Missing the Ranch and Keeping My Spirits Up

It’s really weird to have not been at the ranch the entire month of November, especially since that’s usually a great month to be there (good weather, frisky pets, lots of time for walking). It didn’t help at all that I spent a good bit of time wandering around the area on Google Maps trying to figure out where those two people drowned. I think I got it located a bit further away from our property than I’d feared, but still adjacent. It makes me so sad.

In happier news, my one orchid that didn’t succumb to some evil scale has rewarded us with many blossoms.

I listened to a news report that said the victims had fallen out of their boat and got caught up in pond weeds. That’s exactly what I had feared. Even if you can swim, that stuff can get you. One guy had a young family and one was just 22, so young. They’re having a football game to raise money for their families. Traion Smith was just an amazing athlete in high school, and a nice young man. The news report showed the former Cameron coach breaking into tears at the thought of losing him. Life sure has its twists and turns.

Anyway, I ended up looking at what great quality the Google Maps images of our property are. I really liked how you could see each cow and all the cattle paths in the bottom pasture next to our house.

All the cows are at upper right, and you can see where they walk. The image can even get closer in! That’s Walker’s Creek and one of the streams that meets up with it.

I was disappointed that I could not see Apache or Fiona, nor the chickens. I guess the photo was taken just before we got the chicken house. So, you’re spared those images.

Sunset looking out by neighbor Ruth’s house. I love how the oak leaves are shining.

While I do miss the ranch (and its occupants, including my poor lonely quarantined husband!), I’m enjoying some time in Austin. We got to take a walk with our neighbor, Ruth, who regaled us with tales of trying to buy groceries at the H-E-B (we went a bit later ’cause I had to fill my prescription, and it wasn’t so bad). She went to the Randall’s store full of “old people” and it wasn’t crowded. That store is always full of old people! And, if you don’t live in Texas, we realize H-E-B is a weird name, but since it’s named after Mr. Butts, you can understand the choice.

Roses in my flower arrangement. They help me feel better.

And since I’m in Austin, we can have my son’s little family unit to eat out on the deck, to minimize germs and all, like we keep being told to do. It will be very small, but good.

Giant mum about to explode. This arrangement had such great autumn colors.

We will get through these challenging times. Sometimes it’s easier than other times, but I feel like all this practice of empathy, compassion, and forgiveness that’s come out of the pandemic, the election, and the personal issues of those around me will benefit me the rest of my life.

I don’t know what this flower is, but I love the way only part of it is in focus.

I hope you enjoy the photos of the flowers I got at the store and our sunset. I saw no sunsets in Utah, because the mountains were to the west. That’s okay, mountains are pretty, too. Share what’s keeping you happy and in the moment, if you want to!

Why I’m Staying in My Room

It’s my last full day in Utah, and I don’t have to work. You’d think I’d be going around seeing the sights, shopping, eating, etc. The ski area finally opened, so all those nice shops I’ve only been able to look in the windows of are open (with their ski resort prices, no doubt). But nope, I’m not going out today.

It would have been smart of me to take a video, but here are moving ski lifts.

I did take a walk yesterday, fairly late in the day. I just wanted to see what the place looked like when things were running. I got to see the ski lifts in action, with people actually riding on them.

ski people
Well-spaced people with skis and snowboards preparing to board ski lifts. Only parties who are together can share a lift.

There were actual skiers in their ski clothing. They sure look well protected with the boots, pants, jackets, hoods, goggles, and masks. Yep, I didn’t see one skier who wasn’t also wearing a mask.

These folks do not appear to be as well spaced.

The ski lift lines have markers for keeping people distant, and I’ve read they are limiting access to the mountains. That’s all good, I think. All the restaurants are limiting seating, but I predict the same thing that was happening downtown will happen here: people will line up for the restaurants in normal lines. That sort of defeats the social distancing purpose, right?

Something cheerful. People sledding. Note the distinct lack of snow. It’s supposed to be clear for quite a while.

After thinking about it and talking to Lee, I agreed to stay at the condo today, since I have a feeling the first Saturday of ski season will be crowded. Good thing I have that knitting project (and a lot of packing to do).

