Thoughts and Actions, Please

Today I’ve been feeling sick. I’m not a gun lover in the first place, and now I feel like we are all just waiting for our turns to be someone’s target. The cynic in me feels that the people who run the US care only about themselves, their families, babies (up to the moment of birth, at which point they are worthless), and guns.

[Some of you may want to stop reading now and go enjoy some Fox News.]


What has sucked the wind out of my sails the most is how I’ve seen regular folks reacting to the endless shootings of people who just happened to be living their lives in the wrong places.

I burned candles in their honor, but won’t stop there.

It’s not just the sincerely uttered “thoughts and prayers,” because I know that’s what people in a certain social group say when they just don’t have anything else to say. No, it’s people who say the ONLY thing you can do to help dead children, teachers, grocery shoppers, and such is to pray.

“My tradition teaches that prayer without action is just noise.”

Rabbi Jack Moline

As my friend Lynn pointed out to me, you don’t hear many ministers saying that. You hear them calling for change. At least the ministers I’ve heard. Rabbi Moline is one of them. Another quote from him:

There is no tradition that, at its core, would justify the massacre of children at school, grandparents at the grocery store, or congregants in a house of worship. And there should be no faith leader that sits idly by while the people we have dedicated our lives to ministering to are slaughtered. Prayer works only when it softens the hardened heart and opens it to the message of healing and justice that flows through every tradition’s scripture. Prayer works only if it leads to confession, contrition and repentance. Prayer works only if it is not an excuse for inaction.

NOTHING PREVENTS THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN A BULLET

Worse than this, I’ve seen people post that it’s not so bad all these people are dying, because that way they get to go meet Jesus and hang out with their deceased relatives sooner rather than later. I’m sorry, but WTF. It’s hard for me to imagine their pacifist god-figure wanting people do die early in a massacre just to hang out with him. Um, I hope they draw comfort from that.

Not a fan

I got so upset that I ran to my trusted sources for words of comfort, words to help me remember who I am, and words to steer ME via my beliefs. My Christian spiritual leader, Jim Rigby reminded me of these words by Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

MLK

And then Jim talked about having the courage to be gentle and find hope as I respond to the hurt I am feeling right now. He is right, of course:

Greek culture had a word for “gentleness” (praus) that actually could meant “power under control.” It was sometimes used for a powerful animal that had been tamed. Today “gentleness” might refer to finding the courage not to use violence to solve all of our problems. Before we can tackle the problem of gun violence we must first ask ourselves an important question: Does our nation have the courage to be gentle?

Guns are no replacement for the civic virtue of courage. This nation cannot be saved by military grade weapons in the hands of cowardly spirits. Human decency requires the bravery to steer by our hopes not our fears.

Jim Rigby, Facebook

While all that helped me spiritually, I still am faced with even more blatant 1984-style language and proclamations by civic leaders that my head literally hurts. Why are guns more important than children, I keep wondering? Why is “freedom” more important than protecting the mentally ill and dangerous from themselves and others? I’m not alone. From Richard Stone of Taylor, Texas:

I got in a row on one of the local community pages about arming teachers. Saw this over on Twitter a few minutes ago and now I can’t wrap my head around the cognitive dissonance.

Richard Stone, Facebook

He then quoted someone else who finally put into words what has been causing my hurt:

“I heard this point yesterday and can’t get it out of my mind – TX politicians don’t trust teachers to choose books, but they think arming teachers is a good idea.”

Bethany Albertson

I have a child who is a teacher. He just celebrated five years at Austin ISD and I am proud of him. He was raised in a gun-free household, as was I, and as I have been until things changed around here. I do not want to see him having to protect his students from killers. I want him to teach history and even hide some facts in among the state-mandated stuff. I want him free to care about his students, but also feel free to criticize or discipline appropriately, when necessary, without worrying that kid will come back and shoot him the moment they turn 18. Holy crap that is just plain dystopian. I’m nauseated.

And don’t tell me to move. I’m from here, too.

Anyway, I’m not a crazed snowflake who wants to snatch people’s possessions out of their hands. I’m a mother, a spouse, an aunt, a nature lover, and just a regular human who wants to feel free to have opinions, live in safety, and feel free to spread love, kindness, and even lovingkindness, around the land.

Breathe, Suna

But to also speak up. So many folks I know have been afraid to say we need to do something about the gun worship culture here. Why? Because of gun worshippers. Not hunters, not safety officers. People who literally LOVE the things and don’t give a shit how many people have to die because of it.

Some bunny loves us all. Me.

As so many people I know have been asking, how did we get here? Can we make things better. I want to help.

