Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Good Books

Kessler, Ronald. In the President's Secret Service. Excellent, informative. Who would have thought that nice Jimmy Carter was such a twit!

Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun. Excellent. While I understand that following natural disasters unfortunate things happen, I am beyond appalled that a man could be arrested in his own home by men in varying states of uniform and without identifying themselves, taken to a prison without being allowed to notify anyone of his arrest, and kept without any legal process for weeks.

I got both of these from the library; check and see if your library has them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Vacation Plans

I am taking a week of vacation October 12-16. We are not going away so I am planning a few things that will make a pleasant week.

1. I want to take a trip to Galveston and eat seafood either on the wharves or on the seawall. I want to see how the island is recovering from Hurricane Ike.

2. The Quilt Festival will be going on at the convention center. It is usually a pleasant (but humbling) morning.

3. There is a new branch of the Natural Science Museum that has just opened. It may be interesting.

4. One day I want to take a picnic to Brazos Bend State Park.

5. Shopping--clothes, linens, an electric blanket

I'm beginning to wish I'd never heard of

Health Care Reform. I'm really unhappy with the idea of the IRS fining you if you don't have health insurance. But then I'm really unhappy with any bill the insurance industry is happy with. I look at the mess we got into when the government decided that everyone should own a home. I look at FEMA or take a trip to the Post Office and decide that most likely health care will get worse the more the government gets involved. One thing is for sure, there will be more money going out of my pocket. We are a two high income couple and we are considered fair game any way the health care debate goes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Meat, milk, and eggs

I'm not a vegetarian--I wish I were but I'm not. For many years, out of frugality I stretched meat by making it part of casseroles and stews and I still do this. But I have been limiting meat recently to meat that has been raised without antibiotics or hormones and as far as I know raised under humane conditions. Two years ago I switched to milk that comes from cows that are not injected with hormones or antibiotics. Just this year I changed to eggs that are from chickens that are not treated with hormones or antibiotics and are free range. These changes are more expensive but the taste is so much better and I hope my purchases reflect my desire that animals be treated in a humane manner.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mortgage Refinance Scams

There have been several articles out lately about companies that scam people with offers to refinance their mortgages. They contact people by phone or mail with offers to lower the interest rate, lower the payment, get government aid, all for 3 easy payments of only $1500. Yes, you too can send in your money to a someone you've never heard of, has no office, no BBB rating and feel good because--> they have a web site.... While I think these scammers should be lined up against a brick wall and machine gunned, I have to say the people who have sent in money bear responsibility also. Are they really so naive? I am dumbfounded by the people who take out a $300,000 loan with an income of $30,000/yr and are surprised to find that they can't pay the payments. (I'm certainly not absolving the banks who targeted the lower income areas although I am aware of how our government policy encouraged them to do it.) Then these same people who took out the $300,000 loan on a $30,000 income and can't make the payments turn to scammers who get $4500 out of them in the attempt to re-finance the home that they couldn't afford in the first place. Come on now, if it sounds too good to be true, in all probability it isn't legit. There have been con men and there have been fools from the beginning of time. Perhaps that is why Proverbs tells us that "The fool and his money are soon parted."

Thought for the Day:
There is only one corner of the universe you can change, and that is yourself, but in changing that corner, you change the universe. Chinese proverb

aaaah chooooo

Ragweed. Itching eyes, drippy nose. Claritin & Puffs. aaaaah.....cho.....

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I am just amazed at this. While I understand that they have mental health problems, there are 2 things I really don't understand--Where do they get the money to buy all that stuff?? Credit cards maxed out?? and Why are their family members so passive about it? Why do they continue to live the hoarder?? Patty's husband and Bill's wife both look perfectly able to shovel stuff out or clean out that disgusting refrigerator. Why would you let your children live in that squalor? I'd be gone in about 10 seconds.

The Lead Pencil Society

I'm on one of my periodic news fasts. I suppose the world is getting on without my being informed. It's nice listening to pleasant music instead of chatter. Yesterday I had to do quite a bit of driving to do some errands--music or silence, no NPR. It is amazing how much more peaceful things are with quiet music or silence at home. No television, no radio. I'm thinking of renewing my newspaper subscription and getting my news from print only--haven't decided yet.
(BTW, I want an old-fashioned telephone--one that plugs into the wall and has a cord to the receiver, no answering machine--if I'm home, I'll answer, if I'm not, they can call back. I'd really like one with a rotary dial but I suppose they are antiques now.) JMM says that I should be a charter member of The Lead Pencil Society but that's not completely true--I like having the information from the internet available but I do find that the internet can eat up way too much time.

