I CAN Try New Things!

When I finally get a day off, I can cram a lot of fun into it, that’s for sure, and yesterday I even stepped outside my comfort zone successfully, more than once. I’m so proud.

Announcement! Suna is proud!

One thing I’m happy with myself for doing is finding my own fun by myself. As Lee has gotten more and more into the Hermit Life, I’ve found myself slipping into it as well (and COVID helped form the habit of being solo). Since I wake up ridiculously early here, I usually have five hours or so to kill before Lee is able to do anything. I sit on the balcony, read, or knit, but I’m so used to getting up and doing a bunch of chores that I’ve taken to just leaving and finding stuff to do outside.

Pretty kites, and look, way out there is a BOAT! You don’t see many boats here.

Admittedly, some of the stuff I do involves fruity drinks and beach chairs, but I wander around, take pictures, and talk to folks. I swear I’m turning into my dad with all this talking to folks stuff. Not very hermit-like.

I got to have the first pineapple slice of the day.

When Lee was awake, he suggested we go take advantage of the free putt-putt golf we get as part of our stay. I think the hotel chain bought this sorta run-down course, since it’s right across from one of the properties and counts as an amenity. Here’s an admission. I had NEVER played putt-putt before, or any other golf-like activity.

A Chapter for My Memoirs

Backstory: In my horrible only year at Plantation Middle School, some person without much forethought had the great idea of having a bunch of young girls, many from backgrounds that didn’t include elitist sports like golf (back then, well-to-do white people played golf), learn the sport in physical education. Golf includes golf balls and golf clubs, both things that needed to be treated with respect. There were rules, like only swinging your club behind a certain line, not swinging without checking your surroundings, and not driving the ball while people were out retrieving their shots. Good rules. Who can guess what happened?

Golf has rules for good reasons. Photo by @Thaninee via Twenty20

Yep. I had finally hit my ball far enough to get an extra point (a thing I needed because PE was my worst class) and was about to pick it up when WHAM, one of the little darlings in class swung her club onto my head. I was so focused on getting my extra point that I simply went back to the teacher to report my success. She asked me what was on my gym outfit. That would be blood. I had to go to the nurse’s office, which was hard to do when you had no idea where that was in the crazy building and you were dripping. I was so angry that I smeared blood on the exterior wall of the school, quite an act of rebellion for the rule-follower I was at the time.

I can’t believe I found a picture of the wall. The school is now the home of the Patriots and being renovated. Much different demographics, too.

The nurse washed me up and called my mom to come get me. Mom was in the middle of her nervous breakdown from having to move away from Gainesville, so she was not happy to have to drive down Sunrise Boulevard (she didn’t like four-lane roads) to come get me. She looked at the hole in my head and declared something like it was just a flesh wound and took me home with no doctor visit or anything. Mom was frugal and didn’t want to waste health care dollars on us kids when she needed so much (thus, we had no trips to the dentist until our teens, my brother’s lazy eye was not addressed until too late to fix it, etc.).

My nightmare: a child with a giant golf club. Image by @Moondrop via Twenty20

The results were that I had headaches for years and sharp pains if I moved a certain way. I have avoided golf entirely. I wasn’t the only one permanently damaged by middle school golf. Another classmate had a chunk of her chin removed by someone who didn’t check her surroundings, and as far as I know, still has a nasty scar. I believe that was the end of the golf program at Plantation Middle School.

Back to Put-Putt

Anyway, Lee likes golf and used to be really good at mini-golf, so I agreed to go. I’m so glad I did. It was great fun, and I was nowhere near as horrible at it as I feared I would be. In fact, I was even under par on one hole, and made par on a couple more. The first hole was pretty bad, since I had to figure out how hard to hit the ball to make it do what I wanted it to do, but after that, I found it most amusing to see where the ball would go and what it would do.

Not too fancy but does the job.

I declare that I would do it again, perhaps at a nicer course. But, we got a lot of laughs out of the outing and it was great to see Lee actually enjoying an activity on a trip.

