News from Back at the Ranch and Seaside Sights

It’s a good thing folks back home sent me news, because I literally had meetings at 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the books today. Luckily one got moved and a few of them were short, so I had time to breathe. And I snuck in some content creation, too. Go beach me.

News from the ranch ranges to worrisome to great. What’s worrisome is that Apache still isn’t 100% and Trixie the farrier/body worker isn’t sure why. Even on his extremely limited pasture, he’s managing to put on weight, too (still seems thin to me). Sara is taking good care of him, and even got to ride him. It turns out though, that Apache’s favorite object is now Sara’s back massager. Trixie used it on him, and according to Sara, he “melted.”

Happy horse time. More, Trixie, more!

We will figure out some way to get Apache’s diet right so he can feel okay again. That will be made better by the fact that I ordered a major ton of pipe yesterday, which will provide the foundations for our new world of fencing, pens, stalls, cattle working area, and expanded dog run (so the dogs can sit with us out front). This is going to be SO much work!

Look at all that pipe! And you can see dogs, too. Hi dogs!

Luckily we had the equipment for dealing with this stuff. We heard the Kubota tractor could not handle the weight of the pipe, so the front-end loader had to come to the rescue. We just knew that purchase was a good one.

I can handle anything.

We also hear that the dogs are having lots of fun “helping” out on the project. I can tell Harvey is having a good time!

I got to go for a ride.

Over here at the beach, we’d wanted to go back to Brookgreen, but I had too much work! I did get a moment to pick up a thank-you gift from Irina, the lady who helped us get more condo time. She is the first person I ever met from Moldova, and she was so impressed I’d heard of her home country, that she shared some of her wine with us. Who knew that Moldova was “the wine country?”

Can’t wait to try this, though I’d like to share it with friends and family.

I also got a tiny walk in between meetings, where I saw that workers were testing out some of the fancy new rides being set up near our condos. It looks like it will be a permanent installation amusement park, not a roving carnival. I will tell you this: I will not be getting on that roller coaster with a section that goes around and around in it.

Nope, not getting on that thing, ever.

It was really windy today, so we probably didn’t miss much not going anywhere to look at nature. Of course, I continued my hunt for natural beauty on Myrtle Beach, because I can’t help it. I found a rock with rainbow bubbles and a fresh little fish, soon to be seagull food.

But, the best thing we found were these jellyfish that washed up. They are just the most interesting creatures. It’s hard to believe they’re real when you look at them up close!

And now, it’s on to another evening of ocean watching, wine drinking, and eating delicious food (I made a huge piece of salmon last night, and seasoned it with crushed Doritos, since I’d forgotten to get any seasonings, and it was surprisingly tasty!).

We got to so many families enjoying themselves playing games together, got to watch a dog who couldn’t believe how lucky he was to find so much dirt to dig holes in, and even met a woman walking on the beach alone, wearing a tiara. It was her birthday, and she was rejoining her family in our building. I hope you are having fun enjoying the simple things, wherever you are.

Playing with My Spring

When Lee mowed the area where water flows when the front pond fills up, it squished the place where the little spring bubbles up. It made it look like a seep, not a pretty spring.

Spring, the season, is beautiful here. So is the little spring bubbling up from the ground.

Today I got the weird or wonderful idea to mark the spring and make a little basin to hold water before it flows off to start the stream. Just for fun, you know, knowing it will disappear with the next flood.

Here’s where the spring is in relationship to the house. yes, the electric pole detracts from the image.

I brought an old shiny sprinkler over to mark the location from future mowing.

The spring flowing down to its new marsh.

Then I played in the clay mud to form a depression for the spring to gurgle into, then used some old bricks and rocks to make a teeny dam.

It’s a bit muddy here, but it cleared up.

Now the water makes a little bird bath kind of thing. I got the idea when we saw vultures drinking from the spring a week or two ago (and were relieved it wasn’t Gracie they were messing with).

Spring pool

I’m so fond of this magical water coming out of the ground. It’s definitely Suna’s Spring. And I did mention before that the spring is NOT a leak in the water line? We checked. And we will have the nephew check again, just in case, because the longer I look at the stick marking the water line, the more worried I become. That would not be magical. Or fun to fix.

As the sun goes down, let’s say goodbye to the Hermits’ Rest for the day.

Goofing off in the mud was the highlight of my day. I hope you had a highlight.

Why I Haven’t Upped My Game Recording Myself Talk

Lee asked me why I’ve been recording my podcasts the way I have, quickly, and using simple software.

