Teeny Tiny Road Trip

Today Kathleen declared it was a ladies’ day. So we did some shopping with safety in mind. We spent a lot of time at Walker’s Honey Farm. I got some honey spreads for bagels and some of their wine. Kathleen got similar things and some mead/beer/wine stuff, too. One is strawberry basil and one is coconut and something. They are refreshing.

The winery and honey place is really nice this time of year. We had frozen mead and sat under a beautiful pergola looking out over wildflowers and vineyards.

Much of our time was spent in the bird-lovers heaven of watching purple martins going in and out of their high-tech nests. What a pleasure!

I enjoyed watching lizards and spiders, and even managed to find a couple more invasive species for my bioblitzing. (I am doing pretty well at it; report coming tomorrow.) If you are in this area, it’s a great place to visit now. They all wear masks and clean a lot. They only serve drinks and snacks outside, so it’s great and socially distant.

We next went to Vis-a-Vis in Rogers. The staff were great but it was a bit crowded to me, so I kept the mask on and sanitized a lot. We got some great stuff for our projects, like an old toothbrush holder Kathleen loves and a box of iron “stuff” that may go into my new desk.

I also got three cute teapots for a collection I have: cauliflower, eggplant, and garlic. I left the garlic one at the office, so no photo. Anyway, I was amazed the ladies there recognized me with blue hair and a mask, but they did.

We dropped by the Bling Box to pick up something of Kathleen’s. Yay, no other customers! They also got in a shipment of masks, so I got one that goes with my hair. Charming, right?

Blue in it for the hair, orange for my glasses. Hmm. I’m an homage to my alma maters. Go Gators. Fight Illini.

Tomorrow Kathleen works, so I’m gonna clean things at the Pope Residence. That should be fun!

What Passes for Excitement

Today I went somewhere! I saw people! I did a good deed. And I stayed safe, especially considering the true dearth of infected people in this county.

Last week, a woman contacted me about a lot of things that one of the founders of our Master Naturalist chapter had been storing when she died. This woman, KB, as I’ll call her, was one of those people who are the backbone of an organization.

These folks have beautiful roses.

KB kept all the materials at her house, planned numerous events, workshops, and activities for the group, and apparently was a ton of fun, to top it all off. She was a prolific writer and note-taker, plus took lots of pictures. She had an entire room full of materials. After she passed away, the chapter wasn’t able to get the majority of her things, and I heard many expressions of regret.

Native trees.

Obviously, we were all excited when the woman who’s with KB’s husband gave us some of her old shirts. Then she wanted to let us look through more stuff that they’d made easier to go through. I didn’t feel qualified to do this, since I showed up in the sad, post-KB year.

They called this green roses.

I gave her a couple of names, and she got in touch with Phyllis, our previous chapter president. Our board agreed we should go over, and I offered to go along, since there was supposedly lots of stuff.

Catalpa blossoms

Neither Phyllis nor I had gone anywhere other than to get food since March, so we both really enjoyed the drive over to the property. It was full of native trees and plants, and Phyllis said she was glad they’d mowed. It may have been too natural for most people during KB’s time.

Posters, signs, etc.

I know it was hard on Phyllis to go through all the many notebooks, notes, and other materials. I found the easy things like posters and signs, and was thrilled that the legendary mussel collection was intact. We did keep some collections and drawings to show our newer members. They were meticulous and awesome. This woman was a true citizen scientist.

Flower/plant presses

It turned out that KB’s former husband and his current partner were very gracious hosts, so we got to tour their gardens and workshops. I was in awe. Nothing was fancy, but it was so interesting! Both of them are really creative. I even loved the chicken coop.

Squash, potatoes and onions.

Then we toured the house, made much less fun by wearing masks. You know, you read about “farmhouse chic” a lot. Well, this is an actual chic farmhouse. Everywhere I turned there was an idea I wanted to try. Each room was more charming than the previous one. It was a comfortable home just full of old things being used as they always had, along with creatively repurposed stuff.

This is cool. I want one.

