Pampered Chickens? Nah. (Book Report)

I was a little worried that we are pampering the chickens and guineas. For example, I wandered out into the woods today to make more perches and shade for the chickens.

Hedy and Hedley are on the new perch.

And Chris made a new shelf and perch for the guineas. They have really grown since we got them!

The perch in front and the shelf in back. They still haven’t figured them out.

I feel much better now, though. I got two books of chicken projects at Tractor Supply, and they had some of the most indulgent yet cute projects imaginable. One has 40 projects; one has 50. I guess their editors had the same idea.

One of the authors, Lisa Steele, who is apparently a big chicken blogger,* puts curtains on all her hens’ nest boxes, because some are shy. Lordy. And she makes them salves and feeds them herbs. And builds many adorable hen swings.

We only got to have our shelf because Chris added chicken wire to the top of our cage so we can’t get out.

I did enjoy the projects in both books (Janet Garman is a little more serious but also obviously LOVES chickens) and got some good ideas, like making a low perch for the Jersey Giants. Right now Hedy loves it the most, followed by Henley and Bruce. The young hens do love all the new things. They still like to play.

We love our new perch, say Hedy and Henley.

Oh! I forgot to share that last night I let Ginger and Bertie run around and chase grasshoppers for a while. Lee and I were mighty entertained. Those gals are good! Even Clarence came out and caught some. I got them all back in pretty easily once they had their fill.

I hope we can let them out more often. As long as the big dogs are inside, they’re fine. Vlassic and Gracie just watch like we do!

Nope. Our chickens aren’t pampered. Just fun.

*Like I can talk. I’m a not-big sort of ranching sort of venting blogger.

Risky Business

The Word of the Day in UU Lent is “risk.” Now, there’s a word I’m familiar and even mostly comfortable with. The photo I put on Instagram was this one, taken from the top of the stairs at the Pope Residence, and looking down, somewhat queasily.

I’m not a big fan of heights, but you’re not going to be able to get a shiny new roof without climbing up there.

Risk can be messy, or create messes. Like all the construction debris in the photo, you often have to make a path through a lot of crap when you’re taking risks in life. And there are often metaphorical nails and sharp pieces of metal to wade through.

Easton’s like me. Not a big fan of being on the roof. He and Randy can help from the sturdy floor of the sunroom.

I’ve never been a risk taker. You know how people are divided into the ones who like roller coasters, parachuting, and thrill-seeking activities, versus the ones who prefer their novelty to be more of the “shall I try a new variety of apple?” kind? Well, I have the apple personality.

But as I have gotten older, there are certain types of risks I am more comfortable with taking, like joining groups to make friends, speaking up in work meetings, starting new businesses (talk about RISK – this is WAY beyond my comfort zone for earlier in my life). I think becoming less of a worrier and more of an observer in life helps me be comfortable with this kind of risk taking. You can’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so do what you can do to mitigate risk, then wait and see what happens and deal with what comes up.

This Blog Is a Risk

Today, putting yourself out there in public, warts and all, can be quite a risk. I’m honest about my “stuff” here on this blog, and am not out to make myself look good, be an “influencer,” or make money. I’m here to share experiences that might help others look at things in new ways, or feel less alone in their own experiences.

I’ve received some comments about how that might be risky. Last night, a reader said something about some of the posts being a bit “out there.” And since I have a lot of readers of different backgrounds from mine, I can really see that. I’m not your standard ranch girl, but more of a New Agey hippie trying to fit into a rural culture that has a lot of appeal to me, even if most people aren’t like me.

Another risk
Spring spring. Texas Mountain Laurel to thank Hermits’ Rest readers.

It’s freeing, though, that I’m no longer trying to make everyone like me or please everyone I know. If the stuff I write bothers anyone, they don’t have to read it. There’s certainly plenty of other content out there.

Thanks to you who read this and comment (some in the blog, some on Facebook, and some in person), since learning what you think helps me to get to know you. I know commenting can be a risk, too, but it seems like my community is a supportive one that embraces all perspectives. Take a chance! Participate more, folks!

Past and the Future

When I was in my twenties, big risks were just not my thing. For many years, I tried to stick to a career path I’d set out on at age 18, even when I really needed to get out. I didn’t even DARE do what I wanted to do in my heart, which was perform music with others. By the time I was ready to risk rejection that way, I was much too old for it to be anything other than a hobby. That was the past.

