Dolphins and Mother’s Day Wishes

My patience paid off! I have been scanning the ocean from our room every day since we got to Myrtle Beach. I mentioned before that it was oddly empty of…anything. Slowly, but surely, more things have showed up. I saw a couple of yachts, a kayak, and sailboats yesterday, and today there are parasailing boats, sailboats, jet skis and all sorts of activity. Maybe today is the first official day of “the season” or something.

What I was actually looking for all that time was dolphins. I knew they were there, but all I saw was a glassy sea. Today, though, I saw something black out there. I figured it was a sea duck or something, so I grabbed the binoculars (so glad I brought them) to check.

This time, there are dolphins in that glassy expanse.

There was at least one, and maybe two pods of dolphins out there, playing and jumping. At one point, three of them were jumping together. It was mighty fine entertainment! I had a blast, and I felt like it was my Mother’s Day gift from my Mom and Mother Nature. What a full heart I had watching those families playing together!

The black dot in the center is a dolphin heading down. Obviously I couldn’t get a real photo, since they were way out there.

It’s Mother’s Day in the US as I mentioned. It’s been hard since my older son stopped speaking to me, but I think he knows I love him anyway. Maybe I’ll hear from the other one today! I liked the new Facebook background that showed up today, of love cactuses. That’s how family is; you love them, even if it’s prickly.

My sentiments.

Sometimes you lose loved ones, they don’t appreciate you, they don’t understand your motives, or they have challenges that make loving hard for them. I’m sending love to all of them, as well as to my own loved ones I don’t understand. I’m no saint about it, myself!

I did enjoy mothering my kids!

Hug someone you’re allowed to safely hug today, and enjoy whatever gift Mother Nature brings to you, my friends!

Who Hates Changing Email Addresses?

Um, that would be everyone, right? I’ve known I’ve needed to do it for quite a while, since we downsized our real estate work and parted (as good friends) from our Hermit Haus Redevelopment partners. Eventually all that internet stuff will get retired, though I need to figure out a way to archive our blog and photos of our work.

My reward for boring as heck work.

I’ve never liked using Gmail but it’s the best option for right now. My presence at Hearts Homes and Hands is very minimal, since I’m not beloved in all parts of our community. I’m no longer too concerned about it. Life at the ranch is good, and that’s what counts! Anyway, I’d only use that email account for business.

Speaking of the ranch, this will grow up to be the arch going over our cattle guard or second gate. It’s happening!

Still, it has boggled my mind when I realize how many logins, sign-ins and account names are tied to your email address! I spent hours this morning changing things, and I’m nowhere near finished. But, it had to be done, and I certainly don’t have many expanses of unbooked time at home!

After I at least got my major accounts and lists switched over, I tediously went through my Gmail account and deleted spam and ads from 2015 until today. 20,000 plus emails. Fun times. I didn’t want to delete them all, since there might be personal email in there. Yep, my sister, my friend Pamela, and two others had been sending me things I never saw.

I’d rather have been at the pool!

Actually, that’s what prompted moving at this exact time. My sister, who is the latest person to say they are going to the Farm in Yorktown for a weekend and not returned, texted me to “check email.” Nothing like a cryptic text to get me concerned, you know? But I couldn’t find anything on my work or personal accounts. Was something wrong? Did I mess something else up? Finally I looked at Gmail. Whew. There was a message there. I’d forgotten to send some money in our confusing travel stuff.

All, right, I said, it’s time to start using that account and phasing the other one out. Once I figured out how to delete everything from a particular sender, it was only slightly unbearable. And at least I could look out at the ocean while deleting. It was fun mass deleting email from presidential candidates who won one and l0st another election. Quite a trip through time.

I’d rather have been in the ocean. Yes I went in. No jellyfish got me.

Now I have that account organized and set up to store email right. Still, I have to figure out what stuff I get on Hermithaus I want to keep getting. And I have to figure out why the new signature I made refuses to show up. This is why I didn’t want to embark on this task. Ugh

But, I’m at the beach, in the shade, and drinking a drink out of a bucket. And my ranch family is busy planning a swimming pool.

Everyone is saying my obligations can wait, so today is just Beach Day. Hope you’re doing well and handling what can be a hard weekend for some of us.