Off to Calabash

We decided we wanted some good seafood, so we motored off to North Carolina (barely) to the beautiful little town of Calabash, where we’d had a great meal last year. Once again, I knitted a lot. I am trying to get that baby blanket finished before that baby is born. We tried the restaurant next door to the one where we ate last year, and were not disappointed.

We were at the far left corner. Isn’t it pretty?

I got a huge amount of food in my platter, unlike the small serving we had in Murrell’s Inlet a couple of days ago. And it was fried so beautifully that my grandmother would have approved (the great connoisseur of Florida seafood). The oysters were immense and the scallops delicate and tender. The shrimp were local (from right next door!) and the fish was glorious.

See, even grackles can be pretty.

While the service was a little slow, I could not complain, since there was quite a show among the local bird population for me to enjoy. Grackles were mating and building nests, so they were in great form (and loud, being grackles).

The seagulls were also in squabbling mode, so there was lots of action. Plus, there were pelicans zooming around and catching fish. They are so beautiful to me.

After the meal, I went for a walk on the little boardwalk and boat docks, where I got to enjoy pelicans having some kind of bird party next to a party boat, which cracked me up (easily amused).

Pelican Party Time

I also realized why all the birds are so dang happy right there in Calabash. The water was literally teeming with little fish. No shore bird could go hungry with all those fishies everywhere they looked!

While I was gone, Lee was paying the check, and since he was alone with our leftovers, the laughing gulls got bolder. He got a great shot of a laughing gull taking one of my shrimp.

Once we got home, I needed to burn off that fried food, so I walked on the boardwalk until I got all my steps in, then decided to enjoy an Old Fashioned and knit a table at the upstairs bar (I had been outside until a loud family arrived). A lady said I shouldn’t be sitting alone and invited me to the bar to sit with them. I ended up talking to them and another couple for a long time. Lee even came down for a while.

And in talking to the staff, I discovered that Kevin the bartender is also a history professor who specialized in my very own ancestors in Florida! His family is also from north Florida with deep roots there. Who would have guessed? This condo has the best staff, that’s for sure.

Beautiful ending to a fun day, even if I overindulged.

I ended up meeting another couple and stayed too long and had three drinks, so I was not at my best when I got home. Lee said I was cuddly, so I must have been out of my mind, ha ha. It was worth it, though. I truly enjoy hearing the stories of all the people I run into and finding our commonalities without ruining things by getting into politics or religion. Granted, anyone I meet here fits certain criteria or they wouldn’t be here. Hilton sure does check your credit scores and incomes. But I’ve met people from many places and backgrounds, and that’s what I like and have missed so much the past few years.

While I’m still primarily doing outdoor things (we’ve been eating on patios), at least I’m no longer scared to talk to people. I’m back to having a nice balance of being alone and in peace and interacting with others.

Other Than the Wind, It’s All Good

Yet another windy day. My friend Martha says it seems like it’s windier every year. I got tired of chasing chairs and objects around.

Those chairs spent much of the day in the dirt.

Lots happened but nothing earth shattering other than Apache finally jumping obey his obstacle, which had collapsed in the wind.

Okay, I won’t say “other than” again in this post. I’ll write more coherently tomorrow, when I’m not in a food coma from Family Dinner. Martha made a good homemade hamburger helper.

We ate it all up, and she made a lot!

Let’s hope for a reasonable, uneventful week. That’s all I want right now! I’m the meantime, enjoy some nature sightings.

Ladies Day Out. At Last.

Wow. It’s been a really long time since I did anything with the family. Between COVID and family stresses, I’ve been on my own. So it was a pleasant surprise to have Kathleen coming back. More pleasant was a visit from her daughter-in-law, Moriah, and her baby Oaklynn (recipient of one of my baby blanket series).

She seems to like me.

I’d intended to go do a Master Naturalist thing today, but a ladies’ trip sounded more fun. Besides, I’d missed doing stuff around Cameron with anyone. (But I’m grateful for Anita and the Austin book group for some feminine company.)

Howdy from Calvert

So we got in Moriah’s car and headed to exotic Calvert, Texas, home of many cute shops and houses. Less than half an hour from Cameron, this little town has done what I wish we could. Dang, it’s been renovated well.

