Knowing Your Issues Doesn’t Fix Everything, Nor Should It!

As always, things are changing in my life. One of the changes anticipated for this year is that Anita and I will need to move out of the Bobcat Lair house in Austin. That’s sad, because we really love the setting, the house, and most of all, the neighbors. But, the cost of just paying the City of Austin property taxes is more than the mortgage to our old house, and now that we are getting closer to me retiring from paid employment, we’ll need the money from that house as part of our income stream. Things are winding down, and it’s time for investments to pay off.

It’s the Austin house (Bobcat Lair) showing lovely dark rain clouds. Ah.

Yes, that’s all logical and good. Anita has her own little house in Cameron that we hope to get renovated as soon as her contractor is available and her tenant, who’s already month to month, knowing Anita is going to need to live in the house herself, finds another place to live. This is all quite reasonable, right?

But, when Anita started talking to me yesterday about how much she’s packed up already (she does all her moves all by herself, because she would rather invest her time than her money), and that she gave her tenant notice that she needs to be out, I found myself going back into one of my old, unproductive ways of reacting. I am not good with moving, AT ALL, and the thought of having to leave my beloved sanctuary sent me into a panic. It just seemed like a HUGE amount of work, change, and uproar was impending, and I kind of shut down.

A little wine on the deck helped me feel better, too.

Anita (bless her) kept talking me through it, and I began to realize that I can do things in stages, that I actually don’t have all THAT much furniture in the Bobcat Lair, and that I even have a place to store things like my books and such. And all the boxes I still haven’t unpacked (though there aren’t all that many now!!).

Plus, I plan to rent an apartment near my work, so I can easily figure out what things go where, move them, then get the rest moved to Cameron (except for what’s needed to stage the house). I’m just trying to breathe as I think of more things that need to be done, like electrical work to fix outlets that stopped working…but it’s not too much.

I just have to face it; I’m who I am, and I’m going to have trouble with changing things when it comes to my home, because having my own place grounds me. I’m still a fine person!

Ernesto apparently agreed with my coping strategy. Photo by  @juleslang via Twenty20.

I’m Not Alone

Speaking of my issues, which I am, I had an odd experience last night watching the PBS show on Ernest Hemingway. Now, he’s not someone I ever would have thought I had anything in common with, other than being fond of short sentences (he was way better at actually writing them, though). As I learned how he grew up, the experiences he had with his family, and how he coped later, I was really surprised to see how we have a LOT in common when it comes to our inner demons and how we deal with them.

One part of the show, in particular, hit me hard. He was talking about how happy he was when he had both his wife and another woman he was also in love with. He said it made him inexplicably content, even if he knew it was hurtful. And then he talked about how, in his relationships, he always made sure to have another love interest all lined up before he left someone. Ouch. Those were my destructive patterns in my younger days.

Hemingway statue in Cuba that apparently chokes people up.  @prezioso02 via Twenty20.

I’m really glad I didn’t live such a public life as Hemingway did, because reading all the criticism of my life, like he had to, would have been really uncomfortable. I’m glad I just got to judge myself harshly without too much help from others (except former partners).

I don’t think Hemingway was able to get much control over his demons, much like his father, who committed suicide when he couldn’t get a handle on his mental struggles. He knew perfectly well what his problems were, which is clear from his books, but knowing what his challenges were didn’t mean he could fix them, any more than I can help my issues with moving.

I’m glad I had help, good reading, and inner work that has gotten me out of destructive patterns, at least with romantic and friendship relationships. I’ll be interested in watching the rest of this series and getting more insight into this fascinating writer and historical figure.

What a good thing that we happened to watch this interesting Ken Burns documentary right after I was beating myself up for repeating patterns from my youth (I know perfectly well that I hate to move house because leaving my beloved home as a teenager was so hard on me). It gives me perspective to cut myself some slack and bear in mind that some of our personality “features” are deeply ingrained, just like those unconscious biases.

We can only do the best we can and keep making an effort to improve. Thank goodness I’m a lifelong learner and never plan to stop enjoying the challenges of living up to my best intentions. Let’s all keep open to ways to learn more about ourselves and others, and be patient with ourselves.

