"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin

Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.

"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oh, My Bugs!

bug, bee and amphibian accommodations

I went to the River Bend Nature Center for the "Pollinator Workshop", presented by Penny Miller, (It was free!) because I wanted to get some input on why my bees don't get water anymore from my bird baths and fountain like they've done for the past twenty or so years.  No help there. "They must have found another water source." I don't buy that, but whatever. The hive is active and seems to be in good shape so I'll not spend any more time on it, just pleased that I don't have to worry about drowning them when I add water to the bird baths.

I had decided early yesterday that I need to forget about how my job ended and enjoy the results of not having it.  In looking for something else, I found a quote from Abraham that said, "If conditions have to change for you to be happy, you're screwed." The next one said, "If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was on the way?"

Sitting in that seminar, hearing about things that fascinate me,  I felt more alive and interested than I have in months. I was already planning to bring Seth to see and walk the trails and I realized, this is what I need to blog about!

we could do something similar to this with the
walnut tree stump
There was so much said in this seminar, I'd never be able to cover it all, but here are some highlights.

The reason for the workshop was to pass along information to homeowners about how to help our pollinators who are in trouble due to many things.  I hadn't really thought about it, but honey bees are not our only pollinators -- and they certainly are not the most important ones.

Of the estimated 20,000 species of bees, the honey bees are just a fraction.  Did you know that honey bees are not native to the Americas?  They weren't here until the Europeans introduced them -- and the flowers, fruits and crops flourished without them.

I asked about the quote "If the bees die, we all die", but Penny Miller said, "We'd get real hungry."

Unfortunately, the honey bees aren't the only pollinators in trouble.

There is a very proficient pollinator, called a "solitary bee"? Solitary bees don't build big colonies.  Since they don't have a hive or nest to protect, they rarely sting. Penny said many solitary bees are so small we might not realize they are bees.  I think I've seen some around so I'm hoping to see more!

Ronnie and I had an on-going disagreement about the yard, so he manicured the front and I let the back yard turn into a bit of a wildlife sanctuary. He applied commercial fertilizers and pre-emergent, where I went to using dried molasses to fertilize the grass- and get rid of fire ants.  I refused to put pre-emergent on the back lawn.  If it's green, it's welcome is my philosophy. Weeds keep dog paws out of mud just like grass does.

At the Pollinator's Workshop, I got some validation for my preferences in the back yard.  There are lots of untidy places but as it turns out, I made the right decisions for many species of pollinators. There is a stand of bamboo, which I curse all the time when it sprouts in the grassy areas, but underneath this bamboo is a perfect area for insects to burrow.

The red wasps and yellow jackets have found well concealed homes all over the yard.  They freak Deidre out because she's been stung so many times, but I don't have a problem with them.  As far as I'm concerned they can stay, but she lives here too, so they'll have to learn to communicate with her better or they'll be "shot" on sight.

There were many suggestions on how we can help the pollinators, number one is stop killing every bug we see. And stop using general purpose insecticides that kill every bug close to where it's sprayed. Use native plants in your landscape because we have a native insect population. They thrive more on what Mother Nature intended to be their diet. Build a "bug house". 

Ronnie originally built this bird house for some fancy pigeons, but that didn't work out very well.  Eventually squirrels claimed it.  This year it seems to be vacant. The metal poles it sits on are in concrete, so there's no removing it without a lot of work, so I decided to put my "insect habitat a.k.a. bug house" under it.
beginning the bug house

As soon as I say I want something, Deidre and Andy get started. I'd shown them all the neat bug houses on the internet, and since junk is one of Andy's many interests, he was right on it.

getting started

They had already gathered some free wood pallets for other  projects, so they used them to build a bug hotel.

And we ended up with this. There are still lots of spaces to put stuff in.  This took care of a lot of bamboo stalks we had bundled and standing around thinking they have to be good for something. It'll also be a good place to shove those small bamboo twigs and starts that come up under the deck.  We used a lot of pecan trigs that I had gathered for kindling, but since we are in a burn ban, those have really accumulated. We added bits of interest, like the red railroad lantern and an old broken Roy Rogers toy lantern, a rusted half Texas truck 1950 license plate. Old glass drink bottles laying down fit perfectly. So did some glass electric insulators. Bricks with holes make good hiding places.  So does a piece of rolled up turf.  The deer horns on top will provide calcium for the squirrels.  As they chew, they'll drop bits that the birds will enjoy.  I intend to put a water source near by.

Some more interesting bits of information from the workshop.  Purple Martins don't eat mosquitoes -- at least not very many.  Martins feed during the day, mosquitoes come out at night.  Bats are our best natural mosquito controllers. So instead of buying Purple Martin houses, invest in bat houses! Wild Birds Unlimited has some awesome ones. They looked kind of complicated to DIY.

Did you know that the main pollinators of strawberries, onions and carrots are flies? Yep That kinda grossed me out, but there are many different species of flies, too, other than horse flies and house flies.

Hummingbirds are the primary pollinators of wildflowers.

There is also a mammal pollinator, the mouse lemur of Madagascar.

As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop.  Thanks to River Bend Nature Center for hosting the seminar, and to Penny Miller for all the interesting information. And thanks to Andy Pruett and Deidre for always being willing to help.

Check out all the neat bee and bug hotels here http://www.inspirationgreen.com/insect-habitats.html
They have an awesome green website!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What Does Happy Feel Like Now?

As I begin this brand new day, my dominant intent is to be happy.  Nothing is more important, more essential or more beneficial to my well-being than that I look for that which pleases me, that I find fun, interesting, joyful things to think about and talk about.  So today, regardless of where I am, what I'm doing or who is with me, I will focus on the things around me that please me.  In other words, I'm gonna get happy – --  in every way I can -- for no other reason than it feels good to be happy."

I posted a version of this blog a couple of years ago.  I dug it out to read it. I've revised it because I needed to think about and update my appreciation for my happiness level. As my understanding about how things work expands and grows, my ability to "get happy"  -- regardless of what else is going on, also expands and grows.

Lauren,  Buzz and Randy

So what does happy feel like on a day to day, minute by minute basis?  I say more pleased than displeased, more satisfied than aggravated.  Happy might come when you feel the relief of letting go of or giving up a struggle that seems hopeless and has seemed so for quite a while.  You might feel it when you make the decision to stop worrying about anything and everything, when you finally say, "That's it.  That's all I can do," or  "This problem really doesn't belong to me, so why am I stressing out about it?"

Dawn and Howard

It comes as you  watch someone else acting silly and having fun.

And when you see old friends reunite. It's remembering the good times -- always.

Cowboy Seth

Happy is how I feel petting my dog, cat, or touching any of my critters. It's when I hug my child or grandchild.  It's seeing new growth on a favorite plant, seeing a good mood smile on the face of a loved one.  It comes when I have a real live cowboy on horseback in my kitchen. Happy comes in fleeting moments that we often don't notice or stop to appreciate.

For me, it's also when I see the daffodils and iris come up in my flowerbeds after a deep freeze of a winter.  It happens when a sweet fragrance comes to me from clean towels or sheets. I feel it as I watch the squirrels frolicking around my back yard.

I feel happy when I have a fresh package of paper, a page of postage stamps, or a new notebook to write in.  I feel it when I have a stretch of time that isn't already obligated to something else.  I feel it every time I sell a book, every time I pull up and stop in my driveway and see my house waiting for me to come inside.  I feel it every morning when I smell the fresh coffee brewing, when I watch the sun come up through my beautiful new windows and when I watch the sun set, painting the sky in pinks and lavenders.

Rainbows always bring a sense of pleasant awe. 

I feel happiness when I get animal pictures and videos on Facebook and through emails.  I feel it when I see the cute faces of teddy bears and other stuffed animals.

Happy feels like seeing my children, my grandchildren, old friends and new friends. It's seeing their name come up on my cell phone. It feels like realizing that a friend is going to be ok after a tragedy has struck her family.  It's finding those sturdy paper coffee cups that come with clamp on lids in a stack of six for a dollar.  It's cold wind blowing on my face when I'm having a hot flash.  It's having a hot flash when I'm cold.

