Trimming, Literally and Figuratively

With the radio news making me nauseated today (good thing I avoided Lee’s nightly dose of depression known as ABC Nightly News), and thinking somber thoughts about the local police officer who died in the line of duty (plus a friend’s husband out doing the thankless and scary task of guarding the border down south, I just want to go hide in a soothing bubble.

That was an awfully complex sentence there, Suna.

As I had the thought above, I was reminded that Tarrin said today she felt like she was in a snow globe that was being shaken. Maybe a bubble isn’t all that safe after all. I think she and I both need a hug.

Here’s a rose of Sharon for us both.

Everyone has their limits of what they can take and for how long. Most of my friends have some pretty firm limits and strong boundaries, and I appreciate that. I feel safer around folks like that! I looked around at my friends at lunch today and thought, yep, I’m safe around these people. That’s good, finding your tribe and drawing strength from them (and giving back, one hopes).

An Althea for those friends!*

It did occur to me that I’ve been letting some more negative influences in my life get under my skin. I’m also reading and listening to sources that feed into my insecurities and reinforce things I don’t need to reinforce. What’s that thing…confirmation bias. Yes, I’m having my fears and worries reinforced, and I don’t need that.

That’s when I decided to do some trimming. I switched around my social media feed to help me see less stuff that isn’t helpful or makes me upset. I trimmed my friend list. I added some positive topics to my feeds. Believe me, I’ll still be aware of whose rights are being taken away and who’s being attacked by whom, but not quite so repetitively.

Next, I jumped into some self care, which led to the literal trimming. I got many layers of mud off Drew, in preparation to try to ride him. Admittedly, I spent most of the time picking mud balls out of his mane and chatting with him. I then took him off to do his ground work, only to quickly discover it is still too muddy. The poor guy slipped and yelped like a little kid. I felt bad for him, so we just went for a walk around the driveway. That went well until Penney barreled around the corner and surprised us both. Drew yelled and jumped away, but I successfully stayed calm and all was well.

Note distinct lack of mud balls.

I decided we both needed self care at this point, so I sat in my chair outside the tack room and let Drew graze on the tall grass that was mowed last week but shot back up.

The weed eater in action

I appreciated the great job Drew did in trimming around my steps and the saddle rack. He seemed to appreciate me, too, checking in a couple of times to nuzzle me. Now that’s something healing that goes a long way to bringing back equilibrium.

I’m here for you, too.

Thanks to Drew, a nice swim in the very full pool, and time with my family and dogs, I may not be in a bubble, but I’m in a protective cocoon of love. My wish for anyone who reads this is for you to find what nurtures and soothes you and trim away the excess as much as you can.

*yes, I’m aware an Althea is a rose of Sharon. Trying to be witty.

Things Just Build Up

It’s funny how it goes. You cope, cope, cope. You grant folks grace, repeatedly. You deal with illness and death around you without falling apart.

Rain rain rain rain

Then you don’t. I’m sure that’s normal. I’m trying to keep letting some unkind things I’ve noticed slide by me. All the mental challenges make it hard right now.

Dampness makes very large mushrooms

In addition to being sad about the young police officer and his family, I’m very sad that an old friend passed away on Saturday. Johanna Horton was helpful to me when my children were young, and supportive when my mentor died from breast cancer. She’s been in my life ever since. She and her husband both were kind, gentle, and very talented. They shared all they learned at Elder Hostels and when they bought and sold antique books. She seemed all right just a week ago on our weekly Zoom call (spin-off of an ancient email list and Facebook group). I had a real hard time joining the call today, knowing Johanna’s face wouldn’t be there. We all said we’d even miss the rug on the wall behind her chair. Sigh.

Johanna (from a public Facebook post)

And it still hasn’t stopped raining. Yes, we love rain here in the land of drought. But there’s standing water everywhere. Even if it had stopped, I don’t think we’d have been able to get the trailer to pull out of its parking area to go to Drew and Apache’s lessons. And I almost hurt myself trying to put food out for the chickens. The run is solid slop. At least I’m not worried about the horses getting enough to eat. The grass is growing in front of my eyes.

