Thankful for Each Other

Since today is a day to be grateful for your family and friends, I’m going to share some joyful photos and leave it at that.

Goldie is thankful for cozy bedding.

Now that we have a fence all the way around the house, the dogs can frolic and we can watch them from the front porch without worrying about them running off to chase things. I’m grateful for that!

Frolic time!

And we have Pickle to run with us, too. It’s great to have Anita with us for a few days for frolicking!

Now we are just cooking and relaxing. We will have my son and his partner with us, which will make it way more festive around here!

Dressing. Yum.

Projects? We Always Have Projects

There always seems to be some house or another than needs to be worked on in our little community. The focus right now is on Anita’s retirement house, Pickle’s Pink Palace. I’ve probably mentioned that a few things have come up, so she isn’t in there yet (she’s in my office, right where I am typing).

Yes, it needs some work.

The crew (the nephew and his helper, Marcus) have already taken down some walls, made some openings, and come to the conclusion that the whole place needs rewiring and insulation on the outer walls (there is NO insulation).

On the other side of that tar paper is the brick. No insulation.

But the place actually looks a lot better already, thanks to painting the walls a neutral color and removing the old cabinets and scary appliances (the stove is not scary, just dusty, and the fridge holds beverages for the crew). The biggest eyesore, a heater that took up the best wall in the living room, is also gone. The hole it left is much more attractive.

The heater hole is exactly the size of a full-length mirror, and I tried to look at myself in it.

An electrician and a spray-foam technician have already been scheduled, so that will be taken care of soon and the walls can go back up.

The kitchen also had no insulation, but at least the cabinets are gone.

Then will come more painting, flooring, cabinets, and the all-important HVAC installation. And oh yes, new windows and roof.

The garage, which is on the other side of the wall that’s been removed, will be the main bedroom and bathroom.

Much landscape cleanup has been accomplished, but there are a lot of nandina plants and other nuisances to get rid of. I hope we can save some of this beautiful little “weed,” though.

Tahitian wedding veil. Tiny blossoms.

There are a few very large, very old trees that were planted when the house was built in 1955. They are in their old age, but we hope to pamper them a few more years. The oak and pecans make Anita look even tinier!

We’re all extremely excited to get this house livable. We know it has a good vibe from back when we bought it. Anita is going to make it so true to its lineage, and so livable as well.

Want to see “before” pictures? This post from 2019 has some!

Absent from My Big Day

My eyeballs are all blurry from trying to make job aids on a very small computer screen. That hurts my eyes. But, it could have been worse. I could have been supervising my move from the Bobcat house. But on the contrary, Anita did that for me. She deserves a big reward. Well, I did pay to move her stuff from Austin. A small token of thanks.

And then, the relatives in Cameron helped with the unloading. I am incredibly lucky to have such a fine support system. I’m sort of at a loss for words to express my gratitude. Yes, me, all inarticulate.

Something else I am thankful for is that Lee hung up the curtains in our bedroom and finished turning it into his office/den. I’ll just sleep there.

According to the team in Cameron, Anita’s and my stuff totally fill the place they are stored. As soon as I get home, MY work of unpacking, downsizing, and organizing begins. It did feel weird to miss my own moving day. And I hope to heck it’s the last one! For sure!

Anita in the empty house.

The moving company we used is Square Cow Movers. Or moovers. They are small and local. Sort of. They are also in Denver. There was no hassle at all booking the move, and from all reports, they were just great. They even helped move this giant refrigerator.

Lee and the nephew has to disassemble it to get it in. It replaces the nonfunctional wine fridge in our pantry.

I highly recommend that company. And the price was reasonable, too! It feels good to have positive things to say about a company.

Over here in Colorado, a nice guy at the condo place found me a good box to mail things home in. That makes up for the unfortunate fact that they installed a family with children who never stop moving the entire time they’re awake upstairs from me. The parents are also stompers, thumpers, and droppers of heavy objects. That’s good, I think, because it makes me want to go home.

It was a bit cold for hiking this afternoon, so I shall visit the hot tub and rest my eyes. And I’ll soothe my muscles from not helping with the move. Ha!

Peaceful Interlude in Austin

This is a rare time. There really isn’t anything pressing at the moment, and I spent all last night doing things that weren’t stressful (other than figuring out why the television isn’t working in the living room at the Bobcat Lair). I even did the things on my to-do list (Kathleen now has software for us), including finding someone to clean the ranch house. I have three candidates to talk to!

