Close to Perfect Welcome to Spring

Sure, everything is delayed and there’s lots of brown grass here, but the first day of spring dawned to remind me what a good life I have.

Blue water and blue skies as far as a dog can see.

We spent most of the day outside messing around with our projects. Lee worked on his pond project, while I decided to put some plants up around the pool and try again for some vegetables.

New plants and knitting project progress

The kids came and sat with us on the patio for a while this morning to soak up the rare total quiet out here (no barking, mooing, or crowing). That’s so special. I doubt they have any clue how much I appreciate family time. It was just so wonderful.

Spring did appear. Whew.

I got some nice plants and planters for two reasons. One, I need something to keep our killer winds from repeatedly messing up my outdoor rug. Two, we finally will be able to enjoy our back patio all summer. So flowers and plants will be able to be cared for better. I can jump in that dang pool any time I get hot.

I think it’s pretty.

I got marigolds to perk up my tomatoes and peppers, but they also add color to my red plants, whatever they are. I’m better with wildflowers.

Trying again. This year I’ll move them before the farmer sprays herbicides.

It was just a good day. I have the kids a bunch of pepper plants for their garden, too. Nice to see them growing stuff! That will be fun for them. As for me, while I did run around a lot and plant things, I also got to relax with Lee, spend quality time with the horses and chickens, and watch the dogs run and play.

Vlassic stopped running to sniff the spring air. Hi

Wishing you a pleasant Ostara, full of peace and hope.

My Ten Commandments

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. It started when I read a list of important things for living a good life that someone posted. It included things like not airing your dirty laundry (makes for a dull blog, but probably a good idea), not putting down your spouse in public, and my favorite, which is to remember you can’t control what others do, only how you react to it.

Today’s sunrise featured frost and banks of fog. I’ll miss sunrises when it’s back to being dark when I get up.

The one that got me thinking the most, however, was the one that said (I’m paraphrasing):

Even if you aren’t a Christian, follow the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.

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I thought that, well, as a matter of fact, there are some commandments that I seem to find more important than many American Christians. The same goes with the teachings of their prophet, Jesus, but I’ll stick with commandments and the Golden Rule.

An’ ye harm none, do what ye will.

You are probably aware that the Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated is found in most spiritual paths. I’ve put a version of the Wiccan version up there on the image. I like that one, too – do what you want to do as long as you aren’t harming others. I sure watch a lot of people who will firmly assert their adherence to Christian beliefs who have no trouble at all wishing others ill, calling them and their elected officials horrible names, and attacking their morals. Then they squeal if anyone dares call them on it or say a negative word about their leaders.

Take a deep breath and enjoy some shepherd’s purse.

I am going to assume that they are members of one of the Christian sects out there for whom the rules are just suggestions. You know, the ones who get elected to office on their Christian values then vow to eliminate liberals and moderate Republicans from their county (true story and it’s making me grumpy).

What about Those Commandments?

So, what about them? I always thought most of the “guidelines” Moses passed on were pretty darned good. Others don’t apply literally, but may in spirit. And I think it’s fair to expect people who insist on following any of them try to follow them all.

There are many versions. Here’s one from @mockingbirdstudios via Twenty20

No other gods before them

Whew. I sure see a lot of folks out there who worship power and money more than the god they profess to worship. If I have a deity, their god is wrapped up in it, since I’m a big fan of Mother Nature, or the life force around us that guides us. That’s as woo-woo as I will get here. So yeah, the Great Spirit in its many guises is number one with me.

No graven images

Yeah, right. That is the most optional one for many Christians, though there are sects who take it extra seriously. Since I can’t carve a picture of spirit, I do this, for sure. I admit to lots of images of various deities, but those are just metaphorical representations, I hereby declare. (So, you’re okay, Brighid and Buddha.)

No taking the name in vain

This one gets broken over and over and over by most people in the US, though there are some who are quite careful, gosh darn it. Much of it’s just habit and talking the way we were raised to talk. I’m always saying, “Oh my god,” but for some reason don’t say “goddamned this and that.” In any case, I fail at this one even as a nature worshipper, because I sometimes curse the weather. I should know better, too, because as I’m often told, we need rain around here!