The dogs did NOT like today’s big thunderstorm. I had five panting dogs surrounding my desk at one point.

Mother’s Day is always hard for me. Mom was so…out of it. And I wasn’t a great mom, either. Maybe I should have listened to myself when I didn’t think I was cut out for it. I think I was trying to please others and probably too focused on their happiness. Well you can’t change what you did as well as you could.

Speaking of mothers, I guess the birds ran out of space in the sides of the house. Yep. A nest on a door.

And it’s funny. I’m finally feeling part of a community here in Cameron, but I’m still feeling isolated and alone. I hear and read so many people saying scary things about my views. Same goes for people in my family who are just trying to live their lives. This undercurrent of feeling unsafe can make one jittery.

Uh, subject change. I’m real good with fingernails. They get cut next week. The middle one is secretly broken.

These things just come and go. I do have friends and family who love me just as I am. I’m just musing.

Darn rain, dampness, sickness, and death!

Earth Day Campout Highlights

Most of today has been great. The big highlights were predominantly nature oriented, but I also rekindled some old friendships and made some fun new friends.

I got to stand in the lake!

After coffee by a nice campfire I went on a brisk (for me) hike on the trail that goes around Lake Georgetown. The whole trail is 26 miles long, so no, we didn’t go the whole way. The weather was perfect, and we enjoyed going up and down the limestone escarpments. I didn’t take as many photos as usual, though I found a few new plants I had to record.

We enjoyed views of the lake and all its sights and sounds. I was sad to find zebra mussel shells on the shoreline. They’re very invasive. So is the Japanese honeysuckle we saw. But a black swallowtail cheered me up.

In our way back, I remarked to Mike that we were in the perfect habitat for golden-cheeked warblers, with Ashe junipers and native oaks. I swear only three steps later, the blaring “la cucaracha” call rang out! We never spotted the bird, but it sang for quite a while. Great Earth Day experience! Here is scenery from the trail.

I was ready for a nice rest after the hike, so I hung out with Lee for a while. Then I did some chatting with new arrivals. Of course there were some campsite emergencies that we helped take care of. The afternoon culminated with a tradition campout potluck meal. Unfortunately, the original location was lost, and I offered our shelter for the food.

Before too many people were there.

I didn’t realize everyone would sit next to our motorhome. It was too hard for Lee to be near people for that long, so I won’t make that error again! I made a couple other mistakes being too hospitable, but I’ve learned the hard way to keep folks away from the RV. I sure feel bad for that!

Young and old gathered. Loudly. Fun for non-hermits.

We did find the summer tanager again, which helped a little. I’m very grateful to the Merlin app that identifies bird calls, even though at first it said it was a Baltimore oriole, which got us overly excited. Away from the crowd, it got the ID right, plus we saw the bird and it was red, not orange. I ended up getting extra blurry photos of the male and a better one of the female. They are beautiful birds with a beautiful song.

It was fun to show birds and plants to others. I wish there were opportunities to do this at parks in Milam County for volunteer hours!

Old friends are good friends

Friday Play Day

Today was just a bonus day. We were all so thrilled we lived after lightning struck so close to our campsites, that my friends and I mostly relaxed at Cedar Breaks Park today.

Poor tree! Just a few feet from our friends!

I spent a lot of time taking photos of plants and insects all day. Especially fun was a walk around Lake Georgetown with my old friends Hella and Jennifer. I shared some stuff I knew about plants, and they helped me spot things like delicious dewberries. Hella’s dog, Mocha, also enjoyed the fruit!

I’m pretty sure she had as much fun as we did.

Probably our favorite find was this vigorous vine with big, purple flowers. It was new to us all. It’s just gorgeous, violet twining snapdragon (Maurandella antirrhiniflora).

We saw dozens of plants, but my favorite photo was this one. I think I’ll print it.

White prickly poppy and bee!
Hella and Jen on the karst

After our walk, I mostly just hung around talking to friends and enjoying nature. I enjoyed a variety of butterflies and birds, mostly familiar friends, but charming nonetheless.

Now some people have said, “Eww,” to my favorite discovery today. I was absolutely thrilled to see this new and exciting creature. It’s a giant desert centipede (Scolopendra heros). Wow, it’s big and colorful. Be sure to watch the video.

