Friday, November 29, 2013

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, December 7, 2013

     Call Humana for appointment for someone to come out. --done. Appointment set for 2pm 12/27/2013. 
      Dentist crown #2--Done. The old crown is off and the temporary crown is on & the new crown will be placed on 12/23.
     Clean out 5 drawers or cabinets--done. 
     Take prints to be framed--not done. 
     Online Christmas shopping--not done. 
     Block #24-- Finished. Started #25. 
     The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flag--Finished. Loved it!
     Empire if Liberty by Gordon S. Wood. 
     Slow Cooker Revolution by The Editors at America's Test Kitchen--So good that I am buying a copy.
     Up from Slavery by Booker T.  Washington. 
     4 dinners
Take car in for maintenance--not done. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gone Birding

We are off to Galveston Island for a nice day of birding.  It has several excellent birding areas so we go at least once a year. We are both native BOIs and know just where to go. But there are always surprises. Once we were just driving along a back road and off to one side about 10 yards away was a flock of Sandhill cranes; we had never seen them so close. 
Then we will have fresh seafood at our favorite place on the sea wall. 
Looking forward to a fun day. Hope everyone has a good long weekend. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NO!! NO!! NO!! continued

Well, it turns out I am not the only person to take issue with the Status of Forces Agreement being negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014. Here is a link to the editorial in today's NYT by the Editorial Board:

The last sentence, "Regardless of what he (John Kerry), the tribal council and the Afghan Parliament decide, President Obama still has to make a case for the deal to the American people."  I do not think that case can be made at all. 

Memory: Thoughts on God

Thoughts on God

When I was a child, my mother and I attended a little, independent Baptist church. We didn't attend every Sunday but we were members and I was baptized there. It was about the only social group my mother attended. My father was nominally Catholic but I can only remember him attending a Catholic church once. I was not overly enthusiastic about Sunday School or the church service except for the rollicking Baptist singing. We had a pianist who could rival Jerry Lee Lewis. Our preacher wasn't a fire & brimstone type but when we held a revival, all bets were off. There would be singing and preaching and pounding the pulpit and much weeping and repenting. We would occasionally have dinner on the grounds and that would be fun--lots of food and the best iced tea have ever tasted. 

The trouble started when I was in junior high school and it dawned on me what "Virgin Birth" meant. I remember thinking, "That's not right. That's not the way it happens!" I doubt if I had all the facts of life down pat then but I was a lot happier when it was Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. It was all rather disconcerting. Maybe I wasn't a Baptist after all. But that was like saying maybe I wasn't a girl--it was who I was, who we were. 

Now in the 1950s and 1960s in our little community there were Catholics and Baptists and Jews. At least that was all I knew about.  I knew I wasn't a Catholic, although I loved the inside of the Catholic Churches that I had been in when attending a wedding or funeral; they were beautiful and mysterious.  Our little Baptist church was poor and plain and not beautiful at all. And I was sure I wasn't a Jew because we had bacon and shrimp and Christmas and Easter. But it would be a lot simpler, I thought, if all you had to do was keep the 10 commandments and not worry about virgins and rising from the dead. 

By the time I was in high school, I had discovered Methodists and Presbyterians and Lutherans. I was especially taken with the Episcopalians because they had all the beauty and ceremony of the Catholics without the Pope or nuns. One of my friends was a member of the Assembly of God. She invited me to attend a Sunday evening service at her church. All was well during the singing and those people could sing and the pianist could rival ours. But then they started praising God and speaking in tongues. Well, to this little Baptist, that was Satanic or witchcraft or something I didn't want to have anything to do with. I left before the preaching started. Still don't understand glossalalia but it sure wasn't for me. 

Then I went to college and lost interest in religion for a while. I was married in the little Baptist church. The dear ladies of the church were like family to me. They gave me a wedding shower in 1968 and I still use some of the things they gave me. They prayed every day for my husband while he was in Vietnam. They gave me a baby shower when I was expecting our baby. 

