Happiness Is Birds and Beasts

This is an interesting part of my life. Outside of me, things are challenging. Inside of me, I’m feeling better than I ever have. I wish I’d learned to focus on what I can influence and let other stuff go much earlier in life. But I think only experience teaches us how important this is and helps us do it.

Vlassic is a great role model. Really lives in the moment!

I had a lovely day. Birds made me so happy, just watching them. I watched the resident great blue heron looking for food in the new pond and wondered if there are fish in there now.

Then I just watched our sparrows traveling from tree to tree, and was really impressed at how many bugs a mockingbird got while I was getting the mail. That bird was busy, and it seemed very pleased with itself.

The beast that made my day happy was Apache. We had quite a productive day. We’ve been working on cantering after jumping and in the round pen. He’s really improved since our last lesson. He was a jumping fiend today and did his cantering exercise in the round pen the best he’s done so far. He has figured out what I want him to do, and he actually seems proud of himself.

I’ve got skills.

And we had a fun ride, too, with improved skills and encouraging calmness when we went out to ride around. Things that used to be hard are getting easier, and his demeanor is so much calmer. Y’all, I keep saying this, but I’m still blown away at how much better things are getting between us. We’re a team!

See how calm I am. I’m tired from all that cantering.

I know I’m feeling good when I get goofy. For the past few days I’ve been doing arts and crafts at the horse pens. I’m making a decorative weaving with the strings that hold hay bales together. Well, that’s re-using a waste product, right?

So far, it’s mostly warp.

I’ll need more string soon, but that’s okay, since they need more hay.

Sure, some grass is here, but it’s winter, Mom!

You know, having a calm and peaceful part of my life took a lot of work. So I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it.

Turn That Calendar Page

I did so. I don’t even have a good calendar this year. That’s what happens when you only have free ones. So, Whee.

Apache and I are looking into the future.

Actually it was about as perfect of a day as a person could want. If retirement could be this pleasant I’d be more ready than I think I am now. The weather was beautiful and I just enjoyed working on projects and hanging out with the horses.

I’m practicing my hill work. I also found grass.

Drew was making me laugh, but not making Dusty too happy. I watched Drew poke and prod his buddy endlessly. It was mostly playful, judging from how horses typically play and show affection, but I wish Drew would stop chomping Dusty’s tail.

Kid, leave me alone!

I tried to use up some teen horse energy by riding Drew for a while and exercising him. He was in a great mood, so it was a lot of fun.

I like doing stuff with you!

I also rode Apache more than on most days. Why? Because I had time. That’s so wonderful. I’d love to be able to spend this much time every day. When I just have an hour, I’m lucky to do groundwork on one horse, since feeding takes so long. Anyway, we had a blast doing all our schooling and riding around the property.

I had fun. Now to nap.

See how he looks in that picture? He ended up so relaxed and calm. He even went on the road briefly and showed no concern. Only Lee’s new mobile office gave him pause, but we got through it. Drew was the same. Walking with calm horses is nice.

We’re calm, too. Maybe if you retired, you could ride us.

Of course I also cooked traditional Southern food. Even Anita the Northerner liked the collard greens! Yep.

So far 2023 is fine, peaceful, and hermit-like. The only issue was that our water went out. Then it got fixed. It doesn’t make for exciting blogging, but I’m fine with that.

Now enjoy happy horses.

A Hermits Christmas Eve

As the years pass and our circle grows smaller, the holidays have stopped being about visitors, travel, and togetherness. Television commercials keep saying that’s what we should want.

This one goes from lap to lap.

But Lee and I are happy to spend time with just each other these days. We have plenty of animals to stand in for friends and family, and they’re certainly entertaining. The dogs have been going all out to make us smile!

The horses have been playing a lot, as if the cold weather makes them frisky. They do have really thick coats right now.

It was a beautiful day, though, so I did the usual bird watching (highlights were cranes and a butcher bird) and weather observation. All the ponds iced over, but melted when it got above freezing. I have new inexpensive base layers that made being outside okay. Nice!

