Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Around OakMeadows

Well, there is good news and not so good news.  Let's do the not so good first and get it out of the way.  My CMT has progressed to where I am pretty much dependent on JMM to drive wherever I need to go.  The problem is that my legs are not strong enough to support me so that I can get to the back of the van, open the van's back door, and pull to swing the scooter out of the van. For an independent soul like me, this is rather dispiriting. OTOH, JMM is not perturbed by my needing a driver so I suppose, if it doesn't bother him, it shouldn't bother me....but it does.

Now for the rest of the goings on around here. 

The kittens are so cute.  Duffy is much too grown up to want to be held and cuddled but Henry is still sweet, crazy Henry.  I cannot get over how Henry's coat has changed from the dry, scraggly mess to the sleek black beauty he is now.  Duffy eats mostly IAM's Kitten Chow but Henry loves his Fancy Feast.

Quilting is proceeding at a glacial speed.  This week I am making the lattice to hold the blocks together. Next week I hope to put it all together.

Cooking this week: Shrimp Jambalaya, Meatloaf, and a Slow Cooker Chicken, Sausage, & White Beans. JMM is helping with the cooking by doing all the chopping and standing to stir things. Between the two of us we eat rather well...and probably a little too much.

I finished a good whodunit--Death in La Fenice by Donna Leon. It is the first in a series set in Venice and starring Commissario Brunetti.  I've just started Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters--so far so good.  I am plowing through a biography of Calvin Coolidge; he is rather more interesting than I had thought--talk about climbing out of poverty!

We have had quite a bit of rain recently and with the rain, came the mushrooms. I have not attempted to identify them but there is just something magical about mushrooms!

That is about all from OakMeadows for now.  It has been a good week.

Monday, September 29, 2014

October Menu

1.  Meatloaf, GMP, GB 
2.  Leftovers
3.  Texas Roadhouse
4.  Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray
5.  Schlotzsky's 
6.  Shrimp Jambalaya
7.  Oven BBQ Chicken, Beans, Cole Slaw.
8.  Slow Cooker Beef and Noodle Soup
9.  Leftovers
10. Texas Roadhouse
11. Bean and Cheese Quesadillas
12. Schlotzsky's 
13. Fish, Carrots, Cabbage
14. Slow Cooker Chicken with White Wine, Tarragon, and Cream SCR p.80
15. Hamburgers, Oven fries
16. Leftovers
17. Chipotle 
18. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie trays
19. Schlotzsky's 
20. Tuna salad sandwiches
21. Chicken Pot Pie (from Costco)
22. Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
23. Leftovers
24. Luby's 
25. Bean and Cheese Quesadillas
26. Schlotzsky's 
27. Fish chowder
28. Chicken and Snow Peas Stir Fry
29. Spaghetti and Meatballs
30. Leftovers
31. Shrimp and Stuff in Galveston with PWCB

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meditation September 4

“Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.” 
― Robert Frost

Saturday Poetry

A Speech to the Garden Club of America

Thank you. I'm glad to know we're friends, of course;
There are so many outcomes that are worse. 
But I must add I'm sorry for getting here
By a sustained explosion through the air,
Burning the world in fact to rise much higher
Than we should go. The world may end in fire
As prophesied--our world!  We speak of it
As "fuel" while we burn it in our fit
Of temporary progress, digging up
An antique dark-held luster to corrupt
The present light with smokes and smudges, poison
To outlast time and shatter comprehension. 
Burning the world to live in it is wrong,
As wrong as to make war to get along
And be at peace, to falsify the land
By sciences of greed, or by demand
For food that's fast or cheap to falsify
The body's health and pleasure--don't ask why. 
But why not play it cool?  Why not survive
By Nature's laws that still keep us alive?
Let us enlighten, then, our earthly burdens
By going back to school, this time in gardens
That burn no hotter than a summer day. 
By birth and growth, ripeness, death and decay. 
By goods that bind us to all living things. 
Life of our life, the garden lives and sings. 
The Wheel of Life, delight, the fact of wonder. 
Contemporary light, work, sweat, and hunger
Bring food to the table, food to cellar shelves. 
A creature of the surface, like ourselves, 
The garden lives by the immortal Wheel
That turns in place, year after year,to heal
It whole. Unlike our economic pyre
That draws from ancient rock a fossil fire,
An anti-life of radiance and fume
That burns as power and remains as doom,
The garden delves no deeper than its roots
And lifts no higher than its leaves and fruits. 

Wendell Berry

Friday, September 26, 2014

Goals for Next Week

     Make lattice strips

     Coolidge by Amity Shlaes
     Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
     The Care and Maintenance of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

     Shrimp Jambalaya
     Slow Cooker Chicken and Sausage with White Beans
     Meatloaf, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Green beans
     Blueberry Bran Muffins

     Take Italian door pictures to be framed

     Buy new purse

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Some Good Movies, some not so good

Most of these I have watched on Netflix DVDs. (Yes, we still get Netflix through the mail.)  Some are classics and some I know I've seen before but don't remember.  These are in order that I watched them.

