Keeping Hope Going

Let me say that I’m disappointed in myself that an election some years ago got me so messed up that I can’t stand election coverage now. My spouse loves it. So I sat with him for hours last night, watching his favorite news channel. I honestly think that could traumatize anyone, no matter what your ideas about our polarized country are. It’s just nerve-wracking.

Settle down, Suna

I awoke this morning feeling completely drained. I sure would have preferred to wake up, read a neutral summary of the results, have a sad moment, and move on. Instead, though, the first thing I read was this:

Hope cannot be defeated finally because it belongs not to the whims of fate but to the common life pulsing through our veins. Hope cannot be defeated finally by any present evil because hope is our heart’s commitment to the lives yet to be. Hope is not is the naive assurance we will reach our stated goal, only that we will find our noble path.

Jim Rigby

That put me into a better frame of mind. I began to see signs of hope and inspiration all around me. Our ranch reminded me that even though we just went through a bad drought, things are trying to come back. The plants just keep trying. Look at this new green grass! There was nothing there a few weeks ago, just dirt.

Hope

I need to shed what is confining me and move on, like my snake friends. I can’t change things, just get a new hopeful attitude.

Bye bye old skin

One true inspiration for me is the asters I’ve been enjoying all autumn. They are blooming away and providing food for so many butterflies, moths, and tiny wasps. That’s even though they’ve been repeatedly mowed. They just started over and over and bloomed even harder.

Way to go, asters.

And I spent a long time today watching the great egret patiently and persistently stalking the little fishies in the pond behind the house. Reaching your goals takes time and patience. And you may miss. A lot. It’s okay.

I’ll get that fish…eventually.

Jim’s right. Hope is necessary and part of the path that our highest and best selves strive to stay on. I’m still committed to my personal goals and morals. Nothing can stop that. I hope the same for all of you.

Just think how long these little guys waited until it was damp enough to send out their spores.

The Free Tranquilizer: Nature

I’m always telling you all how much being out in nature helps me deal with my chronic anxiety and Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD). Today I’m really taking advantage of it and pulling out all the stops with nature, cuteness, and sunshine helping me deal with how people treat me and (the worst) the fact that it’s the second Tuesday in November in the USA. Election Day. I sure hope that voting tradition continues!

I’ve been voting since this time of year in 1976, when someone I truly admire to this day got elected, Jimmy Carter. I believe there’s only been one other time I actually admired a Presidential candidate. The rest I had deep reservations about or was just okay with. This year, we just deal with governors. I did vote for a few governors I liked, especially when I lived in Illinois. But I just hope that I continue to have the right to my personal freedoms and can feel safe in the future. And this is why I need warm fuzzies and cute animals to cheer me up.

Just pet our muddy selves and you will feel better, Suna.

You’re supposed to say what you’re thankful for nowadays. It spans all of November, not just the US Thanksgiving holiday like it used to. I guess it’s to help us remember what is still there for us. I’m thankful for the friendly animals in my life, like Christmas the bull over at Tarrin’s house.

My merry band of horses, who are enjoying the front pasture, the new pond’s hill, and the mud.

A lot of the time, though, I just need to breathe and look at the sky. While I missed the lunar eclipse last night (Lee was sure it was tonight), I did enjoy the sight of a beautiful sun dog in the afternoon sky. I love those cloud rainbows!

I also loved the rain we received over the past few days. It was supposed to rain again today, but maybe it won’t. At least new grass is growing and it’s no longer crunchy outside.

I’m breathing more steadily now and resolve to continue to treat people the way I’d like to be treated and assume people are doing the best they can. This reminder I saw on Facebook really rings true and has helped me for the past week or so.

Peace to all. Let’s try not to live in fear, especially of our neighbors.

Instant Stress Relief

Damn! Work was a challenge today and there’s other stressful stuff lurking. But I feel, as I like to say, “way mo’ better” now.

My favorite bee fly, Poecilanthrax lucifer, even held still for me!