We humans have a tendency to consider happiness as a long term situation, sometimes even a future goal and in doing that, we minimize the importance of or completely ignore these momentary bits of joy that can occur hundreds of times a day—if we're paying attention.

Life is now.  This moment right now is the only guaranteed time we have, so why spend it agonizing about current events over which you have little or no control?  Look for the things that please you.  You'll be surprised how many different things in life will make you smile.  You might be surprised at how much better you'll feel about a whole bunch of stuff when you "get happy -- in every way you can".

From my trip to Oregon! That trip made for some major long term happies!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Goes On

Gail and Tom Wisdom took this outstanding picture from their home in Canyon Trails

Life goes on -- whether you lose a loved one or a job, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Abraham says conflict (stuff we don't like or want) is what spurs us to do something different than what we are currently doing.  I'm sure this is true because I have a tendency to stay where I am as long as I'm comfortable  -- sometimes way past when I cease to be comfortable -- because what is familiar -- even if it's not so good -- feels safer than the unknown.

I'll miss the funny stuff going on at the flower shop.  I'll miss some of the interesting folks I've met while working there.  I'll miss Larry.  He came most Thursdays to get roses for his wife and he talked to me about Texas Rangers baseball.  He explained a lot about the game to me and made it easier for a new fan to follow and enjoy.

I'll miss Martha.  Her gentleman friend, Bob, sent her flowers each time she had her hair done at the salon next door. She always came by to tell us this week's arrangement was the prettiest ever.  Nice lady.

I miss my co-worker, Dawn.  I'll miss our conversations about projects around our homes, stories about her wonder dog, Bullock, and her kids and grandkids. I'll miss my young friend, Mason, but he's in good hands now, so I don't have to worry about him.

Flower shops are major gossip centers.  They know who died. They know who is leaving what to who in their will and who has been disowned, too. They know who is cheating on their spouse and with whom. They always get the scoop on divorces, you know -- who got what, how well the wife will be set up for the rest of her life, that kind of vital information and bankruptcies, which politician didn't pay his taxes, and why businesses close their doors.

I guess for some folks, a florist is like a beautician, you can tell them anything. You can tell them everything -- and many people do. I have never figured out why.

I'll probably have withdrawals not hearing which wealthy woman married which wealthy man, and the really important stuff like who's daughter will have the most expensive debutante dress, what a spoiled brat she is, how much so-and so paid for their car or their mansion, how much they spent on their Christmas decorations and how much those damned bird vases cost. Just kidding.

What I will miss the most, though, is the flowers. They have been a beautiful part of my daily life for forty five years.  Maybe Deidre can bring me some every once in a while from her job. Maybe the drought will end soon and we can resume planting the lovelies in our yards again.

Deidre and I decided to take Seth out of day care and let him stay with me. He'd gotten where he didn't want to go to "school" again, so it was a battle every morning.  It's the path of least resistance. He only has one more year before he'll go to kindergarten, (if he goes) (homeschooling seems more and more probable) so we're gonna spend it together, and keep that daycare money in the family till.

I get up early every morning.  Since I've been off this past three weeks,  the third book in the Kirkland Saga, "When Hell Freezes Over" is moving forward nicely.  I hope to finish it by the end of September or early October.  Then start the polishing and publishing.

Life goes on.  That's good.  I'm happy and I feel relaxed for the first time in a long, long time.

I can live with this. :)

Seth and the Princess Feathers

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where Will This Path Lead Me?

Light House on the Oregon Coast

Life is complicated.

Recently, it got more so than I was willing to endure any longer.

Abraham encourages taking the path of least resistance, but sometimes it's hard to identify which path is the one of least resistance. That's where I've been for two and a half years -- trying to figure it out.

I'm more comfortable financially if I work, but the challenges I faced the days I was on the job began to out weigh the benefit of the pay check.

In the 45 years I was married to Ronnie, I learned alternative methods of dealing with his ability to blow sky high over some simple irritant.

I don't think I should have to do that at work.

So I dangled on the rope of uncertainty for many months.

I went on my "trip of a lifetime" to Oregon and when I got home the power play at work continued.