It’s a good question. If I’d never recorded myself before, the Anchor software would be where to start. It has sounds, transitions, and a way to record. There’s an easy interface for putting episodes together, and they publish them. Nice!

A floral interruption: hairy spiderwort.

But I recorded myself talking for a living for quite a few years. Yes. I made incredibly boring e-learning modules for large software companies. I had to have really good editing software to edit out all my flubs, burps, clicks, and gasps. There were a lot of hard-to-pronounce acronyms in those scripts.

I also put together simple musical pieces, and lived with a sound engineer. I’m able to do things like put music under my speech, too.

But, do I have me smoothly introducing the podcast over Declan’s guitar music? Nope. Do I edit out my errors in reading? Nope. Do I use my fancy microphone? Nope. Is it sort of annoying? Probably. Certainly for Lee.

Equipment. I have some.

But hey, I’m doing the podcast for fun, because I got requests. It’s not my job. Firing up Audacity and fixing all the glitches, silencing the background noise, and making fancy introductions and credits is…work. I am having fun, folksy mistakes and all.

I must say I was embarrassed that my previous podcast episode got recorded silently. Ya know, I really should have previewed it. Amateur!

But, Lee has a point. I’ll up my game, at least a bit! After all, I have supporters. I owe it to them. Ooh! And I owe them their benefits! I’m ready to start making dishcloths, too! A big box with one skein In every color of Dishie cotton yarn arrived today.

Yarn! Plus some for me.

I’m starting my first set of dishcloths tomorrow. That will be fun! As long as it’s fun, I’m going for it. (Psst…I’m hoping to make more for future supporters).

Looking forward to even more fun tomorrow, with horses (a new one!) flowers and all the usual stuff.

How’s That Podcast Coming Along?

Today I was telling the story of skunks and escaping horses, and someone said, “You need to have some kind of ranch adventures blog or podcast!”

“Um, I do,” I said, and said to go look up The Hermits’ Rest. I actually saw people write it down.

Look, here I am having ranch adventures. I’m in one of the horse pastures.
More ranch adventures: we found WHITE verbena on our county road! That’s research!

So, it appears that I have not been doing the greatest of jobs at publicizing my funny ranch stories and personal rants. That’s probably because I don’t really enjoy self-promotion, though I make myself do it anyway.

On that note, I did start a podcast of verbal versions of this blog. I have found it to be surprisingly fun to record and put together. The people who have listened (all 21 of them) find it at least slightly interesting (and they love the theme song, by my talented son). I mean, whoa! That podcast is GREAT. That’s better.

I told myself that if I got a hundred plays of the episodes, I’d do more publicity. Today is that day. Time to get self promoting!

Look, here’s the podcast!

Just click that Play button and you can hear me yack about the horse and the skunk. I talk just like I write, too. The podcast is like a free bonus to this blog, which also, you may note, costs you nothing other than annoying ads. So far, the ads have raised a whopping $59.80 over the past two years, all for me to squander as soon as it hits $100 (maybe by the time I retire!).

If I’d had any hopes of paying for my blog hosting fees with those ads, I was foolish. I mean, I have plenty of followers and readers, but I’m no influencer. I guess they’re the ones who make money. You know, because they influence. I have tried to influence people to be kinder and more peaceful, but I’m not sure how well that’s worked.

So, Does the Podcast Have Ads?

It turns out that the Anchor platform where the podcast is hosted also has a deal where you get paid for ads. I had to make one, for Anchor (so far it’s my only sponsor). But, I DO get paid for it! I’m up to a DOLLAR! That’s right, kids, a dollar since March 10! I’d rather not have to put ads in, but to do that, I have to do the OTHER thing.

That thing is to get supporters. You can actually support the podcast (and the blog, since they are the same content in different forms) by making a monthly donation. What? Yes. Like being a patron on Patreon or something. Or like funding some startup. Only it’s me, talking about dogs, horses, plants, knitting, bias, and such. I do support a couple of other people this way, and it feels good, plus you get “bonus content” and such. It appears I can create bonus content on the podcast. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve made no bonus content, because I have no supporters. [insert frowny face.] But, that can change!

In fact, I’ve shared in a couple of spots that the first ten people who becomes a supporter get to have dishcloths made by me! And the first person to support at any level higher than $.99 a month will get a lap blanket made by me, and I’ll discuss the pattern with you and everything! What a deal!

UPDATE! The lap blanket has been CLAIMED! I’m still ready to knit on those dishcloths!

I could even knit a heart.

Why on Earth Are You Doing This, Suna?

I’m doing this, because podcasts with supporters get shared and recommended more than ones that don’t. And they get more offers for sponsors, too. Like maybe I could have a more interesting ad! Or rotate them! My mind is boggled by the possibilities. I could make fun and funny ads!

I can only do those things with sponsors. They will make Lee happy that I’m not “wasting” money on WordPress fees, and help support me in my old age. Who knows, if I get a couple of sponsors, I might be able to get a better phone with a better camera, or one of those nice microphones…

Raise my self esteem! Or tell me I need to STFU. Either way.

To sum up, the podcast has been more fun than I thought it would be to create. I’d love to have you check it out, on most podcasting platforms. And I’d be honored to have a supporter or two, who will be lauded, I promise! And get prizes if you hurry! AND I hate self promotion, so this will be IT for a while. I hope I get a supporter!

No podcast will be created from this post. (hooray)

What? Podcasting?

First, I’ll get this out of the way. I’ve decided to do a podcast to go along with this blog, since a lot of people would rather listen than read (like my husband). Some posts will work better than others. I’m still working out the kinks (like adding a consistent intro and ending blurb, but I do have three of them up at this site.

I have not gone overboard on this design.

Currently, it appears to be on Spotify, but maybe you can find it elsewhere. I did one post with an “automatically translate” feature, but I haven’t listened to it yet. Let me know if you listen. I can re-record if it’s totally awful.

I plan to slow down my speech (I do actually know how to record things, since I did it for my job for a long time), but I was having a lot of equipment issues at the ranch, due to my fancy headphones and/or something preventing me from playing back sounds.

Podcasts and Me

It’s sorta funny that I have resisted doing a podcast for so long, given my long history with them. Back when I was working for the nonprofit organization, one of my dearest coworkers, Elisabeth Lewin, was a podcasting pioneer, and she got us all set up doing podcasts from our international conference. I was (and still am) in awe of her equipment. I learned a lot from her.

I took what I learned and was able to help my musician housemate, Jeff Tveraas, get a website and all the accoutrements needed to set up a podcast of his own, which was called the Austin Connection. I really enjoyed those and was sad when he had to stop producing them, and wish the old episodes were still available.

I’ve watched as every single radio show I listen to has developed its own podcasts, as every vaguely famous news person has done, etc. And I’ve seen some of the blogs I read move to podcast-only format. I even pay money to a couple of people to support their blogs or YouTube channels that I actually don’t listen to. It’s obvious where the trend is going.

Nonetheless, I am apparently NOT an audio learner, so I never enjoyed listening to them, myself. I’ll listen to some of the ones Lee shares, but for some reason, I have no patience with wading through the sponsorship information, the plugs for how to obtain them, and the listening itself. I blame the fact that I read so quickly on my impatience with spoken media. I can zip through a blog, unless I pause to enjoy photos, while a podcast takes, well, as long as a podcast takes (same with learning off YouTube; I can’t stand all the blather).

Still, as I mentioned, I recorded e-learning videos for many years, which were like podcasts with accompanying slideshows. I’m not afraid of microphones, audio editing equipment or anything like that. I could easily make podcasts, but didn’t want to bother with all the uploading and editing.

So Now

When WordPress started hounding me to turn my blog posts into podcasts, I ignored it for a while. Then I started thinking about my husband, who will not go onto Facebook unless he has to say something for work and who hasn’t been able to figure out how to get my blog posts mailed to him. He does listen to podcasts, pretty much all the time, including when he is sleeping. What better way to reach him than to speak to him in his sleep! Creepy fun, right?

Plus, it’s something else to do! I love me a good project! The Anchor software that WordPress promotes makes it easy to do a podcast, as long as you have a microphone. There’s not a lot of editing software that I can use, so I’ll just leave my mess-ups in there. And I will see if I can get a son to record me some soft guitar music (NOT lengthy) to put on the opening.

The folks at Anchor claim you can make money from people subscribing to your blog. Yeah, right, the people at WordPress say I can make money from people looking at ads on my blog, and so far I have amassed nearly $60 (in over a year)!

But, what the heck, if you are a fan of my blog, or want to support the podcasting thereof, you are very welcome to subscribe. After all, I’ll need income after I retire.

Note that there’s a $.99 option!

You are ALSO very welcome to continue to read my blog for fun, entertainment, or to help you get to sleep. I’m happy to have an outlet for venting and sharing nature stuff, but, if someone wants to listen to me talk, they can do that, too. Just look for The Hermits’ Rest on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. I love subscribers, and will not turn down supporters!

Tired. It Happens.

Today was one of those do nothing but clean up and get stuff done days. For some reason, floor cleaning hurts my back, so I am zonked. But you need to dust and clean occasionally, right?

