A Day of Rest

No one was in a great mood much of today so I didn’t even try to do any activities. The only reason we left the condos was to get groceries in the world’s smallest and perhaps most expensive Publix supermarket. That’s ok. I still liked it, because my mom shopped at Publix when I was a wee lass.

I like how this place has lots of trees and birds. We are the top right unit.

It was a bit chilly, but warm enough to sit on the balcony and crochet long enough to realize I needed sunscreen on. I enjoyed lots of singing birds and chatty crows, plus I watched pelicans diving and an osprey hunting.

It doesn’t look like much yet. It’s another curtain or a tablecloth.

There wasn’t much reason to leave here, since I got a good lunch at the cafe along with a latte spiked with Bailey’s (which may explain the nap I took later). And it’s so pretty. Hilton Head is just so green and natural.

I did venture out on a Long Beach walk. I enjoyed looking at the patterns the tidal movement makes on the sand, saw a few dead horseshoe crabs and one dead stingray. Mostly I saw shorebirds, though, such as gulls, terns, sanderlings, and willets.

This time of year, dogs are allowed on the beaches here. I got to get my dog fix just by looking out the windows, but walking with them is even more fun. They really have a good time!

A happy fellow

We relaxed in the evening and watched two movies, which we don’t get to do often at home. The first one was an extra violent but spiritually interesting one about a Viking. I had to look away a lot. The other was Cruella, which was enjoyable.

Everyone is doing better now! Naps helped.

Drive Drive Drive Plus Stress

Bummer. This was not the greatest travel day. It was really long, for one thing. We usually break trips like this up into 3 days, but powered through two 8-hour days instead. Poor Lee got both tired and hangry.

But we have our feet up now. Ahh.

Second, there was a lot of work stuff that was hard to do in the car, but I did it! And there was family drama not worth going into. Let’s just say no good deed goes unpunished. And I appreciate people who are more patient than me. My mental health took a hit but I’m doing better already.

We didn’t get here until it was dark, but we do have a nice view.

I enjoyed the weather again today, though. There were many beautiful cloud formations to enjoy, along with beautiful forests. We went through many hardwood forests and pine forests grown for lumber.

I like seeing what grows in different areas. One of the loveliest areas we drove through was in Georgia, where they grow pecans and peaches. The bare trees are striking. I wish I’d gotten a picture of the peach trees, because their newer branches are pinkish, but I was too busy looking at them.

Pecan orchard

I crocheted on my new project a lot of the time when not working or dealing with stuff. But after sunset I just hoped we’d hit the edge of the continent soon.

I’m glad we found the island. This is a really nice place. I’ve missed it since Anita and I were here a few years ago. I’m looking forward to a weekend on Hilton Head!

Why Yes, We Can Have Fun in Cameron!

I just got home from a genuinely fun and satisfying evening out in our little town. It’s so great to have options for hanging out with your friends and neighbors in downtown!

Our beautiful new coffee shop

I don’t get into town much, but Anita invited me to join her for coffee, so I headed over to the Farmers to Market Coffee Shop for some of their delicious coffee and cozy decor (plus friendly staff and friends to chat with). I’m thrilled we have TWO coffee shops to choose from. It’s getting better here!

Lighting in the ceiling

Then we took the opportunity to see how the work Railfan is doing on downtown buildings is coming along. The Venue is getting even more beautiful. The mezzanine now has a beautiful wood wall and the floor is so shiny. What great work!

Next we wandered across the street to the old JC Penney building and its neighbors, where my son was painting walls and sealing bricks. It fascinates me to see the bones that were hiding in the former bland county offices.

Next we checked out the Penney building, which I’d seen before, but not cleaned out. Wow. I’d love to live in a loft on the third floor! Being able to look out the windows was a fun surprise. And the old elevator is something that needs to somehow be preserved. Being able to watch these renovations gives me a real sense of the hard work and creativity it takes to achieve a downtown revitalization.

Enough with the old buildings! Anita and I next went over to another building that was vacated when the county offices moved, the former tax office. Now it’s the Cameron Beer Market, with pizza, beer, pool, and so many fun people.

They’re not posing.

There were opening night glitches, like the credit card machine not working, so we had to pay cash. I never have cash. Still, we had fun conversation with so many folks we know, plus I got to enjoy Lee, Anita, and Declan talking about music. That’s always interesting.

This was before it got crowded. I like the grass on the wall.

Dang! Another fun night here, and soon we can do stuff like this all the time. And hey, some of the people were planning to go to another downtown spot, our beloved Central Avenue Bistro, after their beer, so wow, options!

Lots of pool tables, too.