One evening after I'd locked up the pigeons for the night, I realized I was still trying to figure out the puzzles (there were several) at work, worrying about what kind of reception I'd get on the first day I was "allowed" to come back, and suddenly a voice in my head said, "just let go of the rope."

But I went back to work the next day. The reception was rather chilly. Very little enthusiasm to hear about all the beautiful stuff I'd seen and photographed on my trip.  No "let's see the pictures" even though we only had a couple of orders to deal with.

You might think my feelings were hurt, but it felt more like confirmation that I should just "let go of the rope".

So I did.

I gave it a weekend of thought then turned in my key Monday morning.

I wish it had not turned out this way, but situations that actually had nothing to do with me changed the work environment into one of "hell if you do and hell if you don't".

The feelings of relief come with every reminder that I don't have to deal with it anymore.

One thing I've learned for sure is that money isn't everything.

I have a home, a car, enough money for food and gas, and I have internet access, so I'm happy.

In fact, I'm thrilled. I am finally free and I'm looking forward to seeing where this new path leads.

My Thacker's Trail

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's Home Again and Home Again

long roads of Wyoming

Thinking about how to wrap up this series of posts about my "trip of a lifetime", the words, "It's home again and home again" kept coming to mind, so I googled it to find the poem that was taunting me, which turned out to be America for Me, by Henry Van Dyke.  It didn't really fit, so I "paraphrased" to suit my need.  Sorry, Henry.

Texas is For Me

'Tis fine to see the Old West, to travel up and down
among the famous places and cities of renown
To admire the mighty mountains. Oh the Redwoods, they are kings,
but now I think I've had enough of all those distant things.

So it's home again and home again! Texas is for me!
My heart is turning home again and there I long to be.
In the land of heat  and contrast -- so near and yet so far
where the air is full of sunlight and the flag has but one star!

You can read Mr. Van Dyke's version here -- if you want to.

leaving Mountain Home, Utah, early am.

As soon as we left Mountain Home, Utah, we headed for Wyoming.  I think the only stop we made was at Little America which is an awesome oasis in the middle of nowhere. Gas station, restaurant, nice motel, gift shop, convenience store, RV and long haul truck facilities.  I'm sure if you needed to stop and take a nap in your car in the parking lot, you'd be welcome to do that too.

Wyoming was different the second time we drove through it.  On the way, we were so anxious to get to  Oregon, everything in between was just "there".  On the way home, I saw Wyoming in a different light.  It is indeed "big sky country" even if that designation does belong to Montana. The mountains of southern Wyoming were beautiful in their own way, bare, stark.  But having little vegetation also allows the viewer to see the distinct and unusual shape of the land.  I hoped to see the starry sky but clouds rolled in and the cloud cover, with intermittent rain, stayed with us all the way to Colorado Springs

We checked in at a Comfort Inn right off I-25 in Colorado Springs.  The next morning, we had breakfast courtesy of the motel and headed out again.

I stopped for gas just south east of Trinidad, Colorado.  I guess I thought that should get me home because I totally forgot about it until we ran out just past the first exit for Electra!

We'd plugged in a new audio book and I guess it was interesting enough, neither Dotti nor I even thought about gas again.

From the grass along 287, I called my sister-in-law, Becky Prentice, who lives in Electra. She and her husband Aubrey came to our rescue, then followed us on into a station in Iowa Park. A big thank you, for that!

So, I'm home, and my "trip of a lifetime" has become a full volume of wonderful memories that will delight me for many years to come.

 at Texline

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tree House Accommodations

Our tree house for two nights

Dotti's first choice in tree house accommodations was "Out-n-About"near Cave Junction, Oregon, but they were booked up through August, so they passed her on to "Vertical Horizons Tree House Paradise," also close to Cave Junction.

inside the Oregon Caves
We couldn't check in until three p.m. so we decided to go to the Oregon Caves. It was another beautiful winding road up a mountain to Oregon Caves National Park.  We decided since we'd never be back there again, we'd take a tour.  Caves are not on my bucket list anyway and unlike Carlsbad Caverns, this cave was not a big wide open area,  It got so tight and low on a couple of occasions, we had to bend at the waist and walk bent over to get through the tight spots. We were warned to watch our heads and asked not to touch the cave formations with our hands if at all possible so I felt guilty every time I did. The walking was uneven, and the footing questionable. It was impossible not to touch the cave walls every once in a while.