Masked people were putting these decorations together on Thursday, so I was glad to see them finished. It’s all real greenery. Tasteful.

So, it’s good to have seen the decorations, the activity, and the finished fire pit I watched getting built. But, I’ll be in my room.

There are lots of these benches that look like lift chairs now. This is the finished seating area, where they carefully put the rocks 6 feet apart. A friend points out that this is a lot of wasted gas and heat.

The good news is that I’ve been reading more and more about how planes are pretty darned safe. My main worry is being in crowded airports. On my way here, they were pretty empty. But it’s Thanksgiving week. I hadn’t thought of that when booking my trip. Going home last week would have been a better idea from that perspective, but things in Cameron are a bit of a mess, so it’s perhaps better that I stayed here. Sorry, I’m thinking aloud in my blog. I guess it’s allowed.

I’m going to ask anyone who’s reading this to take care around your friends and family right now. You don’t know where people have been and who they’ve been around. I know for certain that not all COVID deaths have been reported as such, which makes me think things may well be worse than they really are. And with so many people convinced they have a right to NOT take precautions, it really seems like a good idea to be careful. Sorry to be preachy, but I care about MY family, and I assume you care about yours.

Olypmic Park Dog Gymnastics

Today was the last day for my second batch of visitors, but we decided to go have lunch before they left. We went back to the restaurant in Park City where I met the nice server who saved my phone, because Kathleen wanted to get a t-shirt for their Polygamy Stout.

I just pictured peace, quiet, and a raven while the drunken child went on and on.

They didn’t have any shirts the right size, but we did try the beer, and it was good. All the food was delicious, though the visit was marred by some rich, drunk kids yelling. They kept shushing the loudest one, and I swear it would have just been more fun to listen to him go on and on.

I mentioned that I’m almost out of yarn and would probably need to Uber to the local Michael’s to get something else to knit on (yes, I am capable of knitting with inexpensive yarn, if I must). Kathleen said they’d take me before they left, so off we went. Wow, the regular shopping center outside of town was hardly recognizable for the tweeness of the signs and mountain-y style. Best Buy looked its best, that’s for sure.

That’s the shopping center, off in the distance.

I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, but did get two contrasting colors to make the scarf pattern I found, but larger, as a wrap. Chris was really impressed by giant skeins of self-striping bulky yarn, and I saw a nice slip-stitch afghan pattern on the label, so I said I’d make him one if he selected the yarn. That would be a fun gift, right? I still have a thing to finish at home, so I need to get back in the groove and find some way to protect knitting from the dogs.

Inexpensive yarn for something to sit under and watch television.

As we were leaving, we realized that the Olympic Park from the 19th Winter Olympics was right across from the shopping center. So, since we happened to be there, we checked it out. The views were spectacular from the venue, and it was really fun to see where all the ski events took place.

We didn’t have time to see the museums or anything, but the outsides were pretty.

On our way back down, we passed lots of hiking trails just full of people, since the weather is well above freezing today. Then we saw dogs, lots of dogs. We just pulled over to the side of the road and watched at least a dozen very happy dogs on the leashless dog trail.

One dog was on the wrong side of the trail, but did not mind.

There was so much frolicking. They all seemed to get along well, and definitely loved the snow. They ran back and forth, play-bowed and leapt.

Running full speed

One black dog kept jumping into piles of snow and biting at the snow. That particular dog must have run a mile just while we were watching. It was pure joy. I kept picturing Carlton out there with them, except he’d be invisible.

Black dog in its snow pile.

What a great send-off for K. and C.! They decided to drive their rental car back, which meant I could give them some of the stuff I’ve bought, so I won’t have to try to pack it all. I feel like I may have dodged a bullet there. I will not be bringing home all the food they left for me, but I also will NOT need to buy any more restaurant food while I’m here. I’m all set for a week of working by day and relaxing in the evenings.

The weird Coke won’t be left over, however. Not bad.

And now that I figured out how to get my watch to track elliptical workouts, I will be able to keep the exercise up, no matter how bad the weather gets. Today, though, I’m gonna get more walking in.

Rocky Mountain VERY High

Not the drug kind of high, we enjoyed the elevation kind. This afternoon, we went to get more groceries, thanks to the Caso rental car. Being easily amused, Kathleen and I enjoyed looking at exotic Utah groceries, like peach and raspberry Coca-Cola. We tried the peach tonight, and it was actually pretty good.

That’s Park City down there.

After fueling up on a fancy coffee (and getting more mugs), we asked if we could take a little ride before the next snowstorm came. So, we took off to explore the Deer Valley area.

Mountains everywhere.

C. kept heading higher and higher up the roads. There were so many beautiful condos, giant houses, and spectacular views. Kathleen and I were like little kids looking at the scenery.

That’s a huge resort below.

Eventually we got to the end of one of the long and winding roads. We got out to take pictures. We were WAY up there. The temperature had steadily gone down as we ascended. And a gale wind was blowing. We were so high up!

You can see the wind whipping our hair.

But it was so beautiful. The ski slopes up there look really scary. All the houses are ski in and ski out but with the lifts not working yet, I’m not sure how one would get back up.

I believe this is the highest up I’ve ever been.

We did see a lot of people getting ready to ski, but I think they were going down cross-country trails. I hope. Plus, we saw a cool inclined train thing (funicular?) going up to the St. Regis resort way on top. That would be a fun place to stay, if funds were available.

See the little car going up? Cool.

We thoroughly enjoyed the huge trees and vistas all the way to Mirror Lake (where we took pictures a few days ago). I even saw a buck in the woods, but no moose. My heart was full of beauty!

Fancy house view with art.

By the time we got back down, we realized we’d made a circle around Park City. We didn’t even try! The snow had started falling, so we headed back.

Right outside the Caso condo this evening.

It’s beautiful out, but I think we wisely decided to cook in the other condo tonight. Theirs is also cozy! It will be a good night for a bath and more coziness back at my empty place. I’ll miss Anita, but I do have a couple more days for fun with the family.

Right outside my condo.

Plus the snow will make it easy to avoid crowds. There’s plenty of mountain fun with all this space!

Escape from Park City

Anita and I were trying to decide what to do today when there was a knock at the door. I wondered if the housekeepers came back, but no, it was someone else. She was all bundled up, but then I realized it was Kathleen! They’d surprised me!

Not Park City!

Much happiness ensued. Eventually we went on a ride in the car they rented. Whee! We went to Heber City and to Midway, both cute towns. Midway was extremely cute in an Alpine way. We had lunch and shopped at a very quaint shop.

Scenery

Then we drove around and looked at mountains and valleys and much beauty.

We sorta like snow.

There are lots of horses in this area of Utah. It was almost like being in Kentucky, only snowier. There were so many small ranches and pretty horses.

Hello, we’re horses.

The drive was beautiful. We saw so many hills, valleys, rivers, dams, and lakes. Anita, Kathleen and I ran around and squealed a lot when we made our stops.

It’s a lake! I’m huge!

Just gotta say surprise visits are good, and we are so grateful to our family got joining us for a few days. Now, enjoy some pictures!

I’ve Never Liked SUVs

Yep. Not fond of them. First of all, most are definitely NOT sporty. They are more like harder to drive and less convenient mini-vans, to me. I have always had trouble getting in and out of them.

Most of all, I can’t park the behemoth ones. That’s why I’m so glad Lee just bought one size down from the true behemoth, a Tahoe. I even encouraged him. What the heck?

Basically, I like the grill.

Well, his knees are aging, and it’s hard to watch him getting in and out of cars I like. Plus, we need to drive clients around, and this new behemoth lite is really spacious inside. I can get into the back and seat quite comfortably (being short helps).

Black. So practical in Texas.

Lee figures it’s his last new car (I would never say that, knowing my love of cars). I doubt I’ll drive it much, but it will tow a horse trailer, so that’s a motivation. His truck brought a trade-in better than most, and there are two others at the house. I think we will be okay.

So, while I said I’d never own one, I lied. Actually, Lee had a Range Rover for a while, but that was more of a luxury barge than an SUV.

He’s smiling.

I do feel excessive, acquisitive, and not real eco-friendly right now. Next I’ll get an electric truck or something.

Office Break-In!

