Pancakes: The Odd Thing about South Carolina Dining Out

Yeah, many towns look exactly alike, with the same stores, same shopping areas, and same restaurants. But, still, you can find interesting local differences if you pay attention. Here are some random things we’ve been noticing in South Carolina.

A Pancake and Waffle Obsession

Apparently, these are most beloved. Photo by @lorenklein via Twenty20

There are many restaurants around the US that specialize in pancakes and waffles. However, I’m pretty sure this part of South Carolina has the most pancake/waffle eating options of any place, or at least of any place I’ve been. The Waffle House chain has been around a long time (why, since 1955, according to the website), and you see them at many highway exits and such. But, here, in a 30-something mile stretch of one highway, I saw five of them. Then I looked on the Google Maps. Whoa.

That’s a lot of waffle houses.

You don’t have to go far for a waffle anywhere in this region. And by the way, this is making a person who hasn’t had breakfast really hungry. Too bad I’m tied to my headphones (I started this post while waiting for no one to show up to my early book club AGAIN).

So, waffles are made in a waffle-maker appliance, while pancakes (or flap-jacks or many other names) are cooked on a griddle or large pan. Thus, “pan” cakes. I get it now. The people of northern South Carolina, or perhaps it’s the tourists coming TO northern South Carolina) apparently consume a lot of these.

MMM, absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever, the perfect American food. Photo by @shanti via Twenty20

Usually in the US, you see IHOP, which used to be the International House of Pancakes, but modernized its name, just like KFC is no longer Kentucky Fried Chicken. Fine, try to hide your roots! I can recall my brother really liking chocolate chip pancakes from there, while I always wanted some exotic “international” crepe or something. I actually still like to eat there once in a while, because I like their coffee and breakfasts, which come with a small number of pancakes that won’t kill me.

Heavens, that’s a lot of pancakes.

Here, though, there are so many pancake options you could eat at a different one for a couple of weeks without repeating. People here must really love pancakes, or maybe they just eat breakfast a lot, since they’re all on vacation.

I also notice that other restaurants, like Cracker Barrel, focus on pancakes in their local signs, though I keep missing my photo ops.

Closest pancake to where we are staying.

I’ll probably never figure this one out. But it’s got me looking for pancake and waffle restaurants everywhere! Austin has taco places on every corner. Cameron has Mexican restaurants. What’s overly abundant where you live?

What Did I Want to Do When I Grew Up?

Hello from the road to South Carolina. I love road trips. You can sure think a lot. You can also knit a lot. I’ve actually arrived at the end of the pattern I’m making, but because I’m using different yarn and needles, I’m going to repeat the lace pattern.

Best picture I could get in the car. You can get the idea.

I have plenty of yarn left. I enjoy knitting without disturbances. It lets me think of new techniques to try, modifications to make, and things I want to try next. I was wondering if I could crochet a border off live knitting stitches (not bound off). I think I’ve seen socks done that way, with crocheted cuffs.

I can’t wait to block it.

I could knit for my job, if I’d taken that choice when it came to me. I love the science of designing patterns, love teaching it (so much, oh so much), like to go to conferences, and all that. And I do technical writing, which helps a lot. I’d have to have figured out a niche and done a lot of marketing, like so many of my knitting friends did so well. Knitting blogs got a lot of folks started, and I loved doing that, too.

So much comfort.

That dream ended as abruptly as my work in La Leche League did. I didn’t have the self confidence and hadn’t healed enough to figure out a way to get through the hard part and start again, which I now can do. I no longer just disappear when I’m unfairly treated and no longer believe what other people say. Woo!

What Else Did I Want to Do?

But, who knows, I have a lot of years left! There’s another alternate route I could have taken, like the road less traveled. Yes, it’s exactly like two roads diverging in a woods, because I didn’t choose the one leading into a forest.

I do love those plants!

In college, I concentrated hard on classes leading to an interdisciplinary degree in linguistics. I loved studying all the different areas, and was strongly tempted by neurolinguistics. Brains fascinated me. (Still do; notice what I read about now.)

But, I had to get those darned prerequisites out of the way. I did most of them in the wonderful honors program, but I got burned by an awful teacher in Biology who gave exams that were ten essay questions where if you missed any part of the answer, the whole thing was wrong. That ended up ruining my boyfriend and his best friend’s GPAs. I was like, “You ain’t messing with my summa cum laude, asshole,” and got the only A in the class. I gave him one scathing evaluation.