That’s my lecture for today. Take what works for you and leave the rest!

A Note from a Friend

After reading my blog (with all the typos I just fixed), my friend Kelli Martin Brew responded to echo my thoughts. I really got a lot from what she said, so I’m happy she allowed me to share her thoughts with you:

I love this. The longer I live, the more it seems clear that a lot of who we are and what we do is hardwired. But how I have wanted to believe that knowing something was the same as changing it! At this stage in life, I think we can use this hard-won knowledge to be more merciful – and to be honest about our own struggles and behavior. I grew up with a huge mandate to “be a good example.” At this point in life, I have contented myself with being just an honest “example” of… something. Whether it is deemed “good” or not will be decided sometime in the future, if at all.

Kelli, Facebook, April 6, 2121

I really treasure connections that allow us to share our inner thoughts, struggles, and learnings. I plan to be an example, too!

Spring Support and Hopefulness

Hey! Thanks to all of you who sympathized with my being so hopeless and sad right now. You all rightly pointed out that many things have led to our collective urge to just sit and stare ahead. There’s even astrological reasoning! This afternoon, Sara postulated that because we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, all the stuff we’ve been holding in has started to leak out. Yeah.

Carlton is tired of being confined to his backyard. We understand.

Today I was getting a bit concerned about myself. I kept having trouble concentrating, and somehow managed to leave Austin late. Partly I was distracted by welcome signs of life coming back.

Ferns are popping up!

I enjoyed lots of redbud trees and pear trees. I’m so glad they made it. And the first thing I spotted when I got to the ranch was an Indian paintbrush!

I looked and looked for these last weekend!

I’d heard bluebonnets are blooming at last, but didn’t spot them until I got to the hill leading down to Walker’s Creek, where they are beautiful every year.

I sure hope to get prettier bluebonnet pictures soon!

I was still pretty squirrelly when I got to the ranch. I was nervous about getting my second COVID vaccine, so I forgot my vaccination card and panicked because I couldn’t find my paperwork. Uh, it was in the car. Then I drove off, leaving a can of drink on the trunk. That’s gonna make a mess when I open it, I’m sure.

I took off like a startled heron.

But! I got to the vaccine place! Turns out I was supposed to be there yesterday. But, they let me in. The shot didn’t hurt, and so far I have little pain. Maybe I got all my reactions over with last month.

Fully vaccinated, I’m now exhausted.

The other part of the day that made me feel supported and hopeful was that I went to the drugstore in Cameron to pick up my precious drugs, and got to see Mandi at her new job as a pharmacy assistant. Yes! After we had to let her go, she made good use of the time and got her certificate back. See, some people DO use their unemployment to get training and get a job. I’m so proud of her and will hug her in two weeks.

Signs of spring. Can you see the birds?

Once I got home, I took a nap and felt fine feeding horses. We had to give them the nastiest wormer of the series we are giving this spring. Both Apache and Lakota made some sad faces and rubbed their faces on the ground. Tomorrow if I’m not having reactions we will reward them with grooming and riding. They are shedding big time. I need it, so I hope I feel less scattered and more centered.

One last photo. Crow poison is beautiful, despite its name.

Little things like signs of spring and the promise of future hugs help. But knowing I’m not alone and have wonderful, supportive friends everywhere to feel a sense of community with is the best. Sincere thanks to all. We’re in this together. That’s helping me know I can crawl out of this hole!


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Dreaming of Hugs

I’m in Austin this week, and my cul-de-sac neighbors held one of their happy hours to say belated happy birthday to me. We met in a driveway on a windy evening and had a nice time chatting and catching up.

I had a message for the neighbors.

One of our main conversation topics was how far along we are with our COVID-19 vaccinations. Since we are all “getting up there,” some are fully vaccinated, and others are getting close. Only a couple of us haven’t started, but they are slightly younger people who have been pretty isolated.

Hugs?
We could all use hugs, unless, well, we aren’t huggers.