News from Back at the Ranch and Seaside Sights

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

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

Happy horse time. More, Trixie, more!

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

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

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

I can handle anything.

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

I got to go for a ride.

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

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

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

Nope, not getting on that thing, ever.

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

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

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

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

Look What the Wind Blew In

Whew, today was extra windy. During my ENDLESS meetings, I kept being distracted by something that looked like fluffy dandelion seeds very briskly zipping by, completely horizontally. There were an unusually large number of them, way more than the number of dandelions we have going to seed. What had the wind blown in?

First, a brief digression. The wind brought more than fluffy bits! It also brought our long-lost housemates. We have a bunch of happy dogs and people!

Mommy! They locked me in the storage room!

For people who have gone through, shall we say, a lot since they left for a weekend back in February, or was it January, they look good! We are all excited about all the projects we need to get moving on.

I was so grateful that I grew them these flowers. okay, Nature grew them.

In our zeal to plan things, the nephew went out with a spray can of bright orange paint, marking where Apache’s new stable and pens will be, along with cattle pens. And you know, orange paint smells good. If you’re a dog, you’d want to roll in it, especially if it complements your long, white fur.

It looks good on me.

We went over to look at another fencing area, and there, all over the ground, were the answers to my questions about the fluffy things.

A sea of white fluff.

It turns out that in the two days since I’d taken my photos of the small-flowered catchfly, they’d gone to seed, most spectacularly! Everywhere there were little towers covered in fluffy seed pods.

Towers of fluff surrounded by little stars.

Y’all, in person this was breathtaking. The catchfly was all interspersed with starbursts of the annual trampweed. My two new flowers went to seed together and created a Magic Kingdom of weeds, as I said in my awe.

Wine cups and the few paintbrush flowers that made it through the winter added beautiful accents.

All this beauty was after so many of the seeds blew away this morning. Wow. So many seeds. And none of us remember ever seeing the two white fluff-makers before. What a welcome home gift to our family!

Future horse pen also has me happy.

To be honest, my whole day was magical. I achieved all my goals in my pushback campaign, and it’s only Wednesday! I’ll share more about that tomorrow. Right now, I’m pretty dang tired and don’t even know where I’ll sleep tonight (that’s a GOOD thing).

How could you leave me? Kathleen will take pictures, not to worry.

I am, once again, grateful for the support and encouragement of my friends, colleagues, readers and listeners. You’re all incredible in your own unique way.

Bird Mysteries

This is no fun, but it’s the way it goes out in the country. This morning, I went out to check on the chicks, and Bronzer wasn’t there! What?

We’re still here

I was so surprised and sad. I looked everywhere for the chick. There was no sign of anything getting into the coop. There was no gap small enough for a chick to get out of. There was no sign of foul or fowl play. What the heck.

I’ll miss you, little buddy.

I went all over the place listening for peeps and looking for feathers. There was nothing. It’s a mystery. I’m sure there are lots of plausible scenarios for what could have happened, but I’m honestly not up for conjecture. I’m also not up for being blamed or told what I did wrong. We live on a ranch. There are predators and other dangers. It’s how it goes.

I took my bummed out self in the garage to look for eggs, and suddenly saw something glowing like a light. What in the world do we have that shines in the dirty old garage?

So shiny.

Then I figured it out. More bird sadness. It was a male Ruby-throated hummingbird. Well, damn.

So beautiful.

To be realistic, of course birds die, and they have to die somewhere. But that was a sad thing to find right after losing the chick. He was so pretty and tiny.

Wow.

I went back in the house for more meetings, armed with my pushback strategy of setting up myself and my team for success. After all eight hours of meetings it was TIME to go out and get some air, and check for eggs.

Off I went into the corner with the mop nest. As I peeked in, I realized the nest was occupied. By a pretty chicken snake. With a lump in its belly. I didn’t get scared; I just got peeved. Damn it, those are MY eggs. There was still one in there, so I used a stick to get it out. Ha.

Rather than a snake, please enjoy Engelmann daisies.

I tried to get help removing the snake, but it was gone by the time We got back. Great. I hope it didn’t also find a chick to eat. And I wish the hens would go back on top of the fridge!

Now, that’s lovely. At least something is thriving!

