Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Around OakMeadows


This morning we had an early morning (8am) HEB curbside pickup for some items left off last Saturday’s grocery list—grapes, bananas, whole wheat bread, and my small canned Cokes. So I went along and we stopped at McDonald’s for an Egg and Sausage Biscuit to share with Angie. We talked about the strange things people believe to be true these days. I’m convinced that the Internet is responsible for the vast majority of it but still people do believe the most nonsensical things.

Yesterday was a grim day in that there are now over 300,000 Covid deaths in the U.S. The good news is that the first round of vaccinations has begun. I have no idea when Joe and I will be eligible for vaccinations but I should think that by March, we will have been vaccinated. Speaking of strange things people believe, there are those who will refuse being vaccinated for one reason or another. (There are valid reasons such as allergic reactions, immunosuppression, etc. for not receiving the vaccine.)  Anyway, I hope enough people will be vaccinated to induce a herd immunity. We shall see.

It is cold and dark with more rain expected. Needless to say, the cats are exceptionally affectionate. The fact that I have a heating pad on my lap is a major reason for.their recently acquired devotion to me.

I am reading two really outstanding books. A Promised Land by Barack Obama is just wonderful. He writes just like he speaks so it’s like listening to him. The other is The Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. I normally detest science fiction but this is so interesting (about the amelioration of climate change in the coming century) and well written that the 563 pages don’t daunt me.

Leftover Beef and Barley Soup and Joe’s bread machine bread toasted and buttered. I have put a container with 2 more servings in the freezer. Such a good meal for a cold, dark, wet evening.


January Menu


January Menu

1.  Beans & Rice & Ham
2. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries 
3. Beef Pot Pies
4. Potato-Leek Soup
5. Chicken-Rice Bake, Squash
6. Cutlets, GMP, Peas 
7. Leftovers 
8. Out
9. Macaroni and Cheese, Corn, Salad 
11. Baked Fish, Fire Roasted Vegetables 
12. King Ranch Casserole 
13. Roast, GMP, Carrots 
  1. Leftovers 
15. Out
16. Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Toast 
17. Chicken Pot Pies 
19. Chicken Tenders, GMP, GB
20. Pizza 
21. Leftovers 
22. Out
23. CB Hash, CSC, Salad 

25. Fried Shrimp, FF, Coleslaw 
26. KFC
27. Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad 
28. Leftovers 
29. Out
30. Coney Islands
31. Out

Friday, November 27, 2020

Favorite Books of 2020


Favorite Books of 2020

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune 
Home Front Girls by Suzanne Hayes
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
The Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler
The Shooting at Chateu Rock by Martin Walker (Bruno, Chief of Police #13)
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson
Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb 
Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer 
Rescuing Ladybugs by Jennifer Skiff
Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere on the Wings of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul

The Blood of Emmet Till by Timothy B. Tyson
The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory by Andrew Bacevich
The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham
The Path to Power by Robert Caro
Ascent to Power by Robert Caro
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson 
Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days by Adam Cohen
Midnight at Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020



Just because you’ve been labeled as a pessimist does not mean things won’t go all to hell.

I am exceedingly pessimistic because unless both Biden wins the presidency and the Democrats take the Senate, nothing will be done about our three looming problems:
     1. Climate change 
     2. The COVID-19 pandemic
     3. The economic fallout from the pandemic and our growing inequality 

I am turning my attention away from the things over which I have no control and focusing on keeping us:
     1. Fed
     2. Housed
     3. Healthy