By the end of the visit, as we were saying goodbye, we realized that by the next book club we might be able to hug each other. I must sheepishly admit that I got all extra full of anticipatory glee at the thought of being able to hug Angela, who’s a nurse, in two weeks.

Oh my gosh. Hugs will be possible soon. And we might even be able to meet indoors in April or May!

Hugs
Yes. Hugs. Someday.

And maybe we can have Sunday dinners with our friends again. It’s like a dream. A simple dream. To reconnect. Just talking to friends this evening felt so luxurious.

What simple luxury are YOU looking forward to in the coming months, if vaccinations go as planned? Please share!


Want to support my blog and podcast so I can keep going? Your monthly donation would help cover my blog expenses. I can assure you that on a blog as little as this one, the ads only give me a couple of dollars a month, so even a dollar makes me happy!

So Much Annoyance, You Just Gotta Laugh

Geez, folks, this week I’m being tested for something. Perhaps it’s, “Can Suna find humor in everything?” “Is there a reason to smile hiding in any annoyance?” I hope I pass the exam, because I’m really trying to find humor and beauty, but today has, basically, sucked.

Nature’s always there to rescue me and remind me there’s good out there. So, here ya go, it’s the bloom off my mother-in-law’s tongue plant. How delicate and wondrous that is. Getting a houseplant to bloom has to make you smile (for pictures of it when it was budding, check out my very long houseplant post).

And, my daily commute (yay, I have the all-clear to go to the office) started and ended with one of my favorite sounds, cedar waxwings in large flocks. They flew over, but none were close enough to to photograph. I just love those whistles they make.

In between the commutes was a very frustrating work day, in which all my hardware components decided they were tired of functioning normally. My monitors did a devlish dance that was hard for me to believe. The really nice IT dude drove over (most people work from home) to try to help, which resulted in one monitor ceasing to let itself be found, my new keyboard and mouse stopped working, and my dock gave up the ghost. Well, shoot. I have not yet found the humor in that situation…it just happens when you rely on technology for your job!

Look, there’s a second bloom stalk hiding back there!

So, I ended up having to do delicate meetings on the phone. I started pacing, which apparently made everyone else on the call nauseated. It did give my boss something to laugh about, so there, a good thing came out of it. We were doing meetings that were not fun for us, so there was more than the usual amount of gentle ribbing, photos of dogs, and other distractions. See, not all bad. And I was pivoting, like a good Agile worker.

I got home and was reminded of the other thing that had me annoyed, from yesterday. I left my dang knitting project over at the Hermits’ Rest house. Having gone through a bunch of minor annoyances yesterday, I really wanted to knit, so I ran all over the Bobcat Lair house until I found a yarn I’d bought years ago back when I had knitting friends and went to the Kid ‘n Ewe festival.

Who needs a pattern when the yarn is so lovely, right<

I decided to just start out with a plain triangular shawl, with a classy tabbed start. I’m going to throw in some simple lace later, now that I realize that the blues and purples aren’t too distracting. The yarn is hand dyed from a Texas dyer that’s no longer in business, but I like how it has a matte thread and a shiny thread plied together. So, that’s one more annoyance I was able to laugh at.


Hey, thanks for the nice words and comments on my previous post. I have some really great readers. And by the way, you can always go read blogs on WordPress if you want to cheer up. There’s so much beauty, and at least a river isn’t flooding my back yard (garden) like poor @knittingjane of Woolly Wednesday. Go read a blog! And take care!

Let’s Help Inarticulate Beings

This week, I’ve taken my mind off things by observing my surroundings and seeing when I’ve been helpful without realizing it. Actually, one of the main ways I’ve gotten through the past few years has been knowing that, while I can’t fix big problems, I can often help with smaller problems that might be big to someone else, even those who don’t realize it or can’t express it in words.

I can’t show you the actual dog and me on our drive, so enjoy this actor portrayal of a prettier person and dog. Image by @darinatravel via Twenty20.

