Why Not Resolutionize?

Let’s admit this right off. I stole this idea from a very talented bogger, whose writing I really enjoy. Her blog also has a beautiful design, so check out this post on the Zowiezoe blog. Zoe (how come it’s so much easier to find an umlaut on the phone than on my dang keyboard?) shared how she has never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but decided after the weirdness of 2020, she’ll make lots and lots of them. She is going to revolutionize resolutions and resolutionize her life! You see, if you make so many that it’s hard to keep track of them, you’re bound to succeed at one or two!

Example of 2020’s effect on me. These are my “festive” holiday gifts for tomorrow. I bought exactly two gift containers, which are hiding.

I Can Resolutionize, Too

I decided that it would be a fun Christmas Eve activity to make some resolutions, myself. This also conveniently procrastinates from more closet organizing. I won’t have quite as many as Zoe did, but I did like her category ideas. Here goes.

WORK-O-LUTIONS

Planview

  • Be free with praise to productive coworkers
  • Contribute more to the LGBTQ+ group and make it the BEST
  • Remind myself that I enjoy organizing and writing, and have fun
  • Get a better desk location near a WINDOW
  • Find new ways to support and encourage my direct reports

Hearts, Homes and Hands

  • Write more frequent blog posts
  • Figure out what I can do to help without getting in the way
  • Support the team!

VOLUNTEER-WORK-O-LUTIONS

  • Find more ways to help with MTOL; I’ve been a sucky Board member
  • Keep the spirits up with the Master Naturalists as we can’t DO much right now
  • Keep my mojo going on the Friends of LLL newsletter, even though hardly anyone gets it because we have so few members

CRAFT-O-LUTIONS

  • Crochet a cardigan
  • Crochet an afghan
  • Knit Lee’s table runner for his office
  • Knit anything a family member requests (within reason)
  • Try some new (dog-friendly) things
  • Use my stash as much as possible
  • Organize the craft room in each house (ha ha ha ha ha)

SOCIAL-O-LUTIONS

  • Talk to kids more
  • Find ways to talk to more friends (and see them, eventually)
  • Be a better conversationalist, even when tired
  • Conversely, stay out of conversations where my contribution would not be helpful
  • Participate more in online groups (I tend to lurk)
  • Blog every day, for my own fun, not statistics
  • Comment on people’s blogs and encourage them
  • Quit trying so hard to be nice to people who aren’t nice to me

HEALTH-O-LUTIONS

  • Get that annoying post-nasal drip looked at
  • Go to a dermatologist
  • Get new glasses/prescription
  • Keep walking as much as or more than now
  • CBD Oil. Lots of it.
  • Don’t stop my therapy just because I only have one big issue

RANCH-O-LUTIONS

  • Ride the damn horse or get another horse that has good feet and just enjoy Apache
  • Get more chickens and keep them SAFE
  • Help however I can to get a tack room and fencing for horses on our property
  • Contribute to beautifying the outside
  • Get rid of ugly stuff in the house, like dead plants
  • Replace the nature tree with a new one

Geez, that should be enough. I hope I get some of this done. But, at the least, Lee will be happy that I now have GOALS and priorities and lists! He loves those, more than anything, I think.

Lee, writing in his journal of lists, goals, goal analysis and goal tracking. He’s amazing at it.

Maybe I’m becoming a better person, right? Some of this will help, or, at least I’ll have fun trying!

So, are you ready for the resolution revolution? Let’s ALL resolutionize!

The Truth about Organizing Closets

I spent much of (but not all of) today getting my closet re-organized. Thank goodness, there was a nice interruption when a baby magically appeared. (Figuratively —he came with parents, too).

It’s a BABY! I remember babies.

It was my great-nephew (by marriage—my siblings were not breeders). Actually he’s a step-nephew but what the heck, little Ryker is as close to a grandchild as I’ll get, I’ll wager.

Mmmm. Babies.