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Around OakMeadows


Common Buckeye on Blue Mist

    It is another absolutely beautiful day. Highs in the mid 70s and lows in the upper 40s. Clear skies and no humidity.  It is very quiet in the neighborhood and all you hear is the birds, including a couple of very raucous crows. The most spectacular thing though is the blue mist absolutely alive with bees and butterflies. Several times a day I go out and sit still in the scooter right by them and just drink in the beauty. We should have them for at least another week, maybe two.
     Today is Election Day and how thankful I will be when it is over. I hope with all my heart that Joe Biden wins. I cannot understand how people could vote for such an immoral, vulgar person as Donald Trump. I expect we will have a pretty good idea who the next President will be by 10 pm tonight. At least, whichever way it goes, the uncertainty of what will happen will be over. 
     The COVID-19 pandemic goes on. 232,000 Americans are dead from it. I don’t see any let up anytime soon. There may be a vaccine after the first of next year. It will take quite some time to inoculate enough of the population to get the virus under control though. Joe and I have been so fortunate to live here on our beautiful 4 acre Oak Meadows. We’d like to be able to go out to a restaurant or to see a movie or just go into a store but all things considered, we are in really good shape. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Around OakMeadows


Something is blooming and has set my allergies off. I’m taking a non-sedating antihistamine and ibuprofen and never getting more than 2 feet from a box of tissues. It has been so beautiful outside with much improved temperatures so that I just cannot stay inside. I would rather deal with allergies than stay inside.

I’m reading a couple of really interesting books. Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham is about the 1986 nuclear power plant disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine and the response by the Soviet government. Fascinating. I’m also going back and re-reading some old Agatha Christie mysteries starting with The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

The election is just 28 days away. JMM and I voted by mail as we always do. I can’t stand to listen/watch/read all the negative campaign ads nor can I stand any of the Presidential or Vice Presidential debates. I hope will be glad when it is finally over and hopefully Joe Biden is inaugurated January 22, 2021. 

The pandemic continues. 211,544 Americans have died of it. The President and many of the people around him are infected. So far JMM and I remain quarantined and healthy. Being an introverted homebody makes it mentally less challenging for me than for people who are more outgoing. Between housekeeping, cooking, reading, quilting, all the creatures, I am always busy with mostly pleasant activities.

That’s about all for now. Hope everyone has a good week. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Nothing to Fear by Adam Cohen


Nothing to Fear by Adam Cohen

If this had been the usual book about the Hundred Days bringing about the alphabet soup of programs, the CCC, WPA, NIRA, etc., it would have been a dreary book indeed. Fortunately, the author focused on the people who dreamed and imagined and crafted the policies that resulted in the alphabet soup of agencies whose purpose was, as Frances Perkins said, “to take the edge of human misery.”  If you don’t know Raymond Moley, Harry Hopkins, Henry Wallace, Frances Perkins, and others, you will find this a most engaging book. It has certainly spurred my interest in learning even more about these people and this time in America. Not just a good read, an excellent read.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Around OakMeadows


Today the Generac whole house generator was installed. They have to come back one more time actually turn it on and show us how it operates. It is a great relief to know that when the next hurricane blows through, we will have power/air conditioning during and especially in the days afterward. 

We had to have someone come out and repair the garage door opener. Somehow the heavy spring  broke. I am so old that I remember when you had to get out of car, unlock the garage door, and lift it open, then you would drive in  before closing it by pulling it down. 

The wildfires are blazing in California. 2 million acres have burned and several of the fires are completely uncontained. Completely to be expected with climate change. 

55 days until the election. 155 days until the inauguration. I hope I never see or hear anything ever again about the Orange one.

190K deaths from Covid-19. No end in sight. A vaccine may be available in the spring, 2021. We shall see.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Uplifting, Inspiring, Goodness


Henry and Tigger

I’ve been so uplifted by the speeches at the virtual Democratic National Convention. Michele Obama, Barak Obama, Joe Biden, and others were inspiring and a reminder of the goodness of America. It was refreshing and hopeful. I’ve done my best to avoid hearing negative responses. 

We have a tropical storm heading our way. So far it looks like it will be a Category 1 at landfall on Tuesday afternoon. Of course with any storm, it could stall and strengthen or it could go somewhere else altogether.  If it does come as a Category 1, it will bring some much needed rain. I am so hoping that we will have our generator installed before we have a serious storm. Stay tuned.

