Hail Drops Keep Falling on My Head

What a day! I’ve experienced laughter, surprise and true joy today. Where to start?

Surprise

Let’s start with surprise, shall we? I got a voicemail from the local florist saying I had flowers and I’d better hurry over before they closed. I’d been in a long meeting, so we went over just in time to get the flowers, all the while wondering what the occasion was.

This is some fine floral arrangement.

Well what a surprise to find out that these beautiful spring flowers were sent to me by the four horses I’ve been caring for since my niece has been dealing with health issues. I guess they really appreciate the magnesium supplements?

Awwwww

I’m just glad they are okay! It what a sweet surprise. I was really touched. Now let’s talk about laughter.

Moo!

The dogs were going on and on this morning while I was trying to concentrate. There was also much mooing. It turns out that the young cattle next door wanted to play and were actually mooing to get the dogs’ attention.

The sky was beautiful.

Lee and I got a good chuckle watching the dogs and calves run and play with each other.

Speaking of laughing, I’m laughing because we actually managed to get most of the skunk smell out of the house! The stuff we used worked! Even Alfred is ok. Go Angry Orange stuff!

But what about the pure joy? It has to do with the hail drops in the title of this post. It was getting stormy tonight, so I enjoyed taking some cloud photos.

Rain on the horizon.

I ran out to put the chickens in and let the horses out after dinner as raindrops began to fall.

Storm front.

After dinner I took a few photos, because it was cool how it looked clear to the south and very stormy to the north.

The pretty side.

By the time I could get out to the hot tub to try to soothe my back, drops of rain were falling. Poor Lee really needed the hot tub after falling yesterday. We both made it in as the rain started falling harder.

There was lightning and constant thunder, sounding like machinery. Now, I know you should get out of the water when lightning is happening. But I thought what the heck. I’ve achieved all my life goals. Let’s enjoy the show.

Aftermath.

While I didn’t care about me, I didn’t want to damage my phone, so there are no photos of my joy. But wow, it was beautiful to sit in the hot water with cold rain falling and making beautiful patterns on the water.

Then, ooh, little sharp pains hit my face and ears. Hail was falling! There were tiny ice cubes all over the patio. It was so much fun to sit there and experience Nature in her fury.

Horses on their way to hide. I knew all was well when they came back out of their shelter!

Soon the storm passed. I was so full of joy. I was also lucky. Apparently the storm picked up strength and is bringing bad hail to the east of us. I’m glad giant ice rocks didn’t fall on my head!

Book Report: Phosphorescence

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My husband, Lee, heard some people talking about this book on one of his podcasts, so he ordered it for me as a Christmas present. He said it just sounded like something I’d enjoy, and he was right! I’m so glad to have come across Phosphorescence: A Memoir of Finding Joy When Your World Goes Dark, by Julia Baird (2021). I found myself underlining numerous passages and recommending the book to others after just a couple of chapters.

Julia Baird, an Australian journalist who has had her share of darkness thanks to three bouts with cancer, shares with us the things she has done and the beliefs she holds close that have enabled her to hold joy in her life. They may be things I already knew, but I sure enjoyed the way she put them. I guess there’s a bit of confirmation bias in my enjoyment of this book, because the things that make her happy seem to be, in many cases, the same ones I turn to over and over again.

I’ll have to take her word for it that swimming long distances in the ocean before sunrise makes one happy, so I’m substituting working with horses for that one. I love the idea, though, that we all have an inner glow, sometimes literally, and that there’s a phosphorescence in us all.

The book’s a memoir, so we learn a lot about Baird as we read it, as well as about some of the pretty amazing folks she’s gotten to know in her journalism career. But most important is learning how hard she has worked to find the sources of joy in her life and seeing how gracious she is with sharing her innermost thoughts, including her spirituality.

Now, we all know I’m not fond of institutions, particularly religious institutions, and even of institutions that I have been saddled with by virtue of being born the person I am (political systems, business shit, etc.). I don’t think Baird is very fond of them either, especially patriarchal ones, but I ended up loving her religious chapters toward the end, because she lovingly reminded me that there is a version of Christianity that truly is about love, peace, and caring for the weak and powerless. And she talks about how her beliefs fit in with other religious paths, so I didn’t feel like she was out to convert, only to explain.