I knew I was in no shape to ride but knew I’d feel much better if I could hang out with the equines, so I headed outside, where it’s been a beautiful day. I got stopped in my tracks, though, when I got to the little field of asters between the chicken house and the tack room. It was practically moving, so many insects were enjoying the flowers! I felt like I was in some Disney movie where the protagonist has all these things flitting around them.

Those are just the ones that held still! I breathed deeply and enjoyed the moment before heading toward the horses. Soon stress melted away as Fiona stuck her head under my hand.

So fuzzy.

Then she made me laugh. She tugged my shirt when I tried to pet Apache.

Pay attention to ME!

I did eventually get to play with the other horses, who were BUR FREE! Apache was a little sweaty, since his winter hair has come in and it was warm outside. But he felt good to lean on and hug.

Looking good!

He also made me laugh. As I was trying to get a photo of his glorious tail flowing in the wind, he created more wind for me, the smelly kind.

I fart in your general direction!

Mabel wasn’t funny, but she was sweet and friendly. She’s a whole new mare. I feel like her name should be Mabel Grace now, looking at how she moves around the pens and glides across the pasture.

Swishy!

All these guys enjoying their late afternoon made me smile.

Fiona is still saucy.

Dusty still seems a bit subdued, but enjoyed his hugs, love, and massages.

No burs, though!

He needs a buddy and misses Drew, I think. Apache is not nice to him, but Mabel hangs out whim lots. Thank goodness! Drew will be home in just over two weeks, not that I’m counting.

Little man and big girl.

It was great to hang out and relax with my buddies. I’ll be ready for another round of challenges tomorrow.

Bye!

Just Enjoying the Morning with My Horse Buddies

We don’t get to do much trail riding lately, but this morning, Sara and I both had time to do it.

These guys wanted to come, too.

I was really happy with how well Apache and I did. First, I mounted from the fence after getting out of our pasture walking. The cows made it a little challenging by their curiosity. They kept bopping Apache on the butt until I showed them away.

Look how far I am from home and I’m fine!

Sara is always challenging herself, and today was no exception. She ponied Sully along with Aragorn. They both did pretty darn well. Aragorn is just doing great these days.

Here they come!

We rode over to the bottom pasture and when we got to the gate, I realized that one of the clever twin calves had snuck into the wrong pasture and was NOT happy where she was. So, Sara gave me Sully, and went with Aragorn to escort the calf home. They were on foot, crashing through trees, but they did it! And Apache stood like a rock while Sully kept poking him (gently; she’s sweet).

We smoked a lot.

After that we just had fun going across mud, up and down hills, over logs, and beside the newly dug tanks. At one point both Apache and Aragorn indicated that they would prefer to be heading to the gate. But we got them to meander back.

Apache even kindly stopped so I could get a picture of this hickory tree I didn’t realize we had.

I did great when Apache tried his sideways stuff. Ha! And once we headed back, he didn’t speed up after I told him not to. We calmly walked back, then, in a fit (feat?) of skill, we managed to open the inner gate then the gate out of the pasture! I had to come back to shut it after dismounting, but that was progress!

This is my selfie on Apache hoping the young cows stay where they are!

We ended the ride happy and calm. He was in no hurry to go in his pen, and seemed pleased to walk to his halter and listen to me telling him he’s good.

There! We are doing everything we want to do and are learning more skills. It’s a lot of fun to ride with friends, so it will be great to be able to have folks join us once Drew is back.

Tired of Prickles

I’m really over cockleburs. My fingers are about to give up from extraction of these sticky things from horse tails and manes. I know someone else who’s sick of burs.

Like my ‘fro?

I got over a dozen burs out of Apache’s mane and almost as many from his tail. It’s easier getting them out of tails. I think they are out of good grass, so they’re in the weeds.

Looking fine.

Once the horses were eating I went after Dusty. I still can’t get to Mabel, but I will get her tied down tomorrow and work on it. At least I got a good sunset ride on Apache in between.

Another Topic

We are working on furnishing the vacation rental. That’s been both fun and challenging. The sofa did NOT want to go in.

