Monday, March 12, 2018


Those who think life is a competition can never be happy. I hate competition of any sort. I think everyone has gifts that should be highlighted and everyone is better at some things than others, but more than likely, no one is better at all things than someone else. You have your own gifts, love them. Others have gifts, applaud them. Competition comes in many forms, from formal competition with awards to arguments between people...

Examples of competition I have heard recently:

  • You color better than I do, so I don't want to color.
  • Oh, you think doing 'X task' is tough? I wouldn't know anything about difficult work.
  • You do everything faster. Why do I bother?
  • You're always right and I'm always wrong. When do I get to be right?

These comments and plenty more like them are defeating. There is no way to get a positive conversation or outcome.

Coloring. How can that be competitive? Colors are beautiful. Everyone has a different eye and mental image. We all have different ideas about shading, highlighting, and how colors work together. For the record, the competitor in question is full of crap. We both color with our own different style, neither one better than the other. If anything, I believe my competitor has a better eye for creative use of highlighting and therefor ends up with a better more interesting finished page.

Life is tough. Everyone is entitled to express that something is difficult or that their back aches. If I say, "I do X task. It's tough, but I get it done," my statement in no way invites a competition from me. If you tell me your back aches and I launch into how mine is definitely worse than yours... Where is the conversation supposed to go? How can you possibly compare pain? If someone says something is difficult or painful, just sympathize and move on. You can complain and get sympathy too. It's no competition.

I do some things quickly because that's just how I've always done it. It probably would be beneficial for me to slow down. Other things, I have more experience and therefor know exactly what effort to place where to do things quick and efficient...  because, ultimately, I'm not that strong. I do not have the muscle power to waste. It's not a competition. If you want to compete is the arena of speed, I will lay down on the ground and forfeit every single time. I am not a competitor. However slow your contribution is, it has still gained us more together than me or you working alone! Therefor, I don't CARE how fast anyone goes!

The last one... seriously?No one is always right and I certainly have never claimed to be. No one is always wrong nor have I ever claimed anyone is. Comments like this have absolutely no positive course. None. Again, life is not a competition or score board of rights and wrongs.

Let's try something different.
You see someone do something better or differently than you can. Instead of saying, "You color better than I do, so I don't want to color," you say:

  • Wow, that's really pretty/amazing/cool/stupendous. 
  • I like how you did XYZ. Can you show me how you did it?
  • I see what you did there, but I'm not sure exactly how to describe it.
And then you continue your own project.

Instead of saying, "Oh, you think doing 'X task' is tough? I wouldn't know anything about difficult work," you say:

  • Ah, that's how I feel about Y task. Glad we get them done.
  • Is there anything we could do to make our tough tasks easier?
  • I'm sorry. I know how you feel. It'll be over soon, thank goodness!

And then you can have a productive conversation or simply move on working on those tough tasks.

Instead of saying, "You do everything faster. Why do I bother?" you could try:

  • You do some things so quickly. I'm impressed.
  • Can you help me with this?
  • I'm feeling slow and defeated at this task. Can we take a break and have a beer?
And then you take some time to thing positive thoughts about the person and positive thoughts about your own abilities. No one is faster at everything, nor should they be.

Instead of saying, "You're always right and I'm always wrong. When do I get to be right?" you could try:

  • I'm sorry.
  • You want to take a break from this argument and go hang out in the swing?
  • I love you.
You see, if you are inclined to say something like, "you're always right and I'm always wrong. When do I get to be right?" you are in a bad headspace where no discussion is going to be a positive one. It's not a true statement in any reality. It's mean, provoking, and unproductive. What you mean to say is something that will reach out and connect, not push away and stab. Arguments are not a competition. Scores should not be kept. There are no winners between partners. Choose kindness, and you should get kindness in return.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Home Depot and Lowe's

Dear Home Depot,
You had the exact product I wanted, so I followed the website and made the order with home delivery. Home delivery to my location is $79, totally worth it if you have no way of transporting 16 foot boards! I put in my credit card and all the required information. *Website Crash*

I called 1*800*466*3337. Told the representative that I was ordering for home delivery online and the site crashed. She took my first model number. Recited the product description and then told me that can not be delivered.

