Boring Weather Update

Hmph. So many local people I know are posting photos of their kids seeing their first snow and such. What do we have at the Hermits’ Rest Ranch? Rain. Sleet at best.

Yep. We managed to get right between the snowy parts. There was some “wintry mix” earlier, because I see white stuff outside and there is some ice on the metal roof. and the precipitation is falling at an odd angle.

Squint your eyes and you can see white.

All is not lost, though. the temperature is going down. We may well get some pretty stuff to enjoy. And I don’t have to drive today!

Glad to have a closet organization project to work on in between knitting and reading my next fascinating book.

My cute organization boxes! Better than a line of shoeboxes!

I’ll be back with something more interesting than this slice of my Sunday morning later today. So far, all I have is watching murders of crows fly back and forth and looking at sleet. I have confidence we will get our rare mid-Texas snow!

How to make it snow

Blog that you’re pouting about a lack of snow. This is less than 5 minutes after I first posted.

That’s snow.

2020 Strikes Again! Flood!

Yesterday the wetness was just a preview. Starting last night it really, really rained. That storm system is quite intense! We’ve had over four inches so far, and others have had more. So, yeah, the ponds are now full.

Water flowing into front pond.

I was able to get out to drive to the office this morning, but soon after, Mandi called to tell me the road by the creek was flooded.

Here’s her photo showing a truck having trouble crossing.

Luckily, the surge didn’t last long and I was able to get back around 1pm. Lee had removed some debris from the road, so cars were safer.

You can see how much higher the water was. All that brown is balloon vine, which floats.

The chickens were very happy to have their new roof. The uncovered part of their run became a puddle, but the covered part was fine. They didn’t come out of the coop until I gave them some scratch.

Meanwhile, I had to feed the horses. I decided to walk, since I have that great new coat, hat, and gloves. I checked out the water, of course.

The trees you see are the creek. I’m always amazed how quickly this happens.

I dawdled a while watching the water flow, which I probably shouldn’t have done, since it started raining again. But it was cool.

Here, watch how fast the creek is flowing!

My coat protected me, and I was able to feed the horses and Big Red, who all seemed just fine. I enjoyed the exercise and once again surprised myself at enjoying bad weather.

Water flowing from the front pond to our happy stream.

So, it will be a chilly new year. I have pot toast happening, and some Prosecco for tonight. Happy New Year.

When It Rains, It’s Wet

Ya know, because of the pandemic and all, Lee and I don’t go anywhere very often. But, today we really had to go to Austin, since my car has a tire with a big ole bubble in it that needed to be fixed, and we hadn’t given my son and his partner anything for Christmas yet (we knew what they needed/wanted).

I wish.

Naturally, today is the day it finally rained some real rain, rather than in dribs and drabs and hundredths of inches. It’s the big storm that’s going to mess up New Year’s for the “important” parts of the US, i.e., the east coast. We always need rain, so yay for the weather.

Except we had to drive, and Lee doesn’t like driving in the rain, even in his new vehicle with the spooky features like adaptive cruise control. Nonetheless, I’m the one in the family who does what they say they will do when they say they will do it, so off we went.

Rain and drenched Christmas decorations.

Yep, it rained a lot. But, there were fun clouds to look at (especially if you were in the passenger seat, I grant that). We managed to find the Costco store in south Austin, and got somewhat wet going in there. Still, the trip was a success, because though the store looked crowded, people were distancing themselves like old pros, AND we found a darned large television for a good bit less than $300. In my mind those cost three or four times that much, so that was a deal (and the picture quality was great!). Plus, the rain let up while we loaded the car.

We easily found the apartment complex of the young folks (Lee had never been there, since he doesn’t go to Austin unless he HAS to), and handed over the television in the parking lot, avoiding any meetings in confined quarters. They appeared to be pretty thrilled.

They look sneaky to me.

Then, they gave me a VERY thoughtful gift that they’d looked hard for on Ebay. Sniff. That was so sweet. And, off Lee and I went again. No dilly dallying.

It will do.

The new car told us in no uncertain terms that we needed to get gas, so we planned to stop halfway home. The horses and chickens needed food, and I needed a calendar to mark horse feedings on (because SmartPack, the supplement supplier, didn’t send us a calendar for the first time in many years!).

Well, our luck with the rain ended there. A real downpour began, and there was no way to avoid a real soaking. My boots, pants, sweater, and most of all my hair…all soaked through. I looked like a young man of some sort who just swam across a lake, and no amount of SnapChat filtering would fix it. I did laugh a lot at myself, which confused Lee, poor guy.

To be honest, I’m blathering a bit, because I am sad. I’m happy I got to write about Carlton. And I’m so glad I got to see the kids today, because this week has just been chock full of bad news that really isn’t blog material. And no, it’s not all people from our business, though our staff and clients have gotten some raw deals from the hands of fate, that’s for sure.