I will try to better about taking the name of Gaia in vain! After all, you gave us all life and a fine planet to hang out on. That was a good idea, Moses.

The Sabbath

Visiting one’s house of worship regularly is something lots of people do, and I used to do it myself. It’s nice to be around people who have similar beliefs and to hear a good message. Organized religion and I have just never gotten along (not just Christianity…all of them), so I don’t do that anymore. I do take time, often, to spend quiet time in nature, where I learn lessons from the trees and birds and give thanks for everything around me. That counts for me.

Besides, many folks who diligently head to a house of worship weekly think nothing of hate speech, cruelty to others, and breaking the other commandments. It’s their choice, though.

Parental honor

Societies around the world revere ancestors and honor parents. Anyone who has a hand in raising a child and does so with good intentions is worth honoring. I’m grateful to my long-departed parents for doing their best to raise me. That said, blind obedience and devotion don’t work for me. If your parents treated you badly or hurt you, you have every right to distance yourself from them. And I say that as a parent whose child has left me. That hurts deeply, but they have every right to do what they think is best.

So, I guess this one is not one of my favorites. Hmm, I’m halfway through the list of commandments and none of these are things I think about a lot. Now let’s get to the good ones.

No killing

They might as well delete this one off the list. Christians around the world flagrantly disregard this one and can come up with oh so many reasons to make exceptions. This is the one that I absolutely agree with. I’m not killing people, even people I don’t like, disagree with, or think want to hurt me.

I get yelled at often for this. Won’t I defend myself or my property? (Yep, without killing people.) And yes, if the County Judge sends out the minions and rounds up all the people who don’t share his political beliefs, I’d rather die than harm a neighbor. I couldn’t live with myself if I harmed another human on purpose.

Please note that I do not, and never will, want to force my morals on others. Nor do I disrespect people who choose a way of life where killing others is a possibility. That’s part of the society I live in, and I accept it. I know I’m in the minority, and it’s okay.

No adultery

At one time in my life, I struggled with this, since I could love more than one person at the same time and really felt like this rule was more about keeping inheritance straight down the patrilineal line than about who one loves. And when bound by legal or personal commitments, I refrained from it. So, I’ve followed the letter of this law, even though it’s grounded in a system I dislike.

I think people should have agreements on this stuff and do what works for them in their private lives, though. It’s not my business nor the business of any deity. It’s legal. That said, I am not looking for hookups at this time. (I can just see all these sad potential suitors out there…not really.)

If I go to hell for this, I hope it’s a hot tub.

I feel compelled to point out how many people Christians admire and follow have no qualms about the whole adultery thing. I wonder if power makes people exempt.

No stealing

I’m all for this one. What’s yours is yours. Some organized religions ought to think about this. Some Christians ought to think about their personal ethics and whether they preclude stealing from others in less blatant ways than just grabbing stuff out of their houses.

False Witness?

I loathe it when people out and out lie about others. It’s a big peeve of mine. Sure, everyone’s version of the truth differs, and sometimes hearing things from two different points of view might make you think one person is lying when they each think they are telling the truth. I get that.

I’m baffled, though, about how people who repeatedly make false statements, accuse others falsely, and even contradict themselves over and over can be respected and revered. That always seems to be the case with totalitarian leaders, for example, or wannabe totalitarian leaders. This worries me a lot.

One of the things that is important to me, ethically, is to not lie to others and to not point fingers, so I do my best to keep opinions to myself outside my trusted circle. Everyone needs a trusted circle, so they won’t explode from keeping things in!

Coveting

I can remember repeatedly asking my Sunday School teachers what the heck coveting means and what it had to do with Frenchie Purvis next door (the neighbor’s wife). I did eventually figure out that it has something to do with not being jealous of people who have things you don’t. I am so grateful for what I DO have that I’m fine not having what other people have…except maybe grandchildren. I think I covet grandchildren. I sure would like a little baby to dote on all of my own. But I will just knit blankets for others and once the whole pandemic thing lets me, hug and snuggle with the babies of friends and neighbors.

Moses was right about this. Other people’s lives always seem better than our own, because we don’t know all about them. I’m glad for the good things other people have and get to enjoy. I’ll enjoy my own things.

Was this worth it?

After going through this exercise, I have concluded that the Hebrew rules are okay, but not really the ones I am going to base my life on. That seems to be the conclusion most people come to, even ones who are members of groups supposedly required to follow them.

Peace, love, nature, freedom, and unicorns to all of you.

It IS good to think about where your ethics and morals come from and to do a check on whether you’re being consistent, falling down on some, or holding others to standards you can’t keep up with. I hope by reading this you thought a little bit about your own rules for life and how they’re holding up.

I send love to ALL of you, including those who may not agree with me or may think differently from how I do in some areas. Variety is good. I just would hope that most of us treat each other well.

Normal Horse Activity

This is exciting! Sara and I rode our horses around our pastures and it was uneventful! Woo!

Who me?

I promised I’d just write about horses for a while. So yep. Aragorn and Apache were good guys and checked out lots of stuff with a minimum of acting up. It wasn’t perfect, but it was way better. I’m so glad to be able to have fun with our horses again.

Aragorn did great opening gates, too. What a guy. He’s so much calmer. We are all developing our partnership.

It’s happy for me, in the horse department.

The yarn came for my next baby blanket project. It has sparkles.

Colorway is Opal. It’s for Mandi.

That’s all I’ve got. Peace out.

Who’s Afraid?

I’m not sure if “afraid” is the right word for what I want to talk about. I think I aim here to make the point that we aren’t all that different from people in societies we’ve been told to feel sorry for because they are not free to be their true selves. What got me thinking about this is all the commentary I’m seeing from all sides about Russia just deciding one day to take over a neighboring country because their leader decided it wasn’t really a country. I’m sure glad Mexico hasn’t done that to Texas, which used to be part of Mexico.

I felt like expressing that I care about the people there by wearing my shirt and watchband that have sunflowers on them. I think the watchband is a handy way to remind me to send of my good thoughts/prayers throughout the day. Of course, I’m also sending good thoughts to the average citizens of Russia, who have no control over what their leadership does. Oh, the poor people of those two countries, right?

Well, wait a minute. Why am I acting like they are any different from me? I certainly have little to no influence on what wars and conflicts the leaders of the country where I reside engage in, even though those may well put me in danger someday. And locally, there’s nothing I can do about fellow citizens who act like they are ready to mow me down just for having the nerve to want to get along with others and not thinking I’m any better than anyone else just because of who my ancestors are.

We love you, Suna, you wimp.

I feel like I live in the land of the free, as long as I am free to agree with the people with the weapons aimed at my property. Yep, just like people in the Ukraine or Russia. I don’t want to harm anyone and don’t mind disagreeing with others, which for some reason is so threatening to my neighbors that I am careful to not go around in public acting all peaceful, caring for people who are different from me, and practicing a different religion from most of them.

I bet the Russian cows love their children, too.

I was always told growing up how sad it was that people in the USSR had to toe the line and reject religion, democracy, and such. I was told how terrible it was that in China they went and killed all the intellectuals or put them in work camps, because they were dangerous with all those ideas and such. No, I was repeatedly told, we Americans are not lemmings who would march lockstep off a cliff if our fearless leader told us to do so. We aren’t married to just one ideology. No, we’re free.

I’m not doing what anyone tells me. I’m a horse, says Dusty.

Look out the window. Is that what you see? I see me afraid to express my thoughts or opinions, even among people I care about and wish the best for. Welcome to the oligarchy. Hey there totalitarian dudes! Enjoy running the place.

I do plan to stick around as long as I can, though. I love this land, and the land doesn’t care who’s in charge. And I love the people in my community. All of them. Nothing will stop me from wanting the best for them. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” I’m with him.