This whole thing took well over an hour. I have tried to order from Home Depot in the past and for one reason or another, the process never works out. This time, I tried because of the precise product. Lowe's does not carry the exact thing that I want. Alas, once again, I will order from Lowe's. It will be delivered even if it is a slightly different size than I had wanted.

Home Depot to-do list:
1. Fix your website! It crashes way too often going to error messages and losing my place.
2. Give customers correct information! This shouldn't even have to be said...
3. That's it...  those two things would make life much better.

Abby Green

Dear Lowe's,
Thank you for offering store to home delivery service. This incredible kindness ensures that I shop in person at Lowe's whenever I have the option. I am sure that home delivery, especially out here in the country, is a pain, but it helps me more than I can express.

I have had three successful deliveries here in the past. And I look forward to the upcoming arrival of 72 boards.

In case you are curious, the product I was looking for was a 1"X4"X8' treated board. I settled for 1"X6"X8'. It wasn't very much more expensive than Home Depot's 1X4's... it's more that I just don't need 6" wide boards. Why waste the wood? But this will be just fine. Who knows, maybe I'll be glad in the end.

With sincere gratitude!
Abby Green

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Garage Organized

You know how they say, "It's the plumber's house that has all the leaks."? Well, I'm an organizer and my garage was beginning to say I was as bad as that plumber. Today, I acted as my own client and went bin by bin clearing clutter and organizing down to the last nail.

These are the times that remind me how daunting organizing is for the people who hire me. Here's a tip: It IS daunting! Don't tell yourself it's because there is something wrong with you.

When I started the chore, I spent the first half hour staring and picking up one tiny thing at a time. There was no way I was going to accomplish anything at that rate. I thought about quitting. But I didn't. I kept pecking the tiniest most insignificant things, and then, somewhere about the one hour mark, I was beginning to MOVE and tackle real things.

I purged good stuff that I will give away. I also purged trash... it just builds up. Don't be ashamed. Just do the tiniest thing toward any goal. You'll find the momentum!

Friday, March 09, 2018

Work Ethic

Being self-employed, there is no boss or list of things to do from anyone above nor are there employees to whom I may pass along tasks. I'm on my own. I have been self-employed in one manner or another for nearly 20 years. I make lists that push me toward career related goals. I also do this with the property I bought five years ago.

This property is a form of career. It is certainly an investment. As I improve it, I have something to sell if I decide that a new home would be better. I have rented one of the cabins for a little extra income. The thing about the property is that the to-do list is infinite and directly visible everywhere I look.

People come to help with certain big projects. My parents have helped. Anne works constantly. I have been working at grinding rust off the ceiling of the old container all day and came to a very good stopping place. I am due to begin making pizza dough in about 30 minutes. I am taking this time to do my daily writing. It's hard to walk away from the project while Anne continues working. I feel like a slacker taking advantage of others. That goes for any time anyone is here helping. I can't stop if they are doing anything.

This got me into serious trouble when my parents came to help a year and a half ago. My dad can work like a man half his age who does construction for a living! We decided to bury a sewage line and since we were doing that, we decided to go ahead and bury the new electric lines in preparation for the electrician powering up my new container house. I worked until I literally cried. And then I went back and tried to work some more.

No one has ever tried to make me feel guilty, but this is my home, a home I have literally built with my own hands. I don't want others laboring for my exclusive benefit while I hang out in the hammock eating bonbons. Paid help is different, of course. But even then, out here, I don't think I've let any paid person do anything without my assistance. There are always questions and location issues. I helped the truck driver position and place my new container, physically moving blocks and then his own truck levers while he did other things on the truck.