Giant centipede in action

It’s quite beautiful here in the familiar geography of where I lived for so many years. Such variety!

Jennifer amid cedar sage, a plant only found in these cedar brakes.

There’s so much more but I’m too tired to keep going. Another day camping with my old church friends awaits!

Good night.

Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here

After work and the horses getting bodywork done, Lee and I fired up Seneca and took off for another camping expedition, this time to Cedar Breaks Park, one county over near Georgetown, Texas. We’d camped on the other side of the lake from here before, but never at this site, which is a Corps of Engineers park (yay, free entry with my Senior Pass).

Pretty Lake Georgetown

I was really excited about it, because I was going to get to see some of my friends from a previous stage of my life when I did lots of stuff with a Unitarian Universalist Church in Cedar Park. One tradition I really enjoyed were the camping trips they’d do a couple of times a year. We went to some pretty places from the time my kids were little until we got our original RV and camper.

This is also a pretty place!

My friend Jennifer (who is a regular reader of our chatty little blog here) has done most of the campout planning for years, and I really appreciate the effort she makes to decide on places and get things lined up. Now that we have Seneca, we can camp again, so we decided to go to the next one she scheduled.

So, here we are! It has been raining off and on all day, which is how Apache managed to roll in muddy spots and turn himself into an Appaloosa horse.

Check out my new spots

It alternated between sun and rain all the way over here. It was sunny when we went into the grocery store to get supplies, then rained hard while we were inside, then was sunny when we came out. Fun weather.

Nice to see full lakes

It stayed fun once we arrived, where Lee impressed the folks who’d also arrived today (official start is tomorrow) by backing into our space like a pro. I reminded the folks that he IS a pro, having driven “big rigs” for a living for a few years.

What a pretty site, right on the lake

After hugging Jennifer a ridiculously long time, I caught up with other friends I’ve missed from church and toured everyone’s campsites, RVs and trailers. That was great fun. Our Cameron friends Mike and Martha also came along, as I’ve been camping with Martha as long as I have with Jennifer, since all our adult children were young.

Two happy friends

Mike inherited a very cool vintage motorhome a while back and has restored it to functioning again. It’s quite funky and very well designed, I’m so glad he got it up and running so they could join us on this long weekend get together.

My dear friends under the very nice cover each site has

Other excitement for me and Jennifer was identifying a summer tanager using the Merlin’s Bird ID or eBird app, then finding it in a tree. I got blurry photos, but you can tell they aren’t a cardinal. This was a first for us, and it was just wonderful to find it with my very first birding friend!

While I was showing Jen Seneca, we realized the temperature had gone way down, really fast. Yep, the real front was coming through. It was also going through Cameron, and we have reports of frightened dogs at home. Lee and I went inside to watch the weather coverage on TV when BLAM! A boom louder than when Sandy the Squirrel hit the transformer rang out, I texted Martha and Jen. Were they ok?

Yes, they were ok, but lightning had struck a tree right behind the cute vintage motorhome. Mike reported that there was a bit of flame, but it went right out. When it stops raining, we’ll check into the damage. They’re pretty sure the power to their campsite also went out, so they are using generator power. Yow!

I tried to take a picture of the weather. I got raindrops, but it looks interesting!

Next it started hailing. Lee is wishing Seneca was back under the cover at the ranch, but we’re here now enjoying the sounds and the light show. There will probably be more rain this weekend, but hey, I’m on a lake, there are birds and flowers, and more friends come tomorrow.

After the craziness of this week, of COURSE lightning struck!

Rolling Home Improvements – No Bull!

My family likes to renovate homes. You may already know that! We’re low on actual homes, so it became time to renovate the rolling home, Seneca the Motorhome. Lee had a plan to make himself a rolling home office.

Hey, where’s the dinette?

We hardly ever use the dinette that converts to a bed fit only for children. So, the men of the house got to work. It wasn’t too hard to get anything out except the seat belts. Those were in really well, which was a good thing when I was riding in there.

It’s not a table now, it’s a desk!