In summary. It was not a good chicken day today, even though they got their yummy new food in, finally. I’m getting more hens, though, because coop updates are now coming up soon! More on that later!

Always Something New at the Ranch

One of the things I like about being a Master Naturalist is that I have learned to be a more careful observer, wherever I go. I’m happiest that I’ve been entering what I see on our ranch into iNaturalist, because I can see when flowers bloom or go to seed every year, when butterflies arrive, etc. Today’s butterflies included these:

Even though our observations on our own property no longer are approved by the state office, I still observe for my own study and analysis. I have a project where all observations here are stored, and I hope some day to be able to do some analysis.

My expedition yesterday was helped greatly by something that had originally broken my heart a little. You see, Lee’s brother likes to mow, and he decided to mow all those “weeds” on the side of the road. Thank goodness Lee saw it and asked him to stop. Apparently the conversation was sort of funny, with Jim insisting it was weeds and Lee saying, “Don’t you see the flowers?”

Oops, there go some flowers. There are plenty more, of course.

The good thing about it is that it made a little path that enabled me to easily see all the butterflies and bugs and get closer photos.

Also, the public right of way counts as not being on my property, so I can get at least a few volunteer hours out of my cataloging!

This year’s been pretty interesting, which shouldn’t be surprising after the weird weather. I’ve been quite surprised to see common plants, like Indian paintbrush, not as prominent, with some new plants popping up.

What’s this white stuff? And what’s Penney pointing at?

One plant we have in super abundance is this annual trampweed (Facelis retusa). It’s really pretty in early spring. Then, when it blossoms, you don’t really see the flowers, just white buds, followed by exuberant star-shaped seed heads.

The little seed fluff sticks out and looks like a flower bud.
Here’s what the plant looks like, with leaves circling up a stem.

I’d never noticed this plant before, and it’s everywhere this year. Now it’s one of my favorites.

They look so cheerful!

Another plant I’d never noticed around here is small-flowered catchfly (Silene gallica). It’s another one of those tiny flowers from up high. At first I thought it was that chickweed or something.

Small-flowered catchfly.

Once you touch it, though, you know it’s different. You also know how it got its name. It’s sticky! It could certainly catch a fly. You can see all the hairs in the photos.

Here it is growing with some Carolina bristle marrow, trampweed

The little flowers range from pink to white. I had honestly never seen it before. Did I not notice it or did it come in with floods? Is it something that grows better after a hard freeze or two? I’m sure I just didn’t notice it, even though I’ve been trying so hard to identify everything here!

The third “new” plant I wasn’t even sure of its ID. None of the things that are suggested on iNaturalist really match the way it looks, but since I know plants can differ in color from place to place, labeled it dwarf blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium minus), and hooray, I was right! Linda Jo identified it for me. It’s another tiny little fellow, but it’s really pretty.

Another “new” plant really isn’t new. It’s a pink evening primrose. But I never saw one so white. I thought it was a petunia from a distance.

That’s quite a contrast to the usual ones, though they do come in many shades of pink. I always love to look at the clouds of them on the roadside or in fields, with all the shadings.

One of the really pink ones. I know we’ve seen them a lot, but still, they’re gorgeous.
Look at all the bugs on this Black-eyed Susans!

I really enjoy seeing what’s blooming every day. It was great to see the black-eyed Susans have started to bloom, and apparently the bugs that enjoy their pollen are also happy.

There are a few things I can’t get close enough to take a photo of when I’m wearing sandals (I only do that on the grass Lee and Jim have mowed), but I’ll get to them at some point this week.

I’m glad it rained, too, because that will keep the ground moist and let more plants get going before everything turns brown.

Can you see the turtles?

I’m glad to see that the bluebonnets are going to seed quite well, so we will have lots more next year, and my favorite patch of Engelman daisy is in full bloom. There’s always something pretty to look at here, and when you’ve just gotten yet another blow at ye olde workplace, I’m glad for all my new and old plant and animal friends at the ranch.

For you blog readers, here are more things I saw yesterday. I hope the flowers and bugs are fun to look at.

Let’s get out there and “do the needful” as they say in India. I guess I’ve had enough coffee to be strong and carry on!

