Sneaky Vlassic!

Vlassic, my black dachshund mix, is always a good source of funny stories. Since Penney showed up, we don’t get to hang around constantly, since he’s been quite happily keeping Lee’s brother company over at the RV, but still, we have our good times.

BUDDIES!!

Yesterday I was pretty happy to have time to walk to feed the horses. Since Vlassic was out running around, leaping and jumping, he got to come with me, which he usually does when Sara and her dogs aren’t there. We had a good time heading up to the barn, greeting Copper, the other dog on our property, with no problems.

Then I got a text. Sara was home and heading over. Oops. I asked her if she could leave her dogs, but she didn’t get the message. Vlassic knew just what to do, though, and ran in the tack room, waiting for me to shut the door. He learns FAST.

I’m always up to something. Fish food is tasty!

Naturally, the cattle dogs lost interest, and we were able to leave, though he yelled at me before I picked him up…he has some delicate spot that bothers him. So, back we went, enjoying the weather, etc.

When I got back to our ranch, I stopped to talk to CC, and we were just chatting away, while Bertie Lee pecked at my shoes, as usual. At one point, Lee’s brother opened the RV door and called for Vlassic to come back in. Hmm, where did he go?

We called a bit more vigorously, and he came absolutely flying out of the garage. I noticed, through the blur, that he had something in his mouth. It was round. After he disappeared in the RV, I figured it out. He had found an EGG!

No wonder he ran so fast, that sneaky boy! CC went in to look for the contraband. Vlassic was innocently installed in his bed, looking very nonchalant. But, sure enough, sitting on the dinette seat was a Bertie egg. Obviosly, she didn’t get locked in the coop long enough to teach her to lay eggs in the henhouse.

The front egg is the one we found in the garage. The other two were in the henhouse, courtesy of Star and Springsteen.

The egg had bite marks on it, so we left it for Lee’s brother to cook ASAP. Then we searched the garage for the new egg hiding spot. I was very proud to live up to my “finder” reputation, because I spotted a little brown egg under the utility sink. Oh, Bertie.

CC put stuff in the new spot, to block it off. I looked today, and she hadn’t laid an egg there yet. I’ll have to search around later today.

All that Change Embracing Gets Tedious

This is a time of upheaval, and I’m really glad I spent my whole life up to now preparing for lots of stress and lots of change. I think if the past year had happened with my coping skills back when I was 20-something, I’d be curled up in a ball every single day. So, if you are that way now, don’t beat yourself up over it.

Such a happy gal

This week I have three meetings for three different organization, and of course I’m the secretary of all but one (that means I have to pay attention). Plus, there have been lots of shakeups and changes at my Austin job. Hard ones, some of them. But, I was doing well today, having finally gotten the temperature in my office under control, my webcam set right, and a fine ambiance. I even took a cheerful photo of myself to use on some PowerPoint for a work project.

Suddenly, I got a message that I have to be out of the office for two weeks, to be sure we’re all safe and following instructions from the state. I was like, “Right now?” Yep. Thank goodness I could finish the meeting I was in! So, I untangled all my cords and wires and brought all the things I needed over to my office at the Hermits’ Rest, which I’d been avoiding using for work, due to barking dogs and such.

I appear to be frazzled at the ole home office. And I appear to have developed a lazy eye in my old age.

Lee brought my office chair, so I don’t have to sit in a dining chair! Once you get things all set up for a modern “work from home” situation, you don’t realize how much stuff is involved. I had to move my fancy work headphones, my HD webcam, my ergonomic mouse, and my cute keyboard. Oh yes, and all the power cords and USB attachments for all of them. Good thing I have a lot of USB plugs. We did have to go back and get things I forgot, but now I’m set.

That’s my view. I guess it will make me concentrate more on work.

I got everything plugged in and working, though it’s not pretty. The desk is pretty (solid labradorite), but it’s pretty much all cords.

Well, I have no choice but to embrace this change and find the good parts.

  • Working in my office/den will encourage me to clean up some clutter that’s showed up here (I did clean up the air bed leftover from our last guest).
  • I have a really nice bathroom with birds all over it.
  • I have usually well behaved dogs lying around and sighing.
  • I brought all my pens, so I can write in color!
  • I get to look out a window and see birds and trees.
  • I can go feed my horses this afternoon with plenty of time to come back for my evening meeting, rather than having to drive back and forth to the office.

Um, and the commute is shorter! I will welcome more snow!

Oh, really, this is just a little glitch, and it will all be just fine. I’ll deal with it, I’ll deal with whatever comes up at work, I’ll deal with challenges my friends are facing, and I’ll do my best to remain positive about how next week will go, government-wise.

