Friday, July 31, 2009

Food of the Gods



Pearl is a 'Jill of all trades' right now. 

She's discovering what she's interested in doing when she grows up and she's also finding her way in her hobbies.

As of this writing.  The grown up job will be marine animal something.  Preferably, training.  Preferably with Sea Lions.

The hobbies are wide and varied.  It has always included art.  Last year, quite by mistake, it became theater and singing.  
Lately it has been decadent desserts. 
 The dessert to pictured above has a very simple title but a very complex taste.  It's Figs in Puff Pastry.  Please click on it, so you might enjoy all the yumminess you can via a photograph.
For those of us lucky enough to eat them, they are sinful.  

We are lucky enough to have a wild fig tree growing not far from the house.  Right now, these same figs are going in the grocery store for $9 a pound!  The only price we pay for our figs are a few chigger bites.  More than anything, we are amazed that the tree produced any fruit at all.  We are 25 inches behind in our rainfall.  The temperature has been over 100*  at least 45 times since the beginning of May.  Those things are not conducive for anything to grow, let alone a fruit bearing tree.

This recipe was harvested out of the latest issue of Good Housekeeping, but I'll repeat it here, since it's so easy.
Ingredients:
Figs
Plain Yogurt
Honey
Puff Pastry
**********************
Cut the puff pastry into equal size squares.  Bake as directed on the box.
While they are baking, sweeten the yogurt to your liking with honey.  
Once the pastry is cool, cut the figs into bite size pieces.  Slice pastry in half, add a generous amount of honey sweetened yogurt and figs.
Drizzle with extra honey if you like.
Enjoy.

As my sister says, "Sugar, Butter, Flour, what's not to like!"
This recipe has all three things. :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

If I Can't See Her...

...then she can't see me.

 You know how little kids will play hide-and-seek and think if they can't see you, then you can't see them.
This rather large grasshopper must still be in kindergarten then.  
I would normally do away with such a large, garden eating critter, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  He was eating on a plant that I didn't care a thing about.  He obviously likes it a great deal, because he's been there for several days.

I did a Google search to see if grasshoppers have a chameleon ability to take on the color of the plants they are on.  It doesn't look like they do, but I found it interesting that this guy was the color of the dead leaves he was munching AND I've never seen one this color in our area before.  

Maybe I've discovered a new species.  Better call National Geographic and get some people out here right away.




Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prayers for Fatty

I don't know these people.  Well, not really.  I know them from cyberspace.  They don't really know I exist.  I've been following their story for quite some time.  You see, the man in the picture is named Elden.  He goes by Fatty.  He began writing a blog about his need to lose weight with the help of his mountain bike and lots of good friends.  He's funny and can find humor in the most mundane things.
I don't ride mountain bikes, and so you may wonder why I read his blog.  I read it because he has a side-story to his blog.  His wife is dying of cancer.  When I first began reading, it was when my mom was sick and for some reason I needed to read his blog.  His wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, but seemed to have gotten on the other side of it after her mastectomy much chemo and radiation.  Obviously, it came back.  She is now in the last stages of her disease.  It has spread to her bones and her brain.  She is at home with family and hospice.
They seem like awfully nice people, like that matters.  Cancer doesn't care.
  
The internet with all its availability to the awfulness in the world, redeems itself by making it possible for me to pray about and be concerned about people I don't even know.  It makes it possible for me to send out an emergency email in the time it takes to press 'enter'.  Like so many other things in this world, it's whether you use it for good or evil.  I choose good.

So, if you are of the praying sort, please pray for Fatty and his family.  Please pray for a peaceful passing for his wife of 21 years, Susan.  Pray for their 4 children.  School's about to start and he's worried about their ability to get through the year with this happening right before school starts.  Kids just want to be like other kids, not whispered about because their mom just died. How will he deal with the sorrow of his children, when he's devastated himself?  Pray for Elden.  He's feeling what any of us would be feeling.  He adores his wife.  He can't imagine life without her and is plenty ticked off that he was unable to fix it.  After all, "isn't that what husbands are supposed to do---take care of their family and protect them? "  He knows better, but there is not right or wrong feeling when loved ones are dying.  
IMG_0390


Monday, July 27, 2009

A LIttle Help from Above

Technically speaking, I didn't need the help knowing whether my pomegranates were ripe.