Crimson clover to cleanse your palate from that guy.

That preamble was intended to explain why I took my second biology class as a normal class, with a grad student TA instead of a mean full professor. The class mostly covered genetics and biochemistry. I ate it up like ice cream. Figuring out chromosomes and proteins and all that was like figuring out puzzles. It was so fun.

I always wanted to know how plants worked. This is a beautiful invasive vetch in Georgia.

I stayed after and asked the teacher questions. This guy was studying bees for his doctoral research, so I asked a lot about insect genetics. All I now remember is that he always wore incredibly wrinkled shirts, apparently because his girlfriend didn’t have an iron. There was much good-natured kidding, and he rewarded us with wearing an ironed shirt to the final exam.

Like this wild azalea hiding in a prissy trimmed hedge, I was nature girl stuck in academia.

Because I answered all the extra credit questions right, I didn’t need to pass the final, but I did it for fun. Then came the fateful question. The TA took me aside and begged me to switch majors. Biology needed me! I said I’d think about it. With my love of trees and springs and swamps, I imagined becoming a wildlife biologist and working with a State agency.

But, by that time I was already accepted to grad school in linguistics with a full fellowship. I had to take that path. Plus I was following my boyfriend. Hint to young people: your vocational choice should be determined by your brain, not hormones. I’ve been stuck working with language a lot longer than I had my boyfriend (a great human, don’t get me wrong).

The Good Part

But, all was not lost. I came to the Hermits’ Rest and got to hang out with Sara, the genetics PhD. And I met Dorothy, who’s not only a blog/podcast sponsor, but also got me into the Texas Master Naturalist program! I now get to do biology every day if I want to, I get to study the natural world, and if I can’t BE a wildlife biologist, at least I get to hang out with them! And I do work with a State agency.

Like this fine plantain, I’m choosing to find beauty wherever I am and grow where I’m planted.

It took me a while, but I did get to be what I wanted to be when I grew up. It just took patience.

So, have you attained your goals? Does your vocation match your avocation?

From the Pit to the Pinnacle

Whew. This has been a weird-ass week. I was really pessimistic about work over the weekend, and Monday I found out some changes were happening, right when I was supposed to be gearing up to contribute to an initiative.

But, I wrote myself that perky pushback post, read some of my other messages to myself, and by gosh, I pushed back. I figured out a way to empower one part of my team, make their work more visible, and engage other folks to share their value.

I only had three half days to do this, and I required help, but it happened. One of my colleagues really stepped up to help, and between the two of us, we went from feeling defeated to feeling renewed. We could have just sat there in Eyore mode and moped, but no, we did something.

I was a little worried about the amount of initiative I took, but after enduring me excitedly outline my plans, my boss was impressed, not upset. I felt supported and validated. All it took was leadershipping, as we call it.

Knowing that I’ve developed the skills to pick myself up and start again validates the hard work I’ve put into becoming the person I’d always hoped I could be. You really do have to slog through the pits if you want to reach the pinnacle of your personal growth goals.

On to the next challenge.

By the way, we stayed at a hotel near Tyler, Texas last night. It’s known for its roses, so I had to take some pictures for the blog readers. The white ones even smelled good.

You Can Choose to Do Nothing or You Can Push Back

One of my activist friends, Jonathan K. Horstman, had a social action campaign a few years ago, focused on not just sitting around and watching our communities deteriorate. It was called [PUSHBACK] and I liked the idea and what his team was doing. While he’s off doing other great things in the community (as well as acting, doing music, and raising two precious children), I’ve been thinking about my own tendency to retreat when faced with pressure, setbacks, and lack of respect. What’s that gotten me so far? A big ole bag of seething resentment. That’s not helpful at all. I no longer want to retreat in a corner, because as Jonathan said:

So, yesterday, I took a bit of a blow, and decided that rather than sit around and stew about it, I’d put my energy into creating something good, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. That is not a new analogy. I did this once before when my team at La Leche League was deemed to be not embracing the new ways of working well enough. We just worked our asses off until we were told we were redundant. While I was sad, I was also proud of how hard we fought, how well we organized, and how respectfully we treated each other.

Nice shirt!

THAT is how I plan to treat my coworkers as we regroup and move forward. We will come up with a plan, do good work, and feel proud of ourselves, whether it’s acknowledged or not. I went from wanting to run and hide yesterday, to wanting to proudly push back and say we’re here, we are good at what we do, and we’re going to contribute!