Thanks to everyone who supports local businesses here, including the established ones, so I’m not forgetting Ginno’s Italian and the great Mexican restaurants here. Or further out, Bob’s! There’s stuff to do in our little town.

Plus we have a scenic old jail and cabin. Rural fun, yep.

Gifts of Love That Live On and On

No doubt I’ve mentioned before that one of my “love languages” is gifts. This is funny to me because I’m not a very good gift giver. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t like to just randomly give things; I want to give meaningful gifts. For example, we didn’t do much for Christmas this year, but I did give everyone in my immediate family (plus Anita and my neighbor Sara) t-shirts with the Hermits’ Rest logo and “Hermits’ Rest Ranch and Family Compound, Walker’s Creek Texas, Est. 2012” on the back. Most had their name on the front, too. I did this to support a local woman who started a t-shirt business and to celebrate ten years of the ranch. That had meaning to me. Of course, no one has worn theirs, but that’s fine. It’s the thought that counts.

And that’s the deal right there. Because gifts from the heart mean so much to me, I treasure them, often for years and years. I have carted some items that probably appear meaningless with me everywhere I’ve moved, because my heart softens a little bit when I see them.

Tiny, stained decoupage pansies my mom made for me. Been with me 40 years or so.

And when I look around my house, I’m reminded of people I’ve loved throughout my life, as if they are with me and supporting me wherever I go and whatever is happening to me.

Fu dog from Delores, my high-school boyfriend’s mom.

Sure, the minimalists think that things are just things, and they may well be correct, literally. But I’m more like a Japanese Shinto practitioner in that for me, objects have spirits, vibrations, or special meaning that is more than just their utilitarian form or function. As I often point out when someone says I’m rather “woo-woo,” there are many things in the Universe that we humans do not yet understand or may not even be capable of understanding, so who’s to say there aren’t special vibrations or connections between objects and people who have made them or touched them?

Mandala from India given to me in 1987 by Alice Davidson, a grad school mentor.

I know I put a lot of love into things I make for people that I hope somehow comes through to them. And I feel love from things people make for me or buy with me in mind. I feel little internal hugs when I am reminded of these dear souls.

My therapist/friend made me this mama bear necklace with protective stones around the time of my divorce from my kids’ dad.

My motley collection of objects helps me feel grounded and connected to my community, my spirituality, and my planet. I feel the love from long-departed loved ones through their gifts, and that brings me contentment and peace. That’s worth having to deal with a bit of clutter, I think.

Teapot from Mama Rose, my friend Jeff’s dear mother.

(And if you don’t like my clutter, don’t hang out with me!)

The Real World for Elderly Hermits

The morning today was like in some princess movie, with dozens of little chirping birds surrounding me with songs, plus a loud and strikingly beautiful red-bellied woodpecker. I’ll remember this brief retreat at Lake Somerville for a long time.

It’s impressive how much beauty you can find among bare branches and the promise of spring flowers. But these things must end, and I turned my focus to work as we left for home.

My office with seat belts!

I missed getting to evaluate the horse camping area because I was concentrating on work, but from what I saw, it could be fun. I was thinking of my precious pets, though, as we stopped at Tractor Supply for horse and hen food.

It’s a little squished in travel mode, but under the RV you can store a lot of pet food.

After a happy reunion with all the pets (you should have seen the horses galloping up from the back pasture when they saw me!), reality hit me and Lee with a thud.

I’m able to rest comfortably now that y’all are back!

Yeah, the people who sell Medicare supplements came by to help Lee with his Part B and supplement selection. That’s painful. I’m just getting A until my job ends, so I mostly sat there wishing the government made ANYTHING easy for people. Being elderly hermits isn’t for wimps.

There was just so much chatting and chit chatting as we filled out forms and made decisions. I missed the silent campsite! But the folks we are working with are nice, not high-pressure sales people, and knowledgeable. I shouldn’t complain. They made it easier to know what to get and what not to get, for our specific needs. It truly feels weird to be old.

Oh and one more thing. Wow, people have a lot of opinions on this delicate topic. I’m glad I know some smart folks. Just whatever you do, don’t make decisions based on the ENDLESS television commercials about Medicare. If I were younger I’d be throwing things at the television to make the commercials go away. I’d like to now, too. So deceptive! And incessant.

Thank goodness for hugs.

I hope your mortality isn’t staring at you today, that you’re safe from flooding if you’re on the West Coast of the US, and that you have something or someone to hug, even virtually. We all need support for one reason or another.

Farewell, Trusty Friend

I’m going to admit something. I really liked my old car. It was a dream car to me, a British racing green Jaguar XF. Yes, I owned a British luxury car for 6 years. But guess what? It cost much less than most Texans’ giant pickup trucks. And it went zoom.

