Mowing, Controversy, and More Horse Stuff

I was trying to create a funny essay yesterday when I wrote about our property not being mowed yet, but it sparked some Facebook controversy. Some people were thrilled and others were appalled that we were doing it. I don’t know why I was surprised, since mowing is always controversial! Like so many things out here in the country, you have to sometimes decide who is a priority and who needs to sacrifice for the greater good. In this case, the safety of our elderly residents and visitors has to come before some flowers, mice, and such.

Shredder, attached to tractor! We can ranch now!

We need to have the area by the house mowed short enough that we can see snakes and holes that pop up randomly. I don’t want my sister or brother-in-law falling or getting bitten. We let things go a lot longer farther out, and luckily they can’t get to ALL my dewberries, ha ha.

In any case, we are really grateful to our young neighbor, Tyler, who is quite mechanically inclined and strong for getting the riding mower belt back on so the brother-in-law can mow. Jim’s happy about that, and is all decked out in his hat, mask, and other protection.

Goodbye sunflower jungle

Meanwhile, Lee’s in the tractor shredding. He’s shredding high, just to knock the tops off the thistles and their kin (don’t worry, there is PLENTY on the roadside for many, many birds). Speaking of birds, the hawks and eagles are quite happy he’s shredding. He had a caracara (Mexican eagle) watching quite intently yesterday. I see a couple of hawks have joined in, too. Buffet time!

Shredding away. Don’t worry the flowers will not die. Next week they’ll be blooming like the dickens.

But honestly, we don’t have too many mammals that don’t live underground in the area we’re mowing, because the rabbits have learned to go elsewhere to avoid the dogs, and we have mouse predators up the wazoo, both flying and barking. Plus, they will come back, believe me.

The area will look nice for the dinner we’re having tonight, where I hope my son and partner will join us!

The Horse Part of the Story

Have you noticed it’s always something with the horses, especially Apache? I have. Sigh. Yesterday afternoon, I headed out to try riding again, took him out of his paddock, and started grooming him. I got to his back, and he startled. I thought maybe he saw something or was surprised by Ace arriving. I started again, and he moved away. That was odd. He was acting like the curry comb was hurting his back. Just the day before yesterday I could groom him just fine there.

I’m always having trouble, but I’m a great friend!

I called Sara over and demonstrated on the other side. This time he curved his back downward to avoid the brush. So, Sara, who knows a lot more horse stuff than I do, did a test with her hands going down his spine, and whoa, did he react right at his withers (shoulder area). Obviously, I was NOT going to ride him. Poor guy!

Instead, I took him into the round pen where he patently ignored me, not at all like his usual self. He sort of moped around and tried to eat. We walked around together, and he was fine. Next, I took him out and put a long rope on him, something I don’t do often because, clumsy as I am, I always trip on the rope and get tangled. But, I wanted to try him in big circles, to see if he’d walk better that way.

As soon as I asked him to walk, he started out really close, so I waved my carrot stick thingie at him to encourage him to walk further out. Yow! Instead he took off like some kind of green colt. He launched into a canter, bucked and farted numerous times, bucked, started to gallop, and generally acted most unlike his usual self. He stopped when I asked him to, though, but when I signaled to walk in the other direction, he reared and went off like a race horse.

Both Sara and I were thinking it was a bit dangerous, but I just waited until he settled down into a trot and stopped him. He was quite wound up, and blowing through his nose. I honestly had never seen him like this since I met him, unless he was out playing!

Sara suggested I give him something to do to make him think and not wallow in his emotions, so I had him walk over telephone poles on the long lead, walk up and down the poles with me on the other side of them, go over our little jumps, and eventually walk calmly down the driveway. He seemed to be having a lot of fun with all those activities, so I considered that a win and we went back.

I do this because someone trained me to. I think it makes me look cool.

