Roll with the Changes (like a tumbleweed)

True fact: every time you figure out a way to lessen one type of stress, another one comes up. Ha ha, life, you are SO FUNNY!

I had gotten a handle on some of my worries about the greater angst in the planet, which has helped me see our political stuff a different way (thanks to the mushroom book). And reading Caste gave me concrete ideas for working to make relationships among Americans better, so that wasn’t upsetting me as much. I even grappled myself into a place where I can deal with the changes at work in a positive and productive way. So proud of my own self.

But, no, I did not dwell in my feelings of equanimity for long at all.

Like I said not long ago, it’s always something. Image by @LittleIvan via Twenty20

The details are not important, just know they involve a not insignificant collection of sad animal tales and sickly family member tales (not just me; by the way I feel better).

BOOM. I got knocked right down and feel like a tumbleweed rolling down a hill in a rainstorm. Not a lot of control. But then, you NEVER have a lot of control, do you? I have to hand it to life, it doesn’t take it long at all to remind you of lessons you should not be forgetting.

Some of them there tumbleweeds are BIG, too. Image by @Dari via Twenty20

There are challenges out there and they aren’t gonna stop. That’s always been true, even if right now seems like they’ve sped up, like an old 78 RPM record or something. Round and round and round, zoom!

While there will always be challenges, there will ALSO always be ways to deal with them! And I know what those are, because I’m prepared!

Where I will imagine I am. Image by @Barefoot_Traveller via Twenty20

I shall:

  • Deal with one day and one challenge at a time
  • Not worry about what’s next or what just happened
  • Breathe deeply and get to my familiar place of comfort/ease
  • Light a candle and stare at it for a while
  • Read a book on a non-sad topic (I’m looking at YOU, book on the color blue!)
  • Pet a small animal (hi Pickle, since Vlassic is staying with Jim, ’cause it’s cold)
  • Go on a brisk walk (guaranteed brisk, due to aforementioned weather)
  • Send out loving-kindness to all my friends and families dealing with similar crap as mine

So, I hope you can do some of these things with me! Peace to you.

Second Most Hated

I spent most of last night trying to figure out why my post from yesterday got so many hits it blew my stats out. Did someone love reading about putting one dream aside to focus on another? Of course not. Someone was upset about something peripheral. But thanks! All those hater-inspired hits make my SEO look good.

Speaking of hate, when I was heading over to my Google search console, I got distracted by this headline:

We’re Number Two!

First I got all indignant that Texas wasn’t number one. I mean, gee, we have so much to dislike, first among which is that Texans think they’re number one at everything. Ha ha! Not in hate by others! We’re probably number one in racists and misogynists, though, just by population size.

I know you’re dying to know whether Florida or California is most hated. At least I was. But no! It’s New Jersey! I guess New Yorkers skewed that!

Kansas? What did they do? Anyway these stats are from click2houston.com.

My guess is adjacent states have something to do with it, especially when I saw that most Texas haters came from Oklahoma, New Mexico, etc. Sigh. I’d like to know the most loved states!

Honestly, though, every place I’ve been has some pretty awful aspects and some amazing ones. Texas has some horrible politicians and some pretty dull scenery. Plus Houston. But there is so much beauty, many kind people, and a fun cultural mix. So, no need to hate it, just some parts. Ditto all those other states and countries.

Even your sweet dog wants to chomp your hand, occasionally (playing).

Side story: I have a growing number of friends retiring outside the US. Each proclaims the wonders of their part of Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Portugal, etc. But I know each place has its frustrations, just like the US. One friend wrote about how people have twice stolen the telephone wires connecting their neighborhood to the main town, for copper. Another notes high COVID rates and insufficient medical personnel, even with socialized medicine.

No place is perfect! Or living thing, for that matter.

No donkey is perfect, but I can’t hate Fiona for chomping on me when I didn’t pay enough attention to her!

No blog, business, or person is. Hatred just wastes time. And energy. If you have a problem with something, pause to think if that issue negates all the good that’s also present.

One minute they’re growling, the next they are grooming each other. Good role models.

I’m just going to accept Texas, Cameron, Austin, my pets, and my beloved humans as they are. Try it! You’ll like it!

Reach Out to Someone Right Now

Hard day.

Two woman I admired very much passed away within 24 hours of each other. Both from breast cancer complications, to simplify things. I’m glad they each had so many friends who treasured them. We have so many shared memories.