I’ll be busy as a happy bee

There’s always more than one way to get things done, and it really helps to bear that in mind when you’re surprised by changes, re-prioritization, and such. It’s normal for that to happen, especially in the workplace, so you may as well, jump in, see where you can be of use, and find your fulfilment in doing work you’re proud of. That’s my goal! No more seething resentment when I don’t like how I’ve been treated. I’ll take it as an opportunity to find ways to win respect, at least within myself, because after all, other people’s opinions don’t define you, now do they?

Yes, I’ve been lecturing myself on Facebook, where there are cute graphics.
My coworker today was this beetle.

I hope my latest lecture to myself has been helpful. I enjoyed how Barbara said in a recent comment that she often needs to hear these things, too. Just like I need to periodically re-read Brene Brown, I need to periodically repeat things I thought I’d learned a long time ago. And that’s just fine!

What do you have to tell yourself frequently? I’d love some more pithy aphorisms!

Humor Is Your Buddy

Thanks for the kind words about my stress dreams and such. I’m honestly okay with having some extra-anxiety-filled times occasionally, just as long as I have some extra-chill time to balance all that out. And I generally do! I share a lot of my fun times and relaxing, so I hope you know I’m not always a Debbie Downer, even if I AM overly inclined to introspection.

This is the most Debbie Downer picture I could fine. The stubble is a Zoom enhancement, not my actual face.

One of the most wonderful things I’ve found as I deal with all the interesting new challenges that have been coming up is that it doesn’t take much to lift my mood and help me see what’s good out there. I’m so glad I have a support team of friends and family who can always be counted on to provide perspective, without guilting me about how I feel, telling me to just smile, or downplaying my concerns.

Yesterday, I dragged myself out of the office after some hard work and hard conversations (don’t worry, I’ll LIVE), and took my fully vaccinated self over to the salon to get a haircut by the fully vaccinated Dan. I’ve had a good run of luck with hairdressers the past few years, and he’s the latest good one. We have a lot in common and similar senses of humor. By the time we finished telling stories about our mothers, cranky people, and random stuff on television, we were both laughing so hard I’m amazed he was able to cut my hair. Good thing I have one of those spiky cuts.

Much perkier me after talking to Dan. The donkey needlepoint and my favorite hummingbird shirt also helped my mood.

I then sped on over to the Bobcat Lair house, where I got to hang out with Anita and catch her up on the doings from the last couple of weeks. As I told her all my stories, my tales of woe, and my challenges, it suddenly became quite clear that some of my hard stuff was making life much easier on Anita, because she’ll get to start remodeling her house in Cameron. Things are moving in a good direction, just on a twisty path! A new phase in our lives is coming, and it will also be a fun one.

Then I started telling her all the good news happening with our buddy Mandi, all I learned from Apache this week, and of course how cute the chicks are. I realized I felt MUCH better. I was totally blanking out on the good that may come from some of the hard stuff, especially my life in Cameron!

And after I went to bed, I got to text with Lee and Kathleen and have fun with them. Yeah, Kathleen can’t hardly walk, Lee keeps losing his data, and I’m feeling old and tired, but we have each other, we can find the humor in everything, and we know good times are coming not too far down the road.

Having a supportive community makes ALL the difference. Thanks for being part of my community.

That’s what I need, perspective, humor, and the ability to look at things past the next few days. I’m gonna apply that in all that I do, and maybe I’ll make it through next week at work after all. I hope you, too, can see better things on the horizon and that using your buddy, humor, you can get through the rocky path toward something new and fun. Let’s do it!

Stress Dreams: A Cry for Help You Can’t Answer

One thing that becomes clear to me is that if I try to squish down stressful situations and pretend they don’t affect me, my anxious brain has its own ways to beg to differ. It’s all well and good to consciously remind yourself that the only things you should concern yourself with are things you can do something about. But some part of you (probably hanging out somewhere with those unconscious biases, over in the unconscious stressors area) still feels stressed about those things.

Envying butterflies. They eat a lot, then sleep a lot. After that they just have one job, they do it, and then they go to butterfly heaven.

Usually I feel okay during the day, sort of observing what’s going on and doing my best to let other people’s problems be their problems and not take things personally. That’s a major triumph right there! I do a lot of deep breathing, just like I do with the horse. People, horses, they’re all things I can’t control, only offer information to.

