Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Birds of South Texas Part I

Butterflies were not the only beautiful things we saw on our post Thanksgiving trip to the Rio Grande Valley.  We especially love the South Padre Island Nature Center for beautiful coastal birds. 

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

We went to see La La Land and it was lovely. Sweet and poignant. No intellectual challenge for sure, but sweet and lovely and a total relief from current events. I loved it, my daughter loved it, my husband did not. YMMV. 

Good news: Taxes are done and e-filed. More good news: We will get a refund. Actually, our taxes are incredibly easy. We use TurboTax, we have 4 1099s and take the Standard Deduction and that's it. 

We have been going on a morning walk first thing each morning. Fitbit says DH is getting 4400 steps each morning. I was trying to get him to 5000 steps but I think we will just declare 4400 enough and be OK with it. 

I am got my baby boy quilt back from being machine quilted. I will post photos whenever Blogger decides to let me. (This is so aggravating!!) I left monster quilt and told her not to hurry because it will be about 6 weeks before the next top is ready. The next quilt will be using Sampler Quilt squares I made 20+ years ago. 

Reading: Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. I got it through inter library loan so I only have 15 days to get it read. So far it is very interesting. 

One of my dear internet friends has been diagnosed with a very serious illness and I am so saddened about it. She is such a one of a kind person. She's interested and interesting, opinionated but quite tolerant, and so very full of life. We will know soon just how serious this is and what the treatment options are.  I hope she knows just how much I value her and her friendship. 

I could add more about that awful man in the White House but what good would that do. How I yearn for a slow news day...just one would be so welcome.  

Well, that's all for now on day from OakMeadows where the cats are all lazy and the people are their concierges. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

February Menu

February Menu

1. Steak, GMP, GB
2. Leftovers 
3. Out
4. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
5. Slow Cooker Chicken
6. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Cabbage
7. Chicken-Rice Bake
8. Beef and Bok Choy Stir Fry
9. Leftovers 
10. Out
11. Macaroni and Cheese
12. Pancakes and Canadian Bacon
13. Cod Chowder
14. Oven BBQ Chicken, Beans, Cole Slaw
15. Pizza
16. Leftovers 
17. Out
18. Scrambled Eggs, Canadian Bacon, Toast
19. Slow Cooker Beef
20. Shrimp, FF, Cole Slaw
21. KFC 
22. Spaghetti and Meatballs 
23. Leftovers 
24. Out
25. CB Hash, CSC
26. Pork, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach
27. Seafood Pasta
28. Veggie Soup

January Meditation

"The mountains are calling and I must go."   John Muir

Friday, January 27, 2017

Winter Solitude by Matsuo Basho

Winter solitude--
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.

Goals for Week of January 29 - February 4, 2017

     Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

     Exercise DVD
     Healthy Snacks

Quilting -- Repair Bear's Paw quilt

     Lindbergh by A.Scott Berg
     Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman
     Three Days in January by Bret Baier

     Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
     CB Hash, Cream-style Corn, Salad
     Cod Chowder (New recipe, never made this before.)
     Chicken Parmigiana, Salad
     Pork Tenderloin, Sweet potato, Spinach
     Perpetual garage cleaning out....

     Meeting with Fidelity about IRA withdrawals when JMM turns 70.5. 
     Donation to Planned Parenthood
     Daily Resistance phone call/email

Monday, January 23, 2017

Butterflies of South Texas, Part III

This is the last group of butterflies from our trip to South Texas right after Thanksgiving. (Next I will post photos of the gorgeous birds.)

Common mestra

Clouded skipper

Bordered Patch

Checkered White

American Snout

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

We went to see Hidden Figures and it was excellent. It is the true story of the black women who worked at NASA before computers doing the necessary computations by hand. If you are looking for something inspiring and uplifting, don't miss it. 

I am slowly (very slowly) clearing out the garage of stuff we don't use. Today JMM took in to the Household Hazardous Waste/Recycling Center a bunch of old cans of paint. We will never be able to paint either the exterior or interior of the house again so there is no sense in keeping cans of paint that we will never use. I did keep the paint used on the fence in case JMM needs to touch it up. Last month he took in a bunch of bottles of yard chemicals and pesticides. There may be a few more hazardous materials to take in but I'm glad that most of it is out of the house and disposed of properly.  

I'm reading Thomas Friedman's new book Thank You for Being Late and to tell the truth, I'm having a hard go of it.  The whole premise of the book seems to be how much progress we are making and things are getting better faster and faster although humans are having difficulty keeping up with all the progress. I, on the other hand, am more a pending catastrophe type person.  I suppose being an environmentalist, it is hard to be otherwise.  

Is it spring? We had March winds yesterday and today we topped 78 degrees. Some of the bushes are leafing out and JMM saw a Cloudless Sulphur yesterday but I can't imagine what he could feed on because nothing is blooming.  He should have stayed in his chrysalis. 