Almost in

But we now have a king bed in the main room, a trundle bunk in the other, plus the sofa bed. I’m hoping for visitors as well as paying guests!

We still need much of the kitchen stuff, linens, a wardrobe for the small bedroom, more pictures and some curtains. We’re close!

We have a farm animal theme.

More later, but we should start accepting guests in a couple of weeks. I’m sure grateful to the guys from Denio’s Furniture and our team of helpers for putting stuff together and moving stuff for us!

Meanwhile. It may rain again tomorrow!

Fall Fun

I’m saving conference memories until I can concentrate. I made it home to find that we had visitors and more coming. That’s fun!

Autumn at Hermits’ Rest

Luckily I had a few minutes free to finish out the Pollinator BioBlitz. I hadn’t figured I’d see anything new, but I was happy to be surprised! I saw a new dragonfly, for one. It’s all black.

Swift setwing

Plus I saw way more butterflies than I expected, including one I never got to hold still. I’m not sure which of the ones that look purple when they fly it is, it someone will correct it.

Plus, I saw a snout butterfly holding still, finally, and dozens of fiery skippers. And one more fritillary.

I was even more satisfied to finally get a clear photo of the bee fly who is always around the asters. Woo!

Bee fly!

Well visitors are here. More later!

A Pleasant Walk around the Ranch

There was frost last night! It’s amazing how quickly it goes from boiling hot to frost around here. Luckily none of my plants were damaged, since I thought they’d still be ok outside. I look forward to putting them in the greenhouse, though!

I decided to take one more sweep of the ranch for the pollinator BioBlitz, just to see if I would find anything different, and I’m glad I did, because I did stumble upon a few things. I’d say the most interesting one is the buffalo gourd.

Cucurbita foetidissima (means stinky)

Here’s some info on these plants, which Lee’s dad called “smell apples.” I’m always amused by giant squash in the middle of the pasture.

Cucurbita foetidissima is a tuberous xerophytic plant found in the central and southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It has numerous common names, including: buffalo gourd, calabazilla, chilicote, coyote gourd, fetid gourd, fetid wild pumpkin, Missouri gourd, prairie gourd, stinking gourd, wild gourd, and wild pumpkin. The type specimen was collected from Mexico by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland sometime before 1817. In Latin, foetidissima means ill smelling.

The feral perennial buffalo gourd has evolved in the semiarid regions and is well-adapted to desert environments. It contains high amounts of protein and carbohydrates and yields abundant oil. The carbohydrates that are formed in the tap root have led to the idea of growing the plant for biofuel.

The fruit is consumed by both humans and animals. When mature, a stage marked by increasing desiccation of vine, leaves, fruit-stem, and fruit, the fruit begins its final gourd stage. (from iNaturalist/Wikipedia)

I enjoyed seeing things other than the plants, too. There was a kettle of black vultures circling around. And I identified what they were all gathered around recently on my son’s driveway/access road. It was a skunk. What a cool skeleton! And I got greeted by the current “bull in residence” in the pasture next to ours. He is really friendly and beautiful. I look forward to his babies.

It’s pretty this time of year, and the grass has greened up a little. Finding plants is hard, so I’ve resorted to looking for spring plants that are coming up already and some pretty sad drought-damaged dock. But they all count, and I’m still ranked in the 30s in the BioBlitz. Wait until tomorrow. My camera will be snapping like crazy on the field trip I’m attending in Houston.

I was happy to see all the twin calves having a good time in the pasture behind us. The cow who was hugely pregnant did indeed have twins. I’m sure she’s really glad to get them OUT of her. The little one’s a hoot. He got hungry and started bellowing for her. She came through!

It’s simply restorative to just take in all that you see around here. Then I feel good heading in for more technical writing and helping lovely people with their software dilemmas. I even enjoyed the sparrows that eat all my chicken food. And of course, my horsies!