  Also, my help didn't arrive from heaven, she arrived from the branches of a Live Oak tree.
She, being one of the many squirrels that have found their way to my neck of the woods.
Believe it or not, when we first moved here, there were no squirrels.  The first one didn't appear until 3 summers ago and was alone until last year.  
I guess she invited a couple friends home from church or where ever nice squirrels go to meet other squirrels.  We now have at least 8. Watching the 3 newest babies play like puppies in the trees puts a smile on my face every time. 
Yea, I know they are troublemakers for most folks.  I just can't help but admire their moxie, acrobatics, and problem solving skills.   I guess I can spare a pomegranate or two.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Everything is Bigger in Texas

This is an Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus octulatus).  Its latin name sounds like a spell out of Harry Potter.  Its 'eyes' aren't eyes at all.  Scientists normally think of the false eyes as a protection against predators, but this kind of beetle has a much cooler response.  It jumps straight up in the air and lets out a loud click, thus the name.
Its life cycle can take from 4-8 years to complete.  Most of it spent underground as a larvae known as the wireworm.  I found two completely different ideas about the usefulness of the larvae.  Several sites mention the destructiveness of the wireworm to crops.  Others mention that the wireworm as a voracious predator of wood boring beetle larvae.  In other words, they are good guys.  No site mentions both ideas.  Hmmm?

It doesn't look so big in the first picture, but the second picture gives you the true size.  At least my nail is clean(ish).  I'm not a big fan getting this near large insects, but I know that this one is harmless.  Lee brought one in the house the other night.  On his hand.
I'm fascinated by bugs, but do not need to hold them and really don't need them in the house. He took it outside.  He's good that way.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hey Y'all

Just as a reminder, when the title is 'Hey Y'all',  I'm fixin' to blow a gasket. If I cursed, I'd curse a blue streak. Sailors would blush.  
These are not my pictures.  They could be though.  
Yesterday evening my chickens were agitated and all looking in the same direction, so I went to investigate.

Two pretty German Shorthair Pointers were running full bore on the street above our land. I, being the sucker that I am, jumped in my truck to retrieve them before they made it to the highway.  All the while, I'm praying (really!) "please let them have tags, please let them have tags".  I guess I gave God too short a notice, as neither girl was wearing a tag or collar.  Shoot!

Both dogs were covered in cactus spines, tongues hanging all the way out, and glad to see a friendly face.  They hopped right in the Expedition.  I called my neighbors who are having work done on their house and aren't living there to see if I could put the dogs in their yard until I found their owner.  I did just that.  I fed and watered them and pulled out all the cactus spines. Lovely dogs.  I made a plan--go home, check Craig's List lost and found, post a 'found'. Tomorrow, I would wake up and find that my Craigs List ad had been answered and I wouldn't have to haul both dogs to the vet to check for a microchip.

As I left the dogs began barking.  They didn't stop barking all night long! 
Let the rant begin. What this means is, I do a lot of talking to myself.  I do a lot of yelling at thin air.
Their barking was so loud that I had to turn on a fan to keep from hearing them. Why can't people put collars and tags on their dogs! What are they barking at?

Morning arrived and I went over to let the workers at my neighbors house know about the dogs.  I ask them to be sure not to let them out.  I would be back in 20 minutes to take them to the vet.  One guy says, "Why don't you just let them go, those huntin' dogs could probably find their way home."   Red flags should have been waving in my face, but I hadn't had my coffee.  I looked out the window 5 minutes later, only to see two Pointers sprinting across my pasture!  Joe Bob construction worker says, "They jumped the fence." when I get over to the house.  I suppressed the desire to let the air out of his tires.  

In my truck again, I go to find them. "CeeCee, just let them go.  Let someone else worry about it."  I just can't.  They were running toward the highway again.  When I finally catch up with them, they are soaking wet, covered in cactus spines again and bleeding.  They also are so beat, that they can't get in my SUV.  In my race to catch them, I failed to put a tarp down in the back of my vehicle.  By the time we reach the vet to check for a microchip, the inside of my truck is covered in mud, blood and wet dog.  These dogs do not sit nicely in one spot.

