Family Kudos

I just wanted to say how happy I am with the amazing job our little family team has been doing as we work together to build our Hearts, Homes and Hands (HHH) business over the past year plus. We each have contributed time, effort, and sweat to the endeavor. And it’s been quite a learning process! No doubt it will continue to be.

I rarely get to share decorative plants, so here are some I saw walking around our Austin neighborhood.

I encourage all the readers of this blog to also follow the HHH blog, which features lots of writing on elder care and health issues, along with business updates. That’s where you hear more from our chief hermit, Lee, too.

My contribution is helpful, but minimal, since I have another full-time job at the moment. I do the blog, maintain the Facebook page and LinkedIn, and write some newspaper articles. And I help with renovating our buildings by selecting materials and such.

On the other hand, Kathleen, Lee, and Chris have been working so, so hard that it’s been hard on their mental and physical health. Still they’ve kept going, and it shows by how much the business has grown!

Lee has become quite the financial analyst for a writer, or for anyone. He helps us see where we’ve been and where we’re going. His attention to detail awes me.

I’ve mentioned Chris and his work many times here, since I enjoy sharing rehab updates. His ability to design structures and then build them has been amazing to watch. The stairs! The crown molding! My bathroom! The ceilings! I can’t wait until he can have a team helping him, which will be a lot easier when the office is done. I’m really grateful for his patience and willingness to do this work.

And wow, Kathleen has done a yeoman’s job of getting us set up, keeping state-required records, training the initial staff, and recruiting customers. It’s really a job for more than one person, and it’s been hard on her! Many days she just comes home and goes to bed, unable to deal with anything else! I don’t blame her one bit.

I’m glad she’s got enough staff trained to help with the day-to-day operations of our business, because I know she will really be an amazing marketer when her time is less booked. Well, and when the pandemic makes doing things in person a challenge.

That’s the thing, we’ve done darned well to be still going after the past few months. I’m so grateful for all our talented family members, and for the great staff that is providing the much-needed personal assistance service to this county. Kudos to all.

Happiness Is a Brown Calf

I was sitting in my office when I got a text from Chris. It had a photo. I was confused.

Why is Kathleen feeding a tiny calf? Where is she? Why is there a yellow sticker on it?

I asked questions. Like what kind of cow is it? A bull. Where does it live? The back yard. Does it like dogs? We’ll see. Thanks, Chris, I thought. What the heck?

Vlassic was also confused.

Well. Chris went to the sale barn and bought a bottle calf, to cheer Kathleen up. She likes to hand-raise calves. How about that?

Yes, he made Kathleen happy.

So, he borrowed Ralph’s trailer and brought baby Rip home. Well, first they got a halter, a food dish, calf formula (isn’t that just cow milk?), and such. And Chris used our horse panels for a temporary fence. Okay.

Gracie and I were also happy to meet Rip.

I came home and enjoyed all the bonding and stuff. Kathleen is an expert. She held him and cuddled him, and he took a nice nap.

Nap time.

To get him to drink more, she had to make him stand up. He’s a little drowsy. Tomorrow we will get him electrolytes.

He really needed to stand up to eat. They get pneumonia otherwise.

I enjoyed feeding him. I’d never fed a calf before. I fed a little kitten a bottle once, and that’s it. Happy World Breastfeeding Month to me!

Mmm. Milk.

I sure hope baby Rip makes it. Kathleen and Chris say they’ve nursed calves in worse shape before. The guess is that he was a twin or lost his mom. Poor fellow. He will have fun with our crew, I hope. The dogs love his poop, which was not a thing I expected.

In any case, that livened up the day. Oh, so did this. It was still soft when they found it, near where Rip’s crib is.

That’s a healthy snake.

He should do fine, according to the professional family bottle calf raisers. The dogs like him, and Alfred and Clarence the guard rooster will take care of him.

I’m a scrawny baby.

Ross Is Ours! Kathleen Is Overjoyed

Today is the first day of the next phase of our Hearts Homes and Hands project. We closed on a pretty big piece of property in Cameron, the Ross house we’ve showed you a couple of times.

It’s ours! Let’s get that tree out of the entry.

Now Hermits’ Rest Enterprises owns the cute house, the land around it, and a lot across the street.

Look! It’s a lot!

After the closing, which was nice and smooth, we met the heirs of the previous owner. Then Lee, Kathleen, and I ran to the house and gleefully pulled up ALL the many For Sale signs around the property.

