The Flower Fairy Goes Art Walking

What a pleasant Saturday! I started the day fairly early for me, so I could go work with the horses before it got over 100° F. I ended up hanging horse signs up in the tack room, rearranging my horse playground and round pen, working with Drew (who now wants to nip me while we trot right, so that got dealt with) and working with Apache, who rode all the way over to the edge of the woods today. He is now comfortable in most of the front pasture.

My spotted buddies

As a reward, I gave him a nice cool bath with my new horse bathing attachment. We finally have the hose available to where that works out. Apache was displeased that I made him stand around to dry while I cleaned his saddle and bridle, but they look good now.

My clean tack. Hard to see but it’s there.

Then, since Apache’s bath had cooled me off, I took pictures of how nice things are looking around here.

After all that I was too hot to do much, so I swam in the pool while it was still cool. I think that thing is my lifesaver.

After I rested a bit, Lee said he wanted to go to the first Art Walk in Cameron, which was held in the remodeled building that used to be Bea’s Kitchen. Wow, they’ve done a great job with the place. Here’s the restored signage.

Big words!

The interior is gorgeous, and they made really cool light fixtures that allow you to see the ceiling tiles. And upstairs, there are beautiful new windows. It’s gonna be so cool.

The Art Walk was so much fun. Anita, Lee and I all had a great time meeting old friends and making new ones. the artists were all very interesting people, too. One woman lives in Maysfield, down the road from us and makes interesting jewelry. The rest were painters. Each was different in focus, ranging from sweet watercolors to cleverly subtle social commentary. I got a watercolor and was happy to learn the artist gives classes!

It’s a marsh.

Lee and I both really liked the work of one of the artists, Randy Robinson. We learned he only started painting not that long ago. His work had movement and great light, because he studied Rembrandt’s style in Europe. I got to talking to his daughter and learned they live in nearby Milano and have lots in common with our family. All the stuff you usually don’t think you’ll find. What luck!

Then, when I was off with Anita, Lee secretly got the painting I loved the most, which was of a horse in the night, spooked (says the brochure) by finding a human lying in her field. It really captures the wildness and bemusement. And you just want to pet that muzzle.

I love that it’s off center, too, from the viewpoint of someone on the ground. Yeah. I wore a flower fairy dress. It has pansies with faces, and Alice in Wonderland.

We talked more later, and I kept thinking he seemed familiar. We started talking about plants, and then it all became clear. He’d joined the Master Naturalist group during my presidency and come to a few online meetings. I introduced him to Carolyn Henderson, our current president, and we hope he starts coming to meetings.

Me and Randy and Night Dreamer

Well what a coincidence! We are all friends now. I’m so happy to keep meeting like-minded folks out here. Like anywhere, diversity’s out there and it makes for a stronger community.

Happy to be here

In addition to the Art Walk, the model railroad across the street was open one last time before it moves elsewhere. All the tiny buildings were set out where you could really look at them, and there were folks explaining which modern places the models of 1930s life depicted.

Anita looks at the back of St Monica’s church

The details on the buildings are quite charming. There are prisoners at the jail, a wedding at one church, and a nun at the Catholic Church. My favorite is a woman hanging laundry.

It will be fun to see the rebuilt model of old Cameron!

As if this wasn’t enough fun, we even tried a new restaurant. Yes, it’s Mexican but it’s different Mexican! I had chicken in Mole sauce. I hope Veracruz lasts.

Fed the horses of course. Look at the moon!

Cameron Steps Up a Notch

Last night, Lee and I attended the Spring Festival in Cameron. He’s on the Chamber of Commerce Board, so he had duties. I just went to interact with other humans. This event was really a great sign for the future of the town. I was impressed!

My friend Pamela exhibited her ceramics in one of the renovated buildings downtown.

First of all, the food vendors were amazing. There was wood-fired pizza, crawfish and other southern delicacies, baked goods that were beautiful, and my favorite, charcuterie by my friend Barbara Dominguez, all from local sources.

Beautiful dinner! The pickled okra was surprisingly tasty. And look at all those crawfish!

There were beverages for everyone, too, ranging from our darned good local wineries to some mighty tasty beer from Temple to snow cones and Italian ice for kids and adults alike. The Italian ice looked fantastic, but, well, I had my B52 Bomber beer to enjoy.

Photo from Cameron Chamber of Commerce

I got some sauces for our ice cream from Windy, which made me happy. I keep driving by the Farmer’s Market on my way to horse lessons but finding it closed on my way home. She makes some interesting canned jellies and such.