That was at the end of the book. The beginning, where Baird talks about how being around trees and other plants heightens our happiness and how being around water makes things even better…that’s the part I underlined a lot. Baird also explains why silence is also important (and by that she means absence of human sounds–nature sounds are good). That is making me laugh since I’ve been listening to a guy drilling a hole in my fire pit all day.

I honestly don’t want to tell you all the ways Baird talks about how we can keep ourselves positive in dark times, to encourage you to read this for yourself, but one thing that was important helped me understand my impulse to write out my thoughts, my feelings, and my mundane experiences in a blog. Women’s stories have been hidden by history, or saved in subtle ways like quilts and embroidery. When letter writing became possible, women wrote and wrote, but how much was saved?

Our history and our stories are important too, even if we don’t rule a country or run a company. Each of us humans has a story, and it is good to share them with others. Sure, all we used to have was verbal storytelling, but now that we have access to other ways to share, Baird encourages us all to do so. So I’m going to share my wild and imperfect life right here, and I hope you, too, find a way to bring joy in your life by noticing the small things and sharing them.

Where Do Easter Eggs Come From?

Not bunnies. Not baskets. Nor roosters! Not even from capons (see below). Most of them come from the grocery store or the drugstore, as far as I can tell. This question is just an excuse for me to talk about chickens…again.

It ruffles my feathers to think I’d try to lay an egg!

It’s been quite a time in my chicken-raising career, but it seems like things have settled down. I finally seem to have a bunch of hens and dear Bruce, who have stabilized and aren’t getting eaten by anything. I did see the harrier out yesterday, though. Beautiful hawk, but I’m keeping my eye on it.

I do want to get some more hens soon, as soon as the henhouse gets set up to keep young ones separate for a while. I now know which kinds to get, anyway. Tough ones.

Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing if the eggs Star is setting on will hatch. I’m hoping they’re hens, since I don’t know how to caponize (castrate) a cockerel (young rooster). I have no idea if anyone around here does it as a service. I did read, though, that capons make great brooders and surrogate mothers, since they have hen hormones, but don’t lay eggs. The things you learn on Wikipedia!

I actually caught star out on one of her daily food runs recently. She is all fluffy, I guess from sitting all fluffed up on the eggs. I took a peek at the eggs, and they all look fine. I debated removing the dud egg, but didn’t want to confuse her. I’ll remove it when and if the others hatch on the 15th!

Even a good mom needs a break sometimes.

It just makes me happy watching them explore the area and down massive quantities of insects. We always seem to have plenty more, so I don’t think they’re ruining the ecology out here (it’s mostly ruined by herbicides the tenant ranchers put on the fields, anyway).

Henley says to leave her alone. She’s NOT sociable.

It’s so relaxing to just sit on the grass or in my official chicken-watching chair and enjoy what they do. And I guess I’ll always be looking for egg stashes, since I think that darned Bertie Lee may have gone somewhere else now that I took all her supply from under the work bench.

None of these ranch hobbies are inexpensive, but I do get a lot of joy out of the animals, and I think that’s what counts. They got me through the quarantine by giving me a purpose every day and something to do that forces me outside in the fresh air. I’m pretty grateful for the chickens (and the horses) for that.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope you enjoy your eggs, whether from a hen or from a rabbit that poops out chocolate ones. I haven’t had a chocolate bunny in years, though I do manage to snag a creme egg on sale after Easter every so often. They are tasty!

I hope you also are experiencing some hope for the future. I am, because it’s actually raining over here. Rain brings flowers and keeps those tanks full!

You don’t think I’d make it easy on you, so you? Says sassy Bertie Lee.
Springsteen, the Jersey Giant, reminds you that black IS beautiful, as are her pinkish eggs.

So tell me! What is bringing you renewed joy and hope this season? I’d love to hear from you! I’d also love to knit you some washcloths, if you feel like being a supporter of this blog and podcast. Click the support button on the main podcast page, or hey, you can even send me a voice message about what brings you joy and hope from there!

All the Hermits of the Hermits’ Rest send you lots and lots of virtual hugs and support, however you may need it.

Irrational Pleasure at Small Things

I’m beginning to think the reason I’m usually in such a positive frame of mind is that it’s so darn easy to give me little bits of happiness throughout the day. Just in my office, alone, there are things that make me feel a wee bit of joy every time I use them. Just now I was talking to Anita about my love for the very large set of gel pens she got me for Christmas.

Oooh, ah. This thing has TWO layers.

They replaced the HORRIBLE gel pens I’d been using to write in my notebook every day. I’d say 75% of them were dried up before I even got to use them, and they weren’t that old. I do love the stand they came in, but I guess Anita got tired of me cursing every time I tried to write something down.

Bad pens, on their way to Pen Heaven.

The new pens work like a charm. I, being me, and using them in order to write my notes each day. It’s the baby version of the incredibly complex, but meaningful to him, system Lee uses in his really fancy journals.

Other things that just perk me up a little every day are my various rose-scented items. I love the smell of roses. Of course, it makes Lee sick (I have never met anyone so sensitive to scents in my life, and that’s saying a lot for someone who attended a Unitarian Universalist church where scents, real candles, and many types of flowers were banned because of folks who, I assume, would not have lasted long prior to this century), so I indulge mostly in Austin or in my office in Cameron.

Before I got so lost in my parenthetical ravings, I was going to say how I like the rose cuticle oil (with cute li’l dried strawflowers in it) and my fancy rose oil perfume from my favorite multi-level marketing vendor. I have one of those for all my desks.

Smelly objects!

Naturally, my red leather notebook with my name on it makes me happy, too. I write in it every day and enjoy how soft it is. It’s from Jenny Bick, if you want your very own cute journal.

One more thing I love is a good keyboard. I must say I irrationally love the clicky keyboard I have in the Austin office and the cute candy-colored one I have in the Cameron office (they are from a Chinese company that markets itself as the PNK Stuff). Why not enjoy yourself while you type all day, every single day?

Well, look at that. I just came up with all these things just sitting at my desk! No wonder I’m such a chill type of gal these days. I doubt I’ll continue and share what I love about the area around my chairs in my living rooms or my bed. I think it’s clear that many things bring me joy. No wonder I can’t toss most of my things.

What makes you happy just by having it nearby or using it daily? Suna wants to KNOW!

Rejoice, Yes, Now

This morning, I started the day out doing a presentation highlighting the work our Agile team has done in the past two weeks (the usual presenter is already off for the holidays, so I was the stand-in. I had on professional-looking clothing and got to enjoy looking at my little holiday decorations in what passes for my cubicle. Most important, I could see in my Zoom window this little sign I recently bought.

Peace, a thing I knitted, and petrified rock from the ranch.

It’s one lesson I’ve been taking to heart this year. Peace doesn’t show up, you make it happen, and it starts inside. As I was feeling peaceful and proud, I did a good job presenting all our stuff in exactly the time allowed. I may know what I’m doing!

The world may be a bit sideways right now, but we can always get some wisdom out of it, right?

There was then a company-wide meeting, at which some changes were announced that I suspected would happen, but still made me sad and added another layer to this change-ridden period we’re living through. But, our CEO told a great story at the beginning of the meeting.

He talked about listening to a golf podcast (how CEO-like) that said the word of the day was “rejoice.” Minutes later, on his commute to the practically empty office, a car cut him off (join the club!). He had to laugh when he saw the car’s bumper sticker, which read “Rejoice.” It would probably help to pay attention to your driving while you’re rejoicing, I think.

As the rest of the company wove the idea of rejoicing through their presentations, I was rejoicing over the amazing work my team had done so quickly, as well as the work our Diversity and Inclusion initiative members have done. I’m so happy to be a part of the new LGBTQ+ group and to help out with learning and development at the company. It’s amazing what people who really care about things can do, and that’s worth some rejoicing!

