Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Around OakMeadows

                                            
JMM staying warm under the cat and the dog. 

Marianna Scheffer has died of lung cancer. She faced it with grace, courage, and realism. She was a dear blogging friend and I can hardly believe that I will never again read her lively and insightful blog or see photos of her gorgeous orchids and her unique ceramics.  I am making a contribution to Planned Parenthood in her memory. I just can’t yet bring myself to take Hattie’s Web off my blog roll. 

When my daughter was a baby, she was prone to ear and throat infections. There is nothing so worrying to a young mother than a baby who is sick. We were very fortunate that we had insurance to give us access to good medical care.  We were able to take her to the doctor and to get prescriptions filled.  I always knew that medical help was there for her.  I cannot imagine the stress it must be to have a child and not be able to get needed medical treatment because there is no insurance for my baby.  Because our despicable Congress will not fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program and instead chose to pass tax cuts for their billionaire donors, this is exactly where many, many low income families find themselves. I am shamed that my country lacks the decency to provide insurance for our babies and children.  Shame on us all.

We are planning a trip to Washington, DC right after the first of the year in order to see the Vermeer exhibit at the National Gallery. I am very much looking forward to it and to seeing my daughter and her golden doodle puppy.  I hope the weather will cooperate. There is also a plan in progress for a trip to Rome next November.  But before that we are going to Pawhuska, OK to see Pioneer Woman’s Merc. 

I’ve just about finished my next quilt top. I won’t have it quilted until after the New Year though. Lots of good reading. I love a good history book and the one I have going right now is excellent, Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon Meacham.  

That’s all the news from OakMeadows where the dog gets a new bed and the cats sleep on the electric blanket and the people love them dearly. 


Saturday, December 9, 2017

December Thoughts


“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” 
― Allen Saunders

Plans for Next Week

Cooking
Saturday -- Stuffed Wieners, Corn
Sunday-- Pancakes, Canadian Bacon
Monday-- Baked Fish, Coleslaw, Potatoes
Tuesday -- Chicken Tenders, GMP, Corn
Wednesday -- Pork Roast, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach
Thursday-- Leftovers
Friday -- Out

Reading
     Summer for the Gods by Edward Larson
     Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon Meacham
     One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

Quilting — Finish Quilt top 

Personal
     January Budget and Menu
     Lunch with P&W&C&B 


December Poetry


"Come, come thou bleak December wind,
And blow the dry leaves from the tree!
Flash, like a Love-thought, thro'me, Death
And take a Life that wearies me."
-   Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, Fragment 3

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥


đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Called Rep. Pete Olson and Senators Cornyn and Cruz
I am calling about the Dream Act. We need to ensure that Dreamers can go to school, work, and serve in the military—but not in exchange for an unnecessary border wall or increased threat to other immigrants. Please support a clean Dream Act. 

Thank You note to Senator Bob Corker:
Thank You for questioning a president’s role in a nuclear strike. I’m concerned about the unpresidential saber-rattling toward North Korea, and grateful for your decision to openly discuss this serious issue. I appreciate your leadership, bipartisanship, and openness to legislative solutions to avoid nuclear war.

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Email to Rep. Pete Olson:
I strongly oppose the Republican tax plan which hurts low- and average-income Americans while helping the richest. Not only is it ill-conceived, I am angry that my tax dollar is paying for Rep. Olson to cater to his donors while shirking his obligation to observe regular order. He needs to show respect for the taxpayers who fund his salary. My future vote depends on Rep. Olson voting against this slapdash bill and returning to regular order.

Thank You note to Senator Elizabeth Warren:
Thank You for holding Steve Mnuchin accountable for his overstated tax claims. Asking the Treasury Department’s inspector general to investigate whether there’s a secret analysis--or none at all--will shed light. In the chaos of the tax plan process, your tenacity, clear thinking, and analysis are very much appreciated. Thank you. 
P.S. Liz! 2020!

