The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!
Howdy. I hope you didn’t miss me too much yesterday, but I was too zonked once I got home from the Master Naturalist Conference to write anything, and I did want to spend some bonding time with Lee, since I won’t see him again until November.
The blog title tells you two big things that made me happy yesterday, learning about bumblebees and our Chapter’s brochure winning the best brochure award at the conference. Everyone worked SO hard on it (yes, including me) that it just felt great.
Of course, I was busy loading my stuff in the car when the announcement was made, but my colleagues valiantly handled it themselves.
As for Bumblebees
My main session yesterday morning was about bumblebees, which will be the Texas creature featured on next year’s re-certification pin (by the way, we FINALLY got our golden-cheeked warblers for this year). It turns out I didn’t know much about bumblebees. Now, I do!
I’m still at the annual Master Naturalist conference, and enjoyed getting recognized for achieving 250 volunteer hours so far. That does pale in comparison to the dude who achieved 10,000 hours. But I’m proud I got so much done in just two years.
I’m also proud of myself for signing up for a few of the more administrative sessions today. I did one on doing social media for your group and another on leading effective meetings. The networking in both was great, and much of what I learned will help with my other jobs, since they also involve social media and leading meetings.
The tidbits on dealing with folks who disrupt meetings and in how to actually get things done in meetings were invaluable.
Happy day. I am enjoying my second Texas Master Naturalist conference very much. It’s so nice to just enjoy learning with no pressure at all.
This morning I went on a field trip to the Spring Creek Forest Preserve. Wow, the people presenting me so much about the area. My head is full of little tidbits about prairies, forests, and riparian areas.
I also saw so many beautiful seed pods and fall plants. Lots of photos were taken by everyone.
I’m here in Rockwall at our Master Naturalist conference (starts tomorrow). We are enjoying the unnatural beauty of where we are. The place we are at is called Rodeo Goat. Here’s Jackie holding my beer.
It’s pretty amazing. It has a little lime in it and some herbs. Wow.
Because I’m here with the Master Naturalists, I want to get all my cultivated plants out of my system. I promise I took more native photos.
I must share the monarch and queen butterflies too. So pretty.
I’ll write more later, but I assure you it is quite pleasant at the Hilton in Rockwall.
Here’s the latest book I read for the neighborhood book club. I had to read through it as quickly as I could (meaning with all my other stuff, it still took a week), because my queue is full of good stuff (Elton John memoir arrived yesterday!). It’s another first novel, this time by Yaa Gyasi, daughter an immigrant from Ghana and quite a gifted storyteller. See, folks, some of those immigrants do indeed contribute to society. Ahem.
Homegoing (2016) is one of those epic novels (it says so, right on the cover!) that span many years of one family. Each chapter is from the perspective of a different family member, starting from a maternal ancestor in Ghana and ending up at the present day. Luckily, there is a family tree at the beginning of the book.
Hint: Bookmark the family tree. Even though there is a pattern to the chapters, you’ll probably want to remind yourself of who’s who and how they’re related.
Most of you know that I’ve been playing with hair color for the past few years. It has been blue, maroon, pink, purple, and white. Why?
Who knows? It was fun. Especially since I started using this Overtime stuff. It doesn’t hurt my hair and fades fast enough that I don’t get sick of any color. And they are also excellent conditioners with ingredients you recognize. They smell like mint and rosemary, too. Nice.
Today I tried one of their intense colors made for dark hair. These have a lot of pigment. I bought the intense rose gold and red. I let Anita decide which one to try, and she picked the red.
I’m glad I had gloves. My hands turned really red when I rinsed, too. I had an old towel and plan to sleep on an old pillowcase.
I’m happy, though, that even my brown hair shows the color. It will be fun to see how it fades!
One day I’ll let my hair be normal. It looks fine that way, too. I just like having fun with impermanent color. I’m scared of permanent things like tattoos or piercings.
We’ve been coming to the Cameron area since 2011, when we first visited the land that would eventually become the Hermits’ Rest. At first, the town didn’t appeal to me much. It was really run-down and there was very little to do, which was fine, since we were spending all our time in the woods and hanging out with the ranch neighbors.
Now, in addition to the ranch neighbors, we have Mandi’s family across the road. Then we have my sister living in the town where we do our business, Martha and Mike, our UU church friends, have moved up here, Kathleen has joined us to set up the new business (plus her husband now visits), and I’ve been meeting more and more people who have been here just a couple of years. On top of that, the town is blossoming. Yow!
Now when I look around, I see new restaurants, spiffed up businesses, and even new homes. Yeah, parts of the town are still a mess, but they’ve actually begun improving the infrastructure, like the water lines. Yay!
Even my Austin housemate, Anita, who does her best to avoid the ranch (she has her reasons) is going to buy a house in town and fix it up (a really cute house in a pleasant tree-lined part of town).
