FIRE Brings Hope

It’s the SUN! It makes the earth shiny! It kills germs!

The UU Lent word for today is fire. It came on a good day, because a fiery ball of light appeared in the sky for the first time in a LONG time, or at least it seems.

Seeing the sun this morning made me hopeful. I have read that it’s harder for some viruses to thrive when the sun is out, baking away. I keep hoping the coronavirus is one that will be slowed by sun and heat. It’s supposed to get to 90F today, after many days of cold and damp here in the middle of Texas. (I also hope it helps Fiona’s legs heal up.)

While I’m mostly a watery Pisces kind of person, fire has always meant a lot to me. Like my favorite goddess, Brighid, the goddess of the hearth, the forge, and poetry, I like to make things from fire (pottery, bread) and I like to use my words to ignite a spark of recognition, passion, or learning in others.

Notice how different each brick is.

I took the picture of the bricks a few days ago. I love how every one of these hand-made bricks is different. And that they’ve required some repair to the mortar holding them together. But they still stand, because they work together. WHOA! A METAPHOR FOR OUR TIMES! We need to be this way.

Alfred’s still guarding the fort. We all need an Alfred from time to time.

We may be just “another brick in the wall,” but in reality, we have our own jobs to do right now. And so what if we’re cracked or a little broken, we can still do it! I’m thinking of all my family and friends who are trying hard to hold themselves together. That means YOU!

Cheers. Who needs to brush your hair in a pandemic?
I do still wear a bra, but it’s a comfy one.

I’ve actually lit a fire (sticking to my theme) under myself and am getting lots of work done for all the jobs. I guess I’m getting used to the new normal.

I recently read that Texans are drinking the most alcohol during this time. I did my part yesterday with some proseco.

But, here’s a weird thing. I took off all the dip polish and cut my nails. I am hoping that Tina, my nail technician, is able to take some time off to take care of her family, so I spend some time bonding with the smell of acetone and made my nails naked.

They are pretty thin anyway, so even when I go back to the nail place, I’ll probably just get polish for a little while, so they can grow out.

Now I look like Granny Kendall, who had little short, fat fingers and bit her nails to the quick.

I don’t recognize my hands. They are very clean. I’m having to use so much hand lotion that I took off all the big rings. That’s a new normal for me, too.

What’s your new normal?

Donkey Legs and Other Problems with Dampness

Poor Miss Fiona! When I trudged over (okay, I drove) to feed the steeds after finishing my newsletter draft, I noticed one of them did not slog up to greet me, and it was her.

The horses were clean on top and muddy on the bottom after yesterday’s big rain, but were happy to see me. Fiona stood in the middle of the paddock and brayed at me. Hmm.

They’d also gotten locked out of the pens, so were excited at new grass (at most they were locked out two days).

I got their supplements all prepared, and the horses dug in, but FiFi just hobbled a couple of steps. Uh-oh. I went out to her and eww! Every single leg was raw and bleeding on the outer side. Of course there were also flies everywhere.

I took pictures and sent them to Sara. We pondered. Did a dog go after her? No, they aren’t puncture wounds. Did she slip in the mud and scrape her legs? Well, how would that happen to all four?

Ick.

We’ve narrowed it down to rain rot that she’s making worse by gnawing on it, or lice or something. I’ll look again tomorrow and try to get better pictures to send the farrier. In the meantime, I cleaned her as much as I could and fly sprayed her. More news as it happens!

Damp Hens

I felt badly for the chickens last night when it rained so hard, but they were fine today. I need to get their food covered better, though, because it keeps getting wet.

We’re happy hennies.

It is still damp and foggy now, so I just put food on the ground with their delicious scratch and leftover veggies.

They still aren’t laying, even though they have grown a lot. Oh well, they are good diversions.

We Have the Freedom to…umm

Perhaps today is not the best day to talk about freedom, but that’s what the UU Lent calendar said to talk about. Freedom’s always been a hard topic for me, even without being confined to quarters/office and following so many rules and regulations (our home health agency gets new guidelines from the State every day, and we have meetings to go over them; as of now we have to take every client’s temperature every time we see them; glad I’m just the CEO and am sitting at my desk doing my other job).

Still free to enjoy doggie fun and games at the ranch!

Right now, though, I feel really lucky and privileged to be able to be outside and wander around the Hermits’ Rest, so I don’t get cabin fever. I’m still free on my own property.

Land stretching out so far and wide!