Highlight of yesterday was getting this odonata (damselfly) to hold still.

One thing that’s good about having two houses is that you get new scenery and a bit of a break. I LOVE that there’s usually so much to do at the ranch, but an occasional day of not sweating profusely or shoveling anything does give my back a break. I’ll have plenty of energy for when I get back!

Anita and I watched Dr. Pol (show about old Dutch vet in Michigan) in my beautiful bedroom and said ooh and aah to cute puppies and kitties, and ICK when there were two scenes of cutting off cow nipples. That was plenty of drama for me!

Regrettably, this may well have been the last peaceful evening we have. Tonight we have visitors and will get some work done around here as we prepare to move all Anita’s boxes to her new house in Cameron, and I prepare to get the beautiful and unique Bobcat Lair sold. Have I mentioned the housing market in Austin is ridiculously hot? So, as a professional house flipper, I know it’s time to flip the house, as much as I love it.

I will miss my quirky but very pleasant office so much.

The plan is to get an apartment near my work for the next couple of years. A quiet one, if possible. We just have to get the boxes out, sell the house, and move things to various places, other than the things that just go away.

I am no longer stressing out or worrying about any of this. We can handle it all by doing one thing at a time. I may still occasionally lapse into patterns of self doubt or have trouble handling change, but I’m sure doing a lot better. That’s all any of us can ask; to do better. I’m also doing way better accepting people in my life just as they are, warts and all, and am only requesting that favor in return, when possible. No wonder things are a bit calmer for me!

Humor Is Your Buddy

Thanks for the kind words about my stress dreams and such. I’m honestly okay with having some extra-anxiety-filled times occasionally, just as long as I have some extra-chill time to balance all that out. And I generally do! I share a lot of my fun times and relaxing, so I hope you know I’m not always a Debbie Downer, even if I AM overly inclined to introspection.

This is the most Debbie Downer picture I could fine. The stubble is a Zoom enhancement, not my actual face.

One of the most wonderful things I’ve found as I deal with all the interesting new challenges that have been coming up is that it doesn’t take much to lift my mood and help me see what’s good out there. I’m so glad I have a support team of friends and family who can always be counted on to provide perspective, without guilting me about how I feel, telling me to just smile, or downplaying my concerns.

Yesterday, I dragged myself out of the office after some hard work and hard conversations (don’t worry, I’ll LIVE), and took my fully vaccinated self over to the salon to get a haircut by the fully vaccinated Dan. I’ve had a good run of luck with hairdressers the past few years, and he’s the latest good one. We have a lot in common and similar senses of humor. By the time we finished telling stories about our mothers, cranky people, and random stuff on television, we were both laughing so hard I’m amazed he was able to cut my hair. Good thing I have one of those spiky cuts.

Much perkier me after talking to Dan. The donkey needlepoint and my favorite hummingbird shirt also helped my mood.

I then sped on over to the Bobcat Lair house, where I got to hang out with Anita and catch her up on the doings from the last couple of weeks. As I told her all my stories, my tales of woe, and my challenges, it suddenly became quite clear that some of my hard stuff was making life much easier on Anita, because she’ll get to start remodeling her house in Cameron. Things are moving in a good direction, just on a twisty path! A new phase in our lives is coming, and it will also be a fun one.

Then I started telling her all the good news happening with our buddy Mandi, all I learned from Apache this week, and of course how cute the chicks are. I realized I felt MUCH better. I was totally blanking out on the good that may come from some of the hard stuff, especially my life in Cameron!

And after I went to bed, I got to text with Lee and Kathleen and have fun with them. Yeah, Kathleen can’t hardly walk, Lee keeps losing his data, and I’m feeling old and tired, but we have each other, we can find the humor in everything, and we know good times are coming not too far down the road.

Having a supportive community makes ALL the difference. Thanks for being part of my community.

That’s what I need, perspective, humor, and the ability to look at things past the next few days. I’m gonna apply that in all that I do, and maybe I’ll make it through next week at work after all. I hope you, too, can see better things on the horizon and that using your buddy, humor, you can get through the rocky path toward something new and fun. Let’s do it!

