Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sunday Meditation

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."  John Muir

Friday, December 30, 2016

It Sifts from Leaden Sieves by Emily Dickinson

It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road. 

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain,--
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again. 

It reaches to the fence,
And wraps, it rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem,--
The summer's empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen,--
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Goals for the Week of January 1 - 7, 2017

     Daily Bible Reading
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales 

     Healthy Breakfast
     Exercise DVD
     Water - 32 oz.

Quilting -- Start working on monster quilt. 

     Zbinden's Progress by Christoph Simon 
     Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard
     Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are by Frans de Waal

     New Years Dinner: Ham, sweet potatoes, GB, fruit salad, yeast rolls
     Baked Fish, carrots/thyme, Corn
     Chicken Rice Bake
     Cutlets, GMP, GB

     Put up winter door wreath and dining room decorations 
     Quarterly finances

     Order clothes from LLBean

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls is the story of how three real women lived through World War II. The women are Caroline Ferriday of New York City, Kasia Kuzmerick of Lublin, Poland, and Dr. Herta Oberhauser of Germany. I want to reiterate that these were real women and the general story is factual.  I understand that this is a first novel for this writer. It is amazing in almost every way, character development, time line, plot, and ending. The research for this novel must have taken years and much effort.  I gave it 5 stars although it was very difficult for me to read. I find books about the brutality and inhumanity of the Nazi death camps unbearable. If I had realized that much of the book is set in Ravensbruck before starting to read it, most likely I wouldn't have started it. However, once started, it was impossible to put down. While the horrors of the camp is never far from the story, there is also kindness, humanity, and some redemptive resolution.  Truly an amazing first novel. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Birds at South Padre Island Nature Center

We took a trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley after Thanksgiving.  The Nature Center there is one of our favorite places to see birds.  

Green Heron

Green Jay

American Widgeon
Common Moorhen

Just kidding!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Around OakMeadows

Christmas decorations 

Around OakMeadows

One evening last week when it was unseasonably warm, my husband was reading in his recliner and had the back door open.  Just as I came into the room, a little brown face with a black mask peeked inside. I was startled to see him and he was just as startled to see me. It was Mikey (named from the old Cereal commercial) who had been sent by his 3 siblings to let JMM know that the food tray needed refilling.  He waited while JMM filled up the can with dog chow and followed him down the path to the food tray. The others were waiting in the tree and came down as JMM left. I call JMM the Raccoon Pied Piper.  

This has been the year that I have done nothing for Christmas. JMM got the 5 plastic bins of decorations down as he always does the day after Thanksgiving. After a few days of just sitting there, I realized that if I left it all in the boxes, I wouldn't have to put it all away on New Years Day. So I did not take anything out. And the world did not end. I'm not depressed or anything, I just didn't want to be bothered. And I won't be cooking Christmas dinner either since we will be in Las Vegas. No Christmas cards, no decorations, and no cooking Christmas dinner. And I like it just fine. 

We are leaving for Las Vegas on Christmas Eve. Daughter and Son-in-law are meeting us there. None of us gamble so we are seeing shows and eating out for 4 days. Daughter has never seen "O" and I am delighted to see it again. Other shows include Rock of Ages, a Michael Jackson show, and Blue Man. I think we may see Seinfeld but I'm not sure. JMM wanted to see Celine Dionne but she is not there over Christmas.  It is certainly a different Christmas for us. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats all nap and so do the people. 

January Menu

1.  Ham, Black-eyed Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Fruit Salad 
2. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn
3. Chicken-Rice Bake
4. Cutlets, GMP, GB
5. Leftovers 
6. Out
7. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
8. Slow Cooker 
9. Shrimp Jambalaya
10. Chicken Tenders, Beans, Coleslaw 
11. Meatloaf, GMP, GB
12. Leftovers 
13. Out
14. Macaroni and Cheese, Corn
15. Pancakes and Sausage 
16. Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Veggie Tray
17. KFC
18. Pizza
19. Leftovers 
20. Out
21. Scrambled Eggs, Ham, Toast 
22. Slow Cooker Beef
23. Seafood Pasta
24. Leftovers 
25. Spaghetti and Meatballs 
26. Leftovers 
27. Out
28. CB Hash, Cream Style Corn
29. Potato Soup
30. Beans and Rice and Sausage, Cornbread 
31. Stuffed Wieners, Corn

Friday, December 16, 2016

My Favorite Books of 2016

My Favorite Books of 2016

What a wonderful year of reading. So many really good books. It was difficult to pick my 10 favorites so I increased it to 12. I tend to read more nonfiction but this year's fiction was really outstanding. 


The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer 
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 
Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey
The Harrows of Spring by James H. Kunstler
The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson 
The Summer before the War by Helen Simonson
The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati


The Hidden Lives of Trees by Peter Wohlleben 
Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly 
Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf 
The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humbolt by Andrea Wulf
James Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketchum 
The Life of Birds by David Attenborough 
On My Own by Diane Rehm

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

This is soooo easy. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore 

1 Large Onion
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz. 
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper 

1. Microwave onions, tomato paste, garlic, oregano, basil, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. 

2. Stir tomatoes, broth, wine, and tapioca into slow cooker.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low.  

Can serve over pasta. 

Thought for the Day

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

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winter Poetry

Blow, blow, thou winter wind 
Thou art not so unkind 
As man's ingratitude; 
Thy tooth is not so keen, 
Because thou art not seen, 
Although thy breath be rude. 

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: 
Most freindship if feigning, most loving mere folly: 
Then heigh-ho, the holly! 
This life is most jolly. 

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky, 
That does not bite so nigh 
As benefits forgot: 
Though thou the waters warp, 
Thy sting is not so sharp 
As a friend remembered not. 
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: 
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly: 
Then heigh-ho, the holly! 
This life is most jolly. 

William Shakespeare

Friday, December 9, 2016

Goals for the Week of December 11 - 17, 2016

     Daily Bible Reading
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales 

     Exercise DVD
     Go to bed early 

Quilting - finish piecing the top of the baby boy quilt

     The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (So far it is excellent!)
     Cravings by Chrissy Teigen
     Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by F.B.M. de Waal

     Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore 
     Shrimp Jambalaya 
     Chicken Tenders, Beans, Cole Slaw
     Pork Tenderloin, Sweet Potato, Spinach
     Apple Pecan Muffins

     Order New Year's door wreath

     Dental cleaning
     Lunch with P&W&C&B 


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Birthday Trip

Birthday Trip

We took a 2 day trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley to do some birding and to go to the National Butterfly Center.  Joe took his super-duper camera and took some beautiful photos.  I will post them when he finishes with them and sends them to me.  
This was a perfect birthday present.  One of the things I enjoy most is meeting other people who are as fascinated with birds and butterflies as we are.  When we were at the South Padre Island Nature Center, we met a couple who had never been to the National Butterfly Center in Mission.  It was a pleasure to tell them about it and since it was only an hour and a half from where we were, they indicated that they would certainly go.   

There really isn't anything I can say or do about the embarrassment that is about to be inaugurated as our President.  I hope that his narcissism doesn't get us into a war or rather any more wars.  It's going to be a long, disastrous 4 years. All I can do is support our local food pantry, make quilts for the Salvation Army, and give what I can to the Nature Conservancy.  I anticipate inflation to kick in if * goes through with lowering taxes and increasing spending on infrastructure.  This is going to be hard on the poor and the elderly.  

Winter seems to have finally arrived.  It will be down in the mid 30s and highs around 50.  I know what a wimp I must seem to those up North but for the Texas Gulf Coast, this is cold!! My cats are ever so affectionate in cold weather, especially if I have the heating pad on.