As for the concept of “freedom,” I always wonder how other people define it. I don’t feel free at all here in the US. I am afraid to criticize the government aloud, for example. I hesitate to express my opinions on a lot of topics, actually, since I’m concerned that maybe many people are wandering around ready to hurt or shoot people they disagree with. That may be propaganda aimed at people like me to keep us in line, but, this doesn’t seem like a free and safe time to me. I hope I just have healthy paranoia, not crazed paranoia.

Penney is glad she is free to attack and play with June bugs to her heart’s content. She watched this one a LONG time.

So, I plan to continue to concentrate on what I am still free to do, think, and write. I’m glad my blog is not censored. I’m glad my dogs can run and play and make me happy. I’m glad I am free to at least talk to my family and friends still.

Stay safe, and don’t be a paranoid like Suna. You always have the freedom to have another perspective from mine!

Who’s Your Community?

I love that people send me pictures of my favorite flowers for my birthday. That’s enough to make the day cheerful!

What a coincidence that the UU Lent word for today is community, when it’s the day every year that I’m reminded of how far my extended community goes and how close my intimate community is. As much as people complain about Facebook, it’s great for reminding you that people are thinking of you, so Facebook birthdays are always fun.

Community is something I think about a lot, because as the years go by, I’ve come to realize that so much of what I do is to try to create community. I crave being part of a group of people who care for each other and support each other. Perhaps most of us do (with my spouse as an exception, maybe).

These pansies came from a member of my caring LLL sub-community/

At last, after making a lot of attempts at joining communities and trying to become a part of them, I’ve come to realize that it works way better when communities join YOU. I often mistook being part of an organization or other group of people formed because of a shared mission or passion as being part of a community. Sometimes it is, but sometimes you can mistake people working together as people who care about each other. I found this out the hard way with La Leche League, my old church, my knitting group, and others. I did make good friends doing this work, but the community of caring wasn’t really there after all, or if it was, I wasn’t in it. Too much struggle for power and in-group formation.

My birthday morning greeted me with sun rising above fog in good old NorthCat Villas in Austin.

To me, a real community consists of a group of people who all are equal and accept each other as they are, warts and all, and work together for the benefit of all. So, my old groups had sub-communities, for sure, and I truly appreciate them and the friendships they created that have lasted many years.

The feet of my community in Austin. We had a rather amusing meeting about people taking up too many parking spaces in our cul-de-sac.

Now I really do feel part of a community in both of the places where I live. I feel safe and cared for in my little Austin cul-de-sac (warts and all, oh yes), and I certainly feel that way among the community that’s building up around me in Cameron. No wonder I am happier and more at “home” than I’ve ever been in my life.

Where do you seek community?

Where Do You Find Sanctuary?

Ah, the word for today is sanctuary on the UU Lent calendar. As I am sitting inside one of my personal sanctuaries as I type this, I didn’t have a hard time coming up with things to photograph for this concept.

My office at the ranch, with my favorite chair ever, my favorite couch, art I love, a stool my dad made, and much safety.

What I realized soon after starting to think about sanctuaries is that I truly crave them. I make myself a sanctuary wherever I go. In Austin, it’s my bedroom, where again, I have things I care about and a cozy place to sit and read or knit. I’ve turned my office at the Hermit Haus into a sanctuary with all my colors and all my nature stuff. Even in the horrible “open office” thing at work in Austin, I’ve tried to create a place of calm.

This is when it was in use as a church. They took that nice lighted thing in the back.

Heck, I even OWN a sanctuary, but not in the same meaning of the word. The old church sanctuary still gives me a bit of a chill, so it won’t be a haven for peace and reflection for me for a while yet.

I feel like a wealthy person when I realize how many places I can retreat to when I need to. I need to retreat a lot, which is how I keep as even-tempered as I manage to do (though Chris said I had a negativity attack yesterday).

To help with office negativity, I went and made myself a sanctuary at the Pope Residence. I drug a chair and a bench out on the balcony, where I can look at the big magnolia tree and survey the churches of Cameron. I spent a nice time listening to the many grackles, four woodpeckers, and a loud mockingbird. Triumph in the sanctuary department!

Thanks, tree. You bring peace.

Of course, Lee and I built our very own sanctuary here at the ranch. The Hermits’ Rest is most definitely his safe place, and I’m not far behind (I just have more places). My Instagram post for today shows me enjoying coffee in the only side of the house not dealing with hurricane-style winds.

I had pretty much everything I needed here!