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Called Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
I’m calling about funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. The Senate is dragging its feet and putting the health of 9 million kids at risk. Could you please tell me what he doing to reauthorize CHIP funding?
Cornyn’s Washington phone mailbox is full but you can get a real live person at 713 572 3337. 

Thank you note to Senator Bob Corker:
Thank You for being the only Republican senator interested in math. Your ‘no’ vote on the GOP tax bill was courageous and consistent with the party’s traditional concern for fiscal responsibility. Thank you for standing your ground. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December Thoughts

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. —MARCUS AURELIUS

Life at OakMeadows in November

No, not really at OakMeadows. (Brazos Bend State Park several months ago.)

Life at OakMeadows in November 

Birds
     White-winged Doves
     Crows
     Cardinals 
     Collared Doves
     Tufted Titmouse 
     Chickadee 
     Eastern Phoebe 
     Mockingbird 
     Sparrows 
Butterflies/Moth
     Giant Swallowtail 
     Monarchs 
     Queens
     Gulf Fritillary 
     White-Checkered Skipper 
     Cloudless Sulphur 
     Ceraunus Blue
     White-tipped Black Moth
     Little Sulphur 
     Large Orange Sulphur 
     Painted Lady 
     Common Buckeyes 
     Longtailed Skipper 
     Ocola Skipper 
     Fiery Skipper
Mammals 
     Raccoons 
     Squirrels 
     Possum 
     Armadillo 

December Poetry

"Timeless thoughts of a winter’s stare;
eyes gazing over a landscape bare.
Memories drift on a blustery breeze;
dying light ushers in the freeze.
Reaching out for a grasp on the present;
stillness sets in, alone, and desolate.
Future unknown, outcome uncertain;
brilliance shadowed by a drawn curtain.
Path now set, laid before me known;
closing light now emanating from home.
Enter my homestead, heart filled with glee;
two eyes of the future peering upward at me.
Trusting in him to forge forward until fulfilled;
Basis of strength, values I have instilled.
A wary mind at last permitted to rest;
reflecting on the realization of how I am blessed.
-  Michael A. Barron, Winter's Epiphany    

Thursday, November 30, 2017

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥


This week’s resistance is shorter than usual because I’ve been so down about the national nightmare that I was just unable to summon the energy to resist.  Jenn Hoffman, at Americans of Conscience, says that it is very important to take care of yourself because we are in this for the long haul.  And she’s right. I needed time away from phone calls, emails, and postcards. And what better time to do it than during Thanksgiving. Also I’ve signed up for a weekly email newslist, Small Victories, which lists positive things that are happening in Congress and around the nation. So now back to the barricades!

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

I am calling about the Republican tax plan. I want to advocate for Americans making less than $30,000 per year. Increasing their tax rate while defunding important programs that support them is wrong. Estate tax rollbacks and breaks for private jet companies add insult to injury. We don’t want tax breaks that hurts people in need. Thank you.

Thank you note to Senator Dick Durbin:
Thank You for introducing legislation that addresses violent extremism in the US. Many leaders are ignoring domestic terrorism and violent hate groups, and tolerance condones them. Thank you for advocating for accountability, prevention, and putting citizens’ well-being first.

đŸ”¥Resistance Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Called Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
I oppose the Republican tax plan. Although I agree with the need for a simpler code, this plan would harm Alaska’s Native communities by permitting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It would increase medical costs for the most vulnerable Americans. It would also override a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. None of these issues are tax-related. I ask that you do two things: 1. vote against this plan, and 2. insist on regular order to create a tax plan that works for all Americans. Thanks.

Thank You note to NY AG Eric Schneiderman:
Thank you for your relentless pursuit of integrity and accountability. From getting the president’s charitable organization to admit self-dealing and shut down to collaborating with Robert Mueller’s investigation, you have shown exemplary leadership. Thank you for your commitment to the good of our country.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Foggy morning



It is very foggy this morning and as I listen to the traffic report on the radio, I am once again reminded how glad that I am that I am retired and do not have to get into the traffic.  

My Housecleaners are here this morning and what a blessing they are. Adrian has been cleaning my house for about 15 years. I am so glad that he came to this country 18 years ago and opened his cleaning service and I know the people who work for him are glad he is here too.