Yep. My Cameron office got broken into. Don’t panic, though. Lee and I did it. You see, yesterday I left work a little early to go on a special errand. When we got back, I went to go back and do a couple of things, but my door wouldn’t open.

The door looked fine.

Uh. The door would not open. I typed in the code. Green lights told me it was unlocked. I wiggled the handle and nothing happened. Um. My laptop was in there. And a burning candle. (Oops)

We tried to call the relatives, but there was no answer. Lee went and got a screwdriver. We banged on the door. The dang doorknob did nothing. So, we looked at the windows. The interior one is painted shut. The outside one would not budge.

The beautiful wood-covered window.

That left the window that was covered in wood, that is supposed to be replaced by glass…someday. Lee poked around and managed to get the wood loose (it wasn’t in there tight, since it was planned to be replaced).

Casualties

There was no way to remove the piece of wood without hitting stuff on the other side. You know, because my office is full of “shit” and all that. But only two candlesticks smashed! Not bad at all!

We can see in!

While the wood was there so my Zoom meetings wouldn’t disturb the people in the other offices, it’s no problem for the time being. I won’t be in the office for a while. We will have to leave the door open until the door handle is replaced, but the computer is out now! Nothing else is valuable, just shiny, like a magpie lives there. I am much like a magpie, after all.

Kudos to Lee for letting me in! The door works fine from the inside, not that it helps at all!

I’ve had so much go wrong lately that this didn’t phase me one bit. It just fit with the rest of the week. Hoping we can fix it soon! And I hereby declare that a new week starts today and nothing but fun is permitted. I even got happy nails yesterday!

Nails ready for fun. Thanks, Tina!

Have a good Samhain, Halloween, día de los muertos, or whatever you celebrate this weekend.

Seeking Comfort and Seeing Red

This morning I’ve been thinking so hard about what the families of my friends and acquaintances are going through, losing loved ones and dealing with the COVID-19 thing in their families. You can’t rally around people as easily as you normally would in situations like this. And you know these people could use some comfort, along with the wider circle of loved ones. Lighting my candle and sending loving-kindness out counts for something, I guess.

A candle for loving-kindness.

But what’s good is that today we do have ways to reach out and comfort people. Kind words in chat, video calls, and social media posts can reach hurting people immediately (while sending a card is also good, just takes longer). I’m seeing this unfold as groups rally around to support each other. One group has scrapped an organizational meeting, just to be there for someone who lost their best friend. Another group is right there in their Facebook group when someone gets a new wave of grief. It’s so comforting to see this love manifest.

We may feel confined and alone, but our support network is out there. If you don’t have one, I’m here!
Three of my friends, experiencing joy at our class reunion a few years ago.

Yesterday, when I asked that people reach out to those they care about, my little group of friends I’ve had since my early teens jumped right in to remind each other how much we care, even if many of us are far apart. I can always count on these women if anything happens to me. And one of my favorite bloggers even checked up on me. The world is our community! Thank you ALL.

That, along with some kind check-ins from my local friends and family who noticed I was down, really helped me remember that death is a part of life and we all have connections that will go beyond artificial boundaries like life, death, space, and time (or at least I can hope that!).

(Note that me being down is small change compared to what the close friends and family of my friends who passed on are dealing with; it’s certainly NOT all about me, but it is my dream that similar outpourings are happening for them.)

The Comfort of Red

Today, though, I decided to comfort my own self. I did this by surrounding myself with what has become my favorite color in my later years, red. I even dragged out my old red glasses (I can see okay in them still).

And I even smiled. Had to look perky for work meetings, ya know.
Sooo much red.

I looked around my office (you know, the red, pink, and orange explosion of colors and objects), and all the red things comforted me. My red lamps, my little leather notebook, ah. Redness.

Then the mail arrived. It reminded me that red’s been on my mind since that Master Naturalist talk on cochineal! Two books on the color red showed up (plus two other colors, and a book for work book club). I’m definitely needing some red in my life.

So, yeah, I’m really grateful for so many supporting people in my life who are holding me up yet not telling me not to be sad. I passionately believe it’s important to tell them how grateful I am, often and sincerely. I’m feeling surrounded by invisible arms right now, with a red glow. What brings YOU comfort when there is much to be sad about?

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.

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!