Where flowers bloom, so does hope—Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson
Anyone who loves the beauty of Texas in the springtime owes thanks to Lady Bird Johnson, who spent most of her life in efforts to beautify not only Texas, but the entire USA. One of my strongest childhood memories is of a “Keep America Beautiful” commercial from the 60s, in which Lady Bird exhorted us to, “plant a tree, a bush, or a shrub,” with her Texas twang really coming out on “shruuuub.”
Since coming to Texas as fast as I could, about 21 years ago, I have visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center many times, and enjoyed the tributes to her there, I’ve read her biography, and I’ve tried to follow in her footsteps by taking care of native plants wherever I’ve lived, especially at the Hermits’ Rest.
So, when Anita and I were coming back from Fredericksburg last weekend, a stop at the Johnson family ranch was a must. I highly recommend it; there’s way more than you’d think to see, and it was rather moving to see both the place where Lyndon B. Johnson was born, and where he is buried. He really was tied to his land.
For reasons I don’t really understand, my dear spouse decided to get me an Apple Watch a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps that’s because it was 50% off? I didn’t want to waste it, so, I have said goodbye to my trusty Fitbit (it’s going to Anita soon) and started using the watch.
Lee stuck his 50%-off watch on his arm, determined how to use Siri with it, and went on his merry way. Not me. I love to learn about technology and didn’t want my watch to look like everyone else’s.
Since I am on this learning spree, I immediately went off and found the owner’s manual to the Apple Watch, and read every single page of it, adjusting Peach Perfection (the watch’s name) at every opportunity, until I ended up with just what I wanted. See that watch face in the top photo? It’s based on this picture of me and the handsome Apache, to always remind me of the ranch:
That’s cool. (I just looked at the watch. My teeth appeared in the watch face. I just about spewed my lime water. So sorry I have no photo.)
Am I alone in this?
I mentioned my foray into deep watch knowledge to my boss, who’s had an Apple Watch since I’ve known him (three years now?). I’d hoped to use him as my Subject Matter Expert on these fancy appliances. He thought that reading the user guide was a novel concept, and declared me the new expert, since he’s never looked at any instructions. Sigh. He is the BOSS of all the people who WRITE user guides to things! And he doesn’t read them! (I don’t actually think he’s alone in this, since Lee didn’t look either.)
Doesn’t anyone look at the Help for things anymore? I’m a reader, so I read the manual, but there are loads and loads of videos one could watch, too. There’s no reason to allow any little watch detail to bug you! Be curious! I am finding that curiosity is a total hoot.
Some information was hard to find. I had to go back and scour the manual to find out how to change my fitness goals, but it WAS there. Apple is really, really succinct in their help writing style, and sometimes they are a bit light on details, though. So, if any of you know of helpful places to find out MORE information, let me know.
But, geez. I write user guides and training guides, and supervise people who make training videos. We all need jobs! Folks, check out the manuals to your phones, watches, software, and other complicated helpers! (I wish the husband and dogs came with user guides.)
Watches are fun
I was really thrilled to find out that the watch face wasn’t the only thing I could easily change on this thing. I can change out the band anytime I want! Today I am yellow, but I have blue leather, some happy patterns, orange, red, bright stripes, and so on. The wimpy pink band that came with the watch went away fast.
I do have the “big” one, which has taken some getting used to. I have always been a fan of tiny watches for my tiny wrist. See, I can grow.
PS: I’d be happy to be your Apple Watch fitness friend.
Sometimes one’s professional and personal interests merge, and this is one of those cases. Those of you who know me in person know that I’ve used my voice both for work and fun most of my life. (And oh yes, I almost forgot the MANY years I studied linguistics; perhaps I learned something about how speech works there.)
I’ve always adored choral singing. Harmony gives me goosebumps, a lot. Singing was my escape from teen angst in high school, brought me joy in the Unitarian Universalist church choir, challenged me when I was in a folk/rock trio, and stretched my skills in some larger local choruses, where I got to sing beautiful music with talented people.
I’ve also used my voice for work, from teaching to recording voiceovers for corporate training material. I love to read aloud, so this was always fun, and I learned so much about making myself sound clear and natural during the years I did this.
That was then, but now is now
Well, now two things have happened, one good, and one bad.
The bad thing is that a couple of years ago I “lost” part of my vocal range. Suddenly, the notes B, C, and D above middle C would not come out. That put the kaibosh on my choral singing efforts. When you are the only person singing a part, and your notes don’t come out, it feels really bad. I had my suspicions about what had happened (and no, it was not a blocked throat chakra), but I wanted to know why.
The good thing is that I started to work again with the team at who narrates some of our training materials at my day job. I had heard they were interested in improving their narration skills, so I thought maybe I could read up on it to see if there was some way to help.
I am beginning to think it’s not some green thumb I have, but more like the windows in that Bobcat Lair house make everything bloom. Case in point is this parlor palm I have had for a long time. I think it came in an arrangement when a family member died. I’m pretty sure someone who has not spoken to me since 2006 sent it, so it’s old. Obviously, it’s happy in this house. It’s grown a lot, andit has these cute little buds.
I just had to share that little blossom with someone, so you got it. And as a bonus, here is a pretty plant growing in our Austin neighborhood. I should probably figure out what it is. When I do, I’ll add that. But isn’t it pretty? Probably some kind of “red hot poker” thing.
Today my husband and I were talking about our long-term personal goals. I said that my most important one right now is to remember to live in the moment. It’s becoming more and more of a habit over the past few years, and while my meditation practice has helped, I honestly give most of the credit to spending time at the Hermits’ Rest.
Being away from all the traffic, people, and noise in Austin is a real balm for my soul. And while there are things I must do, like feed the animals, water the plants, and such, even those chores provide me the opportunity to just enjoy what I have here. To me, nothing smells better than my horse on a hot day, and it’s hard to be all involved with outside issues when you are looking for beautiful eggs in the hen house.
Plus, the darned dogs make us smile all the time.
Part of what I like about this place is that it isn’t all fancy or full of spectacular beauty (I was comparing it to a friend’s hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where my dad came from and where the natural beauty is so thick it is almost overwhelming). You have to look for the amazing natural wonders in central Texas. And that looking makes you slow down and really SEE what’s around you.
That’s been a real gift for me. I’ve always been an observer, but the years spent on this ranch have helped me hone it to where I just can’t help but stop and really look at what’s going on around me every day. I think my mental health improvements alone have made the purchase of this land and construction of our house worth it! After all:
By the way, if you look at the limestone on the house, you’ll see it is full of fossil shells. This layer of the limestone is called the “rattlesnake” layer, because the fossil shells look like rattlesnake rattles. This limestone came from a quarry near Georgetown, Texas, which is not too far from us. I love being surrounded by fossils. I’ll post more on them another time.
This informally Zen-like goal of taking the time to enjoy where I am and who I am at any moment is why I am so fervent about protecting our natural areas, our plants, our wildlife, and all who live here. People need to connect to the earth. I think it’s a basic need.
What about where you live? Is it easy to live in the moment? Can you find the beauty wherever you are? I hope so, because it’s everywhere (including the Bobcat Lair, our Austin house).
Hi friends. I took a blogging break last week, but at least I got that newspaper article written. Big busy-ness at my full-time job combined with my part-time job, high school graduation, and entertaining guests meant I didn’t sit down at the computer for two whole days! That may be a record.
I really enjoyed the various guests. Yesterday, one of my oldest friends (the first person I met in grad school), Steve, and his husband Guy dropped by. We have visited them a few times in Las Cruces, but they hadn’t been here, so they stopped after visiting San Antonio.
Thanks for joining us! This is the default first post WordPress stuck in here, but I really like it, so it’s staying. In the future, I (Suna) will be blogging here about my observations at my home ranch. It will probably be organized, even.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
I will also be sharing these posts on our Facebook page, so please follow us there, too.