Hopefully, my pizza making skills will let Anne know how much appreciate her hard work today and always.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Reporting from the "Piece of Junk"

I am sitting on the back porch now known as "the veranda." Example: "Where shall we eat this evening? The veranda is such a lovely place to eat." It is lovely, but it is much more red-neck than what any definition of "veranda" would allow. We figure our own classiness balances everything out.

I just finished grinding the rust off of the inside ceiling from HALF of the"Piece of Junk." Half to go, but my arms can't take any more! Anne is doing the same section from above... She's still up on top of the Piece of Junk because, of course, the exterior of the roof is much worse that the interior. She is scraping and brushing and scraping some more. It sounds horrifying, but I'll keep my complaints quiet as I would hate for her to stop! Still, I stay outside nearby for safety sake.

The Piece of Junk is a standard sized shipping container, that is, 40 feet long by 8 feet wide by 8 feet tall. This container was here on the property when I bought the place. It was FUUUUUUUULL of stuff. Do you have any idea how much stuff one can store in a standard container? It took many years, many Craigslist ad listings, and much gnashing of teeth to empty the thing... I can neither confirm nor deny the accusation that many things were thrown in the fire. From the start, I hated the Piece of Junk. It was rusty on top and the water that came in soaked into the floor and rotted big chunks. Also, the location is really not ideal. It's under a power-line (big no-no especially for something made entirely of metal) and it blocks the view of a good deal of property from the veranda.

I tried for two years to give away the Piece of Junk, but there are trees boxing it in pretty tight. Honestly, I have no idea how they rested it here... although I can picture 6 country boys with tractors and other assorted machinery, a cooler full of beer, and lots of standing around pondering what to do next until "Hold my beer and watch this." TA-DA! The Piece of Junk found its current home.

The plan is to clean and preserve what is left of the metal shell. We stripped the floor out, and we are now almost halfway through with the roof. We will lay floor with a deck-like construction so that any leaks can drain through the deck floor. I have two doors planned - one large one for the kitchen, and an even bigger one for the garage. The kitchen will be about 12 feet of the 40 and the large door will open into the veranda area where there is also a fire pit. The garage door will open toward the pasture and will house my entire garage stuff freeing up what is now the garage area to become a better place to house the Eggcellence Camper. Eventually, we may cover the Piece of Junk with its own transparent roof embracing the holes up there as "sky-lights."

It's a big project, but if I keep the total expenses fairly low, which is always my project plan, it will be worth it. Most of the investment will be muscle power. When we finish, we may grant this monster a kinder name. Until then, Piece of Junk stands.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Food is Love

I love food. Anne loves to create amazing food. I feel honored and privileged every day that she creates art for me to eat!

Pork ribs over peas and five grain. DELICIOUS!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Spring is in the Air

I made a bird feeder! I had a couple of melamine plates that I was going to pass on to Goodwill, but as my brain pondered bird feeder ideas, I decided I might be able make a feeder with those plates. I used a plate for the bottom, drilled a hole in the center for my eyebolt. The eyebolt holds a lightweight chain up through the sewer grade PVC pipe. Sewer grade is thinner and therefore lighter. The chain continues up through a license plate roof and then finishes up by attaching to a tree branch.
Here birdie birdie birdie!
We bought bird seed and we are now waiting until the bird social media makes our bird sanctuary areas famous!  If I ever come across more melamine plates, they are becoming bird feeders.

Monday, March 05, 2018


I have depressive spells. Not sadness or stress, but spells that are nearly indescribable, but I'm going to try here and now.

Yesterday, I had a few spells of just not being able to continue the tasks I was doing. Nothing overly spectacular, but a few key points to these spells did display themselves. First, utter exhaustion, like a feeling that I will absolutely just fall over if I don't lie down. Second, an inability to laugh at anything. I find humor in anything. I can be on the third day of the flu still throwing up my feet and I will still find something humorous. I lose that ability in these spells. Third, I get a sense of great shame, hopelessness, and dread. It's as if someone is looking at me and knows something about me that even I can't identify... and I can't. There's nothing technically wrong. There is a fourth key, but I'll get to that later.

