Saturday, May 31, 2014

To My Dear and Loving Husband



If ever two were one, then surely we. 
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can. 
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold. 
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense. 
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. 
Then while we live, in love lets so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever. 

Anne Bradstreet, 1678

This is our 46th wedding anniversary. I won the lifetime lottery when we fell in love and married so many years ago, or was it yesterday?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, May 31, 2014

It is going to be a short list this week as we will be out of town for the wedding and then to do some birding while we are out that way.

1.  Quilting
     Block #4

2.  Reading
     Waiting on a Train by James McCommons.
     Our Hidden Lives by Simon Garfield. 
     Summer World by Bernd Heinrich.
     The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

 3.  Cooking
      Roast Chicken and Vegetables
      Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff 

4.   Joe and Lauren's wedding in San Marcos

5.  Birding Central Texas

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bojahlian

In 1915 Turkey embarked on the genocide of its Armenian citizens. This book chronicles two stories. One is set in Aleppo in 1915 where Armenian women and children were force marched on their way to the death camps in the desert. The other story is set in present time as Laura Petrosian (Chris Bojahlian) uncovers her Armenian family saga.

It is an intense story but well written, moving back and forth in time. I found the breaks from 1915 to the present to be much needed relief from the horrors of the treatment of the women and children.  The characters in the story are human and real and I really came to care about them. It is a book that I will not soon forget.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Troops to Remain in Afghanistan?


I see that President Obama wants to keep 6,000 troops in Afghanistan after the end of the year.  Anyone reading my blog for the past 10 years will know my opinion of this idea.  No, no, no! Whether we keep 6,000 troops there or 60,000 and whether we stay an additional 1, 10, or 50 years, as soon as we leave chaos, civil war, and misery will return.  And I resent my tax dollars being poured into that or any other bottomless pit of corruption when we don't have the money to care for the veterans that we have already so needlessly damaged.  

I have come to the conclusion that citizens of this nation must perpetually stand and loudly proclaim their unwillingness to support the perpetual war machine that has become our nation. 

Once again I will be contacting President Obama, both my Senators, and my Congressional Representative to let them know my vehement objection to keeping any troops whatsoever in Afghanistan. 

Update:  According to NPR this morning, President Obama wants to keep our troops in Afghanistan until 2016 and then pull out.  Then it was reported that both of the Afghan Presidential candidates think that 2016 will be too soon for us to leave.  What they really want is to keep the money flowing into their
Swiss bank accounts. No, it is well past time for the U.S. to declare victory and leave.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mercer Arboretum and Botanical Gardens Part IV

Me on my faithful steed, Rocinante.


Kangaroo Paws.


Huge Loblolly Pine,

June Menu

June Menu
1.  Schlotzsky's
2.  Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Veggie tray
3.  Roast Chicken and Veg
4.  Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
5.  Leftovers
6.  Grimaldi's
7.  Wedding and Reception
8.  Schlotzsky's 
9.  Fish chowder
10. Slow Cooker Homey Chicken Stew SCR p.44
11. Steak, GMP, Green beans
12. Leftovers
13. Olive Garden
14. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray
15. Schlotzsky's 
16. Baked Fish, Carrots, asparagus
17. Chicken and Show Peas
18. Slow Cooker Beef Goulash SCR p.65
19. Leftovers
20. Texas Roadhouse
21. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray
22. Schlotzsky's 
23. Pork, Sweet potatoes, Spinach
24. Slow Cooker Chicken Bouillabaisse  SCR p.49
25. Spaghetti and Meatbslls, Green beans
26. Leftovers
27. Gringo's
28. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie Tray
29. Schlotzsky's 
30. Baked fish, carrots/thyme, corn on the cob

Sunday, May 25, 2014


“Seven Deadly Sins

Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday Poetry

There Is No Frigate Like a Book

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry--
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll--
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul. 

Emily Dickinson, c.1873

I've always been a reader and usually have more than one book in progress at any one time.  How much richer our lives are through books!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mercer Abroetum and Botanical Gardens Part III

Still basking in the beauty of the gardens.

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, May 31, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Block #3

2.  Reading
     Waiting on a Train by James McCommons.
     Our Hidden Lives by Simon Garfield. 
     Summer World by Bernd Heinrich.
     The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

 3.  Cooking
      Slow Cooker Farmhouse Chicken and Corn Chowder
      Pork tenderloin, Sweet potato, Spinach
      Cutlet, GMP, Green beans

4.   Anniversary dinner at Monument Inn in LaPorte
5.  Guest Bedroom Project
      Nightstand/Chair--I found just what I was looking for on sale 20% off.  They will be delivered in 6 weeks b/c I chose a different fabric for the chair. 
      Now I am keeping my eyes open for new linens and comforter for the bed on sale. 

6.   Just Clean It Out! Project
     The Kitchen Pantry will be cleaned out this week!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman 

I loved this book. It is set in Australia in the years following WW I.  The characters are intricately drawn, real, and complicated. It explores the effects of a single decision. There is a tragedy but there is also redemption and reconciliation. Could not put it down. 

