Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goals for 2014

Goals for 2014

     ABF and Church weekly
     Daily Bible Reading
     Read one spiritual book each month
     Women in the Word Bible study

     Reach goal weight with Weight Watchers
     Annual physical
     Dental cleaning

     Maintain debt-free living 
     Social Security for JMM and FM
     Medicare Advantage
     Charitable giving monthly
     Envelope system

     Paint master bedroom
     Guest bedroom 
          New bedding
          Bedside table
          Two bedside lamps
          Floor lamp
          Wall hanging

     Birdbath and Feeder
     Butterfly weed

     Read good books
     Watch good movies
     Monthly haircut and manicure
     New clothes spring and fall
          Take one quilting class
          Mend one quilt
          Make one baby quilt
          Make new quilt
     Birding trip to Rio Grande Valley
     Trip to Washington, DC

Support for War in Afghanistan Falling

According to the HuffPo, support for the continuing war in Afghanistan has fallen below levels for that in Iraq and Vietnam.  What puzzles me is who on earth supports continuing pouring lives and tax dollars into that pit?? Oh yes, our Secretary of State does, perhaps the President does--it's hard to tell. 

According to the article "gains made by the United States would be significantly lost by 2017 if the United States and Afghanistan do not make a new security pact allowing troops beyond the deadline "

So if we leave in 2014, all the lives lost and ruined over the preceding 13 years will be for nothing by 2017. What a waste, what a tragedy!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Goals for 2013--How did I do?

Here are my goals for 2013 and whether I followed through...or not:

Goals for 2013

   1.  ABF and Church weekly--Mostly done. 
   2. Daily Bible reading--DONE. 
   3. Read one spiritual book each month--not done. 

   1.  Reach and maintain my maintenance weight in Weight Watchers--The best to be said for this is that it will be continued next year. 
   2. Have annual physical--DONE. 
   3. Dental cleaning every 6 months--DONE.   
   4. Dermatologist--DONE. 
   5. Optometrist-new lenses--DONE. 

   1. Have grandfather clock repaired--DONE. 10/24/2013
   2. Replace carpet with tile in laundry room. DONE. 3/11/13
   3. Garden--DONE. 
          Rosemary and basil
   4. Paint living room--DONE. 2/7/13
   5. Learn to make 1 new soup each month--MOSTLY DONE. 6 soups and 3 muffins learned. 

   1. Trip to Washington, DC--NOT DONE. (Going in April, 2014.)
   2. Read good books--DONE. I read 78 books in 2013 and most of them were good. 
   3. Take one quilting class--NOT DONE. 
   4. Monthly haircut and manicure-- MOSTLY DONE. 
   5. New clothes spring and fall--DONE.

   1. Fund my envelope system--DONE. 
   2. Maintain debt-free living--DONE. 
   3. JMM starts drawing full Social Security in February. DONE. 
   4. FM applies for Social Security in September--DONE. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013



The deed is done! I have spent so much time and effort in the last six months trying to figure out Medicare Parts A, B, & D. Then figuring out Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap Insurance), Medicare Advantage Plans and Prescription drug plans offered by various insurance companies and comparing them.  I decided that the Humana Medicare Advantage Plan would suit us best but I just wasn't sure. So this afternoon the Humana Rep came out to our house and we went over the various plans and yes, the Humana Advantage plan was what we needed. The prescription coverage is included. The price is right, the co-pays and deductibles are not excessive compared to other companies. So the Rep filled out the application online and we will be contacted to confirm the application within 2 weeks and then we will receive our Humana cards which will be effective February 1. I told JMM that if this plan doesn't work out and he wants to change it, he will have to do the research and fill out the forms and deal with it because I am finished! Hallelujah!

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, January 4, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Replace worn binding on Irish Chain quilt--done.  Looks much better. 
     Begin piecing next quilt--Started a quilted table runner for the dining room; I am using scraps from a previous quilt. 
2.  Reading
     Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood.--in progress. 
     And Ladies of the Club by Helen Santmyer--Finished. Excellent. 
3.  Take down and pack away Christmas decorations--done. 
4.  Make appointment for yearly mammogram--done. 
5.  Make appointment for JMM eye exam--done. 
6.  Get paint, pan, and roller for painting the master bedroom--:((
7.  Cooking
     Chicken-Rice Bake--done. 
     Roast, Carrots, and Garlic Mashed Potatoes--done. 
     Roast Beef Hash--done. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Favorite Books Read in 2013

According to my Goodreads list, I read 78 books in 2013. This was a year of really good books. I've picked out my favorites by categories:

     The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg
     Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
     Centennial by James Michener 

     The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff 
     Roosevelt's Centurions by Joseph Persico
     The American Plague by Molly C. Crosby
     Tales from the Underground by David Wolfe
     A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
     For Love of Insects by Thomas Eisner

     My Beloved World by Sonya Sotemayor
     Nature Writing by John Muir
     George C. Marshall by Mark Stoller

     The Rule of St. Benedict by Benedict of Nursia

Poetry Saturday


At the Edge of the Ocean

I have heard this music 
saith the body. 
     Mary Oliver

Friday, December 20, 2013

Goals for next week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, December 28, 2013

1.  Quilting-- Bind edges
2.  Reading
     Empire if Liberty by Gordon S. Wood.
     And Ladies of the Club by Helen Santmyer
3.  Christmas
4.  Dental crown Monday 8am
5.  Meeting with Humana rep about Medicare Advantage plan

Thursday, December 19, 2013

January Menu

January Menu

1.   Cutlets, MP, Green beans
2.   Leftovers
3.   Brookstreet BBQ 
4.   Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
5.   Schlotzsky's 
6.   Fish, carrots, corn
7.   Slow cooker Turkey & Wild Rice Soup
8.   Meatloaf, MP, green beans
9.    Leftovers
10.  Texas Roadhouse
11.  Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
12.  Schlotzsky's 
13.  Fish, carrots, cabbage 
14.  Slow cooker Chicken Boullabaisse
15.  Spaghetti & Meatballs
16.  Leftovers
17.  Gringo's
18.  Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
19.  Schlotzsky's 
20.  Fish, carrots, corn
21.  Slow cooker Old-Fashioned Beef & Noodle Soup
22.  Pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, spinach 
23.  Leftovers
24. Chipolte
25. Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
26. Schlotzsky's 
27. Fish, carrots, cabbage
28. Slow cooker Beef Stroganoff
29. Mac & Cheese, corn
30. Leftovers
31. Cheesecake Factory

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Quiet Wednesday

Quiet Wednesday 

It was very foggy this morning. Now that I don't have to drive in it, I love foggy mornings. Everything is still and mysterious and as the sun gradually comes up, the world looks like a hazy Impressionist painting. 

Good news: Our Medicare Parts A & B cards came with the correct start date of February 1, 2014. I had begun to worry that the paperwork had been lost or something was wrong. But sometimes things do go right.  I tend to expect things to go amiss or be more difficult or cost more than originally anticipated. So when things do go smoothly, it is a pleasant surprise. Anyway, the next step is the Humana rep is coming to our house December 27 to discuss the Advantage plans and prescription drug plans. 

I wish I were one of those people who love to cook. But frankly, it is a daily chore. Yes, yes, I am thankful that I have plenty of good food, that I have the means and ability to cook it, and that I can eat most anything I want. But I still don't like to actually do it.  I have been planning out the January menu. One day a week, I will be trying out a new recipe from the Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook. When I get the menu finished, I will post it. 

Quilting: I am on the downhill slide toward finishing it. I have all the quilting done and trimmed the edges. This morning I finished binding the first side. It should be finished by the end of the week.  Before I start any more new quilting projects, I want to replace the binding on the edges of my Irish Chain quilt.  Then we will see about a new quilt. 

Reading: Empire of Liberty is turning out to be one of the most interesting books I've ever read! Which is a good thing because at over 700 pages, I would hate to have to slog through it if it were boring.  What makes it so interesting is that we are still squabbling over the same questions that the Federalists (Hamilton) and the Republicans (Jefferson) were haggling over.  Fascinating. 
     I've just started on And Ladies of the Club by Helen Santmyer. So far so good. But there is so far to go--it is 1184 pages. What is it with me and long books here lately??

JMM is making bluebird houses.  The past 2 years we have had bluebirds nest in a box he bought at WalMart. But they were unable to raise the babies successfully because we think either raccoons or snakes raided the nest. Anyway, these new houses that he is making will have snake and raccoon proof baffles on them. At least, we hope they are snake and raccoon proof. He has made 5 so far. I'm not sure how many he plans to make. 

Friday I have to take my van in to the Honda dealership for some recall work and while it is there, I will have them do the 160,000 mile maintenance on it. Why do I have visions of hundred dollar bills flying from my hands.....

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

This is an old fashioned, gritty, down on his luck private investigator novel. It just so fits the genre that even his girl Friday is there. The characters are well drawn and quite interesting and the plot is plausible enough. It drags on a bit but is well worth waiting for the end (even if you had guessed who dunnit already.)

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, December 20, 2013

1.  Quilting-- Bind edges
2.  Reading
     Empire if Liberty by Gordon S. Wood.
     The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith 
3.  Make Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
4.  Haircut
5.  Take van in for maintenance 
6.  Fredlyn Nut Co. 
7.  Make soup for neighbor home from surgery. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Around OakMeadows

It is cold and wet outside. Nice day to stay inside and read, quilt, and cook. 

Husband is counting days until retirement - 53 days. He will be 67 on Jan. 10, 2014 and will retire February 1. He is planning to work 2 days a week as a contract worker. I think that will work out just fine for as long as he wants to do it.  

I'm reading Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood. It is the second volume in the Oxford History of the United States. It covers the period from just before the Constitutional Convention to the War of 1812. I am amazed at how interesting that period is and how the Founding Fathers were working out how to make a new nation as they went along.  For example, no one knew how the new President should be addressed. The governor of New York was addressed, His Excellency, so they figured the president should be something more impressive than that. My favorite suggestion was from John Adams who thought His High Mightiness, the President of the United States, and Protector of Their Liberties, had the right ring to it. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the President of the United States was, if not exactly agreed upon, allowed to become the usual form of address. The book is almost 800 pages and I'm on 102 so there's a ways to go. Hope it continues as interesting. 

Birds around OakMeadows are the usual suspects: Cardinals, Bluejays, Titmouse, Chickadees, a group of Yellow-rumped warblers, and some Meadowlarks.  We have the thistle feeders ready for the first sighting of the Goldfinches; they usually arrive just before Christmas. The Jays are cleaning out the peanuts as fast as I put it out. I have a suet seed block to hang now that it is cold enough not to melt. 

We had 5 raccoons up at the very tippy top of the big old live oak tree the other night.  Sure enough, down at the base was a coyote. There may have been several but we only saw the one. 

My minimal Christmas decorating is done. I decorate the fireplace mantel and the dining room. I gave my daughter all the Christmas tree ornaments and she uses them on her tree. Christmas presents were ordered online and should be here later this week. I used to do a Christmas letter and Christmas cards but stopped that a couple of years ago. Daughter and SIL are coming here for Christmas dinner. They are bringing a ham and I am doing the sides and dessert. 

I am working on the the last block on my quilt. Then I will bind the edges and it will be finished. I think I will give it to DH for his birthday. My next quilting project will be to re-bind the edges of my Irish Chain quilt. The quilt itself is in very good shape but the binding on the edges is worn out. After that I want to make a baby quilt and then another patchwork.  Quilting is my form of therapy. 

That's what is going on around here these days. Very pleasant days they are. 

Farmhouse Chicken & Corn Chowder

This is from my new favorite cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen. This is so much better than any slow cooker recipe I've ever made. 

2 slices bacon, minced
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
    or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 pound red potatoes (about 3 medium), scrubbed & cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 carrot, peeled & sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, & cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 15 oz. can creamed corn
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil or cilantro 

1. Cook bacon in 12 inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and onions and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in 2 cups broth, scraping up any brown bits; transfer to slow cooker. 

2.  Stir remaining 3 cups broth, potatoes, carrot, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low. 

3. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite sized pieces. Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard bay leaves. 

4. Microwave bell pepper with remaining teaspoon oil in bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. In separate bowl, microwave creamed corn until hot, about 3 minutes. 

5. Stir softened peppers, hot creamed corn, shredded chicken, cream, and chipotles into soup and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”
― Bernard M. Baruch

Goals for the Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, December 13, 2013

1.  Quilting-- Block #25--Finished quilting!! Next to trim & bind the edges. 
2.  Reading
     Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood. -- Great book but loooong. I'm on p. 170 out of 700+ pages. 
3.  Make Farmhouse Chicken & Corn Chowder -- Done. It was excellent. 
4.  Lunch with Paul & Wendy and Bonnie & Charles. -- Done. Lots of fun!
5.  Take van in for maintenance -- They couldn't do it this week so I have an appointment for next week. 
6.  Have propane tank filled. -- Done. 
7.  Fredlyn Nut Co. --  not done. Next week for certain!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen

I like to check cookbooks out from the library and see if there are any recipes that look promising. I can usually find one or two to try. I will try the recipes out and if we like it enough to make again, I copy the recipe into my recipe file on the computer and return the book to the library. It is very unusual for me to buy a new cookbook. I am buying Slow Cooker Revolution. It is that good. The recipes are not the two chicken breasts, a can of mushroom soup, & a can of peas on low for 8 hours type recipes. There is prep work and steps in cooking. But the results are so worth the extra effort. I've made 3 meals using the recipes from this cookbook and all 3 were delicious. 
I have been listening to the America's Test Kitchen program on NPR and found it informative and down to earth, cooking food that real people would eat. Good flavor and good nutrition. I've had a slow cooker for ages but used it for only a couple of dishes because I don't like the chicken breast-mushroom soup type glop that most slow cooker cookbooks call for. So when I heard about the ATK slow cooker cookbook, I decided to give it a try. The library had a copy and you know the rest if the tale. 
Next week, I am making Farmhouse Chicken and Corn Chowder. If it turns out as delicious as the others, I will post the recipe. 

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. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Memory--Old Yeller

Memory--Old Yeller

In 1957, when I was 10 years old, my mother and I went to see the movie Old Yeller. It was supposed to be a movie for children. I was so happy to go to the movies for that was quite a treat and didn't happen often.  We had good seats in the center section, not quite half way back. We may have had a bag of popcorn and a small CocaCola in a cup from the vending machine, I'm not sure, but we probably did.

 I loved the movie up to the point where the family dog gets rabies and has to be killed. To say I was stunned is an understatement. To this day I remember how horrified I was. I cried all the way out of the movie, all the way home, and much of the afternoon. My poor mother would never have taken me if she had any idea how it would affect me. Slowly she was able to help me calm down and get over the shock but I have never been able to watch a movie or read a book with any type of animal cruelty involved. 

56 years later and I still remember it clearly. 

One Summer by Bill Bryson

I have long been a Bill Bryson fan. His books, In a Sunburned Country and A Short History of Nearly Everything, are among my all time favorites. His books are filled with interesting things and have grace and charm and wit.  So I eagerly awaited his latest book, One Summer, which is about the events of the summer of 1927. 

I couldn't imagine what would be so interesting about 1927 as to write a 500 page book but I was sure if anyone could do it, Bill Bryson could. 

Sure enough, there were a lot of interesting thing going on that summer:
     Charles Lindbergh and his flight to Paris
     Babe Ruth and the Yankees
     Calvin Coolidge (Who would have guessed how interesting he was!)
     The Great Mississippi flood (Never heard of it.)
     Sacco and Vanzetti and the anarchists
     Prohibition and the government allowing strychnine to be added to industrial alcohol resulting in thousands of deaths

Yes, it really was an interesting summer and BB lays it all out. Therein lie the two flaws in the book. First, it should have been a crisp 350 page book but when drawn out to 500 pages, is grows limp and tedious.  And limp and tedious are far from the grace and wit and charm of his previous books.  I found myself wanting to take scissors and nip out the repetitious tedium. 

It is worth reading because it was quite a summer and because BB does a good job bringing it to life but be prepared to do a fair amount of skimming.