Humor to me. A donkey restaurant next to a building named Oscar, the name of my original donkey.

We had a great meal at the beautiful Calvert Hotel. It’s so well done and you get free wine with your meal. I had a great burger with bread and butter pickles on it. Mmm. Other than a lady insisting on touching the baby, it was a great time. Here are some pictures.

Then Kathleen and I shopped some in the stores. One with lots of colored glass really had nice stuff. I got some purple glass for my bathroom.

Ready for wine

A visit to Calvert is not complete without checking out the En Geddes winery store. We enjoyed a wine flight and snacks, along with good conversation with the owners. I got my favorite sparkling wine, which they’ve almost sold out of it and the freeze killed a lot of the grapes.

Nice dining area.

I enjoyed all the wildflowers on the roadside. At home we have a couple new ones things to look at, like monarchs, carpenter bees, and false dandelion. The giant earth ball mushroom keeps growing, too.

When we got home we decided to ride horses. Kathleen groomed Mabel, but decided not to ride her due to a hoof issue.

She is looking lots better.

I rode Apache and practiced all our stuff. He started eating grass and yanked the reins out of my hands. Then he stepped in them. Luckily his jumping wasn’t too bad. I got off and had a firm word with him. Very firm. He did fine after that. Yay me.

Back in the saddle again

It was nice to see Kathleen back on Dusty. It had been six months. It will take a while to get her muscles back. Moriah hadn’t ridden in years, but she got on. Good for her.

Moriah being excited about horse riding.

She rode, and that’s what counts.

On her own!

All in all, we had fun. a good ladies day. We even went to the CAB (Central Avenue Bistro) for the first time in ages. Lee won’t eat there. Ha. He missed Tom Petty songs.

New Year’s Meal Nirvana

My goodness, I love traditional Southern US New Year’s food. I also love cooking it. Today has been the best day all year so far (ha) because all I did was cook easy food in a relaxing manner. Then I got to eat it.

The chickens got to enjoy collard green stems. They preferred the chicken food, but eventually ate ir.

I made fresh black-eyed peas, for luck. I cooked them with some mystery sausage and onions. They were so good. I cooked them all day. Yum.

My favorite pea.

Then I cooked two bunches of collard greens. The secret is to cut out the thick ribs (and feed them to chickens) and cook them with tasty meat. You can use bacon, ham hocks, andouille sausage, or pork of some sort. Mmmm.

Collard greens with pork loin (leftover)

I do so love collards. They aren’t so bitter and just have a mild, soothing flavor. They go great with cornbread. So if course I made that. Leftover collards and gravy (pot liquor) served over cornbread was my mother’s favorite.

Cool pattern on the cornbread.

My sister made deviled eggs courtesy of our chickens.

Very yellow yolks!

And in my family, you have to serve the peas over rice. Just one of many possibilities in the US. Here’s dinner.

Yes. I like eggs.

The most fun part of the meal was that I decided to make a lemon cake. I just took my favorite cake mix and added some lemon juice in the water. I put in an extra egg and half a cup of sour cream. That made it really rich and moist.

Lemon cake

I put a orange marmalade between the layers then frosted it with store bought lemon frosting. I added colored sugar for fun.

Gingerbread cake

Dang, it was so good! Plus, my sister made gingerbread cake, another favorite of mine. It was also moist and tasty. So, yep, I’m full. But, so what? We had a wonderful meal and a very pleasant day. At least so far 2021 is just fine.

Disgusting Herbs and Spices: The Data

People sure had a lot of fun with my post asking what herbs and spices they didn’t like. I got enough responses to actually get some “real” data out of it. So, if you’re curious, here’s what people hate:

Least-loved spices of Suna’s friends. Since there are close to 100 responses, the percentages reflect the number of people reporting a preference fairly accurately.

Dill and tarragon, the ones I didn’t like, are not universally loathed, though I’m at least not alone in disliking dill. One thing I do know for sure, is to not load up any food I serve guests I don’t know well with cilantro or anise, because by far they are the least liked.

I can see why people don’t like sage, though I like it, but I’d forgotten caraway seeds even existed, so the number of people saying “ick” to it surprised me.

