Monday, June 29, 2015

Around OakMeadows

Just looking over some of the Yosemite pictures.  It was so beautiful and so peaceful. Next year we are going to Yellowstone. 

I am finally over my month long cold and my energy levels are back to normal. Yea for that!!

I have seen a few butterflies--1 Monarch on the milkweed and 1 Gulf fritillary on the clematis but nothing like what we usually have. Maybe it was the month of rain we had in May. I don't know. 

My baby quilt is coming along. I have the blocks together and tomorrow I plan to put the borders on it.  Then I need to buy the batting and find a fabric for the back. 

I am reading A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir by Donald Worster.  So far it is very interesting. The author takes the time and effort to place Muir in the culture of the time and it makes him a much more human person. Joe and I are still reading The Weight Brothers by David McCullough and finding it just fascinating. I'm listening to The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny. It is an Armand Garmache murder mystery. So far so good. 

Every morning when I take the birdseed out, I have a pair of cardinals and a pair of woodpeckers waiting for me.  I didn't know woodpeckers liked peanuts so much!  There are also some squirrels waiting for me to bring their morning repast too. Our nightly visitors include raccoons, possums, and deer. 

Our sweet daughter came over this afternoon and we enjoyed a visit and made chocolate chip 
cookies. I wonder how many times we have bakes cookies together? Must be in the hundreds, if not thousands of times. You know when you are in the middle of child rearing, you wonder if you are doing anything right or if everything you do is wrong. But somehow we all got through it and what a wonderful person she is. 

We have had no rain for long enough now that Joe has been able to get everything mowed. It looks so nice now and the crepe myrtles are beginning to bloom too.  We have another set of barn swallow babies in a nest on the front porch and  of course that is a mess but so worth it when we get to see the babies learn to fly. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are all lap cats and the people are all retired. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June Cooking

Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon and Red Onion

2 (5-ounce) bags baby spinach
10 ounces bacon (10 slices), chopped fine
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

Place the spinach in a large bowl.  Fry the bacon in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the extra-virgin olive oil to the bacon fat in the skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper and cook until onion is soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in the vinegar, then pour over the spinach and toss to wilt. Portion the salad onto individual plates and garnish with the bacon and eggs. Serve immediately. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June Meditation

Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. 

Augustine of Hippo

The Wild by Wendell Berry

In the empty lot--a place
not natural, but wild--among
the trash of human absence,

the slough and shamble
of the city's seasons, a few
old locusts bloom.

A few woods birds
fly and sing
in the new foliage

--warblers and tanagers, birds
wild as leaves; in a million
each one would be rare,

new to the eyes.  A man
couldn't make a habit
of such color,

such flight and singing.
But they're the habit of this
wasted place. In them

the ground is wise.  They are
its remembrance of what is.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Where have all the butterflies gone?

No butterflies, zero, zip, zilch. Not one caterpillar on the abundant milkweed or anything else.  I know the milkweed was not poisoned by the nicotinamides because I grew them myself from last year's seeds.  And it isn't just Monarchs that are missing, there are no swallowtails or even yellow sulfurs. It is like a silent spring of butterflies. 

June Goals

     Sit & Be Fit

     Finish new baby quilt top

     The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
     A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir by Donald Worster
     The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

     CB Hash
     Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
     Cutlets, GMP, GB

     Finish sorting out VCR tapes and DVDs 

     Lunch with P&W&C&B
     Make arrangements for side trips on Alaska cruise

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow

 Stewart Dubinsky, a middle-aged reporter, knew his father served in Europe during WWII, but the War was a subject off-limits in the Dubinski household. Upon is father's death, Dubinski discovers that his father had been court-martialed and imprisoned, and sets out to find the decades-old answers. The story that follows is an emotional and painfully realistic drama of the horrors of war in the European theater.

In early 1944, and Dubinsky's father, David Dubin, is a young lawyer assigned to the US Army's JAG Corps headquartered in Nancy, France, recently re-occupied by the Allies. He is assigned to investigate the alleged insubordination of Robert Martin, a Major in the CIA-forerunner OSS. Martin is a shadowy figure; a living legend of unparalleled heroism and bravery behind Nazi lines, but perhaps also a spy the loosely allied Soviets. Gita Lodz, a Polish immigrant turned French resistance commando, is the inseparable companion of Martin, setting up the first two legs of the triangle that Dubin not surprisingly completes. In pursuing Martin - and Gita - through northern Europe, the lawyer Dubin finds himself pressed into service as a front-line infantry officer to replenish Allied troops decimated by the Nazis during the Battle of the Bulge. Told from foxhole-level perspective, Turow paints a horrific picture of the war, culminating in a morbidly riveting portrayal of a Nazi concentration camp and ending in an unexpected twist to Major Robert Martin's story.