Sunday Musings: It’s a Good Life, All Things Considered

Today, I’m being more explicit about what I’m grateful for than my usual gratitude practice, which is more like, “Thank goodness X is in my life, or I can do Y, or Z happened.” I want to say how grateful I am to Lee for deciding to get our retirement property early, build a house on it, and start with the rural fun and learning experiment we call the Hermits’ Rest Ranch. It’s saving my butt, that’s for sure.

Every Sunday morning, I wake up, make coffee, and hang around with Lee and the dogs up in our bedroom. It’s a huge room, so it has a loveseat, chairs, a little dining table (now Lee’s desk), and coffee fixings. Usually the dogs take turns wanting to sit by me and get petted. It’s such a gentle way to ease into the day. Weekends are the best.

This morning I had Carlton for a long time, and he was not about to let me do anything with my left hand except pet his long neck while he stretched his head straight up. Then big ole Harvey wanted some time with me. I’ve mentioned before that he thinks he’s a lapdog now, and sure enough, he managed to drape himself over my entire lap. We had a nice snuggle (I originally wrote “struggle,” which may, in fact, be accurate), though that bulky dog sure is heavy.

Not pretty, but fresh!

It is nice to review your previous day up in the bedroom, so I thought back on how happy I was to find out that all the guinea eggs from yesterday were still good, and wondered what to do with them, since I’m not heading into Austin for a few weeks, I can’t get them to my coworker who’s allergic to chicken eggs, but not guinea eggs. I guess we eat them.

Here, Apache has just picked up a clod or grass and declared round pen time was over. Typical scene with Sara working with Ace and Fiona eating grass like there’s no tomorrow.

I also reminded myself how good I am at being patient in difficult situations, which yesterday’s time with Apache once again proved. Both he and Ace were antsy, like there was something going on around them that put them on alert. I never did figure out what it was, but it led to more dancing around and trying to do what HE wanted to from Apache. He just wasn’t thinking. But, we stopped, had a little chat, and eventually went on to have a nice ride. He really likes it when I talk to him calmly.

And for those of you suggesting lessons, I’m actually signed up for some with a local trainer. That’s why I got a Coggins test for Apache when the vet was here. Sara will take Ace and I will take Apache. That means we get to practice trailer loading, because it’s been a long time since we’ve gone anywhere out of town. He used to love going to Kerri April’s to learn Parelli stuff.

This is a cool brown skink that was in the hay feeder yesterday!

I roused myself from all my musings and went out to see what’s going on with the chickens and such. Every single step I took, Bertie Lee was right with me. She’s the Big Red of my main flock. That hen just likes me. When I checked the chicks, they’d knocked their little feeder over and messed up the water, so I fixed all that and gave Star more adult chicken food (the kind they don’t like, but my shipment of Grubbly feed has not arrived yet, due to high order volumes).

They are not starving, anyway, since every time I look in they are eating away at the plant growth in and around their little coop. I’m sure no bug stands a chance in there, either!

Here’s a pretty buckeye I saw yesterday.

Then I just sat around, watched the chicks preen their feathers (it appears that they are trying to get the fluff off, so their fine new feathers can grow out), and enjoying the pond, trees, and butterflies. I got to watch the little ones go up and down the ramp, and it’s clear they are way faster at it than their mom, who carefully steps down the ramp. They also jump up and down off the small tree branch I put in their area and flap their little wings when they go to land. They will be strong! I wonder how old they will be before they can fly?

Naturally, I looked up the answer on the Googles and found they start testing their wings at around a week (check), but they don’t get their flight feathers until around 5 weeks, so we have something to look forward to!

Just looking around the ranch keeps me focused and gives me perspective. My challenges are just small bumps in the road compared to all that goes on around me every day in nature. And, like my friend Vicki has been reminding me lately:

I’ve survived all those previous hard times,
so I will probably survive this one, too.

I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive! So I’m going to keep focused on the fact that life is good, I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family, and the new events we’ll go through will make us stronger and wiser. This is what I hope for all you out there, too.

And don’t forget to visit the podcast if you need something to listen to that’s fairly uplifting and pleasant. For me, it’s a nice break between some of my more intense podcasts! And if you want to help out with my blogging fees, consider visiting the support link at the top of the page.

Got Knitting All Ready for Upcoming Storms!