JMM has gotten off all artificial sweeteners and off caffeine. He was having frequent migraines and the usual remedies weren't working so he decided to try this. It took 9 days to get over the caffeine withdrawal headaches but since then (6 days), he has been headache free. It is hard to live with someone who is getting off caffeine but even harder to live with someone who thinks I should be caffeine free too. I told him I am just not that morally pure. To be continued. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where all the cats are caffeine free but only one of the humans is. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January Cooking -- Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana

  • 1 lb. Hot Italian sausage, casings removed 
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, choppedkosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 large russet potatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch curly kale, leaves stripped and chopped
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, coosausage, breaking up with theback of a wooden spoon, until browned and no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain fat.
  2. Add garlic and onion and let cook until golden, 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth and potatoes and enough water to cover the potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Stir in kale and let cook until leaves are tender and bright green, 3 minutes, then stir in heavy cream.
  4. Garnish with Parm and serve.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows 

Each year we celebrate 3 birthdays in January: JMM and my two sisters-in-law.  It has become a tradition that I bake a German Chocolate birthday cake for them. This year I totaled up their ages and bought numerical candles to put on top. That's what the 217 on the cake is all about.  We met at the Olive Garden for lunch and then had birthday cake for dessert which we shared with our waitress.  The rule was No cake for anyone who mentions politics. The rule was followed and a pleasant time was had by all. 

Rain, rain, and more rain! The back of the property looks like a swamp. But the sun is out and no rain is forecast for the next 4-5 days so it will dry out.  With the exception of a couple of days, we are having the mildest winter I can remember. I hope this doesn't mean that we will have a killer hot summer. Oh well, I'll enjoy the pleasant temperatures while I can. 

I am making steady progress on my plan to use up my fabric stash to make quilts.  I have one being machine quilted now and I have the monster quilt ready to take in for machine quilting.  I estimate it will take about 5 years to whittle it down. No joke, 5 years. 

Somehow in my high school and college education, I managed not to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It was written in 1951 but it is as relevant to today as it could possibly be. Now, instead of interactive walls, we take our interactive phones with us everywhere.  Excellent.  I also finished Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal. Another excellent book.  Quite a difference between current thinking and what I was taught as a psychology minor in college in the 1960s. Currently I am reading Lindberg by A.Scott Berg. The History group on GoodReads will be reading it in March and since it is a lengthy volume, I thought I would get a head start on it.  So many books, so little time. 

That awful man is now the President of the United States.  I just hope his narcissistic impetuousness doesn't start a war with a nuclear power. How we ended up with such a lying liar is just beyond me. 

We are planning a trip to visit our daughter in Washington, DC in March. I want to go to the Newseum and the National Gallery for sure. Not sure what else we will have time and energy to see.  But before that is the trip to London and Paris next month; I don't remember whose idea it was to go in February but I'm sure it will all work out fine in spite of cold and rain.....

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats shed all over everything and the people have learned to live with it..

January Meditation

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find outthat going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity." John Muir

Goals for the Week of January 22-28, 2017

     Daily Bible Reading
     The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis 

     Exercise DVD
     Healthy Breakfast 

Quilting -- Repair Bear's Claw Quilt

    Lindberg by A. Scott Berg
     America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
     Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

     Scrambled Eggs, Ham, Toast
     Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup 
     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn
     Spaghetti and Meatballs 
     Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

     Take in Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste

     Friday would be my mother's birthday 

Winter Trees by William Carlos Williams

All the complicating details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

South Texas Butterflies Part II

More butterflies from our post Thanksgiving visit to South Texas. 

Phaon Crescent 

Julia Heliconium 

Gulf Fritillary 

Great Southern White

Crimson Patch

Monday, January 16, 2017

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

Traditionally, humans have been thought to be uniquely intelligent, able to plan, coordinate, and adapt our behavior, environment, and society.  De Waal stresses commonalities between human and animal cognitive capabilities.

The point is not which species is smarter than another. De Waal presents evidence that intelligence, or cognition, is diverse.

Instead of a scale of intelligence with species placed upon it, de Waal urges us to think in terms of a bush — with branches sprouting in all different directions, diversity and variety rather than more and less or higher and lower. Ecologically, animals are as smart as they need to be. Each has developed the capacities it needs to meet the challenges of its ecological niche.

 The main point is that there is more continuity than discontinuity between human cognition and animal cognition. If we realize that we are not the only intelligent species, we may find ourselves changing both our regard for ourselves and our regard for other species.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 tablespoon oil

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/3 cup sherry

1 8 ounce carton dairy sour cream
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup water

Hot cooked noodles

1. In a large skillet brown beef in hot oil.  Drain off fat.

2. In a 3 1/2 quart slow cooker combine beef, mushrooms, onions, garlic, oregano, salt, thyme, pepper and bay leaf. Pour beef broth and sherry over all.

