The Gimpy One Gets Busy: Renovation, Nature Dogs…

For a person who’s still having trouble making certain moves (especially bouncy ones) I’ve been doing a lot! I got some nice photos, so I figure I’ll share, even though this is not among my most riveting topics.

Hooray! The pond filled up and even overflowed to the other side.

It’s been chilly, but I sure was happy to see the ponds fuller at the ranch. The dogs are enjoying the heck out of the puddles, as usual.

Pope Residence Update

Things are hopping over at the Pope Residence. All the materials to build the staircase have been bought, and Chris and Easton have been busy shoring up the foundation at the back of the house. They have replaced an entire beam and will be adding a few extra piers to hold the weight of the staircase.

Chris ciphers out what to do next to repair the foundation.

They also bought plenty of insulation to make the back of the building nice and cozy. Of course, to me, the most important thing is that the red tiles for my office bathroom are ordered.

This is one of the original sewer pipes that was removed.

And speaking of that bathroom, there’s good news! We will be able to keep the original tub in there and make it a feature after all!

This is how they are holding the house together while working on the foundation below.

Randy is still slowly but surely getting all the bricks repaired and re-mortared. There is a lot to repair, but it is looking great once it’s done.

Repairs and the leveling hole in Kathleen’s office.

And today, while I was out gallivanting, Kathleen and Nicole have started stripping the many layers of paint off the doorways. It always seems like you find something interesting when you peel off layers like that, and sure enough, Nicole has uncovered a lot of blue and some green on the doorway leading into my office. Maybe the whole thing was once blue!

Nature Calls

I couldn’t resist going along with the Master Naturalist class and visiting the beautiful property of one of our members, outside of Davilla (south of Cameron). It was almost unspeakably beautiful, and my friend Ann and I had a blast identifying everything we saw, joined by one of the students who knows a lot about insects.

Ann inspects a fallen limb being held up by another limb.

We saw two woodpeckers, some American robins, female red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, chickadees, mourning doves, mockingbirds, and much more. It was great birding. And we saw a lot of tracks, too.

Really cool tree bark!

I can’t think of a more fun way to spend a morning than to investigate what grows in another part of the area! (Maybe that makes me boring, or maybe it makes me interesting.) I’ll share a link to a longer article with more photos that will be on the Master Naturalist blog.

And Dogs

While my competing volunteer activities may be wearing me out, I also get a lot out of them, so I was happy to join my Milam Touch of Love friends at another pet chipping event. Like last time, we met a lot of nice dogs and owners. This time we also could get pizza, since it was at Domino’s!

I’m a good girl. I just want a LOT of love.

I spent a lot of time with poor little Sandy, Penney’s sister, who still isn’t adopted. They just aren’t exciting dogs to look at. But she sure was well mannered, and she walked on a leash like a dream. I sure hope someone sees her beauty and adopts her (and also Ghost; he is so kind and beautiful!).

I had to bow out of horse riding this afternoon, which makes me sad, but wow, my back and chest let me know any time I twist or move my arms a certain way. I couldn’t even hold a cute dog today, because the wiggling made me move. I’m hoping for tomorrow, or at least to groom.

I didn’t even tell you about the private warehouse we got to look in, where I found me an old red hanging lamp. That was yesterday, an equally busy day.

There’s a theater gala tonight, so that should fill my busy Saturday. I have way more of a social life in Cameron than I ever did in Austin!

Happy Hallmark Holiday

I’ve never been a fan of those holidays that seem to be designed just to sell stuff. Sweetest Day (what?) comes to mind. And after reading years’ worth of people saying how sad they feel on Valentine’s Day, or gloating about what they got…yeah, I’m not so big on that.

Valentine’s DAZE

Except

This is me in my heart attire telling all you nice readers that I appreciate you SO MUCH!

I like reminding my friends and family that I am fond of them. I like seeing people smile at a little surprise. So, this year, when Anita and I were at the H-E-B (the best grocery store chain in Texas) early in the season, when there were still some “good” gifts and cards out, I picked up some little things for the gang in Cameron. It was nice-ish cards and a few little cute things.

Good quality corporate gifts.

But, where are they now? Heck if I know! At least it’s given everybody a good laugh, and we all know we like each other, presents or no. And Kathleen and her helpers DID get gifts out to all our clients and business contacts at Hearts Homes and Hands. You should just be our client for the presents!

My advice to everyone is to use a day like today to tell someone you care, do something kind for someone, or give yourself a big old hug, because YOU deserve it.

Aftermath of the Aftermath

After much discussion and many good ideas from family and friends, we decided to get some of the things you put on stairs to make them less slippery, and apply them to the area where Anita and I walk out of the Bobcat Lair house when dog walking. That’s the place we walk most when it’s rainy, since the dogs have to do their duty no matter what. We’re hoping they hold up and prevent falls until we can get the deck rebuilt with better materials.

This will help give us back our confidence walking on the deck when it’s rainy. We just won’t go out if it’s icy!

I had been all worried about my chickens when someone told me they knew of a bunch that had died from huddling together too intently during the recent very cold rain. Chris sent me a picture to prove they are alive, and Lee went out to check on them after the first freeze. I guess they figured something out!

We are just fine, Suna! Soon we will make eggs!

PS

Thanks for all the fascinating comments on Facebook about your personal prejudices. I think it helps that we realize we all have these irrational feelings about people, and maybe we can cut each other some slack about our areas for growth. I have some fascinating friends.

I got anti-falling stuff. Kathleen got little cakes! (The cup was from Lee.)

Prejudice and Me

Extreme honesty alert!

Poor bear. What did the bear do to deserve this?

In any case, things I was reading today about other people’s biases gave me pause to think about my own. As hard as I’ve worked to overcome different kinds of prejudice, some seem almost hard wired. I have no scientific basis to go on, but my gut feeling is that these are the ones I learned when I was very young, before my ability to make judgments like that on my own kicked in.

Yep, I’m a white person. I was raised in a Southern US white culture. Some of the prejudices of that group rub off. I’ve spent many years dwelling on this, and it doesn’t make me happy. I know that having slave ancestors as well as slave owning ancestors is something to think about. I know I have biases in other areas that skew my opinions. I know I can’t fix past things. But I know I can work hard to treat people fairly today.

Where Prejudice Comes From (for me)

I sure know where a lot of my prejudices come from, and that’s my mom, whom I loved dearly, but I could tell from an early age had some extra doozies of flaws. One was her wide range of racial and ethnic stereotypes. She had a bad World War II experience (lost a fiance) and was pissed off at Japanese people and Germans (they spit when they talk) her whole life. She was also quite opposed to “white trash,” and kept telling us not to be like them. And she both loved black people personally and said awful things about them them as a group (probably from her own upbringing). All this stuff confused the heck out of me, and even though I was uncomfortable with the things she said and did, I know some of it sunk in.

Skin is just skin. Cultural differences are interesting, not scary. Yep. All images from here down from Twenty20.

Thanks to my upbringing, I was scared of black people and looked down from my barely middle-class perch at poor white people. I have a feeling many of my black and poor white future friends came about from me wanting to distance myself from my mom and not wanting to be like that. At least I stuck around to like my friends as people. But to this day, I get this tiny bit of negativity that my higher thought processes immediately slap down. Whew, no wonder racial stereotypes and prejudices are so hard to eradicate, when even someone who knows better and wants to judge people on who they are, not how they look, still deals with childhood crap.

Continue reading “Prejudice and Me”

Aftermath

This is just a brief note to let you all know that, after my undignified fall, I got through yesterday okay and am okay today so far. I am just stiff and sore. I am proud to say that by walking slowly around the house during a couple of phone calls, I managed to keep my streak of hitting my movement goal going, so now it’s up to 154 days. I’m glad that once I’m actually up, walking is fine. I actually got in more steps yesterday than the day before, but they sure weren’t brisk after I went BOOM.