Mmmmm

There were also vendors in some of the buildings the Railfan group is renovating. The buildings look unrecognizable in a good way.

The music was great, too. A good variety and not too loud or soft. We were able to talk to old and new friends just fine. We met people from Jones Prairie who we bonded with over our bad roads in our district.

Music, and my friend Spring at right.

And of course there were old friends who introduced new ones. I had to laugh when I realized how many different ways I “knew” the woman in Master Naturalists who lives down by Pamela. So many connections! And the new people from Dallas must think we are the friendliest town on earth. Well, at least my social group is darned friendly.

All in all, this was the kind of event that would bring in people from other places and leave them wanting to return. As it was, we locals had fun. Kudos to Melanie and everyone else at the Chamber of Commerce who helped put this event together.

By the way, today is Anita’s move-in day, so I’ll have someone to do fun things with, soon!

Yearly Social Event

I didn’t have much blogging time today, since most of the time I was in meetings or driving to and from Cedar Park (Austin suburb) to get my teeth cleaned. That was unpleasant, since I’d delayed it 2-3 times due to all that COVID exposure.

My feelings about delayed dentistry.

I ran to Tractor Supply in the way home, so all animals have food. But I had to hurry and feed horses so I could get ready for this year’s Chamber of Commerce banquet. I hadn’t been to one in a while due to COVID and trying to keep a low profile with the family business.

I mainly enjoyed seeing some of my friends in town that I’ve missed. It’s nice to know you have a few friends, wherever you are!

My actual friends, Liz and Courtney.

Lee and all the Chamber Board and volunteers did a great job. It makes you proud of your little town to go to these events. We heard how great the Texas economy is doing from the speaker, and really enjoyed the yearly awards, which didn’t just go to rich business owners. Awards went to regular folks who helped out their neighbors in the freeze last year, a family plumbing business and the new high school basketball coach. It was nice to see people of all races, ages, and genders recognized.

You can tell we are in Texas by all the hats, though.

We had a fine dinner and conversation, too. The wine selection was great, too, much of it local. Since the venue was the Youth Livestock Pavilion or something like that, the Texas decor looked great. I hated to help tear it down!

It was very clean.

Now you know why I’m not a fascinating blogger today. But it was nice to get out to a well ventilated place. Glad it wasn’t tomorrow. It’s getting cold again, and all that fresh air would be chilly.

More Spontaneous Saturday Stuff

I just kept rolling along today, enjoying whatever came up. I was knitting away, when Sara invited me to hang out with her while she rode Aragorn. I walked over there, and discovered a bit too late that Vlassic came along. I was worried he’d have a problem with Sara’s newest cattle dog.

I really missed this water bucket.

At first the puppy was not pleased, and her hackles were raised big time. Aragorn ignored it all. What a good boy.

Dogs don’t bother me. And how do you like my new muscles?

We needn’t have worried. Moments later I looked over to see play bows all around.

You’re okay.

Those two dogs didn’t stop running and playing the whole time I was there. I think they were thrilled to find each other.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed seeing Aragorn’s significant progress in this lessons. The most fun was watching him try to back up a hill like Drew did earlier. He was a bit tired from his lesson yesterday, but he did it!

Back he goes.

I headed home and suddenly got a text asking me to get home so we could go. Huh? Turns out the nephew and I were going to Steak Stein and Wine festival after all. Yep, I went home, put on a necklace and lipstick and acted spontaneous.

People seemed to have fun.

We were a bit confused, but ended up seeing lots of people we hadn’t seen in a long time, had good chats, and enjoyed our fine booth for our company.

Lovely staff/friends at our booth.

It turns out we were sponsors and had a cool sign in the bandstand. Ooh la la.

I see our logo!

I sampled some liquor but not too much, then we had the steak part of the deal. It was good. The twice-baked potatoes were GREAT.

Mmm

I’m glad our little town is coming back to life now that our COVID numbers are way down. It’s not the way it was, but it’s better.

So, let’s see what happens spontaneously tomorrow!

Fun Times in Downtown Cameron

Times are getting more exciting here in little Cameron, Texas, and it’s not just because Anita will move here soon. Lots of new businesses and jobs have been coming in, and the upcoming relocation of some of the County offices to the old hospital will be freeing up some cool places for investors to come in and start new businesses. We all have our favorite “dream shops” we want to see, but which buildings are right for what?

That question is what led to my fun day yesterday. A few people who are members of the Cameron Chamber of Commerce got together, and let by the fearless Melanie, trekked all over the downtown area to look through the buildings that would soon be available and “re-imagine” them. Looking through historic buildings and offices is my idea of fun, which is why I volunteered to tag along and was so grateful for the opportunity to help out in a small way.

We looked at buildings that are still being used, buildings that were full of mold, buildings in great shape, and ones that required some imagination. We all had clipboards to write down our ideas.

I was enthralled by how many county records are in the old buildings.

I liked that some old buildings have cool windows up high with views, which makes me envision loft living. Other places would make great bars, bookstores, restaurants, gaming places (one even used to be a roller rink…could it be again?).

My favorite things, I guess, were seeing how many dang old jails there are in this town. The one we looked at yesterday was really big, and I had NO idea it was there. Ooh, scary.

Old jails make excellent, secure storage.

This jail adds to the ancient hoosegow, old jail museum, jail in the old police station (where someone lives now), PLUS the actual County Jail that is in use. My big idea was to have a “Jails of Cameron” tour, with little jails painted on the sidewalk to lead you from one to another, each with something interesting to see or do. That didn’t go over terribly well.

The jail could be turned into a restaurant, where you eat in cells and people serve you through the little door…right? Sounds romantic to me.

Other people had real ideas, so it will be fun to see what comes of all this! At least I know they aren’t building a subdivision next to my house or anything, because I made Lee buy all that land. I was a visionary, I guess.

PS: It sure was fun to do something with people like this. We couldn’t have a few months ago!

Missing the Ranch and Keeping My Spirits Up

It’s really weird to have not been at the ranch the entire month of November, especially since that’s usually a great month to be there (good weather, frisky pets, lots of time for walking). It didn’t help at all that I spent a good bit of time wandering around the area on Google Maps trying to figure out where those two people drowned. I think I got it located a bit further away from our property than I’d feared, but still adjacent. It makes me so sad.

In happier news, my one orchid that didn’t succumb to some evil scale has rewarded us with many blossoms.

I listened to a news report that said the victims had fallen out of their boat and got caught up in pond weeds. That’s exactly what I had feared. Even if you can swim, that stuff can get you. One guy had a young family and one was just 22, so young. They’re having a football game to raise money for their families. Traion Smith was just an amazing athlete in high school, and a nice young man. The news report showed the former Cameron coach breaking into tears at the thought of losing him. Life sure has its twists and turns.

Anyway, I ended up looking at what great quality the Google Maps images of our property are. I really liked how you could see each cow and all the cattle paths in the bottom pasture next to our house.

All the cows are at upper right, and you can see where they walk. The image can even get closer in! That’s Walker’s Creek and one of the streams that meets up with it.

I was disappointed that I could not see Apache or Fiona, nor the chickens. I guess the photo was taken just before we got the chicken house. So, you’re spared those images.

Sunset looking out by neighbor Ruth’s house. I love how the oak leaves are shining.

While I do miss the ranch (and its occupants, including my poor lonely quarantined husband!), I’m enjoying some time in Austin. We got to take a walk with our neighbor, Ruth, who regaled us with tales of trying to buy groceries at the H-E-B (we went a bit later ’cause I had to fill my prescription, and it wasn’t so bad). She went to the Randall’s store full of “old people” and it wasn’t crowded. That store is always full of old people! And, if you don’t live in Texas, we realize H-E-B is a weird name, but since it’s named after Mr. Butts, you can understand the choice.

Roses in my flower arrangement. They help me feel better.

And since I’m in Austin, we can have my son’s little family unit to eat out on the deck, to minimize germs and all, like we keep being told to do. It will be very small, but good.

Giant mum about to explode. This arrangement had such great autumn colors.

We will get through these challenging times. Sometimes it’s easier than other times, but I feel like all this practice of empathy, compassion, and forgiveness that’s come out of the pandemic, the election, and the personal issues of those around me will benefit me the rest of my life.

I don’t know what this flower is, but I love the way only part of it is in focus.

I hope you enjoy the photos of the flowers I got at the store and our sunset. I saw no sunsets in Utah, because the mountains were to the west. That’s okay, mountains are pretty, too. Share what’s keeping you happy and in the moment, if you want to!

Black Weenie Dog Unsure about Cameron, TX

by Vlassic Bruns Kendall

Hi, I’m Vlassic, like the picke company, only with an extra s. I am a small, black dog. I travel a lot, now that Suna goes back to Austin more often. I like it in Austin, mostly. I get to hang out with Pickle the chiweenie, play with Anita, and snuggle lots and lots with Suna.

