Speaking of Shiny Things

The fun with mirrors didn’t stop all day today, plus Chris finished the stairs, which are ready for the rails to get fabricated. The shiny wood is complemented by shiny metal trim that will be darned sturdy.

All the sides and edges are finished.

Chris was saying this staircase is his most impressive creation. I must agree. This is one hand-made object with so many parts!

The real and fake wood look good together.

Every time I climb these shiny stairs I’ll think of all the work that went into them and the horrible staircase they replaced.

Shiny!

Since we were on a mirror kick, I brought over my Ann Allen original mirrors that I’ve been carrying around for years (since 1998). They are really happy things that I knew would look great in my office bathroom.

Why have only one mirror?

I’ll smile every time I wash my hands from now on! They will go great with the other art I plan to put in the room. So glad I know so many creative people.

I really need to change out those light bulbs.

And Tubby got put to work today. He makes a good mask drying rack! It’s nice to be able to use the office a little bit.

Independence Day for Hermits

Chris and Suna create desktops and chicken coops from scraps and leftovers.

One thing’s for sure, the hermits of Hermits’ Rest sure know how to celebrate without leaving the property. I’m proud of us.

Most of the day, Chris and I worked on two projects, a second hen house and nest box, and my new desk.

My project was the desk. First I spent a couple of hours sanding the doors, one of which is the desk top and one the “modesty panel.” I’m so modest, you see. I just wanted to rough them up a bit.

The modesty panel door.

By the way, the doors came from the Pope Residence, and were a bathroom and closet door, so smaller than standard.

Here it is with a coat of red paint.

The desk top was painted white. It’s paint was peeling and hard to sand, so it took a while. I forgot to take a “before” picture. I’ll blame the heat. I did really well not overheating today!

The desk top looks much brighter, since it’s base was white.

No doubt you notice the doors don’t match. It’s okay. This interesting shade of coral red (made by mixing my bathroom tomato red with the red from our Christmas float) will be an undercoat.

Two coats on. Red enough.

Both doors look nice and “rustic” so I’m happy. Tomorrow the MAGIC will happen, so come back for Day 2 of the door desk paint project!

Meanwhile, Chris was finishing the nest boxes he started, which are nicely hinged now.

Hinged box.

Then he got to work turning a shipping crate that held the tile for our house 5 years ago into a chicken coop. He added a roosting shelf, and attached the nest boxes.

Roosting shelf.

The outside he covered in more of the tin we used in the Pope Residence.

He just improvises. But measures carefully.

By the time we called it quits, he’d measured the roof and got the supports up. The hardware cloth (wire mesh) is ready for the ventilation openings. This should also get done tomorrow!

Roof supports are up. The triangles will be air vents. Hens need them.

We also hope to get more shade cover for the birds and to enlarge the pens, like I mentioned earlier. That will keep us busy at home for another day!

Did I mention that these projects only cost us labor? All materials are scraps or leftover stuff from other projects. Fun doesn’t have to be expensive! It does help to have a creative and talented team lead, though. Go team!

Mostly Good Animal News

I hope all of you who celebrate Independence Day in The US have a safe and fun holiday. And now for the news update.

Guinea Drama Part 2

I went out to feed the birds yesterday, and lo and behold, there were only five guinea keats. I fed them and was confused. So when Chris got home, I asked if we weren’t supposed to have seven. He said yep. Crap.

I then looked more carefully at their cage. Since it got put in the chicken pen, it’s been on grass. That made what WERE small holes into bigger holes. Two of the little dickenses had escaped.

The five remaining ones, nicely arranged.

About that time, Alfred skipped by looking very happy. Well, there was one keat. We still haven’t found the other.

Henhouse Happiness

As we were standing around lamenting the loss of the guinea fowl, Lee asked when we could combine the two chicken groups. I said now, I guess. So everyone is together now.

We’re taking over!

The older ones definitely are the bosses, but they aren’t attacking or anything, other than Clarence, showing what a manly rooster he is. He and Bruce are okay.

Gracie wanted to help Bertie and Ginger eat grass.

This means we can add our new nesting boxes and expand the run some more. We’re working on that, and more shade, today.

The new hens clustered for a while but it’s better now.

How’s Apache, You Ask?

I’ve been walking him a little bit every day. Today Chris came over to observe his gait, and we are pleased to report he’s walking pretty normally.

Grass! Yay!

So we let him and Fiona enjoy some green grass and loving for a while. They’re so good, just relaxing with us.

Happy to be out of that pen.

And you can sure tell Apache has lost weight. That’s one fine butt with no belly showing through!

His best side?

And of course we need to end with the cutest thing ever.

Do you have a treat?

Getting Over Things

[Edited to be calmer, July 2020.]