In the end I never found the perfect church but I did learn to appreciate the love and kindness of the people in that little Baptist church.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

NO!! NO!! NO!!

This from the front page of today's NYT:

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday that the United States and Afghanistan had finalized the wording of a bilateral security agreement that would allow for a lasting American troop presence through 2024 and set the stage for billions of dollars of international assistance to keep flowing to the government in Kabul.

I can't believe it!! Yes, I can. I am furious!! I voted for Barak Obama for President, not John Kerry. Surely, a treaty committing billions of dollars and U.S. troops on the ground has to be ratified by the U.S. Congress???? 2024?? Isn't 12 years, billions of dollars and thousands of lives and limbs all for nothing enough?? NO, just NO, this cannot happen!!!

Edited to add this email which I just sent to President Barak Obama, Rep. Pete Olson, Senator John Cornyn, and Senator Ted Cruz:

Dear President Obama,

   I am troubled by the news reports today that a treaty is being considered that would keep American troops in Afghanistan until 2024 and would continue to pour billions of dollars in aid to Afghanistan.  This is not to be done.  The time to leave Afghanistan is 2014 as we were told we would. There will be chaos when we leave whether it is 2014, 2024, or 2054. We have urgent business here at home, in the United States. Let's not dissipate our resources in endless quagmires. 

Next I will call the offices of all 4. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Climate Change Cartoon

As far as I can tell no one is taking either very seriously.

Around Oak Meadows: The Pond

There is a pond behind our property. When we moved here the pond was clear and lovely. Thanks to our neighbors pouring fertilizer on their yard, the pond is no longer clear and lovely.  There are still some wading birds who come looking for frogs and small fish but not as many.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I agree with Karzai

Afghan President Karzai's refusal to allow NATO troops to search Afghan homes after the 2014 withdrawal is causing concern that the U.S. - Afghan Security Pact may fail. OK, so it fails. We have no business searching Afghan homes. Can you imagine a treaty allowing a foreign power to search at will American homes?? I certainly cannot. 2014 : We declare victory and leave. Period. Will there be chaos afterward? Yes. But that is for the Afghans to sort out. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Beef & Bok Choy Stir Fry

As with most stir fry recipes, once all the chopping is done, it goes together quickly. I've made this for years and love it.

Beef & Bok Choy
1 lb. beef steak (top round, flank, or sirloin)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 head bok choy
4 carrots, sliced diagonally 
2-3 teaspoons sesame seeds
¼ cup oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup water 

Prepare cooking sauce:

Stir together ¾ cup water, 4 teaspoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, & 2 tablespoons cooking sherry.  Set aside.

 Cut beef with the grain into 1 ½ inch wide strips; then cut each strip across the grain into ¼ inch wide slanting strips.  Place in bowl with soy sauce and garlic. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

 Meanwhile separate bok choy leaves from stems. Wash both thoroughly. Slice stems diagonally into ¼ inch pieces.  Set stems and leaves aside separately. Should be about 6-8 cups total.

Place wok over medium heat.  When wok is hot, add sesame seeds and stir until golden ( about 2 minutes); remove from wok and set aside.  Increase heat to high.  Add 2 Tablespoons oil to wok; when oil is hot add bok choy stems and carrots.  Stir fry for 2 minutes; add water, then cover and cook for 2 minutes; add bok choy leaves, cover, and steam for 2 more minutes until leaves and stems are tender to bite.  Remove from wok and set aside. 

Pour remaining 2 tablespoons oil into wok.  When oil is hot, add meat; stir fry until browned (about 3-5 minutes). Return bok choy to wok.  Stir cooking sauce and add, then add sesame seeds.  Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens.  Serve with rice. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013


There are only two ways to live your life. One is to live your life as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. 

Albert Einstein 

Saturday Poetry

How Would You live Then?

