I’m Not Sick, Just Tired, But I MUST Be Supportive!

Please let me first apologize for making my discomfort with plane travel over the weekend appear like I think I am sick. I have no symptoms of COVID-19, and have been taking my temperature. Still just fine, as far as I can tell. I was just really uncomfortable being around so many people in the Dallas airport and sitting next to a woman who was coughing. Like I’ve said before, I’m a special snowflake who believes the pandemic is real and would prefer not to take chances. But, I’m not sick.

As it does every day, noticing nature’s beauty keeps me feeling well. These are two red-tailed hawks circling above Marbry’s Ridge.

And by saying I’m tired, I mean I’m spending a lot of energy (and rightly so, I think ) supporting friends and family who are going through really hard times right now. It may be tiring, but it’s important work, and I don’t plan to stop.

Examples and Inspiration

For example, I know how to not get overly sucked in by others’ needs, but when your close friend’s husband passes away, you can’t help but send your energy out to them. My friend Vicki was the only person who came to my dad’s funeral to take care of ME, and she’s stuck with me since we were teenagers, despite our political and spiritual differences. That’s true friendship. I’m so sorry she lost her beloved husband so soon after finally reuniting with him. True friends need to be there for each other and truly listen, so I’ll so what I can in these WEIRD times.

A circle of friends surrounding a cactus seems an apt illustration!

Coincidentally, I just read this beautiful article in the New York Times, by someone famous, but who suffers just like us.

“[W]hen people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”

The Losses We Share, by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, New York Times, November 25, 2020

She recently experienced a miscarriage, a devastating life passage she shares with so many of us. She shared that just having someone actually express that they care about how she is getting along was helpful and healing. And her overall point, that checking on others during this time of isolation is VITAL, is something we all need to think about.

I know reaching out is not one of my best skills, but I’m prioritizing it. I’m very GOOD at responding, though, and boy do I send out those healing thoughts (which I’ll go along with the organized religion fans and assume do some good).

This is where I send all my vibes to. Hee hee.

Another example: someone I know mentioned that none of their local friends had checked up on them during the pandemic until very recently. That hurt. It made me wonder who I should be checking up on (yes, I will call my stepmother). Who do you need to check on, just so they will know they aren’t alone?

As Meghan pointed out this morning, we need to really see each other right now, even if we’re covered up:

“We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes — sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears. For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another.”

Ibid.

I truly hope she is right. With so much loss and pain going around, we need each other to see us, accept us, and show we care.

A final example: a blog reader wrote me a long email yesterday, in response to one of my blog posts on Highly Sensitive People. He was worried that he was using his sensitivity as an excuse to indulge his other issues (fears of various things). Now, this man is also dealing with autism and other mental health issues, and I felt so bad to think he worried that his personality type was an excuse. I’m glad he reached out, because I think he expressed something many of us experience, which is that our thoughts or feelings aren’t good enough, or are a cover-up for something else. In reality, many people share the HSP trait, and some of them have other issues, too. It’s just who we are, and dealing with it becomes a lot easier if we accept our limitations and challenges, and work to be the best unique individual we can be. Who that man is, the way he is, is fine. No one should judge him without spending some time in his reality.

Of course, I told him this, in other words. It’s what we all should do, listen and be supportive. Everyone’s struggling with something!

Looking out my window, it’s easy to see how we feel isolated, each of us up on our own hills.

Listen to the Universe

Wow, it sure seems like the Universe is conspiring to tell me something this week. Clearly, the effort it takes to be supportive of others, to listen to what people are concerned about, and to reach out is worth it, even if it can make you tired. We’re all we have!

Just another cool hawk photo to enjoy. I like how the sun made the interesting effect. Nice to end on a note of beauty.

Happy Worker

This may be one of the few times I’ve ever come back from a vacation fully rested and relaxed. I haven’t had to drive or fly back in from anywhere or take care of all the things that I didn’t do while I was gone (because I’ll do that NEXT week). I just woke up, made some coffee, and headed over to the dining table that is my desk for another week.

Rock formation that reminded Kathleen of our spouses.

I actually looked forward to getting back to my job and finding out what got accomplished last week when I was (mostly) offline. And I’m glad to see all the coworkers! So, last week was quite a successful vacation, even if we were snowed in for part of the time!

Naturally, it’s going to warm up here in the mountains this week, while I need to be at my desk most of the day. But I’ll have a couple of hours before dark, thanks to work being an hour ahead of where I am.

Meanwhile, Kathleen has been sending me photos from their drive to Texas, including this great horned owl, which they saw near Roswell, New Mexico. Wow! I have no idea what it is doing on the side of the road, but she says it doesn’t look injured.

Roadside owl.

I’m so glad she’s getting to travel by car and see all the beauty of the desert. She is in love with the planet at this point. It’s gotten all of us excited to do more travel in the future, maybe when it’s safer and we can do more!