We are going to Fidelity this afternoon and take care of my Minimum Yearly Withdrawal since I will be turning 70 1/2 in 2018.  I have been withdrawing monthly for several years but I am pretty sure I will need to increase the monthly amount. We shall see. I am so thankful that JMM and I had jobs that allowed us to pay off the mortgage early and save for retirement.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Around OakMeadows



Around OakMeadows 

Once each month JMM and I meet his brother Paul and his wife Wendy and his sister Bonnie and her husband Charles for lunch. It is always fun (as long as we stay away from religion and politics). Today as Paul and Wendy were on their way to the restaurant, a big tire flew off the big truck ahead of them and the tire hit them head on. The airbags deployed and while Paul wasn’t hurt, Wendy’s arm was injured and the dust and shock triggered her COPD. They took her to the ER where X-rays showed that her arm was not broken and with oxygen and inhalers, she was able to go home.  She is going to be very sore for a few days but it could have been so much worse. 

We have been having what I consider near perfect weather for a week now. Clear skies lows mid 50s and highs mid 70s. I told JMM to remind me of this when I am griping about Houston weather next summer.  Actually, we could use a little rain. We planted our 2017 tree (a 6 foot oak that was on sale at Houston Garden Center) a few weeks ago and it has needed to be watered several times.  

Butterflies are still abundant. Monarchs, Queens, and Gulf Fritillaries predominantly. Lots of Skippers too. Birds are the usual mockingbirds and cardinals but we did see the Eastern Phoebe, Tufted Titmouse, and Chickadee. We are planning a trip to Corpus Christi and then on down to the Rio Grande Valley so we should be seeing lots more birds and butterflies.  

I’m currently reading Beartown by Fredrick Backman. I have mixed feelings about it because while I have no interest in sports, it is so well written and the characters so well drawn that I don’t want to stop and not finish it. I’m about 1/3 of the way into it and will let you know more when I finish it. 

We had a quiet Thanksgiving. JMM did 90% of the cooking. I’d rather go to a restaurant and not deal with it. But since he does the work, I don’t insist.  Speaking of holidays, I have put up my winter decorations and requested an experience rather than a gift.  You would think that after 49 years of marriage, it would be clear by now that I hate, hate, hate being asked what I want for Christmas.  I listed once again some places we could go and things to do.  My best Christmas ever was the year we went to Las Vegas. We ate out and saw shows and I thoroughly loved it. 

The nightmare in Washington goes on with Taxscam, the pillaging of the environment, and wars in more countries. I continue my resistance and hope for better days in 2018. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

December Menu

December Menu

1. Out
2. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
3. Slow Cooker Chicken 
4. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Coleslaw 
5. Chicken Sausage Casserole 
6. Steak, GMP,MGB
7. Leftovers 
8. Out
9. Stuffed Wieners, Corn
10. Pancakes and Canadian Bacon 
11. Shrimp Jambalaya 
12. Chicken Tenders, Beans, Coleslaw 
13. Pork Roast, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach 
14. Leftovers 
15. Out
16. Macaroni and Cheese, Corn
17. Potato Leek Soup
18. Tuna Salad Sandwiches 
19. Slow Cooker Beef Stew
20. Pizza
21. Leftovers 
22. Out
23. Scrambled Eggs, Canadian Bacon, Toast
24. Out
25. Ham, Sweet Potatoes, GB
26. Leftovers 
27.  Spaghetti 
28. Leftovers 
29. Out
30. CB Hash, CSC
31. Veggie Soup 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

November Poetry


"How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.
 At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow."
-   Elsie N. Brady, Leaves

November Plans for Next Week

Cooking
     Saturday -- Schwan’s Stir Fry
     Sunday-- Meatball Tortilla Soup 
     Monday-- Baked Fish, Coleslaw, Schwan’s Potatoes
     Tuesday -- Oven BBQ Chicken, Beans, Coleslaw 
     Wednesday -- Spaghetti and Meat sauce
     Thursday-- Leftovers
     Friday -- Out

Reading
     A Thousand Days by Arthur Schlesinger
     Benjamin Rush: Physician and Patriot by Alyn Brodsky
     Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
     Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Quilting—Finally finish borders. 
Personal
     May take a trip to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX. Thursday-Saturday.  Depends on the weather in the RGV. 
     House Cleaners come on Wednesday. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Called Senators Cornyn and Cruz: I’m calling about funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. It appears that the Senate is dragging its feet and putting the health of 9 million kids at risk. Please get funding for this program reauthorized before Thanksgiving!