That was fun. I really enjoyed meeting new people and chatting. I probably won’t do it again for a while, but that was nice.

This is made from the light part of an old fan.

What stuff have you been doing that’s more fun than it should be? Have you taken a drive?

Rolling with the Changes

Change. I guess most of us are dealing as best as we can with all the changes to our daily routines. Nobody doing the UU Lent challenge will have any trouble with this as a prompt.

My friend Sara posted this message. A good one.

I’ve been trying to put things into perspective. There are always changes and challenges, big and small. My generation is lucky to not have been hit by something that requires sacrifice in a long time. But we managed 911 and the threat of atomic bombs and so on. If we stick together, we’ll handle the virus crisis.

Instagram of today.

I’m very glad for the perspective on change that my I’ll-timed trip has given me. It’s let me see that even from one week to the next, our planet changes. On the way out, the trees were bare and only white trees and red maples were blooming.

Still some beautiful white trees are in bloom.

Now, it’s a riot of colors. There is yellow jessamine throughout the trees, oaks and elms are going crazy, and the beautiful red bud trees say hello through the diverse woodlands we are driving through. Every week the show changes, and soon enough autumn colors will arrive.

More red buds.

I think this is why it’s so good to go out in nature, especially now. You can see the big picture and remember you and your problems aren’t the center of the Universe.

Not a bad view. We’re rolling along in the Mobile Social Isolation Unit!

I haven’t had too much to write about for a while, but I know there will be lots of changes to come once we get home. I can’t wait to see the progress on our offices, assuming that’s still going on. And then I hope to share more about our next project. Life will go on, even though I’ll be confined to home and the office.

This fills my heart with peace.

Roll with those changes, friends.

Part of the Resistance

Today we have resistance as our UU Lent word. Once again the Sunday word is ripe for sermonizing. I’d rather not preach. If you know me, you’ll know I’m part of the resistance against fascism and oligarchy and such.

Deep Instagram thoughts

As I try to get back to Texas in my Mobile Social Distancing Unit (Lee’s Car), I keep thinkingw oabout how some of us have more resistance to disease than others. That’s one reason for keeping our hygiene up, to protect the vulnerable.

Not planning to die. Just sharing that Donita’s neighborhood once was a graveyard. Many homes have headstones.

Most of my upcoming activities are cancelled, and I’m supposed to work from home for the next couple of weeks. I’m glad we got to visit Flo last week, because they place she lives no longer allows guests, even family. We are wondering if the State will require Hearts Homes and Hands to only provide vital services. I guess there’s a fine line between helping and potentially harming.

Take a breath and enjoy a night view in Swansboro. Resistance is futile. You WILL relax.

I have no conspiracy theories to share, other than to be reasonably cautious. I wish I hadn’t had this week chosen to travel, but we were careful.

I was so proud I got a shot while the blinking light was on. See. I can have fun with no people around.

What we could not avoid on this part of the trip was tree pollen. Oh my. Pines, elms, oaks and more have flowers or candles, in the pines’ case, in the Carolinas right now. Donita’s car turned yellow on our drive yesterday, and I know Libba and I sucked up a lot on our long walk last night, since my sinuses were running like a babbling brook last night. Lee says his eyes are crunchy. Poor guy.

Just a little truck stop pollen.

Now to keep my germ resistance up. Y’all do the same. Let me know how it’s going!

Since fresh air is good for removing germs, eat outdoors! Does alcohol disinfect your innards? Um. No.

A Very Different Ocean View

We’ve been relaxing with Donita and Libba in Swansboro, NC. They live on the Intracoastal Waterway near the quaint old fishing town.

Me, relaxing.

While I have enjoyed my two days of shopping here and in nearby towns, it’s the birds and other animals that have made this trip special. You can see all sorts of marshes and barrier islands, which are just teeming with life.

Oysters by the sea wall

It’s a great contrast from Myrtle Beach, which is all big resorts. No natural beauty.

Laughing gull

Last night I saw an otter bopping around, which was really fun. Today I got to see a wild pony off of Beaufort. That’s pretty good viewing!

