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.

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.)

Aftermath

This is just a brief note to let you all know that, after my undignified fall, I got through yesterday okay and am okay today so far. I am just stiff and sore. I am proud to say that by walking slowly around the house during a couple of phone calls, I managed to keep my streak of hitting my movement goal going, so now it’s up to 154 days. I’m glad that once I’m actually up, walking is fine. I actually got in more steps yesterday than the day before, but they sure weren’t brisk after I went BOOM.

I was proud of myself when I hit the goal.

Now that I am older, it takes longer to recover from falls and such. Actually, falling makes me feel old, but I would have fallen where I was yesterday at any age. I’m just going to make the most of it and pay attention to where the hurt is each day.

For example, yesterday my chest muscles hurt so badly that I honestly didn’t notice anything else. Who knows how falling on my back strained them, but it sure did. Today, though, my shoulders and upper back are reminding me that I fell on them, and my upper leg is tender. Interestingly, my arms now hurt from trying to break the fall. It’s not bad, but it’s THERE.

And I realize I hit my head, thanks to the headache and bruising back there. I haven’t had any “concussion protocol” symptoms (thanks to American football on television, I know what they are), so I am pretty sure I will heal fine.

Since it is still raining hard, I have been sure to put on sturdy shoes today. We’re grateful for that rain!

That looks a heck of a lot better. Photo by Chris.

I’m grateful that I don’t see any bruising anywhere, though I’m surprised, knowing how hard I hit the deck. (Ha ha, I literally hit the deck.) You just never know what the effect of an incident will be! I hope there are no lingering symptoms, like the ankle that still occasionally hurts from when Carlton pulled me down the hill as a puppy. THAT incident produced a LOT of colorful bruising.

But, I am not hurt badly, so don’t worry about me. I’ll be back to other topics now, like renovation progress. I was so happy to see that they scraped all the paint smears off the stained glass over the front door. It will look so good once everything is cleaned and re-painted (carefully).

OUCH

Well, poop. I am not superhuman. I also don’t really think my wardrobe choices through.

Evil slippery deck in its ancient and damp glory.

It’s been raining for a couple of days, so, of course, our ancient deck is mighty wet. I wasn’t really concerned about it, since I’d managed to walk Vlassic just fine earlier today.

However, I’d changed into some really cute cowboy boots to wear to work. So, when time came to walk the dogs again, I strode out at my usual brisk pace (so it will count as exercise for my watch), and was singing a happy song.

Suddenly, my feet were in the air and I thought, “Oh boy, this isn’t good,” just as my rear end made contact with the deck and I promptly bounced on my upper back. I could feel the vertebrae as they got hit. ACK.

Landing there, of course my lungs got squished, so I lost my breath. I did manage to tell Anita I hadn’t broken anything and asked her to take the dog.

Vlassic takes care of me. I look like crap. And Supergirl is back there taunting me and reminding me that I am NOT her.

That was certainly a dumb wardrobe choice. And we really, really need to replace that deck with something that has some traction. Changing into dry clothing was “interesting,” but it appears like I just have some bruising in my ribs and my wrists (from trying to break the fall).

Dear Vlassic came and jumped on me to make me feel better, and Anita got me a hot wrap for my shoulders. I am now prepared for the chorus of “Arnica” and other remedies. I’ll take care of myself, I promise!

The Best Shirt EVER

Maybe I’m exaggerating, and maybe I’m not. However, today I am wearing a new shirt I got on Saturday that just gets better and better the more I wear it. I’m not usually this much excited about a shirt, I swear! There is no danger of me morphing into a fashion blogger or an “influencer” (for a really funny article on how to be “Insta-famous” as an influencer, check out this post by my favorite millennial, V.

Label and fabric close-up.

I was initially drawn to this shirt, sitting there among dozens of beautiful and over-priced shirts at a shop in Round Top, because it was covered in hummingbirds. I pretty much was going to buy it unless it looked like some giant sack on me, just because of the print, but I did feel the need to try it on.

The shirt! Note my hand is in my wonderful pocket! And check out those pressed jeans, courtesy of Kathleen’s dry-cleaning account.