Today is our Friday for Texas Roadhouse curbside pickup. I miss going into the restaurant but am very thankful we can do the curbside pickup. I refer to JMM as our Uber Eats Guy. Angie loves to go with him and greet the person who brings the food to the van.  Of course, she loves bites of my kebabs even more.  

According to the NYT website, 174,361 Americans have died of Covid-19. It is just incredible. Never would it have entered my mind that this could happen in my America. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Poetry for a pandemic

To be of use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Around OakMeadows

Carolina Wren

We are getting a whole house generator. I have wanted to get one for several years. It is not so much for the occasional power outage but for the power outage that follows a hurricane. I am convinced that climate change will mean more hurricanes and more severe weather in general. We spent a miserable 3 days without power after Hurricane Ike even though we had a gasoline generator to keep fans and the refrigerator going. We are now 12 years older and less able to cope with the heat and humidity. I have 2 companies coming out next week to give us estimates. 

The Covid-19 pandemic continues. Google says 137,000 Americans have died from Covid-19; the NYT says 135,324. It is just hard to comprehend so many deaths. We are in the middle of a surge of cases with the daily death toll climbing.  From what I have read, the sequelae in recovery can be both long and serious. Joe and I remain in self quarantine.

It is very pleasant to sit outside under the trees in the mornings and read and watch the birds come to the various feeders. On a typical day, we see
     Blackbirds (Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds)
     Carolina Wrens
     Carolina Wrens
     Blue Jays 
     Cattle Egrets 
      Little Sulphurs 
      Giant Swallowtail 
      Gulf Fritillary 
      Occasionally a deer
I find watching the Wildlife very helpful in dealing with the isolation of the pandemic. And, of course, my two cats, Tigger and Henry, and my dog, Angie, do their part to keep the circus going.

I just started reading Walter Isaacson’s very entertaining and informative biography of Benjamin Franklin. More on Old Ben later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Covid-19 Update

Covid-19 is certainly running rampant here in Texas. ICUs here in the Houston area are at 97% occupancy.  I am not really surprised because many people have assumed that since businesses, parks, and beaches were open, the virus was gone and life could return to pre-pandemic states. Wrong. The virus is still here and we still have no immunity to it, no vaccine, and no miracle treatment for it. JMM and I have been under no illusions about it and have remained quarantined.  Covid-19 may be with us for a long time before a safe and effective vaccine is available. 

The economic damage this virus is costing is just incalculable. Unemployment is at Great Depression levels and as federal and state unemployment money runs out, people will become homeless as they are evicted because they don’t have the money for mortgages or rent. Very few people have the savings to live without a steady income for very long. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Poetry for the pandemic

On the Other Side
(Lynn Unger)
Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger—or smaller—
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.

A Day in Quarantine Life

A Day in the Quarantine Life

First of all, I must say that my life in quarantine is little changed from non-quarantined. I am mostly a homebody by nature and my hobbies and interests are mostly not socially oriented. Anyway, onward to a day. 

I like to plan my day; I’m not the free spirit who follows the mood of the moment. When I let the mood set the pace, the mood mostly leads to naps and overeating and nothing gets done.   
I get up between 6:00 am and 6:15 mostly because my two cats demand it. They vocally assert that they will die of starvation at 6:30 at the latest if I continue my sloven ways. So first things first, feed the cats, feed the dog, let everyone outside. Shower if it is a shower day—every third day—dress, and clean up the bedroom. Set Roomba going and get a load of clothes going in the washing machine.
Breakfast is usually a hard boiled egg, a piece of fruit, and whole wheat toast. Clean up the kitchen. Exercise with Mary Ann Wilson’s Sit and Be Fit at 8:00 am.
I usually have a cleaning task each day in addition to the normal picking things up, dishes, laundry, and litter boxes.
     Monday—Clean Master Bathroom 
     Tuesday—Clean out a cabinet, drawer, or closet
     Wednesday—Clean out garage or porch
     Thursday—Clean front bathroom
     Friday—Financials and Grocery List
     Saturday—Grocery Shopping (Online order, curbside pickup.)
     One day a week we usually go to a park for a morning walk, depending on the weather. And since this is Houston in the summer, we go early.
As soon as the chore for the day is done, I sit down with my current book and a snack of fruit and cheese.
Lunch is usually leftover something. I like to get everything set up for making dinner before my afternoon siesta. How I appreciate a nice nap! A major benefit of being retired. 
Afternoons are a hodgepodge of quilting, reading, and  writing. Cook dinner, clean up the kitchen, and set up for breakfast.
I used to watch the PBS evening news but recently stopped. I just can’t stand it right now. Evenings are Netflix, Amazon Prime, or listening to audiobooks or podcasts. 
Bedtime is between 9 and 10.
Get up and do it again.