At night, though, I have a completely different type of dream when I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed than when things are just normally stressful. First, it’s the dreams about being in school and not knowing where to go or what the test is about. Then I’ll be at a large conference trying to avoid the scary people. Lately I dream about trying to get dressed in fancy clothing, but having forgotten how. That sounds like a COVID dream, doesn’t it?

I also think I’m trying to cover up my insecurities and put on a more professional/fancy face, but failing. People try to help me, but that makes me end up dressed really funny. I tend to end up going out to the party, meeting, or whatever half dressed. That’s a work-based interpretation. It means that all this hashing out of the same problems but only coming up with half-assed solutions ends up creating something totally unworkable. Hmm, that’s what my colleague L. and I talked about just today!

This is how I feel. All “extra” and woozy.

Otherwise, I’m overwhelmed with baby animals, adult animals, and their excrement. Duh. That’s literally true at the ranch, and figuratively true with my work and family life.

The dreams partially come from having so many animals in bed with me, and partially come from my problem of wanting to take care of everyone who’s helpless or needs comfort. Even when I consciously tell myself I can’t help people who don’t want to be helped or comfort everyone who’s hurting, my heart wants to anyway. Oh, stop it.

For me, I get physical symptoms only when my subconscious’s other ways of communicating don’t work. Right now they’ve been screaming at me for a week or so, and that’s led to my favorite anxiety symptom: chest pains. That means I need to do something NOW or I won’t be fully functional. I also get weird feelings like everything’s in slow motion, which makes it hard to talk. Usually, I can get through these and still do what I need to do, but it takes so much energy!

My mind and body are crying for help, obviously, but there isn’t a darned thing I can do to make today any different. I just have to get through today and see what tomorrow brings. We can’t always cope, and that’s actually fine. Sometimes we have a right to have an anxiety attack. It helps to know they will pass, and things can get back on an even keel.

Hope you aren’t having the ups and downs I am today! If you are, know you aren’t alone, because I’m surrounded by people in the same boat!

Unconscious Bias? Just Ask Marcus Aurelius

My spouse, Lee, has been studying Stoicism for the past year or two. He really enjoys The Daily Stoic podcast, by Ryan Holiday, who happens to be my boss’s best friend. Small world! Who knew? Holiday has a new book of meditations out, with new translations of the Stoics into modern English by Stephen Hanselman. Of course, Lee’s enjoying it greatly. He even got a special journal to record his own thoughts. That man LOVES to journal almost as much as I love to blog!

So, the passage for yesterday was:

Do away with the opinion I am harmed, and the harm is cast away, too. Do away with being harmed, and harm disappears.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.7, as quoted in The Daily Stoic, p. 119.

This is one of those topics we linguists love, especially those of us, like me, who are enamored of pragmatics. Not only do words have different meanings in different contexts, but tone of voice and intention can also change meanings. PLUS, the person hearing the words will interpret what is said through their filters. The same sentence with the same intonation can engender a hearty laugh or a world of hurt, depending on how it’s taken.

You have to like a guy who was a good horseman. From Britannica.

Assuming good intent is what it boils down to, right? It’s just like with the Little Free Library story yesterday! Susan could have interpreted the stolen books as an act of aggression or malice, but she instead chose to interpret it as a cry for help. I often find myself interpreting comments that could be taken as mean or passive aggressive as being the result of some issue I have no clue about. Thus, I do away with the harm, and it’s gone. Easier said than done sometimes, I must admit.

Continue reading “Unconscious Bias? Just Ask Marcus Aurelius”

A Little Free Library with a Lesson for Us All

You know, I talk a lot about assuming good intentions and treating others as you’d like to be treated (or as they let you know THEY would like to be treated). What’s GREAT is when I see this in action. Today I share a story from someone I’ve always admired. We can learn from her.

Susan is someone I went to grad school with back in good old Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. She actually got a job and used her linguistics Ph.D., which I admire greatly. She now lives somewhere else out in the great Midwest in the United States. I’m obscuring some details, since they’re irrelevant.

My friend’s Little Free Library in Taylor, Texas.

Well, as a lover of words, reading, and books, Susan started a Little Free Library outside her home. These are such great community builders, and I’ve always admired my friends, like Cindy in Taylor, who maintain them. Anita and I used to always walk by one when we lived in the casita, and we’d see what new books had turned up. The idea is you can take a book or two, and then leave a book you’re finished with for someone else to enjoy. They’re always decorated to look cute, and many places make zoning exceptions for them.

