Saturday, May 23, 2015

May Meditations

When the power of love is greater than the love of power, the world will know peace.

     Jimi Hendrix

The Coyote on the Back Porch

Last night at 9pm I was getting ready to go to bed and I wanted to see if I could get Bandit (my 11 year old tuxedo cat) to come inside. So I turned on the back porch light and opened the back door. And there on the porch was an adult coyote looking at me with sad, tired eyes.  He made no move toward me but I quickly shut the door.  I left the light on and called Joseph.  I told him that there was a strange dog on the porch because I just couldn't believe that it was a coyote.  Joe was like me and at first couldn't believe what he was seeing. About that time Bandit came around the corner and Joe almost had heart failure thinking that he was going to see Bandit torn to bits. But again the coyote made no movement toward Bandit or Joe. It was evident that the animal was very sick. Joe called animal control but to no avail because in the meantime the coyote had moved off the porch and we couldn't tell them exactly where he was.  This morning we found the poor thing dead by the bottlebrush bush by the garage.  Why he came to our porch to die is a mystery to me. 

Friday, May 22, 2015


I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
Book of Hours, I 2

Goals for Next Week


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Color Explosion

It was such a long, gray, rainy winter and early spring that the explosion of color around OakMeadows is very much appreciated. Here are a few of the blooms.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015



So another city in Iraq, Ramadi, has fallen to ISIS or is it the Huthis--no that is Yemen and the Saudi's are taking care of them--or not. 

I remember being so hopeful that once GWB was out of office and Obama was President, we could declare victory and get out. Well, it took a lot longer than I expected but we did kinda, sorta get out....for a while. But the Middle East has a lot in common with flypaper--once you touch it, it is the very devil to get it off.  

We have troops in Iraq to train the Iraqi army. This doesn't seem to doing a whole lot of good.  From what I read the Iraqi Army outnumbers the ISIS troops 3:1 but turn and run when confronted. 

Now this post could just as easily be titled Afghanistan...Again...Still. 

Or Yemen or Libya....

Frankly, if we had a draft so that everyone's darling son or daughter stood an equal chance of killed or maimed, there would be marches on Washington to protest.  And if we had to raise enough taxes to pay for all these interventions, there would be a lot of irate taxpayers. 

Just think of what we could have done with the money we have poured and continue to pour into the bottomless pit of the Middle East. And just think of the lives that have been lost or ruined by this mess. And just think of how we keep on doing it. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Around OakMeadows

The picture is of me driving the golf cart, which I refer to as my LadyBuggy, around our 4 acres with my faithful sidekick, Bandit, riding shotgun on top.

This has been a week of finally getting some things taken care of.  Like getting our passport photos made and the paperwork sent in for passport renewal. That has to be taken care of for our Alaska Cruise because we stop in Vacouver. Next the rain finally let up long enough for the roofers to come out and replace the ridges and seal around the vent pipes. And I have finally gotten the garage cleaned out, the blinds washed, and the windows cleaned.  But best of all we are rid of our horrible internet provider, HughesNet, and have infinitely better internet now with AT&T U-Verse. Yea!!!

Lots of good cooking but after Thursday, we will be eating up what is in the refrigerator. I baked Banana Nut Bread today--so good.

The monster quilt is almost halfway finished. I ordered some fabric for my next 2 baby quilts from Craftsy. I've never bought fabric online before but this looked like just what I wanted at a really good price even including shipping. We shall see what the quality of the fabric is.

I have 2 really good books going now. One is fiction, Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow and the other is nonfiction, Dead Wake by Eric Larson, about the final voyage of the Luisitania. Both are real page turners.

All is set for our trip to Yosemite. I will start setting things in one place that I want to take with us. I am looking forward to seeing Yosemite as I have never been there. Our daughter and SIL are joining us there for 3 days and she and JMM are planning a day hike. I plan to take a tour, see the sights, enjoy the hotel which I understand is spectacular. I have the wonderful pet sitter coming to take care of the cats. The airline, hotel, and car reservations are made.  So unless something unanticipated comes up, a week from today we will be in Yosemite.

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are all spoiled and the people take afternoon naps.

Spicy Sausage Ragu with Red Bell Peppers

Spicy Sausage Ragu with Red Peppers

This comes from one of my all time favorite cookbooks, Slow Cooker Revolution by the Editors of America's Test Kitchen. 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
2 pounds hot Italian sausage, removed from its casing
2 onions, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I omit this b/c the sausage is spicy enough.)
1 cup dry red wine
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 28 ounce can tomato sauce
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add sausage and brown well, breaking up large pieces with wooden spoon, about 6 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat left in skillet. 

2. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oregano, and red bell pepper to the fat in the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until onions are softened and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until reduced, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. 

3. Stir canned crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce into slow cooker. 
Cook on low 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high. 

4. Before serving, stir in parsley and season as needed with salt and pepper.  Serve over spaghetti or any other pasta. 

This makes a LOT of sauce.  I like to freeze half of it to use later. Cook once, eat several times.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May Meditations

Raise your words, not voice.  It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

May Poetry--The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Goals for Week Ending May 23, 2015


     Sit and Be Fit
     Healthy Lunches

Quilting: Block #24

     Vincent Van Gogh: A Life by Philip Callow
     Dead Wake by Eric Larson
     Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow

     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Asparagus 
     Oven Fries Chicken, Sweet Potato, Green Beans
     Corned Beef Hash, Cream Style Corn, Veggie Tray
     Lemon Sours

     Order new wreath for front door
     Keep the swallow babies' poop cleaned off the porch 😣

     Nag JMM about passports 
     Airline tickets for cruise 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Working Stiff by Judy Melinek

While this book is certainly not for the squeamish, it gives a fascinating glimpse into the gruesome work of a forensic pathologist.  Descriptions of decaying bodies that would turn the stomachs of most of us are described in a matter of fact manner conveying the clues that the trained eye sees.  Dr. Melinek began her training as a forensic pathologist in NYC 2 months before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The work of identifying the dead from bits and pieces of body parts is told with both professional detachment and compassion toward the grieving family. 
A very good and interesting read. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Around Oak Meadows

Around Oak Meadows

Went birding on Mother's Day. Perfect for me. You couldn't drag me into a restaurant on Mother's Day so we stopped at Schlotzsky's for lunch on the way home. Followed by a nice long afternoon nap. 

The roofers are coming this week. It turns out that all we really need to have done is replace the ridge line shingles and seal around the plumbing vents. Whew! Under $700. I found this company on Angie's List. I have had such good luck with referrals from Angie's List. 

Still plodding along on monster quilt--working on Block #23 now. 33 more to go. Blergh!

Drat Diane Rehm anyway! I am always hearing about good books on her show and I want to read them all.  I will never get my To Read List whittled down at this rate.  She had Eric Larson on the show a couple of weeks ago talking about his new book Dead Wake about the last voyage of the Lusitania. So I put my name on the library waiting list and for once, I got one of the first copies! Oh my, it is so interesting. Since there are people following me on the wait list, I won't be able to renew it and must get it finished in the 3 week check out period. Not a problem! It is so well written and so interesting that it will just fly by.  Then on today's Diane Rehm Show, David McCulloch was the guest talking about his new book The Wright Brothers. Well, David McCulloch is one of the best writers of biography and non-fiction ever and his book Truman is the best biography I've ever read. So I ordered a hard copy and it will be the next book that Joe and I read aloud to each other.  So many books, so little time. 

I've been doing better with the cooking this week. Mostly old standbys--Chicken Parmigiana, Hamburger Pie, Tuna Salad, and for dessert Lemon Sours. But I do have a cookbook coming from the library so I may find something new to try from it.  I really like to get cookbooks from the library and only buy one if it really has a lot of things I want to try--like Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen. That one had so many really good recipes for the slow cooker that I bought it. 

Only 2 weeks until we go to Yosemite. I think everything is in order. I have the pet sitter from Awesome Paws all lined up for the cats while we are away. Airline, car, and hotel reservations are in order. I don't need to buy any clothes or shoes. Joe needs to buy a water container for his hike with Tamara. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hamburger Pie

1 1/2 pounds Ground Beef
3/4 cup Chopped Onion
1 can Tomato Soup
1/4 cup Water
12 oz. Frozen Mixed Vegetables 
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 medium potatoes, cooked and mashed with milk
Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onions; drain off grease. 
Stir in mixed vegetables, soup, water, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly until thoroughly heated--about 8 minutes.
Place mixture in a large casserole dish which has been sprayed with non-stick Pam. 
Top with mounds of mashed potatoes and sprinkle with grated cheese. 
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May Meditations

This above all: to thine own self be true, 
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not be false to any man.