When it comes to some of the less common dislikes, I enjoyed the creative nominations like liquid smoke and calamus root. I’ve never tried the latter. So, in case you have trouble reading the chart, here are the most disliked herbs and spices, with the least favorite ones listed first:

Cilantro15
Anise14
Sage7
Caraway seed6
Dill5
Rosemary5
Fennel4
Parsley4
Bergamot3
None3
Tarragon3
Thyme3
Basil2
Bay leaves2
Lavender2
Black pepper2
Almond paste1
Bay leaf1
Calamus root1
Cardamom1
Cayenne1
Celery1
Cumin1
Hibiscus1
Liquid smoke1
Mint1
Nutmeg1
Oregano1
Tumeric1
Least-loved herbs and spices

What’s Your Least-Favorite Herb or Spice?

Where the heck did that question come from? Well, yesterday I was eating yet another healthy frozen meal, and detected a distinct note of tarragon. Ick, I am not very fond of tarragon. It’s always in there ruining the flavor of chicken or green beans. Ugh. Those thoughts surprised me, because I think of myself as someone who loves all the little plants, seeds, and tasty bits that add flavor to food.

Tarragon is lurking in here. Image by  @JosiEpic via Twenty20.

But nope, I do not like tarragon. Sorry, plant. To be honest, dill doesn’t thrill me, either. I remember a period where I was eating a lot of my step-mother’s cooking. Flo would not cook with garlic, because she said it made her stink (and as a professional photographer, she had to get close to a lot of people). Instead, she seemed to sprinkle dill on everything. I understood fish and eggs. Those commonly get covered in dill (which I remove). But she ruined her wonderful roast vegetables with it, put it on mashed potatoes, etc. I suffered in silence.

Dill is so pretty, and easy to grow, though! And butterflies/caterpillars love it. Image by  @JulieK via Twenty20

On the other hand, I love most other spices and herbs, even some of the less popular ones. And I like hot things, too. Lucky me.

Lee won’t eat anything with “curry” flavor. So there go my beloved turmeric, coriander, and cumin. He always declares that things he doesn’t like have cumin in them, even when I know there isn’t any in there.

How can you not love curry? Image by @melaniephoto via Twenty20.
Tastes like delicious to me. Lee makes them leave is mostly out in guacamole when he has a choice. Boo hoo. Image by @melaniephoto via Twenty20.

And of course, there are the people who find coriander tastes like soap. They can’t help that, it’s a gene. I admit it is a bit odd, but it’s a flavor I just love.

And some people have allergies, like my friend Elizabeth, who had to give up her dream job as a chef when she found out how super-allergic she is to rosemary.

I’m not sure why I like some flavors and not others. But, I’m curious as to what herbs and spices ruin food for the rest of you. I look forward to your responses, whether on the blog or elsewise!

Now, this was a random Blogmas topic you could use in your own blog, right? Have a spicy day!

With Friends Anything Is Fun

Today is Anita’s last day with me in Utah. I just have to say it’s been great. One of the best things about hanging out with your long-time friends is that you can enjoy yourselves without doing much at all. We did a lot of nothing this week.

It was a bit bright outside, so our selfie didn’t come out perfect.

We did have a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but since we didn’t have access to a car most of the time she was here, we spent a lot of time just hanging around the Canyons Village resort area. All the walking was a blast, and it sure used up a lot of energy. That meant we got to enjoy a lot of food, too! Thank goodness the pho and ramen restaurant finally opened, so we could eat there!

Anita, hungry for a beef bowl. Our friend the red crane is always present.

The shopping and sight-seeing was also fun, and we sure were grateful for the family visitors for taking us around. Yesterday we did a bit more shopping, and Anita got some great coral Zuni earrings. I’m so glad she got to have fun, while Kathleen and I were drooling over a huge jewelry selection AND Navajo blankets. Not bad ones!

That is one gorgeous building in downtown Park City.

My favorite thing she got is a huge cactus-shaped birdhouse thing. It’s going to be her “travel pillow” so she can get it on the plane. It is stuffed with excellent newspapers from Nepal!