Delivered with the historical authority and authenticity, Turow applies his trademarked plots, clever twists, and human struggles, adding up to a moving and educational drama. Excellent! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

Charleston, what a horror! What a crying shame that peaceful people in their own house of prayer are murdered by such a pathetic excuse for a human being.  It is a shame that instead of stringent gun legislation, all that is being done is discussing taking down the Confederate battle flag, emblem of Southern treachery and slavery.  I'm all for taking every one of them down but it really isn't going to prevent the next mass murderer from committing the next atrocity. And as long as Congress is for sale to the highest bidder, well, we all know nothing will be done. 

Well, that's enough of that. Back to OakMeadows. 

I am getting well slooowly. I haven't had any fever since Saturday. But I still have zero energy. 

The new baby quilt was put on hold much of last week but I am back at it today. I think it is going to be so cute. As soon as I get the top together, I'll post a picture. 

I read the new book on Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I like her idea of pulling everything out and putting back only what is really used and really loved.  I need to do that with my kitchen pantry. Honestly, I don't know how all that stuff gets into my kitchen pantry--2 bottles of balsamic vinegar and 1 of rice wine vinegar?? It would be nice to take everything out, wash the shelves, and put back only the useful stuff all at one time.  I usually do the pantry the same way I do the refrigerator--one shelf at a time. Anyway, the book was a good read but realistically, I will probably stick to my slow but steady cleaning out system.  I also read David Brooks' The Road to Character.  It was OK but I didn't find several of the people he wrote about particularly admirable. The book that Joe and I are really enjoying is The Wright Brothers by David McCullough; absolutely fascinating! I thought I knew all about the Wright Brothers and Kitty Hawk and their flying machine but there is so much more and David McCullough just tells the story as it should be told. Excellent!

The big news around here is that it hasn't rained in 5 whole days!  The back 2 acres of our property has been more or less like an overgrown swamp. And I'm not kidding, one day there was a Little Blue Heron in one of the areas of standing water. Joe has spent the last 3 days mowing. There are still a couple of places where he still can't mow but if it will just hold off for a couple more days. 

Our passports came yesterday so all is set for the Alaska cruise in August. I still have no idea what kind of clothes I need. Will it be hot, cold, both? 

Well, that's all the news from OakMeadows where the deer eat all the flowers and the cats nap all the time. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
2 medium onions, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced (less if you don't like garlic as much as I do.)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 carrots, scrubbed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, if desired

Dry chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12 inch skillet until very hot but not smoking. Brown half the chicken lightly on both sides, about 8 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining chicken; transfer to bowl. 

Heat 1 more tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme, and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in wine and 1 cup broth, smoothing out any lumps and scraping up any browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker. 

Microwave potatoes and carrots with remaining tablespoon oil in a covered bowl, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Stir in remaining 3 cups of broth and bay leaves into slow cooker. Nestle browned chicken and any accumulated juice into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low.  

Stir in frozen peas during last 30 minutes of cooking. 

You can take the chicken out, shred it, and return it to the slow cooker. But I find this unnecessary, I just break it up with a large spoon in the pot. 

Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and stir in parsley. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

June Meditation

“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

Friday, June 19, 2015

June Poetry


The fog comes 
on little cat feet. 
It sits looking over 
harbor and city 
on silent haunches 
and then moves on. 

Carl Sandburg, 1916

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June Goals

     Daily Bible Reading
     Order Sayings of the Desert Fathers

     Weight Watchers
     Chair Dancing DVD

Quilting: appliqué on each of the 30 blocks

     The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
     The Road to Character by David Brooks
     Ordinary Heroes

     Tuna Salad Sandwiches
     Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
     Spaghetti and Meatballs

     New Floor lamp
     New pillows

     Order larger purse for trip
     New larger suitcase
     Order slacks

Monday, June 15, 2015

Around OakMeadows

My previous baby quilt which was given to my great-nephew who is due any day now.

This dratted cold is still hanging on but I am ever so slowly getting over it. At least, I am no longer having to sleep in the recliner to keep from coughing all night. The doc gave me a prescription for cough syrup with codeine and a teaspoon of it and I am out like s light.  I only needed to take it for 3 nights. Anyway, I am better and am thankful for that. 

We went to see San Andreas. It was a really good disaster flick. As Joe said, it wasn't nearly as bad as he had anticipated. As for me, I like a good disaster or post-apocalyptic survival movie. Throw in some popcorn and I'm a happy camper. 

We are having about the wettest early summer I can remember.  Joe got out this morning to mow as much as he could before the rain starts. There is a tropical wave that is supposed to bring us another 6+ inches of rain starting this afternoon. 

I have put the monster quilt on hold while I get the next baby quilt together.  I 
want to take it with me on the Alaska cruise. I have the 30 4-patch blocks finished and now I need to cut out the small 2-inch appliqué blocks and get them sewn on. 

I finished Spineless by Susan Middleton and that must be one of the most beautiful books that I have ever had the pleasure of perusing.  She photographs marine invertebrates and it is just gorgeous. Such exquisite creatures that most of us will never see. It is another book that I found via Maria Popova's wonderful blog Brain Pickings. 

Cooking was a bit sketchy again this past week as my temperature went up 
every afternoon and I generally felt like carp. So I would set things up in the morning and get everything ready to cook and then in the evening Joe would 
come in and do most of the actual cooking. It is actually a pretty good system.  This week we will be making baked fish, carrots/thyme, and corn; Chicken Rice Bake; and Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff. I want to make chocolate chip cookies but we will see how much I improve. 

I have rearranged my succulents on the back porch. I sure wish I could find another plant stand like the one I have. It is just the right size and doesn't rust. I found it at Hobby Lobby a year or so ago and have never seen one like it again. I told Joe to keep his eyes open when he is out and so will I. 

Well that's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are all spoiled and the people take afternoon naps. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June Cooking

Favorite BLT with Avocado and Chipotle Mayonaisse

Leaf Lettuce
Sliced Tomato
Sliced Avocado
Chipotle Mayonaisse 
Flour tortilla

Chipotle Mayonaisse 

1 cup Mayonaisse 
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
1 teaspoon adobo sauce

Mix together, refrigerate covered in plastic wrap. 

June Meditation

Heaven forbid that we should believe in such a way as not to accept or seek reasons, since we could not even believe if we did not possess rational souls.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June Poetry Goldenrod by Mary Oliver

On roadsides, 
in fall fields, 
in rumpy bunches, 
saffron and orange and pale gold, 
in little towers, 
soft as mash, 
sneeze- bringers and seed- bearers, 
full of bees and yellow beads 
and perfect flowerlets 
and orange butterflies. 
I don’t suppose much notice comes of it,
    except for honey, 
        and how it heartens the heart with its blank blaze.

 I don’t suppose anything loves it except, 
          the rocky voids filled by its dumb dazzle. 

For myself, 
     I was just passing by, 
          when the wind flared 
               and the blossoms rustled,
 and the glittering pandemonium leaned on me. 

I was just minding my own business 
     when I found myself on their straw hillsides,
           citron and butter- colored, 
               and was happy, 
 and why not? 

Are not the difficult labors of our lives 
      full of dark hours? 

And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far,
     that is better than these light- filled bodies? 

All day on their airy backbones
      they toss in the wind,
           they bend as though it was
                natural and godly to bend,
           they rise in a stiff sweetness, 
in the pure peace of giving one’s gold away.

Friday, June 12, 2015

June Goals

     Daily Reading

     Healthy Breakfast and Apple

Quilting: Complete baby quilt top

     Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow
     Spineless by Susan Middleton
     The Road to Character by David Brooks

     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn on the Cob
     Chicken Rice Bake, Veggie tray
     Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Around OakMeadows

The trip to Yosemite had one unintended consequence: I caught someone's cold, probably in the overbooked flight home. Benadryl, Sudafed, aspirin, and Afrin are helping but I fear my head might explode anyway. 

The picture at the top is of my beautiful Dolly Madison lilies....before deer. The next day:

I haven't felt like sewing or quilting. I have about 8 weeks to get my next baby quilt top made and the quilt ready for quilting. I want to take it with me to work on while on the Alaska cruise. Surely I can do that. 

Speaking of the Alaska cruise, I've made all the flight/hotel/shuttle reservations. And I've booked Ray from Awesome Paws to take care of the beastie boyz while we are away.   Next I need to decide on any side excursions.  We've renewed our passports and are waiting for them to come in the mail.  I don't think I need to buy any clothing for the trip. 

