December is a good month to travel around Texas, because it’s not blazingly hot and there are fewer bugs and things that sting. For our fun outing on our anniversary weekend, Lee and I went to Mother Neff State Park, which has the honor of being the first park in the state park system. It’s located near McGregor, Texas, which is also (in)famous these days for being the home of a SpaceX facility. From the Hermits’ Rest, we can feel when they test rockets. From our vacation rental, it feels like a volcano is erupting or something. All the things in the tiny house rattled and moved around. I’m glad I don’t live here.
As for the park, it was very pleasant, and we enjoyed this year’s uncharacteristically bright autumn colors as we did a walk through a prairie and visited a cave and some other trails near a creek. Sadly, much of the park is closed to the public due to bad flooding for the past 15 years. All the historic buildings and the original park headquarters can’t be used anymore. The good news is that there are really great brand-new RV camping facilities now and a gorgeous park headquarters, where they were having Christmas activities for kids and a Santa. They were also having a geocaching demonstration. Good job, park volunteers!
I’m glad I felt well enough to walk around and enjoy the sights and (a bit of) the woodsy smells in this pretty area. The flame sumac was particularly lovely, and there were also oaks and other colorful trees.
I didn’t see any fascinating birds, just the usual vultures, cardinals, and wrens (heard mostly). I did enjoy a harvester ant nest, which always makes me happy to see (that means the fire ants haven’t killed everything else off), and I found a nice big beetle.
Mostly, it was just good to get outdoors and enjoy a part of Texas I hadn’t spent much time in. The sounds of Fort Hood and SpaceX reminded me that I wasn’t far from manmade weirdness, but that’s all right.
I’m sure we’ll be back here again. The place we stayed was so quiet. There were just a couple of dogs and a donkey (which I enjoyed, of course) and no loud trucks or people. I got good ideas for the Red House, too.
But it’s time to go home and get ready for visitors at the ranch and see my horses and dogs. I hope you had a reasonable weekend. I only have a lingering runny nose to remind me of the endless viral nonsense I’ve been dealing with, so I can now look forward to fun and learning once again1
The height of “fall color” has arrived, and I’m really enjoying looking at it.
But oh my goodness, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired! How long can a cold last, anyway? How much mucous can one nasal cavity hold? I guess I am going to find out, because I feel just awful, still.
I had 5 straight hours of meetings this morning, many of which required speaking and acting intelligent. That was no easy task. And before the weather gets bad again, I want to ride Apache and Drew. But I feel like crap.
I got to wondering if maybe this is more than a cold, so I took yet another COVID test, but it just mocked me.
I had been thinking COVID because I am tired and if I exercise a lot, it’s hard to breathe. But hey, a cold will do that, too. Or maybe the flu tests missed some kind of flu and I have that. All I know is I’m almost finished with antibiotics, which means I’ll probably get a sinus infection next. (Yes, I take probiotics.)
Anyway, that’s my whine. I am tired of being sick, even if I’m a Bad Ass, according to my coworker who sent a mug just like hers. That was a kind gesture, wasn’t it? And yes, I look like I feel. Crappy.
When the fall color arrives here in the middle of Texas, it’s subtle, and you don’t see it coming. I love this season and take comfort in the quiet beauty of our cedar elms and oaks as they prepare to lose their leaves for the winter.
Today dawned sunny and crisp, but not cold. It was a welcome relief to see the sun for the first time in many days, and even more welcome was the sight of the new pond finally completely full and draining to the other side of the dam. After four cloudy, drizzly days, we had a large front move through overnight that brought enough rain to fill the drought-parched tanks for the first time since last spring. I guess the drought is over, at last.
The way this season has crept up reminds me of how I’ve been moving into the autumn of my life and not realizing it. I’ve been lucky to be very healthy since we came out to the Hermits’ Rest and have been growing stronger and more capable thanks to working with the horses and other animals.
But this illness that came up last week has been a very unsubtle reminder that I’m not a young person anymore. A cold that I’d usually just power through over a few days has made me weak and tired. I didn’t expect that at all. I keep trying to go out and get things done, only to feel worse and fall asleep for a few hours. I’m not bouncing back.