Everything is gone.

Well, over at Susan’s library, something went amiss. Four times in a week, someone had come by and totally cleaned out all the books. After replacing them three times, Susan was considering taking it down.

You can just imagine what went through her head or the heads of her friends. How rude of someone to do that! What has this world come to? No wonder we can’t have nice things! It just takes one creepy person to ruin a nice thing for everyone else! And such. These are probably the things that ran through MY head.

Susan’s a good person, though, and she thought hard about what to do about the thefts. Rather than write an angry note or take the library down, she thought about what might cause someone to be so desperate as to steal free books. And, bless her, she did a much kinder thing:

Yes, at the suggestion of an old friend of hers (also, obviously a good person), Susan filled her library with non-perishable food items. If the book thief was hungry, she was happy to help. Not only that, but she wrote a note, which I will quote below, leaving out specifics:

Hi!

Are you the person who has been taking all the books from this Little Free Library? Have you been selling the books because you need money? Are you hungry or hurting?

We’d really like it if you would leave the books for readers to read and exchange, but if you are hurting, perhaps we can help. Please take any or all of these groceries if you need them.

But a Little Free Library is not a food pantry—there are, however, food pantries in town you could turn to:

[Lists nearby pantries]

If it’s not just hunger, but other kinds of hurt, please consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.

Wishing you the best,

The [location] Free Library Steward.”

Now, THAT is what I call assuming good intent and treating others like you’d wish to be treated. Rather than taking her toys in a huff, she reached out with empathy to someone who must be hurting or dealing with some pretty big issues. Rather than assuming it was just some mean library hater, she assumed her visitor could use a friendly word or a helping hand.

I’m taking this lesson to heart, and I hope you do, too. We can all try to be a little more like my role model, Susan. I’m very grateful to her for sharing this story.

No, You’re Not Responsible for the Happiness of Others

Here is a post where I lecture myself and remind myself of how one of my personality features bites me in the butt, repeatedly, for the same dang thing. It’s bugging me so much that I’ve started writing my own passive aggressive memes about it. I put a picture of Fiona enjoying Johnson grass under the words “You are responsible for your own happiness.” I felt good.

May be an image of animal, outdoors and text that says 'You are & responsible for your own happiness 0'
Fiona knows this!

And, by the way, I am still occasionally annoyed beyond belief when people post thinly disguised “messages” to folks who are in their disfavor via memes. On the other hand, some of Kathleen’s do make me laugh, so I’m not saying y’all should never do it. Perhaps I just don’t like the ones aimed at me. Wow, that makes me sound like a jerk. Newsflash: I AM a jerk, at least in the eyes of some people. Hey, it reminds me of another meme I wrote years ago: No one is universally beloved unless they are boring as hell.

Where I’m going here is that I keep re-learning is that it’s not my job to “make” anyone else happy. In fact, when I try to do so, it usually blows up in my face in a spectacular manner. And I’m the one who gets hurt. That’s why I wrote a meme to remind myself. It said: “Reminder time: You’re not responsible for the happiness of others.”

I’ve probably mentioned this before, since I’ve been blogging so long, but indulge me as I repeat that one of my “features” is that I find sad people, see their good points, and want to help them become happier. This started in my twenties, where I tried to help a paranoid grad school friend realize that people weren’t always talking about him behind his back and the professors didn’t hate him just because one didn’t say hello in the hall. I knew I couldn’t “fix” him, but wanted to make things easier on him. Of course, he hurt me badly in the end. And I didn’t really help. I heard from him a few years ago, and he was still thinking everyone was out to get him. I didn’t contact him again.

Not by me, but true.

Moving forward, many (okay, most) of my “love affairs” I now see as me trying to help someone sad feel better. Coincidentally, many had some pretty severe mental illnesses they were living with (a LOT of borderline personality disorder). I’d help with their self esteem and get them to a better place by being kind and listening a lot, but I couldn’t “cure” them, just show that they are worth caring for just as they are. Once that message sunk in, they’d move on to someone more well suited to them. And I’d be sad. I do hope the new relationships went well. And hey, I did eventually see my destructive pattern and STOP IT. Lee’s the last sad person I rescued, lol. I was also sad, though, so this time it was mutual, and we are sticking together through thick and thin.