At dinner last night, we were talking about how much we enjoy small town living. Literally NONE of us would have ever thought we’d say that. Even my sister seems to like some aspects of the place, though we know it isn’t ideal for her. What is it about the small-town life that has made us feel good?
Well, we meet new people easily, and since you are always seeing everyone in town, it’s easy to become friends, or at least pleasant acquaintances. The lack of traffic means you can get anywhere in fewer than 15 minutes. Even the limited shopping and dining choices mean you really get to know the shop-keepers and restaurant folks.
My favorite part is that people take care of each other and make sure they are okay. Even people who aren’t all that fond of each other have some kind of “town loyalty.” It makes me happy to spend time in our little town that’s trying to become its very best possible.
I said I wouldn’t do anything strenuous today. I think I succeeded. We just had a nice family day followed by an equally nice Sunday dinner for 7.
The weather was so nice that we started outside a lot. I put up some fall decorations I’d found, walked with various dogs, and tried to catch up with writing. That’s why this is so late. Lots to write.
We even had a visit from Mandi, who brought her son by to talk to Chris about welding. Chris got to show him all the stuff on his truck, which is interesting to welders.
Our Sunday night dinners have taken on a life of their own. Whoever is in town and not sick shows up. Actually a sick lesson even sent their food. That was sweet.
Tonight Kathleen wanted me to take pictures of her with Martha and Mike, while we were out walking, since we are all dinner buddies. Then we sat on the porch. My sister made lovely home-made lasagna, Kathleen made dessert, and we all laughed as usual.
Oh yes. We spent much time looking at the moon. Group activities for the nature living set!
Whew! I’m about worn out, but I’m finally getting a break from two straight days of nonstop work, fun, and volunteering to take a blogging break. I feel sorta like young Zack here looks. In fact, that rug looks mighty tempting right about now.
Yesterday was probably the busiest day we’ve ever had at the Cameron office. Luckily I crammed in a whole bunch of reviews and stuff for my “real” job in by showing up extra early to the office. After that, we had meetings, lunch meetings with Kayla our “corporate lawyer-elect,” decisions to make, etc., straight through until I had to leave for my next event.
Before I could blink, my friend Paula showed up to drive us to the away football game in Jarrell. It was a weird drive, because pieces of gravel kept hitting her windshield and we were sure it would break eventually, but it didn’t. Road work is happening all over the area. We made it, though, and even had a light meal of caprese sandwiches (much better than football stadium cuisine).
Did I mention the temperatures fell? Thursday it was 99 degrees, and Friday is only got up to around 56. And we got more rain! So, it was a bit chilly and sprinkly at the game, but never mind. We had lots of fun watching the football and the band. By the time I got home, though, whew. It was late.
Today, Still Going and Going
Somehow I managed to wake up this morning and greet Kathleen and her husband, Chris, who drove over to see us and attend our new business’s first public event at the Steak, Stein and Wine Festival. As usual, I over-committed and ended up representing that business, Milam Touch of Love, AND the Master Naturalists. But, I had a good time.
Once I got there, I went into Social Suna Overdrive and networked my head off. I talked to every single vendor (and got some nice stuff). I talked to people who came by our booth. I talked to Master Naturalists, the mayor, other city officials, the Sheriff, numerous police officers, the wine vendor, the musicians.
Once Lee, Kathleen, and Chris arrived, we went to the open house at the new Central Avenue Bistro, along with many other people who were DYING to see the renovation. It did not disappoint. The people who have been working on it went above and beyond to create a beautiful setting, indoors and outdoors. And the new kitchen is almost to clean and shiny to cook in.
Following that, we continued to network and look at stuff. I think everyone had a pretty good time, and the weather was amazing. Such a relief from the previous couple of months. It makes you want to live in central Texas on days like this!
Well, I’ve enjoyed this half hour break between events, but now I have to get ready for the fancy steak dinner downtown, where we’ll get to hang out with friends and, I hope, relax a bit. Tomorrow I do nothing strenuous!
This is one of the most interesting times in my life, at least as far as my mental state goes. Why so interesting? Oddly enough, it’s because I’m not in a tizzy about anything. It’s not because my life has suddenly turned out to be like I imagined adulthood would be as a child, where you go to work, come home and do hobbies, enjoy a meal with your loving spouse, and sleep soundly, knowing you have the money to pay all your bills. Nope, that’s not it.
Rather, as I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, it seems as if all the things I have been working on to become my best self have taken effect, at least for the most part. Like what, you ask?
First, I had to accept myself the way I am. I’m human, with some issues that led me to develop some habits and tendencies that might bug people (let’s see, over-reacting to perceived criticism, crying when confronted angrily, problems with being “yelled at” or picked on, sarcasm, coming across as “looking down” at people…whatever). It’s weird, once I convinced myself that it was okay to be who I am, so many of those behaviors lessened. I haven’t cried in AGES other than when totally appropriate (death of people and dogs I love, mainly).