Go Away Anxiety. I Need a Nap.

When you’ve been graced with a genetic predisposition to anxiety, you can meditate, breathe, do talk therapy, and take helpful medicine all you want, but still have days when you can’t deal with the symptoms.

Current co-napper

I woke up that way today. I was dealing with my personal “stuff” fine yesterday, but since I woke up this morning, some chemicals are flying around my brain that are decidedly unhelpful and unpleasant. I got through my meetings, and through the screaming haze and fuzziness, I was even able to contribute. But wow, I feel like I’m in a vat of buzzing jello, with a high-pitched droning soundtrack. Oh, with bonus eye tic and chest pains. Thanks, anxiety.

Napper to my far left.

I’m going to try to sleep it off, me and the canines, who are great napping role models. I’ll share some nice sleeping dog images to entertain you, since I can’t put two thoughts together right now.

Napper to my immediate left.

My sinuses are yelling, too, because it’s dusty and the air pressure keeps changing. I’m a big ole negative whiner!

Napper in the next room.

Tomorrow is another day.

He was napping, then I came downstairs.

More Rocks: Pool Update

Been a busy work day, so here’s a quick update. Today a big pile of gravel showed up. They also covered all those water lines coming from the future pool controls.

Gravel in rear. Lee keeping an eye out.

Lee was nice enough to bring me samples of the material in the gravel. They look like they, too, could have once been ocean, especially the one on the right.

Yes, my guest towel is cute.

What they did with the gravel was fill in where the water lines are, I’m guessing to protect them.

Yay, woman workers today.

They used sandbags to hold the gravel. That’s good, since I think we will be getting some rain from Hurricane Nicholas.

The area at right is the “beach” entry.

The other main thing they did was get all the holes covered, so that’s why the machine is going. If I said that already, we’ll, it’s been a long day! I even crammed in a writing workshop at lunch!

Admission: Lee Was Right

Yes. My spouse was right. It is true. We doubted him, but he was right. What about?

A lot of PVC

Lee saw a guy starting to fill in the hole with all the pipes leading to the pool and stopped him, saying they need to do a pressure test before filling it in. So they stopped.

The hot tub. Mmm. Jets.

As you can see, today the workers finished all the water lines. There was a lot of use of the bending torch deal! There are so many curves.

Bending the water line.

Eventually they got it all completed. So, they did the test. We were just sure it would al be fine.

Do we see water?

Darn it, Lee was right. There was a cracked pipe.

Proof.

The good news is that it was easy to fix, and the second test went fine. The pool is looking really cool. Cool pool.

Today they finished early, I guess so everything can dry. Knowing they are coming back gives me something to look forward to tomorrow. I also have a writing workshop if it works out!

Think of my relatives in the path of the latest hurricane. Hope it’s less awful than the others so far this year.

Apache Rocks, and So Do Rocks

I’ve needed a self esteem boost for a few days, but this morning Apache made me feel really dim, and I didn’t need any more of that! I went to get him this morning for a lesson, then noticed Drew was still in his pen. I went to release Drew, and saw Apache head out the gate to his pen, which I’d not shut. He then went through the gate to his little paddock.

I wanna go back out.

That’s okay, I thought. Then I saw the gate to the big pasture was open and Apache was trotting right through it. Sigh. Off he went to join the Buckskin Buddies. I went over to get him and he trotted away. One he galloped. But, in the end, he let me halter him, saddle him, and load up.

After that, all was well! Our practice has paid off! I was amazed at how well he did on the circles and figure 8s. Even when he messes up, I’m getting better at correcting. That’s important. Now we are refining techniques. Wow, that feels good.

If I’m so good, why didn’t I get anything from Dairy Queen?

And we started a slalom formation where I learn to bend and turn, speed up and slow down (transitions). I was really surprised at how far we got on it today. Of course, there is a lot to learn, still, but it was fun to get to start so soon! Then, the trainer told me what great progress we are making quickly. It’s rewarding to be figuring this stuff out, at last.

I wanna be free.

And Apache rocks! No grass eating all lesson.

Speaking of Rocks

Remember yesterday, when I found that we have a layer of light rock a few feet down? One of our readers, Trisha, mentioned that it may be an aquatic layer.

White rock

So, I went out to look at the rock up close, to see if I could figure anything else out about it. The layer is very thin and powdery.

This shows the layer.

When I touched the rock, it crumbled. It doesn’t hold together like limestone usually does. It falls into little chunks or granules, whereas the soil above it sticks together and is very clayey.

Clay

Also in our soil are large rounded rocks. They have a flint-like interior.

Rock on top of the clay soil.

Anyway, the white stuff seems to be a chalk, which makes me think there was some point in the past that this area was covered by water and supported something with shells, but not for too long.

Hunk of chalky stuff.

I saved the piece above so maybe I can get it analyzed. And I’ll try to figure out when we were underwater more recently than the Paleozoic period (this rock isn’t that deep).

Things You Learn from a Big Hole in the Ground

I guess the whole swimming pool thing will happen after all. I’ll spare you the drama of the past couple of days, and instead share progress and learnings as the excavation phase took place.

The work so far.

It’s pretty cool that this morning there was just a painted outline on the ground and now you can see where our little pool is going to be! And yes, it’s not Olympic sized. I just want to bop around.

This morning it looked like this.

It was lots of fun watching them building the very complex setup that will recirculate the water. Geez, there are a lot of pipes in there.

They had to bend some of the pipes, and had a big propane flame that softened the plastic.

Sorta looked dangerous, but I guess it wasn’t.

I was really interested in the hole they dug. You could see that the top layer was a lot of sand and fill that Lee and the builders put around the house. Next came very dark soil from when it was a pasture here. Some was very clayey.

Hot tub area, where you can see the top two layers.

The guy running the mini-excavator was really good. He was expert at digging circles and curves. As the actual pool part got deeper, I had another surprise. There’s a layer of very light soil about 4 feet down. I wonder what that is? Was the area a lake for a while?

Se the light dirt? And look at that machine in the air.

No, I didn’t crawl down there and get some. But I’ll get some from the dirt pile later.

The mystery stuff.

I can’t wait to find out what’s up with the soil! But, watching how quickly and efficiently the guys worked on the project. They also used these flexible boards to form the edges of the pool and hot tub. And they had an interesting measuring poke that beeped, I guess to get the dimensions perfect. Hmm.

Looking from the deep end.

I must say we all enjoyed watching the process. Vlassic just kept jumping from lap to lap all morning. It’s great that they started on a Saturday so we could all watch for a while.

Wonder what I’ll see tomorrow?

A Little Trail Ride

This was a nice ending to a long day! Apache has been doing so well this week with his schooling and such that I said, “Yes,” when Kathleen asked if I wanted to go for a ride with her and Dusty. Apache hadn’t been out on a trail ride across the ranch in a long time, since before I started trying to ride him solo.

Look at me, I’m in the cow pasture.

I’d had the brilliant insight last week that a lot of his insecurities were because of both of us not being used to going out without another horse and rider. One thing my lessons have done is build confidence in us both. It’s still a work in progress, with one extra-annoying habit to break, but all that round pen work, circling, and walking the property has made a big difference.

I’m also losing weight, thanks to the dead grass and hay. See those ribs??

So, off we went. Dusty doesn’t enjoy leaving his man friend Remington, so he had to be walked a bit. But, once we got going, a good time was had by all, with Apache like his old self, confidently walking around and paying attention to my cues.

I didn’t get to go, so I brayed my ass off. Oh wait, I’m an actual ass. At least Suna refilled my water bucket.

There were a lot more grass eating episodes than I’d like, and once or twice he was reluctant to do what I asked. But mostly we had fun and got to forget about our stresses, challenges, and negativity.

I’m glad I took the chance. I see a glimpse of my enjoyable future riding with friends and family, and maybe even doing some Working Equitation with him. Hey, he can already walk in a circle, so he’d not score a zero.

Thinking of all of us today, the day so many of us got deep trauma. I’m so glad I got to see my kids again after being stuck in Schaumburg, Illinois!