I was proud of myself when I hit the goal.

Now that I am older, it takes longer to recover from falls and such. Actually, falling makes me feel old, but I would have fallen where I was yesterday at any age. I’m just going to make the most of it and pay attention to where the hurt is each day.

For example, yesterday my chest muscles hurt so badly that I honestly didn’t notice anything else. Who knows how falling on my back strained them, but it sure did. Today, though, my shoulders and upper back are reminding me that I fell on them, and my upper leg is tender. Interestingly, my arms now hurt from trying to break the fall. It’s not bad, but it’s THERE.

And I realize I hit my head, thanks to the headache and bruising back there. I haven’t had any “concussion protocol” symptoms (thanks to American football on television, I know what they are), so I am pretty sure I will heal fine.

Since it is still raining hard, I have been sure to put on sturdy shoes today. We’re grateful for that rain!

That looks a heck of a lot better. Photo by Chris.

I’m grateful that I don’t see any bruising anywhere, though I’m surprised, knowing how hard I hit the deck. (Ha ha, I literally hit the deck.) You just never know what the effect of an incident will be! I hope there are no lingering symptoms, like the ankle that still occasionally hurts from when Carlton pulled me down the hill as a puppy. THAT incident produced a LOT of colorful bruising.

But, I am not hurt badly, so don’t worry about me. I’ll be back to other topics now, like renovation progress. I was so happy to see that they scraped all the paint smears off the stained glass over the front door. It will look so good once everything is cleaned and re-painted (carefully).

Mind Blind? On the Contrary!

A bunch of my Facebook buds have been posting a link to a BBC article that came out in 2015. Go read it; I’ll wait.

Oh, okay, it’s about the fact that a significant number of humans do not picture scenes in their minds when thinking. It’s called mind blindness, or aphantasia. I have to admit that, in all my endless reading about how brains work, I had never realized that this is as common as it is. Apparently it affects 2% of the population!

What do you mean, some of us see stuff others don’t!? From chiller856 via Twenty20 (original and appropriate caption: The eyes are useless when the mind is blind…đź’€

When someone posted a link to the article and said they were mind blind, I was really surprised. I’d never have guessed. Later, people said they found out their spouses were that way and they’d never known. I got suspicious, and asked my own spouse, whose perceptions have sometimes baffled me. Yep, he has it at least to some extent, and definitely has the related issue of being face blind (THAT explains why he found me attractive!). Well, huh. I knew he was color blind (try picking out paint with that guy), but I hadn’t known this!

The article goes on to say some people become upset when they find out other people have movies going on in their heads. I don’t know; I think if I was born a certain way, it would feel normal, like being short, or prone to being gassy.

I also wonder if there’s research to show that people who are mind blind prefer to read nonfiction over fiction, as an anecdote in the article suggested. I guess it’s nice that if these folks read a book and see a movie, they aren’t bothered that the characters don’t look how they pictured them!

This also makes me wonder if some other traits correlate to mind blindness. Some of my friends have suggested their attention-deficit traits and/or social skills issues associated with the autism spectrum may go along with this. However, many people I know don’t report this. I want more research! (Here’s an article with more research, but not on my questions.)

The Other Side

What’s going on in there?

Why was I not surprised to learn that there’s another way of perceiving things called hyperphantasia, or super-visualizers. These folks have very detailed mental images and can describe what they see easily. They are folks who have been termed to have “very vivid imaginations.” According to the researcher in the article, people usually fall somewhere in between aphantasia and hyperphantasia. That makes sense, knowing how mental traits tend to work out.

Continue reading “Mind Blind? On the Contrary!”

OUCH

Well, poop. I am not superhuman. I also don’t really think my wardrobe choices through.

Evil slippery deck in its ancient and damp glory.