I’m going to have to ask Trixie, our farrier and horse body work expert, what could be wrong with him. Maybe he twisted his back rolling (they are all rolling a lot right now, due to flies)? Maybe he has worms, again (can’t wait to move him out of that paddock and all the old poop)? Maybe he’s a diva? Sigh.

On to the next horse, how about it? Sara has been working with Ace, who has a very interesting personality. When he knows what he’s doing, he’s amazingly cooperative and follows instructions like a dream. But, when he gets confused and doesn’t know what to do, his go-to response is to buck and run. That doesn’t sound like riding would be fun, to me.

But, yesterday he made great progress, and Sara decided to get him used to someone on his back. I was the photographer, and got good pictures of her putting weight on his back, stepping up, and finally getting on. He was quite fine with the whole person sitting on his back concept. Way to go, Ace!

I like standing here and not moving.

He’s not as fine with reins and bits, and whenever Sara asked him to move forward, he’d back up. My uneducated theory was that he was trying to get away from the pressure by moving backwards, not realizing the pressure would stop if he just went forward. Horse brains are very interesting. I think she got him to take one step forward. But, on the other hand, there was no bucking, spinning, leaping or running off! I declare it to be quite successful for a first try! I’m sure she’ll make a lot more progress today!

See, I did move. In circles, backward! It’s a start!

Chicken News

Believe it or not, someone asked me what I was going to do with the baby chicks when they arrive on Wednesday. I had a couple of ideas, which I want to run by the nephew, but my current one is to make them a little area that includes the white nest boxes. That would provide shelter and a roosting space, plus room for chick food that the older chickens can’t get to. Star would be able to eat grown-up hen food, too, and I can easily give them water.

The idea is to use the door as a chick guard, but Star could get out and wander if she wanted to.

Soon enough, I’ll be able to let them all out. I do have another idea involving the cage we used for the guineas, but it needs some rain shelter. We’ll see, as Lee’s dad always said.

And, the moving egg laying saga continues. Springsteen has decided she likes the corner where Bertie Lee is laying. I found two eggs there yesterday, definitely not from the same hen. Oh, chickens.

Bertie at left, Springsteen at right (her eggs have a pink tinge)

I’m looking forward to another nice day at the Hermits’ Rest, plus the Zoom wedding. How pleasant it is to have positive plans! Hope your plans are positive as well.

Fascinating Feedback (and Lack Thereof)

Yesterday, I dared to propose that it is a good idea to work on not demonizing “the other side” so much. I keep proposing that, and it’s never very popular, but I’ll keep doing it, because from what I’ve read and experienced, everyone thinks their side makes sense. That, coupled with the fact that most actual people are in the middle, not on the radical ends of the spectrum, makes me think we could find common ground AND still keep our personal beliefs.

Sometimes seeing things from a higher perspective is uncomfortable and not fun.

I wondered what kind of response I’d get (if any), and who I’d hear from. To my surprise, the first people who responded on my Facebook post were two of my conservative friends. Now, as Lee pointed out, conservative friends I still have on Facebook are either relatives or people I enjoy having rational discussions with. And sure enough, they posted rational thoughts that I enjoyed and learned from.

My second surprise was, given that I have a poop-load of liberal friends, some of whom are extra-extra liberal, I initially didn’t hear a peep out of them on Facebook, either in agreement or disagreement. But, whew, I did eventually get the kind of feedback I’d hoped for, from all sides, in private messages, email, and other media. I’d like to share a few wise words, which I’ll keep anonymous but colorful.

Both my husband and this friend agreed that polarization is profitable:

“There’s a lot of money being spent from both extremes to convince the people in the middle who are getting along and helping one another — making things work, that there are more people working against them than working for them.”

A couple of people privately said to me that they hesitate to consider moderating their approach, because it might mean saying you agree with them or giving up your beliefs. This friend was sharing a link to some additional useful content that helped them (sorry it’s behind a paywall), and then shared a perspective that sounded all too familiar to me.