Thank You note to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) for speaking in opposition to the inaction of fellow congresspeople and their failure to protect the American public from gun violence. I sincerely appreciate your unflagging advocacy for commonsense protections.

Thank you note to Elaine Duke, Acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security, for not bending to pressure to eject people in the US with temporary protected status. Our country is a place of refuge, and I appreciate your leadership in continuing to consider the needs of people from unstable nations.

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Called Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
I would like you to oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to a lifetime appointment to the US District Court. His history of defending voter suppression and making voting harder makes him an inappropriate choice for this position. Please defend democracy and oppose Farr’s appointment. Thanks. (Cornyn’s Washington phone mail box is full so call the Houston office, 713 572 3337.)

Wrote Thank You note to Mark Herring, AG for Virginia:
Thank you for opposing the rollback of the ACA’s birth control mandate. I appreciate your recognition of women’s equality, including access to vital medication. Thank you for your vocal legal advocacy for women’s rights.

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Wrote Thank You notes to Attorney Generals Brian Frosh (Maryland) and Eric Schneiderman (NY): Thank You for opposing the rollback of the ACA’s birth control mandate. I appreciate your recognition of women’s equality, including access to vital medication. Thank you for your vocal legal advocacy for women’s rights.

Called Rep. Pete Olson and Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
I am calling about the Dream Act. We need to ensure that These young people can go to school, work, and serve in the military—but not in exchange for a border wall or increased deportation of other immigrants. I am asking you not to proceed with congressional budget business until passing a clean Dream Act. Thank you. 

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Sent Thank You to Senator Chuck Grassley:
Thank you for retaining the blue slip process to approve judicial appointments. In an era of contentious political relationships, your decision is a mark of good leadership. I thank you for continuing to honor this bipartisan tradition.

Sent email to Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
I am concerned about efforts to allow tax-exempt religious organizations to influence political issues and campaigns. The House version of the tax bill would strip the Johnson Amendment of its protective strength, allowing big money to gain a greater hold on our political process. I would like the Senate version of the tax bill to not include this provision. Thank you. 

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Sent email to Rep. Pete Olson and Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
The president cannot un-designate a National Monument, only Congress can. Please protect Bears Ears National Monument and vote against any bill carving up this sacred land for profit.

Sent Thank You to Senator Susan Collins:
Thank You for your admirable leadership on behalf of all Americans. For being among the few Republicans publicly calling for Moore to step down. For showing Congress the importance of basic math in the tax bill. I appreciate your consistent willingness to act with integrity.



Sunday, November 19, 2017

November Thoughts

     “Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all.”
~ Richard P. Feynman

Saturday, November 18, 2017

November Poetry

November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."
-  Elizabeth Coatsworth

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Plans for Next Week


Cooking 
Saturday -- Scrambled Eggs, Canadian Bacon, Toast
Sunday-- Meatball Tortilla Soup 
Monday-- Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Veggie Tray
Tuesday -- Oven BBQ Chicken, Beans, Coleslaw 
Wednesday -- Pizza
Thursday-- Turkey, Dressing, Sweet Potato, Corn, Rolls, Pecan Pie
Friday -- Leftovers 

Reading 
     A Thousand Days by Arthur Schlesinger
     Benjamin Rush: Physician and Patriot by Alyn Brodsky
     Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Personal 
     New kitchen sink faucet installation 
     Thanksgiving 
     Christmas Decorations 
     Spanish
     đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Summer Visit to Brazos Bend State Park








Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

 Lisa Wingate's book, Before We Were Yours, weaves an incredible then-and-now story. It follows the story of the Foss children in the '30s and Avery Stafford in present day, and tells a horrifying and shameful story of real-life scandal.