For example, today I helped get a dog from Austin to Cameron, as part of my Milam Touch of Love volunteer work that I don’t do nearly enough of. That wasn’t much of a big deal on my part. I happened to be going from Austin to Cameron anyway, and just made a detour. To the dog’s owner, someone in crisis, this was a huge deal and solved a huge, nasty problem. The owner said those of us helping out were sent from Heaven. No, we are people who know that the right thing to do when you know of a person or animal in need and you CAN help, you DO help. It’s doing the right thing, not out of fear, but out of respect and love.

The dog was confused, and had no idea it needed help. It could not thank me other than with a wagging tail. But I knew I helped and am glad it’s safe.

Changing the Subject Somewhat

In the dog transport case, my friends and I knew we were doing something helpful. But, as I observed some of ways I’ve helped some living things. Since they can’t talk, we had to pay attention to see how we’ve helped. I’m talking about plants here.

My pothos (Golden Queen) in my office (also some other plant is in there). The leaves are not very big.

How do you know you’ve helped a houseplant? Well, it will grow and thrive in a place that’s not where it naturally would end up. Most house plants are really tropical plants that have been hybridized to do okay in pots. Usually they don’t get very big in our houses.

Both spider plants and pothos are way bigger when they grow outdoors, but are usually pretty small in our homes. Pothos or devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) leaves can be 39×18″ in the wild! They don’t bloom spontaneously, sniff. I know they are happy when the leaves don’t start dropping off.

Epipremnum aureum is an evergreen vine growing to 20 m (66 ft) tall, with stems up to 4 cm (2 in) in diameter, climbing by means of aerial roots which adhere to surfaces. The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped, entire on juvenile plants, but irregularly pinnatifid on mature plants, up to 100 cm (39 in) long and 45 cm (18 in) broad; juvenile leaves are much smaller, typically under 20 cm (8 in) long.

Wikipedia
My Golden Queen is not as big as this mama.
A spider plant blossom. By Wildfeuer – Self-photographed, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1460984

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) get up to two feet tall in nature (I’ve seen it, since I’ve lived in the subtropics), and I know mine are happy when they bloom. Or that means they’re rootbound. They don’t talk a lot. I feel like the little bonus plants they grow are little gifts to me, even though I’ve seen them take over huge areas when there is no freezing weather to keep them under control.

Anita grows a lot of cactus plants and succulents. They show her she’s taken good care of them by growing, but more excitingly, by blooming. We both get excited when one of her plants blooms. Take a look at this one!

The plant just threw up a big ole stalk and bloomed.
That’s quite a stalk (and quite a cool effect the double-paned windows make with the reflections!)

Many of my own house plants have been around a long time. I’ve had some bad luck lately, but when a plant is happy, it stays. Here is a house plant a money tree Pachira aquatica) that we’ve had for well over a decade, and it was a gift from another family when they moved.

The way-too-big houseplant. Also, note pothos that is less happy than the other one. It’s getting moved and repotted soon.
It’s a flowering tree that also has edible nuts. By © Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7898452

This poor plant lived a long time on the deck while the Bobcat Lair house was getting renovated, where it got too much sun, received too little water, was besieged by aphids, and looked very sad. We had no place to put it in the casita!

It had tiny leaves, and most had fallen off. I kept wondering if I should put it out of its misery. But look! It’s funny looking, but it has nice big leaves now, which cover the plant. And it’s new growth is no longer sticky from aphids! It only took me a couple of years to fix that. I helped my old friend.

[I should never look on Wikipedia for stuff. I got all distracted discovering that this thing really IS a huge tree where it comes from, its flowers are the largest of any flowering tree, and it has edible nuts, when roasted. They call it the Malabar Chestnut. Raw nuts are toxic to rats. Enough of this.]

Monday.

Another plant I now realize I helped is this mother-in-law’s tongue/snake plant that was being thrown away when we moved to new offices at work. I have three different pots of it now, but the happiest one is at the Bobcat Lair. How do I know it’s happy? It’s going to bloom! I’ve never seen one of these bloom.

Friday

I discovered the little bloom stalk on Monday of this week. I’d hoped it would flower before I had to come back to Cameron.