Cooler Weather

We have had the hottest, driest summer I can remember--and I've seen a lot of them, LOL. Today is the first 24 hours that we have not had the air-conditioner on since May. We've had much needed rain too.

I've been fighting rose fungus on my roses. I have 4 different fungicides that I alternate but the best treatment is the cooler temperatures.

The hummingbirds are still with us but not in the numbers that they were last week. We usually have some passing through well into October. We send them on the way to Central America well fed. They love our salvia and bottle-brush bushes and butterfly weed and of course the sugar water in the feeders.

This has not been a butterfly year. A Monarch or two, a few Gulf frilaries, and a Tiger stripe now and then but nothing like normal. Maybe it was the horrid heat or drought.

Believe it or not, I still have a few tiny tomatoes and quite a few bell peppers.

Good by to Summer 2009!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Goal 2009 Update #17

I scheduled the October 1 house payment to include $5,000 extra principal. That will bring us down to $21,110. We will not make our goal by the end of the year but it looks like February 1, 2010 will be the payoff date. I can live with that!!

I have mentioned my list of things that I have put off until after the house is paid off. #1 is a dishwasher and #2 is having the broken window replaced. The list is 15 items long and will be such a pleasure working my way down.

So what will be the Goal 2010??--To save up enough money to pay for a new vehicle for JMM by the end of 2010. His Ford Ranger has been a really good vehicle but he has been less than pleased with the Ford Service Department. Don't know if he'll go for another Ford or not. I love my Honda Odyssey and have no intentions of getting anything else for me.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dear Bandit

I just wanted to tell you Thanks for the years we had together. You were really special from the moment you showed up and announced that we had won the cat lottery and you would be allowing us the priviledge of loving and caring for you. I'm sure you knew that we called you Mr. Personality and that we were totally in love with you. You filled the house with your presence as head cat. We will miss you and carry you with us in our hearts always. Love, Me

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Everyday in my journal, I list one thing for which I am grateful. Sometimes it is something big--like a good husband who has loved me for 40+ years--and other times, it is for something quite small--like hearing an uplifting song. Gratitude keeps me grounded and stops me from feeling sorry for myself.

Today I am thankful for my special country. The Osgood Files comes on the radio during my drive to work and is often very thoughtful.

Despite the hate and fear mongoring of talk radio, people from other lands know just how special a country America is. They vote with their feet and once they get here find it a place of improvement and opportunity.

Thought for the day:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as every you can. John Wesley

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One more thing

In discussing end of life decisions, I forgot to mention the importance of Long Term Care insurance. The lack of LTC insurance can leave the surviving partner in a marriage destitute, usually the wife. This is simply because wives tend to live longer. With no LTC insurance and a husband needing LTC, all assets are eaten up leaving the wife old, alone, and destitute. Husbands, if you love your wife, get a good LTC policy and wrap it up as a present--it's the best present you could get.

I was fortunate to be able to get LTC insurance without a physical through my employer; with a progressive neuromuscular disease, I would have been laughed out of any other means of obtaining it. I was able to get my husband a policy at the same time. The really good thing is that I am able to continue the insurance at the same rate after I leave my employer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

End of life decisions

I have definite wants and don't wants when it comes to end of life choices. My family, however, is not clairvoyant and I must communicate my wishes to them and to our family physician. In order to do this, the following documents are needed. I can clearly spell out what treatments I want and what I do not want.

1. Advance medical directive
2. Medical Power of Attorney
3. Will

If you don't have these 3 documents, you can easily obtain them from your family attorney, your spiritual advisor, or the Chaplain's office at your local hospital.

Finally, be sure that your family knows where to locate these important documents.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Morning at the Park

We went birding this morning at Brazos Bend State Park. We arrived just after sunrise and it was absolutely perfect. There were 15-20 other people there at that time and all of us had various binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, and lenses. We took Daisy (dog) with us on a leash and she was in nose heaven with all the scents. She's so pretty and friendly to everyone who want to pet her. I love seeing people out enjoying the beauty and peace of nature.
Here's the bird list for the morning:

Mourning doves
Great horned owl
Cattle egrets
Rusty blackbirds
Great blue heron
Purple Gallinule
Tri-colored heron
White Ibis
Green Heron
Reddish egret
Red-winged blackbirds
Little blue heron
Whistling ducks
Ladderbacked Woodpecker

Next month it will be cool enough to take a picnic lunch.
I think we should make a project of visiting all the Texas State Parks. Texas has a wonderful system of state parks and it would be fun to see if we could visit all of them!! I think I've had an idea!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rain! Glorious rain!!

