Things You Find when Looking for Something Else

My spouse is trying his hand at book binding. He needed a needle he could thread dental floss through to sew the binding in. So, I went through my unorganized craft stuff to find something. I found a needlepoint needle, which was good. But I found many other things.

Found!

One thing I found was this pouch I made to test out felting an entrelac project. I ended up using it more than the very nice purse that was my main project back in the old Bluebonnet Yarn Shop days. Believe it or not, I stored tampons in it.

Mama bear

The necklace is one my therapist made for me back in the Very Bad Old Days when my marriage was painfully ending, as were the marriages of many of my friends. On top of that there was a horribly toxic woman who showed up at our UU church who ran around ruining marriages, breaking up friendships, and rampantly spreading rumors and suspicion everywhere. Many of my friendships never recovered, and though I stuck around a while, I never again felt safe at church. Victoria was making jewelry at that time, and she made me the mama bear necklace to protect me.

My spouse found these journals. The top one covered 6 months of this time in excruciating detail. I feel so bad for my kids. And I can’t believe how doggedly I insisted people had good intentions in the face of evidence to the contrary. I’m sure glad my ex and his dogs and super-fit wife are so happy. We paid for it.

I needed it. My son was struggling, too. It was the start of so much stress, struggle, and growth. All that hit me when I saw the necklace. I’m sick to my stomach. No wonder it’s a good idea not to live in the past!

This is actually slightly more organized.

On a happier note, I found this UFO (unfinished object) in the knitting bag where the necklace was. It’s another entrelac project. I think it’s a table runner? It’s made of leftover sick yarn. Maybe I can work on it later.

Speaking of the past

The other UFO I found is this very warm shawl. I’m on the border of this one, too. What is it with me and unfinished borders? I should finish it before I start the other project. Sigh. It is very soft, too. Fancy yarn.

Hey, I remember this.

But wait, I found something else. I was in the Hen Haven or whatever I want to call it, and realized I didn’t know what was in a box under the work table. So, I opened it. Wow! Leather tooling supplies!

They must have cone with all the horse stuff.

I immediately knew what to do with it, too. I ran to get Drew’s fancy leather lead rope. After practicing on an old belt, I got to work.

Custom lead strap!

It’s Drew’s now! He fancy. I’ll see what else I can whack with a mallet. By the way, if the nephew is reading this, I did put the mallet back.

Bonus content: how many hens are at this chicken conference?

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.

Prairienet: How I Made Friends and Found a Career

Today’s post is prompted by the happy coincidence that I found my very first volunteer nametag while unpacking a box today. It’s from way back in 1994 or 1995, when I was still living in Champaign, Illinois. Before THAT, I’d been an active member in the Champaign-Urbana Computer Users Group, where I met a whole bunch of wonderful nerdy people, including my PC mentor and close friend, Mark Zinzow, and the eventually famous eccentric genius Michael Hart, who was working on Project Gutenberg even back in the late 1980s. (I regret not having time to contribute back then.)

My name tag!

I did that, because I’d been the de facto PC tech person in every job I’d had since I got my first IBM PC (with two, count-em, two! floppy disk drives) to write my dissertation on, and I needed helpers! Yes, I actually knew how everything worked, back in those simpler days and times.

Time passed and I got a fine job working at Wolfram Research as a technical writer (career score #1) (where I got to work with my second eccentric genius friend, Stephen Wolfram). I stayed friends with the PCUG folks, though, hung out on Usenet to learn more. A few years later, after I’d left Wolfran Research to raise my two sons, I saw an ad for classes on the World Wide Web and websites, which was hosted by Prairienet, a community internet kind of deal where many of my old friends were volunteering. The kids’ dad said maybe this newfangled web thing would be a way to keep my tech skills up while raising the kids. I agreed.

I took a class from a wonderful woman named Karen Fletcher, and suddenly I knew enough about HTML to teach classes myself. This was my first technical training experience (career score #2). Karen was a wonderful friend, even keeping me in touch with horses way back then thanks to her partner who was a horse trainer. She was also a Master Gardener, so we hung around with similar folks.

So, while my kids were little and I was learning about breastfeeding from La Leche League (not linking to them), I was also learning about websites from Greg Newby, Karen, Mark, and others over at Prairienet. And hey, here’s a fact I love to share: the first website I ever made was for my LLL group. It didn’t have any images, though. Why? It was before you could put images in! Everything was text! We were lucky we had bold and italic to spice things up. And lots of asterisks.

Bad image, but my copy is in a box.

One of the friends I met in Prairienet was also a coworker, Bruce Pea. What a nice guy. He got it into his head to write a user manual for Prairienet, since he was all techy and understood how it worked. However, he was not a writer by trade, so I stepped in to copy edit that 1995 book, The Prairienet Companion. I can assure you it was a lot easier than copy-editing the Mathematica Book (second edition), which I had also been working on.

This book contained 95% fewer occurrences than the first draft contained. Thank you, past me.

I turned around and one day there I was, a technical writer and trainer specializing in software documentation and training who also built user communities. Careers are weird! It’s mostly luck and coincidence for me, not a path I was driven toward. But I sure had fun between 1985-1995 learning my webmastering chops!

Another fact: I am still friends with Connor Kelly, the first person to ever find out about a La Leche League meeting online. That’s career score #3, because I swiftly combined what I learned on Prairienet with what I was doing in La Leche League, and in just a year or two was on the real internet, making the website of the whole LLL organization (and many others on the side). That led to volunteer-organizational fame, no fortune, and a lot of drama. And in LLL I helped create a user community, like a baby Facebook that failed due to drama and infighting but looked good enough on a resume to keep.

Hmm. I think I just wrote my biography in a half hour. I can’t believe I dredged up all these memories of myself and the internet as we grew up together. I bet my own spouse hadn’t heard so much about what I did during the decade I just summarized. I’m glad I found that little pin.

Book Report: Oh, William!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another Elizabeth Strout book is now under my belt. I started it a while ago, then a few other things pushed their way into the queue. I was also savoring it. I do love to read the words of the fictional Lucy Barton, and that’s what all of Oh, William! is.

I love the white tulips on the cover (which are a part of the book)

Elizabeth Strout could make Lucy Barton walk across the room to go to the toilet and I’d find it poetic and striking. That’s just how Lucy’s thought processes come across to me. Even though Lucy doesn’t stray from her theme that you can really never know what’s going on in anyone else’s mind, it’s great to see her come to that conclusion over and over again, especially when it comes to her first husband, William.

Lucy has always felt like an outsider from the rest of the world, thanks to have been brought up in an isolated setting with no media or other outside influences besides school. William was, in her view, a safe haven. The plot, such as it is, revolves around Lucy slowly realizing he actually never was that.

The contrast between William and Lucy’s second husband, David, could not be stronger. David was warm, loving, and comfortable, while William was one big, scary (but fascinating) mystery to Lucy. I had so smile as I realized that Lucy just could never shake William out of her system.

William had a glamorous mother who it turned out, was not from glamorous roots at all…much like Lucy. The other subplot had to do with this woman, Catherine, who abandoned her first child…much like Lucy felt she had abandoned her daughters (but really hadn’t).

Enough about the plot. You read these books more for the way the plot presents itself and the language Strout uses to express the ideas in Lucy’s head. It’s just so, so wonderful.

Now. After I finished the book, I began wondering why I feel a kinship with Lucy and how she relates to the men in her life. It then dawned on me. I’ve had my own William and David. I literally worshipped my high school boyfriend, but in the end I had to get away to be myself. And he was much like William. And his mother was exactly like Catherine (from poverty in Mississippi to a glamorous adulthood).

But it was how Lucy felt about men that struck me. She viewed love like I did much of my life, and I never realized anyone else was like that. I always thought I was very odd. But, certain circumstances where love is sort of withheld from you can lead you to not trust yourself to really love people, so you sabotage relationships. Huh. I’ve done that. Repeatedly.

Stopped now.

Gosh, I’m glad Lucy is seeing things clearly, now that she’s my age. I hope I am, too. And if this review doesn’t make sense, well, it’s because I don’t make sense, either. Do any of us? I’ll ask Lucy in the next book.

Maturity: The Older You Are the Less You Knew

Yesterday’s walk down memory lane got me to thinking about how I felt about myself at different points in my life. I can remember standing in the middle of a pine woods in Gainesville Florida, where freshmen could park their cars, and crying my head off because I felt like there was too much knowledge in my head and that all that awesome knowledge was such a burden. It’s a wonder that High School Boyfriend didn’t just leave this overblown ego to ponder her magnificence alone right then and there. Nope, I didn’t know much at all.

Lucky for me the twilight of life is also the most beautiful part, because I’m paying attention.

In my twenties, I kept thinking to myself, every time I hit a milestone (but mostly after each of my flaming love interests exploded into black holes of nothingness), “Ah, I’ve got it figured out NOW, and I’m not going to make THAT mistake again. I’m finally wise.” Nonetheless, every time my hormones kicked in, I wallowed in their glory and glommed on to some poor unsuspecting guy. If only I’d read the fine article in this month’s Psychology Today about people who are in love with being in love! (Not online yet, pooh!)

I went directly from the love of my life to the guy who lived here (Hyde Park, Illinois), who was one of those scary possessive people…I did escape THAT. Then, it was on to the bisexual guy who claimed to be a sex addict. My twenties were active (I have omitted some people for brevity).

At least I figured out that my hormones were not necessarily my friends, and managed to stick with the NEXT one until he left me many years later. I thought I had figured all that love, hormones, relationships, friendships, and people skills stuff out. I was so wise by the time I hit 30.

This beautiful stink bug symbolizes my hormones. Lovely at first, but they leave a smelly mess if you trample them.

Guess what? I wasn’t! Life kept whacking me on top of the head, showing me where I was way off base, and sending me off to learn more. Repeatedly. I learned things like don’t go looking for the exact opposite of your ex as your next relationship. Though, I must say that those two really ARE exact opposites physically and mentally! Yes, sure, don’t repeat the same mistakes and expect different outcomes, as some of my friends are painfully figuring out right now), but don’t over-correct. I also learned that you can remain friends with people you used to be hormonally attracted to and that that can be better than the hormone frenzy.

Then in the next decade or so, I thought I’d figured life out, that giving love to kids was a much better plan. Of course they will love you if you do your best to nurture them, listen to them, be there for them, and let them fly when they need to fly. Nope, that’s not guaranteed either. You might want to check and see if the person you’re mentoring is a sociopath or suffers from borderline tendencies that they aren’t willing to or interested in working on. And again, don’t befriend the same type of person repeatedly and expect different results. I do think I’ve got that down now, and I added on to it not to link your emotional well being to that of someone else, blame yourself for their issues, etc. Hmm, I did apparently learn something…just not everything.

However you get through your metamorphosis, it’s beautiful and unique, like this clouded skipper.

Yeah, so, by the time I got to the age I am now, it became really clear that all those times I thought I had my emotional life all figured out, I hadn’t. I can laugh at it now, even if reading the old journals, just brimming with confidence that I’d got it all figured out, is painful.

Now I have a stable marriage and some stability in other areas, but I no longer have any inclination that I understand how other people (or animals, as I’m learning with horses and dogs) feel, how I feel, or how relationships work. It’s trial and error, with some help from past experiences, at best. At least for me. I no longer think I have awesome understanding of the world, its inhabitants, and how everything works. Instead, I’m in awe of how there’s no way to understand it and am enjoying my daily discoveries.

Relationships are mysterious, but they can be wonderful with mutual trust.

My message to anyone who reads this is to realize right now that you aren’t finished figuring things out, you will continue to make mistakes, but you can also continue to learn from them and face every day with new wisdom. Who cares if you didn’t know what you thought you knew way back when? Maturity is the ability to be just fine with that.

I do have the cutest lawn mowers, fertilizer spreaders, and weed eaters of anyone I know.

Lost Memories?

Wow. I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in having trouble remembering things. That’s another reason I’m glad I have my bullet journal — I can remember what I’m supposed to be doing and am scheduled to do. But, that’s the day-to-day stuff.

Suna in the only long, white wedding dress she ever wore. Sadly, it belonged to her friend Liz (still married to the guy she wed in this dress). This is in Pennsylvania, when I went on a visit to cry about being a bad girlfriend.

Talking to people in my extended circle, I realized that many of us have lost access to our past. One friend said she no longer has memories. Others are having a hard time remembering things when they need to, or remembering whether they told someone something. Lee totally forgot to tell me his car broke down—that’s something you usually remember to share!

This photo reminded me that my dad put wood siding up on our house in Plantation, Florida, just before he left. He was ahead of his time.

We all have a clue as to why this is happening. It’s the stress, the mega-stress, the overwhelming worry and anxiety. We all have COVID stress. No one can avoid having world events stress right now, what with wars, storms, earthquakes, and shootings galore. We have overload from black-and-white thinking in politics, organizations, and families. Many of us have big work struggles. Our brains are full. And so are the brains of the people we encounter. I’m getting stressed just writing this.

Here’s a happy memory of me and my friend Robin, who, by the way, is still my friend Robin and has children older than she is in this photo.

Sometimes, you can get your memories back, though, which is why I’m glad I grew up in the age where people took lots and lots of photographs (though nothing like today). Today, for a bit of stress relief, I wandered through my photo album from 1984-1986, which were not my best times (I managed to lose the love of my life and my mom in just a few months), I’ve got to say, but which also had some really good times. I’m so glad I can see both types of memories.

Here’s a place I once lived, in Urbana, Illinois. I doubt it’s still standing. I’m remembering that is my Asbury Jukes jacket that I won at a record store.

Also, when I was young, I wrote a lot of letters. It was in my blood, since my whole family wrote letters to each other. I found a box from when I was in college and grad school lately, and they reminded me of my journals in that some were a bit embarrassing (I sure fell in love HARD in my twenties, repeatedly), but others reminded me of what strong connections I had to my communities, and that brings me back to today, when I’ve learned from some of those infatuations and heartaches and gained some balance.

I never share photos of this guy, but I remember him. It’s the late Bill Crain, my first husband, being coached on good husbanding by my dad, in 1986. He didn’t listen.

I’m glad to be able to dredge some of my memories back up, after all. I hope you enjoy some little glimpses into my box of memories. See if you can come up with some.

My office in October 1984. I wallpapered the walls of this closet/office that I shared with two fellow grad students with my word a day calendar pages. Behind me is an original IBM PC that had two floppy drives and no hard drive. I can’t believe how happy I looked. I was one big mess and had anxiety symptoms 24/7. And migraines.

What Counts as a Journal?

I know, I know, whatever you think is a journal will count as a journal. But Lee and I were talking about our journals. One of us said, “I’m down to just one journal.” Then they (I) realized that nope, there was something else the probably counted as a journal, and hmm, maybe something other than that was also one…I figure this blog is really a journal of my thoughts, just online and not printed, and mostly for me and a couple of friends. I also have my lovely bullet journal that I started in February. It’s still going strong, and covered in cheerful stickers and inspirational notes to myself.

In which I frantically try to cheer myself up.

So, that makes two journals that I update daily. But wait, what’s this other thing? I do believe it’s a horse journal (if it wasn’t one, it should have been). I get given a lot of journals with horses on them, so I figured I might as well use one of them, and started this one the day I got Drew.

As you can see, some days I write a lot, and some days, not so much.

I’m surprised to admit that I have written in this one nearly every day, and never missed more than one day. It’s been really useful for keeping up with the progress of Drew and Apache’s training and health, and I won’t lose important information like what they’ve been eating, when they got their vaccines (I am pro horse vax), and how they do mentally every day. Uncharacteristically for me, I started out using a pink pen. I’m still using it, so the notebook is pretty consistent (one day I left it). Pink is not a Suna color, but I’m trying to embrace my traditionally feminine side, I guess. I even painted my nails.

Ooh, aah.

Lee got to thinking, and he realized he mostly uses his one journal, which is not inexpensive but is consistent and looks good on a shelf. He writes a LOT in his journal, including gratitude, things to do, deep thoughts, and so much more.

A man’s journals should coordinate.

And Lee does something I find it really hard to do, which is re-read his old journals. I get all cringey when I go on and on about my latest favorite person or things I did that I now wish I hadn’t. But it was ME, so what gives? Lee is really enjoying reading a journal from around 2010 and is culling out interesting things he says for a collection. That actually sounds like a fun project.

Lee typed his, punched holes, and filed them, with headers, footers, and all sorts of organizational cues. Hey, I have page numbers!

The person in the family who has the most journals is Kathleen. She lives a journaling lifestyle. I’m in awe! It has to help a lot with organizing thoughts and goals.

I must say that all my various journals are helpful to me, and I’m glad I have a mundane journal of notes and dates, a blog journal of all kinds of other thoughts, and a horse journal. I just never thought I’d end up with so many journals.

Ha, especially since I hate to re-read my old stuff, this seems to be an odd place to end up journal-wise. But, I think I can re-read these, at this stage of my life, where I’ve figured out most my self-destructive tendencies, negative self talk, and insecurities.

Do you re-read journals? Can you even FIND your old stuff? Maybe I’ll share about some old stuff I recently found…

Minor Miracles

One of the things I’m most grateful for is that little miracles keep popping up in life, and they keep me moving forward with a good attitude. Yesterday was filled with these wondrous occurrences.

After this, we even had a few drops of rain (and it rained a LOT to the north of us).

The first one was so many people reading the blog the last couple of days. I guess tagging a post “death” brings in readers, but really, the hits were a testimony to how much my friends care about each other. Thanks to all who said such kind things about Stephanie, Terry, Beth, and Alston.

Next came an answer to my prayers (more like a response to my internal curses). The County finally, at last, por fin, made a stab at fixing the road that runs by the Hermits’ Rest. Thanks, Precinct 2, for doing this before we lost another tire or shock absorber to your potholes that were becoming dangerous craters.

Heading toward Sara’s house.

They put down some black stuff, and at least for the moment (i.e., until it rains again in a month or two), you can drive the speed limit! No more weaving and trying to judge which set of holes was less bad for your car. No more coming to a complete stop before daring to go up the hill to the cemetery. Wow.

Heading toward the cemetery. You can see they didn’t bother to cover the parts of the road without potholes, but that’s okay.

It felt bizarre going down the hill last night and not getting that feeling that you’re on a carnival ride. We feel so fancy now.

This part was solid pothole!

Maybe the people across the street complained. Since they are Cameron natives and from a Good Milam County Family, their complaints would be listened to. Gee, I hope all the cement trucks and heavy equipment for building our pool doesn’t mess up the roads again (or the trucks full of corn, cotton, or whatever).

Alfred hair.

And to me, this was an actual miracle: Alfred actually came up and asked to have me pull some of his tons of excess hair off yesterday. He even came back for more when I got tired of it. It now looks like it snowed in many parts of our property, but Alfred seems much happier. Good dog.

I’m a good boy

And this felt like a minor miracle, too, like a gift from my friend Terry. One of our friends found some pictures of us having parties at a conference we all attended. There were pictures of us having a movie night as well as us laughing so hard while reading a book about baby platypuses that we lost the ability to speak.

Paulette, Barbara, and Terry during our laugh fest. It’s been wonderful sharing fun memories of our dear friend. Photo by Elisabeth Lewin.

I’ve missed these positive memories about my supportive group of friends from back then, the majority of whom are still my friends now. It’s a miracle to have such lasting connections.

Movie night at the “Technology Room” at an LLLI conference, laughing with my friends Jo and Dave. Our lives have changed a lot, but we keep in touch. Photo by Elisabeth Lewin.

And finally, Lee and I went on a nice ride out in the country last night, to enjoy the daily miracle of a Texas sunset after a day that wasn’t too hot or humid (I barely sweated when I rode Apache around 5 pm). With all this open space, I enjoy either a lovely sunrise or a pretty sunset nearly every day, even when the air isn’t full of dust or smoke from fires and such. Or rain from hurricanes, which we won’t have, but our friends to the east are having way too much of.

At the end of our road.

Think about what miracles surround you, whether from people or Nature (yes, people are part of Nature; I realize that). These things help you get through illnesses, deaths, work stress, and more. Don’t forget to share your miracles with others! It helps to hear them!

The Past Is a Blast

The past is a blast of what, you ask? It’s more like a punch to the gut sometimes and it sure makes it hard to slog through to the future, if you aren’t careful. I’ve been trying to let go of things, but it’s sometimes more successful than other times.

These are my first glasses. I’m 27. They are back in fashion.

Today I canceled a lot of domain names and blogs I’m no longer using. Our event venue at the church in Cameron never happened, as we pivoted to other projects and started Hearts Homes and Hands. So, that website is gone (though I saved all its stuff). Maybe someday we can start again. I also canceled a bunch of domain names having to do with our former Hermit Haus Redevelopment company (it’s where I primarily blogged before this one, and it has so many stories and photos I treasure, like when Mandi interviewed us all). We had been careful to get domains that resembled the right ones, in case people typed in the wrong thing. I guess I saved myself a thousand bucks or so, but it felt like admitting we failed (even though we didn’t fail, we just moved on when real estate went on its complicated recent course). It still sorta hurt.

Me in 2017. I had a strange hair-do.

And, as part of moving things out of the Bobcat Lair, Lee brought home the rest of my photo albums, and wanted me to open the boxes and put them somewhere. I’d been avoiding opening those boxes, since they are full of memories of happy and sad times (naturally). I just didn’t want to see my first husband, who died not long ago of cancer. And I didn’t want to remind myself of how amazing my older son was as a baby and how much I enjoyed being his mother. But, the good thing was that I found some really cute photos of my younger son with his grandfather in Ireland. My heart was warmed, so I asked Lee to scan them, and I sent them to him.

It’s odd to me that I like to save objects that remind me of the past, like gifts people gave me and little souveniers, but I have a hard time looking at photographs, because they put me right back into other times, some of them pretty rough, like when my mom died and I was only 26.

Poor mom wasn’t really cut out for the stresses of life.

But, at least I’ll never be able to forget the good things, like Pumpkin, my dog sister from the 1980s, who brings Vlassic to mind so easily. And by the way, his nose is looking way better.

Well, hmm. The past is just there, and just little neurons firing away in my mind. I know it’s best to focus on the present! So, here’s how the shawl I recently made came out after being blocked. You can really see the pattern now!

I’m proud of that!

Controversial? I Stopped Shaving My Legs

What. The. Heck. Have I no shame? Can’t I just keep stuff to myself? Why yes, I have shame, but not about this. And yes, I keep things to myself! Not this, anymore.

Undercover legs. I have sun allergies.

I started thinking about growing up with the modern feminist movement. One reason I love jeans so much is that girls weren’t allowed to wear pants at my elementary school! The minute that changed in sixth grade, I refused to wear dresses for a LONG time. Can you imagine?

Eighth grade chorus photo. Who is wearing pants? Me.

One reason I liked pants is that teen girls HAD to shave their legs (white girls; black girls didn’t back then). I had pretty darned hairy legs, so I spent more time than I liked with the shaving. Yuck. But I had to do it. The one Orthodox Jewish girl whose parents didn’t let her got whispered about. Poor kid.

16th birthday. Big pants! Low waist! Pigtails (not fashionable, just weird me).

I aged into college and tried my best to be one of the cool radicals. But, “real” feminists and fans of being “real” women read The Joy of Sex and didn’t shave themselves. Check out that book’s illustrations some time. Teen Suna did.

I just could not stand my hairy legs. I felt feminist guilt, but I just was too brainwashed by my culture to go against the norms. It still baffles me why that was so. It’s not like I was conventional in other ways.

Fast forward. Rather than becoming more accepting of natural body hair, the US went way overboard the other way. Women got Brazilians, which appeared to be making little stripes on their privates. Then they started going hairless, except on their heads. Not for me. I thought that all looked painful, itchy, and expensive. It did make a nice tattoo canvas (another trend I prefer to observe rather than participate in).

Now trendy men shave all over, too. I keep thinking how prickly day-old arm stubble must be for the Property Brothers’ partners. Day old beards, though, that’s still trendy. Um, enjoy trendy celebs.

Then I began to notice young women bucking the trend. I sure admired that. The partners of both my sons, who are gender fluid, don’t shave, far as I know.

And as I thought about how femininity has never been my favorite mode, and how no one looks at blue-haired old ladies anyway, I gave myself permission to stop with the shaving and rashes and all that.

My legs.

As they grew out, I realized they are a lot less hairy than they used to be. I’m okay with them. The first time I went outside with leg hair, I felt the breeze on my legs. How strange! I’d not felt that since age 11!

I’ve been swimming in the hot tub and pool here, and no one seems to have noticed. There are even a few other people in covered bathing attire, even men. And there are the deep tanners. But, I enjoyed hot tubbing with a Muslim woman, because I’d always wondered if they got to enjoy pools. Yes! All covered up and happy.

Mr. Sparrow is not offended.

So, hooray for my legs and freedom of choice. It’s making me feel happier.

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