The worst. Today I found out a young man I’d always liked passed away in a house fire, and that was just the last straw. My heart just aches for his parents and sister, who have always been incredibly kind to me.

Please tell people you care about that you’re there for them. I’m gonna even tell the son who won’t speak to me. Because I do still care.

Rainy Saturday of Love

Hooray! It’s actually REALLY raining today. This is what we need to refill the ponds and help all the plants over the winter. That said, I don’t look forward to going out in it!

Someday we will pave that giant puddle.

Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed a morning with Lee. I even gave him his anniversary card (note that the anniversary was November 29). I’d left it in Austin. But, there’s rarely a bad time to remind your partner in life that you love them!

Lee wants to keep the wooden part. Good card.

It’s nice to spend a morning enjoy your loved ones. Harvey’s giant belly has been rubbed a lot! Carlton is under the bed, because it thundered.

I’m watching it rain.

I’m especially grateful to be home and warm, since the rest of the household had to go out and do some hard work. I love their dedication. The personal assistance service is not an easy thing to run!

A Question

I was thinking about how much I love our former Christmas tree that’s now a tribute to nature, peace, and our pets. The poor thing no longer lights and has gotten droopy. I think I need to find another tree with mostly bare limbs to put my ornaments on.

It used to be really gorgeous, if non-traditional.

If any of you see a tree that’s at least 6 feet tall and mostly bare (on sale!) that I could order, send me a link in the comments or on other social media! I’m on a quest!

Welcome Rain

Rain may not be an exciting topic to many of you, but to ranchers in Texas, it’s pretty fascinating. The area where the Hermits’ Rest Ranch is located is midway between the very damp eastern part of Texas and the very dry western part. That means we get a medium amount of rain, averaging about 35 inches per year (according to Lee and my friend Lynn).

The street is wet.

This year, we just hit the average amount, thanks to some rain finally falling this week. It hadn’t rained significantly in a few months, so we are officially back in a drought. All the rain was really early in the year last year.

Damp squirrel

I know I’m in Texas when people run into my office, breathlessly informing me it’s raining! And then I have to go out and look outside, to verify (I also go in the little bathroom, where I can hear rain on the roof). Sort of sad what passes for excitement around here.

Listen to the rain. And see how sad the Pope house neighborhood looks.

Though it only rained a half inch over the previous couple of days, it was steady, slow rain, for the most part. That means it soaked in. When it rains hard, it all flows down to the arroyo, off to the stream, into the creek, and ends up in the Little River. That doesn’t help us much.

So, if you see me doing a rain dance, don’t be shocked. Rain is joy around here!

Putting a Dream on Hold

I just did something that both made me sad and and reminded me to be grateful for what I have. This morning (way overdressed for the task), I took down the signs that we’d put up over at the church to direct people to our businesses. I’d had a lot of hopes for the church building, which is still The Hermit Haus in my heart, but plans change and pandemics get in the way.

Even the sky looks bummed out (it rained hard right after this).

What Happened?

Well, long-time readers will know that the Hearts, Homes and Hands business moved to the stately Pope Residence across the street, so the sign for that was confusing (and it had the old phone number). That’s all good! I’m so proud of how well we’re doing and how many people we are able to help, not to mention providing jobs in the community. That’s a winner!

The hermit says goodbye to the door he guarded.

Our Hermit Haus Redevelopment business has wound down, though the real estate work Lee and I do with Hermits’ Rest Enterprises is doing fine. His office is over at the Pope Residence, too, so I put our little hermit by his door. Aww.

He now gets to guard a new door and a fancy air conditioner!

And I had to face it, with all the things going on with the HHH business, as well as some other stuff that’s going on, business-wise, I knew I would not have the time or energy to do something fun with the Hermit Haus for now. Mandi is going to be working in a pharmacy as soon as she finishes her class, and with me still working full time in Austin, when would we be at the building?

No more sign directing people to the basement, either. But, my garden turned out nice and was pretty all summer.

We’ve had one wedding there recently, because one of our team members’ family lost their venue at the last minute. And we had Master Naturalist classes (hybrid Zoom/in person) there last month. So, it gets used, but we aren’t able to really have a business. That dream has to wait.

Yay, we have a sign.

So I decided to admit the dream is over, at least for now, and take those signs down today. The good news is that now we have a sign for HHH at our actual office, which, along with the new address numbers, makes it a lot easier for people to find the office (since we still aren’t bringing in visitors, it’s mainly for people doing job interviews, which there are a LOT of).

It’s All Fine, Change Happens

With so much changing every day in my life, change has become my new normal. And I’m finally getting better at it, I think. I think of plans and schedules as things that might or might not happen. I think of work teams as temporary. Pets, friends, and colleagues are to be enjoyed in the present. Yep, focusing on today really makes things easier. All is well, today, especially since we got the first significant rain of the month today.