My Buddy Nature

I sure love being outside and exploring new places. Even in this week where I’ve been laying low, I make sure to get outside and do something daily. It’s just plain fun.

And there are purple cacti and rocks.

I’d intended to go on a short walk today, but when I realized I had a couple of hours until my next meeting, I just kept going.

I went up high!

I kept following the golf cart trail, since I had on normal shoes. The views were lovely, and I got to see chipmunks, a raven, and a dear little hairy woodpecker who was not scared of me at all. I only got photos of plants, though.

Whoa, this apparently is woad, the plant that have Europe its blue dye before indigo showed up.

I admit that I had to stop a lot, and not just to take pictures of plants. I climbed 33 staircases up, and ended up way up there. I had to catch my breath.

You can see my panting.

But it was lots of fun! I went up a deer trail and almost felt peace and quiet (still too much construction noise). I enjoyed so many new trees and plants. And it was all free, unlike shopping.

From the deer path.

Other things I found were an elk leg (huge) on the golf course and many lovely rocks and autumnal plants.

I ended up making 3 miles and walked over an hour. I hope I can do it again tomorrow!

Not bad for an elderly person.

I’ll have to change tactics next week. Snow and cold is coming. I may need snow pants. But I have my walking sticks and snow boots. All this solitude and exercise is helping my mood, so I want to keep it up!

I like all the colors. But that grass is painted green. Ha!

So hey, how are you coping? Hanging out with your quiet buddy, nature can’t hurt. Plus, being physically really tired might help you sleep!

Hints for High Altitude Traveling

Oh yes, I am enjoying being all by myself up here in some mountains that are hard to see because of all the resorts and construction. But it’s wonderfully quiet in my condo, and I have the windows open for fresh mountain air! Since they knew I’d be here for three weeks they put me at the back of the resort, with no next-door neighbors and as far as humanly possible from building noise, other than the occasional backup beeper (supplies are kept next to the building). But, it isn’t bad, at all.

Some funny things have occurred to me, though, so for those of you who, like me until yesterday, have never traveled anywhere this high up, I have a few hints, mostly to do with opening things.

First: all the containers of creams and liquids that you bring with you will remain on lower pressurization. I found this out in my ride from the airport, when my hand sanitizer ejaculated all over me. I had some very antiseptic pants!

Things that splatted all over the place since I got here.

It didn’t stop there. I went to put on hand cream, but did I use the one here at the condo? No, I used the one I brought from Austin. SPLAT.

At least my toothpaste was fine. But, then I went to apply my makeup this morning. The moisturizer is sort of thick, so I was able to control its oozing. But, then my foundation. The expensive foundation. I think I lost a month’s worth of that stuff. It would not stop, so I crammed the lid back on, and don’t look forward to tomorrow. And yes, I wear makeup. Gotta look good on Zoom, you know.

But the good stuff!

I’m being careful and not over-exercising, so I won’t get altitude sickness. ANd I’m taking in a lot of liquids, like the instructions say. Those are my other pieces of advice.

But I did take a little walk around the area. I had been concerned that I hadn’t seen any wildlife at all since I got here, but the walk helped a lot with that. I only saw two birds, but they were both very friendly, so I got reasonable photos of a magpie and a mountain chickadee.

And when I found the ski lift entrance, I got to see what was left of some nice wildflowers, and poop that is either from deer or elk. Good. I didn’t take a picture, but it looked like big deer poop.

I didn’t get too tired, but my exercise app is going to be happy. With all the hills, I’m getting lots of “stairs” and heartrate-boosting effort.

More Chicken Mystery

When I got home from Austin, I found 9 eggs. They were all in one spot and all plain brown. The place where Fancy Pants lays was empty, and there were no pink or white eggs. Hmm.

Lee says he sees hens in weird places. Sure enough, I found two pink eggs in the far left corner of the garage.

Eggs were in there. Nice.

We looked in the rest of the garage, and there was Bertie Lee, sitting on a mop, in the far right corner of the garage.

Oh, Bertie.

I picked that egg up.

She makes big ones.

I still don’t see any Fancy Pants or Hedley eggs. Where can they be? Meanwhile, I found Sapphire on the mop. This is gonna be fun.

I give you nice egg boxes, but you lay eggs here??

Him reports that the brown hens are refusing to go in at night. They are in the white henhouse. Not good. It isn’t safe. I guess some chicken effort is needed! Hoping the family can help out!

That’s a Big One

Even not feeling great, I’m finding things to be excited about. I think that’s part of my charm. Perhaps. Today’s theme is big. For example, this is a big grasshopper, especially for a male. And it’s one of my better photos, right on my driveway!

Differential grasshopper, apparently tired, because he let me get really close. Note wings.