1. Captain America.  You know that I love my husband because I sat through this at the theater because he wanted to see it.

2. Up in the Air.  Funny and not funny at the same time. George Clooney. 

3. O Brother where Art Thou.  OK. 

4. Libby, Montana.  Documentary. Excellent but chilling. 

5. Miss Potter. Excellent. 

6. Saving Private Ryan.  Excellent but very hard to watch in places. 

7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I loved the books and the movies are remarkably true to the books. 

8. Coal Miner's Daughter.  Pretty good.  Not my usual taste though. 

9.  Braveheart.  I flat didn't like it. YMMV. 

10. Philomena. Pretty good. 

11. The Comstant Gardener.  Nope. Just didn't like it. 
12. I Remember Mama. So good. Warm fuzzies

13. Doctor Zhivago. I had forgotten just what a spectacular movie this was. Excellent. 

14. Charlotte Grey.  Pretty good. 

15. The Sound of Music.  Can't help singing along. 

16. The Help. Very good. Another movie remarkably true to the book. (But the book was better.)

17.  The 100 Foot Journey. We saw this in the theater. It is a pleasant movie but probably not worth the tick/popcorn/drink price. Definitely worth a Netflix view. 

18. Casino Royale. Good 007 flick. 

19. The Way. Meh. 

20. The Nun's Story. Coming from Netflix tomorrow. 

Do you have some movie suggestions?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Around Oak Meadows

Finally! The weather is a bit cooler! And we had over 7 inches of rain last week! Good for the trees and grass...and mosquitoes, unfortunately.  But such is life-- the good and the not so good. 

Our water well project is on hold until the ground gets dry enough for the big trucks to get in. Ironic isn't it, that when we finally decide to put in a well, it won't stop raining.  Maybe in another week...if it doesn't rain. 

My quilt is coming along but I am at that awful stage where I'm not sure it is going to turn out like I want it to or if it is going to be a total disaster.  Should I chuck it in the back of the closet and not waste any more work on it or should I soldier on and hope for the best??

The kittens are growing. Duffy is still quite noticeably larger than Henry but Henry seems to be able to hold his own when they are tumbling around.  They were both up the oak trees this week but I didn't have my camera to take pictures. Maybe next week I can get some photos of them in the trees. 

JMM and I are finally trading in our trusty Blackberry phones for the iPhone 6 Plus. We are staying with T-Mobile as our carrier and thus got a $100/phone discount. They are supposed to be delivered in 10-14 days.  I have never had an iPhone but I absolutely love my iPad so I am sure I will get along just fine once I learn how to do the stuff I want with it.  Who could have guessed that the old black rotary dial phone would one day be wireless and take pictures and be connected to the Internet?? Love it!!

We went to Taste of Texas for our daughter's birthday. It is expensive but my, oh my, what good food! The stuffed mushroom caps were just the best and the steaks are always melt in your mouth good. JMM and I split a dessert and we all waddled out and went into a carbohydrate induced coma when we got home. But,maid I say how good it was?!

I'm reading two really good books. Coolidge by Amity Shlaes, a biography of  Calvin Coolidge who I knew absolutely nothing about, is really excellent so far. And I am reading Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon. It is a whodunnit set in Venice and is the first in a series. Very enjoyable read so far. 

Haven't done any traveling but this Friday we are going to lunch in Galveston with Joe's brother and sister and their spouses which is always fun and then in November we are going to the North American Butterfly Association meeting in Mission, TX which I am really looking forward to.  Next spring is our trip to Yosemite which I expect to be terrific too since I've never been there. 

Life is so good. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Monarch Chrysalis

Virginia Tiger Moth Caterpillar

Virginia Tiger Moth Caterpillar


Can you see the Monarch caterpillar?

Gulf Fritillaries


Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September Cooking 3 Slow Cooker

I made this Sunday and it was so good. We had this for dinner and have 4 servings to go into the freezer for an quick and easy dinner in the future.  
Beef and Barley Soup

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, minced
¼ cup tomato paste
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
½ cup red wine
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
2 carrots, peeled and chopped medium
1/3 cup soy sauce
½ cup pearl barley
1 pound beef steak
Salt and pepper
¼ cup minced fresh parsley 

Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onions, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until onions are softened and slightly brown, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker. 

Stir in beef broth, tomatoes, carrots, soy sauce, and barley into slow cooker.  Season beef with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, about 7-8 hours on low. 

Shred beef on cutting board and return to slow cooker.  Stir in parsley and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Meditation September 3

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.” 
― Mary Oliver

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September Saturday Poetry 3


1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade?  Please
name your preferred poisons. 