I got some good knitting in. My entrelac looks like something now. I enjoy knitting forward and backward, so I never have to turn the work.

A little lumpy, but nice colors.

The other one I started took a while to figure out, but will look good as it gets bigger. It’s a lot of slip stitches.

Hmm. Barf or nice?

I did see a few pretty plants and other living things today, plus I checked on the new fish, who all seem to be in the barrel. Enjoy these!

My sister made me and Lee a salmon dinner followed by a nice cake. Good ending to the birthday weekend.

I have been thinking about a few things and will get more interesting next week. Until then, here’s a checkered skipper butterfly.

Gifts to Myself

I now like birthdays a lot, because I just take a “me” day and do what I want to. If I want to work, I work, and if I want to goof off, I goof off. Today I did quite a bit of each (and am not yet finished).

The highlight of the day, so far, is that I finished the table runner I was making for Lee, which I can now declare his birthday present. Once that yarn finally showed up, I went to town on it. To me, it seems more like a small table cloth than a runner, but it looks cool on my ancient coffee table, even before blocking.

That’s lots of colors, but at least you can see the pattern, too.

As I probably mentioned before, it’s a pattern called Montague, which I made with a wild Noro yarn (Kureyopatora) rather than a sensible tan. Until I wash it and block it (dry it pinned to the correct shape) it will be a little bit lumpy. I have to find a flat surface with no dog access to do the blocking!

Oh look, another angle.

The lace pattern was just complicated enough to be interesting, but not so hard that I couldn’t converse or watch television (on most of the rows, anyway). It would look really good in a solid color, but you know me, I’m a peacock or something.

A better idea of the pattern. The black obscures it.

My big treat to myself was a little shopping (with mask; I was the only one) and a DQ Blizzard all by myself, with no begging dogs. Ahh. So, now I have to suddenly run off and feed the horses, but I did want to show you the nice plant I got delivered! I feel so loved.

Don’t Worry, Bees are Happy

Oh my gosh, y’all. I think I got the best birthday present EVER when I went out to check how the bee feeder was doing. Last night I checked it, and it was totally dry, with no bees. I was worried a dog had drunk all the sugar water, so I moved the feeder to a higher spot, added more rocks, and replenished the water. This morning, I saw THIS!

Now, THAT is a lot of bees.

There is some mighty buzzing going on around the chicken coop! There are still plenty of them at the chicken feeder, too, and they don’t seem to mind me adding food, or the chickens coming over and eating it one bit. They are busy bees. I discovered they are thirsty, too, because they are all over all the water sources, as well. You just have to listen to them! Check out this tour (bonus chicken footage).

Suna’s birthday bees

That’s all for now. I just wanted to share that helping bees is making me very, very happy. I needed that!

Speaking of Pollinators – Let’s Help Bees

The situation in this area with regard to the effects of the bad weather incident is pretty dire. I don’t think I realized how bad it was until I read the documentation encouraging people to participate in a project to track the state of pollinators and pollen sources here. Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch, wrote:

The 11-day cold spell (10-20 February) in Texas was a disaster. Freezing temperatures covered the state and extended well into Northern Mexico. While many of the immediate effects of the freeze are clear, season long and multiple year effects may linger. The damage to the flora was extraordinary, and it is likely that nearly all above ground insects died over a wide area. Plants already in flower may have been so damaged as to not flower this year.

Nearly all above-ground insects died! Now, every time I see an insect, I’m thrilled, and must record it. Yesterday I spotted a young grasshopper and a jumping spider, and if I could have hugged them, I would have.

A few of my friends have been mentioning that the bees are everywhere right now, and they don’t have much to choose from for nectar sources. As I showed you yesterday, I mostly have henbit and dandelions for them, along with a very few white clover blossoms (I think I saw six blossoms between my house and the horses, which is a half mile in distance).

I’ve been seeing photos of home-made bee feeders, which seem to mostly be pans with some gravel in them, filled with honey water. My friend, Pamela, had a lot of success with using a cookie tray and a simple plate!

I wasn’t sure if I needed to do that, since dozens and dozens of bees have been sampling the chicken feed, which makes me worry about how much sugar must be in there!

But, I figured it couldn’t hurt. I already had a nice shallow dish over by the chickens, but I don’t have any gravel, so I found a few rocks that look like reasonable perches. I poured some honey water in there (same stuff I make for hummingbirds) and waited.

Yeah, well, we don’t like this.

I guess I haven’t waited long enough, because I have only seen a couple of bees check out the water, and there are still very many on the chicken feed. I think I’ll go out and put in some sticks and flowers and the things Pamela had. It’s an ongoing experiment.