I had been made fun of and told I was bragging when I got a nice small SUV to replace my beloved Mini Cooper because it couldn’t handle our early ranch setup. So I never mentioned the Jaguar on social media, though it was in a couple of photos.

Geez. I earned the money to buy a car. Why can’t I be proud and happy about it? Because I cared so much about what people thought about me. I hereby declare that to be a waste of time. Believe me, I help others, too.

My former car.

I never had Ani issues with the green menace, either. It got attacked by another car and a giant slab of wet drywall that flew off a truck, so it spent some time in the fancy car body shop. I also went through lots of tires, thanks to the lack of maintenance in Milam County. Tires contributed to having to say goodbye to the car.

The other thing about the XF is it was perfectly sized for me. I was very comfortable in it. It responded to my every whim. Other family members had trouble with it being low and not tall. So I only got to enjoy it alone or with Anita, who is also small.

Shining in its filthy glory. It had just rained.

I’ll skip the details and just say the car began acting really weird a couple weeks ago. It revved and had trouble shifting. Last week I finally was able to take it to the closest dealership in Round Rock (in my old neighborhood). When we dropped it off we looked at the one new car available for sale, since we were going to trade another vehicle. Just looking, though.

I get to keep my Master Naturalist license plate. No lectures on the evils of vanity plates, thanks. It’s my choice.

Friday I got a call from the shop about what was wrong. I’m short, the car had broken. A bunch of air related things had fallen apart. And the potholes had put the car so far out of alignment that the inside left tires were falling apart. We couldn’t see it. And one of those tires was only a few months old!

Bad tires you can’t see

All the repairs, along with a big scheduled maintenance totaled a ridiculous amount of money. So, we’re trading my dear car in along with the other vehicle. That works out better.

Next week or week after next I’ll have a car that Lee can get in and out of more easily and still goes Zoom. It may not be British racing green, but it does have red seats.

Mmm. Red.

It’s white, which is not my favorite, but the black trim makes it look sharper. And Lee likes this one. Yay?

Red brake calipers!

And now for some schadenfreude. On our way back from taking my stuff out of my old car, so they can sell it off, we ate at a reasonable restaurant, where I had Mac and cheese with shrimp. This place had a good healthy menu.

I had tried to eat at one of these before but it wasn’t open yet.

The part where you can rejoice in my pain is that when I got up to get a to-go box I tripped on a killer beam under the table and managed to fall on the concrete floor and hit both knees, both elbows, and my wrist. Talented! So see, I’m an awkward Jaguar driver. At last the floor was clean.

Killer table. Attractive, though.

Anyway, that was my entitled elitist ranch lady day.

PS Yes I own arnica. People always shout that at me.

Sharing a Skill in a Soggy Field

Right after I wrote last night, we had the most intense rainstorm we’ve had since before the drought started. Around 2.55 inches fell quickly as a narrow band passed over. The water came up high enough to require the backup culvert to kick in so our driveway/dam wouldn’t be breached. Whew. The new pond flooded for the first time!

When morning dawned, we were inside a thick cloud of fog. It was ethereal and made everything around here look better! I especially loved to look at the horses sort of looming in the distance.

There were puddles everywhere, and I had a hard time enticing the chickens out of the hen house. Leftover bean soup did the trick and allowed me to gather the egg of the day, which I believe came from Star. You just have to wonder sometimes what goes on inside chickens. Or, maybe it’s better just to not think about those things.

It’s sorta like a space capsule

A few puddles didn’t stop me from working with the horses, who dodged the threat of getting bodywork, because the direction the rain came in made even their covered area full of puddles. It was weird having big wind coming in from the south!

I know the bluebonnets appreciated the rain.

The best part was that my son joined me today and brought his new Christmas-gift helmet with him. He’s helped me groom and worked a lot on the tack room, but not ridden with me before. I lengthened the stirrups on Apache’s previous saddle so he could use it. Finally I figured out how to do that myself!

After practicing some groundwork skills, I showed my son how to mount and turn by demonstrating on Drew, which conveniently gave Droodles and me some time to practice our newest skills. We turned on the forehand and did some mighty fine side passes. Even my son could tell he was going sideways. I was so proud.

Apache was NOT stressed out about this. They both enjoyed each other.

Drew then had to stand petulantly as he was ignored in favor of Apache. He was a very good boy and patiently carried my son around and paid attention to his cues. First, I led them and practiced stopping and starting. Then we put the bridle on, and my son walked Apache in the round pen, trying to get the stopping thing correct. He did well with turning, though. When you’re on your first ride, I’d think it would be hard to relax and say, “Whoa” calmly. Saying, “Easy,” in a calm voice also takes practice.