3. Cover; cook on low heat for 8 hours or on high heat for 4 hours.  Discard bay leaf.

4. If using low heat setting, turn to high heat setting.  Mix together sour cream, flour, and water in a medium bowl. Stir about 1 cup of the hot liquid into the sour cream mixture. Return all to Cooker; stir to combine. Cover and cook on high heat setting for 30 minutes or until thickened.

5. Serve over hot cooked noodles. Serves 6.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January Meditation

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn."  John Muir

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Winter Bluejay by Sara Teasdale

Crisply the bright show whispered,
Crunching beneath our feet;
Behind us as we walked along the parkway,
Our shadows danced,
Fantastic shapes in vivid blue.
Across the lake the skaters
Flew to and fro,
With sharp turns weaving
A frail invisible net.
In ecstasy the earth
Drank the silver sunlight;
In ecstasy the skaters
Drank the wine of speed;
In ecstasy we laughed
Drinking the wine of love.
Had not the music of our joy
Sounded its highest note?
But no,
For suddenly, with lifted eyes you said,
"Oh look!"
There, on the black bough of a snow flecked maple,
Fearless and gay as our love,
A bluejay cocked his crest!
Oh who can tell the range of joy
Or set the bounds of beauty?

Goals for Week of January 15-21, 2017

     Daily Bible Reading
     The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

      Exercise DVD
      Salad for lunch

     Work on getting monster quilt ready to machine quilt

     Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal 
     Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard
     Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

     Meatloaf, GMP, Peas
     Tuna Salad Sandwiches

     Clean out garage shelf unit

     Order sweater vests

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

South Texas Butterflies Part I

Right after Thanksgiving we took a birds and butterflies trip to South Texas. We really struck gold with the butterflies. Here are the photos of some that we saw.

Zebra Heliconium

White Peacock

White Checkeres Skipper

Variegated Fritillary


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

President Obama's Farewell Address

These are the notes that I took during his speech. What a well thought out, articulate speech.

President Obama's Farewell Address

Relaxed. Happy. He and Michelle are touched by all the messages sent to them in the past few weeks. His turn to say Thank You.  

First came Chicago in his early 20s. Worked with church groups and saw the quiet dignity of workers in the shadow of closed factories. People coming together to demand change. 

Great gift of founding fathers--self governing to pursue life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. 

Long sweep of America has been forward to embrace all and not just some. Long list of accomplishments from rebooting the economy and the auto industry to engaging with Cuba to getting rid of Iran's nuclear weapons. 

It  is up to all of us to help the government meet the challenges of the future. Policies reflect the greatness of the people. Democracy requires a basic sense of solidarity. We rise or fall as one.  
     1.  Everyone must have a sense of economic opportunity.  
     2.  Race remains a divisive force even though race relations are better than they were.  There is more to do. It cannot be framed as one race against another or the wealthy will simply become more remote and powerful. Housing, work, judicial system. Must change over time.  Must start with the premise that others love this country as much as we do. 
     3. Baseline of facts, willingness to listen to new ideas, and science and reason matter.  Reality has a way of catching up with you. Democracy can buckle when it gives in to fear. We must be vigilant but not afraid. We must not become a bully that threatens smaller nations. 
     4. Democracy is threatened when it is taken for granted.  We should be making it easier to vote and decrease the influence of money and more transparency. None of this happens on it own. It happens only when each one of us take it upon ourselves to make the Constitution meaningful and powerful. Rule of law.  Self government is the under pinning of our prosperity and liberty. 

The system is not inevitably corrupt. We must take responsibility for electing our leaders.  Continually improve this nation. Most important office in a democracy is Citizen. Democracy needs each us over the full course of a lifetime. Lace up your shoes, get a clipboard, run for office, organize. Can energize and inspire. 

Beautiful tribute to his family.  Joe Biden. 


Both a farewell and looking forward.  

Optimistic vision. 

Campaign rally style. 

January Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

The baby boy quilt top is finally finished and off to be machine quilted. 

Forget what I said last week about what a mild winter we were having. It made up for it with miserably cold temperatures, down to 23 degrees for two nights. I used to enjoy the cold weather but these old, cold bones just don't do well when it is cold. It doesn't help that JMM doesn't believe in turning on the furnace unless it is absolutely necessary. 

We went to see Rogue One. I confess to being the only person in the family who didn't like it.  It was just one big blast of blowing things up after another.  I was so bored that I dozed off. JMM woke me for the last 30-45 minutes of it which was slightly better than the beginning. 