The elderly man in front of me was having a particularly hard time and I thought several times while he was going up ahead of me that he was going to fall. There was an early out route about thirty minutes into the ninety minute tour (which included about 500 steps up and down, some with hand rails, some without) and we, along with the elderly couple, decided to take the early out.

Like I said, caves are not on my bucket list. It was nice and cool inside though -- about 44 degrees. By the way, speaking of temperatures, I forgot to mention that when we were on top of Pikes Peak, my outside temperature thermometer registered  36 degrees!

After we got back to Cave Junction, we stopped in at a store,/cafe/ meat and cheese market and had an awesome meal. This was where I finally found Oregon wine for sale but we were two days from going home and my pocket book warned against it, so I didn't buy any.

We checked in at Vertical Horizons to start our adventure there.

I knew, being built in the trees, the house wasn't going to be very large, but this would qualify as a "tiny house" minus all the neat stowaway nooks and crannies.  It also was not built with overweight seniors in mind. The commode was so close to the wall and the sink, I had to sit on it sideways.

The second bed was in a loft with a very well built ladder. There was a screen door on the front but not on the double doors on the balcony.  There was no cooling system, so we had to wait for it to cool down outside at night before it was comfortable enough to sleep.

doe under our tree house
One thing that occurred to me as soon as we started getting settled was that this was an ideal place to come to be alone. There was wifi but no tv or radio. The only form of entertainment besides reading or writing was watching the deer and turkeys down below us.  So I was in hog heaven.  I'm not sure about Dotti.

Treehouses creak and groan, too.  It seemed like it took the house until about midnight to get accustomed to our weight and stop objecting so loudly.  Some time after midnight, I walked out onto the balcony to look around. I couldn't see the sky for the trees -- but what I could see were millions of stars twinkling through the fronds of the hemlocks and it looked like a Christmas tree. It was stunning!

I had just fallen asleep when the coyotes woke me up about 3:45.

It sounded like they were right outside our treehouse. A big pack from the sound of it, practiced howlers as well as some young pups just learning.  The chorus lasted about a minute and a half.  It was awesome. I had never heard such a large pack so close before.  It made everything that was inconvenient about the treehouse worth the trouble and expense to be there.

I just listened the first time, but when it was over, I set my phone to record it if they started again.  About 4:30, it started up again and I hit the record button. I got it, but the volume isn't good enough to post it. If I succeed in making a video of it, I'll share it in a later post about the trip.

The next morning, the folks at Vertical Horizon Treehouse Paradise, prepared a full course breakfast for us -- eggs, bacon, pancakes, fresh fruit -- all organic and garnished with fresh nasturtium and violas grown right there in the greenhouse. It was delicious and beautifully presented -- which tickled Dotti.

At breakfast, we met the other guests of Vertical Horizons, Michelle, from Portland, who was traveling alone, and a mother and daughter who were checking out to leave. Michelle invited us to come see her tree house.

Michelle's treehouse

 Afterward, we drove over to the Out-n-About place to look around.

Out-n-About reminded me of those wonderful days Peggy and I spent at Rock Creek Camp on Lake Texhoma when we were kids except that the cabins were in the trees. Here they actually had wooden and rope catwalks between some of them.  There was a large treehouse playground and lots of kids.

One of the several tree houses at Out-n-About
one of the many connecting catwalks

A family saddled up for a guided horseback ride.  The horses looked bored and they all had on a muzzle which indicated to me that they could be ill tempered. (I don't blame them at all -- the horses, that is.  I'd be ill tempered too if I were in their place. Actually, I think think the Humane Society should monitor horse renting better.)

Across the way, we could hear the zip line and the people riding it. This place was geared toward fun where Vertical Horizons was geared more toward providing a quiet place to connect with Nature. I was thrilled with where we ended up.  I'm not sure Dotti was.

