Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Poetry

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know. 
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow. 

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year. 

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake. 
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake. 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 

Robert Frost, 1923

Friday, April 18, 2014

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, April 26, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Block #1

2.  Reading
     Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Flexner
     The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
     The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
     In the Bleak Mid-Winter by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Audio CDs)

 3.  Cooking
     Baked Ziti with Sausage
     Steak, GMP, Green beans 
     Baked fish, Carrots w/thyme, Asparagus
     Macaroni and cheese
     Oatmeal/Raisin cookies

4.  Birding trip to Brazos Bend State Park if the weather cooperates
     Make reservations for Louisiana Birding trip

5.  Guest Bedroom Project
      Hang framed map prints

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Satisfying Retirement Questions

Bob Lowery's blog, Satisfying Retirement, is a must read. He has such a comfortable, interesting way of writing that I'm sure if we ever met, he and Betty would pick up a conversation just like old friends with Joe and me.  He has some questions about retirement that he has invited his readers to respond to.  Here they are with my response below. 

1) Has retirement turned out the way you thought it would? Why or why not?

2) What has been your biggest surprise about being retired?

3) Do you worry about your financial situation? 

4) What new things have you discovered about yourself?

5)  If you had it do over again, would you keep working, retire sooner, or are content with how things worked out?

I retired 3 years before I had planned to because of a neuromuscular condition.  However, my husband and I were debt and mortgage free and had been fully funding our 403b accounts and emergency fund for many years.  So while I had planned on 3 more years of retirement savings, the financial side of leaving the workplace was in good condition.  I really don't worry about our finances because I have always been the "finance person" in our family and know what our expenses are.  We both waited until age 66 to start drawing Social Security and that with our 403b provides our income. Joe is considering an opportunity to work prn two days a week and that may or may not happen. Now the stock market and the banks and the economy may go belly up but I really don't worry about something I have no control over. 

I love retirement. In all honesty, this is about the happiest time of my life.  I'm not worried about how the kids will turn out-- just fine. Not worried about having enough money to retire--we do. Not really worried about health--my neuromuscular condition is more an inconvenience than life-threatening--we are quite healthy. 
I guess the biggest surprise is just how happy I am. I worked at one job or another since I was 17 and wondered if I would be bored or lonely at home--I'm not.  I have time to quilt and read and learn how to cook new things.  I attend and participate in my church and book club and quilting guild. 

The two best things about retirement to me:
   1. Not having to leap out of bed, into the shower, and out the door.  Waking up slowly is a daily pleasure to savor. 
   2. Afternoon naps. 

If you haven't read Satisfying Retirement, get yourself on over there right now and thank me later.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014



Well, the crisis du jour is Russia and Ukraine.  Politicians make me want to throw up. Putin wants to rev up the ratings on the home front with patriotic fervor so he stirs the pot seeing just how far he can go.  So now Russia has about the same number of troops on the Russian side of the border as we have on the other side of the world in Afghanistan. 

And of course John McCain has never seen an incident he didn't want to bomb and/or send troops to while John Kerry continues to circle the globe in search of relevance. 

We have enough to take care of within our own borders. Let the Ukrainians and the Russians sort it out. And please, folks, give some thought to what happens after the protests and revolutions. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Around OakMeadows


I finally finished the AARP Safe Driver online course. Joe is about half way through. I can't say that I learned a whole lot but it was a good review and a good reminder that my vision and reflexes are not as good as they once were. As soon as he finishes, I can contact USAA to get our safe driver discount. 

Another area that I have checked into is our electricity provider. Our one-year contract with Reliant will expire in May so I went to to see if I could get a better rate elsewhere. I can get a 3-year contract with Yep for 2 cents per kilowatt hour less. I really like the power to choose site because you can see exactly how many customer complaints the company has had in the past 6 months. I certainly don't want to sign up with a company that is less expensive but screws up the billing. Anyway, Yep has a good customer complaint/satisfaction level so I will be changing over this week. While 2 cents per kilowatt hour doesn't sound like much, when summer comes and the a/c is on every little bit helps. 

My quilting project, the baby quilt, is coming along nicely. The fabrics are going together even better than I thought. I hope to have it layered and basted this week. 

Joe installed the new blinds in the guest bedroom and how much brighter it made that room!  The two antique map prints are at Hobby Lobby being framed and may be ready sometime next week. One of the maps is of Galveston (where Joe and I and our daughter were born) at the turn of the century.  Then the next thing I want to do is get new bed linens. I saw that Penney's has a sale on bedding and should get a move on it before the sale ends. 

I finished reading Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan MacNeal. It was pretty good if highly improbable.  I am plodding ever onward through Hot: Living through the Next 50 Years on Earth. It has turned 100 Pages of good information into 500 pages of wordiness. I soldier on through it out of dogged determination to get all 100 of the worthwhile pages.  I have started on Washington: The Indispensable Man and so far it is excellent. Just got an email from the library that The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is in and ready for pickup.  Libraries today are so wonderful! I remember how much I loved Rosenberg library in Galveston when I was growing up. The massive oaks surrounding it and climbing up the steps before going through the huge doors. But there were no convenient branches ( though there was a bookmobile that came to our elementary school).  Now you just go on the Internet instead of going through the card catalog and request the book and it is sent to your nearest branch library for pick up. That, my friend, is progress!

Our trip to Louisiana has once again been postponed. I'm beginning to think that it just wasn't meant to happen this year. Oh well, maybe next week....

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Soup Project--Slow Cooker Italian Meatball Soup

2 slices white bread, torn into quarters
1/2 cup whole milk
1 pound meatloaf mix
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 large egg yolk
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
Salt and pepper
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
8 ounces kale, stemmed and cut into 1/4 inch strips
6 ounces orzo (about 1 cup)

1. Mash bread and milk into a paste in a large bowl.  Mix in meatloaf mix, Parmesan, parsley, egg yolk, 3 garlic cloves, oregano, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and
1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Pinch off and roll mixture into tablespoon sized meatballs (about 30).  Microwave meatballs on a large plate until fat renders and meatballs are firm (about 3 - 5 minutes).  Pour off fat and transfer to slow cooker. 

2.  Microwave onions, remaining 3 cloves of garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes in a bowl, stirring occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add broth to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours until meatballs are tender. 

4.  Stir in kale and orzo and cook on high 30-45 minutes until kale and orzo are tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with additional Parmesan and olive oil.

So good. I serve it with buttered and toasted sourdough bread.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
― Rumi