I enjoyed the latest Maisie Dobbs book, A Dangerous Place, by Jacqueline Winspear.  I enjoyed it more for the setting in time and place and for the character development in Maisie than for the murder mystery she solves.  It certainly set the stage for the next book.  The Strength that Remains by Tracy Kidder about the survival of a young medical student during the genocide in Rwanda/Burundi was excellent. He is now working in a clinic in Burundi.  Current books are Spineless by Susan Middleton and Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow. Both very good so far. 

Cooking has been rather sketchy--Macaroni and Cheese, Beef and Bok Choy stir fry, and tonight, Shrimp Jambalaya. In all honesty, Joe has done most of the cooking with me setting things up and supervising from behind the box of tissues. 

That's about all the news from OakMeadows where all the cats are spoiled and all the people take naps every afternoon. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June Cooking


3 large, ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cored and quartered
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped coarse
2 cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded, and choppe coarse
5 cups tomato juice
1 onion, minced
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or cilantro

Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor until finely chopped, about 12 pulses. Transfer to a large bowl. 
Pulse the bell peppers and cucumbers until finely chopped, about 15 pulses. Add to the bowl with the tomatoes. 
Stir in the tomato juice, onion, vinegar, garlic, Tabasco, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. 
Ladle into chilled bowls and sprinkle with the parsley. Can drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil if desired. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

June Meditations

The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. 

Marcus Aurelius

Friday, June 5, 2015


God's World 

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough! 
Thy winds, thy wide gray skies! 
Thy mists that roll and rise! 
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag 
And all but cry with color! 
That gaunt crag To crush! 
To lift the lean of that black bluff! 
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough! 
Long have I known a glory in it all, 
But never knew I this: 
Here such a passion is 
As stretcheth me apart—
Lord, I do fear
 Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year; 
My soul is all but out of me—let fall 
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call. 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1913

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Goals for Next Week

     Daily Bible Reading

     Chair Dancing DVD

     Block #25

     The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
     Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow
     Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder

     Shrimp Jambalaya 
     Chicken Rice Bake
     Steak, GMP, GB

     Replant back flower bed with deer resistant plants

     Buy summer clothes
     Check on trip to Washinton

June Menu

June Menu

1. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Cabbage--done. 
2. Fruited Chicken Salad--done. 
3. Beef and Bok Choy Stir Fry--done. 
4. Leftovers
5. Out
6. Baked Potato, Veggie Tray, Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
7. Veggie Soup
8. Shrimp Jambalaya 
9. Chicken Rice Bake
10. Steak, GMP, GB
11. Leftovers
12. Out
13. Baked Potato, Veggie Tray, Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
14. Schlotzsky's
15. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn 
16. Oven Fried Chicken, Baked Sweet Potato, Asparagus 
17. Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
18. Leftovers 
19. Out
20. Baked Potato, Veggie Tray, Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
21. Mac and Cheese
22. Tuna Salad Sandwiches
23. Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
24. Spicy Sausage Ragu with Red Peppers SCR p.169. 
25. Leftovers 
26. Out
27. Baked Potato, Veggie tray, Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries 
28. CB Hash
29. Shrimp, FF, Cole Slaw
30. KFC

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

Usually by this time in a series, I am burned out on them but Maisie Dobbs certainly keeps me interested. This one is set in Gilbraltar during the Spanish Civil War.  Maisie is recovering from two devastating tragedies in her life. She instinctively knows that immersing herself in her work will help her pull herself from the abyss of her losses. The characters and the setting in place and time are well delineated and are complex enough to be real. The investigation is a convoluted trail with interesting people. And the end leaves you wondering what Maisie will be into next. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Rainpocalypse and Yosemite

Our trip to Yosemite did not get off to a good start. About 8:30pm Monday evening the thunder, lightning, and RAIN started. And it did not stop until about 3:30am Tuesday morning, approximately 6 hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. Now when I say RAIN, I mean COMING DOWN. I have been through hurricanes several times and in hurricanes, the rain comes in squalls and bands but Monday night was most prolonged rainstorm I have ever experienced. Our rain gauge overflowed at 9 inches. I wondered all night if we would be able to get to the airport and if the planes would be able to depart.  We made it there and the flight did depart on time but my what a mess the whole area is. 

The problems continued when we landed in San Francisco. My electric scooter had been damaged in transit. But bless United Airlines, the had 3 mechanics take it apart, fix it, and put it back together in about 30 minutes. 

After that the trip went fine. But it was a rough start!

California is about as dry and brown as West Texas. How they need rain!

Here are some of the photos: