I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, but there hasn’t been much going on except rain, mud, and cold. But what do you expect this time of year? I understand why ancient folks in the northern hemisphere lit lots of fires and tried to make things look cheery at the winter solstice. It can be bleak, and it has been for many of my friends and family. So, bright, warm hugs to all!
We have been focusing on just getting by every day, feeding animals who need to be fed and dealing with things that have broken. It’s fine, just not terribly bloggable.
The biggest excitement around here is those winter bird visitors. Two of my absolute favorites have been here for a couple of days, a pair of hooded merganser ducks. These are among the most unusual ducks, at least in appearance. They have excellent head feather arrangements that make them unmistakeable, even from a distance. That’s good, since they will not let me get close enough to take a good photo.
They are having a nice time hanging around with the egrets and catching the chilly little fish in the back pond.
As I was watching the ducks and shivering, I heard a distinctive cry, followed by much zooming and swooping. It was a common yellowlegs trying to decide whether to land in the pond or not. The decision was not to land, so all I got were some photographic blurs, which I confirmed since I know what they sound like and know they like it here in the winter. Enjoy my pond bird buddies:
As I write, I’m listening to the Ukrainian President speak. You know, that’s a brave and reasonable guy. And he reminds me things could be much worse, and we need to be sure our fellow citizens are all safe and secure. We need to be able to celebrate the seasons in our personal traditions and feel safe. After all, we live under the same sky. Peace. It can happen.
When I was young, I read comic books as much as I could. I loved the Superman family (especially Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes). Sometimes the writers seemed to run out of ideas and published some really dumb concepts. Bizarro Superman, from Bizarro World was one of those concepts, but always good for a laugh.
Things in Bizarro World were recognizable but just not quite right. It confused both the Bizarros and the “real” world. (I feel as if BW might not go over as well today, though apparently the tradition still lives.)
In conversation with…well…with everyone I’ve communicated with about our lives, I’ve heard tale after tale of how life has just gotten strange recently. More than one person has said, “I feel like I live in a different world,” or words to that effect.
I’m right there with them. Things have happened in the past few years that have made my world unfamiliar. Recent elections. What the heck? People mass shooting each other so often it’s become commonplace. I don’t get it. People shooting up infrastructure that supports innocent families and businesses because…why?
That’s just the big picture. People are getting weird sicknesses. Families are falling apart no matter how hard they try. My generation is trying to figure out how to support elders who spent all their money but expect…stuff. I’m pessimistic about the future.
Honestly, I’m so glad I have dogs and horses and they are still acting like dogs and horses. I need something consistent and not weirdly out of left field.
I just feel like the world is so odd and unpredictable that I don’t want to make much effort. So I got my 2022 snow globe that says “love is love.” And some tree candles. No real tree, just a few decorations. Many say “peace,” which seems bizarrely impossible these days.
How about you? Are you in a ball of pessimism like me? What’s bizarre in your life? What helps you keep it together? Sunsets? Full moons. Here are some, anyway.
Let me say that I’m disappointed in myself that an election some years ago got me so messed up that I can’t stand election coverage now. My spouse loves it. So I sat with him for hours last night, watching his favorite news channel. I honestly think that could traumatize anyone, no matter what your ideas about our polarized country are. It’s just nerve-wracking.
I awoke this morning feeling completely drained. I sure would have preferred to wake up, read a neutral summary of the results, have a sad moment, and move on. Instead, though, the first thing I read was this:
That put me into a better frame of mind. I began to see signs of hope and inspiration all around me. Our ranch reminded me that even though we just went through a bad drought, things are trying to come back. The plants just keep trying. Look at this new green grass! There was nothing there a few weeks ago, just dirt.
I need to shed what is confining me and move on, like my snake friends. I can’t change things, just get a new hopeful attitude.
One true inspiration for me is the asters I’ve been enjoying all autumn. They are blooming away and providing food for so many butterflies, moths, and tiny wasps. That’s even though they’ve been repeatedly mowed. They just started over and over and bloomed even harder.
And I spent a long time today watching the great egret patiently and persistently stalking the little fishies in the pond behind the house. Reaching your goals takes time and patience. And you may miss. A lot. It’s okay.
Jim’s right. Hope is necessary and part of the path that our highest and best selves strive to stay on. I’m still committed to my personal goals and morals. Nothing can stop that. I hope the same for all of you.
I’m always telling you all how much being out in nature helps me deal with my chronic anxiety and Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD). Today I’m really taking advantage of it and pulling out all the stops with nature, cuteness, and sunshine helping me deal with how people treat me and (the worst) the fact that it’s the second Tuesday in November in the USA. Election Day. I sure hope that voting tradition continues!
I’ve been voting since this time of year in 1976, when someone I truly admire to this day got elected, Jimmy Carter. I believe there’s only been one other time I actually admired a Presidential candidate. The rest I had deep reservations about or was just okay with. This year, we just deal with governors. I did vote for a few governors I liked, especially when I lived in Illinois. But I just hope that I continue to have the right to my personal freedoms and can feel safe in the future. And this is why I need warm fuzzies and cute animals to cheer me up.
You’re supposed to say what you’re thankful for nowadays. It spans all of November, not just the US Thanksgiving holiday like it used to. I guess it’s to help us remember what is still there for us. I’m thankful for the friendly animals in my life, like Christmas the bull over at Tarrin’s house.
My merry band of horses, who are enjoying the front pasture, the new pond’s hill, and the mud.
A lot of the time, though, I just need to breathe and look at the sky. While I missed the lunar eclipse last night (Lee was sure it was tonight), I did enjoy the sight of a beautiful sun dog in the afternoon sky. I love those cloud rainbows!
I also loved the rain we received over the past few days. It was supposed to rain again today, but maybe it won’t. At least new grass is growing and it’s no longer crunchy outside.
I’m breathing more steadily now and resolve to continue to treat people the way I’d like to be treated and assume people are doing the best they can. This reminder I saw on Facebook really rings true and has helped me for the past week or so.
Peace to all. Let’s try not to live in fear, especially of our neighbors.
Note: I realize I am a privileged person who has nice things, food, shelter, and a good education. My family that speaks to me does their best to support me. And I am NOT blaming other people for my perception. That’s on me! As I repeatedly state in my personal blog here, I’m grateful for that. No need to point that out to me when I share that I’m struggling.
I feel like shit. I was feeling okay for a long time, and now I realize it is because, like so many people these days, I had used medication to numb my feelings and help me cope with reality. Reality, today, especially if you’re a woman in Texas, Yee-Haw USA, sucks.
Reality is hard on a personal level as well. One thing that medication did for me was enable me to sort of sit back dispassionately and watch how life goes on at the soap opera known as the Hermits Rest Ranch and not let it get to me. Things happen, people do things, I get stuck in the middle of situations I don’t understand. With medication, I just say, “Oh, that’s just so and so being who they are…no need to internalize the consequences.” So, I am able to deal with the kinds of treatment I normally would be devastated by pretty well. I’m able to forgive and just drop things, knowing that we’re all messed up and doing our best.
The best or worst thing about the medications (depending on how you look at it) is that I am able to resist the urge to stand up for myself or call out behavior, knowing that every time I’ve done so for the past few years, I’ve been gaslighted or been treated to that classic technique of being blamed for causing my own problems. Me standing up for myself tends to go horribly, horribly wrong. And it achieves nothing other than upsetting others. So, I’d rather not stir the pot, since I know I’m no better than anyone else, with my sarcasm and things I say when stuff leaks out that aren’t kind.
Now is my life horrible? No. There’s great stuff in my life and right here at the Hermits’ Rest. I was generalizing about difficult experiences that aren’t constant but that, if I’m being honest with myself, are hard on me. Of course, knowing what a hard person I am to be around, I know I’m very taxing on everyone who has to be around me! My only point is that the medication made it easier for me, and that I’m having trouble now that I am feeling things harder. I don’t want to subject the people around me to un-squelched Suna!
Would I like to be my authentic self in my own home? Yes. I could probably relax more. Is it a good idea? No. This is not a safe place to share feelings about the state of the world or my inner dysfunction. I crave peace and love. So, sometimes I have to sacrifice to get one or the other. Don’t we all? Perhaps.
I’d love to share some of the challenges I face here in my personal blog, because I think it’s good to present a balanced picture of life, which is imperfect and not always easy. But there is a long list of things I’ve been requested to not mention. That makes my sharing of my life sound often like I’m living in a paradise of privilege with no problems. But that’s not true. There are health issues with everyone in this family but me (and obviously I have a mental health issue). We have a business that is struggling, I think. Not really sure. I sometimes feel unsafe in my own home, since I’ve given up a lot of my firmly held beliefs so that others can do what makes them feel comfortable. And those vague generalities are as far as I can go. Holding things in can make them leak out in weird ways when you’re unmedicated, though.
For example, there are dreams. Oh my gosh, I have been having horrible dreams about people from my past berating me for all the mistakes I have ever made. That’s quite the parade, let me tell you. My estranged son, his father, numerous people I dated, my father (always my father, who is the reason I am so afraid of being yelled at), friends from high school (including the one I did not have a baby with when I was 17), ex bosses. Whew. I wake up and read bland news items about nature to get the dreams out of my head. They keep coming. I would like to re-squelch them.
It’s overwhelming. I am not coping well.
If you’re my friend in real life, reach out to me sometimes. I suck at reaching out. I hate to intrude. But I realize that vaguely saying I’m not feeling well isn’t too useful either. These are hard times. Many of us are struggling. I’m not alone in having a genuine meltdown and personal crisis. But I want to admit it and say that I’ll listen to YOU if you want to talk.
And I love every single imperfect person in my life. That’s why I’m still here rather than checking out, which is mighty tempting right now. Well, that and the horses. I can’t leave the horses, too. And dogs.
Things I Want to Say (some borrowed from my spouse)
Anyone who has managed to read through my mental health drivel now gets to read genuine opinions by uncensored me. If I piss you off, unsubscribe, block me, or stop speaking to me. You won’t be the first. But people like me keeping quiet, I think, has helped the world get to where it is.
It is every-so ironic that the woman-hating judge Clarence Thomas claims to be an “originalist” and that every word in the God-given US Constitution must be taken literally is not even a PERSON in the original constitution. He is a black guy! FFS!
It is every-so ironic that all the gun worshippers who also claim to worship the God-given US Constitution don’t realize that if we really went by it in its original and perfect state, as delivered by God from Mount Vernon (or wherever it came from) don’t seem to realize that if they are too poor to own the property on which their homes have been set, they would not get to vote. Only land-owners who are also genuine 100% man-humans got to vote in the version handed down by the Blessed Forefathers.
By the way, I read in a book (I know, I’m one of those doomed intellectuals who use those as sources of facts) that the MEN who wrote the US Constitution were, in fact, people, not deities. They drank, swore, cheated on their chattel…err…wives, owned slaves, and made numerous errors, like humans do. Not gods. Not perfect. Not able to predict the future.
And didn’t the God in the Bible used by most Christians say to not have any other gods before HIM? Wait a minute. Guns? Constitutions? Trump? Aren’t those not Jehovah?
DO NOT TELL ME TO VOTE. I VOTE IN EVERY PODUNK ELECTION IN THIS PLACE. I EVEN HELPED ONE PERSON WIN, ONCE. EVERY OTHER REASONABLE CANDIDATE, I DID NOT HELP.
Besides, the people or entities who are creating the society we live in today have nothing whatsoever to do with this illusion that we are voting for who represents us or that those people represent anything other than money and power.
Like today. I was awakened in the night by a familiar odor. Someone had been skunked. That someone was Penney.
And more stink arrived in the form of Goldie. I tried to sleep but Penney kept pushing, which she does when she is scared. I ended up with my legs off the bed, which gave me sore knees when I woke up.
After only a little coffee I was told to remove the skunk from the side yard, where most of it lay. Other parts were scattered around, as if a large animal had gotten to Goldie is a large animal.
As I went to get a shovel, I noted a large hole under the pool equipment base. Oh goodness. The skunk was trying to build a burrow in the yard where the dogs live. Skunks aren’t bright, cute as they are. It was doomed.
Anyway, the skunk is now turtle food in the pond, and I got over my nausea from looking at its innards. The hole is gone, too, since this morning, Lee and the nephew created a new walkway from the back of our under-construction garage apartment, the garage side door, and our main path. It also made the pool equipment area look better.
After the skunk thing, I cleaned my giant closet and the kitchen, which had turned into a housefly buffet. I’ve now kept up with the dirty dishes stacked near the dishwasher for 6 hours and emptied the dishwasher twice. Lee has washed the stinky sheets. Yay.
I was tired of ranching and chores so I helped Sara film Aragorn on this dressage work, now that he is all shod. He did great. While I was there, I found a new (to me) plant, a swan flower. It is beautiful, and nothing like any other flower around here!
I wrote an article for the Master Naturalist blog with more details. I was surprised to see this one is the northernmost sighting of this plant, which is only found in Texas. How about that! This has been the highlight of the day and was a nice break.
When I got home, we got a hay delivery of square bales for the horses this winter. I did my best to help, but I really suck at lifting hay bales. The young man who brought it, though, was damned good at throwing it, and the nephew was good at stacking it. I counted.
Half the hay went to our house and half to Sara’s. Sara was much more helpful than me. But I wish I had a video of the tossing. They were amazing at it. Nice hay kids! Whew.
I was hot and the day wasn’t half over. This ranching can be hard and keeping your cool can be hard. I tried to cool off by the pool, but no. Neighbors dropped by to ask if we’d seen the obscene stuff painted on the bridge over Walker’s Creek next to our property. They had all sorts of theories that some teens who’ve been riding up and down the road in a “gator” (motorized golf cart utility vehicle).
I had no idea there was stuff down the road, but I remembered seeing red stuff when we came back yesterday afternoon. That day teens did indeed go up and down the road endlessly. And I’d seen them earlier messing with cane on the bridge. I thought it was just kids having fun on summer break.
Nope. There was obscenity, anti trans stuff, cruel stuff about people with mental illness, and the coup de gras (whatever) the flourish of Let’s Go Brandon. Hardly necessary.
And you know what, in today’s society, you hesitate to report vandalism in the community, because you worry some asshole will come shoot you. Nice. Rural living can be beautiful. It can be scary. Here’s a flower.
And yes, I called the sheriff. I just hope my beloved county commissioner will paint over the offensive stuff. I’m not wanting anything it peace and quiet.
I felt a little better today, so I was able to get work done and enjoy my immediate surroundings. I also had some good talks with family, and that always helps. So, let’s see what’s going on with all those projects around here.
The tack room (Suna Shack) is moving right along. I love the look of the wood they use for the walls and ceilings. The guys are doing a great job on it, too.
I love watching them work. The picture below warmed my heart. Those two are in the exact same pose and look the same from a distance. I think that’s sort of important. We all have a lot more in common than differences. This young white man and older black man look the same from this angle!
The big thing that’s happened is they’ve taken a small window out and replaced it with two larger ones, which will make the Suna Shack area full of light, even with the air conditioner being in one window. That was not an easy task, either. There was much grumbling about how hard it was to get straight cuts with the Saws-All (no idea how that is spelled).
Lots of new lighting is also going in, plus a circuit breaker. It’s a class act, for sure. Motion sensors will make walking up to the tack room in the dark during the winter a lot safer and easier. The nephew thinks of everything.
Meanwhile, the hens are enjoying their henhouse, except when the door slams. I think they’d prefer I not check for eggs so often. So far, seven hens are happily using the nest boxes, and not all the same one, even. The exception is Bertie Lee, who lays her egg right inside the chicken entrance every day. She never ceases to make me chuckle.
Speaking of chuckling, dorky chicken signs were on sale at Tractor Supply when we stopped there on the way back from Mabel’s vet visit. I actually think the “Hen-trance” and “Egg-sit” signs are helpful to let you know which of the doors actually is the one to use. And it makes me laugh. I need to laugh.
PS: I also wrote Texas Governor Abbott a letter and reminded him he’s actually supposed to represent people, not lobbies. He spoke at the NRA Convention, along with a former US President and some other doofuses who forgot who they are supposed to be serving.
Today I’ve been feeling sick. I’m not a gun lover in the first place, and now I feel like we are all just waiting for our turns to be someone’s target. The cynic in me feels that the people who run the US care only about themselves, their families, babies (up to the moment of birth, at which point they are worthless), and guns.
[Some of you may want to stop reading now and go enjoy some Fox News.]
What has sucked the wind out of my sails the most is how I’ve seen regular folks reacting to the endless shootings of people who just happened to be living their lives in the wrong places.
It’s not just the sincerely uttered “thoughts and prayers,” because I know that’s what people in a certain social group say when they just don’t have anything else to say. No, it’s people who say the ONLY thing you can do to help dead children, teachers, grocery shoppers, and such is to pray.
“My tradition teaches that prayer without action is just noise.”
Rabbi Jack Moline
As my friend Lynn pointed out to me, you don’t hear many ministers saying that. You hear them calling for change. At least the ministers I’ve heard. Rabbi Moline is one of them. Another quote from him:
There is no tradition that, at its core, would justify the massacre of children at school, grandparents at the grocery store, or congregants in a house of worship. And there should be no faith leader that sits idly by while the people we have dedicated our lives to ministering to are slaughtered. Prayer works only when it softens the hardened heart and opens it to the message of healing and justice that flows through every tradition’s scripture. Prayer works only if it leads to confession, contrition and repentance. Prayer works only if it is not an excuse for inaction.
NOTHING PREVENTS THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN A BULLET
Worse than this, I’ve seen people post that it’s not so bad all these people are dying, because that way they get to go meet Jesus and hang out with their deceased relatives sooner rather than later. I’m sorry, but WTF. It’s hard for me to imagine their pacifist god-figure wanting people do die early in a massacre just to hang out with him. Um, I hope they draw comfort from that.
I got so upset that I ran to my trusted sources for words of comfort, words to help me remember who I am, and words to steer ME via my beliefs. My Christian spiritual leader, Jim Rigby reminded me of these words by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”
And then Jim talked about having the courage to be gentle and find hope as I respond to the hurt I am feeling right now. He is right, of course:
Greek culture had a word for “gentleness” (praus) that actually could meant “power under control.” It was sometimes used for a powerful animal that had been tamed. Today “gentleness” might refer to finding the courage not to use violence to solve all of our problems. Before we can tackle the problem of gun violence we must first ask ourselves an important question: Does our nation have the courage to be gentle?
Guns are no replacement for the civic virtue of courage. This nation cannot be saved by military grade weapons in the hands of cowardly spirits. Human decency requires the bravery to steer by our hopes not our fears.
Jim Rigby, Facebook
While all that helped me spiritually, I still am faced with even more blatant 1984-style language and proclamations by civic leaders that my head literally hurts. Why are guns more important than children, I keep wondering? Why is “freedom” more important than protecting the mentally ill and dangerous from themselves and others? I’m not alone. From Richard Stone of Taylor, Texas:
I got in a row on one of the local community pages about arming teachers. Saw this over on Twitter a few minutes ago and now I can’t wrap my head around the cognitive dissonance.
Richard Stone, Facebook
He then quoted someone else who finally put into words what has been causing my hurt:
“I heard this point yesterday and can’t get it out of my mind – TX politicians don’t trust teachers to choose books, but they think arming teachers is a good idea.”
I have a child who is a teacher. He just celebrated five years at Austin ISD and I am proud of him. He was raised in a gun-free household, as was I, and as I have been until things changed around here. I do not want to see him having to protect his students from killers. I want him to teach history and even hide some facts in among the state-mandated stuff. I want him free to care about his students, but also feel free to criticize or discipline appropriately, when necessary, without worrying that kid will come back and shoot him the moment they turn 18. Holy crap that is just plain dystopian. I’m nauseated.
Anyway, I’m not a crazed snowflake who wants to snatch people’s possessions out of their hands. I’m a mother, a spouse, an aunt, a nature lover, and just a regular human who wants to feel free to have opinions, live in safety, and feel free to spread love, kindness, and even lovingkindness, around the land.
But to also speak up. So many folks I know have been afraid to say we need to do something about the gun worship culture here. Why? Because of gun worshippers. Not hunters, not safety officers. People who literally LOVE the things and don’t give a shit how many people have to die because of it.
As so many people I know have been asking, how did we get here? Can we make things better. I want to help.
You know what? I used to think I was free. I used to think more and more people where I live were becoming freer. I used to think the world was becoming a better place.
I can remember feeling especially happy to live in a place where people were free to worship or not worship any faith tradition, where people were free to love whoever they wanted to love, where people could have families or not, where people could live wherever they found beauty, where judges strove to put their personal beliefs aside and be neutral, and where people could have respectful debates over policies. Heck, people could even go to the grocery store and expect the worst thing that would happen would be a long line at checkout.
I felt like “progress” toward equality for all was being made, right during my lifetime. The water fountain labeled “Coloreds Only” was gone from the Alachua County courthouse, in my lifetime. As a woman, I could play any sport I wanted and attend any school I wanted, in my lifetime (I gave up on being a veterinarian because women were not allowed in vet schools). My gay friends got married – legally – in my lifetime. Buildings were made accessible to people who could not climb stairs, in my lifetime. I could live 20 years next to a black family and nothing out-of-the-ordinary occur, in my lifetime. I could live around people who had come to my area from all over the world and it was fine. People could choose whatever identity they cared to present themselves as, even if I got confused…all in my lifetime…and it made me happy.
I could trust that people in politics felt it was their duty to tell the truth and apologized when they made mistakes. I could trust that law enforcement officers respected all citizens and did their best to keep all of us safe. People who joined the military were assigned duties they could be proud of and were respected for what they did.
I didn’t live in fear of my neighbors because I voted for a different Presidential candidate and don’t worship the one they prefer. I didn’t feel in danger because I’m a pacifist, because I don’t like organized religion, and I think no other human is any better or worse than me.
Fuck that. It’s all over. I was so happy when 1984 came and went and Big Brother hadn’t showed up. Oh, Suna. He was just a little late. Lies are now truth. Freedom is a word only for a small subset of the population. Rights are just for old white males. Women are back to being nothing but property for males to use as they please, then are punished for the consequences of what men do to them. Again.
When I’m wrong, I can be really, really wrong. I was wrong all along, too. None of those illusions of mine were real. I gotta go back to reading about how all culture is an illusion that’s just out there to help us feel like life has meaning. I have no clue right now, other than life is suffering. Thanks, Buddha.
When I see tragedies happening around the world that are caused by some frightening person’s lust for power or sense of entitlement (I want it, so I’ll take it), I have no illusions that the same thing can’t happen here or anywhere else. People let it happen.
They are starting to talk about the other “n” work, the one Pres. Bush had trouble pronouncing. I’ve always thought that’s how I’d die. I’m ready for it. I’ve made me peace, eliminated most of the negativity around me, and am fine disappearing.
I don’t want to lose Gaia or all the young folks with things to contribute to the betterment of humanity. Of course, I also struggle to keep to my illusion that better things are possible, no matter how we try.
I know folks who have evacuated due to fires northwest of here. But their prize horses are safe. That’s good. Two other friends who’ve dealt with fires and flooding are recovering. That’s resilient. Some people I care about have recently lost loved ones, quite young. Their families show such grace and humor, as do those I know struggling with “long COVID,” which is so unfair. There are glimmers of goodness and hope, even amid despair and destruction. Our job is to see it and cling to it. It may be all we get.
What I affirm that I can do is try to be kind, try to help others, and enjoy every single day I have on this planet. I’m soaking up the beauty and peace as hard as I can, and I’m savoring any good moments that pop up, like my ring.
Sigh. Lots going on today, I guess. I’m beginning to sound more and more like a convert to Stoicism, even though I still claim to be an existentialist in my less woo woo moments.