The extent of my walking yesterday was patrolling the back yard with Lee. While I regretted not meeting my activity goal, I still managed to find something big and beautiful. It’s one of my favorites, a yellow garden spider.

I had to take this over the fence. Notice her silver head. The scientific name, Argiope aurantia, means gilded silver-face.
This is her belly and some of her web. Obviously she’s an orb weaver!

And now, I’m sure you’ve been waiting for us to see what was inside Fancy Pants’s giant egg from a while back.

Giant egg!

It was still big after peeling. and still rather lumpy.

Peeled. Normal egg in background.

I got out the sharp knife and carefully sliced the big bruiser. Would it be a double yolk? Would it look weird?

That’s a BIG yolk.

I can’t tell if it’s double or not, but it sure is big! Way more yolk than white.

Compare to normal large egg. The normal one has way more white.

I wonder if this one would have had enough food in it to grow a chick? We will never know. But it does make me want to raise chicks. Maybe the next broody hen will get lucky!

So…what’s big in your life?

Buttercup the Hen Speaks Up

By Buttercup Wellsummer and Bruce Easteregger

BAWK! I’m Buttercup. I’m told I’m a Wellsummer hen. My friend, Butternut, and I have been living in a cozy place with a cozy inner safe space. We like it. It’s calmer since the giant gray chickens left. They were older and quite uppity. Hmph. One of them is already sitting in the leg-laying place.

Shut up, Buttercup. I’m cool and have all my wattles.
I laid an egg! It’s pink! So there, Buttercup!

Hey, I’m talking, Sapphire. We got to stay in our safe place, because we got extra-yummy food for growing but also on account of Butternut hurting her foot. The human with blue hair (she’d make a cool hen) didn’t want her getting hurt by the giant rooster or big hens on the outside.

I’m just looking for bugs over here. But yeah, I’m a bully. A very pretty bully.

We had a nice life. Butternut got better. We were good. Then, that dang human opened our doors! Other chickens came into our safe place! BAWK! We hid.

Sure, he’s a nice rooster, but he’s still a rooster!

We got braver when we realized bugs were out there. Mmmm. Bugs. We didn’t get many in our safe place. They escaped.

A bug! This is the life!

We stuck together. That’s how us chickens roll. We form little sub-flocks.

We survived sleeping last night and are feeling a lot better! I’m even joining the others by running up to the humans when they show up. We all like it when the human with the egg-shaped head opens our doors in the morning.

Look! I’m running with Gertie, who likes to chase me.

Butternut is still shy and hangs out in the safe place. She needs to get over it! It’s fun outside!

I’ll stay in here with Hedley. I’ll try to convince her to start laying again, says Butternut.

A Hello from Bruce’s Gang

COCK-a-DOODLE-DO! It’s me, Bruce, the crazy-looking rooster who everyone loves. I’ve been having so much fun lately!

Howdy! Isn’t my comb dashing?

Since Star and Sapphire got released from the other pen, where they were imprisoned with the Butters, we’ve formed a unit! These gals are strong, brave, and beautiful. My kind of gals.

We’ve been exploring all over our land now! There are so many places to check out. So many yummy bugs and plants!

Here we go, wandering around the humans’ pen.

We go into the place with big trees, which worries the humans, but we are fine. We also go hang out with the cows. Wow, there are so many bugs in the mud by their giant water hole. Yesterday, we tried to go into the human pen, but the human who loves the cows said we couldn’t. Bummer.

We just wanted to check for bugs in there! We provide a service!

We just keep going. We find yummy water in the big water holder near where the cows eat.

Love this greenish water. Humans are going to get fish to put in here. Wonder if we can eat them?

We hide under all the humans’ metal things. We eat!

Silly blue-haired human thought the gray hens were lost. This is a great hiding place.

Every night the human with the egg-shaped head shuts our doors so we can sleep in peace. Thanks, humans for the food and safety.

Why wasn’t I the star of this post?

Lakota, the Circle of Life, and Being Startled

I’m guessing that today you’ll be wanting to find out how our boarder horse, Lakota the elderly fancy palomino, came out after his rough time yesterday. Last we heard, he’d been sweating and heaving, and Spice was standing over him like she was guarding his life. Sara is happy to report that after he stood up and made a big poop, he walked off, normally. She did keep checking through the night.

This morning, to our great relief, he was standing under a tree with Spice, and they both had been sleeping. It was probably a rough night for them, too. They both kept yawning and yawning, and were very loving and affectionate. Poor guys.

He just let me hug and hug, and he hugged back.

Sara had a couple of ideas about what had happened. Her current theory (and it’s just a theory) is that he ate some of the nightshade (Silverleaf Nightshade Solanum elaeagnifolium) that had been mown in the pasture (because she is allergic to it). Apparently, horses and cattle don’t eat it when it is alive, but for some reason think it’s tasty when it’s cut and dried. I hope that’s all it was.

