Dolphins and Mother’s Day Wishes

My patience paid off! I have been scanning the ocean from our room every day since we got to Myrtle Beach. I mentioned before that it was oddly empty of…anything. Slowly, but surely, more things have showed up. I saw a couple of yachts, a kayak, and sailboats yesterday, and today there are parasailing boats, sailboats, jet skis and all sorts of activity. Maybe today is the first official day of “the season” or something.

What I was actually looking for all that time was dolphins. I knew they were there, but all I saw was a glassy sea. Today, though, I saw something black out there. I figured it was a sea duck or something, so I grabbed the binoculars (so glad I brought them) to check.

This time, there are dolphins in that glassy expanse.

There was at least one, and maybe two pods of dolphins out there, playing and jumping. At one point, three of them were jumping together. It was mighty fine entertainment! I had a blast, and I felt like it was my Mother’s Day gift from my Mom and Mother Nature. What a full heart I had watching those families playing together!

The black dot in the center is a dolphin heading down. Obviously I couldn’t get a real photo, since they were way out there.

It’s Mother’s Day in the US as I mentioned. It’s been hard since my older son stopped speaking to me, but I think he knows I love him anyway. Maybe I’ll hear from the other one today! I liked the new Facebook background that showed up today, of love cactuses. That’s how family is; you love them, even if it’s prickly.

My sentiments.

Sometimes you lose loved ones, they don’t appreciate you, they don’t understand your motives, or they have challenges that make loving hard for them. I’m sending love to all of them, as well as to my own loved ones I don’t understand. I’m no saint about it, myself!

I did enjoy mothering my kids!

Hug someone you’re allowed to safely hug today, and enjoy whatever gift Mother Nature brings to you, my friends!

A Day of May Day Rest, Darn It!

We are happily back at the same condos we visited last year just as COVID was hitting. There sure was a lot between those two trips. It was such a nice drive, and Lee and I thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. We’re really happy with our fancy room, with a spare bedroom just waiting for visitors.

The view from our bedroom is all ocean, all the time.

We took a few little detours on the way and got to see little towns, which we hope to do more of while we’re here. We almost got caught by the same GPS error that hit us last time, but that was okay, because it allowed us to see some really cool clouds with the sun peeking out from behind them.

Not bad for through a buggy windshield!

Last night we just relaxed and stared at the sunset for a long time, while enjoying some hard-earned adult beverages. It’s nice to see Lee relaxing. Since these condos have everything we need, including Lee’s portable sleeping chair, there’s little to complain or worry about!

So far today, all I’ve done is get Lee his breakfast and better coffee from Starbucks and take a walk down the boardwalk. After that, we are getting groceries and relaxing the rest of the day. Yes, a whole day of doing nothing, other than using the good Wi-Fi to update things, which we can’t do at home without using all our data. There are some advantages to being in a more urban location, after all!

They shut this thing down, but appear to be working to open it again.

Admittedly, I have a lot of podcasts to catch up on, as if people are just dying to know where I’ve been the past few days. It is a relief to have three non-working days, so I’ll be all geared up and ready to “work from beach” next week. The weather is so lovely I should be able to use the balcony a lot!

We are on the 18th floor of that tall building, in the part that sticks out.

I know this wasn’t an exciting or pithy update, but wow, it’s nice to NOT have anything major to say or worry about. We even got good news about our business, so we may start profiting enough to build up some reserves, now that more people are vaccinated and feeling more comfortable seeking help.

It’s not South Carolina without their palm trees!

And before I sign off, happy Beltane, May Day, or whatever you’re celebrating. It’s one of my favorite days, and by gosh, I’m gonna enjoy it!

Chickie Birthday!

That’s right, the three chicks are a week old today! I’m actually sort of surprised they made it, since our coop isn’t fancy and I’ve just been leaving Mama Star in charge.

We like it down here!

I went out to see them as soon as I got back from Austin. They were all hanging out together as usual. They had gone through a whole container of food and most of their water, which tells me you can only stay away from these guys one day unless I get a bigger feeder. But these are easy to handle and clean, so I’ll keep using them.

When I saw this, I had to blink.

I spread some scratch on the ground for Star, then headed to the garage to clean and replenish their water holder. When I came back, I could see Star, but there was lot of movement near her. The chicks had come down! I guess they figured it out yesterday!

Bronzer, Granite, and Steel look so mature!

The chicks were eating all Star’s food and running around pecking at everything. I was happy to see them eating blades of grass with abandon. They are so confident at one week old. I’m happy.

We’re busy growing feathers.

Yep, those babies can’t help but cheer us up. Even Lee is charmed by their peeps and pops. I even catch him giving the older chickens treats. And he was asking me about my chicken food ingredients.

We’d like to get to that long grass over there. That grass is getting trimmed soon. I promise.

Speaking of the other four hens, they got annoyed by a garage light that wouldn’t shut off and quit laying on the fridge. Now they are putting all their eggs in the far corner on an old mop. It’s really painful for me to get to them, but at least all four laid in the same place. Eight eggs, no searching! Plus, Big Red gave one. Do I need more chickens? Maybe not!

By the way, for Earth Day, our local grocery store, H-E-B, gave away cool Earth Day bags. A friend in Maryland wanted one, so I went out after lunch and got one for me and her, when I knew they’d still have some.

Pretty.

While there, I got a little bouquet of flowers to reward myself for perseverance. The store flowers are reasonably priced, though not compared to the wildflowers.

I got myself flowers to cheer me up.

I hope you thought about the wonderful planet where we all live today, and the amazing animals and plants we share our home with.

Where Do Easter Eggs Come From?

Not bunnies. Not baskets. Nor roosters! Not even from capons (see below). Most of them come from the grocery store or the drugstore, as far as I can tell. This question is just an excuse for me to talk about chickens…again.

It ruffles my feathers to think I’d try to lay an egg!

It’s been quite a time in my chicken-raising career, but it seems like things have settled down. I finally seem to have a bunch of hens and dear Bruce, who have stabilized and aren’t getting eaten by anything. I did see the harrier out yesterday, though. Beautiful hawk, but I’m keeping my eye on it.

I do want to get some more hens soon, as soon as the henhouse gets set up to keep young ones separate for a while. I now know which kinds to get, anyway. Tough ones.

Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing if the eggs Star is setting on will hatch. I’m hoping they’re hens, since I don’t know how to caponize (castrate) a cockerel (young rooster). I have no idea if anyone around here does it as a service. I did read, though, that capons make great brooders and surrogate mothers, since they have hen hormones, but don’t lay eggs. The things you learn on Wikipedia!

I actually caught star out on one of her daily food runs recently. She is all fluffy, I guess from sitting all fluffed up on the eggs. I took a peek at the eggs, and they all look fine. I debated removing the dud egg, but didn’t want to confuse her. I’ll remove it when and if the others hatch on the 15th!

Even a good mom needs a break sometimes.

It just makes me happy watching them explore the area and down massive quantities of insects. We always seem to have plenty more, so I don’t think they’re ruining the ecology out here (it’s mostly ruined by herbicides the tenant ranchers put on the fields, anyway).

Henley says to leave her alone. She’s NOT sociable.

It’s so relaxing to just sit on the grass or in my official chicken-watching chair and enjoy what they do. And I guess I’ll always be looking for egg stashes, since I think that darned Bertie Lee may have gone somewhere else now that I took all her supply from under the work bench.

None of these ranch hobbies are inexpensive, but I do get a lot of joy out of the animals, and I think that’s what counts. They got me through the quarantine by giving me a purpose every day and something to do that forces me outside in the fresh air. I’m pretty grateful for the chickens (and the horses) for that.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope you enjoy your eggs, whether from a hen or from a rabbit that poops out chocolate ones. I haven’t had a chocolate bunny in years, though I do manage to snag a creme egg on sale after Easter every so often. They are tasty!

I hope you also are experiencing some hope for the future. I am, because it’s actually raining over here. Rain brings flowers and keeps those tanks full!