I managed to make it through the day yesterday without toppling too badly. I made a couple of trips to the bedroom for 15 minute lie-downs. But I did work and I did make the walk to the mailbox and things like that.

Today, things got worse. I excused myself in the mid-morning after breakfast. I went to bed for a rest and did fall asleep for about 15 minutes out of the 1.5 hours I was there. I felt awful. This intense dread, exhaustion, and cloud hung down heavily. I got up in spite of this. My "normal" self knows this is not an okay state and I fight to come back to earth. I got up and went back to the living room. As Anne offered several kindnesses, tea, etc, I found myself staring back at hear like I was underwater. I could barely speak. I even reviewed my morning to see if I remembered taking anything, even advil that might have given any cause to this feeling at all. Usually, when I have spells like this, I am alone. With another person around, I have an added sense of responsibility to be myself and I think that is both better and worse. In the moment, I feel HORRIBLE that I am being not just a lump on the couch, but a humorless, staring person who might, to some, appear mad at the world. The better part comes as the other person calmly patiently feeds and cares for me which helps even though I feel guilty for not seeming grateful and my usual playful self.

I have described these episodes as something like a migraine. They are oppressive, overwhelming, and take everything that I know to be my normal self and throw it out the window. Then, with some time, patience, a feeling, a literal FEELING of the oppressive cloud lifts. It could take a few hours, it could be a few days. It could be completely gone, or little flare ups may occur here and there. Today, after a few hours of a particularly bad spell, I pulled up and out. I carefully, cautiously went out and picked flowers for our dinner table. Another flare happened after dinner, but I managed it okay.

I have described this to doctors, therapists, friends. Someone said it sounded a bit like a PTSD episode in its severity and in its episodic manner. Someone else classified it as "Major Depressive Disorder," but the definition of this term is for longer episodes than I have, but possibly a little less severe. Friends listen with sympathy and encourage me to visit a doctor. Friends feel like this is on a spectrum of treatable situations.

The fourth red flag of these episodes is that my brain is on autoloop of any and all manners of self-destruction... from minor afflictions to death. This is the reason I have sought help in the past. The thing that makes doctors not take it seriously is that if someone asks if I am suicidal, I say "no." I say this for several reasons. 1. To say "yes" means I give up my rights, and I could be locked up and drugged - a real and serious possibility. It's not just for the movies! 2. I have a sense of my real self in these episodes as if I am sitting next to this sick version of me. My real self is there reminding me to just hang on. This will pass. So, as long as I stay strong enough, I am NOT, in my mind, suicidal; I'm just having constant suicidal flashes. 3. My ability to see reality is completely gone. I am in a cloud that is physically heavy. I don't actually know what I am capable of.

This fourth flag is why I have sought medical attention. If an episode lasts too long, will I continue to be strong enough? Why are these episodes happening at all? There is migraine medication. Might there be something similar for these episodes. I CAN NOT be the only living person on this planet that has this problem. Yet, no doctor or therapist has come up with anything helpful, and more often they look at me like I'm making it all up.

I worry that some day I will be under actual real stress when one of these episodes occur and that it will last longer than my strength can hold out. That's how real and strong the death-flashes are. It both comforts me to think that Anne would be around to see signs and find help, but it also crushes me to think she would ever have to deal with this.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Mailbox Surprise

The mailbox is 4/10 of a mile from the gate. We like to take a walk to the mailbox because it makes us feel like we did some exercise. It's not that we don't get enough exercise with the mowing and the trimming trees and the other miscellaneous property maintenance we do, but this walk is intentional and sort of a cool down from all the other crazy activities. There is no other reason to take this walk. Typically, we get absolutely no mail and if there is some scrap, it's addressed to "the current resident" and therefore extremely important fire-starting material.