It does have pretty flowers.

Thanks to me looking up alternative veterinarians, Sara was able to get in touch with Dr. Brimlee, who works with Milam Touch of Love, and while he couldn’t come last night, we are scheduling him to come soon (Apache’s teeth need to be looked at, too). In any case, we were both really relieved to find two horses standing under the trees this morning!

Spice was a good friend and nurse last night.

After this, my morning went downhill and my anxiety went uphill, but that’s the way the circle of life goes, I guess. As I approached our gate, I saw lots and lots of black birds in the pasture. What, a crow convention? As I got closer, I realized it was vultures. I also saw this.

Brown cow guarding two calves.

I drove overo where the feasting birds were, and found one of the three calves was no longer with us, and hadn’t been for a day or two. That certainly startled me. I don’t know what happened, and I probably won’t, but it was sad and a bit of a shock to see him laying there. Circle of life strikes again.

On the other hand, the chickens are all still here! Haven’t lost one in weeks! And Hedley seems to have given up on being broody, but hasn’t started laying again. I hope she does. She doesn’t seem sick or anything. They all got quite a treat out of a bunch of tomatoes Kathleen donated to them.

Hey, this is good! Thanks! Hedley is the one by the water trough, looking perky.

Even Buttercup and Butternut ate a tomato, which is a first. Maybe they’ll start branching out and eating more than just their feed and only their feed soon. I do enjoy them, and they cheered me up.

THEN I went to drive to the office. There was a giant wasp in the car, the black kind with red wings (sorry, no ID). I usually don’t worry about them, but two of my friends have had bad wasp reactions in the last week, and it started buzzing my head. As I tried to shew it away, I ran off the road. Luckily, I just drove through a lot of long grass, and probably made County Road 140 passersby curious. I am just not having a calm day so far! I’m still shaky. On the other hand, I did find some pretty groundcherries in the overgrown office lawn. These are clammy groundcherries (Physalis heterophylla).

The blossoms face downward, so you often don’t spot them.

So, I will go do my other Saturday writing tasks and breathe deeply. Has anything startled you today?

I Discovered Something!

It’s been a great day, for many reasons, and a great weekend. We took Apache out again today, and he was his old self again! He and Spice were very brave when they came upon some people building a new gate between our two pastures.

This is as close as the horses would get.

But they had fun. Fiona kept plopping down and rolling whenever she found dirt.

The flies are bothering me.

I also had fun seeing things this weekend. One is that I see signs that I wasn’t mistaken, we DO have a loggerhead shrike this year. I didn’t see one last year, and I was bummed. Today I saw lots and lots of insects impaled on our fence, though!

Plus! I’m very happy to share that another chicken started laying. Her first egg is pinkish and has little blue spots! On the other hand, Hedley, the one that lays white eggs, has started spending a LOT of time in the nest box. She did lay today, but if she’s gone broody I’m just giving her three eggs and letting her go for it.

The new one is on the bottom. Cute!

I also found two new and interesting insects. First is the extremely cool Beelzebub Bee Killer Mallophora leschenaulti, which is a type of robber fly. This things is huge, loud, and intimidating. I saw two yesterday and two today.

The other new insect is what I’m excited about. It turns out that my entry of the Long-jawed Longhorn Beetle Dendrobias mandibularis is the first one Milam county and the farthest north it’s been seen.

I’m the first!

Also, this is one of the most beautiful insects I’ve ever seen. So colorful!

Look at those antennae! And it’s so shiny!

I’ve been waiting to finally see something new and different to share on iNaturalist and I finally did! I feel so scientific.

Fancy Watering Hole

Today is one of those meeting-filled and task-filled days that left me with no blogging time but lunch. So, I just have a few minutes to fill you in on a major improvement for out Hermits’ Rest livestock.

I already shared that the chickens’ water now is officially hooked up, and both pens can use the same water trough. Butternut and Buttercup especially like it when the water overflows.

Happy chickens and guinea enjoying water overflow. You can see one of the Butters sticking her head through the fence to drink. Mission accomplished there!

Yesterday, Chris brought up a bunch of very sturdy (and FREE) metal poles to use to anchor gates in our new fencing. Note the splatters. That’s all the rain we got, while Cameron got a quarter inch. Boo.

Big ole sturdy pipes, with rain droplets.

Along with the poles came something to dig the holes for the poles, a big auger.

Big ole auger, AKA post hole digger.

But, what’s made all the animals happy is the other thing he brought: a big water trough and one of those handy cut-off attachments that keeps the water level full at all times. Fiona is jealous (the one where she is leaks). Vlassic spent a lot of time thinking about whether to jump in there or not.

That looks pretty darned deep!

I foresee some happy cattle, and hopefully at some point horses and donkeys enjoying this new improvement. We’re a fancy ranch now!