We will do more practice next week! Now, of course, Apache had to test my son. He ignored the request to turn, and just marched out of the round pen. I got to channel Tarrin and tell my son to shorten his reins, spread them wider and get Apache to stop. And he did!

Thinking about nature helps deal with horse shenanigans.

Then I got to pretend to be Tarrin and take him back in that round pen and do some work. We did the square exercise and a lot of side passing and leg yielding. It was fun for me, because I didn’t have stirrups due to having much shorter legs than a 6’3″ person. I discovered I was leaning forward but fixed that and did well. Hooray, I got to practice something new, too!

I deserve more food.

I really had a lot of fun, even without being able to let the horses trot. I don’t think they wanted to, anyway. They’d been slipping a lot in their pens. Speaking of slipping, Fiona slipped into Drew’s pen as we were getting ready to feed. They began a mud fight, where Drew would go nip at Fifi and she’d kick him. I’m sure it was a ton of fun for Drew, but Fiona looked annoyed, so we got her out of there.

Later, when Lee and I took a walk, there were Fiona and Drew, still picking at each other, but voluntarily, since they had the whole pasture at their command. I do enjoy watching the animals interacting. Thanks to watching them, our walk lasted until the sun (which had barely come out from the foggy clouds all day) started to go down. We got rewarded by some beautiful clouds, which helped me feel better after finding out how much my car repair was going to cost (YOW).

A Hermits Christmas Eve

As the years pass and our circle grows smaller, the holidays have stopped being about visitors, travel, and togetherness. Television commercials keep saying that’s what we should want.

This one goes from lap to lap.

But Lee and I are happy to spend time with just each other these days. We have plenty of animals to stand in for friends and family, and they’re certainly entertaining. The dogs have been going all out to make us smile!

The horses have been playing a lot, as if the cold weather makes them frisky. They do have really thick coats right now.

It was a beautiful day, though, so I did the usual bird watching (highlights were cranes and a butcher bird) and weather observation. All the ponds iced over, but melted when it got above freezing. I have new inexpensive base layers that made being outside okay. Nice!

It was lovely spending time with myself, giving myself holly nails, watching football, cooking dinner, and working on a present. It’s important, I think, to be comfortable enjoying each phase of life, and each new situation. That’s the way to inner peace.

Holly jolly fingers.

Tomorrow and next week will bring more people to the ranch and that will also be enjoyable. You can’t hermit every day! it will be good to celebrate with people.

I’m hoping you find peace with whatever life hands you this time of year. Maybe you’ll find comfort in traditions and maybe you’ll try something new. Just remember that we’re all dealing with “stuff” and doing our best. I sure remember that and just want the members of my own circle to know they’re loved.

Community Holiday Joy

Maybe residents of our small town are sick of hearing about it, but I’m gonna say it again: Cameron is like a new town this season. I’m so grateful to all the folks who have worked so hard to turn the town around over the past year, especially everyone on the Chamber of Commerce Board. Just wow.

Honest, the square is gorgeous when not captured through car windows

There are lights everywhere this year, unlike before, when it was a few sparse displays on some of the more chipper businesses. This year, wow!

Even this building looks good!

And check out tonight’s fun event at the new Venue, the Sip and Shop.

Look at this beautiful building and the beautiful vendors!

I had so much fun hanging out here with my friends and seeing what the vendors (some of whom also are friends) had to offer.

Beautiful decorations and snacks

I got some wonderful things, you know, to support local artists and bakers. Or for fun. My favorite thing is my hat. It has a bird on it. Pamela had a hat, too.

It was just a beautiful night, and the Venue looks so beautiful! I’m so proud of the work everyone has done on this project. I admit one team member is my kid. The new staircase is awesome and the new bathroom wallpaper made me so happy. What a great project the team has completed!

Sometimes I feel alone and like an actual hermit. But events like this, where everyone is so kind and welcoming, make me feel a part of something. We even tried to recruit our jeweler friend, Mary, to be a Master Naturalist. Community peer pressure! That’s holiday magic, right there.

I got this gorgeous piece of labradorite made into a pendant by Mary. The copper backing is stamped with an “om” stamp. It’s very special.

When we get down on our fellow humans, we need to remember how communities can come together and support each other. I saw so much networking, generosity, and fellowship tonight that I couldn’t stop smiling.

So much smiling! And sweets!

That, too, was a holiday miracle. Now enjoy some friends and vendors who made Cameron, Texas magical tonight.

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