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.

In Coffee I Trust

This morning, I sat down to start my day, and took a sip of the cup of coffee I’d just made. It was plain ole House Blend. I made it in my plebeian Keurig coffee maker, a thing I swore I’d never own one of, until I realized how much coffee I wasted making entire pots that didn’t get finished and how much paper I went through on filters. (I do often empty them out for compost, when I remember.)

Today’s coffee is in one of my favorite mugs, given to me back when the older son considered me his mom.

Anyway, it was plain coffee, with some whole milk and one teaspoon of Anita’s fancy brownish sugar. It was so delicious that I knew I’d make it through the day just fine. That’s the power of good coffee, or in this case, okay coffee.

I have been more of a coffee snob in the past, and truly admire people like my coworkers who buy only beans they know where they came from and grind them carefully in amazingly beautiful grinders, then carefully drip them through leather-wrapped holders for the perfect cup. But, I just want some coffee in the mornings, sometimes flavored (mmm, coconut).

I’m not running out any time soon here in Austin (or in Cameron).

It’s weird how rituals like the drinking of a bitter beverage every morning become traditions in certain cultures, and how they differ from place to place. Sure, caffeine gets many people going (I am okay with or without it). I think we crave the comfort of having something to do every morning that makes you slow down (ha ha and smell the coffee) and have at least a couple of mindful moments before going and doing and thinking and talking. It’s a centering ritual, even though most people who drink morning coffee would never call it that.

Thanks to friends and family, I have a fun collection of mugs. They have no political agenda.

Coffee, I love you. Thanks for being my morning buddy, wherever I go and whatever I’m doing.

The Black Dachshund Mix Goes to Austin

I’m sure Vlassic was looking forward to some fun today, but the weather didn’t cooperate. It was another big rain day. For me, it was fun looking out the window while I worked upstairs.

Wetness and reflections.

For Pickle, the day meant a great deal of panting and shaking. I refrained from photographing her in her distress. Vlassic mostly slept through the storms.

Big, pre-nap yawn.

He “helped” me a lot in Zoom meetings, or acted as dead weight in my lap. He apparently gets bored hearing only one side of conversations.

I’m a cute dead weight.

He got a lot of licking in, too, especially after walking in the rain. I was really proud of him for managing to do the needful outside.

I’m about to jump in Suna’s lap.

Pickle finally got to safely go out around 5 pm. She can really hold her bladder! We got to see our neighbor, Katie, who was in the same boat. Rain is very hard on small indoor dogs. We humans were sad that book club got rained out for the second week in a row, too. Sigh.

I’m better after my walk. See, no trembling.

Vlassic is not complaining. Time spent with Suna is good time for him. He got to destroy a dog toy, so now he can spend the rest of the evening watching HGTV with Anita and Suna.

Ahh. Life as an indoor dog has its benefits.

I know Vlassic enjoys ranch life, but he sure isn’t complaining about his time in the big city, even when it’s storming outside.

I Got Nothing of Substance

Well, here I am. It’s my designated blogging opportunity, and honest. Nothing to say. But my goal is to write every day, so I’ll write. What’s up with me?

Proof I’m in Austin and confused.

I’m in Austin, enjoying a Flash Flood Warning, listening to Anita watch Facebook (people who live alone talk to a lot of inanimate objects and pets, it seems, but it’s sweet). Life doesn’t get much better.

I’m still confused about work, but have decided to go with the flow in hopes that at some point the actual tasks we have to do come into focus. At least the intentions behind what we are being asked to do are starting to make sense – they want to sell software. Surprise. So, we technical documentation specialists are gonna make that happen…somehow. I can do it!

While I made it to Austin, the clothing I was going to wear while I was here did not. I was afraid I’d have no pants that fit, but I do; it’s just that they are mint green jeans. It’s a good thing they only see your top half in Zoom meetings! I found a company conference t-shirt from 2014, so I’ll look quite prepared.

We have our neighborhood book group tonight (one reason I’m here), and I am really looking forward to talking about The Vanishing Half, since my book review of it went over like a lead dictionary. That’s okay, lots of my posts get about six readers; they are treasured readers!

So, are YOU doing something interesting today? Tell me what’s up!

Mask Etiquette Dilemma

I bit the bullet and got my hair cut today. The place I go made a lot of changes for safety, like a whole bunch of plexiglass, so I wasn’t too worried about going. I waited in my car until I was called in, then went over to the stylist’s station. I stated that I wanted my hair cut, then we headed over to get it washed.

