Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium by James Lacey

If you are looking for an in-depth history of England in the year 1000 with an emphasis on kings and battles, this is not your book. But if you are looking for an interesting read on everyday life in England around the year 1000, you might enjoy this book.  The book follows a calendar year.  (Determining just what would be the beginning of a calendar year was an interesting tale in itself.) It follows ordinary people, monks and shepherds and plowmen, through the year as they perform their tasks and have their feasts and lean times. The role  of the lords and the place of women, slavery, the treatment of disease, and the very real prospect of famine all are discussed in a very readable manner.  Good book. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Around OakMeadows

Hot! Hot! Hot!  You would think it was the middle of August (which,of course, it is!)
I really shouldn't complain because we have had only one day so far over 100 degrees.  I know that I grew up without air conditioning but I wonder if I could acclimatize myself to be without it now?? I sure hope I never have to try!

We have had raccoon babies going to the feeding tray on the live oak branch with mama raccoon.  They are cute as cute as can be. I don't have any pictures because I left my camera at Paul's house when we went to this 66th birthday party. I will get it back from them when we meet for lunch on the 28th. 

The sweet kittens are growing every day. We let them play in the back flower beds each evening. They chase dragonflies and bees and never catch anything. Then they stalk and pounce on each other and generally wear themselves out.  My goodness how they eat! Kitten chow and the big cats Fancy Feast.  Henry especially loves his food. They went to the vet this morning for the last shots, worming, and Henry got a refill for his ringworm medication (which is clearing up quite nicely.)

Autumn is coming because all the beauty berry bushes are loaded. I wish I had my camera to show photos.  The mockingbirds love the berries and pig out on them getting tipsy on them as they get overripe and the sugars get turned into alcohol. 
They will also get tipsy on the pyracantha berries. I wonder if they feel bad the next morning??

I have never been much of a Robin Williams fan but it is sad that he was in so much mental pain that he took his own life.  I have had a bout with Depression and I do know that my brain just wasn't working right. I responded to making a change in my life and taking medication for six months. 

Reading about Ebola and wondering how it will play out??  I do know that the very poor African countries where this outbreak originated have no way to implement the isolation and quarantine measures necessary to contain it. Actually, I doubt if any of the African countries have the means to contain it.  Interesting times.

I am about halfway through Rick Atkinson's The Guns at Last Light which is about the European theater from D-Day to VE Day.  I have always thought of how awful the Japanese fight to the last man mindset was but as it turns out Hitler was determined to do the same thing.  It was just one bloody fight after another--from Normandy to Aachen to the Hurtgen Forest to the Battle of the Bulge (where I am now.)  I am taking my time and reading it slowly. Atkinson does a masterful job of drawing the personalities and the difficulties of trying to get everyone working together and the tribulations of just getting things done.  Excellent book. 

I should be able to finish all 56 blocks on my quilt this week and get started cutting the pieces for the lattice.  I plan to use it on the guest bed. I also plan to make some new pillow shams.  It is a nice room with good furniture but very drab so this quilt and the pillows should brighten it up. 

Lots of good cooking last week. It was hot so I made fruited chicken salad one day and tuna salad another. And ice cream...

That's all the news from OakMeadows.  I'm planning a birding trip to Louisiana for this fall when it is cooler and all the birds are down from the north to winter on the Gulf. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Never Enough Roses

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup


2 onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoonful fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled & sliced ¼ inch thick
2 celery ribs, sliced ¼ inch thick
2 bay leaves
2 bone-in turkey thighs, skin removed (about 2 pounds)
1 cup long grain & wild rice blend
2 Tablespoons fresh minced parsley
   Salt and pepper


  1.  Microwave onions, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Stir broth, carrots, celery, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Season turkey with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until turkey is tender 6 to 8 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.
  3. Transfer turkey to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces, discarding the bones.  Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon.  Discard bay leaves.  Stir in rice, cover, and cook on high until rice is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Stir in shredded turkey and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste.




Sunday, August 17, 2014


“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley: In Search of America

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Poetry

Golden-Mantles Ground Squirrel by Sandra Alcosser

Obsequious squeaker
with jerk-beef tail
you come begging
outside my screen. Sidelong
you stare all morning.  
I know that greeting. It's the same as mine. 
You can't make up your flimsy mind. 
Do you like the world better--distant
or direct?  Little Beckett
shifting chicles from one nervous cheek
to the other, will you never seek more
than safe passage?
If I so much as breathe, you convulse
like water on hot grease. Relax,
no one cares about you. If you left
the territory next Friday for good,
there'd be no party. That's the privilege 
of being discreet. You know the warm dens,
The sound of your solitary beat
against the walls, and those strawberries
ripening under my porch,
the ones no hand can reach?
They're yours---
deep maroon, reclusive,
they smell so sweet. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Goals for Next Week

1. Spiritual
     Daily reading

2. Physical
     Healthy Lunch and afternoon snack
     Exercise 14 minutes 6 times

3. Quilting
     Finish 56 blocks for quilt
     Begin cutting out lattice pieces

4. Reading
     The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson
       The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
     Diary of a Provincial Lady by EM Delafield
     The Year 1000 by James Lacey

5. Cooking
     Apple-Pecan Muffins
     Baked Cod, Carrots/thyme, Corn on the Cob
     Steak, GMP, GB
     Slow Cooker Homey Chicken Stew

6. Home/Garden
     Finish trimming and cleaning walkway
     Nag JMM about photo prints

7. Personal
     Make reservations for November birding trip
     Waste lots of time playing with kittens