The Tennessee Children's Home Society, under the direction of Georgia Tann, stole poor children from their families and newborn babies from single mothers and sold them to celebrities, politicians and others who could afford them. Although it was done under the guise of helping orphaned and abandoned children find good homes, it was really the cold blooded sale of stolen children. 


The characters are well drawn and the history is riveting.  A good read.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

November Poetry’


"Over the river and through the woods
Trot fast my dapple gray.
Spring over the ground
Like a hunting hound
On this Thanksgiving Day, Hey!
Over the river and through the woods
Now Grandmother's face I spy.
Hurrah for the fun,
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie."
-   English folksong, It's Raining, It's Pouring

November Plans

1. Cooking
     Saturday -- Macaroni and Cheese 
      Sunday-- Pancakes and Canadian Bacon
      Monday-- Shrimp,  Coleslaw, Schwan’s Veggies
      Tuesday -- Chicken Parmigiana, GB
      Wednesday -- Schwan’s Beef Pot Pies
      Thursday-- Leftovers 
      Friday -- Out  

2. Reading 
     A Thousand Days by Arthur Schlesinger 
     Benjamin Rush: Physician and Patriot by Alyn Brodsky
     Upstream by Mary Oliver
     Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

3. Quilting - Borders

4. Personal
     ADG/Church
     Lunch with P&W&C&B 
     đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. DayđŸ”¥

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥


đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Called Rep. Pete Olson to find out the status of the CHIP renewal. It has passed the House and is being sent to the Senate. 

Called Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
Please pass this important program immediately. 

Wrote Thank You note to Robert Mueller and his team: Thank You for your skill, persistence, and integrity in safeguarding our country. 

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Called Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
I’m calling because I oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to a lifetime appointment to the US District Court. I oppose him because of his demonstrated opposition to voting rights, workers’ rights, and civil rights. This appointment is dangerous for democracy. Thank you.

Sent postcards to President Trump, Rep. Olson, and Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
Stop the madness of the never ending wars in the Middle East. 

Sent Thank You note to Jennifer Hoffman who started Americans of Conscience and who sends out a weekly action list email. 

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Sent emails to Rep. Pete Olson and Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
I am concerned about transparency in internet ads. S. 1989 (Senate)/ H.R. 4077 (House) protects voters with the same requirements that TV and radio have adhered to for years. Especially in the wake of last year’s election, I would like you to co-sponsor this bill and bring more transparency to groups that fund US political ads.

Sent Thank You to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray:
Thank you for advocating for the people of the United States and their right to hold banks accountable for their actions. I appreciate your public appeal to the president to maintain full access to class action lawsuits against banks.

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Sent emails to Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
Please co-sponsor a clean Dream Act. We need to ensure that immigrant youth can continue to go to school, work, and serve in the military but not in exchange for a border wall or increased deportation of other immigrants.

Sent Thank You to Former President George W. Bush:
Thank You for your moving speech in support of American values including  immigration, inclusion, civic responsibility, dignity, and character. I especially appreciate your clear opposition to white supremacy, bigotry, and bullying. America needs this message, and I thank you for sharing it. 

đŸ”¥Resistance. Every. Day.đŸ”¥

Sent Thank You to Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) for publicly expressing support for the SALT deduction and opposing its removal.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November Cooking - Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup



Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

This is the first recipe I made from Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook, Come and Get It. I is very easy to put together and is really delicious. 

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained 
1 10 ounce can Rotel tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped
2 chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce) 
1 red and 1 yellow (or green) bell pepper, seeded and chopped
Juice of one lime

Put everything except the lime juice into the slow cooker, stir it up, and cook for 8 hours on low for 8 hours. 
Remove the chicken, shred, and return to slow cooker. Stir in lime juice. 
Can top with avocado, sour cream, or corn tortilla chips.