Product Endorsements? Sort of

Yesterday I got some new items to add to my arsenal of products that protect my health. After all, I’m in really good shape for someone my age, according to my doctor. You see, I looked up what could be causing the disturbing symptoms I’d suddenly started having, where my knees hurt so badly I could hardly walk, and I kept getting leg and foot cramps. Since all signs pointed to not drinking enough water and taking in insufficient magnesium, I’d sought to fix that. I immediately upped my water intake even more (I keep forgetting to have a drink nearby when I’m out with the horses), but I knew I needed more.

I’m so cute that my horse keeps kissing me. Vlassic thinks it’s cute, too.

Some of my friends had been drinking little packets of powder that they put in water to help when they are outside in the heat. They were pretty good, but to me they seemed to generate a lot of trash. When I saw something similar that resembled old-fashioned Alka Seltzer tablets, I was intrigued. Reading the ingredients list pleased me a lot.

I found it on Amazon, of course

I got the Nuun stuff yesterday, and discovered I liked them just fine. They aren’t too salty and sweet like Gatorade products can be, and I appreciate that they are sweetened with Stevia (but not too much). And look at all those things that will help my body! Potassium! Magnesium! Other stuff!

This does not look bad for me, unlike Diet Coke.

So, I now have a package of it in the tack room and one in my knitting bag, so there will always be some nearby. I’ll probably stash some in the horse trailer or the car, too. I got plenty.

Getting this Nuun hydration helper reminded me to check what else I’m putting into myself. I only take two supplements, both of which have made a difference in my life. One is the Doterra turmeric capsules. These have both the essential oil and the powder in them. Yes, yes, there’s no black pepper in there (that is supposed to make turmeric work better, and I wanted to nip those comments in the bud). I eat enough of that as it is. I have been taking two of these per day for a couple of years now. I honestly think that is why I’ve been feeling so much better physically for quite a while: my body is less inflamed. I had lots of inflammation issues before. Now, nope, not a problem. I’ll just keep taking these. I order them from me, by the way, since the only thing I sell is essential oils (and I think I’ve sold two things to someone other than me: I’m not a sales person).

They are pretty, too.

The other supplement I take is a combination of probiotics and B vitamins. The probiotics are “live” I guess. Whatever they are, they have kept my notoriously sensitive stomach in better shape, and I don’t have to worry about being low on any of those vitally important B vitamins that I have a hard time getting in food some days. I get plenty of D and C in my food, which I prefer to multivitamins, since they stick with you better.

The probiotics and anti-inflammatories seem to have combined to make me feel physically the best I have in my whole life, and I think the ingredients in the fizzy drink tablets are the final thing I needed. I’m ready to go play with horses in the heat, I guess!

Other Things I Like

In the past year or so there’s been a shift in my self-perception, and I feel a great deal less “ashamed” of my appearance. I used to use colorful, baggy clothing to hide my body and a lot of makeup to hide my perceived flaws. Thanks to the pandemic and some soul searching I’ve stopped caring. I’m wearing clothing I find comfortable but allow my arm flab to be seen in public. Nothing bad has happened.

Arm flab! Giant ears! Wrinkles! Natural hair color!

I quit wearing makeup except when I want extra sunscreen. And I only wear mascara when I feel more girly than usual. And, as I admitted earlier this year, I quit shaving my legs AND wear shorts. I am even seen by others in a bathing suit. New Suna! I do still take care of my face, though. So here are my face product endorsements.

I do hate it when something I love changes. I am displeased more than I probably should be that the Rodan+Fields cleanser for sensitive skin went from a lovely cream I could wipe off to a weird gel that I can’t tell if it’s gone or not. It’s the New Coke of expensive cleanser. Sigh. I’ll talk to my friend who sells it, though, because wow, the rest of the line has made my face happy. It’s not red anymore, so I don’t need the Clinique foundation!

There, now you know how I got to where I feel comfortable in my skin and healthy. I’m proud. Oh, and all those glasses come from EyeBuy Direct. They do a good job.

Nope, I don’t get paid for endorsing things. I’m just sharing.

Sculpture! Birds! Nature Surprises! Beauty?

Today I got to have all the funs, to celebrate an actual day off, and have some emotional recharge. And of course I had to do some deep thinking. I’m on a roll with wonder and wondering.

Nature Surprise

You may remember that Lee forgot to pack any shirts for the trip. The t- shirts he got were fine. But. He got one long-sleeved shirt at Kohl’s when we stopped at one on the way, and it turned out to be weird and too big. So, he declared we would go to Tractor Supply and get more Lee-esque shirts. Why? It got chilly overnight!

Fern time. Sensitive.

Imagine my happiness when I saw that next to the store was a beautiful wooded area with a stream running through it. It was sort of like what I imagine in my mind when I think of a southern American woods. There were oaks, sweet gums, ash, and holly trees, with ferns and palmettos underneath. There were jack-in-the-pulpits and lizard’s tail. Vines included muscadine grape, poison ivy, and Virginia Creeper. I was in heaven. Plus I got to buy a windbreaker.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were actually in our way to our favorite spot, Brookgreen Gardens. It’s always great, but we lucked out this time. For one, the butterfly exhibit at the zoo has recently re-opened. We got to see some butterflies we’d never seen before. And the flowers weren’t bad, either.

A malachite butterfly.

While waiting in line, I met a fellow horse owner and traded photos, of course. But dang, look at these beauties! I don’t know what they are, though.

Of course, I had to get bird photos, too. I didn’t take many of the captive birds, but the ducks were so pretty I had to. At least I got some pretty wild birds, too.

I’ve saved the best for last. Just yesterday, a new exhibit opened. It’s sculpture by two married people, Babette Bloch and Marc Mellon.

I got the book, too.

Mellon has had his work at Texas A&M (to impress the locals) at the Bush Presidential Library. He also designed an official medal for President Obama. His main work has been statues of female athletes. He makes them look strong as well as beautiful. He also did a horse. I liked that.

My heart melted when I started looking at Bloch’s work. She started out in bronze, but then moved on to making art with laser-cut steel. It’s lots of flowers. As you know, I am fond of flowers.

Large herons, outdoors

I had two favorites. One is a phoenix. The base of the sculpture is based on Bloch’s face!

My second favorite was a wall with dozens of flowers in bowls with color behind them. Each bowl was someone’s family heirloom. It moved me to tears to see the old things become new art.

All her work was interesting and different from anything I ever saw. The burnished parts were mesmerizing. Here’s some more of her work. Lee just loved the dog, of course.

To top it all off, I went back in at the end of our visit, and I got to tell Bloch how much her work and the stories behind it moved me. That felt great. My heart is full. What a great day.

My Deep Thiughts

Being at Brookgreen and enjoying the art made me wonder something. Do humans always seek beauty? Have they always done so? Are there things that just naturally please humans?

Are sunsets thought beautiful in all cultures? If so, why?

I seem to remember that symmetry is often found beautiful, like in people’s faces. And there’s that golden ratio that’s supposedly pleasing.

Any thoughts? I’m going to do some research. I guess I shouldn’t take time off from work and chores. I start wondering.

Wildflower Color Changers and Friendly Lions

I originally posted much of this content on my Master Naturalist chapter’s blog, but also wanted to share it with you all. I’m amazed at what I see around the Hermits’ Rest and want to share it with my friends around the world. If you have trouble seeing anything let me know.

It’s beautiful this time of year, and these potential rain clouds are an added bonus.

Sporty Sports

As I continue to monitor the new flowers that are blooming in northern Milam County, I’ve found a few interesting ones. Occasionally a plant will produce a flower that’s different from its usual form or color. These sports are how new cultivars can come about, especially if humans show up and start breeding them intentionally. Out here, though, they just show up and we enjoy them.

This is a Texas paintbrush Castilleja indivisa found on County Road 140 near Walker’s Creek.

Here’s my mandatory Wikipedia quote about sports in botany, in which I left the links in case you want to learn more:

In botany, a sport or bud sport, traditionally called lusus, is a part of a plant that shows morphological differences from the rest of the plant. Sports may differ by foliage shape or color, flowers, fruit, or branch structure. The cause is generally thought to be a chance genetic mutation.

Wikipedia

The beautiful flower you see above was a pleasant surprise on my morning walk down the road in front of our property, where I was looking for new things and admiring the bluebonnets. What the heck is that yellow plant, I wondered? It looks like popcorn. When I got close, I was taken aback by how beautiful this sport of the normally orange-red flower was. I guess if I was a nursery owner, I’d have collected some seeds in a few weeks. Instead, I looked up more information and found that pale orange and yellow variations do occasionally occur.

Here’s now 99% of the native annual Texas paintbrushes, which are a parasitic plant, by the way, look where I live:

That looks more familiar!

The more I have been looking closely at my roadside wildflower friends, the more variations I’ve seen. Have you seen any of these? I know that the pink ladies/evening primroses Oenothera speciosa vary widely in their pinkness. We always have a patch of the whiter ones here. I’ve also run across a light purple bluebonnet Lupinus texensis that I found quite charming (more so than the burgundy ones), as well as a white Texas vervain Verbena halei, which I had never seen before.

You might call me paranoid, but I wonder if the reason there are so many variations in the colors of the flowers on that stretch of road is because of the chemicals sprayed every year on the field across the road (which is the only field in miles in any direction that’s managed using fertilizers and herbicides sprayed by an inaccurate plane). I’ll never know, but I have my suspicions, especially since tomatoes and peppers always die after the spraying. I’m pleased that this year they have winter rye or some silage thing that they don’t spray.

This is the field to which I refer. Apparently the chemicals do not bother the verbena.

Speaking of herbicides that I don’t use…

Dandy Lions

Someone on Facebook recently was complaining about how chemical companies always use the common dandelion as their generic image of an ugly weed that must be eradicated. We all know that you can eat the young leaves, make wine from the flowers, and dye using the roots, of course. They have many health benefits, from what I read.

They are also vitally important to our pollinators in the early spring. Last month, they were among the few blooming plants out there for the bees, tiny wasps, and butterflies to feed on. Until the rest of the flowers showed up, later than usual, they kept the beneficial insect population going. I was very glad to see so many healthy common dandelions out in my pastures.

This gal was also happy to see a dandelion.

But, have you noticed how many members of the dandelion family are actually out there in our fields, pastures, and yards? I have been greatly enjoying some of them, including the tiny weedy dwarf dandelion Krigia cespitosa, the shy smooth cat’s ear Hypochaeris glabra that spends most of its time tightly closed up, and the extra prickly one, prickly sowthistle Sonchus asper.

One more interesting thing about dandelions. I just discovered today, when I was researching which flowers I’ve been seeing were in the dandelion family, that what I called dandelions my whole life, and the only ones I saw as a child, were in fact false dandelions Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus, which is a member of the aster family. Now I know.

They are beautiful, anyway.

Miscellaneous

And while I’m here, I may as well share what else is popping up around here. I saw my first winecup and fleabane this week, and my first Englemann daisy, sikly evolvulus, and tie vines today (forgot to take a picture of the latter). My heart leapt for joy when I discovered I DO still have baby blue eyes on my property (someone “cleared brush”). For added pleasure to those with allergies, the black willows are blooming, too.

All I can say is keep looking down. You’ll see plenty to keep you entertained for hours. We live in a beautiful place and have so much we can learn if we are observant!

There’s always something to see on a Texas country road in spring.

Look What the Wind Blew In

Whew, today was extra windy. During my ENDLESS meetings, I kept being distracted by something that looked like fluffy dandelion seeds very briskly zipping by, completely horizontally. There were an unusually large number of them, way more than the number of dandelions we have going to seed. What had the wind blown in?

First, a brief digression. The wind brought more than fluffy bits! It also brought our long-lost housemates. We have a bunch of happy dogs and people!

Mommy! They locked me in the storage room!

For people who have gone through, shall we say, a lot since they left for a weekend back in February, or was it January, they look good! We are all excited about all the projects we need to get moving on.

I was so grateful that I grew them these flowers. okay, Nature grew them.

In our zeal to plan things, the nephew went out with a spray can of bright orange paint, marking where Apache’s new stable and pens will be, along with cattle pens. And you know, orange paint smells good. If you’re a dog, you’d want to roll in it, especially if it complements your long, white fur.

It looks good on me.

We went over to look at another fencing area, and there, all over the ground, were the answers to my questions about the fluffy things.

A sea of white fluff.

It turns out that in the two days since I’d taken my photos of the small-flowered catchfly, they’d gone to seed, most spectacularly! Everywhere there were little towers covered in fluffy seed pods.

Towers of fluff surrounded by little stars.

Y’all, in person this was breathtaking. The catchfly was all interspersed with starbursts of the annual trampweed. My two new flowers went to seed together and created a Magic Kingdom of weeds, as I said in my awe.

Wine cups and the few paintbrush flowers that made it through the winter added beautiful accents.

All this beauty was after so many of the seeds blew away this morning. Wow. So many seeds. And none of us remember ever seeing the two white fluff-makers before. What a welcome home gift to our family!

Future horse pen also has me happy.

To be honest, my whole day was magical. I achieved all my goals in my pushback campaign, and it’s only Wednesday! I’ll share more about that tomorrow. Right now, I’m pretty dang tired and don’t even know where I’ll sleep tonight (that’s a GOOD thing).

How could you leave me? Kathleen will take pictures, not to worry.

I am, once again, grateful for the support and encouragement of my friends, colleagues, readers and listeners. You’re all incredible in your own unique way.

Best Day for Unusual Snowfall Is Sunday

Hooray! The minute I wrote that the weather was boring, it started getting interesting. While we do get a dusting of snow here in Central Texas, today is the first time I’ve ever seen it really snow. It’s been as pretty as when I was in Utah!

Here’s the woods next to the house.

We got around 4 inches as the day went on, and at times it snowed pretty hard. I’m so glad I didn’t have to work today, because all I did was look out the window

Around midday

The most fun, though has been going out and playing with the dogs. Here’s the best one.

Alfred discovers snow. It’s barely covering the ground here.

Penney and Carlton acted like the snow was a big present for them. I’ve never seen them happier. Here’s the first time they went out.

Whee!

Harvey finds sheltered spots to pee, then comes back in. Not a snow dog. The others sure are. I took Penney and Carlton out in the woods, and the joy all three of us felt was enough to erase all my stress.

Continue reading “Best Day for Unusual Snowfall Is Sunday”

I Feel Pretty – Why Not?

Lately I’ve been enjoying photos of some friends who are my age. For example, Kathy, who I know from high school, has been sharing a sweater she knitted every day this month, and it’s been so fun to see what she’s made, and I’ve envied that she lives in Colorado now and actually gets to wear them.

Also, though, I’ve been enjoying how she looks in each photo. She just glows with happiness, her eyes shine, and her smile is bright. So what if she just had another birthday? This is my idea of beauty, because her beauty as a human being shines through.

Yes, she made that herself. Check out mountainpurl on Ravelry for more!

In my family, we sometimes talk about how the pandemic hasn’t been kind to our figures or that all the stress is showing in how we look and feel. I know I sometimes look in a mirror and wonder who the heck that is looking back.

Unretouched photo of me, today, with hair no longer blue.

It’s really tempting to focus on the obvious signs that I’m not a kid anymore. Those lip wrinkles make me look like a long-time smoker (I never smoked!), the jowls make me wonder if I’ll look like Droopy Dog eventually (my great aunt did). And the neck. Eww. That’s enough, though I could go on.

Other parts of me are fascinating, too. I have interesting new moles and marks (yes I get them looked at), my stomach is at its poochiest (and it’s pooched since birth), and while my breasts finally got larger than an A cup, they have been defeated by gravity.

So What?

Yeah! I’m mentioning all this stuff, because when I looked in the mirror this morning, I saw this new me and I was fine with her. I don’t exactly recognize her sometimes, but I like her. When she’s happy, she really looks pleased. When she’s down (or thinking, in a Zoom meeting), she looks like my dad or my brother, so at least I’m still a member of my family.

This is nowhere near as awful as I look in some meetings. But, it’s me.

And I feel so free to dress and act however is comfortable to me. That was a long time coming. I used to try to dress to portray membership in my group (hippies, corporate employees, cowboys). Now it’s more like, what looks fun today?

Cowgirl time (2014).

I wish I could find the article I recently read about people who identify as women and their relationship with makeup. It talked about the conflict between so many young women claiming makeup gives them freedom with the thoughts of many of us older feminists who feel that requiring makeup of women, but not men, is another sexist vestige.

I think back to what I’ve spent on makeup, hair stuff, nail stuff, etc., and know I have gotten some company executives richer. It’s a conflict for me, for sure. I don’t think I NEED makeup, nail polish, or blue hair to be attractive. I don’t NEED overly coordinated clothing, either. I could wear jeans and a t-shirt every day the rest of my life and be fine. But, dressing up is fun. I guess it’s a part of my cultural identity as a Western woman that I can’t get rid of completely.

That’s right. The outfit even has a coordinating mask.

At least I acknowledge it! And that’s the thing. I want to encourage all my friends to love who they are at the age they are and feel pretty, all over. We’re here, we’re alive, and we’re creative. Let’s not hide who we are, but shine like Kathy in all her sweaters! It’s all GREAT.

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