Missing the Ranch and Keeping My Spirits Up

It’s really weird to have not been at the ranch the entire month of November, especially since that’s usually a great month to be there (good weather, frisky pets, lots of time for walking). It didn’t help at all that I spent a good bit of time wandering around the area on Google Maps trying to figure out where those two people drowned. I think I got it located a bit further away from our property than I’d feared, but still adjacent. It makes me so sad.

In happier news, my one orchid that didn’t succumb to some evil scale has rewarded us with many blossoms.

I listened to a news report that said the victims had fallen out of their boat and got caught up in pond weeds. That’s exactly what I had feared. Even if you can swim, that stuff can get you. One guy had a young family and one was just 22, so young. They’re having a football game to raise money for their families. Traion Smith was just an amazing athlete in high school, and a nice young man. The news report showed the former Cameron coach breaking into tears at the thought of losing him. Life sure has its twists and turns.

Anyway, I ended up looking at what great quality the Google Maps images of our property are. I really liked how you could see each cow and all the cattle paths in the bottom pasture next to our house.

All the cows are at upper right, and you can see where they walk. The image can even get closer in! That’s Walker’s Creek and one of the streams that meets up with it.

I was disappointed that I could not see Apache or Fiona, nor the chickens. I guess the photo was taken just before we got the chicken house. So, you’re spared those images.

Sunset looking out by neighbor Ruth’s house. I love how the oak leaves are shining.

While I do miss the ranch (and its occupants, including my poor lonely quarantined husband!), I’m enjoying some time in Austin. We got to take a walk with our neighbor, Ruth, who regaled us with tales of trying to buy groceries at the H-E-B (we went a bit later ’cause I had to fill my prescription, and it wasn’t so bad). She went to the Randall’s store full of “old people” and it wasn’t crowded. That store is always full of old people! And, if you don’t live in Texas, we realize H-E-B is a weird name, but since it’s named after Mr. Butts, you can understand the choice.

Roses in my flower arrangement. They help me feel better.

And since I’m in Austin, we can have my son’s little family unit to eat out on the deck, to minimize germs and all, like we keep being told to do. It will be very small, but good.

Giant mum about to explode. This arrangement had such great autumn colors.

We will get through these challenging times. Sometimes it’s easier than other times, but I feel like all this practice of empathy, compassion, and forgiveness that’s come out of the pandemic, the election, and the personal issues of those around me will benefit me the rest of my life.

I don’t know what this flower is, but I love the way only part of it is in focus.

I hope you enjoy the photos of the flowers I got at the store and our sunset. I saw no sunsets in Utah, because the mountains were to the west. That’s okay, mountains are pretty, too. Share what’s keeping you happy and in the moment, if you want to!

Yesterday Was Rough

Whew, yesterday was not fun. In fact, I’m really sad today, because while I was having a hard travel day, two people drowned while fishing in a pond on the next property over from the Hermits’ Rest/Wild Type Ranch property. Here’s a better article. It hit really close to home, because while I didn’t know either of them personally, one was a friend of Mandi’s family and the other was one of the most amazing high school football players I ever saw. I have screamed the name “Traion” many, many times with my friend Cathy at games. He was only 22, and the other guy was only 30. I just feel so bad for their families. It’s hard enough right now.

So, that put my day in perspective.

A mourning dove, for mourning

It was just a series of the kinds of things that always happen when you travel.

Things were fine as long as I was at the resort. I packed up all the leftover food and took it to the staff, which made Q the concierge very happy. I was glad to not waste food, and even let Q hug me (I was so over-dressed that no germs could possibly have gotten through, I tell myself).

To start, there were no normal Ubers available, so I had to take a fancy one, which cost more than upgrading to first class did (that was only $80 and got my bags free, so it was a nice part of the day). The driver was nice, and his Suburban was so clean. He said he had over 250,000 miles on it! The secret was maintaining it, apparently. The only thing that had gone out on it was the air conditioning. Wow.

I’d had to check out at 11, which was fine, of course, but that meant I was at the airport REALLY early for my 3:45 flight.

The new Salt Lake City airport is really pretty, but not convenient if you have baggage. You have to go upstairs to check in, then back downstairs to go through security. My awkward collection of bags nearly threw me down an escalator, and by the time I checked in, I was covered in sweat, thanks to having to wear my heavy clothing and snow shoes (would not fit in luggage). I managed to break a nail under the gel polish, even. I know, first-world problems. I’ll live.

My favorite part of the airport is this sculpture, The Falls, by Gordon Huether.