It felt good. If Kathleen wasn’t recovering from some medical stuff, she’d have turned cartwheels. Her dream house is ready for her to have a wonderful future in it…well, as soon as it has a functioning kitchen and bathroom. Details, details.

Kathleen is trying not to run in the house and start moving stuff around.

We’re all enjoying dreaming of Victorian decor, that is when we aren’t working on the current project! the end is near!

One Day at a Time

That’s how I’m getting by right now. How about you? I celebrated finishing that 40-day project by not writing anything yesterday. I was blissfully involved in a work project that takes all my concentration and passes time quickly, which was a real relief, but left no time for blogging here. Everyone needs an occasional break.

I’ll just keep fiddling while the boat goes down. At least the sunset’s pretty.

As if the days didn’t blur together badly enough these days, I’m in a holding pattern on lots of things right now. Just taking one step at a time is not only all I’m able to do, but the right thing to do right now. I’ll get back to figuring out the future plans and options later, when my head’s clearer (all my stuff is just related to various jobs and their various stresses, nothing horrible).

Randomness and Birds

It’s been nice to have Kathleen doing “stress cooking.” I like it when someone cooks to take their mind off things. She made me the best baked chicken on a bed of collard greens last night. I truly love collard greens (weird southern girl thing), and these may be the best I ever ate. I’m so grateful that she and Chris are here helping me and Lee out right now.

The spring air is making everyone sniffly here, but it’s really been nice to see what kinds of creatures are doing their regular things. My friend Donna, who is not a tech person, wrote a little blog on this topic, if you want some more nice photos. I’m really happy to see her getting out of her comfort zone.

I’m not sure what kind of moth this little guy will grow up to be, but wow, what a pretty caterpillar!

In fact, just this morning I was thrilled to see that bluebirds are nesting in the dead tree by the road again this year. There used to be woodpeckers in there, so I guess they made a nice house. The phoebes are nesting in our garage and spend most of their days screeching PHOEBE at each other and eating bugs. They are a lot of fun to watch.

The phoebes ate dozens of bugs while I was on the phone at my ranch office last evening.

The bug population is doomed around the Hermits’ Rest, or at least less awful than it could be, thanks to the handy birds. The scissortails are back at work, and there’s nothing prettier than watching a male go after a bug. The swallows are in full force, as well as those phoebes. I watch the little sparrows go after bugs every afternoon when I go feed the horses. Just think how many mosquitoes and other bugs we’d have after all this rain if we didn’t have our avian buddies!

Producing pollen this week is the prickly ash. Go tree, go!

Today I’ll head out and see what new is blooming. I’ve seen a couple of winecups, and we have our eyes on the dewberries. Yum. Back to basics. It’s good for you.

Share your coping mechanisms if you wish!

Need Inspiration? Here’s Some!

Now, here’s a thing. Hard times bring out the best and worst of people, right? It seems like a lot of folks are concentrating on the stuff that makes you just shake your head. The economy is more important than the lives of the elderly, having a lifetime supply of paper products is more important than other people having it, the world is just going to fall apart if you don’t have bread NOW. Wipe those thoughts away, right this second!

The UU word for today is inspiration, and that sent me right off into a wonderful frame of mind, where I realize that I am inspired by people near and far, ever single day of the Great Isolation.

Be inspired by our revamped shiplap wall. Lee and Chris worked so hard on it. I later cleaned all those bits of wallpaper off.

My family come first when I think of inspiration. We’re all sticking it out as best as we can. I wish I could be with my kids, but I’m impressed by how well they are handling themselves. I drive by my sister’s house every day and wave, knowing it’s safer to stay distant, but proud of how she’s coping.

Look how light and bright it is in Lee’s office with new window trim.

And then there’s the family I live with. Kathleen has been working herself so hard to get our business going in these hard times, and by golly, she’s succeeding! We have so much business that we have more staff and had to buy a bunch of scrubs for everyone to wear. And all the safety and health precautions keep adding up, but she keeps everyone on track. And I think I’d explode if I had to print as many forms and information as she does. She’s a real inspiration to me and to the rest of us. You just deal with what you get!

Kathleen says I can have these lovely, huge scrubs.

I’m also inspired by Chris, who is keeping our renovation project going with just occasional help from Easton (because Easton is also working for our business). He has so many great ideas and the skills to make them come to life. It’s really awesome to see someone find creativity in physical things and get as much joy out of it as I do with writing and making help systems.

Chris surveying his domain.