Water Magic

You may recall that we had our front tank/pond dug out, since it had dried up and it would be easy to remove the silt. It’s now patiently waiting for rain to fall. However, it’s not empty. Apparently it’s filling itself up. Here’s the pond right after it was bulldozed.

Can you see the water?

Yes, as soon as the digging was over, a puddle appeared. Isn’t that cute, we thought! I went off to Fredericksburg for the first part of this week. When I returned, the pond looked like this:

Look at that! It’s water!

No, the guy didn’t hit the water line, even though the edges of the pond do look shiny in the morning sun. It’s just clay that was smooshed flat.

I wonder if anything will grow on that. I hope so.

Today the pond has enough water in it that anyone would notice it as they drove by. There’s a spring down there, for sure, like we’d been conjecturing. What a magical surprise.

It’s in the shape of caterpillar treads, but it’s water.

I went over to check it out in person. As barren as it looks, life was there. Pondhawk dragonflies were mating, and neon skimmers were skimming along looking for food, but finding only willow leaves.

The water is a couple of inches deep in this part.

As I was taking photos, I looked at the soil I was standing on. When I moved, it made quite the sucking sound. We picked a great place to put a pond, because this place is quite the clay pit. I think my friend Pamela could come get some of it and make me a pot or a tray or something.

Clay-ey

I’ll be interested to see how it looks tomorrow. I hope beyond hope that tomorrow will be the last day I can look at the spring water, because there is a promise of rain on Sunday. That would be most welcome. It is very crunchy here and not an easy time for plants and pollinators.

Goldie + Carlton = True Love

Over the past month or so, the friendship between Goldie, the Great Dane, and Carlton, the extra-white mutt, has blossomed into what can only be true love. They’re together almost all the time and keep each other in great shape, in between long naps on the couch.

And of course there’s the running in huge circles around the house, the dog play (like horseplay only with dogs), and the long drinks from the pool when they need a break.

Hmm. I must also mention the barking at things in the night. Cattle? Rabbits? Coyotes? Skunks? Armadillos? Raccoons? Big cats? So many possibilities, all real, judging from poop.

Dang bunnies been eating chicken feed, what little the Devil (English) Sparrows leave behind.

They just plain enjoy each other. Often I see Goldie’s paw on Carlton, asking him to either join her on the couch or play. And they hardly use dog toys. They have each other (giving Harvey and Penney time to play with the squeaky toys).

This morning they must have spent 45 minutes gently playing, licking each other, and chewing on body parts. Penney just watched. Lee and I could not stop laughing at their antics. They just don’t get tired of each other. I remember being that much in love!

In other events, We had a nice party last night for our friend, Mike, who turned 60 this week. Martha cooked a delicious pasta dish and Lee and I contributed a big ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. It was really good. We all prefer ice cream to actual cake, so it was a hit after some time time in the hot tub! and Anita got to have a second birthday celebration, since we’d already enjoyed a meal in Temple on her actual birthday. Celebrations of people you love — I guess that’s good for people AND dogs!

Friends and fun!

Enjoying Life

Why not? I was all tired after helping a lot of folks at work, but when I went out to see the horses, I felt so much better that I did my scheduled ride and enjoyed the nice afternoon.

I had to replace the chairs, but these match better anyway. And one works as a mounting block!

The bulldozer is still plowing away. I think that project will be done tomorrow. He’s made it wider and is building an excellent berm that will be fun for the horses and provide a bit of sound insulation for us (you know, ALL that traffic we get!). Lee says he keeps finding springs, which doesn’t surprise me. But even in this drought to see moist areas surprises me!

Sun sets on the dirt and silt pile.

And after yesterday’s rant, I’m embracing my quirky decorating style. It helps that Kathleen has made some really pretty fall and Halloween wreaths and gave me one. Doesn’t it look great?

Seasonal cheer!

To top it all off, my additional cream yarn showed up, so I can keep going on my afghan project. in the meantime I made part of a narrow border to put on at the end. This is gonna be a project, all right.

Second border in progress.

Glad to have some calm time in life every so often.

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