Snuggling makes me very happy.

I have some friends and enemies in Austin, but mostly friends. Last week a dog kept yapping at me until her human took her away. And for some reason, my old buddy, Percy, was mad at me much of the week. But, we sniffed butts and had a nice walk last night. I love walking in Austin. Suna and Anita pick up my poop, so I try to go as much as I can.

This morning, I got to go for a car ride (yay) and we ended up at this place in Cameron, where some of my family are, plus some nice people like Meghan and Jenecia, who give me treats and pet me. It’s a little weird here, but I have toys and a water dish, which helps a lot. Plus, I get to visit and “help” people work!

I’m having a meeting.

Suna took me for a walk today, and that convinced me I do NOT like Cameron. Everywhere I turned there were more dogs barking and running up to me. The first few were behind fences or attached to something that saved me. Whew.

I like the sidewalk, because there are no grass burs. And look, Suna picked up my poop, like she was in Austin or something!

But, a giant dog (Suna says a medium-sized old, sweet dog) came rushing out of a garage and barked LOUD. Suna screamed. She was embarrassed, she told the old human who came running out. In the end, I liked that dog fine, and we sniffed butts. Suna says she has no pictures because she was so busy protecting me. Thanks, Suna!

Parts of the walk were good, like I found a dead thing to sniff, and lots of places to pee.

MMM. Dead thing.

But, danger is everywhere! There were all sorts of grass burs on the sidewalk where the vacant lot had been mowed. I had to stop and remove them, but then, yay! I got to eat them. They are tasty snacks, actually.

Then ANOTHER dog came after me. Suna knew this one would be there, so she talked to it. He wagged his tail, barked a little, and went home. Suna saved me again!

By the time I got home I was exhausted. I tried to regain my strength by eating stuff out of the trash can, but she emptied it.

No luck with the trash can. I’ll just lay down.

Suna felt sorry for me, so she found a nice blankie for me to snuggle up in while she works.

I’m comfy and cozy now!

I’ll just take a nap now, and hope Suna takes me back to the ranch, where my other human, Jim, likes to hang out with me, and where I can run free with the other dogs, even bad ole Penney, who I actually like, now. And my chickens! And all those cute calves. I think I’ll dream of chasing them. Bye!

Ups, Downs, and In-Betweens

Life is rolling along here in scenically rural Milam County, Texas. And its population is getting sicker. There are only 25,000-ish people in this county, so our ten COVID-19 cases are a lot. It was NOT good news to find out yesterday that one person who got sick worked at the local Dairy Queen. We’ve gotten take-out from there during our confinement.

Our lovely Dairy Queen

Oops. This has led Kathleen to declare that we bring lunches from home from now on. No one has disagreed.

Now, an important point to make here is that we have the best Dairy Queen possible here. It’s in a modern, new building. It’s clean. They pay well above minimum wage and have employees who’ve been there many years. The staff have all been briefed on precautions to take. And the owner, Robert Mayfield, immediately closed the store so that they can disinfect it from top to bottom and be sure that it’s safe (and that the workers there have a chance to quarantine and stay safe, themselves).

An example of Judge Young’s weekly newspaper articles.

Our County Judge, Steve Young, has been doing a heroic job going on the radio, doing Facebook Live, and otherwise staying in touch with the people here, urging them to not gather in large groups, wear masks if working with the public or out in public, and to stay the heck home. We’re all really proud of the work he and our Health Department are doing.

But, it takes actual cooperation to prevent the spread of disease. No one at the hardware store, serving the public, was wearing a mask this morning. No one at the gas station where I got fuel this morning was wearing a mask or gloves other than me. I am NOT gonna touch a credit card machine with my hands! I also have a very clean credit card now.

It’s good to have your own company hand sanitizers spread everywhere you go, so you can clean your credit cards and such.

I know Cameron is not alone. There are people everywhere who believe themselves immortal or invulnerable or just don’t give a shit who are wandering around like nothing has changed. Now, I’m not referring to people who have no access to masks or gloves and have to be out so their families don’t starve; I know isolation and protection is a privilege. I’m talking about people who feel perfectly comfortable putting other people’s lives in danger by their choices. Who knows how many innocent folks with underlying conditions that predispose them to having a bad case of the virus these people will kill in the name of their personal freedom?

Happy thoughts, yeah.

I Said There Would Be Some “Ups” in This Post

Look at all those freckles.

Yes, I did. I was looking at myself on Zoom yesterday (it’s hard NOT to look at yourself) and realized I looked as bad as I felt. So, last night I re-colored my hair for the first time since early March. It’s now orange with some pink highlights. (My next hair appointment isn’t for another month, at least, so plenty of time to wash out color by then.)

I put on makeup and lipstick today, added my sparkly yellow shoes, and I donned my new Hearts Homes and Hands lab coat. I look all professional and up-beat, and I’m hoping that will spread to my mood and attitude. So far, it’s helped. If I have to take things one step at a time, at least they will be sparkly steps!

Here you can see my lab coat. It reminds me of the one I had in grad school to keep chalk off my clothes, just like my mentor, Georgia, wore.

A Little Pope News That’s In-Between

Chris is really close to getting the first two offices completely done, other than installing the barn door between them. He has been working on trim all week. There is a LOT involved in doing trim, which is sorta sad, since when it’s well done, it blends into the background.

Trim in progress.

The doorway between the two rooms will NOT blend into the background. It’s darned bright and cheerful, especially on Lee’s side!

Trim, trim, trim.

Another thing that is taking a while is that they have to make dozens and dozens of shims to go behind the metal to trim windows on the tin walls. And, well, the house isn’t all level, so many shims are needed elsewhere. Easton spent an entire day cutting shims. Now, that sounds fun. Or does it?

Without shims, this trim would stick out from the wall, because the metal has bump-outs.

The plan is to get the remaining two rooms all cleaned up and move the supplies needed to finish the rest of the downstairs over there. We can’t paint the ceilings or refinish the floors if there are wood and tools all over the place!

So…even though we remain sort of dazed and confused, my plan is to dazzle with my shiny hair, shoes, watch band…anything cheerful!

Shine on.

Holey, Holey Moley

Cameron, Texas is a town full of holes. Part of its fading small-town charm is that very few things are in tip-top shape, so holes are everywhere.

Now, the true banes of my existence are the holes in County Road 140, where the Hermits’ Rest is located. As a matter of fact, I even made a movie of the potholes last year. At the moment, there are a few places where no matter how hard you try, you ARE going to hit a pothole. A couple of them are so deep that I’m surprised people haven’t lost wheel covers.

Red stars are our ranch community houses. 140 is the land of the potholes.

And ARGH, never ride in a car with someone unfamiliar with the road who doesn’t know to weave right and left to avoid the Big Ones and slow WAY down on the humpy section at the hill! I thought I was gonna get sick when Mike was driving me on Sunday.

The pothole situation in the county is so bad that a couple of people have bought their own equipment and begged the city to let them maintain their own roads. I don’t think our front-end loader can cut it, though.

Ground Holes

Canova and me at the Bistro

My sister dropped by today to have lunch and see the progress on the Pope Residence, and she needs to be careful when she’s walking. There was NO way I’d lead her across the empty lot (AKA “The Old Rossen Place”), because there are so many depressions where there were once trees. I think I’ve talked about it before, but since we’ve been having so many elders and people dealing with mobility issues, these things just LOOM in my mind. Stay on the walkways, everyone! (We do have insurance, and we do plan to level that ground.)

Holes in Houses

I am much happier with some of the holes in our renovation project, though. Chris and Easton moved the back door over, to make room for the length of stairway we’ll need to give the bathroom a ceiling. He sent me this picture:

It’s a long way to the ground now!

I looked at it and said to myself, “Hmph, the door is in a good place but, why is it opening that way?”

Not five minutes later, I got a text from him saying, “It opens the wrong way, but it will open right once we move the front door to the back.” How’s that for anticipating my criticisms! Smart guy! In any case, the doorway hole is a good one.

There are lots of holes in the ground and in the floors right now, too. That’s because plumbing experts showed up to repair all the lines and install the ones for the break room area and the bathrooms. Once they are done, we can put in floors! Hooray!

They made sure to get all the outside work done today, since it’s supposed to rain the rest of the week. I like it when people are careful like that. One of the guys told me he’d get rid of the annoying sapling/weed tree growing right next to the house and on top of where the plumbing goes in. I will be sure to kill its trunk to death, since it can’t be helping the house stay level.

Here’s the framing for the stairs and bathroom. The floor has holes, for plumbing.
This kind of stuff.

A final hole I’ve been thinking about is the ones caused by the tiles in the Hermit Haus cracking. We have decided to just pull them all up, remove the walls, and cover the entire flooring area with that nice stuff people put down in garages, with the little sprinkles. That should last forever, and if the ground shifts, it won’t be the end of the world.

More later. Gotta get more work done before the exciting Chamber of Commerce Banquet!

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