The other thing about the airport is they do NOT have trams or any transportation, so you have to walk 20 minutes to get to the gates. That was a true joy carrying my heavy bag (computer and makeup weighed it down) and n the dang down coat. The good news is I got my steps in. I probably also lost a pound of sweat.

Once I finally got to a seat and took off many layers (including replacing my soaked face mask), I just worked on my knitting and watched football. I also watched many, many children. I was actually shocked so many people were flying with children. But, maybe they were like me and had no choice but to fly. I’ll assume the best. Still, some very charming children and some annoying ones were there.

The first flight to Dallas/Fort Worth was fine. They even gave us a sandwich. Considering it would have cost around $10 in the airport, I figure I just about broke even on the first-class upgrade. That made up for the fancy Uber.

In Dallas, the trams were my friends, and I easily made it to the gate, only to find the flight was delayed. Get this, a plane had blown a tire on the runway, and it took them FIVE HOURS to clear the plane and debris off. The people sitting near me had flown to Austin, circled for an hour or so, then gone back to Dallas. They’d all been traveling since the wee hours of the morning from LA. I sure felt bad for them! We all shared plane horror stories, and enjoyed hearing about the Amazon Prime series one of the guys we met is acting in (which I can’t find, but will look for later).

Poor Anita. I kept updating what time our flight was. She must have been so confused. In the end, we weren’t too late leaving, after all, but then the 30-minute flight took 20 extra minutes, because we had to go all the way around Austin to land on the only available runway. That flight was pretty annoying, because it was crowded, and the woman next to me ate and coughed. If I get sick, she’s to blame (perfectly nice woman, just germy). At least I got to meet lots of interesting people, but wow, I was sure tired by the time my luggage showed up.

Back to work today! I’ll be less than cheery while I isolate over in Austin, since I know Cameron is reeling today.

Olypmic Park Dog Gymnastics

Today was the last day for my second batch of visitors, but we decided to go have lunch before they left. We went back to the restaurant in Park City where I met the nice server who saved my phone, because Kathleen wanted to get a t-shirt for their Polygamy Stout.

I just pictured peace, quiet, and a raven while the drunken child went on and on.

They didn’t have any shirts the right size, but we did try the beer, and it was good. All the food was delicious, though the visit was marred by some rich, drunk kids yelling. They kept shushing the loudest one, and I swear it would have just been more fun to listen to him go on and on.

I mentioned that I’m almost out of yarn and would probably need to Uber to the local Michael’s to get something else to knit on (yes, I am capable of knitting with inexpensive yarn, if I must). Kathleen said they’d take me before they left, so off we went. Wow, the regular shopping center outside of town was hardly recognizable for the tweeness of the signs and mountain-y style. Best Buy looked its best, that’s for sure.

That’s the shopping center, off in the distance.

I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, but did get two contrasting colors to make the scarf pattern I found, but larger, as a wrap. Chris was really impressed by giant skeins of self-striping bulky yarn, and I saw a nice slip-stitch afghan pattern on the label, so I said I’d make him one if he selected the yarn. That would be a fun gift, right? I still have a thing to finish at home, so I need to get back in the groove and find some way to protect knitting from the dogs.

Inexpensive yarn for something to sit under and watch television.

As we were leaving, we realized that the Olympic Park from the 19th Winter Olympics was right across from the shopping center. So, since we happened to be there, we checked it out. The views were spectacular from the venue, and it was really fun to see where all the ski events took place.

We didn’t have time to see the museums or anything, but the outsides were pretty.

On our way back down, we passed lots of hiking trails just full of people, since the weather is well above freezing today. Then we saw dogs, lots of dogs. We just pulled over to the side of the road and watched at least a dozen very happy dogs on the leashless dog trail.

One dog was on the wrong side of the trail, but did not mind.

There was so much frolicking. They all seemed to get along well, and definitely loved the snow. They ran back and forth, play-bowed and leapt.

Running full speed

One black dog kept jumping into piles of snow and biting at the snow. That particular dog must have run a mile just while we were watching. It was pure joy. I kept picturing Carlton out there with them, except he’d be invisible.

Black dog in its snow pile.

What a great send-off for K. and C.! They decided to drive their rental car back, which meant I could give them some of the stuff I’ve bought, so I won’t have to try to pack it all. I feel like I may have dodged a bullet there. I will not be bringing home all the food they left for me, but I also will NOT need to buy any more restaurant food while I’m here. I’m all set for a week of working by day and relaxing in the evenings.

The weird Coke won’t be left over, however. Not bad.