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred. 

3. What sacrifices are you prepared 
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy. 

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns,farms
you could most readily do without. 

5. State firefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child. 
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill 

Wendell Berry

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September Goals 3

Here are last week's goals. Let's see how I did:

1.  Annual physical--done. All is well. BP is fine. Cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose levels are fine. Need to take Vitamin D supplement as that level is low.  Going to see a psychologist to see if Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will help my insomnia; if that doesn't work, I will go for the dreaded sleep study.  But for an almost 67 year old, I take no meds and am in good shape. 
2. Quilting: Finish lattice corner blocks and start putting blocks into strips. Done. Working on the strips. 
3. Reading:
     Rabid by Bill Wasik (Audio CDs) I returned this. I thought it would be about the science and medical aspects of rabies but it was  about rabies in history and literature.      
      Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti #1) by Donna Leon. Very good so far. 
     Coolidge by Amity Shlaes. I am picking this up from the library tomorrow.
4. Cooking
     Tuna salad- done.
     Chicken Rice Bake- done.
     Beef and Bok Choy Stir Fry- done
I also baked Banana Nut Bread and Apple Pecan Muffins which I took to the doctor's office. 5. Must get new purse. I am waiting to see if I get the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6Plus. I want to make sure if I get the Plus, it will fit in the wristlet
Now for Next Week's Goals:

     Daily Bible Reading
     Healthy Breakfast and Snack

     Finish putting blocks into strips and begin making lattice strips

     Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
     Coolidge by Amity Shlaes


     New iPhone 6 or 6Plus
     New purse

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I was working on my quilt at the dining room table when I heard a rustling sound behind me.  I turned around and there was Henry in the basket.  Henry is the smaller of the 2 kittens we adopted. I call him Henwy the Wee Wascal.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Goals for Next Week

1.  Annual physical

2. Quilting: Finish lattice corner blocks and start putting blocks into strips. 

3. Reading:
     Rabid by Bill Wasik (Audio CDs)
     Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti #1) by Donna Leon
     Coolidge by Amity Shlaes

4. Cooking
     Tuna salad
     Chicken Rice Bake
     Beef and Bok Choy Stir Fry

5. Must get new purse

Hard Hearted?

I am terribly sorry for the families of the journalists who were beheaded and for the aid worker who was beheaded. I am terribly sorry for the young man who will spend the next part of his life as a prisoner of the North Koreans. I really am. But, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING WHEN THEY WENT THERE?? One of the journalists had previously been taken prisoner and was fortunate enough to be released and yet he chose to go to Syria. Didn't anyone tell them that when you go to places where really nasty people are either running amok or running the entire country, really bad things really do happen and can happen to you??

(And while beheading is repugnant to us, our good buddies in Saudi Arabia do it frequently. According to a Washington Post article, the Saudis beheaded 8 people last month. Rather ironic that Saudi Arabia is our ally in fighting ISIL.)

But before thinking the journalists, aide worker, and North Korea wannabe stupid, perhaps it would be well to consider the United States muddling deeper into Syria/Iraq/ISIL. We've been arming, training, and providing intelligence to the Afghans, the Libyans, the Iraqis, the Somalis, the Yemenis, and God/Allah knows who else and we see how well that has turned out. (Good thing there are no problems here within our own country that need tending to.) So perhaps the question should be WHAT ARE WE THINKING??  Obviously we haven't learned anything.


The earth has music for those who listen.  George Santayana 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September Saturday Poetry 2

The Shining Ones

While the land suffers, automobiles thrive,
shining as they glide by the dying towns,
the empty fields bare in winter,
the deserted farmhouses, obstacles merely
to an ideal trajectory from everywhere to anywhere. 

Wendell Berry

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The 10-Year History Project

My husband and I have always had an interest in World War II, perhaps because our parents were of that generation and were involved in it, all in different ways.  My mother was Rosie the riveter in a shipyard. My father was a Merchant Mariner who made the North Atlantic run to keep Britain supplied and later to deliver tanks to Mermansk. (Merchant Mariners were unjustly denied any GI benefits after the war,  but that's another post.) Joe's father was in the Army stationed in Alaska and his mother was in the Canadian Air Force. 

We had read books about it but we came up with the idea in 1985 to go back 50 years each year and learn what was happening that year.  So 1985 became 1935 and so on  through 1995 which became 1945.  We listened to the music that was popular for each year and read at least one book that was a best seller that year.  But the most interesting thing we did was to go to the Houston Public Library downtown and make photocopies of magazine articles almost every month. This was before the Internet so we had to make photocopies. It still amazes me that those bound volumes were available to the public. The staff at the library came to know us and were always interested and helpful in what we were doing. I thought about making some dresses from patterns of the period but life got too busy and I never did.  We always got a chuckle out of the ads in the magazines. 