What if a hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks
flew in circles around your head?  What if
the mockingbird came into the house with you and
became your advisor? What if
the bees filled your walls with honey and all
you needed to do was ask them and they would fill
the bowl?  What if the brook slid downhill just
past your bedroom window you you could listen
to its slow prayers as you fell asleep?  What if
the stars began to shout their names, or to run
this way and that above the clouds?  What if
you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang,
from its painted branches?  What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day
and every day--who knows how, but they do it---were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?

Mary Oliver

Goals for next week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, November 23

      ABF/Church--not done b/c I can't unload my scooter when it is pouring rain. 
     Daily Bible Reading --done. 
     Exercise--done 3 times. 
     Weight Watchers--not done. More rain difficulties. 
     Finalize Humana Medicare Advantage Plan & Prescription Drug Plan--done as much as I can until I get confirmation from Social Security that we will have Medicare Parts A & B. 
     New dental crown placed--done! One down, one to go. 
     Make December budget--done. Our budgets are rather easy to do b/c things are pretty much the same. I save a fixed amount each month for Christmas so there's no out of pocket Christmas expense. 
     Clean out 5 drawers or cabinets--done. 
     Take prints to be framed--not done. Weather. It was just a good week for staying inside. 
     Block #22-- done.  I even started #23. 
     Repot succulents--not done. 
     Finish trimming walkway--done. 
     Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson--Finished. Not very practical for me. 
     Nature Writing by John Muir--in progress. I love him and the way he writes.
     Nella Last's War by Nella Last--not going to finish. 
     Slow Cooker Revolution by The Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Cooking--I am still waiting on this from the library. 
     4 dinners--done. 

All in all a pretty productive week except for the things that required going somewhere and the weather was just too rainy. On to next week and Thanksgiving and our first birding trip of the season. 


Friday, November 15, 2013

A Difficult Decision

The form came in the mail earlier this week to renew my pharmacist license.  Rationally, I know that I will never work again. But emotionally, it is wrenching. I struggled so long and so hard to be able to  have a profession and to be able to take care of myself and my family. License renewal is hundreds of dollars and many hours of continuing education. I have the money and could easily do the CE hours but for what purpose?? No, it is time to close that part of my life. Wretched piece of paper!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Brazos Bend State Park

Yes he is real. My husband took the picture. I was headed for the van.

Lovely place to visit in the fall, winter, and spring. Miserable in the summer with heat, humidity, and hordes of humongous mosquitoes.

The Soup Project: Potato-Leek Soup


Cooler weather means getting out the soup pot.  This is a simple soup that is very tasty; I usually have a salad with it.

Potato-Leek Soup
(Crock Pot) 

4 cups diced potatoes
3 cups thinly sliced leeks
2 cans chicken broth
8-10 slices bacon cut in ½ inch pieces, cooked and drained
1 cup evaporated milk
salt & pepper to taste
shredded cheese (Optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients in Crock Pot and cook on low for 8- 10 hours. Add evaporated milk and adjust seasonings during last 30 minutes cooking. Puree about 2/3 and add back into the remaining soup stir.  Top with cheese if desired

Friday, November 8, 2013

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, November 9

     Make December budget
     Clean out 5 drawers or cabinets
     Take prints to be framed
     Block #21--done. 
     Repot succulents
     Finish trimming walkway
     Garbology by Edward Hume--finished. Excellent book. 
     Nature Writing by John Muir
     Blue Iris by Mary Oliver--finished. Excellent. 
     4 dinners--done. 
     Weight Watchers

Not a very successful week. Hope I get more done next week. 

Memory: Meeting the Ship

Memory: Meeting the Ship

My father was a Merchant Mariner who sailed from Galveston on the U.S,S. Stella Lykes. He usually departed from and returned to Galveston. But sometimes the ship would return to New Orleans and my mother and I would meet the ship in New Orleans. Since New Orleans was where his family lived, it would be a time to visit all the Aunts and Uncles and cousins.  But that was not the best part. The best part was the trip to New Orleans on the overnight train. Now that my friends was adventure!