I have been trying Schwan's home delivery for one evening meal a week and it is working out very well. They deliver frozen meals to your home, ready for microwave or oven. So far, we have had the chicken pot pies (excellent) and the chicken tortilla soup (also excellent). They have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts. I'm really not interested in anything but the dinners and soups. Next I plan to try some of the beef meals and the chicken and wild rice soup. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

January Meditation

"The world's big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark."  John Muir

Friday, January 6, 2017

To Winter by William Blake

To Winter

O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.
He hears me not, but o’er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain’d, sheathed
In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes;
For he hath rear’d his scepter o’er the world.
Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.
He takes his seat upon the cliffs, the mariner
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch! that deal’st
With storms; till heaven smiles, and the monster
Is driven yelling to his caves beneath Mount Hecla.

Goals for the Week of January 8 - 14, 2017

     Daily Bible Reading
     The Imitation of Christ by St.Thomas a Kempis

     Exercise DVD
     32 oz. water
     2 fruits

Quilting -- Get monster quilt top ready for quilting. Take baby boy quilt in for quilting and pick up scrap quilt. 
     Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? By Frans de Waal
     Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard 
     Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 

     Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff 
     Shrimp Jambalaya 
     Meatloaf, GMP, Peas
     Bake German Chocolate Cake for JMM/Bonnie/Wendy Birthday 

     Finally put up winter door wreath and table decorations 
     Have house siding power washed

     Lunch with P&W&C&B 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Zbinden's Progress by Christoph Simon

Zbinden's Progress by Christoph Simon

Set in an old folk's home in Switzerland, Lukas Zbinden walks with the aid of a new caregiver, Kazim.  As they slowly walk down the stairway, Zbinden tells Kazim of his like as a teacher, as a husband to his now deceased wife, and as a father to his son, Markus. It is at times touching and beautiful and at others clever and witty. It is a quiet book of one man's walk on life's journey.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

Our Christmas trip to Las Vegas was very nice.  It had been about 15 years since I had been there and my goodness, the traffic was just unbelievable. We saw "O" and the Blue Man Group which was so much fun.  JMM, DD, & DSIL also saw Rock of Ages and the Michael Jackson tribute.  But the highlight to me was the spa. DD and I got manicures and facials and thoroughly enjoyed being pampered.  A second highlight was eating at the different restaurants. It was a nice way to spend the holiday. 

I've just finished watching the Netflix streaming series, Occupied.  It is set in Norway as the Russians move in to occupy the country and take over their oil and gas fields. It is excellent! I can hardly wait for the 2nd season. A must watch. IMHO. 

Finally finished the quilt top for my baby boy quilt. I would post a picture but Blogger is not cooperating the evening.  I will post it when I can. Next I am going to finish up a quilt top that I started about 2 years ago.  

I am trying out a food delivery system, Schwan's.  They deliver frozen meals to your home ready for microwave or oven.  It will be nice to have one or two meals a week that I don't have to cook.  I get the first order tomorrow. I will let you know how it turns out.

We did our quarterly finances yesterday and I was pleased that our investments are doing very well. I find myself chagrined that our stocks have done so well since the election of that awful man. But there you are. 

The weather has been unseasonably mild and we still have butterflies on the milkweed and other still blooming plants.  There are still Monarchs, Queens, Gulf Fritillaries, and Longtailed skippers. I'm puzzled about the Monarchs. I thought by now all of them would have gone to Mexico but we still have Monarchs, caterpillars, and chrysalis. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are all spoiled rotten and so are the people.  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Apple-Pecan Muffins

I'm sure that I've posted this before but they are just so darn good that it's worth repeating. 

Apple-Pecan Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
 1 cup sugar 
½ cup canola or vegetable oil 
Nonstick spray or paper muffin cups 
2¼ cups all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
½ teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg 
½ cup milk (whole, low-fat, or nonfat) 
1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature 
3/4 cup pecans

1. Toss the diced apples with the sugar in a medium bowl. Pour the oil over the top, stir well, and set aside at room temperature for 45 minutes. 

2. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. To prepare the muffin tins, spray the indentations and the rims around them with nonstick spray, or line the indentations with paper muffin cups.

3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a second medium bowl until uniform. Set aside. 

4. Using a wooden spoon, stir the milk and egg into the apple mixture until smooth. Then stir in the prepared flour mixture until moistened.  Add the pecans. 

5. Fill the prepared tins three-quarters full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the muffins have rounded, slightly cracked tops. A toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin should come out with just a few moist crumbs attached. 

6. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Gently rock the muffins back and forth to release them from the tins. Remove them from the pan and cool them for 30 minutes more on the rack before serving. If storing or freezing the muffins, cool them completely before sealing in an airtight container or freezer-safe plastic bags. The muffins will stay fresh for up to 48 hours at room temperature or up to 2 months in the freezer.