I learned a thing from screwing up yesterday. One is that the alleged thing I did wrong wasn’t what bothered me. I’m over that, and have apologized and moved on. What aggravates me is that people didn’t let me know there was an issue; rather they told my family members.

That’s sad. I don’t want to feel wary of everyone I know. I don’t put dumb things on Facebook either, though I’m an open book when it comes to my own issues, things I do, and places I go. Life isn’t worth living if you feel like you have to hide. I don’t write about other people’s stuff, like problems my family members have, etc.

Suna blowing steam out of her ears, next to a flaming computer screen.
People disappoint me. Duh.

I would really appreciate it if someone sees me post about something they think I did that they don’t approve of, they TELL ME, so perhaps I could explain what was actually happening, or what legit reasons I have for what I do. Or extend an apology.

Two llamas.
No more being a Drama LLama, Suna!

Vent over. Subject dropped.

Quick Enneagram Update

As I talked about recently, I have been looking into the Enneagram to see what insights it could give me into how I could function better as a person and interact with others.

Two of the types came close to describing me, 2 (helper) and 9 (peacemaker). I eventually decided I was a 9 after realizing how strongly my urge to keep peace around me had affected my life (not always positively).

I broke down and spent the twelve dollars to take the official test, the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI). That test identifies how your responses to a series of questions match each type. I found the results interesting:

Enneagram Type Score
Type 2, The Helper 28
Type 9, The Peacemaker 24
Type 4, The Individualist 18
Type 7, The Enthusiast 17
Type 5, The Investigator 14
Type 6, The Loyalist 13
Type 3, The Achiever 12
Type 1, The Reformer 10
Type 8, The Challenger 8

The two I’d self identified were the two highest, by far. The results commentary said: “Your primary Enneagram personality type is most likely the highest of these scores, and almost certainly among the highest two or three.”

I’m still going with 9, but with a lot of 2. I don’t know if the standard version “allows” being mixed with two types, but, there ya go, I gotta be me. The two types on either side of you are supposed to be your “wings” to draw from. Note that those were the two least identified with me (and 8 is my spouse’s type, oh my).

Reflecting on how Type 2 people tend to want to rescue others, form large groups of friends, and focus on helping, I do see that I have been that way, but more in the past. It may be that I am moving from Type 2 to Type 9 as I get older. A lot of the things Type 2 people do are just not me, while pretty much everything in Type 9 hits home with a bang.

Just knowing how I tend to react to things has helped me explain how I am to others, and has already made communication easier in my family. So, I’m grateful for that. If you want to take the test yourself, here’s the link.

Books

Anyway, I read a couple more of the most recent books on the Enneagram, so I may as well tell you what I thought of them.

The cover of The Honest Enneagram, by Sarajane Case.
Another blogger writes a book.

The Honest Enneagram, by Sarajane Case, is an introductory level book that uses “normal” language to help people understand how to apply knowledge of their type to their lives. It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but you sure get the idea that Sarajane is a kind person who wants to help everyone be their best. I gave the book to Kathleen to look over and share with Chris, because it’s a nice intro. It’s also a really pretty book.

If you know your type, this is interesting for sure.

The other book I got was The Enneagram for Relationships: Transform Your Connections with Friends, Family, Colleagues, and in Love, by Ashton Whitmoyer-Ober. Ashton is another person who just oozes concern for people. I am getting a bit more new information out of this one, especially about others (like my son and spouse). It’s really helpful, because this book gives you ideas for how to let people you love know you care for them, and how to best communicate with them. That’s useful information. I got some good ideas for how to communicate with a lot of people I know, at work, as friends, and as family members. I will use this one as a reference for a long time, I’m sure.

Both these books are available on Kindle for not much money at all, so check them out if you’re interested. I have one more book to read, then I’ll move on, since I may have found a new spiritual path!

What’s been bringing YOU insight? Are you using this time of being close to home to look inside yourself like I have been doing?

Pee at Last! With Stereo!

We have running water at the Pope house! and I got to be the first to use the toilet in my new bathroom! Now THAT is progress, my friends.

Ooh, aah. It works.

Note that the toilet was re-used, and was at the house when we got it. It was pretty new, so Ms Erma must have replaced it recently before she moved out.

One, um, interesting detail is that since the window we installed had to be low, due to the stairs, you get to enjoy the entire neighborhood and traffic (such as it is) on College Avenue as you sit on the throne. That makes me glad we got blinds to install.

You actually see more of the road out the window. And obviously it couldn’t be any higher!

Other plumbing also got done. The other bathroom is now fully functional.

That mirror is tiny. It’s hung now, but useless to tall people.

As I mentioned yesterday, Chris has requested we never get a faucet like this very cute one again. It took many hours to finish it today.

El chingaso

We also lost the pedestal sink we’d wanted to re-use. It broke as Chris tried to work on it. That means I get to pick a new one. It has to be small!

Tubby is looking forward to this new faucet. It didn’t come in black.