My work plant is not dead, and just seeing it and the little wren brings me joy.

As a company, we have found things to be happy and proud about, even during the hardest times of many of our lives. As a person, I am aware that I’ve been doing the same thing all year, in this blog, as I talk to people, and as I go about my life. There is much to rejoice about, even though some of us have to look pretty deep to find it.

No need to buy more inexpensive yarn, I can also rejoice in my immense stash, just waiting to be something someone wants! Photo from @AZ.BLT via Twenty20

And if there’s nothing going well, make something you can be proud of. That’s what we are doing at work, and I’m taking that lesson into the rest of my life. I’ve even started putting projects into my Ravelry page again (it had been sadly neglected since 2018), rejoicing in my newly simplified knitting adventures. Not only am I bringing peace to myself, I’m bringing joy. Or else. Join me!

Why MUST I Blind People with My Brightness?

Today I’m a vision in yellow and pink, with sparkly shoes, a shiny necklace and earrings and my crazy sunglasses. At least I washed my hair, so it’s not mega-coral/pink.

Since I hit the big 6-0 with a splat in 2018, I’ve gotten brighter and shinier. My hair has been flaming red, orange, pink, and all colors in between. I have quite a collection of sparkly shoes. I have shiny nails, shiny jewelry, bling-y tops, and some pretty interesting glasses. In some photos, I stick out like a heavily bruised sore thumb.

The response, at least to my face, has been surprisingly positive. Random people at work tell me I always cheer them up, or that I’m their outfit coordination role model. I get shouts of, “Love Your Hair” from people I’d never have suspected would love my hair, based on their appearance.

Why, Suna, Why?

I have always enjoyed choosing clothing and putting together outfits, which conflicts mightily with my urge to wear a t-shirt and jeans every day (I just coordinate accessories, I guess). I’ve found that looking at my happy clothing cheers me up when I’m in long meetings, dwelling on how ill all my friends seem to be, or listening to the news.

No doubt my love of fire, hearth and home and my attraction to the Celtic goddes/saint Brigid has something to do with my love of shiny.

If I look deep in my heart, I’m sure a part of it is enjoying the positive attention, because, let’s face it, short, chubby, mousy women with graying hair and a tendency toward sarcasm tend to not get a lot of it. But, I’m inevitably surprised by attention, because really, the brightness is to help ME keep positive, look on the bright side of life, and share my internal peace and joy with the outside world.

My bright yet windowless office.

My Austin home is also really colorful, and it makes me happy to be there. My book club members and friends who see my photos often comment on how the bright colors reflect me and Anita and make the Bobcat Lair house feel so homey. All the color in the ranch house is in my office, but I make up for it at my office. I like to be around things that are bright. They remind me of how much inner light I feel shining within.

Really. The last two years I have felt so much more at peace with myself, at home in my body, and secure in my place in life, that I just want to show it. Sure, I get upset occasionally by world events or situations beyond my control, but I’m doing a lot better at focusing on things I CAN control, surrounding myself with people who DO care about me, and letting other things sort themselves out. Not trying to save the world, help others fix themselves (unless requested), or sending all my energy OUT has helped me find a lot of inner peace.

It shines through.

What Helps You Shine?

You don’t have to dress like Elton John on a worldwide tour to project a blinding shininess to the world. Just taking the time to notice what makes you happy, and perhaps sharing it with the world is a good start.

For example, today I woke up to more sparkles in the world, as the sun shone on heavily dewed fields. As I was driving out of my driveway, my breath was taken away by the color of the bare river willow trees along the arroyo. Everything looked shining and orange (like one of my outfits, ha). I didn’t get a picture of it, but I found this one that really evokes how I felt:

Peace among the orange willows, by @loreke76 via Twenty20.

Share how you shine, how you would like to shine, and what makes you happy. Give me a comment here or on Facebook, share on Twitter, Instagram, or email. Just walk around and be your shiny self. THAT is something we can all do to make the world better, inside and out.

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