Friday, May 15, 2020

June Menu

June Menu

1. Out
2. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries 
3. Slow Cooker Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup 
4.  Baked Cod/Salmon, GMP, Salad 
5. Chicken-Spaghetti Casserole 
6. Steak, GMP, GB
7.  Leftovers 
8. Out 
9. Macaroni and cheese, Corn 
10. Schwan’s 
11. Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Veggies 
12. Oven BBQ Chicken, Beans, Salad
13.  Schwan’s 
14. Leftovers 
15.  Out
16.  Scrambled Eggs, Canadian Bacon, Toast 
17.  Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup 
18.  Baked Fish, Oven Fries, Salad 
19. Chicken Tenders, GMP, Mixed Veg
20.  Pizza 
21.  Leftovers 
22.  Out
23.  CB Hash, CSC 
24.  Schwan’s 
25.  Fried Shrimp, FF, Coleslaw 
26. Schwan’s 
27. Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad 
28. Leftovers 
29. Out 
30.  St. Wieners, Corn

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Update on Weight Loss Project

When I went for my annual physical last December, I was told that I needed to double the dose of my blood pressure medication.  I knew that my BP was so high because I had gained so much weight. So in addition to doubling my dose of Lisinopril, I determined to lose weight. 

I decided to eliminate sugar from my diet. The big sources of sugar for me were Cokes, orange juice, and desserts. The first few days were complicated as there was sugar in my salad dressing, in BBQ sauce, in bread, and many other items.  I switched to Coke Zero and dropped the orange juice and dessert. (I had to stop the Coke Zero because I had an unusual reaction to aspartame. I now drink iced tea sweetened with Sucralose.)

I weigh only once a month and my goal is to lose 3 pounds per month. I started at 202 pounds and have lost 18.8 pounds. It has been a learning experience but not really difficult. I keep a container of veggies to munch on and have two pieces of fruit every day and eat my normal food. So far, so good. 

Exercise is Sit and Be Fit 30 minutes daily. 

Poetry for a Pandemic

In the Time of Pandemic

And the people stayed home.
And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. 
Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

—Kitty O'Meara

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

My Predictions

Over the months of May and June, U.S. deaths will average 2,000 per day for a two month total of 120,000 deaths. Add that to the current 68,000 and you have 188,000 dead.  I expect July, August, September, and maybe October to be less deadly with outbreaks scattered around the country. By late fall and early winter, the corona virus will be back in strength necessitating another country wide shut down. If past viral trends repeat, the second wave will be more severe than the first. It is possible that we will be better prepared with adequate PPE, a more timely response, and possibly antiviral medications. In that case perhaps the number of deaths will be somewhat lower. It isn’t over, not even close.
Now add in the effects of climate change—>wildfires in the west and hurricanes on the coasts.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Locking Up Our Own by James Forman, Jr.

Locking Up Our Own by James Forman, Jr. 

This book is a history of how we came to have the world’s largest population of incarcerated people. The book makes it clear that we did not suddenly decide to lock of such a large proportion of our own but it came about by a series of incremental steps, each as a result of events of the time.  It is an excellent telling of the story by one who was intimately involved as a public defender. If you read the book, do not skip the epilogue. I’ll say no more because I sincerely hope you’ll read it.