And now that I figured out how to get my watch to track elliptical workouts, I will be able to keep the exercise up, no matter how bad the weather gets. Today, though, I’m gonna get more walking in.

I’ve Never Liked SUVs

Yep. Not fond of them. First of all, most are definitely NOT sporty. They are more like harder to drive and less convenient mini-vans, to me. I have always had trouble getting in and out of them.

Most of all, I can’t park the behemoth ones. That’s why I’m so glad Lee just bought one size down from the true behemoth, a Tahoe. I even encouraged him. What the heck?

Basically, I like the grill.

Well, his knees are aging, and it’s hard to watch him getting in and out of cars I like. Plus, we need to drive clients around, and this new behemoth lite is really spacious inside. I can get into the back and seat quite comfortably (being short helps).

Black. So practical in Texas.

Lee figures it’s his last new car (I would never say that, knowing my love of cars). I doubt I’ll drive it much, but it will tow a horse trailer, so that’s a motivation. His truck brought a trade-in better than most, and there are two others at the house. I think we will be okay.

So, while I said I’d never own one, I lied. Actually, Lee had a Range Rover for a while, but that was more of a luxury barge than an SUV.

He’s smiling.

I do feel excessive, acquisitive, and not real eco-friendly right now. Next I’ll get an electric truck or something.

More Chicken Mystery

When I got home from Austin, I found 9 eggs. They were all in one spot and all plain brown. The place where Fancy Pants lays was empty, and there were no pink or white eggs. Hmm.

Lee says he sees hens in weird places. Sure enough, I found two pink eggs in the far left corner of the garage.

Eggs were in there. Nice.

We looked in the rest of the garage, and there was Bertie Lee, sitting on a mop, in the far right corner of the garage.

Oh, Bertie.

I picked that egg up.

She makes big ones.

I still don’t see any Fancy Pants or Hedley eggs. Where can they be? Meanwhile, I found Sapphire on the mop. This is gonna be fun.

I give you nice egg boxes, but you lay eggs here??

Him reports that the brown hens are refusing to go in at night. They are in the white henhouse. Not good. It isn’t safe. I guess some chicken effort is needed! Hoping the family can help out!

Office Break-In!

Yep. My Cameron office got broken into. Don’t panic, though. Lee and I did it. You see, yesterday I left work a little early to go on a special errand. When we got back, I went to go back and do a couple of things, but my door wouldn’t open.

The door looked fine.

Uh. The door would not open. I typed in the code. Green lights told me it was unlocked. I wiggled the handle and nothing happened. Um. My laptop was in there. And a burning candle. (Oops)

We tried to call the relatives, but there was no answer. Lee went and got a screwdriver. We banged on the door. The dang doorknob did nothing. So, we looked at the windows. The interior one is painted shut. The outside one would not budge.

The beautiful wood-covered window.

That left the window that was covered in wood, that is supposed to be replaced by glass…someday. Lee poked around and managed to get the wood loose (it wasn’t in there tight, since it was planned to be replaced).

Casualties

There was no way to remove the piece of wood without hitting stuff on the other side. You know, because my office is full of “shit” and all that. But only two candlesticks smashed! Not bad at all!

We can see in!

While the wood was there so my Zoom meetings wouldn’t disturb the people in the other offices, it’s no problem for the time being. I won’t be in the office for a while. We will have to leave the door open until the door handle is replaced, but the computer is out now! Nothing else is valuable, just shiny, like a magpie lives there. I am much like a magpie, after all.

Kudos to Lee for letting me in! The door works fine from the inside, not that it helps at all!

I’ve had so much go wrong lately that this didn’t phase me one bit. It just fit with the rest of the week. Hoping we can fix it soon! And I hereby declare that a new week starts today and nothing but fun is permitted. I even got happy nails yesterday!

Nails ready for fun. Thanks, Tina!

Have a good Samhain, Halloween, día de los muertos, or whatever you celebrate this weekend.

That’s a Big One

Even not feeling great, I’m finding things to be excited about. I think that’s part of my charm. Perhaps. Today’s theme is big. For example, this is a big grasshopper, especially for a male. And it’s one of my better photos, right on my driveway!

Differential grasshopper, apparently tired, because he let me get really close. Note wings.

The extent of my walking yesterday was patrolling the back yard with Lee. While I regretted not meeting my activity goal, I still managed to find something big and beautiful. It’s one of my favorites, a yellow garden spider.

I had to take this over the fence. Notice her silver head. The scientific name, Argiope aurantia, means gilded silver-face.
This is her belly and some of her web. Obviously she’s an orb weaver!