It wasn’t just people I “fell in love” with. I also would come across younger folks and want to help them get a good start in life. Some of those actually worked out very well, and I have some great friends living wonderful, independent lives. But, I was still drawn toward people whose issues were really not something I could do anything about. I couldn’t “make” them happy by providing them with a safe home, sharing experiences with them, giving them tools for their hobbies, or anything. Mostly I now have a lot of baking and art supplies to show for that.

Ooh, this meme hits close to home.

At least two of these people I tried to help and even brought into my home ended up lecturing me for being kind to them just to make me look good. I took that to heart. Maybe a lot of it was MY problem, not theirs. Ugh. All this self-evaluation is not fun or pretty. But I hope I learned the lesson that each of us is responsible for our own happiness, and while giving people a chance is good, they need to find their own way.

I need to keep writing myself some memes, though, because it has dawned on me that I’ve been trying to make life better to some other folks, STILL. I spend so much mental effort trying to figure out ways to make their lives easier and more pleasant. I want the people in my home and work life to feel like they’re contributing to society, cared for, and not alone. That’s probably okay. I still can’t “make” anyone feel less depressed, less unfulfilled, or satisfied with where their life has ended up. It’s not my job.

A meme about walking your own path.

I say all that to try to reinforce it in my head. I’m NOT a failure if people I care about are not handling things well. I can’t rescue anyone, including myself! So, right now I’m working to get a better balance between caring for others and protecting myself from hurt. I know I’m not alone in this, but it’s damned hard. I’m not doing a good job of it a lot of the time. I’m wired to be an annoying rescuer, and I’m sure it came from growing up with a powerless, mentally ill mother, or whatever.

All’s not lost, though. I’ve been learning a lot in working with my team in Austin, and my boss has come up with this helpful way of looking at the mentor-mentee relationship. And that’s that the mentor can only give 50% of the effort in improving situations. The other person ALSO has to give their own 50%. Expecting someone to fix everything for you never works; you have to put in the effort. Thanks, boss, you super-stoic.

Sara and Ace are the perfect example. Each of them has to be doing their part for their horse-rider relationship to grow.

Forgive me if I’ve ever tried to help you and it made you upset or angry. I’m doing it because I also need help, ya know? Eventually I’ll figure out a balance between being part of a supportive community for those who could use some help and supporting my own self. Maybe even I’ll do better at asking for help. Those are some big dreams.

Until then, I’ll look for memes.

PS: On the podcast, I added that I may not have been clear here. I’m not saying you can’t support, love, and cherish people who are struggling, nor that you shouldn’t. I was trying to just make it clear that you can’t force people to not feel the way they feel. Did that help?

Mowing, Controversy, and More Horse Stuff

I was trying to create a funny essay yesterday when I wrote about our property not being mowed yet, but it sparked some Facebook controversy. Some people were thrilled and others were appalled that we were doing it. I don’t know why I was surprised, since mowing is always controversial! Like so many things out here in the country, you have to sometimes decide who is a priority and who needs to sacrifice for the greater good. In this case, the safety of our elderly residents and visitors has to come before some flowers, mice, and such.

Shredder, attached to tractor! We can ranch now!

We need to have the area by the house mowed short enough that we can see snakes and holes that pop up randomly. I don’t want my sister or brother-in-law falling or getting bitten. We let things go a lot longer farther out, and luckily they can’t get to ALL my dewberries, ha ha.

In any case, we are really grateful to our young neighbor, Tyler, who is quite mechanically inclined and strong for getting the riding mower belt back on so the brother-in-law can mow. Jim’s happy about that, and is all decked out in his hat, mask, and other protection.

Goodbye sunflower jungle

Meanwhile, Lee’s in the tractor shredding. He’s shredding high, just to knock the tops off the thistles and their kin (don’t worry, there is PLENTY on the roadside for many, many birds). Speaking of birds, the hawks and eagles are quite happy he’s shredding. He had a caracara (Mexican eagle) watching quite intently yesterday. I see a couple of hawks have joined in, too. Buffet time!

Shredding away. Don’t worry the flowers will not die. Next week they’ll be blooming like the dickens.

But honestly, we don’t have too many mammals that don’t live underground in the area we’re mowing, because the rabbits have learned to go elsewhere to avoid the dogs, and we have mouse predators up the wazoo, both flying and barking. Plus, they will come back, believe me.