I can’t tell you to go out and hug your friends. That’s because COVID is also hurting people I care about right now. It’s way too close for comfort.

So…reach out to people you care about. Maybe a couple a day. We never know how long we will have with people we care about. Or how long we have in this life.

Thanks to all of you for being one of my connections.

What’s Up with Renovations?

I haven’t posted a renovation post in a while, have I? That doesn’t mean nothing’s going on! The main improvements have been to the second floor of the Pope house, where we had to expand sooner than expected, thanks to the growth of Hearts, Homes and Hands (a good thing – we sure are thankful to Kathleen and the team for that!).

Our care team now has an office on the second floor, with a great view of trees and the balcony. Meghan has a great command center for scheduling, keeping records, and filing, while there are two other desks for care team members who help her out. It’s hard to believe it’s grown that much since we opened for business last November!

Before we could get that office going, we had to get a nice, strong sub-floor in the upstairs hallway. The next improvement will be to remove the weird kitchen-y room, so people can get to the balcony without going through the future conference room (you know it’s a conference room, because we put the conference table in there).

It’s a good thing that the plumbing was all inspected on the second floor, because that let us set the upstairs bathroom up for the team to use. Right now, it’s functional, but not quite done. When it’s finished, it will be very cute and rustic, to match the theme of the building.

Work in progress!

Those of us who work in the office have really been enjoying all our fall decorations and the atmosphere in the building. I even get to eat lunch in my little break area.

Looking down at the break area and my office.

Hoping you are taking the time to enjoy what you’re doing, right now, and where you are. Take some time to look around. We’re alive, so let’s make the most of that time.

Enjoying my office every day!

To Travel or Not to Travel

I’ve been thinking about traveling lately. Getting out and seeing different parts of the world is really good for my soul. It reminds me, at the same time, of how much similarity there is in all these places, as well as how different places can be. For example, on my field trip last weekend, I saw many of the same kinds of trees I do here (post oaks, live oaks, cedar elms, eastern red cedar), but I also saw many kinds of plants that were very different, like the rattleboxes (repeated from yesterday, but they are so cool!

These make all sorts of sound when it’s windy out by Edwards Lake!

Now that we are mostly working from home, it seems to me that I could travel and work at the same time. As long as I have the laptop and Wi-Fi, I’m set! Zoom is only a click away!

So, I have booked some travel that’s not vacation, just living in a different place. I’ll just have to be really careful getting where I’m going, but that’s not impossible. Once I’m there, I can get all cozy in my rental accommodations, look out the windows at different scenery, and pretend I’m someone else, in a less awful time. At least I’ll be somewhere else!

London, January 26, 2020. People wearing a face masks to protecting themself because of epidemic in China. Selective Focus. Concept of coronavirus quarantine. MERS-Cov, middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV.

I don’t want to get sick, which means, boo hoo, my shopping habit won’t be indulged in. But I can certainly take walks on paths and trails that are not crowded, enjoy parks, and order fun food delivered to my room, right? I’m hoping that this “middle way” of not acting foolish, but not sacrificing the few years of being able to travel that I have left, will get me through the rest of this year and next year.

So many people I know think the risk of getting COVID isn’t real. They aren’t taking precautions, and that’s their right, I guess.

Knowing people who’ve had it, I can’t say that nothing will happen to travelers. But I also think the reasonable solution to the problem is avoiding crowds and keeping clean. That, I can do. And I won’t go anywhere that doesn’t have a lot of safety measures in place. (I’ll tell you where I’m going when I get there!)

I’m not going here, though I’d like to. Image by @omom via Twenty20.

Feedback? Am I being foolish? Do you have any fun ideas for out-of-town activities one can do?

Things I Want(ed) to Do

As I find ways to do more things that help me feel like a regular person again (while still being COVID-aware), I’ve started making a mental list of things I want to do, and figuring out whether I can actually make them happen. Have you been entertaining similar thoughts?

But Wait, I’ve Done So Much!

I managed to get out of town for a weekend with family successfully, so that knocked one off the list. I’m going to spend more time away soon, and I’ll fill you in on that when the time comes. The plan is to not do my beloved shopping and eating out, but still enjoy another place.