Our new cactus friend. Note that I just HAD to buy some flowers to liven this place up.

The best part was just hanging around in the condo, eating our random foods, watching the snow, the birds and the one giant black cat that hangs around here. It was so good having someone to watch election coverage with and talk about things.

So many lovely statues in Park City.

And of course, the four seasons of Schitt’s Creek were a blast. Neither of us had laughed so much in a long time.

This is where we stopped. No watching until I get back to Austin!

She got out while the weather was still great, which is good, since a snowstorm is a-brewing. I’m sure the rest of us will figure out something fun this evening, though!

The intent of this post is just to say treasure your friends, and make the most of times you get to spend together. Usually Anita and I are both working a lot, so just hanging out was a real treat. Relaxing, truly relaxing, is rare, and I am glad we got to do it together. Only she and I would laugh when I pompously declare that I just realized that for every mountain, there is a valley (that’s after I looked at a team photo in the newspaper stuffed in the cactus and wondered where people played soccer in Nepal, with all those mountains).

Tell your friends you care about them! (Hey, friends, I care about you!) Write me!

Jiggity Jig

That’s right, friends, I finally came home (to my Austin house). Anita had kept it in perfectly great shape, as I knew she would. She and Pickle were really glad to see me and Vlassic. Vlassic was really glad to see my bed, where no one attacks him and forces him out.

I’ve really been enjoying all the home cooking at the ranch, since Kathleen is a great cook, and even Lee’s been making stuff that’s great. Plus Chris and his barbecue monster…mmm. BUT. Anita went to the local Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant and brought home some delicious pho. Oh how I had missed those seasonings. I ate every bit of it.

Yummmmmmm

Austin does have good food, even if you don’t go in a restaurant!

Nice vase. And at least I’m in a DIFFERENT basement this morning.

I finally got to give Anita the presents I’d bought her way back when I was visiting my stepsister. She liked the Persian lime olive oil and crackly lime green vase (I didn’t realize there was a theme to the gifts until just now). It was just nice to sit and talk and watch what I wanted to watch on television without feeling bad about inflicting it on others.

Also: internet. Oh how I have missed stable, functional internet.

And finally, the reason I dragged myself to Austin, finally, was to get my hair cut. Do you want to know why? LOOK:

Crap hair.
Carroty hair from last night. With Vlassic VERY glad to be with me.

I’ve spent a couple of weeks trying to wash out the hair color, and that has made it turn a scary carroty orange. Ugh. And the bangs. I can’t cut them myself. So, with numerous precautions and great care, new hair will emerge later today.

Plus, I’ll get to see the neighbors today, at a socially distant happy hour. I will be interested to see how that works.

And that’s all I have right now. More soon!

How Did That Health Plan Go, Suna?

So glad you asked, self! You may recall that my health checkup last fall didn’t look so good. My waist measurement and my triclycerides put me at risk of something bad, I’m not sure what. The new doctor I went to back in November told me to go home, eat less sugar and fewer carbohydrates and come back in early February. And losing ten percent of my body weight would be just great.

If you haven’t seen it on social media, I wanted to share this photo of the sunrise today reflected in my car. No filters!

I was trying that positive body image and eat what you want method, but I had to concede it wasn’t working out too well health- or pants-wise. So I did what I could without going into some unhealthy fixation on food or weight.

It’s early February, and I go in tomorrow. I got the bloodwork done last week (and the lady tried to gouge me to death). The results are IN!

I’m still eating eggs. You have to eat SOME cholesterol! Image by @clarebevanphotography via Twenty20

Happy day! I have knocked those bad ole triglycerides down to 129 from 203. I am back in the healthy range, though I was 116 in 2018, so I’ll keep working on it. Since I can’t change the other types of cholesterol (HDL 63 – unchanged, LDL 104 – slightly lower), I’ll try to eat the stuff I like better, anyway. I was pleased that my total cholesterol is now even lower than in 2018.