The otter was on the shore at left.

And the birds are fascinating. I saw an osprey and a gull fight over a fish. And there are so many waterfowl to enjoy, including many kinds of ducks, geese, egrets, herons, ibis, and so on. This is what makes me happy.

Ibis in Beaufort

Who needs people? I can just sit outside and observe.

Donita and Libba love boats.

What are your plans? When not working from home, I’ll be reading and knitting. And writing!

One of many amazing beach homes. Yow.

Don’t Doubt and Be Dumb

I got asked if I was taking the coronavirus seriously. Yes, I’m not a virus doubter, even though we went ahead with our non refundable vacation. Convenient isn’t it, that the UU Lent word for the day is doubt?

Sunrise on our last day in Myrtle Beach. No doubt that was beautiful.

Lee and I almost used up a bar of soap washing our hands, and we sanitized restaurant settings, once my brother told me too. I’m lucky my brother works for the Santa Clara County Health Department, who publish great information.

We also didn’t go to crowded places and maintained space around us. Still managed to enjoy the beach and each other.

This guy was happily disinfecting all the lobby furniture. He was pleased to be photographed.

Hilton was being really diligent about cleaning, especially the touch screen elevator buttons. We had wristbands that activated the elevators and unlocked doors, which came in handy.

Staying healthy, since I’m old.

We’re now heading to visit more relatives. We will stay at their house and do water activities. If we go out to eat, we will take precautions. When we go home? I’ll be real careful in restrooms. Then I’m staying in Cameron for a while, where there are no virus sufferers yet.

Stay safe, everybody, and don’t be a dumb doubter. Our business is also taking precautions for the safety of our clients, too, in case you wondered. It’s not a time to doubt scientific professionals.

Wisdom: Did We Make a Wise Decision?

The salesperson we dealt with yesterday, the relentlessly flattering Kathy (she kept telling us how smart we were), convinced us to stay an extra day here in Myrtle Beach. So, we pushed our trip out a day. Hmm…that brings me to the UU Lent word of the day, wisdom.

There is no doubt in Lee’s nor my mind that this wasn’t a wise decision! An entire day with no agenda and no feeling rushed is a real blessing to us. After losing more than half of yesterday working out a deal to make traveling easier for Lee (he NEEDS to get out, but doesn’t like to fly), today feels good. And it’s given me a chance to think hard about what wisdom is and where it comes from.

I looked out the balcony this morning and saw a perfect depiction of the path to wisdom. It runs between my watery intuitive side and my my analytical side. I need them both.

I’m not being egotistical to declare that I am a lot wiser now, at age 62. Life’s journey has given me plenty of learning opportunities (or challenges), and while I may have not been as wise as I thought I was early in life, at least I was always open to learning and growing. Like in the picture above, I can never see where I’m going on this path, but there’s always something new coming up. Then at the end, I’ll disappear into the mist. (GEEZ that’s cheesy.)

What Do We Need to Gain Wisdom

Yep, this is what I look like in a mirror and it’s just fine, thanks.

Well, there’s lots, of course, but one thing that’s really helped me is accepting myself as I am, rather than trying to be who someone else wants me to be or comparing myself with others. I like that I can look in the mirror now and tell myself I am fine just the way I look, and that I am really great inside.

Learning to love myself and retraining my brain to send me positive messages was the hardest thing I ever did, and it’s rewarded me more than I can express. I sure see things more clearly when they aren’t obscured by self criticism and insecurity about myself. Go me!

Another characteristic that has brought me a lot of wisdom is curiosity. I’m not interested in staying in my comfort zone and not exploring new ideas, new places, or new activities (after a bit of Suna’s patented hesitation). I love to look around corners, explore nooks and crannies, and see what’s out there, just like the beautiful bird below. That’s helped me see things in new ways, which can’t help but bring on not just knowledge, but wisdom – which includes knowing what to do with what you learn.

“What’s over here?” asks the egret.
I found this picture on my phone, taken by Lee when he was supposed to be taking pictures for me. Made me laugh.