It’s always good to be prepared, isn’t it? And I was once a Girl Scout after all, with all the badges except ones about cooking and house keeping. That may explain why I’m so thrilled we will soon have someone to clean my house again.

I have two hours before it rains, according to this app.

Oddly enough, though, preparing for storms is one of my favorite activities. I love it when it’s all dark and gloomy out, because I feel cozy and sleepy, which is perfect for knitting and watching storms. I’ve been busily catching up on all my work, knowing that I’ll need to shut down if a big storm hits (see, I’m prepared!). And my current knitting project is beckoning me from right next to my desk. Ahh.

I enjoyed my lunch and am now taking my lunch-hour blogging break. As soon as I finish reviewing some work and doing one more meeting, I’ll shut down and enjoy that Severe Thunderstorm Watch that just popped up. I’ll be hoping it passes in time to take care of horses and Fiona!

The knitting is going slowly (mainly thanks to how sleepy my current mental state has made me), but it’s going well. I alternate between dishcloths and my beautiful Noro wrap.

You can see the beginning of the border.

The entrelac section is finally complete. It took exactly one skein of the yarn, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty for the second part, which is a lace-patterned border. That border is simple enough I don’t have to look at the instructions every row, too, so it is perfect for a lazy afternoon of rain-watching. I’m very happy that this yarn has such a long color repeat, because it will make a nice ombre effect on the border. The yarn the pattern actually called for has shorter and more abrupt color transitions, so I actually think this one will come out better!

I will have to block the piece once the border is done, which should square it up and flatten the little rectangles. Then there’s a crochet border that will really make the piece look finished, I hope, because the top edge that doesn’t have the lace border is pretty uneven looking to me. Gosh, I think I may actually finish this thing!

Back to the weather, we’re getting reports that lime-sized hail may come with the next storm, at least to my friends around Austin. I guess that’s good, since most of them are already planning to get new roofs after the previous storm, with “just” golf-ball sized hail. The spring storm season around here sure can be a doozy! Oh, and of course that is always followed by a couple of months of no rain at all. Love that Texas weather.

Indian blanket! Next come black-eyed Susans.

Hoping you are safe from whatever weather is afflicting your part of the world, and if it’s not being afflicted, that you enjoy a wonderful spring or autumn day! And don’t forget to let me know if you have anything you’d like to see me talk about here!

Chickie Birthday!

That’s right, the three chicks are a week old today! I’m actually sort of surprised they made it, since our coop isn’t fancy and I’ve just been leaving Mama Star in charge.

We like it down here!

I went out to see them as soon as I got back from Austin. They were all hanging out together as usual. They had gone through a whole container of food and most of their water, which tells me you can only stay away from these guys one day unless I get a bigger feeder. But these are easy to handle and clean, so I’ll keep using them.

When I saw this, I had to blink.

I spread some scratch on the ground for Star, then headed to the garage to clean and replenish their water holder. When I came back, I could see Star, but there was lot of movement near her. The chicks had come down! I guess they figured it out yesterday!

Bronzer, Granite, and Steel look so mature!

The chicks were eating all Star’s food and running around pecking at everything. I was happy to see them eating blades of grass with abandon. They are so confident at one week old. I’m happy.

We’re busy growing feathers.

Yep, those babies can’t help but cheer us up. Even Lee is charmed by their peeps and pops. I even catch him giving the older chickens treats. And he was asking me about my chicken food ingredients.

We’d like to get to that long grass over there. That grass is getting trimmed soon. I promise.

Speaking of the other four hens, they got annoyed by a garage light that wouldn’t shut off and quit laying on the fridge. Now they are putting all their eggs in the far corner on an old mop. It’s really painful for me to get to them, but at least all four laid in the same place. Eight eggs, no searching! Plus, Big Red gave one. Do I need more chickens? Maybe not!

By the way, for Earth Day, our local grocery store, H-E-B, gave away cool Earth Day bags. A friend in Maryland wanted one, so I went out after lunch and got one for me and her, when I knew they’d still have some.

Pretty.

While there, I got a little bouquet of flowers to reward myself for perseverance. The store flowers are reasonably priced, though not compared to the wildflowers.

I got myself flowers to cheer me up.

I hope you thought about the wonderful planet where we all live today, and the amazing animals and plants we share our home with.