An Aside

This image is entitled “tasty muffins” on the royalty-free image source. Rub it in! Image by@melanie_thedreamer via Twenty20

While I’m trying my best to avoid refined sugar and white flour, rice and such, every time I get home to the ranch, the house is MORE full of loaves of bread, muffins, sweet rolls, chips, cookies, cakes…wow. It’s really been challenging to be moderate with that stuff, but I’ve done okay. Lee’s in heaven, since Chris and Kathleen eat the way he does! But hey, they live at my house full time, and I’m only there a few days a week. They should eat what they like. I can find veggies and fruit, because Kathleen does get that, too!

Back to Health

One of the things I did for the past few months is up my exercising a bit. I showed you earlier how well that was going, and I am happy to say all trends are on the rise! Thanks, Apple Watch.

And yes, I have lost weight. I can see it in my face. Not 10% of my body weight, though! With just changing to healthier eating and additional exercise, it’s coming off in a nice, slow way.

Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses

Now that I think Pickle and Vlassic are over their foam-eating issues, I can return to other topics. One that has especially interested me is how people in and around Cameron feel about the customer service mentality in the area. I may have mentioned that a couple days ago, Lee wrote a blog post about why Cameron has such a hard time keeping restaurants open.

Lee’s photo of the former Sonic, now up for sale.

Usually, our blog posts and Facebook business page posts get between 100-200 views/hits each. Not this one. The Facebook one has 2500 views and 14 shares. Mandi said the one on her page also got lots of shares. The website stats look hilarious. There were 1500 hits that day, which made the previous week look totally flat.

So, yeah, Lee’s thoughts on this topic struck a nerve. I’ve been hanging around Cameron for just nine years now, but I’ve seen so many places open and close right up. One has done it at least four times (I’m not naming names, just noting facts). When I talked to a former cafe owner, she said people would just walk off their jobs or not show up because they didn’t feel like it. Turnover was huge. Just a week or two ago we went to a local place where only the cashier had showed up, so she was trying to wait tables. It didn’t go well.

Continue reading “Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses”
Crissi McDonald

Heartline Horse Training

sara annon

seeking the middle path

Tonya's Tall Tales

My life with horses, bunnies, chickens, ducks, and cows.

rfljenksy - Practicing Simplicity

Legendary Wining and Dining World Tour.

The Backyard Horse Blog

All about keeping horses at home

Hazel's Animal Adventures

My life on the ranch.

Diary Of The Wests

The West Household Runs Of Love And Laughter

Katie Zapfel

Children's book author. Mom blogger.

365 Knit Socks

I knit, crochet, and dye yarn

recoveringpornaddictcom.wordpress.com/

Coach, author and educator

The daily addict

The daily life of an addict in recovery

Just Vee

A regular gal who likes to stop and smell the flowers.

Happy Heidi's Happenings

My life in the country.

BrownesPups

A family of dog lovers, owners & breeders since 2015

The Adventures of a Mountain Coward

panic-stricken mountain adventuring!

Something Over Tea

Scribbles from my notebook

The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Heccateisis's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Upstate Gardener

The Upstate Gardening blog with Gardening Information, Recipies, Home Improvement Ideas, and Crafts Projects to make your life more beautiful and healthy.

Read, Learn, Live

Look closely around and about you, and you will see all forms of beauty.

Nature And Photography

Bring Nature Into Life

AT PATHO

no streetlights, just star light

Words and Stitches

woolgathering at its best

The Grief Reality

Normalising the conversation about Grief.

iRoseStudios.com

Art Studio Dumfriesshire

The Creative Pixie

eat up some crafty goodness with this creative mama

Writings of a Furious Woman

My thoughts, sentiments, and scribbles on womanhood

Paws Bark

Dogs Leave Paw Print in your Heart

Yeshua's Child Art

Art that Expresses the Heart

Chicken Coop Plans

Build Your Chicken a Home

Leaf And Twig

Where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry.

Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Cathartic Tendencies

motivational posts, rants, and stories!

TotallyTexasGifts.com

Featuring Fine Arts & Crafts created and sold by Texans

Seasons As My Teacher

Truth Written In The Wind

claudiajustsaying

Aging & Attitude

The Tragedy Kween

A boisterous introvert illustrating her way through life.

Zoewiezoe

Where a little insanity goes a long way