Hair is much shorter but still pale blue.

That’s where I saw it. Some lovely young woman was sitting in the chair closest to the hair-washing sinks. She had her mask on, all right, but her perky little nose was poking proudly out above the top of the mask. It surprised me, because I guess I thought her stylist would have reminded her how one is supposed to wear a mask to protect others from your germs.

Proper mask wearing, though crooked (pre haircut)

Since I was so surprised, I just gave her a long look through my squinty li’l Suna eyes, hoping they conveyed my disapproval.

As I sat in my chair watching Dan cut little triangles of hair, I kept wondering if I should have said something to the nose displaying woman. Excuse me, but your mask has slipped down? Hey, I can see your appendage!

Gaudy mask with giant earrings. Still safe!

Then I countered myself with the fact that I was far from her and she was facing the other way. And is it any of my business to tell her how to behave in public? People are pretty edgy about masks in the US, after all. Why start a fight? She wasn’t coughing on me.

On the other hand, we were indoors, which is risky even with all the plexiglass. She was being inconsiderate, at the least. Dangerous to some people’s thinking. What to do?

I look as tired of pictures of me in masks as you probably are. Also my eye size discrepancy is getting worse as my eyelids droop.

Well, I did take care of the people around me. I kept my mask on, even when big hunks of hair fell in it. I even tightened it when it began to slide. So, I was a good role model.

I wore this sloth mask today.

But I keep second guessing myself. What would you do?

Why I Adore a Little Black Dog

Yesterday after work, I snatched Vlassic out of the RV where he was hanging out with Lee’s brother, and invited him into the car. There, he settled down for a nice petting session while we drove to Austin. Yay, we got to go see our other house!

Yay, in Austin I get to shred toys.

When we got there, he greeted his friend Pickle, then insisted on taking a walk, you know, to see if all the bushes were still there. They were. After that, he destroyed a few toys, napped, and hung out with me until bedtime. At bedtime, he curled up right next to me and slept until morning.

Here’s Vlassic helping me work.

That’s not remarkable, really, but the way he just slid back into his old routine like he’d been doing it all along, it just amazed me. Yesterday he’d been rolling in the dirt, sitting under the RV, visiting the horses, chasing and eating many grasshoppers, and when lucky enough to find one, harassing toads. He is fixated on barking at toads.

He’s now helping me work in the kitchen.

We’ve just had our 2-year anniversary of sharing our lives with Vlassic, who we now think came from the Ben Arnold area (due to the large amount of very black dogs a particular female, who is now neutered and living in Colorado, had been churning out). He is the most laid-back and flexible dog I have ever come across.

I’m also cute outside. I only have one pose, apparently.

Wherever this little dude is, he’s at home. He loves Austin, he loves Cameron, he loves the indoors, and he loves the outdoors. He doesn’t chase chickens, and I think no longer chases small donkeys. While he occasionally doesn’t like a dog or person very much, I find he has pretty good taste in such things.

Honestly, it feels like a miracle that he showed up one day and I got to have him as my companion. The worst thing, for me, about the pandemic has been that I don’t get to spend as much time with Vlassic as I used to, because Penney scared him away from coming into the house. It’s weird, because they get along great outside, but he just won’t come into our house anymore.

He and Gracie are our chicken protectors and mini guard dogs at the ranch. Look at those tongues.

On the other hand, Jim sure likes having him around. So, now Vlassic is providing companionship to both of us. What a fine companion he is, too!

What Color Is Suna’s Hair THIS Week?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that my mid-life crisis has been to mess with my hair color. It’s my little inexpensive rebellion, I guess. Much less than lots of tattoos, piercings, or motorcycles. I’m not sure WHY I decided on bright hair, because I actually like my gray just fine. But, it’s my head and I’m a Free American Who Can Do What I Want. So, I had a major hair event scheduled for last March when I got back from vacation, only nope, the salon had to shut down.

(below are colors from the past couple of years, along with lots of glasses, which may be my OTHER mid-life crisis item)

I tried to refrain from putting any more Overtone color on my hair, so it could go back to more like the natural color, but I succumbed and used up the last of my coral mixed with red. Of course, right about then is when the Powers That Be in Texas decided it’s a great idea to “open up” the state and let salons open.

Before: Crap hair. A reminder.