Zero bees at water station. Many bees in and on the food.

As an aside, I have to laugh about my chicken yard. It now feeds not only chickens but many wild birds. I’m always startling doves and meadowlarks in there, plus many sparrows. That’s fine with me. They’re all my avian buddies!

I do hope all the feeding of the bees helps. We need them, the native bees and the honeybees.

Update!

When I went out to check the mail, I took a detour by the chickens to see how the bee feeder was doing. I was happy to see that they found it, and could tell I made the liquid too deep. So, I added some flowers and sticks they can hold onto. Immediately the bees started using them, and more arrived. My heart is full.

Color Advice, Please

One of the things I would like to do this year is change the color of my bedroom at the Hermits’ Rest. It is a shade of chocolate brown that I chose in hopes of making the immense room look more cozy. Here’s a picture of Harvey looking like he’s calling a meeting to order, which shows the color.

Hmm, that looks even darker than it actually is.

What I didn’t do when I chose the color, was compare it to the color of the floor, doors, cabinetry, and trim, which are a currently unfashionable cherry stain. The wall color is more of a “bluish” brown and looks sorta sick to me. (I do not care if cherry and reddish wood tones are not in fashion. They will probably come back into fashion again before I die, knowing how things cycle.)

This photo, from my “shoes I like” blog post, shows the reddish color of the floors (which are actually bamboo).

Plus, this is MY house, it’s a ranch house, and the color looks nice and rustic to me. We’re never moving from here, so resale value can be something my heirs deal with as they rush to sell our hayseed property as fast as their urban-living selves can do it.

Perhaps, off in the background, you can see how the shelves and the wall color aren’t nice together.

I must admit, though, that while I take lots of pictures of things I like (my office, plants, dogs, chickens, horses, renovations), I do NOT take many pictures of my bedroom. I used to not like the furniture or the arrangement, but I like it a bit better now. That said, I haven’t taken a photo of the room in a long time, other than these images of a lamp and dogs.

I like the light-colored window trim with the wall color just fine. Also note that this room contains furniture I bought 30 years ago for my first “grownup” living space, plus a very old swam rocker from my family. There is a loveseat under that sheet, to collect dog hair and get washed often.

So, What New Color?

I want to repaint the room, or at least most of it. I’d like a deep or saturated color, to keep the room feeling warm, and contrast with the light-colored furniture that’s there, under dog-proofing. I don’t need to match curtains, since there are only prayer flags, and I always buy inexpensive bed covers, due to dogs and their propensity to ruin things with their toenails. So, I can get another color.

Our rugs are maroon and brown, which are the exciting theme colors from before. Right now those seem really gloomy to me. We can use them elsewhere, like in the office building, and get happier ones.

Here Are Ideas I Have:

  • Turquoise: that frightens Lee
  • Robins-egg blue: that would let us keep one wall brown (probably behind the bed), since that color goes well with brown.
  • Coral or terra cotta: I like orange, and these are less scary versions of orange.
  • Sage green: I love this color, but I have enough of it already.
  • Buttery yellow: that’s the color of my bedroom in Austin, and I love it (and it has a contrasting milk-chocolatey brown wall that I also want to change. I must have been in a brown period 5 years ago.

Colors to Avoid

  • Red: my favorite color, but not good in a bedroom. Ditto maroon.
  • Pink: I think Lee would go all sexist on that, plus I only like a few shades of pink, myself.
  • Blue other than the two shades mentioned above. I’m not fond of blue.
  • Black: Yuck. I don’t care how trendy it is.
  • White: Nope. Too sterile.
  • Gray: A warm gray might be okay, but I have painted so many rooms gray lately that I’m tired of it.
  • Tan: the whole rest of the damned house is tan.
Before we had any furniture, Lee said this was the most white-folks colored room he ever saw. Yes, that thing I am knitting is getting longer!

So, what shades have I not thought of? And yes, I would LOVE wallpaper, but we would have to re-texture the walls. That costs money, and people starting a new business generally don’t spend money on things like that until there is profit to be had!

A Doggy PS

You may remember that yesterday I posted a photo of the delicious lemon cake I baked and carefully decorated. Sigh. I set it as far back as I could on the kitchen counter, but someone very tall and with a giant tongue managed to find it.

Cake is now much higher up. The empty spot is where Alfred “tasted” the frosting.

We now have to store all bread and other tasty items in cupboards or on the bar. Well, I like things put away, ANYWAY. And I still love Alfred.

Lee tells Alfred he still loves him, in the very tan downstairs open concept room.