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!
Thanks to some impressive detective work, a group of folks from the El Camino Real Master Naturalist group, along with some Master Gardeners and friends, got to visit what may be the largest privately-owned collection of purple martin houses in the US.
Who, What, Where?
For years, people had been telling our resident purple martin expert, Donna Lewis, that there was “a guy in Milam County” with a whole lot of purple martin houses. She never could find out where the “guy” was, until the intrepid Cathy Johnson got wind of where he might be. So, they called him up and visited the place recently. It’s probably the highlight of Donna’s birding career.
Well, of course, they knew we’d all want to visit, too, so they…
So, I started yesterday feeling all fancy and business-like as we got our pictures taken by the Chamber of Commerce, because Hermits’ Rest Enterprises is the July Business of the Month. Mandi and I had on nice clothing and jewelry, and Mandi’s hair was all straight and fancy. (See the Hermit Haus blog for more details.)
Then, by mid-afternoon we were back at the ranch, and I had morphed into Cowgirl Suna, with jeans, boots, and hat to meet Trixie the farrier to look at the horses and Fiona. I asked Mandi to come along, since she’s the one who doctored Fiona and knows more about horse health than I do.
Fiona went first, and she was pretty good, though she did get the idea to try to file her own hooves. It didn’t work out.
Trixie said that Fiona’s “bad” foot was really interesting, and that she’d never seen one like that. The footbed still seems longer than the outer hoof wall. We went over a lot of possibilities for what could have caused it. We settled on the bag abscess she had on that front hoof causing the outer walls to not grow like usual, which caused separation and other issues.
It’s been quite a week with so much work and such that it’s been hard to find time to write. I may perhaps have too many jobs and volunteer positions, but I love them all!
I especially enjoy my Master Naturalist group and its members. I get a lot out of observing their personalities and learning their interests. Sometimes they are a bit quiet, but always in an endearing way.
Last night’s chapter meeting dealt with bats, a topic our speaker, Cindy, is very attached to. I wrote a lot about her talk in the Master Naturalist blog, so here I’ll just say I learned a few bits of information I didn’t know before, and they will stick with me.
Hey, I’m only in Austin three evenings a week, so I don’t have a lot of chances to do outdoor activities. Monday it rained. Yesterday I had a phone meeting, so we had time to go buy some plants afterwards but not to do anything with them.
So today, even though it’s 95 degrees out, we repotted and rearranged everything. I was really happy to find huge oregano plant that I can put in the frighteningly sunny part of the deck.
I also put a couple plants that are less perky back there, and added happy sun-loving healthy plants to make it look better.
Last night we had quite a strong storm pass over the Bobcat Lair, our Austin house. Just as we were emerging from our dungeon…I mean, office, to go pick up some plants, the sky let loose.
That was okay with me, since I was dealing with that panic attack/anxiety thing last night. I went into self-care mode and concentrated on my own needs.
I burned candles, smelled appropriate aromatherapy oils and blends, watched HGTV, and finally sat in my room and meditated for a half hour.
The best thing about the storm was that we ate dinner early and went to bed early, thereby enabling me to get enough sleep. I’ve noticed that my antsy days tend to be when I haven’t slept enough, which is usually Mondays (I have to get up early to drive to Austin).
Today I’m still feeling sensitive to “stuff” around me, but I’ve been able to get much work done, even a meeting with the boss of my boss’s boss. I am back to myself!
My gosh, have I heard that little put-down way too many times in my life. It mostly came from my father. Sometimes it came from my mother or my brother or my sister, or especially my grandmother. Whoever said it got me even more huffy. Soon I’d cry and ALSO be a crybaby.
Being sensitive was a part of my nature. I couldn’t exactly become someone else just so they could insult me with great impunity and not feel bad about it.
I’m bringing that up now, because I’ve finally developed the skill of not taking other people’s insults, snipes, and passive aggressive digs to heart. So that’s good. Yep.
But. I’m still sensitive. This linguist can handle words better, but I’m annoyingly sensitive to the moods, affect, and unspoken signals of others. Sometimes it’s general malaise, like after an election. Other times someone in my close circle sends out signals of distress or negativity and it gets me.
That’s right, two posts in an hour. I had two topics, you see… so. One of the things we found while doing things around the house yesterday was a beautiful black widow spider that we must have disturbed in all the work. I’m sorry to say we had to dispose of her, because I just don’t want to risk the safety of my family, friends, and pets.
Then, today, after Sara and I rode the horses, we went to replace the mineral tub with a better one, and were very grateful we decided to check carefully before cleaning it out to put in mineral. We found entire families of black widows in there, including the rarely seen male and a lot of egg sacs. I’d probably prefer the equines to not get bitten, too. Sara had gloves on, so she was the one to stick her hand in. Eek!
I’m proud of Sara. She did a week-long horse riding vacation in Montana, and did great, thanks to all the training she’d been doing. She is now focused on working with Apache more, to get him ready to wear a bridle and bit and do more precise work with her. He is really her horse, after all, so I’m glad he’s getting the work.
Ah, darn. I had an entire post written on the phone yesterday, went to add a photo to it, and somehow discarded the whole post rather than just a photo I wanted to replace. I declared it a sign that I should just concentrate on doing rather than writing for a little while. So, for the past three days I’ve been doing stuff like crazy! I feel quite accomplished.
A lot of this doing occurred because Chris and Kathleen came up on Friday and stayed until after lunch on Sunday. You see, Chris likes to work with his hands and is a great problem solver, so he did a bunch of things to help us around the office and the Hermits’ Rest house.
And because of that, I was inspired to do my own set of tasks, with Kathleen there to lend some muscle and brain power, too. We’re pretty lucky to have Lee’s clever relatives working with us on our projects!
On Friday, after Mandi and I worked like good employees, Chris assembled Kathleen’s lovely new office furniture, straight from the box. It’s probably the first “new” stuff we have in the Hermits’ Rest building. It’s all white and brass, and cutely modern. She brought lamps, which enabled us to really see the former storeroom, which turns out to be pretty cute (and clean, thanks to Melissa’ cleaning it last week).
Yesterday was not a calm holiday, though at least I only worked a little bit blogging for all those companies I seem to be working with.
It wasn’t calm, because my friend Mike and I got a wild hair and cleaned our entire back patio. The original goal was to get our gas grill up and running. We’d been waiting to use it to attach it to the gas outlet, but that has not happened, so Mike said, hey, let’s just go get a bottle of propane. Duh. That started us cleaning with our mighty power washer.
While he cleaned out the grill (including bird nest, of course, birds love grills), I power washed the “outdoor room” area, which is secretly a vortex for dog hair and dead bugs. Luckily I’d swept it out recently, so it wasn’t too bad.
I’m not sure why this is the case, but when I was younger, I never looked back. When I left a place or an institution, I was really bad at maintaining ties. For example, I didn’t remain in touch with any friends from high school (other than my boyfriend, since he was with me in college and most of grad school) until the last few years. Facebook helped with that. And while I do have a couple of grad school friends, such as my favorite fellow student (that’s Steve H) and favorite professor (that’s Georgia M), I’ve lost touch with most people other than a random hello.
What about my four years of growth and learning at the University of Florida (where I never managed to see any of my high school friends who were there at the same time)? I have one, count ’em one, friend from my undergrad years. That’s Liz from Japanese class. Someone has to share those Swann-sensei memories with me.
That was true until this week, when I finally got back in touch with the only undergrad teacher I’d considered a friend. I’d thought about him often, through the years, and always had held him up as an example of how you really get educated in important things like social skills and political dialogue (that was drinking extremely cheap beer at the Rathskeller every week for three or four years). But, I hadn’t been in touch with him for a very long time, though I’d looked off and on.