Lakota, the Circle of Life, and Being Startled

I’m guessing that today you’ll be wanting to find out how our boarder horse, Lakota the elderly fancy palomino, came out after his rough time yesterday. Last we heard, he’d been sweating and heaving, and Spice was standing over him like she was guarding his life. Sara is happy to report that after he stood up and made a big poop, he walked off, normally. She did keep checking through the night.

This morning, to our great relief, he was standing under a tree with Spice, and they both had been sleeping. It was probably a rough night for them, too. They both kept yawning and yawning, and were very loving and affectionate. Poor guys.

He just let me hug and hug, and he hugged back.

Sara had a couple of ideas about what had happened. Her current theory (and it’s just a theory) is that he ate some of the nightshade (Silverleaf Nightshade Solanum elaeagnifolium) that had been mown in the pasture (because she is allergic to it). Apparently, horses and cattle don’t eat it when it is alive, but for some reason think it’s tasty when it’s cut and dried. I hope that’s all it was.

It does have pretty flowers.

Thanks to me looking up alternative veterinarians, Sara was able to get in touch with Dr. Brimlee, who works with Milam Touch of Love, and while he couldn’t come last night, we are scheduling him to come soon (Apache’s teeth need to be looked at, too). In any case, we were both really relieved to find two horses standing under the trees this morning!

Spice was a good friend and nurse last night.

After this, my morning went downhill and my anxiety went uphill, but that’s the way the circle of life goes, I guess. As I approached our gate, I saw lots and lots of black birds in the pasture. What, a crow convention? As I got closer, I realized it was vultures. I also saw this.

Brown cow guarding two calves.

I drove overo where the feasting birds were, and found one of the three calves was no longer with us, and hadn’t been for a day or two. That certainly startled me. I don’t know what happened, and I probably won’t, but it was sad and a bit of a shock to see him laying there. Circle of life strikes again.

On the other hand, the chickens are all still here! Haven’t lost one in weeks! And Hedley seems to have given up on being broody, but hasn’t started laying again. I hope she does. She doesn’t seem sick or anything. They all got quite a treat out of a bunch of tomatoes Kathleen donated to them.

Hey, this is good! Thanks! Hedley is the one by the water trough, looking perky.

Even Buttercup and Butternut ate a tomato, which is a first. Maybe they’ll start branching out and eating more than just their feed and only their feed soon. I do enjoy them, and they cheered me up.

THEN I went to drive to the office. There was a giant wasp in the car, the black kind with red wings (sorry, no ID). I usually don’t worry about them, but two of my friends have had bad wasp reactions in the last week, and it started buzzing my head. As I tried to shew it away, I ran off the road. Luckily, I just drove through a lot of long grass, and probably made County Road 140 passersby curious. I am just not having a calm day so far! I’m still shaky. On the other hand, I did find some pretty groundcherries in the overgrown office lawn. These are clammy groundcherries (Physalis heterophylla).

The blossoms face downward, so you often don’t spot them.

So, I will go do my other Saturday writing tasks and breathe deeply. Has anything startled you today?

Horses: Worry? Don’t Worry?

Two quick horse things. The farrier was in again on Tuesday. There were so many things that came up, I had to take notes. The most interesting finding was his hooves. She said his hooves were full of blood that had pooled there when he foundered, which may have been long before we realized it.

I feel better now.

Sara and I had the aha moment that perhaps the reason he was so hard to ride and kept insisting on turning around was sore feet. At that time, they looked fine. From what we deduce, the damage didn’t show up, because it was hidden.

No wonder he’s like a different horse! And I was right that something must have caused him to start acting so weird. Poor guy. The best news, though, is that his hooves are growing in really well. Hooray.

And Lakota

So, this evening I was feeling all good about stuff. We even saw a really pretty rat snake, thanks to a vigilant cattle dog spotting it.

Getting the heck away from the dog!

Poor Lakota feels bad. He keeps lying down and rolling. He tried to eat, but laid back down. We couldn’t get him up, so we called his owner.