How are YOU holding up? Are things too steady or too changeable?

Sure, There’s Fun in There, Somewhere

The last few days have not been in the realm of “fun” for me, for the most part. Just because I CAN do things doesn’t mean they aren’t stressful and tiring. I knew I had to change my team and work in a different way than before, so I did, but between actually doing it, needing support, and spending a LOT of time supporting confused people, by the time last night rolled around I was pooped.

The back pond is full again. And the grass is greener already. Photo by Lee Bruns.

When I got home, I was not up for wading through mud to feed the horses, and besides, I knew they had food and water, due to all the rain (the grass IMMEDIATELY grew). I did check on the very wet chickens and their very wet food (I can’t open one of their feeders, so, it was all in a very wet bowl). As I was checking on the new chickens, Patty ran into the pullet area and wouldn’t come back out. She went right over to poor Henley (who still doesn’t look great, but she’s eating and drinking). I tried as long as I could do remove her, but failed.

I am NOT leaving.

I crawled into bed and had ice cream for dinner. Self care! That was fun.

Today, it’s been raining all day again. The weather around here is just plain weird. But, it’s not hot. And the chimney leaked a lot less than yesterday. See, how great is that?

After surviving (set the bar low, Lee said) the three days of planning meetings with hundreds of people on Zoom, I was happy to find a box on the porch. It contained my new autumn wreath. It’s not too fancy, but will look good on my office door. I wanted to wait until after Labor Day, but I needed some fun, darn it! That will get me through another couple of months, anyway.

Velvet Pumpkins!

My boss said to take the afternoon off, because we’ve earned it, but of course I’ve had to deal with an ornery aging computer genius, and my team all want me to to one on ones and teach them complicated document formatting techniques. I wonder if I can do that while completely empty of mental strength?

I AM taking tomorrow off. Maybe it won’t rain and I can make it up to Apache and Fiona!

End of the Micro-drought

Have you ever heard someone say, “It never rains at my house?” My grandmother would say that. She lived a couple of miles from us when I was a kid, and it would always rain for us and not for her. Well, that is exactly what happened to the Hermits’ Rest Ranch in August.

It rained a few times in Cameron, maybe not a lot, but enough to water the trees a bit. Seven miles down the road, at the ranch, we watched as storms would endlessly form and dissipate around us. I’d be able to see and smell rain, but it would miss, or we’d get a few drops. Lee was excited the day we got .02″ – which barely wet the ground. It’s like we had a micro-drought, just around the Walker’s Creek community.

The rose bushes are getting watered.

My evergreen tree had started to die off, but we only had one set of hoses, which go to the new tree and the chickens. I was going to buy a new one after work today, so I could save it. All the cedar elm trees were turning brown and losing their leaves, not in a lovely fall show, but in a “we need water” display. The oaks still look okay. (I would have a picture, but the rain started in earnest right when I was driving by the best place to show this.)

But, hey, it’s September now. As we always say in this area, “Wait until September, and it will rain again.” And it has! Of course, Cameron seems to have more than we had at the ranch when I left an hour ago, but the radar shows it’s raining at home, too.

This was a half hour ago. College St. is now completely under water. Note how nice our grass doesn’t look.

Speaking of rain in Cameron. When it starts to rain sideways, the flashing on the chimney at the Pope Residence does not block the water. I arrived to the office just as a wind came up, and I heard the festive sounds of running water, heading straight to an electrical outlet. I quickly unplugged the fireplace and found the only bucket Chris hadn’t taken home when he cleaned up.

That looks safe, doesn’t it?

I’m glad it hadn’t been doing that all night! The wind has died down, and it looks like I won’t be hearing dripping all through my half day of intensive meetings today.

Honestly, though, I always hate the summer drought period, and for our micro-climate, this year was the worst since the Big Drought in 2011-12. I will not miss the giant cracks in the earth and the extremely crunchy grass. Apache will be happy to have at least a little green grass again (hopefully not enough to make him sick).

Lee just filled me in. Five inches of rain so far. As usual, we have gone directly from drought to flood!

This means the pond is filling up!

Happy September to all! And isn’t weather interesting?

Rainy Day? OK!

Today’s UU Lent word is rain. Let’s see if it’s as unpopular as “reach” was (yesterday was my lowest number of blog visitors in a LONG time). It’s all good, though, that’s the least of my worried! As for rain…

Rainy morning this morning in a strangely empty Round Rock, Texas. Photo by Amy Mathews-Muttwill, whose husband Thomas has a birthday today, so she was going to get donuts.