Lee’s Office Improvements

Lee spent most of yesterday on his most important office feature, the sound system. He re-did his mother’s old stereo cabinet to have modern insides (removing a rat nest from inside, mmm).

Nest was at left. Nice.

He put in a new tuner and speakers and will add a modern turntable.

He was proud of the finished product, which also needs new cloth in front of the speakers.

A man and his stereo.

As far as he’s concerned, with the added chair, he’s done. It sounds great, by the way.

The listening station.

Next up is the water heater. Our dream of hot water will finally come true. It will have to wait until Monday, though. There’s ranch and Ross stuff to do today.

Thelma and Louise Do Gardening. Mostly Thelma.

It was a busy day. Much of Kathleen’s day consisted of planting and hoeing again. I did a great job picking things out. I am not a very energetic Louise to her Thelma.

Some of our haul.

This morning we went back to My Flea, in Milano, where I’d gotten these cute guys with Chris last week. Kathleen and I got Mexican pottery for each of our new plants, and I got some for plants I’m going to root or divide.

What I got last week, and the plant that goes in the chicken.

They are so festive, and the prices are really good. I broke down and bought the plant-holding donkey to go with the other one. And I had to get a little claw-foot tub, of course, for my bathroom.

What a cheerful guy!

Kathleen got a stand for our fern and a cute little cart that actually rolls. The plan is to put seasonal decorations in the cart. Fun!

We came back and used up all our potting soil to plant our three big plants. They look so pretty, especially the fern.

Fern and stand.

We will get more soil next week. In the meantime I’ll be rooting some pothos plants.

Corn plant. Isn’t the pot pretty?

The rest of the day, Kathleen was a bundle of energy in the yard. She’s going to get rid of the burr clover and sand burs. She’s going to encourage actual grass! And she’s going to plant lantana around the trees.

Clearing around the oak tree.

And what I find most ambitious is that she is going to plant things to disguise the giant gas line and old flagpole. She prepped for those today. Next comes weed killer and whatever else. I’ll watch.

Future former eyesores.

Thelma and Louise Buy Plants

Because my employer gave us the day off in honor of Juneteenth (good for them), Kathleen and I decided to do something fun. We went to the little local nursery in Cameron to get some plants for the new office, since it’s pretty smelly in there from floor finishing (another post).

New plants!

It was hard to decide what to get, because they had so many lovely things. I got myself a spider plant for my office, because the ones in Austin got aphids or something. Boo. She got a pothos for hers, but I’m going to make one out of the plant in my bedroom (and Mandi May have made me one, too).

We found our company on a poster! Kathleen is wearing her Thelma hat. I happen to have Louise.

I also got a peace plant, and because I messed up Mandi’s, I’ve made it the Mandi’s Mom Memorial Peace Plant. That pleased her. That’s it for indoors.

The peace plant, before watering.
Before planting.

Kathleen got three roses for in front of her office and a hibiscus for the patio on the other side. She also got a fern and a corn plant. For now, they are on the front porch, but one is really for the reception office.

The hibiscus. It will be red.

She picked three pretty plants for the area around the mailbox. One the young man at the shop said was a Mexican honeysuckle. The others are purple. I had to look it up. PlantSnap said it was a golden dewdrop. Okay. Duranta erecta is its name and it will be big and thorny. Oh my. But it’s native to Mexico, so it may not make it through the winter.

Golden dewdrop, purple type.

Well, the nursery mostly has Mexican plants, so that makes sense! The people who run the place are very nice and take such good care of the plants. I’m very glad they’re here in our little town.

The Mexican plant collection.

After I went to the farrier visit, we planted the ones that go in the ground. I admit Kathleen did the hard work. I weeded. Then Chris also helped. It was fun, and the weather wasn’t too bad in the shade.

Thelma plants a foundation plant.

It all looks quite cheerful. Tomorrow Kathleen is going to work on the grass, and we are going to get some cheerful Mexican pottery for the indoor plants. Fun times. It’s feeling like a real, cared-for, old house!

The first three of many future rose bushes.

Ross Is Ours! Kathleen Is Overjoyed

Today is the first day of the next phase of our Hearts Homes and Hands project. We closed on a pretty big piece of property in Cameron, the Ross house we’ve showed you a couple of times.

It’s ours! Let’s get that tree out of the entry.

Now Hermits’ Rest Enterprises owns the cute house, the land around it, and a lot across the street.

Look! It’s a lot!

After the closing, which was nice and smooth, we met the heirs of the previous owner. Then Lee, Kathleen, and I ran to the house and gleefully pulled up ALL the many For Sale signs around the property.

It felt good. If Kathleen wasn’t recovering from some medical stuff, she’d have turned cartwheels. Her dream house is ready for her to have a wonderful future in it…well, as soon as it has a functioning kitchen and bathroom. Details, details.