It is raining--a for real, coming down in buckets, rain. Our parched earth is just soaking it up and you can just feel the plants take in that cooling, life restoring liquid and smell their exhalation of thanks. And for the first time since the end of April, the temperature didn't go over 90 degrees today. JMM and I sat on the back porch and watched and listened. Glorious rain!!

Maybe there's hope

When Nicholas D. Kristoff, Thomas Friedman, and George Will are all urging caution in getting more entangled in Afghanistan, maybe there's hope that we won't make another hellacious mistake.

Here are links:

I know that no one listens to me but maybe, just maybe these three (2 on the left and 1 on the right) professional noisemakers will get enough attention to stop us from totally getting into another quagmire.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You area child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

(Max Ehrmann)

You can never have too many roses.

My Day Breaker roses have survived this hot, dry summer with blooms almost all summer. It has meant almost daily watering and trimming but the beautiful blooms have been well worth the effort. I am battling rose fungus now; I have learned that proper pruning is the basis for controlling fungus and that you must use more than one fungicide to keep the blight in check.

I am planning to expand the rose beds this winter but haven't made up my mind with what. I definitely want something with fragrance. I have asked JMM to think about putting up a trellis so that I could cover it with climbing roses; that will be a major project since the trellis will have to be very sturdy to stand up to the wind that comes through here.
Here is a picture of my sweet Day Breakers:

Thought for the Day:

We are all in this world together - people , plants and animals - and we had better make the most of our opportunities. We are all here for some purpose: I believe that it is to live a good life, individually and collectively. That means for us humans to do as little harm as possible, to other humans, to animals and to the whole environment, and to do as much good as possible. To live simply, not elaborately; to consume the least possible, not the most possible. If you have any religion, let it be helpfulness, love and unity. We will then fulfill the purpose and take our part in the great plan. It is as simple as that."~Helen Nearing (1904-1995)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's depressing.

It looks like:
1. We are not only going to stay mired in Iraq but also getting deeper into the quagmire of Afghanistan.
2. We are not going to have universal health care.

We really are idiots.

Morning Routine

I have always been a morning person but my current work schedule (2:30-11PM) has played havoc with my "Early to bed, early to rise" nature. However, I do find that having a morning routine allows me to get things done on auto-pilot. Here's the general routine:
1. Make bed--first thing, get it done.
2. Shower and dress--I feel better and get more done than if I stay in my jammies and slippers.
3. Feed cats--By now they are hungry and WILL NOT BE IGNORED.
4. Breakfast and clean up the kitchen.
5. Dust mop kitchen and family room--all tiled area; with 3 cats, 1 dog, and 3 people, it needs it everyday.
6. Bible chapter for the day. I read through the Bible in this way: Day 1--Old Testament; Day 2--Psalms, Proverbs, Minor prophets; Day 3--New Testament. It isn't the fastest way to read the Bible, but I'm in no hurry. I usually pick one verse from the day's reading to think about during the day.
7. Laundry--I like to do a load every day or two. Towels are changed weekly and sheets every 2 weeks. Kitchen linens daily.
8. Project for the day--Cleaning, Cooking, Reading, Quilting--just depends on what is on my To Do Today List.

This routine works for me--keeps us generally clean and fed.

Thought for the Day:

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. John Wooden

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Compromise

I think we'll all agree that raiding the emergency fund to finish paying off the house by the end of the year is not the wisest way to go. One of the reasons that I have been so anxious to finish it is that I have been putting things off for a couple of years to focus on the house. I have thought that I could just hold off until January, 2010 and then I could start on my When the House Is Paid Off List. The fact is that I am willing to wait that long but no longer. My compromise is that I will continue as planned through December to put every penny I can scrape together on the house which will get us down to $10-12,000 but in January I will pick one thing on my list and get it taken care of. That way the house gets paid down as rapidly as possible through the end of the year and I start taking care of some other needs in a reasonable time frame.

Thought for the Day:

"The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King