It’s a real privilege to have your own physical areas of sanctuary like I do. I think of people in Syria, people in abusive situations in the US, so many others in crisis who don’t have anywhere to go where they feel safe. No wonder so many people just retreat inside themselves; they have nowhere else to go.

I feel safe here. So grateful for the Hermits’ Rest.

Everyone deserves to be able to escape and refresh and renew their souls. Those of us who have the chance to should cultivate and care for our sanctuaries, because we are lucky to have them. One way to do good in the world is to help bring peace and safety to others.

How would you do this? Where is your sanctuary? Is it physical or mental?

Maybe We Need More Passion? Maybe I Need Less?

The UU Lent word for today was passion. I saw that and said to myself, “Whoops, I don’t have a lot of that at this stage of my life; I’m just trying to get through every day.” I wonder who else among us feels that all their passion is just drained from them? Why would that be?

Sure.

Passion is supposed to be strong emotions that inspire and motivate you. Many writers (especially of memes) encourage us to do everything with passion. Sounds exhausting to me.

Passion Bites Me in the Butt

I’ve had passions at various stages in my life. There were one or two relationships that were that way. That led to bad decisions along with poor self esteem, and in some ways I felt like I lost myself. I could do without that. Then there were causes and activities I felt so strongly about that it became a passion. They motivated me to do much good work, but when I became too attached, it led to deep disappointments and feeling taken advantage of.

So much passion. Not wasted.

Passions have always led me to disappointment or defeat, whether in the interpersonal or organizational area, anyway.

Huh. Maybe I wasn’t going about passion in the best way. I betcha there are people who can be passionate about things without the burnout and negativity. I think I’ll talk to people about that today, and I invite you readers to chime in.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my hobbies, groups, and interests, but keeping a bit of distance. I declare I can still do good work with my Master Naturalist group, the Milam Touch of Love, and the Friends of LLL without being consumed by their missions. I say that to manifest it, I guess.

But I Do Love My Mother

When I was writing my Instagram post on passion, I realized that the strongest attachment to anything is probably to the preservation and flourishing of wildlife and plants around me. My strongest feelings come when I look around me at the birds, the trees, the animals, the water…the planet we live on is amazing. I want to keep it healthy so that if I ever have descendants, they can enjoy it, too.

I saw this buck and a younger buck near the Bobcat Lair.

Sure, this one can also lead to disappointment, but not defeat. I’ll keep striving to keep Mother Earth my focus.

And Those Pesky Friends and Relatives

Speaking of passion. These two have it.

Same goes for my family and intimate friends. My passion about keeping them safe and happy won’t go away. This is where I am learning to have passion but still detach. I can’t make people love me or treat me well, but I can care about them anyway, just not so much that I curl up in a little ball of sadness. I guess I should be grateful to my estranged son (tiny photo earlier in this post) for helping me with this hard lesson.

I intend to keep going, keep caring about the world around me and those I hold close, so I’m not going to let passion lead to defeat again.

Love to all.

Self Care: Dog, Yarn, and Cow Edition

Hear ye, hear ye! I’m taking today off. I am not doing regular work, volunteer work, or family stuff. I’m having a self care day!

I even gave the Bitmoji new glasses and shirt.

Much of my day will be spent looking at these guys.

A symphony in earth tones.

Or this guy.

It’s my scarred-up white haid!

Vlassic is out visiting Jim again so no picture, but I got all emotional about losing him last night and got all weepy. Harvey immediately ran to my side and started licking me. Then Penney came. Vlassic licked me, too. That was the first time I really cried in ages. I don’t think it was actually about Vlassic, but about losing all my lost loved ones.

So that made me decide to take the day off. The rest of the family went on a trip, so it’s just me and Lee until dinner, which will be pizza with the Sunday dinner gang. I’m gonna take a bath and do my hair, read, and knit! Yes, knit!

Yarn from Blue Mule, near Round Top.

It’s going to be a cowl you can also wear like a shawl someday. It’s called Nomad. It’s on Ravelry.

It’s not too hard, not too easy.

The most strenuous thing I’ve done today is go look at the chickens and the young cows who are currently behind the house. They just love the chickens and the dogs.

Y’all don’t scare us.

They are such friendly young ladies. I think they were the first ones born here after the pink mamas showed up. They are all named 18. Or they’re new. I don’t know. I just enjoy how friendly they are.

Got any food?

I enjoyed taking some portraits, and hope you like them, too.

I hope your day is peaceful, or that it’s fun, whichever you need. How are you doing self care today?

I’m just gonna snooze.