And now, I’m sure you’ve been waiting for us to see what was inside Fancy Pants’s giant egg from a while back.

Giant egg!

It was still big after peeling. and still rather lumpy.

Peeled. Normal egg in background.

I got out the sharp knife and carefully sliced the big bruiser. Would it be a double yolk? Would it look weird?

That’s a BIG yolk.

I can’t tell if it’s double or not, but it sure is big! Way more yolk than white.

Compare to normal large egg. The normal one has way more white.

I wonder if this one would have had enough food in it to grow a chick? We will never know. But it does make me want to raise chicks. Maybe the next broody hen will get lucky!

So…what’s big in your life?

Second Most Hated

I spent most of last night trying to figure out why my post from yesterday got so many hits it blew my stats out. Did someone love reading about putting one dream aside to focus on another? Of course not. Someone was upset about something peripheral. But thanks! All those hater-inspired hits make my SEO look good.

Speaking of hate, when I was heading over to my Google search console, I got distracted by this headline:

We’re Number Two!

First I got all indignant that Texas wasn’t number one. I mean, gee, we have so much to dislike, first among which is that Texans think they’re number one at everything. Ha ha! Not in hate by others! We’re probably number one in racists and misogynists, though, just by population size.

I know you’re dying to know whether Florida or California is most hated. At least I was. But no! It’s New Jersey! I guess New Yorkers skewed that!

Kansas? What did they do? Anyway these stats are from click2houston.com.

My guess is adjacent states have something to do with it, especially when I saw that most Texas haters came from Oklahoma, New Mexico, etc. Sigh. I’d like to know the most loved states!

Honestly, though, every place I’ve been has some pretty awful aspects and some amazing ones. Texas has some horrible politicians and some pretty dull scenery. Plus Houston. But there is so much beauty, many kind people, and a fun cultural mix. So, no need to hate it, just some parts. Ditto all those other states and countries.

Even your sweet dog wants to chomp your hand, occasionally (playing).

Side story: I have a growing number of friends retiring outside the US. Each proclaims the wonders of their part of Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Portugal, etc. But I know each place has its frustrations, just like the US. One friend wrote about how people have twice stolen the telephone wires connecting their neighborhood to the main town, for copper. Another notes high COVID rates and insufficient medical personnel, even with socialized medicine.

No place is perfect! Or living thing, for that matter.

No donkey is perfect, but I can’t hate Fiona for chomping on me when I didn’t pay enough attention to her!

No blog, business, or person is. Hatred just wastes time. And energy. If you have a problem with something, pause to think if that issue negates all the good that’s also present.

One minute they’re growling, the next they are grooming each other. Good role models.

I’m just going to accept Texas, Cameron, Austin, my pets, and my beloved humans as they are. Try it! You’ll like it!

Wake, with Dogs

After spending the evening with friends, remembering a beloved community member who had passed, I tried to watch the US Presidential debate.

I’d had too much wine for it. I went out into the “quiet” in front of the house. As the night sounds hummer in my ears, I looked up at the moon, thinking of Lori and Dale, who are no longer with us. I sang my favorite hymn, to the waxing moon.

For the beauty of the earth, for the splendor of the skies, For the love which from our birth over and around us lies, Source of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

I sent up my wishes for healing and peace.

Then I looked around. Four dogs had come out with me. All four were standing quietly, looking in the same direction as me. I’d swear they were praying with me. It was powerful.

Thank you, Carlton, Alfred, Penney, and Harvey.

What’s in Burleson County?

I wanted to know. There are very few iNaturalist sightings there that weren’t made by Eric from my Master Naturalist chapter. He, along with Alan, who lives on and runs a fish farm near Somerville, wanted to do something about that!

Near the main house

So we met up at the property today, to see what kind of fun field trip we could come up with to educate chapter members about the area, how Alan has been managing the water — fish ponds, lakes, streams, etc.

One of the ponds, with Bad Patty, the dog.

Of course I had to get a tour! Let me say that was fun! Alan is a great tour guide, and I got to see all kinds of new plants and insects. The lake is great, and there are many different micro-climates on the property.

American lotus

My favorites were plants whose seeds rattle when they dry. And all the water plants!

I enjoyed talking to my friends and learning about raising fish, grasshoppers, and so much more. I can’t wait to go back. It’s outdoors, we stayed apart, and the weather was great.

I also made this weevil friend. It crawled all over me for a long time. It’s Eudiagogus rosenschoeldi.

Remember my resolve to have more fun? I’m still working on it! And doing it! Not all serious all the time!

A lovely variegated fritillary I saw.

So, are you having any fun?