Bad Mental Health Day

I’m not ashamed that I’ve dealt with anxiety most of my life. I’m just wired that way. For the past few years I’ve done a lot of work to manage the stress levels in my life. I’ve:

  • Changed jobs.
  • Cut out volunteer work where people didn’t respect me or weren’t truthful.
  • Minimized contact with people who put me down or try to manipulate me.
  • Changed my internal self talk to be more positive.
  • Made good progress on liking myself even when I can see my unlikeable traits.
  • Stopped trying to fix things I can’t control, including wars, divisive politics, other people’s beliefs, and other people’s actions.
  • Spent more time in nature.
  • Got more exercise. Especially with horses.
And I keep flowers in my life.

Nonetheless, BOOM, anxiety attacked me today. My chest has hurt all day. Badly. My neck has tingled. My mouth feels numb. All the fun stuff.

Poor Bitmoji me.

I think it’s because my boss said yesterday that I interrupt too much. He’s totally right. It’s why I hate talking on the phone or in groups. I have a weird inability to take turns in conversation. That’s got to be annoying to others, since I’m often embarrassed when it happens.

I’d like to disappear.

Everyone has issues. But sensitive people like me can take a small comment and leap to conclusions, like that they won’t renew my contract because of it. I know I’m a good writer, though, which helps counter my conversational impairment. I can edit writing. No wonder most of my jobs have been online!

Not my best thing

The thing is, I know I shouldn’t beat myself up for things I know are an issue but am working hard on. I’m paying attention and trying once again to be quieter in meetings. Usually my issues rear up when I relax and stop self censoring. I guess the real me is just an over-talking, sarcastic, judgmental bitch. But a lovable one, right?

I’ll knit you a heart.

At this point in my life, it’s going to be easier to just accept myself and enjoy being with people who accept me, warts and all. I’ll certainly return the favor and grant them the grace to be their flawed selves. I should add that to the end of my bullet points above.

Sigh. I was going to destress by riding Apache, but I realized the horses are now all together, which I hadn’t realized was imminent. They all ran far away. Mmm. Grass. I think two horses are going to the Farm this weekend, which will be easier on Drew.

Instead, I really-did my horse playground, since it was taken apart to mow, and a new fence is going to cut some of it off. That was enough exercise!

Ready to jump, slalom, figure 8, circle, and side pass. And plenty of leg yield space.

See, I’m flexible and going with the flow and adapting to change. Gooooooo Suna.

Anyway, I love you all, imperfect as we all are.

Shocked and Sad

When you live in a small town, things affect the whole community. We lost a friend yesterday. I’ll skip the gory details and just say it was a real shock to lose Christi.

Horse riding a few years ago.

I have Christi to thank for Fiona. If she hadn’t remembered I wanted a little donkey, Fiona might not have gotten rescued from the sale barn. Thanks to this kindness, I’ve had five years of donkey love.

At Christi’s ranch in 2016, the day I met Fiona.

We had many horse adventures and shared an interest in essential oils. In fact, it’s thanks to Christi and oils the I became a Master Naturalist. I went to a class she held at our beloved Dutch Towne Deli. Dorothy (not normal dot in the comments) was there and told me about the next class. Thank goodness for that bit of fortune!

Sigh. Our political differences split up our friendship, and I really miss lunches with her and her mom. But I still cared about Christi. She had a kind heart. She did not deserve to be taken from her friends and family this way.

I’m sending much sympathy to her grieving family, friends, and community. It’s hard to believe.

Quick Hello

I’m not able to write much, due to not only work and figuring out all this moving stuff, but also because I’m sad. A good friend from my volunteer past, Terry Stafford, died a few days ago from a stomach cancer that came on fast and hard. That’s the one that seems to hit people I particularly love.

Here’s sad ole Suna showing how to move more things to your permanent house. Wear them.

Sadness is to be expected, but I’m actually pretty overcome with fear. You see, some of her children stopped speaking to her years ago, saying some things about her that she didn’t understand, and didn’t want to try to work things out. It broke her heart and caused so much pain, but nothing she tried helped. She died unable to reconcile with them.

I’m also transporting these boots. Clever.

What a sad thing. I don’t know the whole story, so I’m not blaming any party, just sad that they couldn’t work it out. And I’m now coming to realize that could happen to me. After 2.5 years, will my older son every decide to let me know what his issue is? I sure hope so. When they said parenthood is hard, I thought they meant the early part. This grief is always there, even as I learn to live with it.