One thing that maybe people don’t think about leading to wisdom is humor. Humor requires looking at life in different ways, not just what’s readily apparent. That’s got to help you become wiser. I’ve found that the wisest people I know laugh a lot, too. Maybe that’s good for you in more ways than are apparent!

Being able to laugh at experiences rather than dwelling on how bad they are or what awful consequences there may be also leaves you more open to learning, even from the hard things that we all go through.

And finally, wisdom requires patience. You don’t get wise overnight (like I used to think when I was an all-knowing teen psychic wonder). It doesn’t just show up. Sometimes you have to experience things multiple times to learn from them (how about those repeated relationships with inappropriate men?). And sometimes you have to wait for life to unfold before you get to where you’ve internalized your knowledge and applied it to your life. It doesn’t help to know something, it’s got to get IN there, and that takes patience.

I’ll get to use this soon, away from dog toenails, of course.

Yep, I am finally almost done with this lap blanket. If only I’d brought the green yarn to finish the corners. This took both patience and perseverance!

What Have I Missed?

I’m sure some of you have in mind other aspects of life that lead to wisdom. Share them here or on Facebook, because I’m interested to know what you think. Wisdom also comes from learning from your peers!

Birds Birds Birthday Birds

It’s the spouse’s birthday. That’s why we took a trip! What fun that half the day was taken up doing business! Yes! Woo!

Me taking a break and wishing I was on the beach.

Um. It wasn’t horrible and we came out with some future travel fun. I want to go places before I die. Lee will put up with it, or send me off with Anita.

Whew, he’s as old as me again, and can still hold up a tree.

Birds!

We escaped the towering beach resort at last and made it to a state park. There, I had more Nature Girl fun that humans should be allowed to have. And even Lee enjoyed the walking around my favorite thing on earth, a marsh.

It’s a marsh.

The Huntington Beach State Park is beautiful. We didn’t look at all of it, but focused on the wilder parts. The trails we walked on were spectacular, with huge old pines and oaks and much evidence of fairly recent flooding.

What a huge oak tree!

We saw SO many birds. As soon as we got out of the car, I saw cheeky chickadees, and when we got on the boardwalk, there was a family of Eastern bluebirds. They have lots of nest boxes on the island, and they seem to be working!

Blue birds!

I took lots and lots of photos on our walk, and I got more and more excited with each new bird I saw. The causeway was a real hotbed of shore birds, and I had SO much fun with other birders looking at a group of birds hanging around together, with anhingas, ospreys, and bald eagles flying over head. Wow!

Of course, I took lots of pictures of plants. This is a wild blackberry or a dewberry or some bramble.

Enjoy these photos, which are enough to make any naturalist swoon, far as I’m concerned.

After all that, we had a beautiful birthday dinner at the Sea Captain’s House, a restaurant that has been here 58 years. I had she-crab soup and then oysters (of course) for my main course. Then we shared a wonderful birthday dessert.

The picture is dark so you can see the ocean out the window. Nice.

Was it a good day? Oh yes, it was. That blue bird of happiness followed us all day!

Camellia outside the restaurant.

Every Single Day Takes Courage

We have courage for the UU Lent word today. I think we’re all more courageous than we know. Life is challenging. Sometimes we wonder if it’s the most challenging time to be alive, like ever, but no, I think it’s always been hard to be human. It’s always taken courage to face each day.

It takes courage to stand on the balcony on the 26th floor if you aren’t good with heights.

Before we had to deal with evil viruses, our current political leadership, bad drivers, and mean people, humans still needed courage. I would have been scared to death to get pregnant before the late twentieth century. Well, I’d have died after the first try, so there’s a time when maybe I should not have been courageous (mis-shapen tail bone). People were always at war with the folks next door, and if you got sick, you just hoped you were strong enough to survive. And then there were wolves, bears, mammoths, and poisonous fruit,

To be honest, it takes courage for Lee to try a new beer. He likes familiarity.

Any of us who get up, greet the sun, and go do the needful, as they say in India, is courageous in my book. And you get rewards for your courage. You learn and grow, you find people to love, you create and contribute to society. Courage wins.

