Barn Swallows

The barn swallows are gone for this year.  They left sometime in September. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Swallow/id

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I watch for their return Mid-May every year in Nebraska.  I know they will leave end of summer and think I’ll say good-bye this year. I look for them in the evenings, and find they are already gone like quicksilver.  One minute it’s there, the next second it slips through my fingers.  My reflexes aren’t fast enough to see.  Their migratory pattern is fixed in their DNA.  https://journeynorth.org/tm/swallow/News.html

I like to watch the swallows dip and dive on warm summer evenings at twilight.  I imagine it’s possible to see them snapping up mosquitos and flies, cleaning my backyard for human outdoor comfort, as they feed themselves and their young nesting in my barn.

These sleek blue-black birds left about the time I ordered a new black mobile briefcase to roll to new part-time self-employment.  Buying new supplies for  a new post-retirement career is easy and fun.  Writing the letter of resignation to leave my position after 39 years with the same employer is hard.

Over the years, and through many different administers, I worked to provide more and different kinds of  help to students.  Until the last few years, those administrations supported and encouraged my program’s efforts.  They believed in the concept of helping students through many obstacles, enhancing their graduation rates.  The current one doesn’t share that view.  This leader’s focus is public relations, and self-image.

The program I’m leaving has been reduced to near nonexistence. Theoretically, that should make it easier to retire, however leaving is bittersweet.  I’m hopeful the next person in this position will be more articulate, and able to make a case to recover lost services that benefit students.

I’ll build my own mud nest, ready to hatch and fledge a new direction.

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Animal Friends

We make commitments to each other in our marriage vows, to our children when we decide to become parents, and to the animals that share our lives.   Dogs and cats sometimes live 15 years, but horses can live 25 or 30 years.  Marriages end through death or divorce, as mine did.  Commitment to my animal friends has been more enduring.

Today’s blog is about the horses that have “peopled” my life.  My husband loves horses. He was the driving force to buy our first horse.  The Appaloosa mare was pregnant.  She gave birth to a big spotted foal.  We provided a home for Jody and Cheyenne until they passed about twenty years later.

Our next horses were another mare for him named Rose, and an old gelding for me named Blue.  Blue was old when we bought him, but he was just right for me.  He was tough to catch, but very gentle to ride.  My kids and many friends enjoyed riding Blue. He lived until he was over thirty-years-old

Blue 1988a

Rose gave birth to six babies over the years; two fillies and four colts.  One of the foals died after a few weeks, but the rest grew into big beautiful mares and geldings.  The last addition to the group was an Appaloosa gelding for my son.  My son was 13 years-old, named his new horse Apache (even though the Appaloosa breed is associated with the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho, it seemed right to name him for a brave Native American nation) and broke him to ride.  https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/appaloosa_horse_breed/#.W46IqPZFyUk

Apache & Rose horses 2005

When my husband and I divorced, we divided the horses.  He took four and I kept three. Apache, one of those three, belonged to my son.  Apache was the “go-to-horse” for new and inexperienced riders.  Like Blue before him, Apache taught many people to ride.  In the drought year of 2012, grass was sparse and dry.  The horses pushed their noses under trees and bushes searching for fresh greens.  Apache punctured both eyes on sharp grasses or tree branches.  We treated his wounds as much as he would allow (a month in the barn alone,  inserting lotions in both eyes is a challenge when the horse patient doesn’t cooperate). We finally turned him back to pasture with the other horses.  He adapted wonderfully, even running blind across the hills with his mates.  He came to the feed bunk when I called him, walking carefully till he first touched the bunk with his nose.  [Apache is the mostly-white Appaloosa in the center of the photo below]

Apache & Jody 2013

This summer has been a tough one for Apache.  He lost weight, became  unsteady on his feet, and as Labor Day approached, went down and couldn’t labor to right himself.  The wonderful veterinarian (the same one that treated his eyes six years ago) said his heart was barely beating.  She gave him something to peacefully end his life .  We said goodbye to this faithful friend of twenty-five years this weekend and buried him on a grassy knoll.

Hail Storm to Heat Wave

A severe thunderstorm with hail swept though eastern Nebraska  and into Iowa on Father’s Day.  I drove from a family reunion 70 miles west of my house, back toward home late afternoon.  It was sunny and 75 degrees at the family gathering.  As I drove east, the temperature dropped and a rain front became visible on the eastern horizon.  The storm was moving east.  I followed it, believing the edge of the front was far ahead, but as I neared the last turn east toward  home, I caught up with the storm.  There was heavy rain intermixed with hail, beating a tattoo on the car’s roof, hood and  trunk.  At times I could not see to drive and pulled to the side of the road until it cleared a bit.  There was no place to pull completely off the highway as there are no shoulders.  I was a bit shook up after the drive, but neither the car or me suffered any serious damage.

My dog was home alone. She hates thunder and was happy to see me return.