The area will look nice for the dinner we’re having tonight, where I hope my son and partner will join us!

The Horse Part of the Story

Have you noticed it’s always something with the horses, especially Apache? I have. Sigh. Yesterday afternoon, I headed out to try riding again, took him out of his paddock, and started grooming him. I got to his back, and he startled. I thought maybe he saw something or was surprised by Ace arriving. I started again, and he moved away. That was odd. He was acting like the curry comb was hurting his back. Just the day before yesterday I could groom him just fine there.

I’m always having trouble, but I’m a great friend!

I called Sara over and demonstrated on the other side. This time he curved his back downward to avoid the brush. So, Sara, who knows a lot more horse stuff than I do, did a test with her hands going down his spine, and whoa, did he react right at his withers (shoulder area). Obviously, I was NOT going to ride him. Poor guy!

Instead, I took him into the round pen where he patently ignored me, not at all like his usual self. He sort of moped around and tried to eat. We walked around together, and he was fine. Next, I took him out and put a long rope on him, something I don’t do often because, clumsy as I am, I always trip on the rope and get tangled. But, I wanted to try him in big circles, to see if he’d walk better that way.

As soon as I asked him to walk, he started out really close, so I waved my carrot stick thingie at him to encourage him to walk further out. Yow! Instead he took off like some kind of green colt. He launched into a canter, bucked and farted numerous times, bucked, started to gallop, and generally acted most unlike his usual self. He stopped when I asked him to, though, but when I signaled to walk in the other direction, he reared and went off like a race horse.

Both Sara and I were thinking it was a bit dangerous, but I just waited until he settled down into a trot and stopped him. He was quite wound up, and blowing through his nose. I honestly had never seen him like this since I met him, unless he was out playing!

Sara suggested I give him something to do to make him think and not wallow in his emotions, so I had him walk over telephone poles on the long lead, walk up and down the poles with me on the other side of them, go over our little jumps, and eventually walk calmly down the driveway. He seemed to be having a lot of fun with all those activities, so I considered that a win and we went back.

I do this because someone trained me to. I think it makes me look cool.

I’m going to have to ask Trixie, our farrier and horse body work expert, what could be wrong with him. Maybe he twisted his back rolling (they are all rolling a lot right now, due to flies)? Maybe he has worms, again (can’t wait to move him out of that paddock and all the old poop)? Maybe he’s a diva? Sigh.

On to the next horse, how about it? Sara has been working with Ace, who has a very interesting personality. When he knows what he’s doing, he’s amazingly cooperative and follows instructions like a dream. But, when he gets confused and doesn’t know what to do, his go-to response is to buck and run. That doesn’t sound like riding would be fun, to me.

But, yesterday he made great progress, and Sara decided to get him used to someone on his back. I was the photographer, and got good pictures of her putting weight on his back, stepping up, and finally getting on. He was quite fine with the whole person sitting on his back concept. Way to go, Ace!

I like standing here and not moving.

He’s not as fine with reins and bits, and whenever Sara asked him to move forward, he’d back up. My uneducated theory was that he was trying to get away from the pressure by moving backwards, not realizing the pressure would stop if he just went forward. Horse brains are very interesting. I think she got him to take one step forward. But, on the other hand, there was no bucking, spinning, leaping or running off! I declare it to be quite successful for a first try! I’m sure she’ll make a lot more progress today!

See, I did move. In circles, backward! It’s a start!

Chicken News

Believe it or not, someone asked me what I was going to do with the baby chicks when they arrive on Wednesday. I had a couple of ideas, which I want to run by the nephew, but my current one is to make them a little area that includes the white nest boxes. That would provide shelter and a roosting space, plus room for chick food that the older chickens can’t get to. Star would be able to eat grown-up hen food, too, and I can easily give them water.

The idea is to use the door as a chick guard, but Star could get out and wander if she wanted to.

Soon enough, I’ll be able to let them all out. I do have another idea involving the cage we used for the guineas, but it needs some rain shelter. We’ll see, as Lee’s dad always said.

And, the moving egg laying saga continues. Springsteen has decided she likes the corner where Bertie Lee is laying. I found two eggs there yesterday, definitely not from the same hen. Oh, chickens.

Bertie at left, Springsteen at right (her eggs have a pink tinge)

I’m looking forward to another nice day at the Hermits’ Rest, plus the Zoom wedding. How pleasant it is to have positive plans! Hope your plans are positive as well.