This was a bit whiny. I know perfectly well that it is way worse elsewhere, like Russia, where I couldn’t complain. I’ve been shaken by Texas elections and probably over-reacted. My main worry is that dissent may be stifled in the future, and we need dissent. On all sides.

The World Collapses, But I Feel Okay

This morning I was listening along with Lee to his morning podcasts when one of them (sorry, I forget which one) began to discuss a phenomenon that is not uncommon today. People report that they are experiencing a good time in their lives, with positive experiences, interactions, and situations. Yet those same people are concerned about the fact that outside of their own little bubble, things seem to be going downhill in alarming ways.

Today is a more alarming than usual day, especially for those of us with friends or family in Ukraine or Russia. I’m especially concerned about the everyday citizens who have nothing to do with the posturings and agendas of their political leaders. I’m one of those people here in the US, so it isn’t hard to imagine what regular folks who just want to earn a living, enjoy their families, and have some fun are dealing with right now in both places. It’s worse for people like me, since random wars are always hard on pacifists. And no, I am not going to apologize for being a nonviolent person, no matter how much it might offend people who treasure violence or at least the possibility of being violent.

Even with all the turmoil going on around me in my family and very small (but fabulous) circle of friends, I keep thinking this may be the best time of my life. I’ve achieved a lot of my goals, minimized people and things that bring me down, and have a comfortable life. I’m even dealing with the inevitable little hiccups (like the heater going out AGAIN on the main floor of my house, where my home office is) pretty well. I’m quite happy as long as I keep to the things I have some control or influence over.

I have influence on my desk, so I made it cheerful.

Maybe people were happier back in the times when the news of the world wasn’t blasting in their ears 24/7 and all drama was local drama. Sure, if invaders attacked, it was bad, but the rest of the time, you weren’t worried about the invaders on the other side of the planet.

Perhaps it’s crafts overload, but it all makes me happy.

No wonder so many people are becoming more hermit-like and just staying away from all the things that threaten others. I wish I were better at it, but I still rail at Texas politicians who are fighting to take away the rights of my family and friends, just as others rail at rights they feel are being threatened. We’re all the same, it seems, just with different focuses (foci). I’m working to care about all of us, but not internalize it to where it eats away at my ability to see what is good around me.

Come visit me and relax in what I hope will soon be my retreat area.

Also, the heat came on. Yay?

Moving on from the Alottest Year

A Facebook friend named Melissa, who went through so much this year, just summed up 2021 as the “alottest” year, because everything has been a lot. The lowest lows, very high highs. Hope and despair. Sure, every year has good and bad; that’s life. But wow, my head is spinning as I reflect back.

I had to sit and look at water to still my mind.

So, rather than dwell on the losses and setbacks, I’ve decided to look forward and figure out what how to use the learning, strength, and bravery I’ve worked on for the past couple of years to make the best of 2022. And I’ll try to keep my sense of humor.

Humor

Another Facebook friend, Emma G, has inspired my outlook for the immediate future. She said she isn’t going to wish her friends a happy new year. No, she is going to wish them a year of intention. I love this.

Starting my year out with Brené, who will remind me of who I am and that I’m fine.

If we all live our lives putting positive intention into everything we do, we will be able to continue to weather the literal and figurative storms we encounter, and maybe even make the world a little better.

I put good intent toward my homemade Bundt cake, even if it came out poorly.

And keeping our center will at least let us truly savor the beauty and goodness we run into, too.

The equines are enjoying the goodness of their first ever round bale of hay.

I wish you peace and discernment in 2022.

Peaceful Interlude in Austin

This is a rare time. There really isn’t anything pressing at the moment, and I spent all last night doing things that weren’t stressful (other than figuring out why the television isn’t working in the living room at the Bobcat Lair). I even did the things on my to-do list (Kathleen now has software for us), including finding someone to clean the ranch house. I have three candidates to talk to!

Highlight of yesterday was getting this odonata (damselfly) to hold still.

One thing that’s good about having two houses is that you get new scenery and a bit of a break. I LOVE that there’s usually so much to do at the ranch, but an occasional day of not sweating profusely or shoveling anything does give my back a break. I’ll have plenty of energy for when I get back!