Kathleen is trying not to run in the house and start moving stuff around.

We’re all enjoying dreaming of Victorian decor, that is when we aren’t working on the current project! the end is near!

Can You Learn to Be Positive during a Pandemic?

Some people say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and I am definitely an old[er]…person. I’ve always thought of myself as a realist, in that I see the beauty and good in the world, but I don’t deny the sadness, sorrow, injustice and pain that’s around me, either. Life is suffering, after all, says the Buddha.

Top that off with a healthy dose of empathy and sensitivity to the moods of others around me, and I end up not being the biggest little ray of sunshine in Central Texas. I have even railed about “toxic positivity” and “non-toxic positivity” right here in this blog, not that long ago.

For me, there’s room for each.

However, in the last few months, life has been conspiring to teach me new ways of walking through life, thanks to some people who just sorta showed up, or I just started paying closer attention to them. And it’s not just reading all those Buddhist articles that help you see that living in the moment is key.

You see, I used to avoid the relentlessly optimistic if at all possible. Always seeing the bright side of things, ugh. “Oh, no, I have the flu.” “That’s great! You can catch up on your reading!” I also got tired of the relentlessly negative, too. I know people who can suck the life out of any conversation by pointing out the negative consequences of anything: “It’s such a pretty day!” “Yeah, but you’ll get skin cancer if you stand in the sun.”

Depending on how you look at life, this may well be true.

I probably have mentioned before that I loathe being told to smile when I am, at the moment, not actually happy. Sure, I’ve read that forcing yourself to smile can make you happier, but sometimes there’s good reason to be unhappy, at least temporarily. Okay, fine.

Look at that happy face!

I’ve been watching the positive people in my life more closely, though. Here’s one you can watch yourself: go follow Emma G on Facebook. That is one positive woman. I happen to know that she’s faced some challenges in the year I’ve been reading her posts, but she never fails to find something good, some way a challenge has helped her grow, or a way something she’s learned can help others. I look forward to that smiling face every day, as she shares how she’s working on her musical career while minimizing danger from COVID-19.

Here, wine is helping us stay positive.

Living with Kathleen the past few months has also been a lesson at looking on the positive side of things. I have never seen anyone post so many cheerful memes in my entire life. Sometimes I’m like, geez, you have insomnia and are sick to your stomach, but you’re still posting “everything’s GREAT” all over Facebook. I see, though, that she’s trying to draw in the good stuff by sharing it (guessing it’s the power of attraction or something). Whatever it is, even when it irritates me a little, I can’t HELP but be reminded to look at what’s good in my own life, which is leading me toward a more positive outlook. She’s another person who’s had some real challenges to deal with in the past year but is finding ways to see the good. She’s never afraid to go talk to someone about our business and get some sort of positive outcome, too. Also, she’s one amazing idea generator. Now she wants me to have a donkey ranch.

This was taken just after Pam gave me a positive pep talk.

Another beacon of positivity is my friend Pam B. from the Breakfast Club here in Cameron. She’s another person who just radiates happiness and works hard to cultivate good in the world. Every time I talk to her, she says something about wanting to “elevate the good” or find joy or something to that effect. She is amazing at bringing people together for the betterment of this small but quite vital community (and is really fun to watch in community theater). Seeing how she works so hard to bring happiness to her friends, neighbors, and families is a real inspiration.

Here’s Eva with the sun behind her, making her even sunnier.

A final source of positive vibes is my coworker, Eva. I’ve known her since I started working at Planview, so I’ve had plenty of time to soak in her attitude. Especially in the past few years, she has provided a great example of how to take feedback that might upset someone or get them down, and turn it into an opportunity to learn more, find a new way to present information, or create a better product. She’s confident in the skills she has, and doesn’t take it personally when I mess with her grammar, because she knows perfectly well that the actual ideas are great. But it’s not just about work, but all aspects of her life that she brings along a sunny attitude and a lot of gratitude. It’s rubbing off, slowly but surely.

Here’s one of Kathleen’s memes.

People like this have been in my life before, some for many years, but I must be in a position to be more open to their input and to learning from them (thanks to those Enneagram books, I guess). I’ve been told that people come into your life for a reason, which is hard for someone like me, who has mostly been convinced that life is random. But, maybe there’s something to it, and something to the idea that if you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll be more positive, even if there’s a pandemic going on.

Another thoughtful meme that I have taken to heart. Some people may wish I hadn’t.

Do you know a relentlessly positive person? If you do, THANK them, and see if you can let a bit of that attitude rub off on you. Things in the world won’t change, but you may be better able to cope with it. I am, thanks to Emma, Kathleen, Pam, and Eva (and all you others I didn’t mention).

Okay, let’s all be SUPER HAPPY! Be a ray of sunshine like Emma, Kathleen, Pam, and Eva!