We took a taxi to the train station. I had a little yellow overnight case with a brown deer on the front in which I carried my nightgown and a few other things. I felt so important at the train station. I was helped up the big steps onto the train by a porter. I had to sit on my overnight bag to get a good view out the window. I was not frightened at all, just very excited. I remember the dining car but I don't recall if we ate or not. What I remember so well is the sleeping arrangements. The porter pulled the bed right down from overhead! I was astonished! Who would have guessed there was a bed up there!?! I loved the clickety clack sound of the train on the track and the gentle swaying motion. I must have slept because the next thing I knew, we were getting up and dressed and coming into New Orleans. Time to visit Aunt Beulah and Uncle Edwin and cousin Joan and Grandma. I don't think I went to see the ship but I do remember my father coming in with a big doll. (I named her Wanda but I can't imagine why because I knew no one with that name.)

We must have taken the train back to Galveston but I don't remember that so well as the trip to New Orleans with those remarkable beds overhead. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

100 Movies Worth Watching

I started this because I saw someone else's list of favorite movies and didn't like half of them. So I thought I would come up with my own list.  This is a work in progress.  I will add them as I watch them on Netflix.  What would you suggest that I watch and add to the list?

My 100 Favorite Movies

The African Queen
The Artist
Captain Phillips
Chariots of Fire
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood 
Forrest Gump
Gone with the Wind
The Hunger Games
The King's Speech
Les Miserables
My Afternoons with Margueritte 
Oranges and Sunshine
The Queen of Versailles 
State of Play
Searching for Sugar Man
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Zero Dark Thirty

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Iraq and Afghanistan

I wonder if there is anyone who thinks that we (the U.S. and various allies) have accomplished anything worthwhile in Iraq and/or Afghanistan? We are still bringing young Americans home in flag draped coffins and we are still spending billions of dollars on these debacles. Why? It is long past time to declare victory and get the hell out. Who will be the last person to lose their legs or their mental well being or their life? Who will it be before we finally stop the madness? I am not a pacifist. I fully realize that there are people out there who would do us harm.  But I think we need to be careful in spending lives and treasure.  We are coming up to 2014 which is the date that President Obama has determined is time to exit Afghanistan. There will be all kinds of pressure on his to leave troops behind for "training" or "support." Will he be strong enough to resist? I wonder.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wild Boar Out Back

We live out in the country. One of the great pleasures of living in the country is the wildlife we see--raccoons, birds, possums, an armadillo now and then. But one critter we don't like to see are the wild pigs. Wild boars are not your cute little piggy; we have trapped them up to 300 lb. of fighting mad meanness. This is one of many we have trapped and turned into sausage.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Banana Nut Bread

I have been making this for about 40 years. It is so easy and so good.

Banana-Nut Bread 

½ c. oil
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 ½ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. wheat germ
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ c. pecan pieces 
Cream oil, sugar, bananas, vanilla, and eggs.
Add remaining ingredients and stir well.
Bake in loaf pan which has been sprayed with Pam at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Saturday Poetry: How the Grass and the Flowers Came to Exist, a God Tale

I suppose 
the Lord said:
Let there be fur upon the earth,
and let there be hair upon the earth,

and so the seeds stuttered forward into ripeness 
and roots twirled in the dark
to accomplish His desire,  

and so there is clover,
and the reeds of the marshes,
and the eelgrass of the sea shallows
upon which the dainty sea brant live,

and there is green and sturdy grass,
and the goldenrod
and the spurge and the yarrow
and the ivies and the bramble
and the blue iris

covering the earth,
thanking the Lord with their blossoms. 

Mary Oliver 

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, November 9

     Finalize Fidelity allocations--done. 
     Clean out 5 drawers or cabinets--done. 
     Block #20--done. 
     Repot succulents--not done. 
     Clean back porch--done. 
     Garbology by Edward Hume--in progress. 
     Nature Writing by John Muir--in progress. 
     The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson
     Blue Iris by Mary Oliver--in progress. (Finally poetry I really love!)
     4 dinners--done. 
     Weight Watchers--not done.