Gifts of Love That Live On and On

No doubt I’ve mentioned before that one of my “love languages” is gifts. This is funny to me because I’m not a very good gift giver. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t like to just randomly give things; I want to give meaningful gifts. For example, we didn’t do much for Christmas this year, but I did give everyone in my immediate family (plus Anita and my neighbor Sara) t-shirts with the Hermits’ Rest logo and “Hermits’ Rest Ranch and Family Compound, Walker’s Creek Texas, Est. 2012” on the back. Most had their name on the front, too. I did this to support a local woman who started a t-shirt business and to celebrate ten years of the ranch. That had meaning to me. Of course, no one has worn theirs, but that’s fine. It’s the thought that counts.

And that’s the deal right there. Because gifts from the heart mean so much to me, I treasure them, often for years and years. I have carted some items that probably appear meaningless with me everywhere I’ve moved, because my heart softens a little bit when I see them.

Tiny, stained decoupage pansies my mom made for me. Been with me 40 years or so.

And when I look around my house, I’m reminded of people I’ve loved throughout my life, as if they are with me and supporting me wherever I go and whatever is happening to me.

Fu dog from Delores, my high-school boyfriend’s mom.

Sure, the minimalists think that things are just things, and they may well be correct, literally. But I’m more like a Japanese Shinto practitioner in that for me, objects have spirits, vibrations, or special meaning that is more than just their utilitarian form or function. As I often point out when someone says I’m rather “woo-woo,” there are many things in the Universe that we humans do not yet understand or may not even be capable of understanding, so who’s to say there aren’t special vibrations or connections between objects and people who have made them or touched them?

Mandala from India given to me in 1987 by Alice Davidson, a grad school mentor.

I know I put a lot of love into things I make for people that I hope somehow comes through to them. And I feel love from things people make for me or buy with me in mind. I feel little internal hugs when I am reminded of these dear souls.

My therapist/friend made me this mama bear necklace with protective stones around the time of my divorce from my kids’ dad.

My motley collection of objects helps me feel grounded and connected to my community, my spirituality, and my planet. I feel the love from long-departed loved ones through their gifts, and that brings me contentment and peace. That’s worth having to deal with a bit of clutter, I think.

Teapot from Mama Rose, my friend Jeff’s dear mother.

(And if you don’t like my clutter, don’t hang out with me!)

Crafty Crafting

It’s nice to be back to normal. Life here is just fine, working hard, playing with horses, and enjoying new plants as they return each season. No complaints.

Shepherd‘s purse is back!

I’m glad I’ve relaxed about a lot of things, like caring about people’s opinions of me, trying to lose weight…etc. One thing I’ve also let go of is trying to be perfect in my crafts. I always used to beat myself up over mistakes. Now I just go with it.

I’ve been putting a very bright border on the mosaic rug I’m working on. About halfway through, I realized the first row should have been the orange color. Shoot. But I just kept going. Now that I got to the end, I got crafty.

The example, with slip stitch embellishment at top.

I decided to add some embellishments in the right color and I think it looks cute! I’m just slip stitching, and I think it looks correct from a distance and interesting up close. I’m going to add another border repeat in two other colors. Then poor, patient Rollie will finally get their Christmas gift!

Here’s to crafty crafts and embracing imperfections!

Farewell, Trusty Friend

I’m going to admit something. I really liked my old car. It was a dream car to me, a British racing green Jaguar XF. Yes, I owned a British luxury car for 6 years. But guess what? It cost much less than most Texans’ giant pickup trucks. And it went zoom.

I had been made fun of and told I was bragging when I got a nice small SUV to replace my beloved Mini Cooper because it couldn’t handle our early ranch setup. So I never mentioned the Jaguar on social media, though it was in a couple of photos.

Geez. I earned the money to buy a car. Why can’t I be proud and happy about it? Because I cared so much about what people thought about me. I hereby declare that to be a waste of time. Believe me, I help others, too.

My former car.

I never had Ani issues with the green menace, either. It got attacked by another car and a giant slab of wet drywall that flew off a truck, so it spent some time in the fancy car body shop. I also went through lots of tires, thanks to the lack of maintenance in Milam County. Tires contributed to having to say goodbye to the car.

The other thing about the XF is it was perfectly sized for me. I was very comfortable in it. It responded to my every whim. Other family members had trouble with it being low and not tall. So I only got to enjoy it alone or with Anita, who is also small.

Shining in its filthy glory. It had just rained.

I’ll skip the details and just say the car began acting really weird a couple weeks ago. It revved and had trouble shifting. Last week I finally was able to take it to the closest dealership in Round Rock (in my old neighborhood). When we dropped it off we looked at the one new car available for sale, since we were going to trade another vehicle. Just looking, though.

I get to keep my Master Naturalist license plate. No lectures on the evils of vanity plates, thanks. It’s my choice.

Friday I got a call from the shop about what was wrong. I’m short, the car had broken. A bunch of air related things had fallen apart. And the potholes had put the car so far out of alignment that the inside left tires were falling apart. We couldn’t see it. And one of those tires was only a few months old!

Bad tires you can’t see

All the repairs, along with a big scheduled maintenance totaled a ridiculous amount of money. So, we’re trading my dear car in along with the other vehicle. That works out better.

Next week or week after next I’ll have a car that Lee can get in and out of more easily and still goes Zoom. It may not be British racing green, but it does have red seats.

Mmm. Red.

It’s white, which is not my favorite, but the black trim makes it look sharper. And Lee likes this one. Yay?

Red brake calipers!

And now for some schadenfreude. On our way back from taking my stuff out of my old car, so they can sell it off, we ate at a reasonable restaurant, where I had Mac and cheese with shrimp. This place had a good healthy menu.

I had tried to eat at one of these before but it wasn’t open yet.

The part where you can rejoice in my pain is that when I got up to get a to-go box I tripped on a killer beam under the table and managed to fall on the concrete floor and hit both knees, both elbows, and my wrist. Talented! So see, I’m an awkward Jaguar driver. At last the floor was clean.

Killer table. Attractive, though.

Anyway, that was my entitled elitist ranch lady day.

PS Yes I own arnica. People always shout that at me.

Why My 2022 Blog Stats Don’t Disappoint Me

People often share year-end blog recaps. I remembered that today (oops) and checked the hits and views and other statistics from last year. I was not too surprised to realize my numbers were down 13% compared to 2021.

People may be bored of flowers

I know a couple of reasons why not as many visitors came last year.

One: not as many projects to follow. I used to write a lot about projects we were engaged in, like renovations and ranch improvements. Some got lots of interest. But we’re not able to share as much now. Just horses.

Two: not as much drama. Posts about deaths of pets, illnesses, natural disasters, and conflict get lots of hits. I didn’t have but one dead rooster and a niece bitten by a lack widow. I’m not going to complain about a lack of drama!

Three: better mental health. I’ve felt better, so I’ve ranted and whined considerably less. Reading about how good I feel, how much fun I’m having, and how little other people’s issues are messing with me is not riveting entertainment. And that’s fantastic!

Four: apparently there were folks reading this blog just to find things to gossip about. By not mentioning most people in my life (other than my husband and horse trainer) I’m not providing gossip fodder. Please gossip about me and my flaws all you want, though, because that’s your problem, not mine. I’m at peace with my idiosyncrasies.

I figure yakking about what I learn from

So yeah. I’m more boring! That’s the BEST! The people I care about are still here, and I appreciate the chance to share nature, horses, dogs, needle crafts, and travel with them. Thanks for hanging out with boring and happy Suna.

Keep writing about us! We’re fascinating!

Another Day, Another Year

Resolution time? No. I’ll keep doing my best to learn, grow, be kind, promote love and peace among my neighbors. I guess I resolve to keep going.

Let’s all bloom where we’re planted or re-pot ourselves. (Bad metaphor!)

I think the way 2022 differs from the last couple years is that the lows were lower and the highs higher. The family stuff has been particularly scary, between all the various sicknesses of many types and mental health challenges. But there’s been great growth and opportunities, too.

The year ended beautifully.

As for me, I experienced so much personal growth that I even impress myself! But I did hit rock bottom for a few weeks — like I said the lows were very low. Working with the horses has been so good for me. I’m so much better at trying new things, which I’ve been working on for years.

They keep me calm and seem pretty chill, themselves!

And my job has been great for me, too. I feel respected and empowered. And I enjoy what I do. Everyone deserves that kind of job at some point.

I’m as content as a turtle on a warm winter day.

And finally, I’ve gotten the hang of letting go of things outside of my control or letting the opinions of people outside my inner circle get to me. (Mostly) I’m still working on not letting people I care deeply about hurt my feelings, but we all need something to work on, right?

Butter is working on getting stuff out of this pot.

Let another year start. I’m not worried or excited. Years are arbitrary markers, anyway.

Weeks are arbitrarily marked by new manicures.

The arbitrary last day of 2022 was lovely, though. The weather was great for all activities and I got lots done. The only negative thing is that the stitch I’m joining the rug I’m trying to finish is so tight and twisty that my arm hurts. I’ll have to sacrifice for beauty, then rest a lot.

It looks good, though.