I’m glad I did, because I keep thinking I am huge and tried on a size much too large. Kathleen kept sending me back to put on something smaller. The M fit great, and is still loose enough. I’d never heard of the brand, but I found this on a page that sells the Shana brand:

Shana offers a diverse collection of affordable clothing in today’s current styles. Unique and exciting clothes for women who want to look their best. A portion of all sales is given to Himalayan Hands, a non profit organization dedicated to helping children and their families in Nepal and Tibet.

http://www.fawbushs.com/brands/shana

Well, at least some of my money is going to help people who deserve some help. That makes my shirt purchase part of my do-gooder work, too. Ha! Clever!

Back of shirt, featuring cool pleat and zipper!

Why is this shirt the BEST?

Let me share the ways:

  • The print is just the cutest ever and in such happy colors.
  • The pattern fits nicely at the top then flares out, making me want to twirl around. It is flattering to people shaped like me.
  • It’s really comfortable, and all cotton.
  • The front has buttons, so you could wear it like a jacket if you wanted to.
  • The sleeves roll up and have a button to keep them up, which I didn’t realize until I was getting dressed this morning and found the sleeves too long.
  • The back has a really cool zipper! It’s not just decorative; when you unzip it, the shirt’s back pleat is freed up, thus making the shirt even twirlier.
  • AND, as I only found out about a half hour ago, it has side pockets. Who doesn’t love pockets that actually work?

So, I have to say that I love my shirt and plan to wear it for years and years. It matches my hair, my glasses, my nails, my active imagination…yay!

The zipper opened, and a better view of all the birds.

I have come to the conclusion that I wear bright clothing to help keep me feeling in a good mood. And from my coworkers’ reactions today, the happy colors, shiny shoes and all that cheer them up, at least a little. And it costs no more than black (I admire people who wear only black and look so chic in doing so; I just can’t do it myself.)

From rainy Austin, Texas, have a good week!

I’m on Fire in the Snow(ish)

It’s been interesting lately, but at least not bad, just interesting. Yesterday was another long, but productive, day at work. I enjoy those a lot, when I get to have ideas and help other people out. Plus, some of my favorite “drudgework” is coming up, so I’m all pleased. I am grateful every day to have work and a place where I’m appreciated. It was a long time coming.

See, I’m a person at Planview, even though that was a couple of job titles ago.

But, I had to leave a little early to go get the mammogram the doctor ordered yesterday. I wasn’t worried, since the 3D ones aren’t as awful as the other ones were, but as I was standing there, extremely awkwardly, I began to itch. Yoga breathing to the rescue, and I got through it, but wow, was I itchy.

Oh look, I had a rash.

Yep, I was covered in a rash, everywhere I had touched the machine (I kindly cropped the photo). All I can figure is that whatever disinfectant they use between patients (which is, of course, a very good thing) disagreed with me rather violently!

So, I ran off to the haircut place, where I had a nice glass of wine and was comforted by Dan, who also removed a ton of hair, with no disasters involved. I’m glad I finally found someone I like to do my hair, and that it is CLOSE to the house. Next time it will be a lot more fun, so stay tuned for late March.

Snowpocalypse!

It was really cold when we came back from having a Chinese dinner (chicken and broccoli, healthy and good with no rice!). Declan came over and chatted with us while we ate, which was a nice break. It is always so nice to catch up.

On the way home, little frozen rocks were spitting from the sky, I guess graupel. So, I was not surprised to see what passes for a “winter wonderland” around here when I woke up.

It was crunchy.

Better mark myself safe from Austin Snowpocalypse 2020! I think Cameron got a little bit more, from photos I saw (it will be long gone by the time I get there this evening). Be safe out there, Texans! Everyone up north, enjoy a chuckle on us!

This much snow is pretty. And once a year is often enough!

The Yuck Side of Dog Ownership (and more)

The dog part is coming, honest.

How Am I Eating?

I’m trying really hard not to get immersed in the news, so I’m filling my mind with more important things, like, um, good nutrition! Yes! I try to cook a meal for Anita at least once a week, since she’s not a “cooker.” Last night I found some non-wheat pasta with quinoa, corn, and chickpea flour. I cooked it. I combined an organic tomato sauce with black beans and some kind of re-constituted Chinese mushrooms (labeled “fungus” on the package).

It looks festive with some pumpkin seeds on top.

Does that sound weird? Yes. But it was good. The pasta does not pass for beautiful semolina pasta, but it has a reasonable texture and should make my triglycerides happy.

Continue reading “The Yuck Side of Dog Ownership (and more)”