Another thing I want to do is hang out with fellow Texas Master Naturalists. The annual meeting starts tomorrow, and I’m taking time off from work to sit at my desk and hang out virtually. I think that will be a good time, but I’ll have to figure out how to get all my movement goals made! If it were in person, I’d be there hiking around Houston already!

I’ll be there virtually!

Some members of our group are also planning some outings to other counties to count what wildlife can be found there. I hope that will bring us together safely, outdoors, and let us enjoy ourselves while doing some valuable work!

More along the lines of vanity, I really wanted to get my nails done by my friend, Tina, at the nail salon. I hadn’t gone since I had St. Patrick’s Day nails put on. That’s because there are often lots and lots of people there, along with their families, friends, and such. We wanted to avoid crowded spaces, because we wanted out clients and their families to be sure that they knew we were putting their safety ahead of our vanity.

Happy, shiny me.

Luckily, Tina came up with a plan for me to go one evening at the end of their open hours (which happens to conveniently be when her husband is disinfecting things), when no one else is there. So, yay! I have nice new nails on my hands and feet, and we got to catch up on a LOT of each other’s goings on. Masks were worn and hands were washed obsessively.

Looking autumnal.

Another thing I want to do is buy fresh fruit and vegetables. I’m a little put off by farmers’ markets, since around here there isn’t a lot of mask wearing. And I seem to always have meetings on Wednesdays, when there’s a lovely small market here in Cameron. However, I did hear about a place nearby that sells hydroponically grown stuff. Maybe they deliver! I’m checking it out.

This probably sounds selfish, but I miss wandering through art galleries, too. I just love to look at hand-made stuff, whether paintings, pottery, jewelry or sculpture. I managed to sort of do it today, when I managed to go to the new antique store in town when it was just about empty. I found a painting of trees that I just loved. $25. I thank the woman who painted it, wherever she is.

Trees and rivers. Not a masterpiece, but I like it.

I also got a piece of Navajo pottery by A. Joe, who I can’t find anything about other than he’s contemporary. It is just what my fireplace wanted, however. I think this satisfied my desire to enjoy art, since I even brought some home! Check out Chelle’s if you’re ever in Cameron!

It makes the blue in the rug under my desk not look quite so out of place!

I realized I have very few other things on my list, other than eating out at a nice restaurant and having our book club indoors without masks, so that all the members can hear each other. Masks are really difficult for the hard of hearing! But, no wonder I feel better. I’m finding ways to do what makes me happy. And I got a flu shot, so that’s one less thing out to kill me.

It’s funny, I intended to write about things I want to do, but ended up writing about how I’ve done so much of what makes me happy already. What have you figured out a way to do, while keeping to your personal standards of safety? What do you still want to do?

Saint Vlassic

This is a big dog event. This afternoon, when Vlassic and I were walking to feed the horses, all the young cows were standing on the drive. That was tempting!

The walk was weird due to a lot of dust brought in from a cool front. Weird sun.

Vlassic ran after one lone cow, but came right off when I called him. The rest of the way, he walked right next to me, even when the cows got closer and closer, hoping for food.

I was so proud of him! And he didn’t bother Big Red when she was eating, either.

Star is also glad he leaves her alone. And she’s drinking out of the trough.

On the way back, he and Copper played nicely, then the three precious white calves stood right there, taunting him. He was tempted. But, he didn’t run at them when they trotted off.

Step away, dog.

He made a move toward the last calf, but Mama put her head down. Vlassic got the message and set off with me. What a good boy, Saint Vlassic!

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?

Black Weenie Dog Unsure about Cameron, TX

by Vlassic Bruns Kendall

Hi, I’m Vlassic, like the picke company, only with an extra s. I am a small, black dog. I travel a lot, now that Suna goes back to Austin more often. I like it in Austin, mostly. I get to hang out with Pickle the chiweenie, play with Anita, and snuggle lots and lots with Suna.

Snuggling makes me very happy.

I have some friends and enemies in Austin, but mostly friends. Last week a dog kept yapping at me until her human took her away. And for some reason, my old buddy, Percy, was mad at me much of the week. But, we sniffed butts and had a nice walk last night. I love walking in Austin. Suna and Anita pick up my poop, so I try to go as much as I can.

This morning, I got to go for a car ride (yay) and we ended up at this place in Cameron, where some of my family are, plus some nice people like Meghan and Jenecia, who give me treats and pet me. It’s a little weird here, but I have toys and a water dish, which helps a lot. Plus, I get to visit and “help” people work!