They unbolted the dining table and put it up the correct height to be a desk. They had to put it next to the couch, because that’s where electrical outlets are. I think it’s a good spot.


I like that you can more easily get to the bathroom when the slide outs are closed. And a person could watch television and work, as long as that person isn’t Lee. He needs to concentrate. He’s ordered a desk chair that will look good, and there will be tie-downs to keep the chair secure when we’re on the road.

I ordered a nice little vacuum cleaner for all the past and no doubt future mouse turds. It didn’t help that dog food was lodged under the dinette! All in all, I’m looking forward to our next outing.

The Bull Part

This started my day off right Sunday. I headed out to feed the chickens and check on the horses and noticed the horses were all near the pens, not out grazing. They do that sometimes, so it wasn’t a big deal. Then I realized something was amiss.

I don’t own a huge, black horse.

Hmm. Droodles and Apache were in the bull’s pasture and Haggard was relaxing in a horse pen. Interesting.

We like having him around.

I was briefly concerned that I wouldn’t be able to set them back to not, but as the photo hints, the horses came back to be petted as soon as they saw me. Then Haggard just got up and sauntered back where he belonged.

Fiona wouldn’t come back, so she was stuck on the other side once I re-shut the gate (which some equine must have opened). By the time I came back to ride horses, she was braying to come back. No bull!

In Conclusion

It was just a nice day yesterday. It ended with a big family dinner including the whole gang, for once. Vlassic enjoyed that we were all outside a lot. It was too nice to stay inside! We Texans treasure pleasant weather whenever it shows up.

Martha and Vlassic had a lot of catching up to do.

Better Days, Better Vision, Coming Soon

First off, I have NO idea where yesterday’s whiny-ass post came from. Of course I know there are many good things in my life and people who like me. I was just thinking about other things.

I needed clarity

The week is still weird. I mis-remembered when my appointment in Austin was, so I rushed to feed the horses quickly. Of COURSE they decided it wasn’t time to eat yet and took forever to get there to eat. At least no one escaped.

I did get a little time to pull some weeds and enjoy the sunshine and nice temperatures, briefly. I got to pull some “bastard cabbage,” too. I have to leave our property to get much, though, because I’ve mostly eradicated it.

Not eradicated: June bugs. It’s March. They just know I want to swim.

Things are looking up. I finally made it to the eye doctor today, after postponing a couple appointments due to horse events. I found out our eye doctor is going camping with us and other friends next month. Yay. And I had so much fun picking frames with my favorite employee there. She knows just what I like. I did order a pair that are different from what I usually get. They have wire rims!

Sneak peek

After overdosing on cool frames, I got to enjoy a delicious Italian dinner with two of our former Bobcat neighbors and we filled each other in on news we don’t put on social media. Ah, I love in-person meetups. They fill me with positive energy.

Of course, I invited everyone I saw today to come stay at the vacation rental. More in person meetings to come, I hope.

I ordered new computer glasses, too, since they have a new way of doing them. These are so pretty I just want to look at them.

Things are looking up in other ways. This weekend promises to be fun and full of good stuff. I’m reminded of how grateful I am for people who are kind and care. See, I can be positive!

Cheers to Friends and Family

Not much to say about today, but there was much goodness involved. I’ve been spending a lot of time with friends this week and it’s left me feeling mellow and connected. That doesn’t happen often, so cheers!

And yes, I went overboard with my St. Patrick’s Day theme. Not shown are sparkly green shoes. The shirt says “Lucky,” not what you’re thinking.

I enjoyed lunch with my friends Trixie and Sara, next door. We hadn’t seen Trixie since a health crisis, so it was excellent to do some chatting about horses.

I had breakfast with these gals. The wind was so bad last night that it blew their door open. They just followed me back in when I fed them. Sweet hens.

After work was something very wonderful and long awaited. The Venue that our family members worked on for so long officially opened and had its ribbon cutting by our Chamber of Commerce buddies. Barbara, who is running her catering business there, is so excited. Her entire extended family was, too.

Everyone was so happy. The renovation team got to be in the photos, too. See if you can find my family hiding.