 Tom Sherbourne, who has spent 4 terrible years on the Western front, returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, far off the Australian coast. The supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year. Much to his amazement, the beautiful, vivacious Isabel falls in love with him and he with her and they move with their hopes and dreams to the lighthouse on Janus Rock. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. 

Tom wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her heart, seeing it as a miraculous gift from God. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and come face to face with the dire consequences of their deceit.  Just when hope is draining away, redemption and reconciliation. A beautiful story. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mercer Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Joe and I spent a lovely morning at the Mercer Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.  It is located about 60 miles from our house but was well worth the long drive.

The arboretum is like an oasis of beauty and peace in an desert of freeways and strip shopping centers.  It is soothing to the soul to walk quietly through such beauty.  I have more pictures to share later.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Cake

 When nothing but chocolate will do.
Chocolate Cake 

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder)
1 stick butter
4 Tablespoons cocoa
½ cup oil
1 cup water
½ cup buttermilk ( 1 tablespoons vinegar in ½ cup milk)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Sift together flour, soda, and sugar.

Combine butter, oil, cocoa, and water in a pan; bring to a boil.

Add hot liquid to flour; mix well; then add buttermilk; mix well; then add eggs & vanilla; beat for 2 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Chocolate Icing


1 stick butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
4-6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup nuts
1 box powdered sugar 

Combine butter, cocoa, and milk in a pan; bring to a boil.

Add vanilla and powdered sugar; mix well. (If the icing is too thick, add additional milk 1 teaspoonful at a time to the desired consistency.)

Add nuts.

Saturday, May 17, 2014



The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. 

Isaac Asimov

Friday, May 16, 2014

Saturday Poetry

The old Lakota was wise. 
He knew that man's heart
away from nature
becomes hard; he knew
that lack of respect for
growing, living things
soon led to lack of respect
for humans too. 

                                       Chief Luther Standing Bear

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Around OakMeadows


Rain, glorious rain!  I know there are parts of the country that have experienced more than enough snow/rain but that is certainly not the case around here along the Texas Gulf Coast.  We very much needed the 3 inches of rain that we got last night. The thunder and lightning upset the cats so that they woke me up by standing on my chest meowing that something awful was going on outside and I needed to wake up and stop it.  Soothed the cats and we all went back to sleep. 

We have more hummingbirds than we have ever had in the 10 years we have lived here. There are 6-10 hummers at the feeder almost all the time. In addition to the feeder we have large beds of saliva and many blooming bottlebrush bushes for them to feed on. I have even seen them feeding on the crown of thorns plant on the back porch.  I guess word has gotten out on the hummingbird internet that there is plenty of food at our house.  Anyway, it is a pleasure to look out and watch them. 

Speaking of birds, the 4 baby barn swallows in the nest on the back porch flew last week. That makes a total of 8 barn swallows that have been reared on our porches so far this year. There is another nest on the front porch with 4 more; they look like they will need another week in the nest before they fly.  The more barn swallows the better; there are certainly enough flying insects for them to eat around here!  

I did my summer clothes shopping online. I am a long time L.L.Bean fan. In fact, last year when we went on a fall foliage trip to Maine, we went by the Mother Ship -as Joe called it.  Anyway, all I needed was 2 tees and a pair of black walking shorts. And Joe needed a shirt and socks. I had a $10 off coupon and they were having a 10% off sale and they always have free shipping. I love L.L.Bean clothes because I know what size will fit and the clothes and shoes wear like iron. 

May 5 is the anniversary of my retirement and I always go in to the Fidelity office and we go over my retirement portfolio and see if any adjustments need to be made.  Since they are on straight salary, they have no incentive to advise me to make unnecessary trades. I consider it a very valuable service they provide. 

Joe is going in tomorrow to fill out paperwork to work 2-3 days a week. He wants to work part time for a couple of years to finance some projects around OakMeadows--a well, a shed/barn, and an irrigation system.  He is about the workingest person I have ever known. He always has about 6 projects going at a time. 

My quilting on the baby quilt is coming along. I'm working on Block #2.  I am sure not as fast a I used to be but OTOH, I am in no big hurry. It isn't like the last baby quilt I made where I was worried the baby would get here before the quilt was finished. I have 5 whole months before this one is due. 

Reading has been very good. I finished The Light between Oceans by M.L.Steadman. It was excellent! Good story, well developed characters. 
I also finished Pandora's Seed by Spencer Wells. I read it as it was the Goodreads Science & Nature selection for the month. I was less than impressed.  Not well organized, jumped from topic to topic some of which were only nebulously related. 
Still plowing through George Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Flexner. It is taking a long time to read but what an excellent book it is! 

Lots of cooking:
    I made Chicken Noodle Soup in the Slow Cooker. I decided to leave the noodles out because I had some sourdough bread that I toasted to go along with the soup. It was so good with the celery, onions, and carrots. 
    Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies....nuff said...
    To counter the calories from the CC cookies, I made Beef and Bok Choy stir fry.  I'm not sure what effect it had on the calories but we really enjoyed the stir fry. 
    Tomorrow will be Beef Stew in the slow cooker,

That's all the news around OakMeadows. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cooconut Cream Cake


½ cup shortening
½ cup butter
2 cup sugar
5 eggs, room temperature, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cup coconut

Blend shortening, butter and sugar until creamy. Blend egg yolks into sugar mixture. Add baking soda to buttermilk. Stir buttermilk and flour alternately into the egg mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff, add vanilla. Fold into cake mixture. Fold in coconut. Pour into three 8 or 9 inch greased and floured round pans. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, turn onto rack and cool completely.


½ cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (opt)

Blend butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Fold in coconut and nuts. Spread between each layer and cover cake. Additional coconut may be toasted and sprinkled on top.


Goals for this week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, May 17, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Block #2

2.  Reading
     Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Flexner
     Pandora's Seed by Spencer Wells
     Our Hidden Lives by Simon Garfield
     The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

 3.  Cooking
     Chicken-Rice Bake
     Baked fish, Carrots w/thyme, Cabbage
     Slow Cooker Beef Stew

4.  Mercer Arboretum
     Check out Alaska cruise sites
5.  Guest Bedroom Project

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Working on the Baby Quilt

This is the table runner I finished a few weeks ago:


This is the baby quilt I am currently working on.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Around OakMeadows


Old things. Two of the oldest things I have are sewing machines.  One is my grandmother's Singer treadle. The other is my mother's Singer that she bought in 1961 to replace the Singer that was lost in Hurricane Carla.  My mother was a talented seamstress and made many clothes for herself, for me, and for my daughter on that sewing machine. When she died in 1975, I inherited it and I have used it ever since. In recent decades, i have used it for piecing my quilt tops.  It works perfectly. This past week we took it in to the sewing machine repair shop for cleaning, lubricating, and adjusting the tension. I doubt that today's sewing machines with their computer chips will still be sewing perfectly when they are 50+ years old. 

Our first swallow babies for this year have flown.  They were in the nest on the front porch; the ones on the back porch look like they will be in the nest about 2 more weeks. It is so sweet to see them first wobble out of the nest--the first one out of the nest, two more who follow, and one who decides he likes it just fine in the nest and doesn't want to leave.  Then one after the other they will take the plunge and flutter madly and semi-crash land on the potted palm or window ledge.  The parents meanwhile are zooming around chirping "Look, this is how you do it!"  And soon there are 4 more swallows zooming around.  I would imagine that the parents are tired and glad the the babies will be catching their own bugs. 

JMM has esophageal sphincter spasms every once in a while and he had a particularly bad bout of it Thursday evening. We were getting ready to eat dinner and he ate one piece of pork chop and had an immediate spasm. Usually it lets up within a few minutes but this time it wouldn't let up.  He tried walking around to no avail. To make matters worse he started hiccuping. I looked on the Internet for information on treatment and there really isn't any definitive treatment. Calcium channel blockers and long acting nitrates are sometimes helpful and sometimes not. About 11:30 I suggested that he crush a promethazine tablet and put it under his tongue so that it would be absorbed sublingually.  I don't know if the promethazine relaxed the spasms enough that he could go to sleep or if it just made him sleep and the spasms resolved on their own. I checked on him at 1am and 3am and he was sleeping.  Friday morning I made soft scrambled eggs for him and he was able to eat them and drink some water. Needless to say, Friday was spent recuperating. 

Still reading:
     Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Flexner.
     Pandora's Seed by Spencer Wells. 
     The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. 
     Our Hidden Lives by Simon Garfield. 
All 4 are really interesting and well written. 

Since we don't have television, we watch Netflix DVDs.  We are currently I watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have the last season's Downton Abbey in my queue but it is marked "Very long wait." Oh well.  We really enjoyed watching the most recent season of Foyle's War. 

Finally layered, pinned, and basted my baby quilt. Pictures coming soon.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Applesauce Raisin Spice Cake

I have made this many times over the years and it is always delicious.

          Applesauce Raisin Spice Cake 

1 ½ cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup oil
1 ¾ cups applesauce
3 eggs
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X13 inch pan with non-stick spray.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices into a large bowl.

Add applesauce, oil, and eggs beating at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Stir in raisins and nuts.

Turn into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup butter
1 8 oz. cream cheese
1 lb box powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Saturday, May 3, 2014


An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. 

Niels Bohr

Friday, May 2, 2014

Saturday Poetry

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us,
our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory
do we come From God,
who is our home:
Heaven lies about us
in our infancy!
~William Wordsworth, Ode to Immortality 

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, May 10, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Block #1

2.  Reading
     Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Flexner--in progress. 
     Pandora's Seed by Spencer Wells--in progress. 
     Our Hidden Lives by Simon Garfield
     The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

 3.  Cooking
     Beef & Bok Choy
     Baked fish, Carrots w/thyme, Asparagus--done. 
     Slow Cooker Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

4.  Trip to Louisiana if weather permits
     Check out Alaska cruise sites

5.  Guest Bedroom Project