While horsing, I visited with Mandi the neighbor for a while. We need to visit more. Darn work messing with my visiting. Still, all day was pleasant. Here’s to a pleasant and peaceful future.

My gift to you for the new year is sunset and animal photos. Enjoy.

Bizarro World

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.

This is from 1960. From hipcomic.com

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.)

Bizarre? No, good. Grass is growing on our new little hill and a flock of killdeer has taken over the bank.

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.

Ack! Giant spider eats wasp! Bizarre!

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?

Breathe, Suna

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.

Bizarro World.

Regular World with noms

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.

Ommm

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.

Spot my overly subtle Yule decor.

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.

We Interrupt This Scenic Beauty…

…with a whine

The height of “fall color” has arrived, and I’m really enjoying looking at it.

My view.

But oh my goodness, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired! How long can a cold last, anyway? How much mucous can one nasal cavity hold? I guess I am going to find out, because I feel just awful, still.

Head toward the light, Vlassic!

I had 5 straight hours of meetings this morning, many of which required speaking and acting intelligent. That was no easy task. And before the weather gets bad again, I want to ride Apache and Drew. But I feel like crap.

Thanks, trees.

I got to wondering if maybe this is more than a cold, so I took yet another COVID test, but it just mocked me.

That’s a negative

I had been thinking COVID because I am tired and if I exercise a lot, it’s hard to breathe. But hey, a cold will do that, too. Or maybe the flu tests missed some kind of flu and I have that. All I know is I’m almost finished with antibiotics, which means I’ll probably get a sinus infection next. (Yes, I take probiotics.)

That brush pile may be ugly, but it houses a lot of white-crowned sparrows!

Anyway, that’s my whine. I am tired of being sick, even if I’m a Bad Ass, according to my coworker who sent a mug just like hers. That was a kind gesture, wasn’t it? And yes, I look like I feel. Crappy.

One more meeting and I can collapse.

Autumn of Life Is Here

When the fall color arrives here in the middle of Texas, it’s subtle, and you don’t see it coming. I love this season and take comfort in the quiet beauty of our cedar elms and oaks as they prepare to lose their leaves for the winter.

I see some orange and yellow out there.

Today dawned sunny and crisp, but not cold. It was a welcome relief to see the sun for the first time in many days, and even more welcome was the sight of the new pond finally completely full and draining to the other side of the dam. After four cloudy, drizzly days, we had a large front move through overnight that brought enough rain to fill the drought-parched tanks for the first time since last spring. I guess the drought is over, at last.

It’s full!
I keep you healthy

The way this season has crept up reminds me of how I’ve been moving into the autumn of my life and not realizing it. I’ve been lucky to be very healthy since we came out to the Hermits’ Rest and have been growing stronger and more capable thanks to working with the horses and other animals.

Realistically, I am old.

But this illness that came up last week has been a very unsubtle reminder that I’m not a young person anymore. A cold that I’d usually just power through over a few days has made me weak and tired. I didn’t expect that at all. I keep trying to go out and get things done, only to feel worse and fall asleep for a few hours. I’m not bouncing back.

I am glad that it’s been so wet and muddy out, because it the weather had been good, I know I’d have been trying to force myself out to work with Drew, who needs me on him and working with him. But our working area is a little lake right now, and I am barely able to maneuver across the muck to get the food buckets for the poor horses. (They are not suffering; in fact, I think they are enjoying the pleasant temperatures and the abundant hay.)

And the horses have puddles to stomp in.

As I’m pulling myself out of the depression episode and feeling my mortality more than usual, it’s taking effort to not go into reflective mode and dwell on goals not achieved, mistakes made, and errors unaddressed. The sun’s helping me remind myself that I’m still able to learn new things, be kind to those who’ll accept kindness, and forgive others.

I should do more looking at reflections and less reflecting. This is the creek, with water at last.

While it’s true that I notice my memory failing and don’t know how much longer I’ll be a useful member of society, I do have confidence that no matter what, I’ll be able to enjoy each new autumn when it arrives. It may just be different from now on as I go from the autumn to the winter of life.

Penney Goes Ballistic When I Sneeze

Here’s a new development! As you may know, I’ve been sick for a few days. That’s made me a bit sneezy. (The strep throat is way better but it’s pretty obvious I have come down the the common cold, a thing I haven’t had in a long time!) The dogs have been taking good care of me, and I appreciate it!

Always ready to serve, Suna

However, just recently, I’ve noticed the strangest behavior in Penney the Neurotic Bitch (she’s a female dog). If I sneeze she goes into panic mode, running around and whining then literally leaping into my lap.

Must save Suna!

Now, if she just jumped into my lap, it would be fine. But no, she climbs up my torso and glues herself to me, shuddering, whimpering, and worst of all, licking any skin she can get to. It’s like having a licking tornado in your lap.

And there’s the pawing, too. She scratches my delicate old-lady face.

Once she’s up there wriggling and writhing and pawing and licking, it takes forever to calm her down. It’s gotten to where I run into the bathroom or somewhere safe when I think I’m going to sneeze, to avoid the onslaught.

I’m smiling, but it’s not actually fun.

I think she thinks I’m hurt? Or the sound scares her worse than even thunder? She doesn’t go into a panic when I cough or blow my nose (my current secondary pastimes after typing and crocheting). I’d love to hear your theories on this! In the meantime, no sneezing for me!

Dealing with People Like Me

Advice for me, too

For the first time in a few years, I didn’t blog for a while. I’m not back because people were clamoring for me to write (in fact, no one said anything at all about it, which is perfectly fine). I’m back because I figured out some stuff about my mental challenges that I thought might be helpful for others. What prompted it was a lot of introspection I did after seeing some of these motivational posts in social media.

Oh yeah, Nikki? Really?

My mental issues tell me that no one wants to see the unmuted version of me. It’s been backed up all my life by folks telling me I’m too sensitive, too judgmental, too negative, too…blah blah blah. And thanks to having this extra-unpleasant “rejection sensitivity dysphoria” (RSD) deal, when I hear something that sounds to my extra-sensitive ears like a criticism or put-down, my limbic system kicks in and goes into defensive mode. That guarantees I’m going to overreact and piss someone off. Nope, no one really does want to see the unmuted version of me! Consequently, I do try to make myself smaller, to avoid subjecting other people to my unregulated self.

Break!

And this week, after being told how negative I was, I fell into a deep well of self-criticism. And when I asked for help and support, I felt criticized for not asking for it appropriately, and was informed that when people tried to help me, it made it worse. You can see how a downward spiral might ensue, even when I knew in my head that I was being criticized for basically being who I am, which I can’t change as much as I’d like to. Being told not to react to things that trigger me the way I do is like telling a tree not to have bark. Well, yuck to all that, right? (Note that I know the person I was talking to was not intending to be mean. This is just an example.)

So, I was wondering how I could have the reactions in my head that my mental challenge makes me have but mitigate it somehow. One thing I thought of was for people who are forced to talk to me when I have an RSD episode to not add criticism about my reaction on top of my reaction. For example, if I react to something by hearing in my mind that I’ve been told I’m the most negative person in the world, an unhelpful response would be, “No, I just said you were ONE OF the most negative people I know.” Yep, my mind heard an exaggerated view all right, but pointing out that I heard it wrong just makes me feel worse.

I wonder what would happen if the response was empathy rather than added criticism? What if my reaction was acknowledged, but not critiqued? I was thinking something like, “I know what I just said was hard for you to hear. Just remember I care about you, warts and all. Let’s look at what I was trying to tell you, not how it came across.” I feel like that would give me a chance to get past that initial reaction and be more realistic. Who knows?

Break

I have to acknowledge, though, that just like I have no control over reactions that aren’t conscious, other people can’t, either. That’s how people end up where they each build on each other’s issues until there’s some bad result. Talking to each other and trying to understand each other’s struggles is a good way to start, though.

I’ll keep working at it, but no, I don’t think I’ll be subjecting my unmuted self to many of the people in my life. It’s just too much for them, and I honestly don’t blame them one bit. Some people are hard to deal with, and I am one of those. That’s something I have to deal with!

(By the way, in my mind, I’m a cheerful person who laughs and jokes around a lot and has a lot of fun – I wish I could expose THAT version of me!)

It’s not necessary to try to make people you are fond of like you back!

In my heart, I know that the work I’ve done here at the ranch has been good for me. I’ve felt much better about myself as I’ve been finding the beauty in my surroundings, treasuring kindnesses I experience, and working to be as kind and caring as someone like me can be. And of course, hanging around with animals who help me so much has made life much better.

The main reason I write this blog is to have a record of the good things that come through my life, like the nature, the travel, the uplifting people, and the things I learn. It may just be me talking to myself and trying to convince myself that there’s good in this messy world, but it helps. So, I’ll still be here blogging about horses, dogs, birds, and flowers.

Here I am, looking happy because I’m able to ride Drew and he likes his new saddle and pad.

You get to react to what I write however you choose to. I’m fine with that. I’m prickly, so I’m going to rub folks the wrong way, make poor word choices, and look at things from my RSD perspective sometimes. Oh well, it’s me. Who among us isn’t prickly in some way?

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