Usually we take the dog on a leash, but we decided to start walking without even telling the dog we were leaving. She has a hole-in-the-door type doggy door, and before we were even out of the yard, she was running along side of us making sure we noticed that we had indeed forgotten her. We decided to carry on without the leash. She usually sticks very close and follows directions when we address her. There is a cattle guard at the end of the road. This would stop her if nothing else did.

Macy stayed fairly close and the three of us had a lovely walk. When we came to the cattle guard, Macy stopped as instructed, but then carefully stepped one paw per metal pole until she safely made it to the other side. We had no idea she could or would do that. We laughed and instructed her to stay close to Anne while I went the remaining 20 feet to the mailbox that is on the Farm to Market road with a speed limit of 60. People generally follow that speed limit give or take 20 miles per hour.

I pulled out two pieces of mail. Neither were addressed to "the resident." One was from Lavaca County, the county in which we live. One was a post card addressed to "Anne and Abby." The postcard was delightful. A friend of our simply wrote, "I love you! That is all!" Haha! "Awwwww! That's fantastic!" is all we have to say!

The other, which I carefully opened, was a refund check for an overpayment of property taxes. When I saw the amount, I thought this couldn't be correct, but the idea of getting random money in the mail sure is lovely. We pay next to nothing out here for property taxes. The check was for about 80% of what I paid. What an adorably delightful mystery!

When we made it home, I was way too intrigued about the check to drop the subject. I got online and looked up my property tax information. This lead to looking at the tax CAD map to see who owned the properties around mine. In the end, I am quite sure there is some mistake. None of the dollar amounts on the form matched the dollar amounts on my tax records. I'll give them a call on Monday.

Still, what a wonderful day for mail!

Saturday, March 03, 2018


Imagine for a moment that you make a living in the world of personal training, both physical and lifestyle. You help people become healthier with workouts and nutritional advice. You are also literally paid to hear people's excuses and call them on their bullshit and help them achieve goals that they are too "stuck" to manage on their own.

You hear daily from your clients:

  • I don't feel like it. I'm not inspired. I haven't felt like it for months. The weather is all wrong and I have a hundred other things to do.
  • Now, I want to, but I can't. The cat is playfully distracting, and the dog won't stop scratching. I can't focus with all the distractions.
  • Even though it seems like a good idea, if someone suggests something, I don't want to do it. It's a rainy day, a great day to tackle the goal, but the TV is so easy to click!

And when they say these things, you call this "bullshit" straight to their faces. You're paid and trained and experienced enough to know excuses even when they are much more gossamer than these. You know that you can't force them to do anything, but you can certainly point out the problems or the fact that there really ISN'T a problem, and if they want to shift their thinking, you are there to aid them in a healthier more productive life.

You pride yourself in setting an example by doing all the amazing things and achieving every goal you set forth for yourself. You pride yourself in looking at the positive and knowing an excuse when you are within fifty miles of it even in yourself.

And then one day, someone calls you out on the exact above list of excuses. You've been saying these things for months, but the person who calls you out has mostly quietly listened and not pushed you in any way knowing that you are the aforementioned personal trainer, we all need down days, and you will find your way through this. That is, until you go on a 30 minute rant that started as a reply to the question "how are you feeling?" You rant for 30 minutes claiming all manner of "can't"s. The EXACT "can't"s listed above. The exact "can't"s that drive you nuts about your own clients. This time, you are being called out. What do you do?

Friday, March 02, 2018

What day is it?

You would think that with writing here each day, I would know exactly what day it is every day. Ha!

Today's post is over at The Eggcellence!

Thursday, March 01, 2018


I’m only five years old. I think that might be 35 years old, maybe more like 50 in people years considering the amount of hard work I’m required to do. It is hard work, sure, but I enjoy it. Sitting idly quiet makes it harder to get moving. I get creaky and living things begin to set up house beneath my protective body. It’s better to be useful, get moving, make a respectable presence.