Sad horse

Mary said he’d colicked before, and since then, he’s occasionally done that lying down thing. Still, we’re worried. Sara has called many vets, so I hope she hears from one soon. We sure can’t get him up to go to Texas A&M.

Sara put fly spray on him for his comfort.

Say a little prayer for poor Lakota. I hope it’s just his occasional issue. He’s a nice old guy. If it’s his time, that’s fine. He knows he’s loved. Spice is watching him. And Sara keeps checking.

She says he finally got up, pooped, and walked off normally. Well. Do I worry or not? Horses!

Solemn Lessons from RGB

This morning, I left around 8 am to go back to the Cameron office. While I was driving through early-autumn fog, NPR played the ceremony around taking Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to lie in state in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. I’ve been listening to, watching, and reading tributes to her all week, since she passed away, since she’s someone I’ve admired for years.

The perfect weather for today.

As I listened to Nina Totenberg and a former law clerk of hers talk about the things RBG accomplished in her life, a huge wave of gratitude came over me. I drove through the silent fog of southern Milam County, thinking the blurred scenery was perfect for such a time of major transition. The fog reminded me of the fact that, while I’ve come far in my life, I can’t see very far ahead to where I’m going. And while Ginsberg achieved so much for the rights of her fellow Americans, the direction in which her beloved country and its legal system is going is also veiled and unsure right now.

Where are we going? It’s up to us, I hope.

I shivered, there in my car, alone with the dog.

Something one of the commentators said really hit home with me. She spoke about meeting up with two sisters who’d driven many miles to pay their respects to their Supreme Court hero. They pointed out that they are in their 60s, and their own mother was born at a time when women weren’t allowed to vote. My mother was born two years later. When my great grandmother was born, people could still own slaves where she lived. We have collectively gained so many rights in a few short years. When I was born, women could not make their own reproductive decisions. Gay people had to hide if they wanted to join the Armed Forces.

Vlassic wants the right to chase cows.

Ginsberg did so much to bring equality to the United States, even when it was not popular. And her dissent, well, as she noted, those were written for the future, in the hopes that they would reach the wise people of the future. Even when she didn’t create change, she kept going. She kept trying. She persevered.

Today I renewed my own vows to keep working toward what I think is right, true, and fair. There will be consequences. But I don’t think I could live with myself if I hid in fear of those louder and more well armed than myself.

I want us all to be able to fly wherever we want to, in safety and abundance.

How has the legacy of RBG influenced you? Dissent welcome.

Oh Well

Ya can’t do your daily blogging if you’re in meetings from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. So here I am finally resting and watching Anita’s old movie channel. Mmm. Dr. Kildare.

That young whippersnapper doctor.

It’s funny. I’m exhausted but enthusiastic about things. I guess that’s good. Work is moving along.

Me at work. With filters. Lots of filters. I’m making that face because I’m biting my tongue.

But what’s great is that I enjoyed my Board meeting with Friends of La Leche League so much. The group will soon have a new website and be able to do so much good work and connect so many people.

The Board and committee chairs are so enthusiastic and full of ideas. If you’re one of my friends from LLL, keep your eyes open and consider joining us! It’s more than just trips and that newsletter I happen to edit.

Let’s just see what’s next!

And happy Autumn! I’m ready for new adventures.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

You just never know how a day will go. Today is just dandy, EVEN with an 8 am dental appointment! I had put the dentist off for four months, but I was assured they take precautions. And they did! And my teeth are okay, even with my recent jaw clenching.

I got the day of the week right!

The second day in my work office in Austin was nice. I actually had time to accomplish some work, and the team meetings went well. I think we’re getting the hang of Agility, a bit.

Mainly, though, I had a good meeting with my boss, where I got to share ideas and brainstorm. I admit it. That’s my favorite work activity. I love collaborating and planning, way more than being handed a plan and being told to go execute. Buy in! Yes! I like making things, too. I dislike tracking work and devising metrics. So, if you’re a potential employer, bear that in mind. Also bear in mind that I hope to not get a new job, like ever.

Living my dream.

