the tractor right it. Goldie ran alongside us.

It’s pretty here.

Once the stand was righted, we just had to enjoy the beauty of the back part of the ranch. I love it there, where all you see is grass and trees. It’s really fun on a horse, but pretty darned good on foot.

Up it goes.

We wandered around a bit finding big rocks for Lee’s pond. Then we went to check one of the small tanks/ponds that hides back there. I got all distracted by this walking stick on a Christmas cholla cactus.

The brown thing is an insect.

Goldie decided she was thirsty. After all, it got over 100 degrees today, and she ran all this way. She did her best to get to the water in the muddle of the pond, but nope. The mud was up past her knees.

I can’t get to the water.

The sound of Goldie pulling her feet out of the mud was the definition of “suck.” It was pretty funny, but I was glad she didn’t get stuck. She was too.

She was sooo dirty.

It’s hard to say what’s more

This evening, though, we looked down and saw Carlton patiently cleaning Goldie’s legs. They made a lot of progress before all the dogs erupted in play. Yeah, we miss our dogs when we leave.

It Was a Good Break, No Bull

Time for something that won’t get a zillion hits (so it’s not about changing jobs). I enjoyed this weekend’s little break at a ranch outside of Bandera, Texas. We didn’t even leave the place the whole time. Yesterday, everyone mostly sat around in the very comfortable house, read books, or watched football.

Howdy from me and howdy.

I, of course, went outside to see what I could see. You’d think 29 acres of pasture wouldn’t yield anything, but that’s not the case! There is a lot of native grass and other plants out here, so I was able to find some new things to put in iNaturalist. And since I’m always scrounging around, I found interesting poop and some dead things (a large mouse and a fairly recently deceased fawn (boo hoo)). I’ll spare you photos of that.

I had to get Kathleen’s picture with the big guy, too!

I also spent a lot of time with the longhorns that live here. The steer (Howdy) is really well trained, and used to work at shows and stuff. He puts his giant head down so you can pat him between the horns. That’s the safest place. When flies bother him, he flings his head, and those attached horns, pretty dang hard. Anyway, that’s the no bull part. The cow is Little Sister, and she is friendly, but just learning to accept pats.

Really, though, the woman who owns this place is great with animals. The two horses are so well behaved and happy, the longhorns are friendly, and her dogs are a total hoot. She has one Aussie shepherd that apparently is a double merle, so he is deaf and can only see in one eye, so the other one leads him around and fetches him when she calls. Aww. (Sorry no pics.)

These are the broodmares next door. They have very fancy hay feeders.

Enjoy some of the things I saw as I wandered around looking at the neighboring very fancy quarter horses and the random plants. I’m heading back home after a work meeting (yay Zoom) to pee in a cup and prove I am a US citizen for the new job. Then it’s back to “normality” for a couple of weeks.

Why I Didn’t Want to Leave My Job but Left Anyway

It came as a surprise to some folks that I took a new position after being at one place for such a long time. To others, it came as a relief, no doubt. But to be honest, I really wanted to stay at my current employer. I just wasn’t a great fit for what I was currently doing.

But I’m happy today. Me and Bogey the horse

I’d really been enjoying the work I was doing in diversity and inclusion there. I discovered I was really interested in the topic (thus all my book reports on unconscious bias and allyship) and wanted to help the company move forward with their focus on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. I’d brought up the idea of creating an official position for D&I, and everyone I talked to thought it was a great idea and that I’d be a good choice. But, new CEOs, new initiatives, new reorganizations, and new priorities came up that made my urgent desire a not-so-urgent corporate nice-to-have. I totally get that, but I do want my colleagues to know I really cared about the people at the company and wanted to be able to help them with their concerns. Things just didn’t work out due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

He didn’t like the coffee.

In addition, I cared very much about the customers of this company and was darned proud of the work I’d done to help them succeed in using a complicated enterprise-level software “solution.” I would love to have stayed in my position where I contributed to that work, which is exactly why I took my new position: I get to do what I like and am good at again!

Mostly, though, I hate leaving people I care about and who rely on me. I know perfectly well that no one is irreplaceable. In fact, I repeated this endlessly the last time the organizational priorities and my skills and interest no longer meshed and I needed to go elsewhere. (I do feel I left those folks in a bad position, but they seem to have all found other good stuff to do.) Where I am now, I was onboarding new team members and serving as a mentor to a few other folks. I’ll miss this the most. I was actually doing my best to hang on as long as I could be helpful to my coworkers and do good work in whatever role I was asked to do.

This is Chevy, the other horse where I am. He is also gray!

Sometimes you have to change your jobs. I did have a choice here…to wait and see if I could find a better fit in the company or look at other options. It’s weird as heck that a recruiter called with the new position the exact same day I realized I had to leave. That sounds all pretty and like it’s a packaged tied up in a bow, but I just wanted to share that it was not an easy decision.

One of my character “features” is that I care. I care about my work and the people I work with. Things would be a lot easier if I didn’t. I was way too committed to the “servant leadership” thing for my own good, and really wanted to be there for people who need my encouragement or support.

Two pretty boys. Bogey is very, very tall. Both had their manes trimmed because of sand burs.