I know I’m supposed to embrace change! Honest! But, we are allowed to get a little annoyed, for a little while, before moving on and getting things done, doing the needful, etc. Keep me in your thoughts, and I promise to do the same!

When’s a Good Time to Finish a Warm Blanket?

I know! I know! The ideal time is when there’s a winter storm warning for later in the day, with a forecast of snow! I got the bulky-weight afghan I made for my relative long enough to cover them (I added 5 inches to the length, since I had plenty of yarn).

Finished blanket before blocking

Now I just have to block it, which will happen this evening when I get back to the ranch. I started a little bonus project with the leftover yarn, which I’ll show you later.

Those of you who want the pattern will find it on the Caron site. And those of you who want to see more color possibilities can visit this page. The yarn is available at Michael’s in the US.

Exciting Saturday Activities

That heating unit above the window is doing its best.

Speaking of being at my office, here’s a newsflash. Old houses with no insulation are cold when it’s cold outside. I’m really glad I put my desk in the middle of the room, because the exterior wall is brisk and has draughts. Duh. I knew that. So, I just bundle up and fire up my little fake fireplace heater. The mini-split unit is belching warm air, but the exterior cold is too much for it. I also discovered that a warm meal helps, so I got chicken and dumplings from Dairy Queen. Well, it was warm, at least.

The scary-eyed kitties have shed their Christmas décor, the better to stare at me.

Now I just need to finish taking all the Christmas stuff down and replacing it with hearts and such. That requires going outside, ugh. While I’m at it, I’m going to spruce up my closet. Away with the 50 shoeboxes! In with organizers!

I am NOT complaining that I have a boring and domestic weekend ahead of me. Boring seems really good, and hiding in my house watching snow sounds way better than witnessing mayhem.

These two will be rotating who sits on my lap the rest of the day. Not bad.

Speaking of Warm Blankets

I also put the really warm blanket on Lakota, the old horse. I am hoping I did it right. I took three tries to figure out the front from the back. Lucky for me, Lakota was patient about it. All the other horses and Fiona have thick winter coats, so they are fine.

I also managed not to step in that horrid mud puddle while blanketing him.

I wish all of you a calm respite, since I don’t think things will be completely calm for a while.

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!

Color Advice, Please

One of the things I would like to do this year is change the color of my bedroom at the Hermits’ Rest. It is a shade of chocolate brown that I chose in hopes of making the immense room look more cozy. Here’s a picture of Harvey looking like he’s calling a meeting to order, which shows the color.

Hmm, that looks even darker than it actually is.

What I didn’t do when I chose the color, was compare it to the color of the floor, doors, cabinetry, and trim, which are a currently unfashionable cherry stain. The wall color is more of a “bluish” brown and looks sorta sick to me. (I do not care if cherry and reddish wood tones are not in fashion. They will probably come back into fashion again before I die, knowing how things cycle.)

This photo, from my “shoes I like” blog post, shows the reddish color of the floors (which are actually bamboo).

Plus, this is MY house, it’s a ranch house, and the color looks nice and rustic to me. We’re never moving from here, so resale value can be something my heirs deal with as they rush to sell our hayseed property as fast as their urban-living selves can do it.

Perhaps, off in the background, you can see how the shelves and the wall color aren’t nice together.

I must admit, though, that while I take lots of pictures of things I like (my office, plants, dogs, chickens, horses, renovations), I do NOT take many pictures of my bedroom. I used to not like the furniture or the arrangement, but I like it a bit better now. That said, I haven’t taken a photo of the room in a long time, other than these images of a lamp and dogs.

I like the light-colored window trim with the wall color just fine. Also note that this room contains furniture I bought 30 years ago for my first “grownup” living space, plus a very old swam rocker from my family. There is a loveseat under that sheet, to collect dog hair and get washed often.

So, What New Color?

I want to repaint the room, or at least most of it. I’d like a deep or saturated color, to keep the room feeling warm, and contrast with the light-colored furniture that’s there, under dog-proofing. I don’t need to match curtains, since there are only prayer flags, and I always buy inexpensive bed covers, due to dogs and their propensity to ruin things with their toenails. So, I can get another color.

Our rugs are maroon and brown, which are the exciting theme colors from before. Right now those seem really gloomy to me. We can use them elsewhere, like in the office building, and get happier ones.

Here Are Ideas I Have:

  • Turquoise: that frightens Lee
  • Robins-egg blue: that would let us keep one wall brown (probably behind the bed), since that color goes well with brown.
  • Coral or terra cotta: I like orange, and these are less scary versions of orange.
  • Sage green: I love this color, but I have enough of it already.
  • Buttery yellow: that’s the color of my bedroom in Austin, and I love it (and it has a contrasting milk-chocolatey brown wall that I also want to change. I must have been in a brown period 5 years ago.