Meanwhile, I learned today that one of my favorite speakers in our Master Naturalist program, Dr. Alston Thoms, passed away in June. He was supposed to be our speaker last month, and that explains why we hadn’t heard from him. Read his obituary to learn about a life well led and a person who truly loved all of humanity, all living things, and the land.

Well, hope your day is going well. Hug people you love.

Thirty Years Ago Today

On January 15, 1991, the Gulf War was all that was on the news. I was, however, preoccupied with other things, since the previous day, I’d taken a very bumpy and snowy drive to the local hospital in Urbana, Illinois, where I’d spent the least-pleasant day and night in my life. No one wants the gory details, but in the end, the day dawned with a new human being in the world, my son, Kynan. The name means high and mighty in Welsh, or something like that.

Cute little tongue!

I have to say that this baby brought so much joy to his parents, grandparents, and friends that it was totally worth the interventions and ickiness of his birth. We had so much fun with this bright, funny, and entertaining little soul.

He started talking at nine months. We went into the back yard to look at the stars, and he pointed up and declared, “Moon!” He’s never done things the standard way. My dad said K. was revenge for how I was as a baby and toddler. I apparently talked constantly, too. Lucky for me, I was in my element gabbing away and reading to my little buddy.

Woodland exp0lorer (sorry, bad photo; it’s high on a shelf)

He was also an annoyingly early walker, but again, that was fine. He got his dad’s athletic build and skill, that’s for sure.

Raising this young man was one of the great joys of my life. I always enjoyed his friends and was impressed with his loyalty to them. If a friend crossed some line, though, they were out. His sense of right and wrong has always been very strong. His intellect is bright and very sharp; he’s fun to debate with (he was good at it in school!). He’s a gifted musician, and I always loved listening to him play his mandolin.

Stick a beard on it, and that’s him as an adult.

The other greatest joy I had was proofreading his college papers. It was awesome to see how his writing became better and better during college. By the time he as finished, he wrote as well as me and didn’t need my help (and I couldn’t really understand the philosophy stuff, as he’d passed me long ago).

I’m very proud of his work as a high-school teacher, and have worried about him a lot during the COVID-19 period. That has had to be so challenging for someone who cares so much for his students.

Here, he looks like an angel. Even though it hurts, I look at this every day.

Anyway, it’s a sad day for me on January 15, 2021. Like many people I know, I have a child who will not communicate with me. The last time I heard from him normally was two years ago today. It’s been a hard time for both of us, I think, as there have been many challenges in both our lives. I hope though, that he is happy with his family and household, and thinks of me in positive ways, at least occasionally. I know when he’s ready, he’ll get in touch again and I’ll find out what caused him to ghost me two years ago.

If you have a close relationship with your children, tell them you love them often! And if you’re estranged, hold hope and love in your heart. That’s about all I can do. I’m not looking for advice, just sharing how things are right now. My sadness today is perfectly normal, and I’ll be fine and keep coping.

My children aren’t big on gift giving. This is my treasure, which he had made for some band fundraiser in high school.

Change is always possible, and is inevitable. I’ll be here for my son whenever he wants me to be.

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.

Missing the Ranch and Keeping My Spirits Up

It’s really weird to have not been at the ranch the entire month of November, especially since that’s usually a great month to be there (good weather, frisky pets, lots of time for walking). It didn’t help at all that I spent a good bit of time wandering around the area on Google Maps trying to figure out where those two people drowned. I think I got it located a bit further away from our property than I’d feared, but still adjacent. It makes me so sad.

In happier news, my one orchid that didn’t succumb to some evil scale has rewarded us with many blossoms.

I listened to a news report that said the victims had fallen out of their boat and got caught up in pond weeds. That’s exactly what I had feared. Even if you can swim, that stuff can get you. One guy had a young family and one was just 22, so young. They’re having a football game to raise money for their families. Traion Smith was just an amazing athlete in high school, and a nice young man. The news report showed the former Cameron coach breaking into tears at the thought of losing him. Life sure has its twists and turns.

Anyway, I ended up looking at what great quality the Google Maps images of our property are. I really liked how you could see each cow and all the cattle paths in the bottom pasture next to our house.

All the cows are at upper right, and you can see where they walk. The image can even get closer in! That’s Walker’s Creek and one of the streams that meets up with it.

I was disappointed that I could not see Apache or Fiona, nor the chickens. I guess the photo was taken just before we got the chicken house. So, you’re spared those images.

Sunset looking out by neighbor Ruth’s house. I love how the oak leaves are shining.