I’m having a meeting.

Suna took me for a walk today, and that convinced me I do NOT like Cameron. Everywhere I turned there were more dogs barking and running up to me. The first few were behind fences or attached to something that saved me. Whew.

I like the sidewalk, because there are no grass burs. And look, Suna picked up my poop, like she was in Austin or something!

But, a giant dog (Suna says a medium-sized old, sweet dog) came rushing out of a garage and barked LOUD. Suna screamed. She was embarrassed, she told the old human who came running out. In the end, I liked that dog fine, and we sniffed butts. Suna says she has no pictures because she was so busy protecting me. Thanks, Suna!

Parts of the walk were good, like I found a dead thing to sniff, and lots of places to pee.

MMM. Dead thing.

But, danger is everywhere! There were all sorts of grass burs on the sidewalk where the vacant lot had been mowed. I had to stop and remove them, but then, yay! I got to eat them. They are tasty snacks, actually.

Then ANOTHER dog came after me. Suna knew this one would be there, so she talked to it. He wagged his tail, barked a little, and went home. Suna saved me again!

By the time I got home I was exhausted. I tried to regain my strength by eating stuff out of the trash can, but she emptied it.

No luck with the trash can. I’ll just lay down.

Suna felt sorry for me, so she found a nice blankie for me to snuggle up in while she works.

I’m comfy and cozy now!

I’ll just take a nap now, and hope Suna takes me back to the ranch, where my other human, Jim, likes to hang out with me, and where I can run free with the other dogs, even bad ole Penney, who I actually like, now. And my chickens! And all those cute calves. I think I’ll dream of chasing them. Bye!

Healing Accomplishments

If you know me well, you’re sick of hearing about it, but if you’re an acquaintance or random reader, you might not know that I have had some pretty rough career times, crowned by the last year or two when I was working for a nonprofit breastfeeding support organization, one where I’d met most of my friends, one where I’d learned my web design skills, and one that I had planned to be a member of my whole life, good ole La Leche League.

I became a victim of the “flavor of the moment” in organizational management, and it was painful, very painful. No wonder I have always been suspicious of the latest managerial trends, six sigma, lean, agile…they all seem to try to pigeonhole organizations into their format, even when it doesn’t work.

The Board from last year

But I digress, surprise surprise. You probably do know that a while back (that would be 2018, it appears) I agreed to join the Board of Directors of the little organization for people who used to be in the big organization. I’ve had a lot of fun, got to hang out with people who have grown and changed, just like I have, and come to terms with a lot of “stuff.”

I’ve been making their newsletter since early last year, and it was a challenge to convert it to an online thing, but along with some supportive helpers on the Board and kind contributors, I think I did it, and the little newsletter is turning out pretty good (though I can always use more submissions!). And I lived through issues with the Board. Yay.

A sign I am not a great graphic designer

Sadly, though, membership had been dropping, so fewer and fewer people have been getting the newsletter, even though it’s gotten good reviews (far as I know). Part of that has been that our poor old website had gotten pretty broken, and our attempt at replacing it went SPLAT. It’s hard to join an organization whose e-commerce is not working.

But, I’m so happy now! My friend Susan (who’s visited the ranch) agreed to make us a site on WordPress, so I actually understand it. And she did a great job making it look good AND work well. I feel like my little world of Friends of LLL is all good, at last. Now we just have to tell people, so here I am telling YOU that if you used to be in La Leche League, even if you were hurt, like me, you are very welcome to check out Friends of LLL and come join us. We want to do stuff, but we need people to do it!

This is the new site homepage. WHEEEE

We have been giving “mini-grants” to groups who are trying to help parents and babies in their communities, we still want to plan another nice trip…someday, and we want to find new ways to support each other as we age, and as younger friends join us.

We need YOU! That will help us be US! I’ll be able to share news with all my old and new friends around the world, we’ll stay in touch on Facebook and such, and we will not forget those of us who have passed. As my friend Marian said after looking at the new website, “Now I just have to manage to stay alive as long as possible!”

Join me from November of last year and my happy friends, please!

I’m with her! We all need something healing and fun to keep us going. I’d love for any of my readers who feel like it would join or rejoin Friends of LLL. We ARE friends.