 “I think for myself, what scares me, is that if I move to the middle, if I try to find common ground, that I endorse all the things that have been so shocking and repugnant. I don’t have to list them here, after the last four years we know them well. But this program [link above], filled with wise, revolutionary activists, helped me to understand that there is a BIG difference between looking for common ground and listening and accepting what is unacceptable. I’m going to buy it, so i can go over it again, in my own time. Not only are the ideas helpful, it amplifies voices that I don’t hear often enough and that I don’t know well, but want to learn more about. I’m embarrassed to say that only Van Jones was really known to me. Anyway, I recommend this. I’ve always fought against the Hillbilly Elegy mindset and I’m not advocating a glorification of the rural racism, ignorance and misogyny I grew up with in the Adirondacks. I stand very firmly against those things. But when I dehumanize people without understanding their complexity and see them as trash, then to paraphrase Van Jones, my trash becomes Nazi or QAnon treasure. We will never get anywhere with hate and divisiveness. Brene Brown says much the same. We want to shame and hate-because we are very angry about what we see and for VERY good reason. We should be angry. As Brene says, it would be great if shame did work, because we could then shame the ever loving shit out of some folks. But it never, ever works to change behavior, more’s the pity. Folks have to change on their own and feel their own shame. It’s such a challenge to hold people accountable, without dehumanizing and shaming. But, it can be done, I hope.”

Yes, oh yes. This is why I want to keep caring about everyone! Things are complex, and turning them into black and white doesn’t solve complex problems.

Another friend admitted that the other side’s claims scare them, enough so that my blog post also scared them. I totally get that. I have a feeling a LOT of the people who didn’t say anything were in this camp. Most of my friends probably are. I can’t deny that some of the things I learn are scary to me. I just have to note that some of the things I believe scare others. Sad.

I wonder if my all-American liver and onions dinner would scare many of my friends?

One of the wisest people I know concurred with me, which helped me feel like I’m not some kind of fool:

“…unless we respect the right of others to hold a conflicting opinion and can be comfortable discussing them with each other we will never achieve the peace we say we want to have.”

And thoughtful local friend echoed the above:

“…my standard is that if you can’t argue your opponent’s side then you don’t know what you really believe. Not enough people seek the ‘true’ or facts but just believe so much fake, half truth junk. And sad is the fact that too many have lost sight that we can all love each other and be friends, yet still live on different political spectrums. But alas, we have to try to squash and kill anyone and everyone that is not of the same like mind as ‘we’ are.”

 Here’s one more, from a blog reader commenting on my desire to be on the team with people willing to look at the big picture (check out his entire comment on my post from yesterday for a helpful, if sorta sad, UK perspective):

“I think the team in question is Centrism, rational, liberal but also skeptical and factual. It’s a devastating gap in politics on both sides of the Atlantic right now.”

Yes. When you are advocating for being in the center, it does NOT mean believing in nothing and it does not mean accepting everything each side maintains as true. Let’s work toward keeping rationality, skepticism, and factuality in mind, even if we come from a conservative viewpoint, and maybe we’ll find goals we can agree on.

How the last few months have left me. How about you?

Thanks

I really appreciate everyone who was brave enough to share their thoughts on a controversial issue. I’d love to learn more from you all. If you take the time to read this, I respect your opinion! This is how we build community.

Religion, Politics, Grievances

Not sure if this is a rant or what, but I’m experiencing some righteous indignation on behalf of some people I know, in person and online. It seems like folks are really, really bored right now, and I get that. It’s winter and many of us are pretty isolated.

BUT

Nope. Not finished.

Just because you’re bored and you have an opinion about someone’s beliefs or actions does NOT mean you are obligated to share it with the rest of the planet. More important, you don’t need to tell people how wrong all the things they think and do are. Really, you do not.

Yes, people we know do stuff that bothers us. And, I have nothing against talking about things people, in general, do that bother us. I do it, as you may have noticed, and am doing it now, as a matter of fact.

However, just because you have the TIME to send a long email, text, or IM to someone spelling out exactly how wrong their beliefs and opinions are, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. Think about it.