The Mystery Fig

Allow me to return to the original purpose of this blog, which was to document my nature observations and Master Naturalist activities. I want to share that I finally solved our Bobcat Lair fruit mystery.

For a few weeks we’ve been seeing these weird fruits in the road and in the grass near our house. Anita and the neighbors had been baffled. A plant identification mystery!

What the heck?

Finally, last week, Anita and neighbor Angela determined that they were coming from across the street from us, where new owners had recently trimmed back some overgrown shrubbery. That’s been letting more fruit be seen. And it appeared to be coming from…a cedar (Ashe juniper) tree?

Tree is just to the right of the lights. We had never seen the porch lights on or Christmas lights here before recently.

Looking harder, at the tree we realized there was something non-juniper-esque in there, which we never could see before. Well, we couldn’t see the house, either.

There it is!

I took a photo of the fruit, which resembled a fig or a banana or a cashew to us. It was identified on iNaturalist as a snail. Nope. I posted to our chapter Facebook group and a couple people said a fig. But it didn’t feel like a fig.

The picture that looks a lot like a snail.

So, today I took more photos, including the leaves, by crawling in the neighbor yard. Hmm. That tree could be a big vine.

I also got more fruit and cut one open. Hey, there were lots and lots of tiny seeds in there! Like a fig. Okay, so I have fig and vine.

The inside. Spongy pulp and teeny seeds.

I uploaded all my photos, and finally found a match. And it’s both a fig and a vine.

It doesn’t always have small leaves.

This seems to be a weird plant. It often has tiny leaves, but also parts with large leaves. I think the one across the street has both. (Look at what’s growing on the tree trunk above.) And those weird pulpy fruit! They are not like figs you eat. And they are in the mulberry family?

I looked into it more. Mulberries are a big family. So is ficus. Breadfruit is also one. Here’s more from Wikipedia (donate to them) about our new figgy friend:

But what the heck is a liana? I have a friend named Liana…what is she named for? It’s a woody, bridgy viney thing.

Do any of you know more about these plants? Interesting, huh?

With Friends Anything Is Fun

Today is Anita’s last day with me in Utah. I just have to say it’s been great. One of the best things about hanging out with your long-time friends is that you can enjoy yourselves without doing much at all. We did a lot of nothing this week.

It was a bit bright outside, so our selfie didn’t come out perfect.

We did have a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but since we didn’t have access to a car most of the time she was here, we spent a lot of time just hanging around the Canyons Village resort area. All the walking was a blast, and it sure used up a lot of energy. That meant we got to enjoy a lot of food, too! Thank goodness the pho and ramen restaurant finally opened, so we could eat there!

Anita, hungry for a beef bowl. Our friend the red crane is always present.

The shopping and sight-seeing was also fun, and we sure were grateful for the family visitors for taking us around. Yesterday we did a bit more shopping, and Anita got some great coral Zuni earrings. I’m so glad she got to have fun, while Kathleen and I were drooling over a huge jewelry selection AND Navajo blankets. Not bad ones!

That is one gorgeous building in downtown Park City.

My favorite thing she got is a huge cactus-shaped birdhouse thing. It’s going to be her “travel pillow” so she can get it on the plane. It is stuffed with excellent newspapers from Nepal!

Our new cactus friend. Note that I just HAD to buy some flowers to liven this place up.

The best part was just hanging around in the condo, eating our random foods, watching the snow, the birds and the one giant black cat that hangs around here. It was so good having someone to watch election coverage with and talk about things.

So many lovely statues in Park City.

And of course, the four seasons of Schitt’s Creek were a blast. Neither of us had laughed so much in a long time.

This is where we stopped. No watching until I get back to Austin!

She got out while the weather was still great, which is good, since a snowstorm is a-brewing. I’m sure the rest of us will figure out something fun this evening, though!

The intent of this post is just to say treasure your friends, and make the most of times you get to spend together. Usually Anita and I are both working a lot, so just hanging out was a real treat. Relaxing, truly relaxing, is rare, and I am glad we got to do it together. Only she and I would laugh when I pompously declare that I just realized that for every mountain, there is a valley (that’s after I looked at a team photo in the newspaper stuffed in the cactus and wondered where people played soccer in Nepal, with all those mountains).

Tell your friends you care about them! (Hey, friends, I care about you!) Write me!