I read all the precautions the place I go to is using, and felt comfortable with them. I decided to book that appointment. Admittedly, my long bangs and scary morning hair pushed me a little. And it gave me an excuse to drag myself to Austin so I can work in a different basement office, see Anita, and visit with the neighbors at a safe distance.

I washed my hair daily with Lee’s extra-harsh coal-tar shampoo as soon as I knew I was going in, to try to remove as much color as I could.

Off I went, yesterday, knowing I was in for a slog. Bleach was happening, so I can have more pale colors. Last time I got bleach, it wasn’t good, but Dan swore he knew what he was doing, and had tested a strand. When I got there, I was impressed with how nice the place looked, even with all the plexiglass dividers they’d hung up between stations. They hung them from macrame hangers, so it looked like it was part of the design aesthetic. Everyone cheerfully wore masks, I guess because they were glad to be able to work or get hair services.

On to the slog. First, there was like an hour of putting hair in foil (which looked fun, but I forgot to take a picture), followed by a lot of heat. I took a nap.

My eyes are trying to convey fear. This is still quite orange (and the roots are not done yet).

When that was done, I had white hair with rather scary orange edges. Whoever said Overtone was temporary didn’t know my hair. But Dan wasn’t worried. He proceeded to then put bleach on the roots that had no dye, and stick me back under the dryer.

Back under the dryer with the roots cooking. Please cook that orange, too.

The result of that was a much nicer peach color, which Dan declared would add dimension to the final color. Okay. Then, one last round of heat.

A little less orange. Maybe that’s cute?

I had planned to just stay pale until my light blue color came in, but Dan found some stuff that looked really intriguing. I said, “Sure, make my hair steel blue.”

The final result of bleach. It’s my Draco Malfoy look.

Back under the dryer I went. He promised it was the last time. And it was! It was weird when he rinsed the dye out of my hair, because the water ran clear. ALL the dye went into my newly porous strands. That’s never happened. I’m hoping that means this color will last a while.

Cooking the blue in. I’m heating up, too. Masks are so fun.

I really like the color it came out to be, and the salon owner said it would fade to the pale baby blue I was looking for, which means I can maintain it with the Overtone that should show up some day.

After the cut. I’m all fogged up and Dan is trying to convey happiness in his eyes.

I think after all the experiments, I’m back to blue for the long haul. I’ll be a happy blue-haired Austin-style hippie, and I’m sure people in Cameron can handle it.

Once dry, it’s quite a nice shade.

The hair didn’t scare the neighbors when I attended one of their social-distancing happy hours last night. It sure was great to see them, and we could hear each other just fine. I feel all caught up with the news and like I’m back to being part of the community. Now, of course, I miss everyone at the OTHER house.

Socially distant neighbors with anti-social Anita. Is she really glad to see me?

Hey, if you are “of a certain age,” did you have a mid-life crisis? Are you still having it? What did you do about it? Or are you having a mid-pandemic crisis?

My view during Zoom meetings in Austin. Now my hair matches the chairs.

Jiggity Jig

That’s right, friends, I finally came home (to my Austin house). Anita had kept it in perfectly great shape, as I knew she would. She and Pickle were really glad to see me and Vlassic. Vlassic was really glad to see my bed, where no one attacks him and forces him out.

I’ve really been enjoying all the home cooking at the ranch, since Kathleen is a great cook, and even Lee’s been making stuff that’s great. Plus Chris and his barbecue monster…mmm. BUT. Anita went to the local Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant and brought home some delicious pho. Oh how I had missed those seasonings. I ate every bit of it.

Yummmmmmm

Austin does have good food, even if you don’t go in a restaurant!

Nice vase. And at least I’m in a DIFFERENT basement this morning.

I finally got to give Anita the presents I’d bought her way back when I was visiting my stepsister. She liked the Persian lime olive oil and crackly lime green vase (I didn’t realize there was a theme to the gifts until just now). It was just nice to sit and talk and watch what I wanted to watch on television without feeling bad about inflicting it on others.

Also: internet. Oh how I have missed stable, functional internet.

And finally, the reason I dragged myself to Austin, finally, was to get my hair cut. Do you want to know why? LOOK:

Crap hair.
Carroty hair from last night. With Vlassic VERY glad to be with me.

I’ve spent a couple of weeks trying to wash out the hair color, and that has made it turn a scary carroty orange. Ugh. And the bangs. I can’t cut them myself. So, with numerous precautions and great care, new hair will emerge later today.