You don’t think I’d make it easy on you, so you? Says sassy Bertie Lee.
Springsteen, the Jersey Giant, reminds you that black IS beautiful, as are her pinkish eggs.

So tell me! What is bringing you renewed joy and hope this season? I’d love to hear from you! I’d also love to knit you some washcloths, if you feel like being a supporter of this blog and podcast. Click the support button on the main podcast page, or hey, you can even send me a voice message about what brings you joy and hope from there!

All the Hermits of the Hermits’ Rest send you lots and lots of virtual hugs and support, however you may need it.

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.

2021: Keep Slogging

This morning dawned chilly and shiny. The chickens were out running in their pen as usual, and new cows are behind us, enjoying a nice, full pond. I’m drinking New Year’s coffee and plan to read a while before cooking my black-eyed peas, so no photos of any of this.

Spoiler alert for next book report, and dirty cup.

This morning, my friend and insurance agent, Carolyn, posted this:

How refreshing.

I like the idea of making a wish for the new year. Hope is something I can muster up right now. I can wish for enough, the word for my year, and not feel let down if 2021 is more of the same.

Interrupting my musing with proof it’s chilly. That lump is Carlton, who has taken to asking me to lift up the covers so he can lay on my feet. Mmm. Toasty.

Probably my best lesson from last year is that life can be okay with lower expectations. Getting through another day with my family all right, the pets beside me, and relatively good health is enough. No need to save the world. Suddenly, this smarmy over-used sentiment works for me:

Might as well enjoy being alive, find humor when you can, and focus on love over hate and divisiveness. Simple and mostly manageable, I hope. I’m still a little worried about the next few weeks from a civility viewpoint, but I’ll be positive. Why not?

That’s always my goal. Just trying to manifest it!

There. I’ve set reasonable expectations, won’t forget my resolutions, but won’t be hard on myself or others if we just muddle through and slog through the next few months as best we can. That feels like enough.

Does this seem good to you? Got any better ideas?

2020 Strikes Again! Flood!

Yesterday the wetness was just a preview. Starting last night it really, really rained. That storm system is quite intense! We’ve had over four inches so far, and others have had more. So, yeah, the ponds are now full.

Water flowing into front pond.

I was able to get out to drive to the office this morning, but soon after, Mandi called to tell me the road by the creek was flooded.

Here’s her photo showing a truck having trouble crossing.

Luckily, the surge didn’t last long and I was able to get back around 1pm. Lee had removed some debris from the road, so cars were safer.

You can see how much higher the water was. All that brown is balloon vine, which floats.

The chickens were very happy to have their new roof. The uncovered part of their run became a puddle, but the covered part was fine. They didn’t come out of the coop until I gave them some scratch.

Meanwhile, I had to feed the horses. I decided to walk, since I have that great new coat, hat, and gloves. I checked out the water, of course.

The trees you see are the creek. I’m always amazed how quickly this happens.

I dawdled a while watching the water flow, which I probably shouldn’t have done, since it started raining again. But it was cool.

Here, watch how fast the creek is flowing!

My coat protected me, and I was able to feed the horses and Big Red, who all seemed just fine. I enjoyed the exercise and once again surprised myself at enjoying bad weather.

Water flowing from the front pond to our happy stream.

So, it will be a chilly new year. I have pot toast happening, and some Prosecco for tonight. Happy New Year.

When It Rains, It’s Wet

Ya know, because of the pandemic and all, Lee and I don’t go anywhere very often. But, today we really had to go to Austin, since my car has a tire with a big ole bubble in it that needed to be fixed, and we hadn’t given my son and his partner anything for Christmas yet (we knew what they needed/wanted).

I wish.

Naturally, today is the day it finally rained some real rain, rather than in dribs and drabs and hundredths of inches. It’s the big storm that’s going to mess up New Year’s for the “important” parts of the US, i.e., the east coast. We always need rain, so yay for the weather.

Except we had to drive, and Lee doesn’t like driving in the rain, even in his new vehicle with the spooky features like adaptive cruise control. Nonetheless, I’m the one in the family who does what they say they will do when they say they will do it, so off we went.

Rain and drenched Christmas decorations.

Yep, it rained a lot. But, there were fun clouds to look at (especially if you were in the passenger seat, I grant that). We managed to find the Costco store in south Austin, and got somewhat wet going in there. Still, the trip was a success, because though the store looked crowded, people were distancing themselves like old pros, AND we found a darned large television for a good bit less than $300. In my mind those cost three or four times that much, so that was a deal (and the picture quality was great!). Plus, the rain let up while we loaded the car.

We easily found the apartment complex of the young folks (Lee had never been there, since he doesn’t go to Austin unless he HAS to), and handed over the television in the parking lot, avoiding any meetings in confined quarters. They appeared to be pretty thrilled.

They look sneaky to me.

Then, they gave me a VERY thoughtful gift that they’d looked hard for on Ebay. Sniff. That was so sweet. And, off Lee and I went again. No dilly dallying.

It will do.

The new car told us in no uncertain terms that we needed to get gas, so we planned to stop halfway home. The horses and chickens needed food, and I needed a calendar to mark horse feedings on (because SmartPack, the supplement supplier, didn’t send us a calendar for the first time in many years!).

Well, our luck with the rain ended there. A real downpour began, and there was no way to avoid a real soaking. My boots, pants, sweater, and most of all my hair…all soaked through. I looked like a young man of some sort who just swam across a lake, and no amount of SnapChat filtering would fix it. I did laugh a lot at myself, which confused Lee, poor guy.

To be honest, I’m blathering a bit, because I am sad. I’m happy I got to write about Carlton. And I’m so glad I got to see the kids today, because this week has just been chock full of bad news that really isn’t blog material. And no, it’s not all people from our business, though our staff and clients have gotten some raw deals from the hands of fate, that’s for sure.

The worst. Today I found out a young man I’d always liked passed away in a house fire, and that was just the last straw. My heart just aches for his parents and sister, who have always been incredibly kind to me.

Please tell people you care about that you’re there for them. I’m gonna even tell the son who won’t speak to me. Because I do still care.

Exciting New Uses for Tongs and Other Items

This morning, I was emptying the dishwasher of items used in last night’s holiday meal. I kept picking up tongs. Tongs and more tongs.

Hmm. Tongs.

I’m a person who never uses tongs. I’m not sure why. I just use other kitchen tools. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally bought tongs. So, how did we get EIGHT pairs of tongs?

Tongs for every possible tonging need.

Anita and I were baffled. With such an extensive collection, we could do so much! We could open a store called “Just Tongs.” When my cousin, Jan, called she suggested a Tong Monster Halloween costume. Hmm.

You could play a game where you try to grab people’s heads with tongs.

My best idea, though, was to form a tong band. With so many sizes and materials, you can get a lot of sound out of the tongs, I think. And they are easy to use as a rhythm instrument.

You could poke an eye out!

The pictures here are me trying out the bass tong and the baritone. They made a cheerful sound! I need to get a couple of other people to help me out and create a composition for tong orchestra.

Another Creative Use

So, at Christmas I gave Lee a lovely silver box with turquoise stones on it, which I found in Utah. He seemed to like it. I had thought he could store some of his nice pens in there, but naturally, he has a set pen storage system that no gift can interfere with.

That’s Lee looking pleased.

Meanwhile, Kathleen gave him a series of joke gifts to help him deal with the woman in the next office (her). There was aspirin, a funny calendar, etc. Lee realized that one of her gifts could be beautifully stored in the silver box.

Yep. That’s hemorrhoid cream.

So, whenever Kathleen is a pain in his butt, he can reach into the silver box on his desk and find relief.

We are quite a creative family, huh?

Did you experience any gift creativity at your COVID Christmas celebrations?

Peace, Joy, Hope

Sharing a quick message to all of you. Keep the Hope going, it will help.

Holiday love.

From the Hermits’ Rest to your place of refuge, celebrate what’s meaningful to you today.

It’s a memorable Christmas!

Here’s what’s keeping the ranch house looking cheery!

Of course, dogs
Blooming on time!
Looking forward to food. Yay.

Peace! Hope! Love!