Another exciting part was that my son and his band-mate, Austin, got to be part of the entertainment. It was their first gig in Cameron. They did good, and I got to enjoy it with my friend Pamela! I was thrilled to know so many of my local friends were seeing him play. Proud mom overload!

Serious jazz musicians

I get so proud to be a part of a small-town community and to see how it’s growing through so many people’s hard work and vision. Cheers to the folks with vision and forethought who are making our town fun and full of culture. Now, please enjoy some photos.

Anyway, life is good. Friends are good. Community rocks.

Things I’m Grateful for Today.

To be truthful, the number one thing I’m grateful for is my tack room. It smells pretty good in here for a room full of horse feed.

It’s clean, mouse free, and cheerful. And not stinky.

Number 2: Happy horses. Apache is calm again today, Drew has been running around with Dusty, and Mabel has let me rub all over her.

Nice smelly thing, with view of Dusty putting his leg in his food tub.

Number Three: Good health news about dear friends. I was so relieved to learn a former neighbor is recovering from a bad stroke, and my friend Jeff got his eye worked on again.

Number 3.5: the goldfish enjoying their evening snack (food that falls off horse lips after they eat)

Number Four: Returning birds. I was greeted by the sweet sound of a red-winged blackbird this morning. Plus, the barn swallows are swooping and chattering outside my office. I love that sound.

Swallow at work

Number Five: I got to see some local friends when I went to get a prescription filled. I was off really early because I’d started work at 6 am today. You can edit a lot of job aids in that silence.

I’m Not Grateful for…

Why was I working so early? Because I was awakened by the familiar horror of skunk breath. Yep, Goldie got another one. Once more I had to remove pitiful remnants of an animal who was where it shouldn’t have been. Once more Lee and I were trying to deodorize a giant dog. Ugh. But the rest of my day has been fine.

Ole Skunk Breath.

Flags, Friends, and Horse Fun

I’m happy that the season for horse clinics and shows has started up again, because I’d been feeling isolated and worrying that I couldn’t do much this year, since Drew isn’t quite ready to show under saddle. But hey, I have my old buddy, Apache!

Don’t forget me!

He’s been blossoming, so I figured I might as well see what he can do. He did ok in a clinic last year, so I dragged him out of his dewy morning grazing and took him to a clinic with Tarrin, to see if we could do the functionality patterns and obstacles.

Must I?

We were in the first group, and definitely the least experienced. And it didn’t start out well, when he decided he didn’t want to do what I asked, but after a little calming activity, he turned around! We managed to complete the functionality test just fine for our first tries. I think we had fun.

I wasn’t scared of the blue tent or the other horses.

After the patterns we all tried something new, working with a flag. It’s a thing people like to do on horseback. Tarrin introduced it slowly, having us follow her while she carried the flag.

The riders whose horses who did ok with the flag then got to try carrying it and doing a figure 8. We did well, and I learned it’s hard to use your feet and hands to direct the horse while carrying a flag, so you need to use your body. What fun!

If a horse just isn’t up to being ridden, though, em riders can dismount and walk them, so they don’t forfeit the whole thing. Sully did fine with this, and there was another horse who needed this option. They can keep working on it!

Other obstacles also got worked on, different ones for each group, which grew more advanced throughout the day. We enjoyed practicing figuring out the best path between obstacles, which differs whether you’re doing the precision phase or the timed phase. We did ok. I was just happy Apache was up for 2.5 hours with me on him.

I did get tired, but I got to relax in this spa-like stall.

I enjoyed watching all the groups of horses and riders. You can learn a lot watching others. I also learned in the “class” part of the clinic, where Tarrin showed us things that can happen to horses that aren’t visible from the outside.

This horse’s entire lumbar region was fused solid. That made it hard to move!

Sara was a good sport and helped demonstrate how pulling back even gently on reins makes it hard for horses to move. I had to unlearn that habit. And I’m still learning.

Tarrin is being a good rider here. So Sara is smiling.

I’m feeling lots better about this year now. Apache and I will have fun and work to improve our skills. And maybe Drew will get to join us later. I’m sure grateful for this horse community!

Gratuitous picture of snoozing Sully. Gestation is hard.

If you want to join us, check out Working Horse Central.

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