Plus, I’ll get to see the neighbors today, at a socially distant happy hour. I will be interested to see how that works.

And that’s all I have right now. More soon!

Who’s Your Community?

I love that people send me pictures of my favorite flowers for my birthday. That’s enough to make the day cheerful!

What a coincidence that the UU Lent word for today is community, when it’s the day every year that I’m reminded of how far my extended community goes and how close my intimate community is. As much as people complain about Facebook, it’s great for reminding you that people are thinking of you, so Facebook birthdays are always fun.

Community is something I think about a lot, because as the years go by, I’ve come to realize that so much of what I do is to try to create community. I crave being part of a group of people who care for each other and support each other. Perhaps most of us do (with my spouse as an exception, maybe).

These pansies came from a member of my caring LLL sub-community/

At last, after making a lot of attempts at joining communities and trying to become a part of them, I’ve come to realize that it works way better when communities join YOU. I often mistook being part of an organization or other group of people formed because of a shared mission or passion as being part of a community. Sometimes it is, but sometimes you can mistake people working together as people who care about each other. I found this out the hard way with La Leche League, my old church, my knitting group, and others. I did make good friends doing this work, but the community of caring wasn’t really there after all, or if it was, I wasn’t in it. Too much struggle for power and in-group formation.

My birthday morning greeted me with sun rising above fog in good old NorthCat Villas in Austin.

To me, a real community consists of a group of people who all are equal and accept each other as they are, warts and all, and work together for the benefit of all. So, my old groups had sub-communities, for sure, and I truly appreciate them and the friendships they created that have lasted many years.

The feet of my community in Austin. We had a rather amusing meeting about people taking up too many parking spaces in our cul-de-sac.

Now I really do feel part of a community in both of the places where I live. I feel safe and cared for in my little Austin cul-de-sac (warts and all, oh yes), and I certainly feel that way among the community that’s building up around me in Cameron. No wonder I am happier and more at “home” than I’ve ever been in my life.

Where do you seek community?

Happy Hallmark Holiday

I’ve never been a fan of those holidays that seem to be designed just to sell stuff. Sweetest Day (what?) comes to mind. And after reading years’ worth of people saying how sad they feel on Valentine’s Day, or gloating about what they got…yeah, I’m not so big on that. Except I like reminding my … Continue reading “Happy Hallmark Holiday”

I’ve never been a fan of those holidays that seem to be designed just to sell stuff. Sweetest Day (what?) comes to mind. And after reading years’ worth of people saying how sad they feel on Valentine’s Day, or gloating about what they got…yeah, I’m not so big on that.

Valentine’s DAZE

Except

This is me in my heart attire telling all you nice readers that I appreciate you SO MUCH!

I like reminding my friends and family that I am fond of them. I like seeing people smile at a little surprise. So, this year, when Anita and I were at the H-E-B (the best grocery store chain in Texas) early in the season, when there were still some “good” gifts and cards out, I picked up some little things for the gang in Cameron. It was nice-ish cards and a few little cute things.

Good quality corporate gifts.

But, where are they now? Heck if I know! At least it’s given everybody a good laugh, and we all know we like each other, presents or no. And Kathleen and her helpers DID get gifts out to all our clients and business contacts at Hearts Homes and Hands. You should just be our client for the presents!

My advice to everyone is to use a day like today to tell someone you care, do something kind for someone, or give yourself a big old hug, because YOU deserve it.

Aftermath of the Aftermath

After much discussion and many good ideas from family and friends, we decided to get some of the things you put on stairs to make them less slippery, and apply them to the area where Anita and I walk out of the Bobcat Lair house when dog walking. That’s the place we walk most when it’s rainy, since the dogs have to do their duty no matter what. We’re hoping they hold up and prevent falls until we can get the deck rebuilt with better materials.

This will help give us back our confidence walking on the deck when it’s rainy. We just won’t go out if it’s icy!

I had been all worried about my chickens when someone told me they knew of a bunch that had died from huddling together too intently during the recent very cold rain. Chris sent me a picture to prove they are alive, and Lee went out to check on them after the first freeze. I guess they figured something out!

We are just fine, Suna! Soon we will make eggs!

PS

Thanks for all the fascinating comments on Facebook about your personal prejudices. I think it helps that we realize we all have these irrational feelings about people, and maybe we can cut each other some slack about our areas for growth. I have some fascinating friends.

I got anti-falling stuff. Kathleen got little cakes! (The cup was from Lee.)