Sorry. I will never have the courage to get on this thing. I draw the line there.

It often happens that when I have the courage to do something that intimidates me, the reward is big. If I fail, I learn a lot, making it not so bad. And if I succeed, I get to add skills and have fun.

But, I think we all have things we haven’t worked up the courage to do. For me, it’s rides where I can’t see what’s holding me up, like roller coasters and Ferris wheels. Oh, and I am not going skydiving. It’s okay. I’ll be fine without these things.

Here is one of the first times I worked with Apache. He’s big and scary. That took courage.

Take riding Apache. It’s scary to sit on another living being and hope it doesn’t kill you. It took courage to get on, to walk around, to trot, and to get back on after falling off. But, it’s the most fun I have. I’m glad I pushed myself. I’ll be honest, I don’t like falling when I can’t see where I’m going, so every single time I dismount takes courage. We each have our “things.”

Courage to do hard things makes me shine. Here, I’m on a long car trip.

Starting our real estate business took courage, and some might say we failed at it. At least it wasn’t a glorious success. But we sure learned a lot, and it’s helped us be more confident with the Hearts Homes and Hands business. I’m glad we are willing to get out there and provide services people need. If we just sat around and lived on our passive income, it wouldn’t be just us who suffer.

Courage is everywhere. So is strength. We just have to remember.

I have friends facing life-threatening illnesses with courage. Their reward is to enjoy life as long as they have it and to learn how much love there is in the world. They also teach the rest of us to not fear the inevitable. I hope to face my health challenges with such grace.

Sending you all love as I have the courage to go listen to a condominium sales pitch and “just say no.”

Trying to Do Nothing. It’s Hard.

This vacation to Myrtle Beach is for Lee to get some rest and relaxation, so I am trying to not impose my agenda on him. Today he wanted to scan in receipts and balance his budget, so okay, that’s what he did. I’m not great at just doing my regular job in a different spot (though I uploaded a post for another blog, dealt with a couple of issues for the Austin job, and such).

I just feel like if I’m in a new place, I should go check it out, so I spent much of the day looking around the resort area where we’re staying. This morning I walked a long way up the beach, and was actually glad for all the brightly colored hotels, condos, and resorts on the beach, because everything else was solid gray. The surf, sand, and sky all matched.

Gray sand, gray birds, grayish water, gray skies.

I did get to enjoy something you don’t get to see every day, though. They were tearing down a condo building that I guess isn’t big and tall enough or something. The wrecking ball had to be careful not to damage the building a few yards away from it. Half the building was rubble and half looked like people still lived there. Weird.

Future former building.

The nature watching was limited. I saw laughing gulls, pigeons, and dead jellyfish. The shells here are all broken (it’s the Atlantic, after all) but a lot of them obviously were big ole clams!

Poor jellyfish.

Lee came out of the building and walked with me to the next pier, where we had a very good lunch at the Pier 14 restaurant. Even veggies of the day were good (most places they are not even completely defrosted and have no seasoning, but these were hot and tasty). I had some good scallops. I’m managing to keep eating healthy!

The boardwalk is nice. I assume it’s much more crowded next month.

Most of Myrtle Beach reminds me of Ft. Lauderdale (a place of which I have never been fond). Not a lot of natural beauty, at least anywhere near the water. I think this place is designed for a different kind of tourist than me. If I wanted to drink, hear live music, buy cheap souvenirs, play golf (mini or otherwise), or ride Ferris wheels, though, this would be nirvana.

This is the most nature I found. The blue thing is where I had lunch.

But, I enjoyed sitting and watching the waves this afternoon, while chatting with a lady from Tennessee, and have gotten a lot of good knitting and reading in. Plus a nap. Yes, a nap! And Lee did go for a walk with me around 5 pm.

Mmm, shops and more shops.

So, I succeeded pretty well in doing nothing and avoiding large crowds. Tomorrow, though, I have been promised a trip to a park. They tend to not be hotbeds of disease.