Fall Beauty Is Subtle but Sweet

I’ve really been enjoying the weather and the fall foliage the past week or two. It got all windy in Austin and leaves were swirling like they did back in Illinois when I lived there.

One oak and many cedar elms

Here at the ranch the cedar elms are the ones that provide color. It’s not bright, but the trees have many shades going from orange to russet brown.

Yellow leaves!

There’s one tree with yellow foliage. I’m thinking it’s a mesquite. I didn’t look too hard. It must be something else.

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Guest Blogger: Are You Ever Safe from Snakes? No.

by Mandi Shuffield
Sarge, 9 years old. He will let his boys do anything they want to him. They seem to love putting things on his head…

The weather is finally cooling off here in Central Texas! I see a lot of folks are catching up on yard work and home improvements. I know the contractors I ‘ve talked to are sure happy about not sweating to death just from stepping out of their houses! But does this mean that we should be lured into believing that the venomous snakes are not active right now? It does not!

I have seen people share a post that gives the seasons that snakes are not out at this time of year. In my experience of almost 38 years, I’d say ignore that and pretend that even when there is ice on the ground, you could find a snake.

Just be vigilant, and then you won’t have to retrain yourself this spring. Don’t get lulled into security because some zoologist somewhere says they are “less likely” to be active. That’s the key phrase there, “less likely.” That doesn’t mean there is a 0% chance of finding them. That’s especially true if you’re moving leaves, debris, or climbing under a house where it is probably sort of warm.

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Who, Me? Hypochondriac? Paranoid?

What in the world would lead me to say this? Well, things have just been a bit…unbalanced this week. I’ve felt a little “off” all week, and have done some really goofy things that aren’t like me.

This is the can of delicious water that didn’t want to go in my mouth.

The biggest example is suddenly forgetting how to drink a beverage. I was sitting in my living room, watching television or reading, and I was really thirsty for that cold, fresh lemon-flavored water I’d gotten out of the refrigerator. So, while still focused on my other task, I picked it up and briskly poured it into my lap.

That certainly surprised the dog. But, really, I forgot how to put a drink to my lips? It’s like my body had a glitch. Of course, once that happened, I’ve been alert to any other motor-skills issues, so when I trip and almost fall on a tiny raised part of a sidewalk, drop what I’m carrying, etc., I think, “Oh no, I’m getting some disease.”

Vlassic took to his (my) bed to recover from my oddness.
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Friendship Is HARD

Hey, kind readers, thanks for all of your feedback on yesterday’s post about friendship and jealousy. You all gave me a lot to think about, and the BEST part was finding out I’m not alone in having difficulty becoming a member of a group of friends. It’s important to think about it, and I realize I do it a lot. I even wrote that “friend” is my favorite word back in May!

Pickle is one of those who like people, but chooses her intimates carefully. By the way, she went to the vet and is all healthy! 9.9 pounds of vigor.

A couple of comments made me think about WHY some of us have this issue. My son’s partner realizes she has some issues being in groups, thanks to her autism symptoms, which make forming friendships difficult for her, but make her value her real friends even more (I am happy she is MY friend!). She’s not alone. Many of us note that forming friendships is hard due to personality challenges. Some of us are shy; others aren’t great at (or fond of) the kind of bonding but non-substantive conversations that lead to deeper friendships. [Insert your own reasons here.]

A neighbor texted me wondering if people even realize I want to be their friend. I found that amusing/ironic, since this was someone I want to be friends with and have no idea if they realize it. The point was that sometimes people appear to others as if they have some kind of boundary or other presentation that makes them appear to want to keep their distance. Aha! That was an insight to me. Maybe people misinterpret my “resting hermit face” for not wanting to socialize. And maybe I misinterpret others, too!

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Jealousy and Friendship

Here’s a fact about me (I know you were dying to read one): I’ve never had many close friends. Let me explain. I always have a few people I can talk to and do stuff with. But I think I always wanted to have a group of close friends who could get together and talk, travel, and share experiences. The couple of times I’ve tried that have made it clear in no uncertain terms that I’m not cut out to do that and will end up being “that member” that everyone talks about behind their back and wishes would stop showing up (hello, yarn store clique; I still like many of you as individuals). No wonder I have so much sympathy for the pariahs in my social circle and keep doing my best to be kind to them.

Why is this relevant?

Well, over the past weekend, I watched as a couple of groups of people from work went on fabulous trips and had fabulous times together. I found myself wishing I could go along. These are friend groups I tried to be in, but didn’t fit in. Yep, I had a bit o’ jealousy. I’ve always wanted to be a member of a close group of friends that were drawn together because of shared bonds, not because they are members of the same club or somehow paid to be together.

How I imagine all these groups of close friends are, out having their adventures. All white, young, and lanky. This is not real life. Photo: @sashapritchard via Twenty20

Maybe this all stemmed from when I was a kid growing up, when our neighborhood was a merry band of young folks who did everything together, regardless of our differences and actually cared about each other (I feel warm when I remember how the autistic child, Gay, came along with us wherever she could, and stood on the sidelines, rocking back and forth, but a part of the group; of course we had never heard of autism).

Here’s what a large group of MY friends and acquaintances looks like. Much more varied. Photo by Rae Schopp.
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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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It’s Not Always Exciting

Some days I run around doing interesting things. Some days I’m just full of deep thoughts. Not today. It was a very welcome normal day.

While dog walking, I caught Alfred and Lee adoring each other.

Everyone needs a day of downtime. I got to walk the dogs. I went to the office and did web and Facebook stuff for all my jobs, volunteer and paid. Nice.

I watched Mike S fix up the lighting in our conference room, which is good, because the light bulbs keep getting dim.

Ooh. Light fixtures!

I walked around exiting downtown Cameron and spent my Visa Gift Card Art the Bling Box.

Whew. By the time I bought some beef from the neighbor, my excitement level rose to a fever pitch.

Yet another ranch sunset.

THEN I went home and ate soup! Homemade soup! I hope Kathleen is over the flu soon, so she can make more healthy leftovers. This multi-generational household is great!

It’s a real joy to have a normal, unexciting day.

PS

Thank you to all of you who have said such nice things about my recent posts. I value your input and your thoughts.