Dotti checked but there was not an opening to ride the zip line until 1:00.  I had watched an instructional video provided by Out-n-About on their website.  Although it looked like more fun than a barrel of monkeys, it also looked way past my physical abilities. At one point, the passenger arrives at one landing seventy feet up in the trees, then has to climb a ladder straight up to another landing to hook on again -- or at least that was my understanding. That's when this overweight senior gal backed out.  I told a lady the day we went up the Rogue River that if I had known twenty years ago that I'd be coming to Oregon, I wouldn't have let myself get so out of shape. I told Dotti we'd come back if she wanted to but she didn't mention it again, so I totally forgot about it.

We had lunch in Cave Junction then headed back to our tree house. We had visited a thrift store in Cave Junction where Dotti bought some books.  So that afternoon, she read and I worked on the blog.

That evening, I intended to go down to the clearing after the stars came out to see them unhindered.  But the owners were having a birthday party for their son-in-law.  All their outside lights were on and the party showed no signs of petering out. I waited about thirty minutes, then said forget it.  Maybe I'd get to see the stars in Idaho or Utah or Wyoming. Most nights on the coast, it was either cloudy or foggy. And the time I was on the beach after the sun went down, I was so engrosses in watching and listening to the waves, I didn't even think about looking up. Damn!

The next morning, we packed up early and headed for Texas.
Delicious free breakfast, courtesy of
Best Western Motels! Awesome!

We stopped at Walmart in Grant's Pass, Oregon to get the Kia serviced before heading out. Then we
drove clear to Mountain Home, Utah, sixteen hours.  We checked in at a Best Western which had a Wingers restaurant in the same parking lot.

The lady who checked us in gave us coupons for free breakfast at Wingers.  I figured it wouldn't be much but it was awesome. So we started this day off on a good note. We both figured when the waitress brought us the ticket, we'd be paying for something -- but it actually said ".00"!  We left big tips.

My plan was to get to Colorado Springs by night time.  That meant another eleven or so hours on the road. Piece of cake.  I knew once I started home, I'd be like a rent horse heading for the barn.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In the Redwood Forest

A beautiful area not too far off the road, quiet, cool with sunlight coming down through the huge trees.
Ronnie would love this.  He would have enjoyed this trip.

One of the saddest things, to me, about Ronnie's sudden illness and passing was that late in the stages, he realized he had seen very little of this beautiful earth we all call "home".  He honed in on the Redwood Forest. "I would love to see the Redwoods".

He was already paralyzed and on methadone when we started "planning" a trip out to California to see the giant Redwoods. We watched documentaries about the forest.  He talked about renting a motor home and taking the whole family with us.  His Hospice nurses said they'd be glad to go with us. Our sorta son in law, Andy, agreed to drive the big motor home for us.

Of course the trip never happened.  He was too far gone by the time he decided he'd like to see the Redwoods.

So it was a bittersweet moment when I scattered the last of his ashes behind this huge Redwood tree in the northern most part of the Jedediah Smith Redwood Forest in Northern California.

He's been with me this entire trip.  My friends, Abraham-Hicks, say nonphysical energy often uses birds as messengers because they are EVERYWHERE.  On this trip, I saw big red pigeons in downtown Portland, and downtown Seattle.  Bright red pigeons are not common in wild flocks, so when I saw the red ones, I knew I had company. : )

When we were walking down to the gift shop at Foul Weather Point, a black bird perched on a sign that read, "No public restroom".  I was not two feet from him, while I was talking to him, and taking his picture, Then he looked at me and pooped on the sign -- just to add some humor to my day, then flew away.

On a boat dock, a sea gull perched on a post long enough for me to get his picture.

There was also the Bruno ski lift on Mt. Hood.  And when we went to the Oregon Caves, our tour guide told us that the caves were accidentally discovered by a man chasing his dog whose name was Bruno. Passing through Idaho, I noticed the Bruneau Dunes.  By then I was on my way home like a rent horse on its way to the barn, so we didn't go see about them.

I saw all the beautiful things with a new, deeper appreciation.  I believe those who pass on to what comes next are not "dead" just out of sight for now.  When Ronnie's dad died in 1967, Ronnie told me again and again, "I still feel like he's right here beside me".

I know what he meant now.