And Now the Party Starts

Good news! Entertainment has arrived! I’d been expecting a package, so I went down and asked the sweet young man, who obviously just got back from his two-year mission, to look for it. No package. I thought, hmm, that money for overnight shipping was totally wasted!

But, when I finally went back to my room, I saw that there was a message on the phone. I admit it, I never look at actual analog telephones. A perky woman told me I have a package! Well, how about that? Another trip to the lobby (which had been deserted all week, but suddenly has (ugh) people in it. Lo and behold, the package had been right behind the earnest young man. He sure looked embarrassed.

She said, “package” (that was for Mandi).

I knew what was in it, because my friend, (f many, many years) Laura, realized I needed knitting on this long and soon-to-be snow-filled hiatus. She sent me random yarn and some needles!

There were bonuses, too, like needle holders and a darning needle (believe it or not, I needed one, because the scarf I brought with me needs a little repair). And there was a fun bag and a note!

Stuff! Thanks, Laura.

Since I had to stay up a long time waiting for the fun to arrive, I had fun starting what may be the world’s ugliest scarf or table runner. My idea for the pattern is, at least so far, not really pretty. But I’m not giving up on it. It made my obsessive watching of election results that do not change at all much less stressful.

Query to me: why did you start watching results on FRIDAY?

I got over an inch done plus got free exercise winding up the yarn, because my watch thought I was using an elliptical machine. Fooled that watch!

Does it look like barf? Be honest.

Then, suddenly, my cable news reverie was interrupted, and the door to the condo opened. Was it magic? No! It was Anita! I’m no longer vacationing solo. Anita immediately settled in and declared the fireplace good. Relaxation with conversation and wine has commenced.

She’s making a face because she has to look at my bare foot.

I guess today we have to run out in the newly brisk air and have fun before it starts snowing. I’ll be more substantive later. I have been substantive enough the past few days! And the world seems a little brighter!

Jiggity Jig

That’s right, friends, I finally came home (to my Austin house). Anita had kept it in perfectly great shape, as I knew she would. She and Pickle were really glad to see me and Vlassic. Vlassic was really glad to see my bed, where no one attacks him and forces him out.

I’ve really been enjoying all the home cooking at the ranch, since Kathleen is a great cook, and even Lee’s been making stuff that’s great. Plus Chris and his barbecue monster…mmm. BUT. Anita went to the local Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant and brought home some delicious pho. Oh how I had missed those seasonings. I ate every bit of it.

Yummmmmmm

Austin does have good food, even if you don’t go in a restaurant!

Nice vase. And at least I’m in a DIFFERENT basement this morning.

I finally got to give Anita the presents I’d bought her way back when I was visiting my stepsister. She liked the Persian lime olive oil and crackly lime green vase (I didn’t realize there was a theme to the gifts until just now). It was just nice to sit and talk and watch what I wanted to watch on television without feeling bad about inflicting it on others.

Also: internet. Oh how I have missed stable, functional internet.

And finally, the reason I dragged myself to Austin, finally, was to get my hair cut. Do you want to know why? LOOK:

Crap hair.
Carroty hair from last night. With Vlassic VERY glad to be with me.

I’ve spent a couple of weeks trying to wash out the hair color, and that has made it turn a scary carroty orange. Ugh. And the bangs. I can’t cut them myself. So, with numerous precautions and great care, new hair will emerge later today.

Plus, I’ll get to see the neighbors today, at a socially distant happy hour. I will be interested to see how that works.

And that’s all I have right now. More soon!

Old Houses, Theater, Work: No Deep Thoughts Today

I have been too busy getting things DONE to get any of my writing tasks done. No complaints there! I have things to write about in all my work blogs now.

One Old House

Yesterday was a lot of fun and messy as hell. Anita had a home inspection scheduled at the cute little house she’s buying from us in Cameron. We took that opportunity to clean up what was left in the house, which has been waiting for TLC for four years.

You can barely see them, but we put decorations in front of the Nash house.

So , we moved lots of bags of things the family of the first owner didn’t want. We removed furniture that wasn’t fixable. We cleaned mildew off furniture we want to keep.

The clean stuff we are keeping and a cleaner living room floor.

My most odious task was sweeping up the baking soda the folks who sold us the house had put down to deal with the odors. Whew. That was dusty.

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