Comfort from Nature’s Rhythms

I didn’t have an easy morning this morning, even though there sure was a cool sunrise. I wish I could have gone out and gotten a better photo, but here it is through the upstairs window.

There was a thick cloud that didn’t totally block the sun.

It’s a time of year that is hard for many of us, with tomorrow’s anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and that isn’t helping much either. But, when you’re feeling your trauma ramping up, feel trapped, are weary of being second guessed, or have to deal with the consequences of other people’s actions, you do have options. One of them is to leave.

Familiar signs of approaching autumn: snow on the prairie, wild morning glories, and balloon vines (all hiding behind that dang Johnson grass)

So, this morning, after I did all I could do to be useful, I took a nice walk. Looking around at the ranch and its life made it so much easier to put things into the perspective of life going on as best as it can, year by year.

This is the dry season, so Walker’s Creek is no longer flowing. It’s a series of puddles.

The cows next door are starting to calve, as they do every year around this time. It’s reassuring to see the same cows in the field, still providing new babies for their ranchers.

Mature mamas getting ready to do their job: make more beef.

Even while I was feeling reassured by the repeated patterns and rhythms of the year, I was finding new things. For example, I don’t think I realized before that the giant cane (Arundo donax) smelled good when it was blooming. I guess it has something going for it, after all!

Still, it’s one annoying nonnative and invasive plant!

It was cooler this morning, too, which really makes me hopeful for the return of more bearable horse-riding weather. And as always, I found beauty in the little things, once I slowed down to look. Check out the patterns the large puddles make when they dry up!

There are cracks in the dirt everywhere, actually.

More little things included the small flowers in the snow on the prairie plants, and the dozens of dusky skipper butterflies making the most out of the morning glories. They were everywhere!

After enjoying the life around me, and reminding myself that whatever is happening now is temporary, I felt a lot better and was able to come back and get work and meetings done. Thanks again to the healing properties of the Hermits’ Rest. The land and its residents are always here for me. And I didn’t have to get in the car and go for a long drive!

Hay ready to harvest. Time’s marching on, and every day brings new things to see, even in old familiar places.

Careful Where You Stick Your Head, Goldie!

Kathleen’s precious Great Dane, Goldie, turned up with a marble-sized lump on the side of her head a couple of days ago. We wondered what it could be, but noted that it was near where she had some marks from a tussle with Harvey.

I gots an owie.

It kept growing, and by yesterday evening, it was WAY bigger than a marble, more like a plum in size. We knew Dr. Amy would be in town today, so she went into town first thing this morning.

The lump, after treatment started.

The diagnosis was either a snake bite or a dog bite. We aren’t sure which it is, since there is a lot of neck chewing going on in this house, mostly in play, though. And, of course, there are a lot of snakes a curious dog could run into.

An example of neck chewing fun.

We think Goldie had fun on her outing, though it was reported that she didn’t want to leave the juice place where her friends work and had to be lifted into the truck. That’s getting harder, because she now weighs 106, up six pounds since we got her. She is filling out to be just right for her breed!

Yep, could be a snake bite, all right. And doesn’t she have lovely gums?

And, with all the playing and running she gets in with Carlton and Penney and with chasing Fiona all over the place (grr), a lot of her weight has to be muscle!

And Harvey, he also gets in on the frolicking.

We are glad that she has the medicine she needs to deal with the infection. The injury certainly didn’t put a damper on her good spirits and cheerfulness, however.

We live on a ranch. Things like this just happen as a normal part of life! I bet Goldie is a lot more careful where she sticks her head from now on.

Book Report: This Is Your Mind on Plants

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Oh, that Michael Pollan. He’s gonna convert us all to lovers of mind-enhancing substances, I think. His latest offering on this topic, This Is Your Mind on Plants (2021), makes me want to run out and try peyote, so it’s lucky that I am too white to get ahold of it (as you find out in the book, only Indians are allowed to obtain and use it in the US, as a legally protected religious right).

I had to put my coffee cup in the picture, to show I’m an addict. Lucky for me, I don’t have withdrawal symptoms.