In the rest of the world, I see so many ministers out there helping people in new and innovative ways. They inspire me to keep in touch and support the folks who depend on me, as well (shout-out to the Live Oak UU team and so many others). People need spiritual support, and these folks are figuring out ways to provide it.

Bluebonnets on the sidewalk. Inspirational beauty.

And, well, you know this was coming. Every day I’m inspired by Mother Nature, as spring keeps on springing, butterflies and birds are mating, and the grass is so green it hurts my eyes. That’s inspiration to keep on keeping on: just the chance to enjoy one more spring.

I Am So Proud of Our Friends and Family on This Renovation

Wow, the amount of work that’s gone into our office renovation project is immense. Anything to do with money can get my poor spouse upset, and things were getting to him. I am so grateful to Kathleen and Chris, who were also dealing with their own stressful “stuff,” for helping Lee and the team figure out a good way to move forward on our project to bring a very old house back to life. I feel like I owe them something!

This brick has been cleaned so you can see all its colors. Looks so good. What’s that on top? The air conditioning/heating unit!

Now our family and friends are part of the team, and getting stuff DONE. Chris and Cody are supporting each other and leading the charge, while they brought in Easton (Kathleen’s daughter’s boyfriend) and Randy (neighbor at the ranch). These guys are cleaning bricks like crazy , making the walls prettier every day.

Here’s the unit in my office, and one of the doors that we’re going to use for a desk.

This lets Cody concentrate on bringing in specialists, such as our friend Felix, whose team swooped in today and installed a new HVAC system that’s both energy efficient and minimally intrusive. Wow, that’s going to literally be cool!

Working on the tiny hole that goes from the outside unit to the inside one.

Interior decoration helps me get my balance back. I told you earlier how Kathleen and I spent a happy hour or two last night dreaming of rustic chandeliers for our offices (mine with bling, hers without). We also have been figuring out ways to re-use the doors we’ll have to replace by making them our new desks. She’s looking for something cool to set hers on. I’ll probably get something with drawers from IKEA. I need drawers.

Another crazy light fixture. Antlers and bling. I have no idea which of the possibilities I’ll actually get.

We found a giant mirror in the bathroom by my office, which we already know a place for in Lee’s office. When we get it cleaned a bit, we’ll show it to you.

Look at all the pretty shiplap in the empty bathroom. That’s way better than a lot of really dirty stuff.

Most important, though, is that our family, our friends, and the people we are working with are back to having FUN on this project, which is how it should be. I am so grateful to everyone who is pitching in and helping me and Lee.

Lee actually having fun with air conditioning stuff. Felix said to get his hands off his noodle. We laughed so much.

PS: I have some additional photos of the renovation over on the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog, if you want to see more.

Old Houses, Theater, Work: No Deep Thoughts Today

I have been too busy getting things DONE to get any of my writing tasks done. No complaints there! I have things to write about in all my work blogs now.

One Old House

Yesterday was a lot of fun and messy as hell. Anita had a home inspection scheduled at the cute little house she’s buying from us in Cameron. We took that opportunity to clean up what was left in the house, which has been waiting for TLC for four years.

You can barely see them, but we put decorations in front of the Nash house.

So , we moved lots of bags of things the family of the first owner didn’t want. We removed furniture that wasn’t fixable. We cleaned mildew off furniture we want to keep.

The clean stuff we are keeping and a cleaner living room floor.

My most odious task was sweeping up the baking soda the folks who sold us the house had put down to deal with the odors. Whew. That was dusty.

Continue reading “Old Houses, Theater, Work: No Deep Thoughts Today”

Stinky but Fun!

In my previous post, I talked about going on a walk with Kathleen (who will be here for the next year or so, getting our Hearts Homes and Hands business going) around the ranch for a long time and getting no “exercise credit” for it on my watch. While annoying, there are darned good reasons we didn’t just trek briskly around the property. Plus the dogs got stinky.

Kathleen is ready for checking out the nature!

It finally cooled off enough to go for a nice exploration of the woods, which is just not easy to do in the summer. The dogs were pretty thrilled at the prospect, and engaged all their sniffers.

We’re ready to sniff!

I hadn’t had a chance to show Kathleen what’s in the woods (mainly a lot of cedar elm and coral berry), so she had fun discovering the little stream (or where it would be if it rained more), then as we moved on, we saw the gate to nowhere, and other bottomland landmarks.

Continue reading “Stinky but Fun!”