It’s been raining a lot for the past month or so. Here in the middle of Texas, we hope that happens every spring, so the tanks (ponds) fill up and the creeks flow for a while. The trees get their yearly long drink of water, and everything gets ready for two or three months of no rain come summer.

I spotted all these raindrops yesterday. I like them as much as “old greenbeans” (who is really Elaine) does.

Last year was the wettest year Lee ever recorded in our gauge, until the rain totally stopped for quite a while. We’ve learned to enjoy the intense green and all the wildflowers in March and April, then to have a different kind of enjoyment as it gets all brown and crispy later.

When it rains this much, I’m okay with it stopping. This is Walker’s Creek by the ranch doing its imitation of a river, April 11 2018 (the day I started this blog). Waterfront living at its finest.

I Like Rain

Lee and I used to always say, “I like rain,” to each other, after we said it at the same time early in our courtship. It was a bonding moment. I have one of those personalities that would be fine living in a damp environment, like Seattle or Ireland. Back when I had Irish inlaws, they’d apologize for the rain there, but it was mostly a light drizzle that made all the roses grow and kept the fields green. I loved it.

Rainbow in Northern Ireland. This is the kind of sight I remember from further south. Image by @joemelendez via Twenty20

And when it rains a lot, there’s always a chance of a beautiful rainbow! When the kids were little and we’d drive all over Ireland, we saw some doozies in places like the Dingle Peninsula. Good memories!

When I was a kid in Gainesville, Florida, we’d love it after tropical storms came through. We would have really big puddles and lots of water in the ditches in front of our yards. We’d get pieces of plywood and spend hours skimming in the water. Our parents would repeatedly tell us there were bad things in the water, but hey, a little ringworm was a small price to pay for all that fun.

Nope, none of these ever wandered up the ditches in Gainesville. We had a canal behind our house in south Florida, though, and it featured gators and water moccasins and such.

In high school, I lived in south Florida (Plantation, yeah I know it’s a dumb name for a town). There it also rained a lot. The typical pattern was to be all nice and sunny until later afternoon, when thunderstorms would come through for an hour or two. That always coincided with the time that 70s teen girls wanted to lay out in their bikinis and get their suntans. Probably it was Nature’s way of trying to prevent our future wrinkles and skin cancers. That rain was always warm, and if it wasn’t thundering, we’d often stay in the pool and enjoy the rain there (almost everyone had a pool back then, even the lower-middle class families like us).

A familiar sight from when I was a teen. You’d watch the rain coming down the street. Image by @cr819081 via Twenty20

No wonder I like rain. I have no idea where all those memories came from, but since I typed them, I’ll leave them here. It’s nice to think about good times in the past, anyway. It’s a good distraction.

Penney loves her little pond, which is all full thanks to the rain for the past few weeks.

So, go ahead! Share your memories about rain. Are you like Pickle, Anita’s dog, who truly loathes rain and wetness? Or are you more like Penney, who is grateful rain makes her swimming hole bigger?

Aftermath

This is just a brief note to let you all know that, after my undignified fall, I got through yesterday okay and am okay today so far. I am just stiff and sore. I am proud to say that by walking slowly around the house during a couple of phone calls, I managed to keep my streak of hitting my movement goal going, so now it’s up to 154 days. I’m glad that once I’m actually up, walking is fine. I actually got in more steps yesterday than the day before, but they sure weren’t brisk after I went BOOM.

I was proud of myself when I hit the goal.

Now that I am older, it takes longer to recover from falls and such. Actually, falling makes me feel old, but I would have fallen where I was yesterday at any age. I’m just going to make the most of it and pay attention to where the hurt is each day.

For example, yesterday my chest muscles hurt so badly that I honestly didn’t notice anything else. Who knows how falling on my back strained them, but it sure did. Today, though, my shoulders and upper back are reminding me that I fell on them, and my upper leg is tender. Interestingly, my arms now hurt from trying to break the fall. It’s not bad, but it’s THERE.

And I realize I hit my head, thanks to the headache and bruising back there. I haven’t had any “concussion protocol” symptoms (thanks to American football on television, I know what they are), so I am pretty sure I will heal fine.

Since it is still raining hard, I have been sure to put on sturdy shoes today. We’re grateful for that rain!

That looks a heck of a lot better. Photo by Chris.

I’m grateful that I don’t see any bruising anywhere, though I’m surprised, knowing how hard I hit the deck. (Ha ha, I literally hit the deck.) You just never know what the effect of an incident will be! I hope there are no lingering symptoms, like the ankle that still occasionally hurts from when Carlton pulled me down the hill as a puppy. THAT incident produced a LOT of colorful bruising.

But, I am not hurt badly, so don’t worry about me. I’ll be back to other topics now, like renovation progress. I was so happy to see that they scraped all the paint smears off the stained glass over the front door. It will look so good once everything is cleaned and re-painted (carefully).