An Artist I’m Not

After spilling my guts about no longer feeling free yesterday (and receiving some wonderful support and feedback), I was grateful to have something to do last night to take my mind off The State of the World. It involved “art” in a loose sense.

From a distance it appears I did art.

I’d arranged with Sarah the Bartender to go try our hand at Painting with a Twist, because I’d never been invited to go when I lived in Austin and never thought to arrange to go myself.

You can bring wine.

Sara’s girlfriend Kara came along with us as we endeavored to create paintings of turtles. With minimal instruction from Kayla, the teacher, who focused most on making a taco with your paper towel after cleaning brushes, we had a lot of fun.

Ready for the fun

I learned back roads to get places, too. At least they were impressed I knew where some stuff was. Mostly I listened to them be cute young adults my kids’ age.

Cheers-ing

I enjoyed painting, but was way better at the background than the actual turtles. We got to draw freehand, so it was an advanced class, I guess. It’s fun mixing colors.

Obviously freehand. One of us Drew the turtles going the wrong way and insisted on giving them tails. Me.

The time and wine flowed quickly. Thus my turtles could use some work. But it was sure fun. Maybe I can do this again, like putt putt! I won’t do it here, because the place is closing. But apparently the fancy Lowe’s grocery store with a bar in it will soon host wine nights. Kayla is going there, she hopes.

Now I just have to get the thing home. Hmm.

These were growing wild on yesterday’s walk.

Yesterday I also met with Tom the super sales guy to learn how to set up to rent out one of our timeshare weeks on Vrbo or some such stuff. If he’s telling the truth, that would pay my maintenance fees. I feel like such a capitalist elite, even if I am a second-class piece of chattel to so many.

Yes I have sunscreen.

I CAN Try New Things!

When I finally get a day off, I can cram a lot of fun into it, that’s for sure, and yesterday I even stepped outside my comfort zone successfully, more than once. I’m so proud.

Announcement! Suna is proud!

One thing I’m happy with myself for doing is finding my own fun by myself. As Lee has gotten more and more into the Hermit Life, I’ve found myself slipping into it as well (and COVID helped form the habit of being solo). Since I wake up ridiculously early here, I usually have five hours or so to kill before Lee is able to do anything. I sit on the balcony, read, or knit, but I’m so used to getting up and doing a bunch of chores that I’ve taken to just leaving and finding stuff to do outside.

Pretty kites, and look, way out there is a BOAT! You don’t see many boats here.

Admittedly, some of the stuff I do involves fruity drinks and beach chairs, but I wander around, take pictures, and talk to folks. I swear I’m turning into my dad with all this talking to folks stuff. Not very hermit-like.

I got to have the first pineapple slice of the day.

When Lee was awake, he suggested we go take advantage of the free putt-putt golf we get as part of our stay. I think the hotel chain bought this sorta run-down course, since it’s right across from one of the properties and counts as an amenity. Here’s an admission. I had NEVER played putt-putt before, or any other golf-like activity.

A Chapter for My Memoirs

Backstory: In my horrible only year at Plantation Middle School, some person without much forethought had the great idea of having a bunch of young girls, many from backgrounds that didn’t include elitist sports like golf (back then, well-to-do white people played golf), learn the sport in physical education. Golf includes golf balls and golf clubs, both things that needed to be treated with respect. There were rules, like only swinging your club behind a certain line, not swinging without checking your surroundings, and not driving the ball while people were out retrieving their shots. Good rules. Who can guess what happened?

Golf has rules for good reasons. Photo by @Thaninee via Twenty20

Yep. I had finally hit my ball far enough to get an extra point (a thing I needed because PE was my worst class) and was about to pick it up when WHAM, one of the little darlings in class swung her club onto my head. I was so focused on getting my extra point that I simply went back to the teacher to report my success. She asked me what was on my gym outfit. That would be blood. I had to go to the nurse’s office, which was hard to do when you had no idea where that was in the crazy building and you were dripping. I was so angry that I smeared blood on the exterior wall of the school, quite an act of rebellion for the rule-follower I was at the time.

I can’t believe I found a picture of the wall. The school is now the home of the Patriots and being renovated. Much different demographics, too.

The nurse washed me up and called my mom to come get me. Mom was in the middle of her nervous breakdown from having to move away from Gainesville, so she was not happy to have to drive down Sunrise Boulevard (she didn’t like four-lane roads) to come get me. She looked at the hole in my head and declared something like it was just a flesh wound and took me home with no doctor visit or anything. Mom was frugal and didn’t want to waste health care dollars on us kids when she needed so much (thus, we had no trips to the dentist until our teens, my brother’s lazy eye was not addressed until too late to fix it, etc.).