Colors to Avoid

  • Red: my favorite color, but not good in a bedroom. Ditto maroon.
  • Pink: I think Lee would go all sexist on that, plus I only like a few shades of pink, myself.
  • Blue other than the two shades mentioned above. I’m not fond of blue.
  • Black: Yuck. I don’t care how trendy it is.
  • White: Nope. Too sterile.
  • Gray: A warm gray might be okay, but I have painted so many rooms gray lately that I’m tired of it.
  • Tan: the whole rest of the damned house is tan.
Before we had any furniture, Lee said this was the most white-folks colored room he ever saw. Yes, that thing I am knitting is getting longer!

So, what shades have I not thought of? And yes, I would LOVE wallpaper, but we would have to re-texture the walls. That costs money, and people starting a new business generally don’t spend money on things like that until there is profit to be had!

A Doggy PS

You may remember that yesterday I posted a photo of the delicious lemon cake I baked and carefully decorated. Sigh. I set it as far back as I could on the kitchen counter, but someone very tall and with a giant tongue managed to find it.

Cake is now much higher up. The empty spot is where Alfred “tasted” the frosting.

We now have to store all bread and other tasty items in cupboards or on the bar. Well, I like things put away, ANYWAY. And I still love Alfred.

Lee tells Alfred he still loves him, in the very tan downstairs open concept room.

2021: Keep Slogging

This morning dawned chilly and shiny. The chickens were out running in their pen as usual, and new cows are behind us, enjoying a nice, full pond. I’m drinking New Year’s coffee and plan to read a while before cooking my black-eyed peas, so no photos of any of this.

Spoiler alert for next book report, and dirty cup.

This morning, my friend and insurance agent, Carolyn, posted this:

How refreshing.

I like the idea of making a wish for the new year. Hope is something I can muster up right now. I can wish for enough, the word for my year, and not feel let down if 2021 is more of the same.

Interrupting my musing with proof it’s chilly. That lump is Carlton, who has taken to asking me to lift up the covers so he can lay on my feet. Mmm. Toasty.

Probably my best lesson from last year is that life can be okay with lower expectations. Getting through another day with my family all right, the pets beside me, and relatively good health is enough. No need to save the world. Suddenly, this smarmy over-used sentiment works for me:

Might as well enjoy being alive, find humor when you can, and focus on love over hate and divisiveness. Simple and mostly manageable, I hope. I’m still a little worried about the next few weeks from a civility viewpoint, but I’ll be positive. Why not?

That’s always my goal. Just trying to manifest it!

There. I’ve set reasonable expectations, won’t forget my resolutions, but won’t be hard on myself or others if we just muddle through and slog through the next few months as best we can. That feels like enough.

Does this seem good to you? Got any better ideas?

Bitmoji Overload

I didn’t know you could paste Bitmoji images directly from the keyboard into a WordPress blog.

Well, this is perfect.

I guess you can. Now if I could only make the avatar actually look like me. Some people do great. Not me.

Back to watching the blog hits add up. I put the wrap thing I made for Kathleen up on Ravelry, so it’s showing up as a new pattern. That frenzy will end soon!

It’s a Chicken Palace!

Yesterday was just beautiful, sunny with pleasant temperatures, though a little breezy. It was a perfect day to do some more work on the chicken run. When we last saw it, the run was squared off, the roof frame was up and some cover was on it. Today, the chickens have a nice, big roof that will protect them a bit from rain, and most important, give them some shade in the summer.

chicken run
At most hours of the day, this roof will give the chickens some sun protection.

After that, things got even more fun. The water dispenser has been repaired, and even more fantastic, it’s level, so water dispenses through all the holes. I’ve detected chicken action at it, so they know it’s there.

Ready for their drinking pleasure.

Next, CC built a sturdy device to hold their newly improved food dispensers. Now, the food doesn’t spill out, and there are lots of holes for them to eat out of. Plus, the food is in the middle of the run, which means it’s way less likely to get wet unless there’s a particularly driving rain.

chicken coop
You can see how there are two feeders, at two different heights, well away from the edges of the run.

With the basics taken care of, we had to make sure to provide fun and entertainment for our fowl friends. What could be more fun than a double-decker swing, right?

chicken swing
I know a particular rooster who will be all over this for crowing and announcing his glory. And Gertie back there will probably use it a lot, too.

We realize that if there is one on top and one on the bottom, there may be some poop collateral damage, but what the heck. It’s fun!

We also added a few more perches for them, and I put a branch in there, so they will have something fun to peck on (and maybe it will attract some bugs to eat).