While I do miss the ranch (and its occupants, including my poor lonely quarantined husband!), I’m enjoying some time in Austin. We got to take a walk with our neighbor, Ruth, who regaled us with tales of trying to buy groceries at the H-E-B (we went a bit later ’cause I had to fill my prescription, and it wasn’t so bad). She went to the Randall’s store full of “old people” and it wasn’t crowded. That store is always full of old people! And, if you don’t live in Texas, we realize H-E-B is a weird name, but since it’s named after Mr. Butts, you can understand the choice.

Roses in my flower arrangement. They help me feel better.

And since I’m in Austin, we can have my son’s little family unit to eat out on the deck, to minimize germs and all, like we keep being told to do. It will be very small, but good.

Giant mum about to explode. This arrangement had such great autumn colors.

We will get through these challenging times. Sometimes it’s easier than other times, but I feel like all this practice of empathy, compassion, and forgiveness that’s come out of the pandemic, the election, and the personal issues of those around me will benefit me the rest of my life.

I don’t know what this flower is, but I love the way only part of it is in focus.

I hope you enjoy the photos of the flowers I got at the store and our sunset. I saw no sunsets in Utah, because the mountains were to the west. That’s okay, mountains are pretty, too. Share what’s keeping you happy and in the moment, if you want to!

Do We Have to Hide from Each Other?

I realize I keep coming back to this topic, but I’m really concerned. While there have always been different points of view, different “teams” that we’re on, and strong feelings about them (this morning I was thinking about Tudor England and the religious issue), I never have seen that these divisions have helped societies move forward and improve people’s lives. The deepest times of division have led to death, poverty, and great sadness.

Not sorry to be a hippie.

I’ve felt a lack of kinship with people in the US much of my life. Most Presidential and other more local elections tend to be close, meaning there are lots of us on each side. I admit that I was not fond of perhaps most Presidents of the USA. But, I didn’t run away and hide from people who liked those leaders. I still worked with them, went to school with them, socialized with them, etc. I was never so afraid of them that I felt I needed to hide.

Even in the last four years, when people were arming themselves, calling people like me horrible names, and threatening violence against us, I didn’t feel like I had to hide. I did contain my strongest thoughts to smaller circles of friends, but I didn’t want to abandon my other friends and acquaintances. They mattered to me, and still do.

So, I am really disappointed and sad that many people, including people I have enjoyed being around, are running away from the rest of us to go off to their own special social media platform. It’s fine to go be around people like yourself. I think it’s a really human impulse to want to want to be able to relax and not self-censor quite so much, at least some of the time. But, I really hope most of these folks don’t completely abandon places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., where you can be with people like yourself AND get exposed to other ideas and perspectives.

I can’t caption this. I keep being passive aggressive. That makes me human, right?

Please, friends, don’t take your toys and go hide just because you’re in the minority. Most of us have been in the minority our whole lives and it’s been okay. Sharing power and influence might even make life easier, who knows if we don’t give it a chance?

Even we hermits of the Hermits’ Rest really don’t want to hide from everyone who isn’t “one of us.” There is so much we have in common. I know I harp on this, but it’s true! We need to work together to deal with the pandemic, to create good jobs in our communities (like our company, which has people of ALL perspectives in it), and to keep each other safe. I just wish our common humanity and citizenship of the same planet mattered to more of us.

Anyway, thank you to everyone who is willing to continue talking to each other, caring for each other, and considering each other’s perspectives. We don’t need a civil war, violence, or separate societies. We can disagree, protest, and work toward our goals without hurting or deserting each other. I sure hope.

I’m going to be sure to let people I know hear that I care about them. What about you?

Wake, with Dogs

After spending the evening with friends, remembering a beloved community member who had passed, I tried to watch the US Presidential debate.

I’d had too much wine for it. I went out into the “quiet” in front of the house. As the night sounds hummer in my ears, I looked up at the moon, thinking of Lori and Dale, who are no longer with us. I sang my favorite hymn, to the waxing moon.

For the beauty of the earth, for the splendor of the skies, For the love which from our birth over and around us lies, Source of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

I sent up my wishes for healing and peace.

Then I looked around. Four dogs had come out with me. All four were standing quietly, looking in the same direction as me. I’d swear they were praying with me. It was powerful.

Thank you, Carlton, Alfred, Penney, and Harvey.

Reach Out to Someone Right Now

Hard day.

Two woman I admired very much passed away within 24 hours of each other. Both from breast cancer complications, to simplify things. I’m glad they each had so many friends who treasured them. We have so many shared memories.

I can’t tell you to go out and hug your friends. That’s because COVID is also hurting people I care about right now. It’s way too close for comfort.

So…reach out to people you care about. Maybe a couple a day. We never know how long we will have with people we care about. Or how long we have in this life.

Thanks to all of you for being one of my connections.

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