My nightmare: a child with a giant golf club. Image by @Moondrop via Twenty20

The results were that I had headaches for years and sharp pains if I moved a certain way. I have avoided golf entirely. I wasn’t the only one permanently damaged by middle school golf. Another classmate had a chunk of her chin removed by someone who didn’t check her surroundings, and as far as I know, still has a nasty scar. I believe that was the end of the golf program at Plantation Middle School.

Back to Put-Putt

Anyway, Lee likes golf and used to be really good at mini-golf, so I agreed to go. I’m so glad I did. It was great fun, and I was nowhere near as horrible at it as I feared I would be. In fact, I was even under par on one hole, and made par on a couple more. The first hole was pretty bad, since I had to figure out how hard to hit the ball to make it do what I wanted it to do, but after that, I found it most amusing to see where the ball would go and what it would do.

Not too fancy but does the job.

I declare that I would do it again, perhaps at a nicer course. But, we got a lot of laughs out of the outing and it was great to see Lee actually enjoying an activity on a trip.

Off to Calabash

We decided we wanted some good seafood, so we motored off to North Carolina (barely) to the beautiful little town of Calabash, where we’d had a great meal last year. Once again, I knitted a lot. I am trying to get that baby blanket finished before that baby is born. We tried the restaurant next door to the one where we ate last year, and were not disappointed.

We were at the far left corner. Isn’t it pretty?

I got a huge amount of food in my platter, unlike the small serving we had in Murrell’s Inlet a couple of days ago. And it was fried so beautifully that my grandmother would have approved (the great connoisseur of Florida seafood). The oysters were immense and the scallops delicate and tender. The shrimp were local (from right next door!) and the fish was glorious.

See, even grackles can be pretty.

While the service was a little slow, I could not complain, since there was quite a show among the local bird population for me to enjoy. Grackles were mating and building nests, so they were in great form (and loud, being grackles).

The seagulls were also in squabbling mode, so there was lots of action. Plus, there were pelicans zooming around and catching fish. They are so beautiful to me.

After the meal, I went for a walk on the little boardwalk and boat docks, where I got to enjoy pelicans having some kind of bird party next to a party boat, which cracked me up (easily amused).

Pelican Party Time

I also realized why all the birds are so dang happy right there in Calabash. The water was literally teeming with little fish. No shore bird could go hungry with all those fishies everywhere they looked!

While I was gone, Lee was paying the check, and since he was alone with our leftovers, the laughing gulls got bolder. He got a great shot of a laughing gull taking one of my shrimp.

Once we got home, I needed to burn off that fried food, so I walked on the boardwalk until I got all my steps in, then decided to enjoy an Old Fashioned and knit a table at the upstairs bar (I had been outside until a loud family arrived). A lady said I shouldn’t be sitting alone and invited me to the bar to sit with them. I ended up talking to them and another couple for a long time. Lee even came down for a while.

And in talking to the staff, I discovered that Kevin the bartender is also a history professor who specialized in my very own ancestors in Florida! His family is also from north Florida with deep roots there. Who would have guessed? This condo has the best staff, that’s for sure.

Beautiful ending to a fun day, even if I overindulged.

I ended up meeting another couple and stayed too long and had three drinks, so I was not at my best when I got home. Lee said I was cuddly, so I must have been out of my mind, ha ha. It was worth it, though. I truly enjoy hearing the stories of all the people I run into and finding our commonalities without ruining things by getting into politics or religion. Granted, anyone I meet here fits certain criteria or they wouldn’t be here. Hilton sure does check your credit scores and incomes. But I’ve met people from many places and backgrounds, and that’s what I like and have missed so much the past few years.

While I’m still primarily doing outdoor things (we’ve been eating on patios), at least I’m no longer scared to talk to people. I’m back to having a nice balance of being alone and in peace and interacting with others.

Pool of Dreams or Nightmares?

Hey, do you remember that swimming pool we had built? The beautiful one with the hot tub and nice patio? Yeah. I remember it, too. We called it the Pool of Dreams, but lately it had been turning into a nightmare.

Note the color of the water.