You can see random pieces of fun wood at left, and sorta see the branch at rear right.

At the moment, the infirmary/baby cage is not in the run. We plan to put it in when we need to, and surround it with protection, like more tin, to keep young and injured birds safe.

Here is the entire chicken palace. There are 5 nest boxes. One gets used. Dang chickens.

We have also been discussing getting yet another dog run to turn into an area for new chickens, and making a place for chicks, with a heat lamp. Buying all these adult chickens is getting expensive. But, we plan to keep them inside for a while, to deter the chicken hawk and teach Bertie to lay in the coop, not the garage. This explains why we put so many entertainment items in the run.

chickens
This food is NOT enough entertainment for us. But, we like it.

Now that things are pretty well set up (I’m so grateful for it!), and Springsteen (the black Jersey Giant) appears to have gone broody on us, I decided to just let her try to raise some chicks (yes, it’s winter, but we will put the family somewhere warm if babies show up and it gets cold).

fertile hen eggs
There’s one egg from everyone currently laying but Bertie (so, Hedley, Star, and Buttercup). Springsteen isn’t laying, because she’s setting, and Bertie lays in the garage. I only have five hens left, sniff.

This may give us some less expensive chickens, if it works. It can’t hurt to try. Plus, they may lay cool colored eggs, if we get any to adulthood, with Bruce the Easter Egger as the Baby Daddy!

Bertie Lee, a hen
“Today’s shoe had no laces, but I went after the shiny bits,” says Bertie, the nonconformist hen.

Thanks to all of you who put up with my chicken posts. These birds are sure entertaining, even if they are hard to keep alive.

And hey, have any of you thought of a Word of the Year yet?

Bring Back the Word of the Year. Enough.

For a few years, I participated in the practice of selecting a word of the year. The idea is to look at the year through the lens of the word you chose.

Inspired

I didn’t do it for a few years, and haven’t since I started this blog. But, through the miracle of figuring out where the option to search my old Facebook posts is located in the interface, I found my choices from previous years. It appears that the 2013 word was “Flexibility.” Good choice.

And here I found out the 2014 word was “acceptance” (that’s done me good ever since!) and 2015 was “vulnerability.” Whew. I’m glad I’m healthy for my age, because I can see how long it takes to really assimilate concepts that require fundamental changes in my outlook and mindset.

I’m not sure how I got out of the practice of setting a word for each year, because I enjoyed it in the past. Maybe 2016 was a hard year for focusing. It was the year we spent at the little casita. That was, indeed, a confusing year. Of course, I’m glad I didn’t pick a 2020 word, as interesting as that might have been.

2021

It took very little meditation to have this year’s word come to me. My year’s focus and mantra need to be this.

2021 Suna Word of the Year

Yes. Whatever happens, I want to find it to be enough. I’m not going to push this year. I want to appreciate what I have, how things are, who is in my life, and what happens. I’m not looking for perfection. I want to abide and accept my circumstances. It’s enough.

I encourage you to find your own word for 2021. Please share, if you would like to.

Exciting New Uses for Tongs and Other Items

This morning, I was emptying the dishwasher of items used in last night’s holiday meal. I kept picking up tongs. Tongs and more tongs.

Hmm. Tongs.

I’m a person who never uses tongs. I’m not sure why. I just use other kitchen tools. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally bought tongs. So, how did we get EIGHT pairs of tongs?

Tongs for every possible tonging need.

Anita and I were baffled. With such an extensive collection, we could do so much! We could open a store called “Just Tongs.” When my cousin, Jan, called she suggested a Tong Monster Halloween costume. Hmm.

You could play a game where you try to grab people’s heads with tongs.

My best idea, though, was to form a tong band. With so many sizes and materials, you can get a lot of sound out of the tongs, I think. And they are easy to use as a rhythm instrument.

You could poke an eye out!

The pictures here are me trying out the bass tong and the baritone. They made a cheerful sound! I need to get a couple of other people to help me out and create a composition for tong orchestra.

Another Creative Use

So, at Christmas I gave Lee a lovely silver box with turquoise stones on it, which I found in Utah. He seemed to like it. I had thought he could store some of his nice pens in there, but naturally, he has a set pen storage system that no gift can interfere with.

That’s Lee looking pleased.

Meanwhile, Kathleen gave him a series of joke gifts to help him deal with the woman in the next office (her). There was aspirin, a funny calendar, etc. Lee realized that one of her gifts could be beautifully stored in the silver box.

Yep. That’s hemorrhoid cream.

So, whenever Kathleen is a pain in his butt, he can reach into the silver box on his desk and find relief.

We are quite a creative family, huh?

Did you experience any gift creativity at your COVID Christmas celebrations?