I hadn’t met him yet, thanks to the good ole pandemic, but no one was in quarantine at the moment and his parents needed to stop by briefly. I enjoyed every moment of holding him and being goofy.

However, that was a brief highlight. Mostly I organized my closet, a thing I tend to do about twice a year. Now, I always thought I had a messy closet because my closets were too small. Nope. My closet is this big, thanks to how we enlarged the first floor of the house.

Legit large-ass closet. Not shown: shoe wall.

Our contractor, Ruben, did this for me, and I’m forever grateful. That island holds 8 drawers Bd is covered with beautiful natural quartz. Too bad it was totally covered with clothing, suitcases, and Christmas gifts this morning.

As I finished my three hours of hanging, sorting, and selecting things to donate, I realized that the size of the closet doesn’t matter. Unless you’re a really organized person (like my dad was) your closet will slowly become a mess until you make yourself fix it.

I can’t blame my narrow and annoying closet at the Austin house for my poor closet management, since I can’t keep this huge room looking neat. It’s me. I’m not a whiz with the closets.

Let’s see how long this lasts. I plan to iron some things, and maybe get some cute organizing stuff. And tomorrow the jewelry area will also be fixed. Maybe if I spiff it up a bit, I’ll do better.

Here are closets I cannot emulate. I envy these people. Thanks to California Closets for the images.

Am I alone, or are closets hard for most people? Does your closet look like a California Closets ad?

Religion, Politics, Grievances

Not sure if this is a rant or what, but I’m experiencing some righteous indignation on behalf of some people I know, in person and online. It seems like folks are really, really bored right now, and I get that. It’s winter and many of us are pretty isolated.

BUT

Nope. Not finished.

Just because you’re bored and you have an opinion about someone’s beliefs or actions does NOT mean you are obligated to share it with the rest of the planet. More important, you don’t need to tell people how wrong all the things they think and do are. Really, you do not.

Yes, people we know do stuff that bothers us. And, I have nothing against talking about things people, in general, do that bother us. I do it, as you may have noticed, and am doing it now, as a matter of fact.

However, just because you have the TIME to send a long email, text, or IM to someone spelling out exactly how wrong their beliefs and opinions are, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. Think about it.

If you are happy with the religious path you have taken, which after all is a personal religious path, would someone telling you how wrong it is do anything other than make you think less of that person. It certainly would not change your religious beliefs. That happens between you and your deity or deities. No one has a right to call your beliefs into question (even Scientologists, ha ha).

Now hush.

If you have expressed your personal thoughts on a personal platform (blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) about politics of your country, policies in your area, or issues that need to be addressed, that does not (or should not) open you up to diatribes, name calling, meanness, or threats. Sure, people can express disagreement or other points of view, but why be mean about it?

Does insulting someone or disparaging someone’s beliefs EVER EVER EVER get them to change their mind and see your brilliant point of view as correct? (Hint, the answer is, “no.”)

Suggested Alternatives to Giving People a Piece of Your Mind

If you get a strong urge to tell someone exactly what you think about their life choices or viewpoints, here are things you can do that don’t involve attacking them with your scathing words:

  • Donate money in their name to your favorite cause. That always feels good. I’ve done it!
  • Write the horribly misguided person a long letter by hand, on a piece of paper. Then stomp on it really hard to get your frustrations out, followed by violently wadding it up and throwing it in the trash.
  • Take a long walk around your property while muttering dark and foul thoughts about your target, until you get distracted by something naturally beautiful and you start feeling all sorts of oneness and your hostility dissipates (works for me).
  • Call your best friend and declare that it is time to vent. Rant and rave and complain your head off. The friend will say soothing things. Then you will agree that there’s no point in telling the wrong-thinking person off; they just won’t get it.
  • Wait until Festivus, then stand by your Festivus Pole and air your grievances. That will be okay, because it’s a holiday activity.*

By the way, it’s FESTIVUS! Let us air our grievances!


(*The article I link to above explains how Festivus is the perfect pandemic holiday and is pretty cute. Also, if you Google Festivus, there’s a Festivus pole in the margin! Hilarious!)

Warmest Solstice Greetings

Last night, as the official solstice occurred, I went out and looked at the Jupiter and Saturn confluence (or whatever it’s called), humming “Star of Wonder, Star of Light” to myself. It was a welcome getaway from the people in the house once again discussing why they don’t like my stovetop (this is said with a laugh).

A doe in Illinois, not Texas. Photo from: @castlemandesign via Twenty20

The morning dawned frosty and silvery, with the sun practically rising in the south, it seemed to me. I was given the gift of watching a herd of deer bounding across one of the nearby fields, with the buck turning briefly to look at me. That’s enough to warm my heart for the rest of the day.

In my office, which is a bit of a mess while I await my new glass shelves, I lit all the available fake and real candles, and of course have a roaring fire in the fake fireplace. Sitting here in the darkened room gives me plenty of time to reflect on all that’s transpired since last Yule, when Lee and I were happily preparing for our supposedly solo trip to Bandera.

Don’t these look pretty?

This evening, I plan to light all the candles in the house and pretend I have a Yule log in the fireplace (unless I can convince someone to light a fire). This year, especially, the longest night of the year provides time to finish mourning the losses in the past months and look for the glimmer of light that’s approaching. I’m glad there are now vaccines for essential workers.

Solstices Past

I haven’t done a memoir in a little while, so I’ll share how my family used to celebrate the solstice. It was a lot of fun when the boys were young. As they got old enough to understand, we explained to them what the winter solstice meant, and how it was celebrated in the past.

These are all the cheap fake candles that still work after a year.

We had a tradition of having a fire, lighting all the candles in the house (and I had lots back then, since the kids’ dad was not deathly opposed to scented candles), doing a little ceremony where we shared the best thing from the past year and the worst thing (these were often pretty funny), then selecting ONE present from under the Christmas tree to open before Christmas (we also celebrated Christmas!).

Continue reading “Warmest Solstice Greetings”

Have Yourself a Hermits’ Rest-y Christmas

Glorious. That’s the word for today. So, I went out to the woods to look for signs of Christmas and miracles. I found some of each!

The first miracle was water in the stream.

I ended up standing right where the above photo was taken for a long time, just listening to bird songs and watching them flit around. It’s lots easier to spot them in winter. I saw one I could not identify that could have been a black phoebe.

Too blurry. Wah. Not a miracle.

Once I got walking, the subtle signs of Texas Christmas began to appear. First, there was a Christmas cholla. That’s pretty obvious.

Then I found our one holly plant, a possumhaw (deciduous holly).

Cheerful berries.

So, how much more holiday greenery could I find? Of course, mistletoe!

I brought it home but no one will stand under it. Correction: Lee is willing.
Continue reading “Have Yourself a Hermits’ Rest-y Christmas”

Rainy Saturday of Love

Hooray! It’s actually REALLY raining today. This is what we need to refill the ponds and help all the plants over the winter. That said, I don’t look forward to going out in it!

Someday we will pave that giant puddle.

Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed a morning with Lee. I even gave him his anniversary card (note that the anniversary was November 29). I’d left it in Austin. But, there’s rarely a bad time to remind your partner in life that you love them!

Lee wants to keep the wooden part. Good card.

It’s nice to spend a morning enjoy your loved ones. Harvey’s giant belly has been rubbed a lot! Carlton is under the bed, because it thundered.

I’m watching it rain.

I’m especially grateful to be home and warm, since the rest of the household had to go out and do some hard work. I love their dedication. The personal assistance service is not an easy thing to run!

A Question

I was thinking about how much I love our former Christmas tree that’s now a tribute to nature, peace, and our pets. The poor thing no longer lights and has gotten droopy. I think I need to find another tree with mostly bare limbs to put my ornaments on.

It used to be really gorgeous, if non-traditional.