Cell phone May 2017 274 Pickles

A week later, another big storm swept the area, dropping five inches of rain in one day, but no hail this time. It’s a wet year here, but I am fortunate to live on a hill and don’t have to worry about floods, unlike many people who live along the swollen creeks and rivers that feed the Missouri.

The low pressure systems behind all the rain storms turned into a high pressure front that ushered in, and continues to bring, excessive heat and humidity.  I’m not a fan of this part of summer, but my plants and flowers are thriving as well as all the area crops.

As summer marches on, I’m taking steps toward the goal of retiring this fall, along with baby-steps toward beginning a part-time business.  It feels good to see the end of the road.

Road west 2017

Vacation and back to school

A week exploring western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming ended with a visit to the Dignity statue in central South Dakota.  She is impressive from Interstate 90 as well as from this view at the rest stop where she resides.

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The back of her blanket is beautiful as well.

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It was a peaceful  and fitting finish to vacation to visit Dignity on the hill outside Chamberlain, SD as a storm approached. I’m returning to work for a few more months, coinciding with the beginning of a new school year.  I expect a lot of work-storms during that time period.

I’m planning a new venture for the months ahead after retiring from my current position.  Vacation helped me clarify plans for the future.  Putting a future option in place eases my discomfort with ending a long career just to face empty days as winter sets in.  I’ll write more about my plans in future blog entries.  Today’s entry appropriately ends with a photo of the Dignity’s dedication in 2016.20180806_182046

Spring’s Rollercoaster Weather

I started this blog yesterday, but lost it in cyberspace.  Writing a second draft is a useful process.  It forces me to think about my topic and hopefully  do a better job this time.  

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Late April snow blanked the yard. Trees damaged, siding torn from the house in windstorms, and lilacs blooming late are all victims of the long cold April and early May. Tulips, however, loved the cool early spring.  

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Winds catapulted temperatures to hundred-degrees on  Memorial weekend days. Iris bloomed and died in a day.

My first possible retirement date is July 1st.  However, I feel I’m on a decision-making rollercoaster. I’ve barely scratched the surface of tasks to complete before I turn in a resignation letter, so I don’t think I’ll make that deadline.  These are tasks to-do related to ending one long phase of my life and moving on to another, like selecting insurance providers, a health plan, talking to an attorney, etc.

I found a terrific cartoon about procrastination, that fits me rather well.  It has sections for getting lost on social media (such as writing this blog – twice), cleaning or repairing things (the air conditioner for the upstairs of the house stopped working tonight, which will necessitate contacting a repair person  in the morning, making arrangements to be home when they arrive, possibly buying a new system, etc.), and getting lost in daily chores (it was 95 degrees again today, consequently I’ve been watering every potted plant outside daily.)

I’m moving off the procrastination map and clearing away cobwebs.

SUNRISE

Sunrise 2017

I like to be up early in the morning and watch the sunrise.  It’s life-affirming to see another day emerge from darkness as mother earth turns.  Spring mornings often go from pink, to mauve, gold, or red as the morning brightens, as if a master light engineer is controlling the process.

I’m sometimes tired and discouraged by day’s end, but the morning brings promise of a better day ahead.  Listening to the robins wake up, begin their cheerful chirping, the mourning dove calling to attract a new mate, and faint flutter of finches’ wings as they fly to the feeder are a tonic for emotional renewal.

I’m writing this blog to help me make decisions about my future.  Each new day brings a little progress, and many more questions.

July 2015 215

Summer flowers and future decisions are just around the corner.

 

Creating Unique Names and Titles

It’s been a while since I posted to this blog, so I’m writing a retirement plan update.  One of about a zillion possible ways to think about retirement is to reinvent oneself and start a small business.  I’m considering opening a private counseling practice.  As I explore this possibility, I learn about a long list of requirements.  I’d rather think about the fun side of an adventure first, so following that line of thought, I am considering many names  and logos for a potential business.

I had a blue roan horse years ago.  Blue was older when he came home from the sale barn, than the seller claimed, but lived a good long life here.  Because of his age, Blue was a dependable mount for me, and for novice riders and children that visited and wanted to go riding.  I bought a painting of a blue horse this spring from a gallery in North Carolina.  I’ve been thinking about adding a  blue horse description to my place.  I’m taken with the idea of  renaming it LLZ Blue Horse Ranch.

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I named my first poetry chapbook Hard Times after the title of one of the poems in the chapbook.  Some time later, I googled the title and discovered at least a dozen books with the same name.  It seems prudent, given that experience, to check out titles first before proceeding with legal steps to establish a business.  My first choice is to use the same title for my business as this blog.

When I googled “blue horse”, I found a dozen or more Blue Horse Ranch locations around the country, and a couple of Blue Horse Counseling Services.   I’m back to square one looking for a unique name.

It turns out that selecting a name first is also a practical consideration.  One needs a name and a location to complete all legal documents.