If you are happy with the religious path you have taken, which after all is a personal religious path, would someone telling you how wrong it is do anything other than make you think less of that person. It certainly would not change your religious beliefs. That happens between you and your deity or deities. No one has a right to call your beliefs into question (even Scientologists, ha ha).

Now hush.

If you have expressed your personal thoughts on a personal platform (blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) about politics of your country, policies in your area, or issues that need to be addressed, that does not (or should not) open you up to diatribes, name calling, meanness, or threats. Sure, people can express disagreement or other points of view, but why be mean about it?

Does insulting someone or disparaging someone’s beliefs EVER EVER EVER get them to change their mind and see your brilliant point of view as correct? (Hint, the answer is, “no.”)

Suggested Alternatives to Giving People a Piece of Your Mind

If you get a strong urge to tell someone exactly what you think about their life choices or viewpoints, here are things you can do that don’t involve attacking them with your scathing words:

  • Donate money in their name to your favorite cause. That always feels good. I’ve done it!
  • Write the horribly misguided person a long letter by hand, on a piece of paper. Then stomp on it really hard to get your frustrations out, followed by violently wadding it up and throwing it in the trash.
  • Take a long walk around your property while muttering dark and foul thoughts about your target, until you get distracted by something naturally beautiful and you start feeling all sorts of oneness and your hostility dissipates (works for me).
  • Call your best friend and declare that it is time to vent. Rant and rave and complain your head off. The friend will say soothing things. Then you will agree that there’s no point in telling the wrong-thinking person off; they just won’t get it.
  • Wait until Festivus, then stand by your Festivus Pole and air your grievances. That will be okay, because it’s a holiday activity.*

By the way, it’s FESTIVUS! Let us air our grievances!


(*The article I link to above explains how Festivus is the perfect pandemic holiday and is pretty cute. Also, if you Google Festivus, there’s a Festivus pole in the margin! Hilarious!)

Who Are Your “Friends,” I Wonder?

I probably mean who are MY friends. I’m not talking about my inner circle of friends and family, which is a small number, like with most people. I mean the larger group of folks I care about, respect, and am interested in hearing from.

Obviously I’m weird. Who coordinates their accessories this much? Also I was hot.

Thanks to my career on the internet, I know and have gotten pretty close to lots of people from a wide range of backgrounds. We all have something in common that ties us together, but we’re all different, too. I honestly like that, even though I also like being around my “tribe” as well, which is very human.

Most of the people I know are great about respecting the rights of others to express themselves, even when they are TOTALLY WRONG (i.e., on the other side of an issue). A few aren’t. I’m okay with that, unless I get accused of thinking or believing something I don’t think or believe.

I got my feelings hurt pretty badly when I shared the recent news article about people who,as a group, aren’t big on following rules sinking their compatriots’ boats by going too fast in a parade. I thought it was a funny example of logical consequences. (I am having trouble linking to an article, so just Google “Lake Travis boat parade” and it will come up.

Someone took offense to my posting it, even though I didn’t comment, and said: “Pretty sad that you take pleasure in this. I’ll bet you wish some of these people had drowned.”

Wow. That’s the kind of thing that hurts a lot. Did they really believe that? Knowing I’m a pacifist, nonviolent, Buddhist-leaning tree-hugger?

Poor stereotypical me in my stereotypical shirt.

So yeah, I said that was mean. But I didn’t delete this person’s comments, since they have a right to insult me and lump me into some hypothetical evil group of people. On the other hand, I didn’t delete any subsequent comments, some of which agreed and some that didn’t. Everyone gets a say.

Im not surprised someone treated me like that. I’m learning that people who speak out, in today’s climate, will get bashed. Others have it lots worse, so I’m grateful for the kindness of people I know. Maybe that’s what matters more to me than beliefs, kindness.