But that’s not all the book’s about. The ever-curious Pollan explores four plants that have been used by humans to mess with their minds: opium poppies, coffee beans/tea leaves, and peyote cactus. I was especially curious about caffeine, which provided my favorite section of the book. I was surprised to learn that the caffeine fixation in Western culture is not very old at all. More fascinating to me was its relationship with the new ways of working that came up as society became more and more industrialized. Caffeine enabled people to concentrate longer, stay focused, and be more productive. Coffee breaks were actually invented to give workers their doses of their drug of choice!

Yep, it turns out that nowadays, caffeine is the most widely used addictive substance in the world, more than nicotine or alcohol. And it isn’t benign, especially since it messes with sleep patterns.

I also learned a lot about opium, but the opium section is more about the issues Pollan had when he grew some poppies for a writing assignment and discovered he could be in trouble with the law. Now, as someone who remembers lovely poppies growing in the garden at her church, this amused me. Apparently, the government doesn’t want people to know it’s easy to make a tea from poppy seed pods, or that if it’s used occasionally for aches and pains, it’s not going to addict you. Like most things, moderation rules. As I know, it’s a real good pain killer (I remember picking up Mom’s drugs when she was dying, and feeling really weird about carrying this giant thing of morphine).

Isn’t there some kind of drug in morning glories, too? Why yes, they also can be hallucinogenic.

On to more cheerful topics, and that’s good ole mescaline. What a kind drug it turns out to be. And it’s another thing that used carefully, in the right setting, provides many insights. Its effects certainly sound less potentially scary than LSD and the ilk. It apparently takes away the brain’s filters that only make you conscious of inputs that are relevant and lets you really see everything. So, you basically sit around and look at the world in its raw glory. I can see how that would be really cool, but not a way of life.

This section of the book was a lot of him trying to find the stuff and talking to various folks that a lot of readers might find a bit woo-woo, but they were okay. I would have liked to know more about the chemical aspects of how mescaline works.

To sum it all up, this is not Pollan’s most brilliant work, but I enjoyed what I learned, and always enjoy his writing. I’d like to read more about safe and intentional use of tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol, but I guess enough’s already been written about them.

No One’s a Fan of the Crop Duster

This morning, loud noises started. Now, we are used to the sounds of airplanes flying fairly low, because a neighbor has his own runway, and he has just gotten a new plane, so it’s been going around and around, taking off and landing, over and over for the past couple of weeks.

However, today it was real loud. The first couple of times it happened, Goldie and Alfred were barking away, since they are the two who hate deep sounds the most (they also hate what we call “growly trucks”). We humans knew what it was, since we’ve lived here a long time: the crop-dusting plane was here to spray the defoliator on the cotton.

I was worried

What? You city folks may wonder what that’s about. Well, when the cotton has made pretty white cotton bolls, the current practice is to kill all the foliage (leaves). This makes it way easier to harvest. So, one week there will be happy green fields and the next week there will be sad brown fields with little white snowballs in it. So, there you go. Here, that is done by a plane, especially on small fields.

Also, I have a lump that needs to be looked at tomorrow by the vet.

Once we took Goldie and Alfred outside and they could see the plane, they lost interest.

Zoom.

The newer horses, on the other hand, were not thrilled at all. Kathleen ended up putting all her horses in the pens, so they could settle down. Drew huddled up with them, but he sure was on the alert for that dang loud thing.

I don’t like that thing.

Apache has been there and done that, since he’s lived here most of his life, and Fiona seemed to figure it was better than Goldie chasing her all over the pasture (which happened yesterday).

We are not pleased.

I’ll watch to see how long it takes for the cotton plants to die. They contributed, though. That’s good, I guess. But now you know why cotton isn’t the greenest of crops. It requires a lot of chemicals when raised in the modern way.

I’m better now.

Good News BONUS

I heard from the swimming pool dude, and we don’t have to wait until September 20 for them to start…they start tomorrow! We’ll have all the fencing under control by then, so no problem from our end. The family teased me that now I will have endless blog material. I promise to talk about other topics. No one but me (and Kathleen) is THAT interested in giant holes being dug, and I realize that.

This is going well.

No doubt I’ll have many things to rant about or long-ass horse stories. It’s a wonder I get any blog hits at all!