It was lovely spending time with myself, giving myself holly nails, watching football, cooking dinner, and working on a present. It’s important, I think, to be comfortable enjoying each phase of life, and each new situation. That’s the way to inner peace.

Holly jolly fingers.

Tomorrow and next week will bring more people to the ranch and that will also be enjoyable. You can’t hermit every day! it will be good to celebrate with people.

I’m hoping you find peace with whatever life hands you this time of year. Maybe you’ll find comfort in traditions and maybe you’ll try something new. Just remember that we’re all dealing with “stuff” and doing our best. I sure remember that and just want the members of my own circle to know they’re loved.

Yuletide Musings

Hi everyone,

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, but there hasn’t been much going on except rain, mud, and cold. But what do you expect this time of year? I understand why ancient folks in the northern hemisphere lit lots of fires and tried to make things look cheery at the winter solstice. It can be bleak, and it has been for many of my friends and family. So, bright, warm hugs to all!

I’m a bright, warm hug.

We have been focusing on just getting by every day, feeding animals who need to be fed and dealing with things that have broken. It’s fine, just not terribly bloggable.

But I can celebrate the solstice!

The biggest excitement around here is those winter bird visitors. Two of my absolute favorites have been here for a couple of days, a pair of hooded merganser ducks. These are among the most unusual ducks, at least in appearance. They have excellent head feather arrangements that make them unmistakeable, even from a distance. That’s good, since they will not let me get close enough to take a good photo.

Blurry.

They are having a nice time hanging around with the egrets and catching the chilly little fish in the back pond.

This is a better photo (c) peterselmayr from iNaturalist.

As I was watching the ducks and shivering, I heard a distinctive cry, followed by much zooming and swooping. It was a common yellowlegs trying to decide whether to land in the pond or not. The decision was not to land, so all I got were some photographic blurs, which I confirmed since I know what they sound like and know they like it here in the winter. Enjoy my pond bird buddies:

As I write, I’m listening to the Ukrainian President speak. You know, that’s a brave and reasonable guy. And he reminds me things could be much worse, and we need to be sure our fellow citizens are all safe and secure. We need to be able to celebrate the seasons in our personal traditions and feel safe. After all, we live under the same sky. Peace. It can happen.

Cultivating Calm

I read today that what horses want is peace. No wonder I like horses. I, too, crave peace. And calm. It’s been my goal all my life. I do not crave excitement, uncertainty, or the unexpected. But, guess what? That stuff shows up all the time. What to do?

I found a moment of peace when the afternoon sun visited my bathroom.

I’m relieved that my anti-anxiety meds have kicked back in. They are really helpful for me. They don’t make me calm, but they do give me a better attitude about uncertainty and the unexpected. They help me detach a wee bit.

Knitting is something that has kept me calmer my whole life. Today I put this sweet knitting corn husk doll that my sons gave me on my little display shelf someone I used to know made me.

Calm and peace. You do have to work on them, but it pays off! For example, my work laptop has been a bit off since I got back from this trip. Just little things were happening until yesterday afternoon, when my webcam stopped working in the middle of a fun meeting. It didn’t work today, either, but because I didn’t get all upset and pissy, I was able to patiently wait until the Logitech help person found a solution. Yay! I stayed calm and didn’t just order another one.

Goldie was doing this while I was fixing the webcam. Distracting!

And just as the camera was fixed, I had another meeting. Throughout the meeting the sound of the Zoom phone ringing kept playing. For an hour. I just laughed and tuned it out. What else could I do? I cultivated calm and just dealt with it. Go me.

I’m calm, too, even though I have all these gangly legs.

There’s so much going on here that keeping on an even keel is important. My vacation helped. The horses help. Having great conversations with my son helps. Lee helps. All of you help. Keep spreading peace, calm, and lovingkindness. The world needs it.

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?

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