If any of you see a tree that’s at least 6 feet tall and mostly bare (on sale!) that I could order, send me a link in the comments or on other social media! I’m on a quest!

I Have Glass! At Last!

Howdy! Today my Cameron office is happy, because I finally got my window and desk glass. The glass for the desk came out perfect. I can’t wait to put my stuff on it.

A desk is born!

The glass guys also got the beautiful half round window up between Lee’s and Kathleen’s offices. That should help with sound and cold air transfer.

The glass is so clear you can’t see it. Also, Lee put up art on his walls. It’s looking great.

The challenge was the glass for the window in my office that looks into the hallway. At first they brought one that didn’t fit. Then they went back to Taylor (which is a good distance away) to get another one. They brought back a second door top instead.

So, they went back one more time and finally brought the right size. They’d just finished when I arrived at 4. It looks really good. Ahh.

Glass!

I look forward to less noise, protection from germs, and a warmer office. I also have two sets of shelves, since the glass people accidentally made two sets. They seem a bit confused. We will get those set up tomorrow.

The cool old chair is holding the shelves safely.

I’m looking forward to furniture and glass rearranging tomorrow!

The glass looks great held in by quarter round trim.

Honoring Simple Knits

Looks delicious!

Last night I finished the scarf I was making for Kathleen out of some yarn I’d never have bought, mainly because I don’t shop at Hobby Lobby (Yarn Bee Wildstreak Brights). It really makes up into a nice fabric, though, and is very soft. Plus, it makes a great jelly roll.

It was really fun to just sit around knitting and purling as I watched television this week, not having to think about much other than how easy it is to stick your needle in the middle of the loosely twisted roving-like yarn.

scarf
It’s pretty cheerful
It’s short, but wrapping it right would protect one’s delicate neck wrinkles.

If it were for me, I’d have made it longer, but Kathleen said she likes shorter scarves. Since it’s 100% acrylic, it will be very warm. I think it’s perfect for wearing under a jacket to protect your neck, without adding a lot of bulk under the jacket. So, it will do its job.

Now that I am making things again, I’m just going to be a bit more careful than I was in the past about making things for people who don’t realize how much time and effort (and expense) can go into hand-made items. My photos of past projects are reminders of what hard work I did, only to find the item wadded up on the floor, never worn or used. But, that’s a problem of the recipients, not me. I did take some things back when a former young housemate abandoned all her stuff. So there.

This photo just made me laugh. My feelings about ungrateful recipients.

My recommendation is that, if you knit, crochet, weave, or whatever, you do it because you enjoy the process, the feel of the yarn, the developing fabric, and the colors, not to please other people. That leads to craft happiness.

I’m ready to start the next project, which should go quickly, because it’s made from bulky yarn (also inexpensive stuff from a big box store). I do look forward to using more of my yarn from local yarn shops and indie dyers. They need our support, so much, especially right now!

Here are the rest of my pictures of the project, for your snoozing pleasure.

Another Project

I did want to share a little project I realized has been sitting around the house, just doing its job. I’m not sure what it was originally was intended to be, perhaps a wrap. It’s made with a nice Noro yarn in a pattern of knitting a certain number of rows then doing a row where you wrap each stitch 3 times.

Another simple but pretty pattern.

And I knit it corner to corner, with strategic increases and decreases to make a rectangle. I guess I got tired and stopped when it looked like this.

A striped item

It apparently occurred to me that it matched our colors in the Austin house, so it is now serving as a cushion cover for my antique rocking chair (it needs a new seat cover; my dad covered it in the 80s).

I had it on there more attractively before I took the pictures.

This just goes to show you that simple projects can be beautiful and serve well. I’m glad I’ve learned to stop trying to make more and more complicated things and to just enjoy beautiful yarns and textures. That lets me take advantage of the calming properties of my chosen hobby.

I’m always interested in what hobbies you’re using to help you pass the time, create gifts for your family, or take your mind off world events. Share away!

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?

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.