I am glad that it’s been so wet and muddy out, because it the weather had been good, I know I’d have been trying to force myself out to work with Drew, who needs me on him and working with him. But our working area is a little lake right now, and I am barely able to maneuver across the muck to get the food buckets for the poor horses. (They are not suffering; in fact, I think they are enjoying the pleasant temperatures and the abundant hay.)
As I’m pulling myself out of the depression episode and feeling my mortality more than usual, it’s taking effort to not go into reflective mode and dwell on goals not achieved, mistakes made, and errors unaddressed. The sun’s helping me remind myself that I’m still able to learn new things, be kind to those who’ll accept kindness, and forgive others.
While it’s true that I notice my memory failing and don’t know how much longer I’ll be a useful member of society, I do have confidence that no matter what, I’ll be able to enjoy each new autumn when it arrives. It may just be different from now on as I go from the autumn to the winter of life.
Why not? I was all tired after helping a lot of folks at work, but when I went out to see the horses, I felt so much better that I did my scheduled ride and enjoyed the nice afternoon.
The bulldozer is still plowing away. I think that project will be done tomorrow. He’s made it wider and is building an excellent berm that will be fun for the horses and provide a bit of sound insulation for us (you know, ALL that traffic we get!). Lee says he keeps finding springs, which doesn’t surprise me. But even in this drought to see moist areas surprises me!
And after yesterday’s rant, I’m embracing my quirky decorating style. It helps that Kathleen has made some really pretty fall and Halloween wreaths and gave me one. Doesn’t it look great?
To top it all off, my additional cream yarn showed up, so I can keep going on my afghan project. in the meantime I made part of a narrow border to put on at the end. This is gonna be a project, all right.
Glad to have some calm time in life every so often.
It’s been a rather painful couple of weeks for me. Since my ungraceful exit off Apache, I’ve been healing in some ways and getting worse in others. What does an “older” person expect, anyway?
The funniest injury I found turned up when I was getting my hair cut. Dan put me under the sink and started scrubbing away at my dirty hair, when I said, “Hey, that hurts!” Apparently, I had hurt the top of my head during the fall. I would assume that the helmet squished down on me. It’s odd that I hadn’t noticed it, but then, I don’t brush my hair often.
My back is also not as happy as it was at first. I feel all right in my recliner and in bed but sitting up and standing aren’t great. Sitting up in a desk chair is no fun at all, so I made myself some lumbar support. I think it is just going to have to heal, or I am going to have to go to the local chiropractor. At least I have insurance that covers it!
The worst has been my pelvic area. That bruise was bad news, and it went deep. I got swollen so much that some of my pants felt tight, and I could feel hard lumps under my protective layer of belly fat. It just hurt, that’s all, and going up stairs was always a reminder that I’d fallen. I still feel it a bit, which makes me glad I was too busy working to go to the Christmas Parade with Lee yesterday (he was helping the Chamber of Commerce). The lifting and toting would not have been a great idea.
I think the bruising, congestion, and pain are improving. The lumps are smaller. We will see if I am able to get on a horse tomorrow. At least the mounting block at the trainer’s place is taller than mine. I probably shouldn’t have gotten the bare bones model.
Whenever I get a temporary pain it makes me think about people who don’t have the option of healing and have to live with chronic pain. I am so grumpy when I hurt, which doesn’t make me fun to live or work with! I hope I get better at dealing with chronic pain, since my guess is I’ll end up with some sooner or later as I continue my march toward deepest crone-hood.
But, as for today, I’ll take a nice, gentle walk with my horse and donkey, like I’ve been doing all week, and get back to the knitting. The latest striped blanket is coming out different, but just as interesting as the last one.
I’m wishing you all a good weekend. It may cool off, but I’m all prepared after getting some key items in Colorado. Ooh, and I booked another trip there in late summer of next year. Hiking here I come!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
Let’s talk about something less serious for once. To start of, I’m happy to say that the meal Anita and I created for ourselves yesterday was quite nice. I made a very moist and yummy turkey and am looking forward to a sandwich for lunch. I spent many hours turning the carcass into broth that will make a fine soup tomorrow, too. And we sat around being thankful we weren’t sick or endangering anyone else. Wow, such smugness. Moving right along.