I wish all of you who work in large organizations the kind of leadership who provide encouragement, support, and mentorship. I’m not planning to seek opportunities to lead teams during my remaining few years in the workforce, though. I’ll do work I like, do my best, and give and seek support elsewhere.

Escaped to Another Ranch

To celebrate my job change and help me wind down, the family surprised me with a getaway to Bandera.

It’s a different place than we went last year, though nearby. We are the first guests in the guesthouse at Farmer’s Daughter, so everything is fresh and new. Even the trees are new. But it’s also really familiar, with horses, cattle, a bunch of dogs, and rustic stuff.

Looking through the gate

It turns out you can bring dogs and horses here, so we might return! I’ve walked around and identified some plants, you know, because I do that.

This is virgin’s bower.

I also am thrilled to have a horse to pet. This fellow will show you how Drew will look in a few years. He even has a snip on his nose like Drew.

The cattle are two longhorns, one friendly, one not. The bull is so beautiful!

I’m doing my best to relax, though I’m annoyed I didn’t know there would be a hot tub. Mine is all wire, so no good yet! Because I’m just wiped out, I’m going to just going to share some scenery and sign off.

I’ll be more coherent tomorrow. Now I shall eat my celebration cake and drink wine.

A Surprise from Suna

Folks, it’s been a very long and very hard week for your resident blogger, but the good news is that Suna is here, has met her challenges and come out on the other side with her pride and self esteem intact. That’s really, really good news.

Like good ole Dusty here, I’ve been dealing with a load of poop, and it’s left me a bit disheveled.

I can generically shared that I got some quite unexpected and upsetting feedback at my job last week. You know me and my lifelong battle with self esteem…I was a bit of a mess there for a day or two. But, all this growth stuff I keep talking about kicked in MUCH quicker than it would have in the past. And life and the Universe already had an option ready for me when I needed it most!

A mere fifteen minutes after the unpleasantness, I had an interview for a job that I’d decided I just HAD to do, because it looked so interesting. After talking to the recruiter it became clear that there literally was no one else on the face of the earth more qualified for the job than me. It was like, “Here is the description of the part of your job you’ve enjoyed the most, but that no longer is a priority, so you’re not doing it now.”

I had a perfectly reasonable week at work this week, because I actually DO like my current coworkers and the project I’m working on. But, after interviewing with the cool and interesting people at the other job, it clearly was a better fit for my skills and my current stage of life. Oh yes, don’t forget that much better pay rate. So, I said yes and gave my two weeks’ notice where I am now.

Oh yeah, the pool is ready for the next stage. It even got inspected.

I assure you, this was not how I’d wanted to wind down my career, but I think I’ll learn a lot, have fun, get to know some new people, and not lose the real friends I made at the current place. I think everyone will be happy with this. I’m really proud to have managed this transition as smoothly as I have. Things sure can work out, at least sometimes!

My readers, family, and friends: your support and kindness has really helped, even if you didn’t know it. It’s nice to know there are folks who appreciate you!

Mysterious Structures

Hmm. Our front “yard” suddenly has interesting sculptures or something. And it’s not rebar, it’s metal pipe.

Life-size hangman game?

They just erupted this evening. They weren’t there earlier today!

Another one.

They certainly look sturdy. Luckily I figured out where they were coming from, because I found a welding table over by the garage.

Aha. A fabrication area.

There’s actually a good reason for these structures. There will be a new fence going up, a bit sooner than originally planned. That will give the dogs the ability to run around in front of the house without the problems we’ve been having.

Who us? Cause problems?

Yeah. Goldie loves to go across the road to visit the neighbors. The very cute neighbor dogs like to come over here. We are all worried our dogs will get hit, like Brody did. and our dogs like to chase slow vehicles and people who are running or cycling. We don’t want that! They get over-excited and misbehave.

The dogs will have lots more space.

So the fence that was supposed to go up after the pool was done is going up now. There will be a temporary gate for pool vehicles. There’s plans for gates that will make it not too annoying for us.

It will be fun to see what happens with these.

Still, it looks like modern sculpture to me.

Chicken Newsflash

I haven’t written much about the chickens in a while. They have been blessedly normal and fine for quite some time! The only thing that has been bugging me is how long it has taken for the new bunch of hens to start laying. All I can figure is the few weeks of really hot weather may have delayed them. The older chickens, on the other hand, have been moulting, so there sure are a lot of feathers all over the place.

Pretty little egg

On July 27, there was one egg laid with an unfamiliar pattern on it, but nothing since then. Today, however, there was another pullet egg, on the ground, with some interesting spots on it. So, someone has started up.

The makings of a feather bed

I’ve been getting four eggs a day lately, and I have a suspicion that Blondie, the Buff Orpington, may already be laying normal-size brown eggs and I just don’t realize it’s her. She has very red comb coloration now, and has for a while (that is a sign they are ready to lay). There should be some colored eggs at some point, since I have an Easter Egger and another breed that lays colored eggs, but those two haven’t started.

I’m a grown lady. By the way, Henley, who is behind her, hasn’t laid an egg in months.
No idea why.

The other chicken news is rather predictable. Once again, Star, the world’s most persistent chicken mother wannabee, is broody. I thought about it today, and went ahead and stuck one of Butternut’s eggs and one from either Bertie Lee or Springsteen under her. We’ll not miss those three eggs, and if these hatch, well, Star is already setting in the cage where she can raise the chicks. We’ll see!

Leave me alone. I’m in my box.

In pool news, the guys seem to have finished the rebar today. The highlight is the shape for the fire feature. I will be interested to see what is next.

Ready for flames and lights.

Right now, I’m busy holding onto rocks for grounding, trying to look my best, and exuding positive vibes. It’s always a good thing!

This little rock has an S in crystals in it. Suna power!

Is It a Rebar Sculpture?

That’s what I asked myself when I went out to check on the Pool of Dreams after work. It’s looking very sculptural.

The flat area is our “beach” section, where you can bask in shallow water, or if you’re a dog, slurp.

They’ve been working on the rebar framework for the pool for a couple of days now. The idea is they make a ten-inch grid on all the surfaces. That’s for the gunnite to stick to when they build the shell of the pool.

The hot tub looks really cool. The part you can see through will be the waterfall. Ahh.

I learned from the men in the family why the rebar sits on bricks. It can’t touch the dirt, or it will rust and degrade and cause problems. They thought it was gonna do that and got all worried. But, the pool boss guy assured them anything touching dirt would go away when the frame was done. Yep.

You can see the bricks from this angle. You can also see where they are making a seating ledge in the deep end, for sitting and drinking wine.

It’s been fun watching the shape of the pool come to life. I’m figuring out where the skimmers will be, where all the fancy lights will be, and stuff like that.

What it looked like yesterday.

I also found out that because our fire feature will be propane, not natural gas, we can’t put those fancy glass rocks in it. We have to use lava rock. Why? Because propane is heavier than LP gas, and it would get trapped under the small pieces of glass. It would go boom. Not good.

And there’s always the sky.

We enjoy sitting and watching the clouds and animals now that the evenings are cooling down. It sure helps with the anxiety, which is better today.

Carlton really wanted to get into the disabled machine (its track thing burst).

Tomorrow is a big day for me, so send me lots of positive energy if you have any to spare. As a reward, I’ll share some pictures of my animal buddies. It is so pleasant outside with clouds, a cool breeze, and normal September temperatures!

Book Report: Olive Kitteridge

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A friend recommended I read the books by Elizabeth Strout on Olive Kitteridge, because I said I was interested in good character development. I ordered them, and just finished Olive Kitteridge. It’s a quiet masterpiece.

The book is a series of short stories, sort of, though the same people in a small Maine town appear and re-appear. Olive, a large sorta grumpy woman is the pivotal character who appears in each story. It’s fun to wait and see how she turns up and how the other people perceive her.

I love how normal and real the people in the stories are, but also how they each have personal tragedies that shape them. One theme I detected in the book was of people daring to do something unexpected or out of character. It usually works out well, but not always. It reminded me of my own attempts to get out of my shell, tell my truth, or speak up. Only mine tend to backfire. Never mind…

I did find many beautiful phrasings and observations about daily life, beauty, and appreciation of your current moment. But mostly it was about feeling lonely.

When he was in town, it seemed he saw couples everywhere; arms tucked against each other in sweet intimacy; he felt he saw light flash from their faces, and it was the light of life, people were living.

Starving, p. 99

And she has an amazing way of showing how disconnected and lonely people can let themselves be. I felt like framing a couple things Strout has her characters think or say.

It’s just that I’m the kind of person that thinks if you took a map of the whole world and put a pin in it for every person, there wouldn’t be a pin for me

Criminal, p. 236

What I get from Strout’s interrelated tales is that we can all feel our separateness deeply, and we all seek intimacy in our own ways. I’m grateful for all the glimpses into everyday intimacy that the stories in Olive Kitteridge provide. I will probably turn to this book often just to re-read some of the words and slip back into the feelings they elicit.

Great book. Thanks so much to the friend who recommended it!

Go Away Anxiety. I Need a Nap.

When you’ve been graced with a genetic predisposition to anxiety, you can meditate, breathe, do talk therapy, and take helpful medicine all you want, but still have days when you can’t deal with the symptoms.

Current co-napper

I woke up that way today. I was dealing with my personal “stuff” fine yesterday, but since I woke up this morning, some chemicals are flying around my brain that are decidedly unhelpful and unpleasant. I got through my meetings, and through the screaming haze and fuzziness, I was even able to contribute. But wow, I feel like I’m in a vat of buzzing jello, with a high-pitched droning soundtrack. Oh, with bonus eye tic and chest pains. Thanks, anxiety.

Napper to my far left.

I’m going to try to sleep it off, me and the canines, who are great napping role models. I’ll share some nice sleeping dog images to entertain you, since I can’t put two thoughts together right now.

Napper to my immediate left.

My sinuses are yelling, too, because it’s dusty and the air pressure keeps changing. I’m a big ole negative whiner!

Napper in the next room.

Tomorrow is another day.

He was napping, then I came downstairs.