We had been following the instructions the pool company gave us, which were minimal, to say it kindly. And our questions and phone calls had gone unanswered. Lee had been spending hours and hours trying to get this green stuff out of the pool, which we thought must be pollen, because it wasn’t sticking. But that’s not all. Here’s what else was going on with the Pool of Nightmares:

  • The remote control stopped letting us choose fun colors for the lights. Only by chance did I figure out a way to cycle through a few of the possible colors.
  • The pool would not turn on spa mode and spa heat mode together. You had to go over to the unit, where snakes live, to manually turn on the spa heater. Then, you had to check every hour or so to make sure it hadn’t switched to pool heat mode, which wastes my precious propane and only heats to 80 degrees. That was getting tedious.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to put in it, because adding salt wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. We finally got a clue when Lee found an owner’s manual to the unit online, which explained that the reason the pool beeped occasionally (the pool company guy had said “it just does that”) was because the salt cell wasn’t hooked up.
  • The salt cell wasn’t hooked up. They simply had not done it. That could explain a lot.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to add, because the pool dude just said to look at the readout on a strip and add the right chemicals. Okay, what are those exactly?
  • The spa jets would not stay in. So, half the spa outlets just spewed forth water in a big gush, rather than going around and around and being therapeutic. I was most annoyed.

As of last week, no one had returned our phone calls. So, Kathleen called around and found a pool maintenance person and asked him to come in. He explained to her that there was a chlorine-resistant algae going around, but hinted there may be other issues.

Pool guy at work. Note that one of our plants is blooming.

Yesterday, the pool dude showed up. Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know all the details, but suffice to say that he put in the right chemicals to re-balance the pool and get it under control. He will be returning weekly to do maintenance. This will make Lee’s life so much easier, since he was not happy to be having to go out and do pool stuff every day, even with Mr. Robotto going around and getting stuff out.

Look at that. The pool is blue, and all the algae that was on the beach area is gone. We are sure grateful Kathleen called for help!

Plus, finally someone called back about the pool from the company who sold it to us. They had gone radio silent since we made our last payment, to the point where we thought they must have gone out of business or something, until I checked their Facebook page, and saw that it was still posting things.

Check out that lack of algae, will you?

I am told that the actual owner of the company will be at the ranch on Monday. I’m sorta glad Lee isn’t there to give them a piece of his mind, but I am pretty sure he will get a piece of the other male resident of our family compound, instead. That may help turn the nightmare back into a dream.

I hope it does, because we have been enjoying the pool a lot, and it’s going to be hot, hot, hot in Texas next week.

Where we are, it’s still pretty pleasant. Lee and I got some really cool rocking hammock chairs and have been sitting on the balcony watching birds, planes, helicopters and more.

These are FUN. Look for them at Costco.

I’ve seen little wildlife, other than a cannonball jellyfish and some amorous pigeons.

But we did get to enjoy some kind of aerial show featuring a plane, some red skydiving stuff, and some parachutes in formation. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it. And that’s it. Other than getting groceries, we stayed put and relaxed. That is a good thing, far as I’m concerned.

And kindness keeps happening. I bought myself some Mother’s Day flowers, knowing that’s the only way I’m going to get any, and the cashier couldn’t find the code to ring it up, so she whispered, “Happy Mother’s Day.” The thing is, I realize that I’m so unused to seeing people be nice to strangers that I get all teary-eyed when it happens. That’s sorta sad.

Happy Mother’s Day (US) to all who are mothers or who have mothered others, human, animal, or whatever.

At least here at the ole resort, everyone’s friendly and nice. A guy took my luggage cart downstairs for me, just to be nice! I’ve met a lot of nice people at the pool bar. Cute little kids keep saying hi. I’m keeping track of these little things, to counter all the negativity I see otherwise.

Horse Home Decor and Spa

What lucky horses I have. Also they are so sweet and good that they deserve to be pampered. Why do they deserve it? Wow they are well behaved.

Yes. Me. I’m getting my hooves trimmed right now.

Trixie came today to trim the horses’ hooves. You may recall that when I got Drew he could not even lift his back leg. Today was another story. She got him trimmed in less than ten minutes. No arguing or anything. By the time she was finished he was dead asleep and I had trouble getting his halter off. I just stood there and petted him and loved on him. It was fantastic.

I love my spa day

Apache was the same. Just stood there and took a nap. It’s so great to see his feet in perfect shape after struggling the past few years. My heart was so full just being with these calm animals. Trixie just exudes calm with horses.

Even though my ears are back, I’m good.

So yep, these precious beings deserve nice things. Or maybe I deserve a nice thing to support them. But today the crew did more work on the tack room. They built a nice shelf for the supplements right over the feed bins.