May Poetry--Against the War in Vietnam by Wendell Berry

Against the War in Vietnam by Wendell Berry

Believe the automatic righteousness
of whoever holds an office. Believe
the officials who see without doubt
that peace is assured by war, freedom
by oppression.  The truth preserved by lying
becomes a lie. Believe or die. 

In the name of ourselves we ride
at the wheels of our engines,
in the name of Plenty devouring all,
the exhaust of our progress falling
deadly on villages and fields
we do not see. We are prepared
for millions of little deaths. 

Where are the quiet plenteous dwellings
we were coming to, the neighborly holdings?
We see the American freedom defended
with lies, and the lies defended
with blood, the vision of Jefferson
served by the agony of children,
women cowering in holes. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Goals for the Week Ending May 16, 2015

     Daily Bible Reading

     Healthy Breakfast and Snack
     Sit and Be Fit

Quilting: Block #23

    Vincent Van Gogh: A Life by Philip Callow
     The Liar by Nora Roberts
     Dead Wake by Eric Larson

     Tuna Salad Sandwiches 
     Chicken Parmigiana 
     Hamburger Pie
     Lemon Sours

    Roof Repairs

     Reunion calls
     Passport photos
     Airline Reservations

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

This is the week that the hummingbirds finally showed up. We have 2 feeders going and fill them on alternate days with 2 cups of sugar water.  It looks like we have 15-20. Most are just passing through but usually there are 2 pairs that remain and nest. 
Our barn swallows already have babies in 2 of the 4 nests so far. It is a mess cleaning up under the nests but there is nothing sweeter than watching baby barn swallows learning to fly. We set a record last year with 15 babies fledged. Wonder how we will do this year. 

We have finally had enough rain free days that we could get out and clean up the yard. I got the bottlebrush bush whacked back. If I had known how humongous it would grow, I would never have planted it there.  I also had to cut back the butterfly weed because it was taking over the walkway. I hated to do it but I could barely get my scooter by it. We had such a mild winter that it never died back and so we started off with ginormous patches of it. Hope the butterflies make good use of it. Joe got all the edging and mowing done. Just in time too because more rain is on the way. No complaints though after the previous few years of drought. 

Quilting right along. Finished Block #22. I am really thinking of piecing another baby quilt so I will have something small to work on while we are at Yosemite. If I'm going to do it, I've got to get it together next week. 

Lots of good reading. I finished A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. It is aimed at a junior audience but it was still quite good. I don't plan to read any more in the series though. The Liar by Nora Roberts is an easy read, predictable. I've just started Dead Wake by Eric Larson and so far it is excellent. 

I didn't get to do much cooking this week. Things just kept getting in the way and we ended up eating way too much junk.  Resolutions to do better next week. 

I am having such a good time contacting so many of my high school classmates about our 50 year class reunion. I have talked to people I haven't seen since graduation. Unfortunately, my best high school friend will not be able to attend; she lives in Colorado now and says she just doesn't travel much now.  We are driving to Yellowstone in 2016 and I plan to swing by and see her on the way. I think I was so fortunate to go to public schools in Galveston when I did. We had so much fun and got a terrific education too. 

Tomorrow the first roofer is coming to give us an estimate on the roof repairs. Holding my breath on how much it will cost. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are all spoiled and the retirees nap every afternoon. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

May Cooking

May Menu

1. Out
2. Bacon sandwiches
3. Schlotzsky's
4. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Asparagus
5. Chicken-Rice Bake
6. Steak, GMP, GB
7. Leftovers
8. Out
9. Bacon sandwiches
10. Sweet Tomatoes
11. Tuna salad sandwiches, Veggie tray
12. Chicken Parmigiana 
13. Slow Cooker Beef
14. Leftovers
15. Out
16. Bacon sandwiches
17. Baker Street Cafe
18. Shrimp Jambalaya
19. KFC
20. CB Hash, Corn
21. Leftovers 
22. Out
23. Bacon sandwiches
24. Pearl Dynasty
25. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Cabbage
26. Yosemite
27.  Yosemite
28. Yosemite
29. Yosemite
30. Yosemite
31. Yosemite

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May Meditations

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.

     Victor Hugo

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Poetry--The Finches by Wendell Berry

The Finches by Wendell Berry

The ears stung with cold
sun and frost of dawn
in early April comes

the song of winter finches,
their crimson bright, then
dark as they move into

and then against the light. 
May the year warm them
soon. May they soon go

north with their singing
and the season follow. 
May the bare sticks soon

live, and our minds go free
of the ground
into the shining of trees.