So, what about the title of this post? Well, it’s hair day again. And I’m bleaching again. It has grown out to where at least half of it is undyed, which means if I keep this up, I’ll never have any hair that’s been bleached a lot, thus the straw effect will be less likely to happen. That’s my hair theory, anyway.

So, enjoy this “live blogging” version of me getting my hair done. I blogged during and after the event, because, well, that’s the time I had.

Before. Roots a-plenty , though I don’t think they look all that bad.

And, Dan the hairdresser says this time he’s making it pale blue to start out. I’m pretty excited. Yep, I’m tying under the dryer. There was no blogging time earlier today!

Bleach applied. Cooking away. Looks scary in there.

I always like the white phase. This time there’s no orange! I wish I was brave enough to keep my hair white. But, to me, blue is safer. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.

Blonde bombshell.

The pastel blue color looks fantastic even just applied! It’s quite goopy and drippy. And I hope you enjoy my little wave. It’s classy. Thanks, Dan.

Mermaid time.

I enjoyed “resting” while the color cooked, but wanted to see if it really came out pastel blue. The last time it was rather dark. I got delayed getting a picture, because my fancy earrings fell on the ground. Sigh. But lo!

It’s pastel blue! Anita says it’s the color of an ice cube tray. Michele at work says it’s blue cotton candy. I like that better.

And in my Bobcat office, it’s lighter. This will be easy to maintain and fun. Life is good, other than the headache I have. It won’t stop me from book club, where we will talk about The Vanishing Half. I won’t vanish with such blue hair!

It’s weird that I now feel more comfortable with blue hair than my natural color. It’s also weird that I now very closely resemble a manic chipmunk. At least it’s a chipmunk with clean teeth.

I Still Remember How to Get to Work

Big day today. I sucked it up and went back to the corporate office in Austin today. I really want to come here more than every 6 weeks, but to do that I have to work outside the house, so Anita can concentrate.

It was weird driving there, since I hadn’t in so long. And the parking garage had only like ten cars in it. I parked on the first floor, which I never had before.

There were lots of hand sanitizer stations and signs indicating where you can and cannot stand. At least there’s coffee. Only two people in the break area, please.

I managed to find my desk in its new spot. Oh my. It’s in the middle of the building, with no natural light or privacy. At least I have a white board “wall” for now. And a big concrete pillar to look at instead of someone’s head.

What a fine “wall.” and yes, I drape things a lot.

I didn’t give myself enough time to get settled in before my first meeting, but I did it fine. See, I don’t completely suck at scrumming. and after that, I found most of my cables and got things set up to where I can work.

Another thing I suck at is minimalism. Even not using all my stuff, I gots the decor! But I need to feel safe, secure, and aesthetically well to do good work. Ah.

Man. This looks bleak. The boxes are gone, at least. It’s like a basement that’s not underground.

No doubt I can stand this until we get better seats, which I hope will happen soon. Right now I’m only the second person in my department to go back. It’s so quiet, well, except my friend Henry is back within earshot. It’s good to hear his Spanish calls again!

I guess it feels a little more normal. But safe. No one breathed on me! (You have to wear a mask except at your desk.) Maybe I’ll have fewer nightmares tonight.

Nightmare Time

Hmm, since I decided to just flow along with all the disasters and challenges of our times, my subconscious has been staging a rebellion in the form of really bad dreams and insomnia. These are things that I’m lucky enough to not suffer from, normally.

I had a dream so scary about my mother disappearing that I yelled in my sleep and scared Lee. At least the source of that one was obvious; I’d started a book in which a child’s mother drops her off at her grandparents’ house and drives off. Apparently that bothered me more than I realized.

Let’s pause to look at some fuzzy white calves.

But that’s not all, the endless dreams of being lost, deserted, confused, unloved…you know, the kind of things an anxious person would dream about…they keep coming and coming. And if I wake myself up to get away, I drift off, eventually, to visions of things I’m confused about at work dancing in my head. I’m feeling a little challenged, I guess (not necessarily a bad thing).

This is not normal.