I just hope the bashers (ha ha autocorrect hat it as badgers) stick to words! Dialog or one-sided rants are fine. But I’m against hurting others or their businesses because you disagree on things. I want to hear all sides, even when it’s hard. But I’m not super. I have to deal with my own knee-jerk reactions. Don’t we all?

What I Discovered

After all this, I checked my Facebook friends list. I was relieved to see quite a few people I care about who disagree politically or socially. This is GOOD. I don’t want to isolate myself in my comfort zone!

I want to share what I wrote on Facebook, mainly as a record for myself, but also to try to say how much I care for all my friends and family. Please don’t think I’m a horrible stereotype!


My Post. It’s Long.

I just culled my friends list. I saw a beautiful parade of faces from all over the world, in every color. From teens to my elders, there they were. Some I hear from often, some haven’t posted in years. I just like seeing their precious faces. Who did I cull? A couple of leftover fake people, people who have passed from this life (cause I get sad at their birthdays), and a lot of animals who long ago passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

Who did I keep? A large group of very diverse people I truly care about. Family, old friends, new friends, locals, people in other hemispheres, people from the whole spiritual spectrum (Yes, including Christians, Jews, Muslim, Buddhists, Wiccan, agnostics, and atheists). Straight, gay, trans, questioning, bi, gender fluid—they’re all good to me. There are people across the range of political and social groups, too (that’s right, from MAGA to Antifa to Communist to pacifists to gun rights activists to Capitalist to Socialist to fans of dictators to fans of the US Constitution (many interpretations) to people who just don’t care).

I’ve kept people who are vocal about their beliefs. I’ve kept people I agree with. I will keep people I disagree with. I’ve kept people who don’t post controversial things and people who do. Why? Because we all get to express ourselves however WE see fit.

I’m human!

We have the option to scroll by things that bother us or to react. Then we deal with the consequences. When I screw up, I can count on others to point it out. I am not going to censor friends I agree with or disagree with. I’m not going to invite people I disagree with to leave. Nope. We all get to stay.

Sometimes my humor upsets people. I hate that! But I’ll keep trying. If I hurt your feelings, tell me. I’ll do the same, though. Thanks to all of my diverse friends for sticking with me in these troubled times. I treasure YOU.


Take care friends. The US is in a bad place and it will get worse the rest of the year, I’m afraid. Do your best not to pigeonhole your friends, acquaintances, and family. Try?

Can Your Words Hurt You?

Yes. I am sure of it. Why am I so sure? Well, things you say in public forums, such as Facebook groups and pages, Twitter, etc., can be read by anyone. “Anyone” includes potential employers, people doing background checks, etc.

I now commence to lecture people who probably won’t read this. Bear with me. It will make me feel better, and hey, it’s my forum.

I hereby mount my soapbox.

So, if you threaten to kill people who don’t agree with you, declare that every member of some other group is stupid or evil, or declare that everyone who does something for a living should suffer or die, all kinds of folks will read it and form opinions about you, not just your in-group members.

I’m seeing this more and more as people become increasingly frustrated these days. I see it a lot in people who currently aren’t working, but will want to be re-hired back at their old jobs or find new ones as soon as it’s possible or safe. I read a lot, because I’m interested in how other people think. So, I follow along on the adventures of some people so far left they make me look like Ronald Reagan and I read many things said by people so far right they make the current US President look like Jimmy Carter.

Are all these people entitled to their opinions (as am I)? Sure thing! And do they have every right to express it? Yes, indeed they do. Is it wise to share those opinions in ways that denigrate or threaten others, even if they “don’t really mean it?” I don’t think so.

You see (and I know most of you readers actually DO see, because I’m venting), we’re sorta stuck here in some weird capitalist oligarchy, which means that the people who hire us are probably business owners or people invested in the success of a business. So, if you think all businesses are evil, that might not go over well. Some business owners may well be of the opposite political party from yours, with advanced degrees, a long history of helping the less fortunate, and a strong desire to hire qualified people, even if they disagree with them personally. But, if you repeatedly insult them, call them stupid, and threaten people like them, guess what? They might think twice about hiring you. (And yes, indeed, I have specific individuals in mind.)