We live on a ten acre ranch which, given my small frame, feels more like 1000 acres. I was chosen specifically because of my narrow frame but mighty strength. I’m in charge of keeping all the low lying vegetation from becoming impassable freakazoid monsters. Occasionally, I find myself feeling sorry for the rose bushes and other wildness, but I keep my feelings to myself and do as I’m told - chop it down!

Yesterday morning, I woke with a roar as the key turned and the clutch pressed and the throttle given a little back and forth action. It was time to take care of business. It’s spring in Texas and that means things are growing and I must keep that growth under control.

It felt great to back out of my parking space of four months. Oh! What’s this? I get new blades. I only get new blades every couple of years, when the space between my blades becomes an entire path of tall grass left behind between my tires. It’s a task that takes driving up a couple of ramps and sitting patiently as the correct socket wrench is located and the proper pressure applied in the correct direction. This could take mere seconds if only someone had made notes the last time, but we like a challenge around here. Soon enough, the new blades were ready and I rolled back down the ramps ready for action.

I left the inner acre where the cabins are and took a route right against the fence toward an area that has been neglected for years. About six months ago, the power company came here to cut trees back away from the lines. They chopped the living devil out of our beautiful friends. While they removed most of the brush and scraps, they left a good deal of smaller branches which are problematic for a tractor of my small stature. Therefore this area had been neglected. Removing these branches was part of the winter property clean up. Now, I ran my new blades over this area and the grass nearly smiled as the old was brushed away making the green beneath shine.

I was feeling great. Four passes completed this previously neglected area. As I turned to begin my work of the larger pasture area, I stopped. I didn’t mean to stop. Uh oh.

In February, the month otherwise known as “Texas Springtime,” we get rain. Our soil around here is a foot of sand over clay. Clay is a funny substance. It can be hard as bricks when it’s dry, but when it’s wet, it is slick as snot. It also drains slowly. The sand can stay soaked on top of slick-as-snot clay for days if there’s a good day or two of rain in a row.

There are places where the water and over saturation are obvious. There are also places where the grass grows green and the texture or saturation of the ground can’t be immediately seen. This is sort of the equivalent of black ice. You don’t know until you are in a turn and you slide out of control in the case of ice, or get desperately stuck in the case of this mud.

The first time this sort of quick-sand over snot-clay phenomenon occurred on this property, some friends in their truck and fifth-wheel trailer came to visit. They got stuck once. And they got stuck twice. The second time, all the humans scrambled with all their might and brain cells to find a solution. They did everything. They attempted to jack up the vehicle only to watch the jack descend into the mud rather than lift the truck. They shoveled away mud and added rocks only to watch the truck descend further into the mud as the rocks were swallowed down and lost forever. They tried a bit of cursing. They also tried a bit of praying. Neither vengeful wrath nor holy patience seemed to do much good.

Finally, having left the scene for five days, a tow truck man was called. “Oh, sure, we can come out. It’ll be $500. If you need to use a credit card, that will be 3% extra.” I am only a small tractor. In these parts, most folks have large diesel type tractors that they use for just these sorts of predicaments. The tractor down the road had already been on one such mission, but he too had gotten stuck in the quick-sand snot-clay. The decision was made to cough up the money and have the pros come on board.

Within thirty minutes, the whole ordeal was over. Well, over as long as they didn’t get stuck again! I know it was difficult to hand over the credit card, but the pros did in thirty minutes what the average Joe’s couldn’t do in four days.

So, here I sit. I watched as the sun descended upon my orange shiny body. I’ve never been out all night exposed to the elements as sounds of wild animals wander around searching for their dinner. I watched as the sun rose this morning. I wonder if I’ve been forgotten or if a rescue mission might be planned for today. The earth is still pudding, but it’s supposed to be sunny and warm for the next two days.

I know two things. First, when I get out of this situation, we will walk the swamp end of the property before approaching it. Second, With two more days of sunshine, the vegetation is going to need more of a reprimand than it did yesterday. I’ve got my work cut out for me!