And trying to get to sleep, a thing I have finally perfected in my old age, has suddenly escaped me. I get all sleepy, lie down, and weird fuzzy thoughts pop up. Go away, weird fuzzy thoughts! (By the way, you do NOT need to give me advice on getting to sleep; believe me, after all these years I know exactly what works for me, am an excellent relaxation breather, own CBD/hemp oil, etc.)

I know the things I’m trying to let lie dormant don’t want to be dormant. That’s the real challenge of living in the moment, isn’t it? The past and the future keep vying for your attention. I’m not sure why things I did that were awful (when I was 26) keep popping back up, unless there’s some useful tidbit I need. And I sorta DO know why the future keeps poking me, even though over the weekend, the family worked out a long-term plan for that.

I want to get back to my centered self, subconscious. Leave me alone.

Maybe I need to rethink how I deal with the totally legitimate stressors that are buzzing around me at the moment and give them some space and time. Okay, they get a half hour around 3:30 pm. I hope they will show up and present their cases to gain my attention, then wait until the next day. Yeah, right.

What’s keeping you up at night? Illnesses (yes)? Interpersonal things (yes)? Family issues (yes)? Work or lack thereof (yes)? Natural disasters (yes)? Politics, climate change, racism, religion? Whatever it is, you’re normal, and however you’re dealing with it is just fine. We’re all doing our best, right?

It’s Always Something

People my age will remember early Saturday Night Live shows with Gilda Radner playing the irascible Roseanne Rosannadanna (not Emily Litella, as I said in my first draft). She’d end her confused monologues with the memorable phrase, “It’s always something.”

She was absolutely right, once you start thinking about things. Right now a lot of people feel like the world is in the worst shape it’s ever been in their lifetime. And there sure are a lot of calamities and issues these days.

I started thinking back through my life, which is a while, since I’m one of those Baby Boomers everyone thinks is so awful. What did I find? There was always something.

When I was a little kid, I had nightmare after nightmare about an atom bomb falling on my school. I had dreams where we’d be taken deep into tiled corridors that were supposed to lead to the safe area, but we never got there.

Little Susie in the 60s. Duck and cover!

Later, I thought that what happened after high school, if you were a boy, is that you went to a faraway place and fought in the war Walter Cronkite kept telling us about every night, where there were always charts about injuries, deaths and MIAs.

Next, a whole lot of propaganda got me scared witless about drugs. Someone was going to slip me LSD and I’d be thrown into a psychedelic poster of Jimi Hendrix and never escape! I was scared to death of sugar cubes. Meanwhile, Mother’s Little Helper was over there turning my mom into a basket case. But, those weren’t DRUGS. Hippies used drugs!

Watermelon, the gateway drug for chickens.

Time marched on. There was always some calamity that was going to cause the downfall of society, kill us all, or take away this freedom we’d been told we had (being White people and all that). As I got older, I was sure we’d never survive a succession of war-mongering poor-people hating presidents (my opinions; not always accurate).

There were social things to get all up in arms about. Seat belts! How dare they! What? Cigarettes are bad? Don’t be a litterbug! Plastic is evil! Etc.

Yeah, it’s always something. After a while, you realize that there’s always some crisis or something to fear. The news has to report something. There’s always a war somewhere, a drought somewhere, a big storm, a fire…some are just closer to home than others. So…

This line of thinking led me to post this status on Facebook a couple of days ago.

I figure I’ve made it through all of these things. I’m just going to continue trying to do the right thing, strive for a better world, and deal with whatever threatens me at the moment. What comes is going to come.

This poor grasshopper certainly didn’t see that bird coming or guess that it would be impaled on a fence. It’s always something.

I’m not going to be oblivious, complacent, or complicit with evil, meanness, or cruelty. I’m not going to be unsafe. I’m just not going to let it rule my life. This is the only life we get to live, and like Billy Joel said,

They say that these are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever known.

Summer, Highland Falls, Turnstiles

I’ve been doing a lot better with it, with all the practice the pandemic has given me. I’m just gonna “roll with the changes” (REO Speedwagon?).

These curious heifers are just dealing with life as they keep getting moved from field to field. They just take it as a chance to meet new people. It’s always something, isn’t it, ladies?

I Discovered Something!