Feeding station

They also put excellent hooks and hanging pegs on the wall. I can’t wait to see what Kathleen and I do with them!

You may have to zoom in to see everything.

You may see a hat on the wall. It’s not a hat! It’s a riding helmet with a “brimmer” on it. It’s made of real palm fiber. It will give me lots more shade on my face when I ride. Sara got one, too. The helmet may look slightly dorky but it’s not too bad. My head will be safe and shady! that’s what counts.

Trying on my brimmer.

The other thing they added inside the tack room are hooks to hang each horse’s. Rifle and halter with his or her saddle. There is still a shelf or two to be built, but I’m pretty thrilled as it is.

So nice. This will be great for us.

The thing I like best about the tack room is the big, wide steps outside the door. I won’t fall down when carrying heavy items. I am just so impressed with how thoughtful they were in building it!

My new happy place.

We got everything done in time to close all the windows and put away all the outdoor furniture in preparation for yet another tornado warning. This one was even closer. I went in the storm room.

Not happy.

It missed us again. But it hit very very close. Not my favorite thing. People were hurt in nearby Salado and in the tiny town of Burlington just to our north.

Yuck. Much worse elsewhere.

Sunday Dinners Are BACK

It started out small and just kept growing. Our pre-pandemic tradition of Sunday dinners with our family and friends who’ve moved here from the Austin area has started up with the benefit of hot tub time!

Enjoying the hot tub’s eerie green light.

We welcomed Mike and Martha with real hugs, and were happy to have Kathleen and her spouse come in from their new in-town digs. Plus, joy of joys, Anita is here now, for her first gathering as a resident of Cameron!

Woo hoo! We are using our porch! And it’s GREEN outside.

Mike brought lots of really good pizza from the local pizza place. Wow, the veggie one rocked.

I wonder who shared pizza with the dogs?

We all enjoyed the new patios and all the chairs. It was so nice to have normal conversations with each other.

Pizza time!

The women all enjoyed the hot tub for a long time after dinner. That was my dream, to share the pool and hot tub with friends and family, often!

Men sat by the pool to chat.

I sure hope we can have more gatherings with neighbors, friends, and visitors this year. Small groups like this are just perfect for us hermits.

We will NOT make visitors get licked.

A highlight of the evening for me was that I realized my new phone lets me take photos of the stars! It’s quite cool. You have to hold still, and the phone fixes it up to where it sees more stars than you do!

I need to go into the bottom pasture where there are NO lights and get Milky Way photos when it’s visible. Maybe Jupiter’s moons will show up, too. I can see them with my binoculars. Way to go, iPhone 13!

Cameron Steps Up a Notch

Last night, Lee and I attended the Spring Festival in Cameron. He’s on the Chamber of Commerce Board, so he had duties. I just went to interact with other humans. This event was really a great sign for the future of the town. I was impressed!

My friend Pamela exhibited her ceramics in one of the renovated buildings downtown.

First of all, the food vendors were amazing. There was wood-fired pizza, crawfish and other southern delicacies, baked goods that were beautiful, and my favorite, charcuterie by my friend Barbara Dominguez, all from local sources.

Beautiful dinner! The pickled okra was surprisingly tasty. And look at all those crawfish!

There were beverages for everyone, too, ranging from our darned good local wineries to some mighty tasty beer from Temple to snow cones and Italian ice for kids and adults alike. The Italian ice looked fantastic, but, well, I had my B52 Bomber beer to enjoy.

Photo from Cameron Chamber of Commerce

I got some sauces for our ice cream from Windy, which made me happy. I keep driving by the Farmer’s Market on my way to horse lessons but finding it closed on my way home. She makes some interesting canned jellies and such.

Mmmmm

There were also vendors in some of the buildings the Railfan group is renovating. The buildings look unrecognizable in a good way.

The music was great, too. A good variety and not too loud or soft. We were able to talk to old and new friends just fine. We met people from Jones Prairie who we bonded with over our bad roads in our district.

Music, and my friend Spring at right.

And of course there were old friends who introduced new ones. I had to laugh when I realized how many different ways I “knew” the woman in Master Naturalists who lives down by Pamela. So many connections! And the new people from Dallas must think we are the friendliest town on earth. Well, at least my social group is darned friendly.

All in all, this was the kind of event that would bring in people from other places and leave them wanting to return. As it was, we locals had fun. Kudos to Melanie and everyone else at the Chamber of Commerce who helped put this event together.

By the way, today is Anita’s move-in day, so I’ll have someone to do fun things with, soon!

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