A couple of years ago I watched the PBS program 1940s House where a family lived a year as if they were in a house in London during the Blitz.  That was so interesting. I doubt that I would have made it through the food and fuel deprivations. 

It still surprises me that we kept it up through out.  There were a few breaks when life got in the way but for the most part we kept the time warp for the whole 10 years. It was interesting. 

Around OakMeadows


The hummingbird migration is underway. We have had 3-4 hummers at the feeder all week and this morning there are 6. I must get the second feeder filled and out for them. It seems a bit early but there is no arguing with the fact that they are here.  We have had a lot of butterflies too--Monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries, and Tiger Swallowtails with some skippers and sulfurs. Nice to see.  

What is not so nice has been the bazillion mosquitoes of the past 3 days!  I wear a pullover hoodie and spray myself with Off when I go out to feed the birds. West Nile virus has been found in mosquitoes at 80 percent of the mosquito traps set by the county health department.  So one must be careful. 

Joe and I are going to the North American Butterfly Association meeting in Mission, TX in November and I finished the registration and reservations today.  
Joe will be attending the Butterfly Landscaping class/tour and I will be taking the Butterfly Basics class at the National Butterfly Center which is in Mission. There is a 2 hour class on moths from 7-9 pm. I haven't signed up for it because I'm not sure how tired I will be; but I do hope to go to that one too. The next day is a leisurely riverboat nature tour. I wasn't sure that it was handicapped accessible but received confirmation that it was today. So that will be interesting. 

My sweet kittens are now eunuchs. They had their surgery yesterday and seem to be fully recovered this morning.  We gave little Henry his last dose of the 6 week course of terbinafine for his ringworm; it is completely cleared up and his coat is so smooth and shiny that he no longer reminds me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. 

I am working on the corner pieces for the lattice for my quilt. I need 72 corner blocks and each corner has 9 pieces. When I finish the corners, I can start assembling the quilt top.  I have aspirations to make matching pillow shams but that remains to be seen. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee

I found this book very frustrating. He discusses in detail several areas where global poverty workers have spent much time, effort, and money trying to aid the poor in bettering their lives-- health, education, insurance, and finance. He discusses how these areas affect the poor and outlines various programs that have promised to aid the poor.  Then he proceeds to discuss in detail why the program doesn't work.  He does this over and over. So I skipped to the last chapter to see if he has any suggestions for programs that do work. He doesn't. The best he can do is suggest a wide variety of programs and to keep on trying. Frustrating.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Brief Rant

A Brief Rant

1. A segment on NPR this morning discussed the diminishing funds available for research.  Whether you are talking about the NIH or the National Cancer Institute, money is drying up for research. 

2. We are getting ready to spend half a billion dollars on the Syria/Iraq black hole. 

We have money to throw away on trying to bring peace and democracy to the Middle East but can't fund our own scientists, educate our own children, or repair our own infrastructure.  Makes a lot of sense. Not. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014


A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.  Albert Einstein

Amen and preach it Brother Albert

Friday, September 5, 2014

Saturday Poetry

Like Snow

Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly,
leaving nothing out. 

Wendell Berry

I just love Wendell Berry. I love his fiction as well as his essays and poetry. 

Goals for next week

I have been very remiss about completing my goals here lately. Well, now that September is here, it is time to get busy again.  So here are my goals for next week and I will post next Friday with the results.  

     Women in the Word 
     Daily reading

     Healthy breakfast and snacks

     Make 75 lattice corner blocks

     The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson
     Poor Economics by Abihijit Bannerjee
     The Catalan Family Saga by Lewis Weinstein


     Sweep out garage
     Have door pictures printed
     Buy new sheets for back bedroom

     Make reservations for NABA 

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Cooking 1


September Menu

Coconut Banana Muffins

1.  Baked Fish, Carrots/thyme, cabbage
2.  Farmhouse Chicken and Corn Chowder SCR p.10
3.  Spaghetti and Meatballs
4.  Leftovers
5.  Olive Garden
6.  Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray 
7.  Schlotzsky's 
8.  Fish chowder
9.  Chicken and Snow Peas Stir Fry
10. Meatloaf, GMP, GB 
11. Leftovers
12. Texas Roadhouse
13. Bacon sandwiches, Oven Fries, Veggie tray 
14. Schlotzsky's 
15. Baked Fish, Carrots/thyme, Corn on the Cob
16. Chicken-Rice Bake
17. Beef and Bok Choy
18. Leftovers
19. Papasito's 
20. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray
21. Schlotzsky's 
22. Tuna sandwiches
23. Fruited Chicken Salad
24. Spaghetti and Meatballs
25. Leftovers
26. Luby's 
27. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries, Veggie tray
28. Schlotzsky's 
29. Shrimp Jambalaya 
30. Chicken stew with Sausage and White Beans