500 Things

No, this is not one of those annoying blog posts that lists a certain number of things, where the blogger just looks stuff up and cuts and pastes. Oops that an opinion, not the start of a post. Anyway, 500 always feels like it’s halfway to somewhere, and it’s popping up for me.

Master Naturalist 500 hour pin.

First, I managed to reach the milestone of doing 500 volunteer hours with the Texas Master Naturalist program. That came faster than expected, thanks to doing the chapter blog, Nature Along the El Camino Real, being secretary substitute, and being president. I won’t make the next 500 so fast, since my iNaturalist observations here at the Hermits’ Rest no longer are acceptable as hours. You aren’t supposed to observe on your own property. Those of us who live on large properties are not thrilled. And with COVID, it’s hard to go many places. But, yay 500 hours. It’s a glass half full, glass half empty deal!

That was fast.

The other 500 achievement was that I got the notice that this blog has 500 followers. Surprise! That came only a little over a month after it hit 400 on December 4. To contrast, it took 7 months to get from 300 to 400 followers. This reminds me of how I track my exercise on my watch. I’m always thrilled when I hit a milestone, even though I’m not competing against anyone other than myself!

I see some sharing algorithms at work, which is fine. I’m just glad for the readers who are real people and who comment and share with me. Getting to know new friends and learning more about old friends is the best part of sharing my journaling online. And MY blog readers, at least, aren’t mean. I get enough of that in other arenas.

The mysterious hallway henge at the winter solstice.

This is a stretch, but I wanted to share this. The solstices are halfway points through the year, ya know, .500. This year, Lee discovered that we had oriented the ranch house to where the morning sun on the winter solstice shines straight through the upstairs hallway!

We didn’t get a picture on December 21, but the above photo was taken by Lee soon after. I remember being blinded by the morning sun blasting my eyes for about a week! Isn’t that cool? Hallway henge at Hermits’ Rest. Future generations will film dorky shows wondering why the builders of this house oriented it this way!


Thanks for all the kind thoughts about yesterday’s post about my son. It helped me get through a long, hard day of endless meetings and people expecting me to solve problems that I can’t. It’s a challenging time, and I don’t post all the stuff here, believe it or not.

I thought y’all might enjoy some positive news today. There’s more to come. I’m doing lots to keep an upbeat focus and do what I can to improve life. What little things are you doing?

The Gimpy One Gets Busy: Renovation, Nature Dogs…

For a person who’s still having trouble making certain moves (especially bouncy ones) I’ve been doing a lot! I got some nice photos, so I figure I’ll share, even though this is not among my most riveting topics.

Hooray! The pond filled up and even overflowed to the other side.

It’s been chilly, but I sure was happy to see the ponds fuller at the ranch. The dogs are enjoying the heck out of the puddles, as usual.

Pope Residence Update

Things are hopping over at the Pope Residence. All the materials to build the staircase have been bought, and Chris and Easton have been busy shoring up the foundation at the back of the house. They have replaced an entire beam and will be adding a few extra piers to hold the weight of the staircase.

Chris ciphers out what to do next to repair the foundation.

They also bought plenty of insulation to make the back of the building nice and cozy. Of course, to me, the most important thing is that the red tiles for my office bathroom are ordered.

This is one of the original sewer pipes that was removed.

And speaking of that bathroom, there’s good news! We will be able to keep the original tub in there and make it a feature after all!

This is how they are holding the house together while working on the foundation below.

Randy is still slowly but surely getting all the bricks repaired and re-mortared. There is a lot to repair, but it is looking great once it’s done.

Repairs and the leveling hole in Kathleen’s office.

And today, while I was out gallivanting, Kathleen and Nicole have started stripping the many layers of paint off the doorways. It always seems like you find something interesting when you peel off layers like that, and sure enough, Nicole has uncovered a lot of blue and some green on the doorway leading into my office. Maybe the whole thing was once blue!

Nature Calls

I couldn’t resist going along with the Master Naturalist class and visiting the beautiful property of one of our members, outside of Davilla (south of Cameron). It was almost unspeakably beautiful, and my friend Ann and I had a blast identifying everything we saw, joined by one of the students who knows a lot about insects.

Ann inspects a fallen limb being held up by another limb.

We saw two woodpeckers, some American robins, female red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, chickadees, mourning doves, mockingbirds, and much more. It was great birding. And we saw a lot of tracks, too.

Really cool tree bark!

I can’t think of a more fun way to spend a morning than to investigate what grows in another part of the area! (Maybe that makes me boring, or maybe it makes me interesting.) I’ll share a link to a longer article with more photos that will be on the Master Naturalist blog.

And Dogs

While my competing volunteer activities may be wearing me out, I also get a lot out of them, so I was happy to join my Milam Touch of Love friends at another pet chipping event. Like last time, we met a lot of nice dogs and owners. This time we also could get pizza, since it was at Domino’s!

I’m a good girl. I just want a LOT of love.

I spent a lot of time with poor little Sandy, Penney’s sister, who still isn’t adopted. They just aren’t exciting dogs to look at. But she sure was well mannered, and she walked on a leash like a dream. I sure hope someone sees her beauty and adopts her (and also Ghost; he is so kind and beautiful!).

I had to bow out of horse riding this afternoon, which makes me sad, but wow, my back and chest let me know any time I twist or move my arms a certain way. I couldn’t even hold a cute dog today, because the wiggling made me move. I’m hoping for tomorrow, or at least to groom.

I didn’t even tell you about the private warehouse we got to look in, where I found me an old red hanging lamp. That was yesterday, an equally busy day.

There’s a theater gala tonight, so that should fill my busy Saturday. I have way more of a social life in Cameron than I ever did in Austin!


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