It’s been raining for a couple of days, so, of course, our ancient deck is mighty wet. I wasn’t really concerned about it, since I’d managed to walk Vlassic just fine earlier today.

However, I’d changed into some really cute cowboy boots to wear to work. So, when time came to walk the dogs again, I strode out at my usual brisk pace (so it will count as exercise for my watch), and was singing a happy song.

Suddenly, my feet were in the air and I thought, “Oh boy, this isn’t good,” just as my rear end made contact with the deck and I promptly bounced on my upper back. I could feel the vertebrae as they got hit. ACK.

Landing there, of course my lungs got squished, so I lost my breath. I did manage to tell Anita I hadn’t broken anything and asked her to take the dog.

Vlassic takes care of me. I look like crap. And Supergirl is back there taunting me and reminding me that I am NOT her.

That was certainly a dumb wardrobe choice. And we really, really need to replace that deck with something that has some traction. Changing into dry clothing was “interesting,” but it appears like I just have some bruising in my ribs and my wrists (from trying to break the fall).

Dear Vlassic came and jumped on me to make me feel better, and Anita got me a hot wrap for my shoulders. I am now prepared for the chorus of “Arnica” and other remedies. I’ll take care of myself, I promise!

The Best Shirt EVER

Maybe I’m exaggerating, and maybe I’m not. However, today I am wearing a new shirt I got on Saturday that just gets better and better the more I wear it. I’m not usually this much excited about a shirt, I swear! There is no danger of me morphing into a fashion blogger or an “influencer” (for a really funny article on how to be “Insta-famous” as an influencer, check out this post by my favorite millennial, V.

Label and fabric close-up.

I was initially drawn to this shirt, sitting there among dozens of beautiful and over-priced shirts at a shop in Round Top, because it was covered in hummingbirds. I pretty much was going to buy it unless it looked like some giant sack on me, just because of the print, but I did feel the need to try it on.

The shirt! Note my hand is in my wonderful pocket! And check out those pressed jeans, courtesy of Kathleen’s dry-cleaning account.

I’m glad I did, because I keep thinking I am huge and tried on a size much too large. Kathleen kept sending me back to put on something smaller. The M fit great, and is still loose enough. I’d never heard of the brand, but I found this on a page that sells the Shana brand:

Shana offers a diverse collection of affordable clothing in today’s current styles. Unique and exciting clothes for women who want to look their best. A portion of all sales is given to Himalayan Hands, a non profit organization dedicated to helping children and their families in Nepal and Tibet.

http://www.fawbushs.com/brands/shana

Well, at least some of my money is going to help people who deserve some help. That makes my shirt purchase part of my do-gooder work, too. Ha! Clever!

Back of shirt, featuring cool pleat and zipper!

Why is this shirt the BEST?

Let me share the ways:

  • The print is just the cutest ever and in such happy colors.
  • The pattern fits nicely at the top then flares out, making me want to twirl around. It is flattering to people shaped like me.
  • It’s really comfortable, and all cotton.
  • The front has buttons, so you could wear it like a jacket if you wanted to.
  • The sleeves roll up and have a button to keep them up, which I didn’t realize until I was getting dressed this morning and found the sleeves too long.
  • The back has a really cool zipper! It’s not just decorative; when you unzip it, the shirt’s back pleat is freed up, thus making the shirt even twirlier.
  • AND, as I only found out about a half hour ago, it has side pockets. Who doesn’t love pockets that actually work?

So, I have to say that I love my shirt and plan to wear it for years and years. It matches my hair, my glasses, my nails, my active imagination…yay!

The zipper opened, and a better view of all the birds.

I have come to the conclusion that I wear bright clothing to help keep me feeling in a good mood. And from my coworkers’ reactions today, the happy colors, shiny shoes and all that cheer them up, at least a little. And it costs no more than black (I admire people who wear only black and look so chic in doing so; I just can’t do it myself.)

From rainy Austin, Texas, have a good week!