Now, if your opinions about the evils of capitalists, liberals (excuse, me, I mean libtards), MAGA fans, or Fox News viewers are more important than your ability to earn a living, feel free. Your devotion to your cause is, to be honest, sort of admirable in a self-destructive way.

I have some opinions of my own that I feel pretty strongly about., too. But you know what? I can tone it down publicly out of respect for people who graciously pay me a lot of money to write for them. I think it IS possible to express my opinions in a way that are true to my beliefs but not rude, insulting, or threatening to others. And in any case, I’m pretty sure I won’t convince anyone to come around to my point of view by repeatedly calling them stupid, no matter how good that might make me feel.

Let’s take a deep breath and enjoy some orange cactus flowers.

Oh well, people are like that. They love to divide themselves into us versus them, as I repeat endlessly. But remember, those in power know that, too, and they know that a divided populace is much easier to control than one that figures out who’s actually pulling the strings.

And it isn’t evil liberal capitalist me who pulls the strings, potential employees. I just want to give people jobs, but would prefer to hire people who don’t denigrate me in public. And, while en employer can’t discriminate against sex, age, disability status, they certainly CAN choose to hire people who are respectful, open minded, and non violent.

I feel better.

Your words CAN hurt you in the job market. They can also cause people to look at your entire family and set of friends with suspicion. In an ideal world, maybe disrespect and threatening behavior wouldn’t affect people’s impressions of others. But, they do. Right now a lot of us aren’t happy about how things are. We have every right to express that. But, maybe we can try to express it rationally?

Whew. I’m Irrational.

I’m really having a harder than usual time listening to people lumping me in with some group of tantrum-prone babies because I have differing opinions from them. I’m not using my best words, either, which doesn’t help. I can work on me, though, after listening to my friends’ criticisms of me.

I am not Supergirl. I’m fallible human woman.

It is so hard to not stereotype groups of people when people say stuff like this to and about me:

Attack when the opinion differs. Humiliate when you don’t get your own way. Scream in people’s faces like a spoiled child when you can’t make someone succumb to your way of thinking. They are a bunch of spoiled brats who don’t know how to communicate, they never had to. They were led to believe no one loses, that someone calling you a name will destroy who you are instead of defending yourself, they were taught any college degree is worth an above average wage, even though it might have been in fashion, or liberal arts! We used to sit, have discussions, not arguments. We never disowned our friends and families because we disagreed with their policies. We never had to convince our friends, we only gave our viewpoints and that was ok. This new political party is a rude, childish, a true embarrassment to us all.

a guy on Facebook who I don’t know

Wow, I’d said that some people find it really important to own objects designed for killing, while other people want to have more peaceful, secure lives. I do realize that when people expect a certain type of words to come out of people they don’t like as a group, they will interpret the words in the worst way possible. And I am NOT at my word-smithing best today. I am sorry for that, honest!

Summary

Anyway, gun-loving friends, I do not think you all want to kill people. Pacifist friends, I am against killing people, so would use the shotgun I own only to scare away animals. That’s just me. You feel how you want to feel.

I really DO want to sit and have discussion. And folks, name-calling may well make you feel better, but I don’t like it. Why? Not because it hurts my feelings. No, because it stops any rational dialog in its tracks and just leads to escalating labeling and ranting, not listening. Or, as in my case, I just leave the “conversation” and concentrate on places where I actually can engage in dialogue and learn from others.

When you feel attacked, you defend, even if you don’t want to. So, this is my public apology to anyone I’ve been unfair to on social media. Now you know why I’be been trying to keep quiet. I will work on figuring out a way to share my thoughts without inadvertently making others feel attacked.

I admit that studying this got me more upset yesterday. And it’s made me vow to not be part of the problem.

My next post will be about tea, or ants, or something neutral. Please encourage me to keep growing and making myself less easily provoked.