It’s been a great day, for many reasons, and a great weekend. We took Apache out again today, and he was his old self again! He and Spice were very brave when they came upon some people building a new gate between our two pastures.

This is as close as the horses would get.

But they had fun. Fiona kept plopping down and rolling whenever she found dirt.

The flies are bothering me.

I also had fun seeing things this weekend. One is that I see signs that I wasn’t mistaken, we DO have a loggerhead shrike this year. I didn’t see one last year, and I was bummed. Today I saw lots and lots of insects impaled on our fence, though!

Plus! I’m very happy to share that another chicken started laying. Her first egg is pinkish and has little blue spots! On the other hand, Hedley, the one that lays white eggs, has started spending a LOT of time in the nest box. She did lay today, but if she’s gone broody I’m just giving her three eggs and letting her go for it.

The new one is on the bottom. Cute!

I also found two new and interesting insects. First is the extremely cool Beelzebub Bee Killer Mallophora leschenaulti, which is a type of robber fly. This things is huge, loud, and intimidating. I saw two yesterday and two today.

The other new insect is what I’m excited about. It turns out that my entry of the Long-jawed Longhorn Beetle Dendrobias mandibularis is the first one Milam county and the farthest north it’s been seen.

I’m the first!

Also, this is one of the most beautiful insects I’ve ever seen. So colorful!

Look at those antennae! And it’s so shiny!

I’ve been waiting to finally see something new and different to share on iNaturalist and I finally did! I feel so scientific.

Book Report: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

The book I’m talking about today is next month’s topic for the cul-de-sac book club in Austin. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep was Joanna Cannon’s first novel, which came out in 2015. Since I wasn’t reading novels five years ago, I’d never heard of it, but dutifully ordered it when it was decided upon by the group.

I even read a paperback. Wow!

I got it on Monday, and finished it last night. It was a nice respite from the more solemn reading I’ve been doing lately, but it doesn’t mean that Cannon didn’t sneak in some messages, some of which are quite current today.

I’d say almost anyone would enjoy reading this, though it helps a LOT to be familiar with the everyday items in England in 1976. I know what Fairy Liquid is, thanks to spending so much time in Ireland, but do you? (It’s dish washing soap.) And candies are very important, at least to the main characters, so it would help to Google those as they come up.

The fun thing about the book is that it’s about a cul-de-sac and the varied characters who inhabit it, which of course reminds me and my neighbors of OUR little Bob Cat Run, with its fascinating cast of characters. We will have to decide who is the “Walter Bishop” of our street (he’s the one everyone has a bad opinion of). Oh wait, I think I already know, ha ha. It’s not me or Anita, either!

Much of the story revolves around two young girls who are best friends, Grace and Tilly. They are the junior detectives in the mystery aspect of the book, who, after one neighbor disappears suddenly, decide to find God in the neighborhood. Eventually Jesus shows up, which is a fun twist (I won’t tell you how that happens). All the neighbors get their chance to shine, too, and you eventually learn all their secrets. That’s the fun of the book.

You’ll love the woman who wears a bikini and tans in her front garden every day, the couple with the very nervous wife, Grace’s parents (and her very odd mother), the guy who lives with his elderly mother well into his forties, the friendly widow, the refreshingly rational gardening guy, the exotic new family, etc.

What really makes the book special, though, is how gently Cannon weaves lessons about honesty and lies, ignorance and enlightenment, and most important to me, about how each and every one of us has secrets we think will be ruinous if revealed, but are probably worse being hidden. It’s a fun read with interesting characters, but it also makes you think about morality and judgment. That’s what elevates The Trouble with Goats and Sheep from a pleasant escape to a book that will live with me for a long time.

By the way, it’s also really funny. I had to read passages aloud to Lee. I think I laughed the hardest when Grace’s father tries to convince the new neighbor he’s a worldly, tolerant guy by repeating racist stereotype after racist stereotype. I was happy to see the two of them actually ending up talking to each other from the heart and becoming friends. That’s what we all need to do when confronted with “the other,” I think.

I have a nice stack of books on my shelf, so I’ll start another one while patiently reading a chapter a day in Caste.