Right now I’m going to declare that I am not one of those people with a compulsion to slap up my Christmas decorations the second they go for sale in the stores, nor mid-November, nor US Thanksgiving, and sometimes, not even in early December. Shocking!
How can I be so un-traditional? First, for many families in the not-so-distant past, trees didn’t go up until December 24 and they went down at some other holiday in January, which I’m too lazy to look up (readers have helpfully pointed out it’s Epiphany, which is on January 6). So, this whole frenzy to decorate and keep the décor up for a few months is not a hallowed tradition; it’s a marketing thing. Granted, lights and shiny things are cheerful, and we could all use some cheer right now, so if it makes you happy, decorate away.
Second, and this is my big reason, so I have a legitimate excuse, I’m not someone who celebrates the religious Christmas holiday, given that I’m on a more Buddhist/tree-hugging path and growing fonder of some of the more “Christ-like” groups of Christians these days. So, I’ll decorate for winter solstice, for which there is no frenzy.
And another thing (like this matters one bit, right, but it’s fun!), I like to enjoy the autumn decorations while it’s still autumn, I think our tree is really pretty, and all we had to do is remove the overtly Halloween/Samhain decorations to create a lovely ambiance here at the Bobcat Lair (the poor ranch missed my decorative touch this year, which probably didn’t bother Lee one bit).
Here in Texas, it just doesn’t feel all that wintry, so I don’t feel awful about enjoying the leaves, acorns and such.
On the Other Hand
I do have some winter decorations out all year round. I happen to love my green glass trees and peace plates from the late, lamented Pier One (the online version is NOT the same). And there are a few wintry bird items I can’t bear to put away.
And then there are all my glass pumpkins and acorns that never go away. Pumpkins are attractive year round, so I am not hiding them. I guess I just focus on the things for each time of the year, dragging flowery things to the foreground in the spring, etc.
Where Do You Put It All?
Something I ponder about the people with all the decorations, like complete re-decorating of many rooms for the Christmas period, is where do they put it all when it’s not Christmas? If you have separate linens, towels, pillows, rugs, and assorted décor items, where do they go? I know my friend Maggie has an entire garage for that stuff. At the ranch I happen to have a holiday closet, since we added SO MANY closets when we built the house that there’s space. And dear Aunt Margie in North Carolina had a “present room” in her house; now she had some decorations!
But, these are all people who are, shall we say, privileged. The examples I gave have or had big ole houses with only two occupants. There was space to put all this excess stuff. I feel rather wasteful for having duplicates of my dishes and other items that I can drag out every year. Or maybe I’m just grumpy.
This year, with all the struggle going on, I’m going to tone things down. It just doesn’t feel right to wallow in excess right now. That’s just me, a person who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I do like shiny things, and don’t hold it against any family that wants to decorate every surface of their home, inside and out, it just doesn’t feel right for ME.
One Final Gripe
Plus, I really don’t like those inflatable decorations. They seem to spend most of their time as sad, deflates, non-festive lumps. Again, that’s just me. Feel free to convince me otherwise in the comments!
It’s been very pleasant here in the center of Texas for the past few days, with pleasantly cool mornings and nice warm days (contrasting with the usual blazing heat). I’ve enjoyed being able to wear a couple of new light jackets and wraps on my daily walks around the neighborhood.
Yesterday I had a lot of thinking to do, so I walked over to the cemetery. It’s a good thinking spot, and usually quiet, other than maintenance workers. Since it’s a pretty old cemetery, there are lots of big trees to look at.
Of course, I had to go visit the Popes, in whose house I sit and work every day when I’m in Cameron. I do hope they like what we have done with the place.
It’s nice to have a little furniture and the mirror installed in the front room. It seems so complete.
And in honor of the crisper weather (relatively), I turned on the fireplace to heat! Just a little, but it’s nice.
Be gentle with yourselves, friends, because you deserve kindness and acceptance.