Anita and I watched Dr. Pol (show about old Dutch vet in Michigan) in my beautiful bedroom and said ooh and aah to cute puppies and kitties, and ICK when there were two scenes of cutting off cow nipples. That was plenty of drama for me!

Regrettably, this may well have been the last peaceful evening we have. Tonight we have visitors and will get some work done around here as we prepare to move all Anita’s boxes to her new house in Cameron, and I prepare to get the beautiful and unique Bobcat Lair sold. Have I mentioned the housing market in Austin is ridiculously hot? So, as a professional house flipper, I know it’s time to flip the house, as much as I love it.

I will miss my quirky but very pleasant office so much.

The plan is to get an apartment near my work for the next couple of years. A quiet one, if possible. We just have to get the boxes out, sell the house, and move things to various places, other than the things that just go away.

I am no longer stressing out or worrying about any of this. We can handle it all by doing one thing at a time. I may still occasionally lapse into patterns of self doubt or have trouble handling change, but I’m sure doing a lot better. That’s all any of us can ask; to do better. I’m also doing way better accepting people in my life just as they are, warts and all, and am only requesting that favor in return, when possible. No wonder things are a bit calmer for me!

Imagining What to Say about the News: My Dream

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I woke up this morning to happy news about the United States and its government (from my perspective). I am relieved to see that the way our system has been set up is holding up, at least so far. I fervently hope we can avoid violence and move toward a society I can be proud to live in.

WELL I’M NAIVE AND FOOLISH! I’M ASHAMED OF FELLOW US CITIZENS.

Readers of my blog have probably figured out that I fall on the liberal side of the political scale. While it’s true that I’m a pacifist, non-evangelical, pro-choice, democratic socialist, I’m not scary, out to eat you, or hell-bent on destroying anyone’s way of life. And I don’t want to live in a place that forces its citizens to toe some political line or suffer for their beliefs. I’m a big fan of diversity, and that’s why I’ve been having a hard time living in the US since our political parties have turned so violently against each other. How the heck are we supposed to accomplish anything at all if our only goal is to make the other team lose?

I hope that today’s events in the US, with actual elections, voted on by actual people, and certified by neutral parties can lead this supposed democratic republic back to sanity. I can dream, can’t I?

What I Want to See

I too, have a dream, like Dr. King did. In my dream people can:

  • Work together to make the lives of all citizens healthy and safe
  • If we participate in the political system as elected officials, do so to make the lives of the citizenry better, not to benefit a few people in power
  • Help the mentally challenged lead productive lives and contribute to society
  • Use our different viewpoints and perspectives to come to workable compromises for laws, regulations, and programs at the local, state, and national levels
  • Take care of the health of all citizens without causing undue financial burdens
  • Educate our children and adults to create a workforce of laborers, technicians, artists, scientists, and others to create a thriving society
  • Take care of the planet we live on and its non-human citizens as well as we take care of the humans
  • Celebrate our differences and learn from each other
  • Banish hate. Period. Friendly competition is great; hatred of the other is not.
  • Prioritize peace over war. Imagine what the world’s warriors could do if they didn’t have to spend so much time and energy on weapons and fighting.
  • Enjoy our religious traditions and cultural heritage without negating other people’s
  • Stay out of people’s private lives if they aren’t hurting anyone
  • Talk to each other. AND listen to each other
  • Celebrate beauty, hope, love, family, and all the good parts of life
  • Treat children as people, not property

I can be optimistic for one day. Yeah, Imagine.

Peace, Joy, Hope

Sharing a quick message to all of you. Keep the Hope going, it will help.

Holiday love.

From the Hermits’ Rest to your place of refuge, celebrate what’s meaningful to you today.

It’s a memorable Christmas!

Here’s what’s keeping the ranch house looking cheery!

Of course, dogs
Blooming on time!
Looking forward to food. Yay.

Peace! Hope! Love!

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!

sara annon

seeking the middle path

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