Here they are, live from an iPhone.

The future is bright though. Last week, Anita, neighbor Ruth, and I went to see my son’s band, Big Dallas. It was their first gig, though they have been working on songs a long time. We had low expectations, since they were the first band of the night. But, there were lots of people there, and not just relatives and friends!

And they blew everyone away. Neighbor Ruth said they sound like a country Frank Zappa. The musicianship is so high, and the songs are tongue-in-cheek urban country that has you chuckling the whole time you listen.

It’s Big Dallas, sideways.

Now, this band is a big risk, as all bands are. It’s a bigger risk for my son, who had a huge musical setback last year and nearly gave up his passion. I am really proud of his friends Austin and Russell for taking the risk of sticking with him and working on this amazing music. In my mind, they’ve already succeeded (though I hope to see them again soon).

What risks are you taking now? Are you extra risk-averse, or a go-for-it kind of person?

My Health Is MY Business; Yours Is Your Business

[Skip this if you have food triggers. Thank you.]

I figure it’s a good time to update on my intention to eat in a more healthy way and nip that triglyceride issue in the bud.

(At the same time I am demonstrating that you can post to this blog in columns.)

I’m feeling really good lately, and quite positive about everything. That’s probably why I am not in the least upset to pass by a dinner roll or a piece of pie. It has occurred to me that, just because a piece of food exists, I don’t have to eat it unless I want to.

So, even with going to New Orleans and all those other trips, I’ve been eating reasonable portions of mostly healthy food. I don’t weigh myself much, but my jeans tell me I’ve at least slimmed down a little. This is mainly good, because I don’t want to buy new clothing.

I’ve walked a LOT and have been hitting my exercise goal more often the past month or two. I actually have come to crave movement and don’t like just sitting around for a long time. I just get up and walk! It can’t hurt.

So, my health seems good. It’s how I like it. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

And YOU?

After listening to people tell each other over and over again that they “should” be “doing keto” or cutting carbs, or fasting, or eating what your body tells you to…I sure am tired of people thinking they know what’s right for someone else.

I have friends of all shapes and sizes, as well as exercise lovers and haters. You know what? If you have thought about it long and hard and are happy with how you eat and the amount of movement you get in, well, it’s not my job to tell you otherwise.

If you ASK me what I do to keep healthy, then, sure, I’ll tell you how I am a big fan of moderation in everything, but that I’ve cut back on sugar and carbs lately for health reasons. But do I think you have to do that because I do? Nope.

What I would appreciate, though, would be for people who know I have reasons for my food choices trying to get me to change them. “Oh it’s just one cookie.” Yeah, but right now I don’t want one. I’ll have one later.

Gallery of Me

Me, size large
Me, size Medium
Me, size small
Me, size extra small
Age 27. Hair bigger than me.

Well, Here I Go Again

I think I’m on a big kick of telling you how I handle issues that bug me. I’m like the happy curmudgeon, telling people to get off my lawn, but kindly and with good intent. Thanks to everyone who puts up with these blog posts. Thanks to the few of you who read my odes to my horses, too.

PS: All these pictures of me make me feel a little vain, but the idea is to show I am happy, at least in photos, however I’m doing in the eating department.

Soupy Day

I’m mulling over some thoughts right now, but am in an uncharacteristically frazzled state. It’s been that way all day!

I need to just sit here and not move, even to put away the stray Halloween decoration.

Every errand and small work task I did got wonky. At least I retrieved my remotes I’d left in my rental car before vacation. But I set the GPS to go to the wrong Enterprise office.

I tried to save time and money and make some special gifts for Christmas, but it turned out the woman at the store had not put them together. And didn’t know how. After ruining two presents, I brought all the parts home. Now I’m not saving much time. But they will be done right.

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Celebrating Friends and Kindness

Yesterday was Kindness Day, in honor of Fred Rogers. While I didn’t wear a cardigan, I thought of him and of my efforts to be kind throughout the years. Sometimes it isn’t easy, as I have painfully discovered over the past few days, but it’s worth it. Please, friends, even when you are displeased with someone, let them know with kindness and empathy.

Friends?

Yes! One of my long-time (and I mean long…at least 25 years) email friends was in Austin, and Anita and I went to have dinner with her. Andi has always been a great participant in a group of women who started out as feminists who chose to stay home to raise their children. We’ve been together through ups and downs, starting and restarting careers, divorces, and triumphs. So, it was great to see her in person.

Andi and I had clashing Overtone hair colors.

We went to a new place right across from the JW Marriott in Austin, called Fareground, where a number of nice restaurants have places you can order food, and then take them to tables to eat. A bar server wanders around to see if you want wine or anything. The setting is really pretty, and it must be a lot of fun when you can sit outdoors.

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There Is Architecture in New Orleans. Duh.

I was so busy focusing on the prospect of getting all peopled out, that I didn’t think about where I was going! I think that is for the best, because I got to enjoy pleasant surprises on my whole trip.

I just got all tingly at how beautiful the earth is.

The minute I got to the New Orleans airport I remembered it just opened yesterday! It had that sorta plasticky “new airport” smell, and it was all shiny. There were zillions of windows everywhere (including the women’s room, which needed more stalls).

So much light making the shiny floors sparkle.

And of all things, the baggage claim was pleasant as heck! I loved the mosaics on the walls and the lovely planters with benches all around them.

Look at all those plants, and lights, and brightness. Not the usual dingy baggage claim.

I waited an hour for a colleague to arrive, and it was really fun. Sadly, the taxi/Uber situation is not so good, and as the day wore on it got harder and harder for people to get transportation out. Luckily, we only had to wait ten or fifteen minutes.

Continue reading “There Is Architecture in New Orleans. Duh.”

Weirdly Alluring Small Towns

We’ve been coming to the Cameron area since 2011, when we first visited the land that would eventually become the Hermits’ Rest. At first, the town didn’t appeal to me much. It was really run-down and there was very little to do, which was fine, since we were spending all our time in the woods and hanging out with the ranch neighbors.

Lee and I like it here.

Now, in addition to the ranch neighbors, we have Mandi’s family across the road. Then we have my sister living in the town where we do our business, Martha and Mike, our UU church friends, have moved up here, Kathleen has joined us to set up the new business (plus her husband now visits), and I’ve been meeting more and more people who have been here just a couple of years. On top of that, the town is blossoming. Yow!

Now when I look around, I see new restaurants, spiffed up businesses, and even new homes. Yeah, parts of the town are still a mess, but they’ve actually begun improving the infrastructure, like the water lines. Yay!

She’s still dubious

Even my Austin housemate, Anita, who does her best to avoid the ranch (she has her reasons) is going to buy a house in town and fix it up (a really cute house in a pleasant tree-lined part of town).

At dinner last night, we were talking about how much we enjoy small town living. Literally NONE of us would have ever thought we’d say that. Even my sister seems to like some aspects of the place, though we know it isn’t ideal for her. What is it about the small-town life that has made us feel good?

Kathleen and Chris like it, too!

Well, we meet new people easily, and since you are always seeing everyone in town, it’s easy to become friends, or at least pleasant acquaintances. The lack of traffic means you can get anywhere in fewer than 15 minutes. Even the limited shopping and dining choices mean you really get to know the shop-keepers and restaurant folks.

My favorite part is that people take care of each other and make sure they are okay. Even people who aren’t all that fond of each other have some kind of “town loyalty.” It makes me happy to spend time in our little town that’s trying to become its very best possible.

Deer Watching Retreat

Our real estate mini-business has to have a board meeting every year. So we decided to do a weekend retreat somewhere we could concentrate. So Lee and I used our condo points to book literally the only available 2-bedroom condo in Texas.

At least the lake is not totally dry.

It’s in Lago Vista, an oddly endearing resort village on the north shore of Lake Travis. Well, it’s a condo all right. I think it’s the least charming one I’ve ever been in. It appears to be the same age as the Bobcat house, only with very few upgrades. (Bathrooms have been done, on a budget.)

The arrow shows the nice condos and the sliver of lake we can see from our deck. Check the lower right for a photo bomber.

It appears it once had a lake view and lots of green space. But someone sold that land and put fancy condos on it. Now there is a sliver of lake and some rich people you can glimpse between units.

Oh well. It’s almost free. And it has deer.

White-tail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Majestic buck.
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