Sunday, May 24, 2009

Goal 2009 Update #11

I have scheduled the June 1 house payment with a $5000 extra principal payment. This will bring us down to just under $44,000 left. We are half way through the year and still on target. As long as we stay fully employed and well, we should be able to get this house paid off by December 31.

Thought for the Day:

The Madoff affair is the cherry on top of a national breakdown in financial propriety, regulations and common sense. Which is why we don’t just need a financial bailout; we need an ethical bailout. We need to re-establish the core balance between our markets, ethics and regulations. I don’t want to kill the animal spirits that necessarily drive capitalism — but I don’t want to be eaten by them either. Thomas Friedman 12/17/08 NYT

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Early Summer at OakMeadow

One of these days I'm going to learn how to attach photos to my blog so I I can show you just how beautiful it is here. In the meantime, I'll just keep telling you.

The tomatoes are spectacular this year. We are harvesting all we can eat and the rest I take to work to give away. One cherry tomato plant must have 100 tiny green tomatoes; these seldom make it into the house as they are so easy to pick as they ripen and just pop into the mouth.

The front porch baby barn swallows have flown. (And we have cleaned up the mess of poop on the porch under the nest.) The back porch babies are working their parents to death to keep them fed; there are 4, I think. It will be another week or 10 days before they are ready to fly. I wonder if we will have a second brood like we did last year??

The vitex is covered with spikes of purple blooms but what is really interesting is that as you go by it, the bush seems to be humming and almost vibrating. It is, of course, the bees gathering the heady nectar. I wonder if they tickle the bush as they move in and out of the flowers.

The daylillies are in full bloom. We have some yellow and some orange.

As my mother used to say though, "Into every life, a little rain must fall." And into our lives, the evening mosquitoes have come. No lingering on the porch after dark these days! As they think of me as a food source, so I like to think of them as food for our baby swallows.

Thought for the day:

"Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving." - Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Segregated South

I am listening to the audio CD of The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I grew up in the segrated south--I took the separate drinking fountains, separate bathrooms, and the separate schools just for granted, just normal, just the way things were. In my 12 years of public education, I never had a black classmate. This book is set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 and is the story of two groups of women--one the white, Junior League women and the other their maids. Kathryn Stockett has caught not only accuracy of physical detail (Final Net hairspray and radio music) but also the underlying fear on both sides, simmering resentment of the black maids, and total obliviousness of the white women. The readers voices are so perfect in their accent and tone that several times I caught my breath remembering just that tone, just that manner of speaking. This is one of those books that I listen to on my way home from work and find myself driving slower and slower so that I will have more time to listen.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Online vs. In-Store Shopping

I have never seen the fun in mall shopping. It takes so much time to drive there, find a place to park, get into the stores and actually find what I am looking for; then you have to find a checkout, pay, lug it back to your car which by now is blazing hot from being in the parking lot, and drive home. I think on-line shopping is so much simpler. This morning I simply went to JCPenney online, ordered what I needed in my size and color choice, and was finished in 10 minutes instead of a couple of hours. In a few days, my order will be delivered right to me.

Evidently there are people who think shopping at a mall is a pleasant way to spend the day because last weekend, it was jammed with people. TSM and I circled the parking garage while JMM went in to get his niacin from the GNC store. The recession was no where in sight at that mall. Frankly, just circling the parking lot was more mall than I care to deal with.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek

While I have never been interested in reading science fiction, I was an early watcher of the original Star Trek television series. It seemed that there was purpose and future in exploration of the unknown. Then there was Star Trek: The Next Generation which I thought was every bit as good and thoroughly enjoyed. However, the Star Trek movies were mostly stupid and forgetable attempts to take the old Star Trek, dress it up a bit with special effects, make it longer, and pass it off as a movie. So I was rather skeptical when I heard that there would be a new Star Trek movie coming out. Would it lean too far back and be another blah re-hash? Or would it lean too far away from the past and leave out important characteristics of the main characters? Would the actors be believeable in their roles? Would the story be any good?? To my great surpirse and even greater pleasure--it was terrific! The actors were perfect for their roles, there was enough of the old to anchor the new, & a reasonably good sci-fi story. All in all a really, really good movie. I look forward to the sequels.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beautiful Things

It is necessary for me to have beauty in my everyday life. Beautiful music, beautiful flowers, the beauty of nature. So often it is there unnoticed but I am making it a point to look for beauty. Today's beauty included
The daylillies in full bloom
A flock of barn swallows sailing and swooping through the air
A spectacular full moonrise

What beauty has been in your life recently?

Thought for the Day:

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." ~ Rachel Carson

Thursday, May 7, 2009

4 Days Off

And just in the nick of time too!! I have worked the last 8 out of 9 days and am more than a little ready to have some days off. You would think that I would want to spend the day in my pajamas napping with the cats and while that does have much to say for it, I was happier doing things today. With 3 cats and a dog (and 3 people) all contributing hair and dander to the house, there is a constant battle to vacuum, dust, and mop it all up. Today I washed bedding, vacuumed, and dusted the back bedroom and generally straighted it up. Tomorrow I will do the front bedroom.

Next on my list of projects was bagels. When I worked at the VA, I would frequently stop at the New York Bagel Shop on Braeswood and get the freshest, best bagel in Houston and eat it with cream cheese on my way to work. TSM had some grocery store bagels which reminded me that it has been way too long since I had a real NY bagel. So I stopped by and got 4 plain, 1 cinnamon raisin, and 1 blueberry bagels. I had a plain with whipped cream cheese on my way to Bubbles Car Wash. Sooo good!!

No one cleans a car like Bubbles--Yes, it costs $35 plus $5 tip but worth every cent--sparkly clean outside and not a speck (or crumb) inside and windows you can see through even where the wipers don't get to. Bagels and Bubbles make for a very good day but no time to shop or cook.

So I am meeting JMM at Chili's for dinner. Nice end to Day Off #1.

Thought for the Day:

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; and the realist adjusts the sails.__William Arthur Ward

Friday, May 1, 2009

Much Ado about Flu

The H1N1 influenza virus is spreading like... well, influenza. This flu virus is different in that it really isn't flu season. Otherwise, it seems like it will turn out to be as serious as most flu viruses--it makes you miserably sick for a week and then you get well unless your immune system is weakened from some other reason.

The news people are paid to create hype but it seems to me that most people discount what comes from the news and just use common sense. (There is a minority that go from one fear driven news crisis to the next but most don't.) Some of the over-reaction is a defense against lawsuits in case something bad somewhere happens to someone.

This is another reminder of why I limit the amount of "news" I am exposed to.

Thought for the day:

"..Learn to be more compassionate company [for yourself], as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage."