Saturday, October 25, 2014


Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
     Abraham Lincoln 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Saturday Poetry

The Ongoing Holy War Against Evil by Wendell Berry

Stop the killin, or
I'll kill you, you
God-damned murderer!

Goals October 5

     Layer and baste quilt

    The Fall of the House of Dixie by Bruce Levine
     Some Luck by Jane Smiley
     Macs for Dummies by Ed Baig
     The American Way of Poverty by Sasha Abramsky

     Baked Fish, Oven roasted carrots/thyme, Brussels sprouts
     Chicken Rice Bake
     Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

     Frame and hang door photos
     Heating system inspection

     Get ready for NABA trip to Mission, Tx
     Reservations for trip to Kimball Museum

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

The Care and Management of Lies is a beautiful story of the love and friendship of three people and how those lives were forever altered by World War I.
Kezia and Thea met in school and became best friends. Kezia marries Thea's brother, Tom. Thea becomes active in the suffragette movement and is convinced that Kezia is going to have a difficult time being a farmer's wife.
As the war begins, Tom sees that many of the men who work on his farm are enlisting.  Thea volunteers as an ambulance driver to avoid being arrested for her war protesting activities. Kezia is left to keep the farm running, with an old man and a lame boy to help her with the work.
Kezia keeps the farm running and makes everyone around her feel loved and cared for. Her letters to Tom are filled with her cooking that she cooks for him at home. These letters are read by Tom to his men who feel her love for Tom and give them something to think about besides the mud and rats and death that actually surround them. 

There is no gratuitous violence and the characters are complex and well-drawn. 
I listened to this as an audio-book and the reader's voice was perfect for it.  
A really good read or listen. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Around OakMeadows

I have scheduled a heating inspection. We have been in this house 10 years and I have never had the heating or air-conditioning inspected.  I had no idea who to call so since I joined Angie's List to find a house painter and was happy with that, I went back to Angie's List and selected one. The inspection is  scheduled for October 31 so that JMM will be here. He is convinced that they will try to sell us a new heat exchanger or something else very expensive. (He could very well be right; we shall see.)

The quilt top is finished! Woo Hoo! As soon as I figure out how to load photos on my new iMac, I will post a picture.  I've bought the batting and I have the fabric to make the backing but I seen to have run out of quilting steam.  So I'm taking a week off from quilting. 

We went to our monthly Property Owners Association. The only thing of interest is the plans to have high speed fiber optic cable laid throughout the subdivision.  The project is moving at a glacial speed but of course, the Board are all volunteers with jobs and families so I should not complain. But I am so anxious to have good high speed internet service! My estimate is June, 2015. We will see how close my estimate comes. 

JMM found out that the Kimball Museum in Fort Worth is having an exhibit of Impressionist paintings from the d'Orsay.  So we made reservations to see it on my birthday next month.  I'm really looking forward to it because I love the Impressionists and I've never been to the Kimball. 

We went to see Gone Girl at the theater and it was really good. TSM and I had read the book and wondered how they could portray so much that was going on in the character's mind. Well, they did it perfectly.  JMM had not read the book and he was really enthralled by it. We splurged and had hot dogs and popcorn and shared a large Diet Coke. A fun time was had by all. 

The guys came today to set up the rig and equipment for the water well. They will start drilling tomorrow. They anticipate 2 days of drilling and ½ day to finish up. They anticipate the depth to be about 250 feet.

And that's all the news from OakMeadows were the women are all retired, the men work two days a week, and the cats are all above average. 

Cooking October Soup

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

2 onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 celery ribs, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 bay leaves
2 bone-in turkey thighs, skin removed
Salt and pepper
1 cup long-grained and wild rice blend
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1.  Microwave onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, and thyme in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened; transfer to slow cooker.

2.  Stir broth, carrots, celery, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Season turkey with salt and pepper; nestle into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until turkey is tender, 6 to 8 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high. Add rice during last hour of cooking.

3.  Transfer turkey to cutting board, shred meat into bite sized pieces, discard bone and bay leaves.  Remove any fat from the surface with a large spoon. Return turkey meat to pot. Stir in parsley. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

This is very good with a salad and toasted sourdough bread.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Saturday Poetry October 3

In a Country Once Forested by Wendell Berry

The young woodland remembers
the old, a dreamer dreaming

of an old holy book,
an old set of instructions,

and the soil under the grass
is dreaming of a young forest,

and under the pavement the soil
is dreaming of grass. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Today has been a more or less total write-off. I had a bout of insomnia last night and only went to sleep around 3:30 this morning and woke up at 6:30.  I got up and did the usual morning chores and went with JMM to do the weekly grocery shopping. Back to bed for a 2 hour morning nap. Up for lunch and back to bed for a 2 hour afternoon nap. Let's hope that all this napping today doesn't keep me awake tonight. 
When I went to the doctor last month for my annual physical, I mentioned my problem with insomnia and he recommended a therapist for cognitive behavior therapy. Guess I had best check into it. I am pretty sure my Humana Gold Medicare Advantage will not cover it but que sera. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Goals for Next Wewk

Goals for Next Week

     Layer and baste quilt

     Coolidge by Amity Shlaes
     Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Audio CDs)
     The American Way of Poverty by Sasha Abramsky

     Sour Cream Muffins with Raspberries and Walnuts
     Slow Cooker Beef and Noodle Soup
     Chicken and Snow Peas Stir Fry
     Tuna Salad Sandwiches

     Frame Italian Door Pictures (If frames come in)
     Garage--vacuum cobwebs and wash windows and blinds

     Continue learning iMac

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Around OakMeadows

Once the rain stopped (and thunder and lightning), the weather has been glorious!  Cool days with no humidity, bright sunshine, and cool enough to need a blanket if you leave the window open.  Sometimes I think we are the only people in America who sleep with the windows open.  Needless to say, when I was growing up everyone slept with the windows open unless it was really, really cold (which didn't really happen all that often in Galveston.)  I wouldn't want to go back to the days of no air-conditioning but when the temperatures drop, it is lovely to have the window open. 

There will be no pictures until I get my new iPhone 6P and learn how to use it and learn how to load pictures onto my brand new iMac. The Mac is a real learning curve for me and I am slowly working my way through Switching to the Mac by David Pogue.  If that doesn't work, there is always Mac for Dummies.  Anyway, I hope to have learned enough to be fairly proficient by the end of the year....which really isn't thwt far off. 

I finished my quilt top (sorry no pictures).  Tomorrow I am going to buy the batting and maybe get the backing pieced together Saturday.  The quilt is for the queen-size bed in the guest bedroom and measures 7 feet 3 inches by 8 feet 3 inches, an odd size but I wanted it to cover the frame on each side. Anyway, I anticipate I will need to buy a king-size batting and trim it to fit. 

I finished 2 really good books recently: Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (which I listened to on audio).  I tried reading The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry but didn't like it because it was just to poignant and melancholy and I really don't yearn to go back to the land and the old ways. I love his poetry and his prose is beautiful but the story was not my cup of tea. 

Cooking this week included an Applesauce Raisin Spice Cake. I think I have already posted the recipe for this. The smell of the cake in the oven just smells like autumn with the nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. I also made Chicken Parmesan and one night I used my George Foreman Grill to grill steaks and made garlic mashed potatoes and steamed green beans to go with them. 

We went to our POA meeting. The Association finances are in really good shape and we discussed the Halloween Hayride and the Christmas decorations for the subdivision. Joe asked about the New Year's Eve progressive dinner but that is still rather nebulous.  We are still moving ahead (albeit at a glacial speed) on the high speed internet cable project. Maybe by next June....

Kittens are growing and are such little individuals. Both are sweet and good and have never made a pee or poo anywhere other than in their litter box.  Our older two cats have reacted very differently to them. Bandit, the head cat, is very tolerant and puts up with a lot before he smacks them into line but Misty, the only female, can't stand the sight of them--she hisses and spits and then disappears into the attic when she sees them. Oh well...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cooking October Muffins

Sour Cream Muffins

Non-stick spray or paper muffin cups
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream (regular, low-fat, or nonfat)
2/3 cup milk (regular, low-fat, or nonfat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven.  Prepare muffin tins by either lining with paper cups or spray with non-stick spray.

2.  Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sour cream until smooth, then whisk in the milk and vanilla extract.  Stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated.

4.  Fill the prepared tins 3/4 full.  Bake for 18 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and smooth.

5.  Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing muffins from the tins. Cool 5 more minutes before serving.

Endless variations:

Banana Walnut Muffins--Add 1/2 cup dried banana chips & 1 cup chopped walnuts with the flour.

Blueberry Muffins--Add 1 cup dried blueberries with the flour.

Cherry Muffins--Add 1 cup dried cherries with the flour.

Chocolate Chip Muffins--Add 1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips with the flour.

Cranberry Muffins--Add 1 cup dried cranberries with the flour.

Meditations October 2

"Animals are not just living things; they are beings with lives. Next time you are outside, notice the first bird you see. You are beholding a unique individual with personality traits, an emotional profile and a library of knowledge built on experience. What you are witnessing is not just biology... but a biography."

(Jonathan Balcombe)
Charles Littleleaf Native Flutes 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Poetry October 2

The Reassurer by Wendell Berry

A people in the throes of national prosperity, who
breathe poisoned air, drink poisoned water, eat
poisoned food,
who take poisoned medicines to heal them of the poisons
that they breathe, drink, and eat,
such a people crave the further poison of official
reassurance.  It is not logical,
but it is understandable, perhaps, that they adore
their President who tells them that all is well,
all is better than ever. 
The President reassures the farmer and his wife who
have exhausted their farm to pay for it, and have
have exhausted themselves to pay for it,
and have not paid for it, and have gone bankrupt for
the sake of the free market, foreign trade, and the
prosperity of corporations;
he consoles the Navahos, who have been exiled from their
place of exile, because the poor land contained
something required for the national prosperity
after all;
he consoles the young woman dying if cancer caused by a 
substance used in the normal course of national
prosperity to make apples redder;
he consoles the couples in the Kentucky coal fields, who
sit watching TV in their mobile home on the mud of
the floor of a mined-out strip mine;
from his smile they understand that the fortunate have
a right to their fortunes, that the unfortunate have
a right to their misfortunes, and that these are
Equal rights. 
The President smiles with the disarming smile of a man
who has seen God, and found Him a true American,
not overbearingly smart. 
The President reassures the Chairman of the Board of the
Humane Health for Profit Corporation of America,
who knows in his replaceable heart that health, if
it came, would bring financial ruin;
he reassures the Chairman of the Board of the Victory
and Honor for Profit Corporation of America, who
has been wakened in the night by a dream of the
calamity of peace. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Goals October 2

     Finish top
     Buy batting
     Make backing

     Coolidge by Amity Shlaes
     Switching to the Mac by David Pogue
     Oxygen by Nick Lane
     Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

     Slow Cooker Beef and Noodle Soup
     Chicken Parmesan 
     Steak, GMP, GB

     Frame Italian Door Pictures
     Trim Bottlebrush Bushes

     Continue learning iMac
     Buy new purse
     LLBean order

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Iraq and Syria and (still) Afghanistan

It looks like the current group of bad guys (isis) is gaining ground in Syria.  And the Turks are saying that the U.S. air strikes are not enough and ground forces are needed.  OK, whose ground forces?  Perhaps, for once, we let them fight it out.  It is my opinion that if the Turks/Syrians/Iraqis want to get rid of isis, there are more than enough of them to do it themselves.  But what if the bad guys win? We isolate them and let them determine their own fate.  

And we are to be allowed to keep 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. What joy! We get to keep pouring money into that rat hole.  Good thing we don't need the money for our own infrastructure, educational and medical systems, funding for the NIH, or anything else. 

Honestly folks, we have lost our minds. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cooking October Slow Cooker

This is another recipe adapted from the wonderful Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen.

Chicken, Sausage, and White Bean Stew

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound Italian sausage links, sliced 1/2 inch thick (I use Andouille sausage instead of Italian.)
2 onions, minced
1 fennel bulb, tops discarded, halved, cored, and sliced thin (I omit this altogether because I don't like the licorice taste of fennel.)
6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (if you need more liquid, add more broth and/or wine)
2 bay leaves
2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 ounces baby spinach (about 6 cups)
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Dry chicken and season with salt and pepper. Heat one tablespoon oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Brown half the chicken on both sides, about 5-8 minutes; transfer to bowl.  Repeat with the other half; transfer to bowl.

2.  Heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Brown sausage well, about 3 minutes; transfer to bowl with chicken.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat left in pan; add onions, fennel (if using), garlic, tomato paste, thyme and red pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. 

3.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up any browned bits.  Whisk in 1 cup broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.  Stir in remaining 3 cups broth and bay leaves.  Nestle browned chicken and sausage with any accumulated juice into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, about 5 hours.  Add beans and spinach during last hour of cooking.

4.  Transfer chicken to cutting board and shred into bite size pieces. Remove any fat from the surface using a large spoon. Remove bay leaves. Add chicken back in and serve with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Meditation October 1


“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”


Friday, October 3, 2014

Saturday Poetry

To What Listens by Wendell Berry

I come to it again
and again, the thought of the wren
opening his song here
to no human ear--
no woman to look up,
no man to turn his head. 
The farm will sink then
from all we have done and said. 
Beauty will lie, fold
on fold, upon it. Foreseeing
it so, I cannot withhold
love. But from the height
and distance of foresight,
how well I like it
as it is!  The River shining,
the bare trees on the bank,
the house set snug
as a stone in the hill's flank,
the pastures behind it green.
Its songs and loves throb
in my head till like the wren
I sing--to what listens--again. 

Goals For Next Week

     Put quilt top together
     Buy batting

     Beef Noodle Soup
     Oven BBQ Chicken thighs, Beans, Corn on the Cob
     Oven baked Fish, Carrots/thyme, Cabbage
     Banana Nut Bread

     Coolidge by Amity Shlaes
     Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
     Blackout by Connie Willis (Audio CD)
     Oxygen: the Molecule that Made the World by Nick Lane
     Frame and hang Italian door pictures.

     Get flu shot
     Brunch with TandC
     Buy new iMac!!