But, the stalk is still growing. Maybe I’ll get to see the blossom next time I’m in town! I wonder if it’s blooming because it’s filled the container with leaves and feels the need to reproduce, or if it’s telling me thanks for giving it such good light and appropriate watering for the past few years. You just can’t tell. But, I’m convinced that I helped.

Seeing my plant companions thriving makes ME grateful, so I’ve helped both inarticulate friends and myself. Plus, contributing to life on this planet feels to me like it’s creating some balance, which we need. Not everything is destructive and selfish. Kindness is out there! We can help.

Here’s a photo of what the blossoms look like. In the wild, there will then be orange berries! By Arungolas – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89254511

Irrational Pleasure at Small Things

I’m beginning to think the reason I’m usually in such a positive frame of mind is that it’s so darn easy to give me little bits of happiness throughout the day. Just in my office, alone, there are things that make me feel a wee bit of joy every time I use them. Just now I was talking to Anita about my love for the very large set of gel pens she got me for Christmas.

Oooh, ah. This thing has TWO layers.

They replaced the HORRIBLE gel pens I’d been using to write in my notebook every day. I’d say 75% of them were dried up before I even got to use them, and they weren’t that old. I do love the stand they came in, but I guess Anita got tired of me cursing every time I tried to write something down.

Bad pens, on their way to Pen Heaven.

The new pens work like a charm. I, being me, and using them in order to write my notes each day. It’s the baby version of the incredibly complex, but meaningful to him, system Lee uses in his really fancy journals.

Other things that just perk me up a little every day are my various rose-scented items. I love the smell of roses. Of course, it makes Lee sick (I have never met anyone so sensitive to scents in my life, and that’s saying a lot for someone who attended a Unitarian Universalist church where scents, real candles, and many types of flowers were banned because of folks who, I assume, would not have lasted long prior to this century), so I indulge mostly in Austin or in my office in Cameron.

Before I got so lost in my parenthetical ravings, I was going to say how I like the rose cuticle oil (with cute li’l dried strawflowers in it) and my fancy rose oil perfume from my favorite multi-level marketing vendor. I have one of those for all my desks.

Smelly objects!

Naturally, my red leather notebook with my name on it makes me happy, too. I write in it every day and enjoy how soft it is. It’s from Jenny Bick, if you want your very own cute journal.

One more thing I love is a good keyboard. I must say I irrationally love the clicky keyboard I have in the Austin office and the cute candy-colored one I have in the Cameron office (they are from a Chinese company that markets itself as the PNK Stuff). Why not enjoy yourself while you type all day, every single day?

Well, look at that. I just came up with all these things just sitting at my desk! No wonder I’m such a chill type of gal these days. I doubt I’ll continue and share what I love about the area around my chairs in my living rooms or my bed. I think it’s clear that many things bring me joy. No wonder I can’t toss most of my things.

What makes you happy just by having it nearby or using it daily? Suna wants to KNOW!

The Mystery Fig

Allow me to return to the original purpose of this blog, which was to document my nature observations and Master Naturalist activities. I want to share that I finally solved our Bobcat Lair fruit mystery.

For a few weeks we’ve been seeing these weird fruits in the road and in the grass near our house. Anita and the neighbors had been baffled. A plant identification mystery!

What the heck?

Finally, last week, Anita and neighbor Angela determined that they were coming from across the street from us, where new owners had recently trimmed back some overgrown shrubbery. That’s been letting more fruit be seen. And it appeared to be coming from…a cedar (Ashe juniper) tree?

Tree is just to the right of the lights. We had never seen the porch lights on or Christmas lights here before recently.

Looking harder, at the tree we realized there was something non-juniper-esque in there, which we never could see before. Well, we couldn’t see the house, either.

There it is!

I took a photo of the fruit, which resembled a fig or a banana or a cashew to us. It was identified on iNaturalist as a snail. Nope. I posted to our chapter Facebook group and a couple people said a fig. But it didn’t feel like a fig.

The picture that looks a lot like a snail.

So, today I took more photos, including the leaves, by crawling in the neighbor yard. Hmm. That tree could be a big vine.

I also got more fruit and cut one open. Hey, there were lots and lots of tiny seeds in there! Like a fig. Okay, so I have fig and vine.

The inside. Spongy pulp and teeny seeds.

I uploaded all my photos, and finally found a match. And it’s both a fig and a vine.

It doesn’t always have small leaves.

This seems to be a weird plant. It often has tiny leaves, but also parts with large leaves. I think the one across the street has both. (Look at what’s growing on the tree trunk above.) And those weird pulpy fruit! They are not like figs you eat. And they are in the mulberry family?

I looked into it more. Mulberries are a big family. So is ficus. Breadfruit is also one. Here’s more from Wikipedia (donate to them) about our new figgy friend:

But what the heck is a liana? I have a friend named Liana…what is she named for? It’s a woody, bridgy viney thing.

Do any of you know more about these plants? Interesting, huh?

Being Alive = Excellent

Came close to being not alive or close, today. I had an excellent drive to Austin and enjoyed getting lots of work done. Then, Anita and I decided to go to Costco for her staples (especially toilet paper!), because it’s practically empty at 4 pm on a Tuesday.

Anita, Not Injured

I asked Anita to drive. I’d driven on wet roads and was tired. That was an excellent idea.

We were driving down scenic Far West Blvd., at normal speed, because the school zone was over. As we went through the intersection with Chimney Corners, where our eye doctor is, there was suddenly a black Suburban accelerating towards us, attempting to turn left into the space Anita’s Mazda was occupying.

You can see the driver had sped off, but got caught at the light.

There were other cars all around. I guess the dude was trying to thread a small gap and didn’t see us. Anita slammed on the brakes and veered left to avoid the giant vehicle.

Somehow, she managed to end up still on the road, without hitting the curb or any utility poles. And the vehicle behind us managed to not hit us from behind. Wow. Such skill.

Grr. I can’t read the license plate.

The asshole just sped off, leaving a bunch of stunned other drivers. As we carefully made our way to the stoplight, the guy who had been behind us checked in us, asking if we were okay. Physically, yes! He had a matching Dallas Cowboys hat and mask, which cheered me up a bit.

Yet another Blogmas miracle, I guess.

I’m glad there was hardly anyone in the store and that we got a lot of toilet paper and paper towels. We came home and aren’t going anywhere else.

Partially eaten bread. Very fresh.

We got delicious banana nut bread from Ruth next door, too. I’m so grateful for friends and good drivers.

A 2020 Kind of Christmas Hope

Enjoying a raspberry Coke on the deck.

I’m tired. I’d hit all my exercise goals by 3 pm, so you know I’ve been physically active. It’s all good, though. Some of that time I even spent walking with my son. Finally. We got to walk and chat outside. It takes a lot of coordination to get to see each other, but it’s just so nice to hear stories of his work, his friends, and normal stuff like that. It was a pretty day, too. Cloudless!

I spent much of today outside, which was much better than the hours I spent yesterday in a chilly drizzle. My decoration and home improvements have been quite 2020. Allow me to explain.

Yesterday

I worked so hard that I bruised my hands, but I got stuff done I’d been putting off, boring things like changing the air conditioning filter that’s practically inaccessible in the attic, and replacing all the burned out porch light bulbs.

Oops

Unfortunately, the teeny nut that holds one fixture together fell out of my hand and landed somewhere under the deck. Anita and I searched for it, but no luck. I tried many things to save it, but failed big time. Duct tape only lasted a few minutes.

Ahh

Finally, today it occurred to me I had wire. It worked and hardly shows. 2020 ingenuity!

The main project I worked on yesterday was outdoor lights. Our next-door neighbor, Ruth, gave us 3 boxes of icicle lights. We had another one just like it, hanging around in the Big Box of Lights. So, I set about lining a long stretch of our deck with them. I used pushpins to hold them up (one way I got bruised). I finally finished, in a dripping rain, only to realize I’d put the female end on the far side, rather than close to the extension cord. Face palm. After going inside and sulking, I figured out a way to rearrange the cords to make them plug in. A 2020 Holiday Miracle.

You can sort of see the lights. This is right after I got them working.

I also set up some lights in a different spot from usual, down by the basement, where people driving by could see them. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that before. It was a start on a winter wonderland to match my indoor stuff.

Little sparkly trees outside the door to Anita’s den.

I managed to get up lights around the front door, with Anita’s help, and think it looks cheerful.

Not perfect, but okay. And the fact that I changed the bulbs in that porch light is a mini miracle. It was not easy.

Today

At some point, I had to drag myself inside and warm up. This morning, I was back at it, driven to use every single light we have. I’m not sure why I felt so strongly about it, but I think there were two reasons. One, it cheers me up to decorate. I’m not as good, nor do I have as many nice things as a lot of people who decorate do, but I have fun and it looks like “me” when it’s over with.

Cheesy, but cheery.

The other thing is I know how I get cheered up when I see cheerful lights on houses, and I just want to give back. No one’s going to be able to enjoy our inside lights but me and Anita, so I’m sharing 2020 Christmas Hope with others by my decorations.

I did NOT get a dumpster fire ornament. Proud of myself.

The first thing I did was complete the winter wonderland. I added our snowflake lights that we’ve had a few years down at ground level. I hope they look pretty. And then I also brought down our sleigh with a tree in it, which usually sits on the deck. I had no way to light it, thanks to my icicle-light-stringing faux pas, so it didn’t hurt to give it a new spot.

Here’s how it looks in the daytime.

I put some decorations on the rocking chair area on the porch, so it didn’t look neglected, and put some stuff in my sad Texas mountain laurel at the entrance to the deck, too.

Then I went into some kind of overdrive. Honestly, I had decided to tone down my lighting this year, you know, because it’s a somber time.

Looks so exciting.

But nope, I kept thinking of Anita walking Pickle, making her tea, or whatever. She needs cheer, as hard as she works every day. So every light that was left got strung in a tree branch.

From the other direction.

It’s not a thing of true beauty, but no matter what window you look out, you’ll see lights this year. Woo!

Obviously I need another extension cord. Back deck.

Plus, it’s a family tradition to just sorta throw lights on trees and call it done. Declan remembered us doing it at our Braesgate house for many years. Back then we used brooms to get higher in the trees. No professional light-stringing service for us! And it showed. But, it was cheerful.

Yes! You can see them from the road!

What’s left now is decorating our villa-sized tree. It may be the tree’s last year, since it no longer will sit up straight in its pot. Anita tied it up with string, and at least from the front it looks all right. From the side, though, it’s a 2020 Christmas tree.

It’s just leaning a LITTLE.

I feel better having done this. And a neighbor texted that it looks good. My 2020 Christmas is just fine.

They look good from inside, too.

Do whatever works for YOU to get through the season. I will support you! Now this is a real Blogmas post!

Ready for a disco party for me, Anita, and Pickle!

Getting Your Car Serviced — Worse Than the Doctor

Ugh, I screwed up. I made an appointment to get my car serviced, which it needs yearly. I assumed it would be like previous years. You drive up, a dude asks you if there’s anything wrong, you get a fancy rental car, and you leave.

Of course, I could buy some fancy wheels for the holidays.

I had stuff I was going to do. But nope. Everyone acted like I was interrupting whatever they had planned for the day. They had no idea who I was. Now, it’s true that the car is owned by our real estate business, for taxes I guess. But every other time they remembered me. No familiar employees.

Ah, there’s where they keep the hospitality.

They grudgingly led me to the lobby. Every single person I spoke to was wearing their mask incorrectly. Cute noses, folks. No wait, the young man who finally noticed I was there had his on right.

To top it off, I got all sad. They are building a giant condo between Donn’s Depot and El Arroyo, two of my favorite Austin places. Dang. They really ARE erasing the town.

I eventually got helped. But I was grumpy. I’m gonna make that rental car haul stuff from Lowe’s. So there.