"Please let them be chipped, please let them be chipped." --NOT!  Aaarrrgghhh!

Back in the truck.  More blood, wet and mud. The vet informed me that part of the blood I was seeing, was because both dogs are in heat! Really?  How nice. 
Now what!  I can't take them back to the neighbor's yard.  Joe Bob might let them out to find their way home again.  I still need to let the air out of his tires.  Maybe he wants to clean up my truck!  Why the heck can't folks put a simple tag on their dog!!! Dogs can't talk!!

Once home, I let the dogs out in my garage and try to form a new plan.  I have never, ever, called animal control, but I did today.  They never called back.  
I checked Craig's List again, and called all the local vets and dog boarding places.  I want to believe the best about people.  "Maybe they were being looked after by a kid while their owners went out of town and they got loose.  Maybe they just got baths and got loose.  Maybe....."

Angels must have whispered in my ear  "Hey, CeeCee, go back to Craig's List and check the Pets section instead of Lost and Found" as I surveyed the work ahead of me in my truck.  Angels were needed, because I was thinking of all the devilish things I was going to say to the owners if I ever found them.  Why was I looking for them?  Shouldn't they be looking for me?  I swear, every time I find a dog, I end up locating them through hours of investigative work.

There, from 3 weeks ago, is a "lost" notice in the 'Pets for sale' area.  Three weeks!  The dogs look waaaayyyy too good to have been missing that long.  I immediately emailed the person and waited.  I didn't have to wait very long.  She called within 20 minutes.

Here's our conversation.  It happens to be nearly the exact same conversation I had with the owners of the last dog I found. I'm not kidding.

Her: Did you find my silly dogs?

Me: Yes, how long have they been gone, you must really miss them.

Her: Since last night.

Me: Huh?  Your ad on Craig's List says they got loose on July 6th.

Her: Oh yea, they get loose all the time.  We can't seem to keep them in the yard.  Don't know how they are getting out.

Me: Oh.  If this happens all the time, why don't they have collars and tags?

Her: Oh, they just chew them off each other, so we don't even bother.

Me: Uh, when I had them at the vet, they said they aren't microchipped either. Oh, btw, they vet said they are both in heat.

Her: Great!  I hope they didn't find any male dogs.

Me: Is this their first heat? How old are they?

Her: Three

Me: Microchipping can help if someone finds your dogs and they can't wear collars.

Her: We've thought about doing that if we ever get them fixed.

Me: (((Speechless))) CeeCee, don't scream at this woman!  

Her: Can I come get them now?

Me: Yea, please (gave directions).

I could tell when she came to get them, that she really wished I hadn't found her.  I could tell she was tired of them running off.  She had four boys in the car, all under 10 years old.  Of course she was tired.

My rant, in a nutshell is this:
Don't own a dog if you really don't have time for it. Certainly don't own two dogs!
If you do own a dog, PUT  A DANGED COLLAR AND TAGS ON IT!!!
DOGS CANNOT TALK!  DON'T MAKE ME SEARCH YOU OUT BY HEADING TO THE VET EVERY TIME YOUR DOG GOES MISSING.  I COULD CALL YOU THE MINUTE I FIND THEM INSTEAD OF HAVING TO TAKE MY TIME TO PUT THEM IN THE TRUCK AND HEAD OUT IN HOPES THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE A CHIP.   
IF YOU LOVE YOUR DOG, AND YOU WOULD WANT THE VERY BEST FOR HIM, DON'T MAKE THE PERSON THAT FINDS YOUR DOG, JUMP THROUGH HOOPS TO FIND YOU. I DON'T CARE IF YOU JUST WASHED THEM, OR THEIR TAGS KEEP YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT, OR THEY CHEW EACH OTHER'S COLLARS OFF--FIGURE SOMETHING OUT.  KEEP A TAG ON YOUR DOG!!

I feel better now.  Thanks for listening.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

Not a drought buster, but the first measurable rain at my house since April 17th.  




Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Official.

 The last 30 days are the hottest 30 days on record in Austin. 
Ever.  
Since the late 1800s.  
Not that the information is important to any, but those of us in Austin.  Just a blog for historical reasons, I guess.
It might get down into the upper 90's this week.  WooHoo, better break out my parka again.
Oh, with those 95*-99* temps we have a 10% chance of rain.  
Umbrellas at the ready.

This is a picture is of my own El Niño.  
I'm praying the weather gurus are right about the weather El Niño brewing in the Pacific for this winter.



Ladylike Behavior



































Emily Post, I am not. 
 
I do know that some view it as proper for ladies to sit with legs crossed at the ankles and not the knees. I think the real reason behind that was so one's calves would not be exposed in a "look at me" way in dresses.  

I know I have better luck with proper posture in a chair if I have my legs crossed at the knees.  

Both my furry girls have their own version of what it proper.  Smokie sticks with the 'crossing at the ankles', while Mandy prefers the 'ankle under' method shown here.  She is like my daughter in that way.  Pearl can often be found sitting with one leg curled up under her.  Not in a dress though! She wasn't raised in a barn.  Not that I haven't tried, but Lee won't let us build a barn.  He knows Pearl and I will just put more 4-legged things in it.
I digress.
How do your 4-leggeds cross their legs? 




Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 167 Challenge

Okay, I'll admit it.  I can't think of anything interesting to write about, but want to write.  It's the opposite of how I often feel.

I've decided to post a bit of a challenge.  Today is the 167th day of the year.  The cutie-patootie picture you see to the left is the 167th picture in my digital picture catalog.  


There are currently 13,568 pictures in my catalog, stretching back to 2001.

This picture comes from the year Lee and I surprised the kids with a trip to Disney World for Thanksgiving.  We packed all their bags while they were at school and loaded them in the back of the van.  Made arrangements with the neighbors to look after the house and dogs.  We then took them to dinner at one of our favorite pancake houses (Jim's) and then about mid-meal we made our announcement.  Tom and Pearl just couldn't believe it.  James was too young to really understand, but he was excited because they were excited.  After dinner, we jumped in the van and headed for the airport.  It was so much fun.  

The picture was taken the next morning at a 'Character Breakfast' in the Magic Kingdom.  Winnie, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet were in attendance.  Breakfast with friends from the Hundered Acre Wood was the perfect way to start the day.
*******************************************************************
So, the challenge is:  If you don't have anything in particular to post about today, consider looking back at old photos and telling the blogging world about picture 167.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brain Drain

I don't have anything thoughtful or interesting to write about today.  I'm preparing my mind and body for our 28th day above 100*.  
James and I are getting ready to head out to do some errands before it reaches that triple digit number.  At least there's a breeze.
I looked out the window the other day and swore one of my chickens was dead because of the heat.  She wasn't, but it still gave me a scare.  It's just so hot that they don't move around much.  She laid in one place for over 2 hours.

My garden---very few things are hanging on. My 'Early Girl' tomato is doing great because I just plopped it in the ground in a fairly shady place.  It was the only space I had left.  It worked out for 'her'.  Believe it or not, one of my heirloom tomatoes continues to hang on--'Green Zebra'.  My watermelons have set 3 melons and I bet that's all I get.  My winter squashes aren't setting fruit and just soak up water.  They may have to go. I pulled up my cucumbers a few days ago.   My sweet potatoes are in heaven with this heat.  I just have to make sure they get a drink every few days and they're happy as clams.  "Happy as a clam"---where did that come from? Geez, now I have to Google it. (rolls eyes)

Every year our church takes a Back-to-School boat trip.  It's one of those party barges that you can rent for 4 hours at a time.  This year's trip is in peril.  Our lake is now down 27 feet and it continues to drop about 1-2 feet a week.  I know everyone still wants to go, but I wonder how much fun it will be if hundreds of people on the lake are gathered around one or two deep spots?

Ah well, I leave you with the cool colors of my Morning Glories.  These are the ones James hides behind every day to read.  What's fun about these Glories is that they don't wither after the morning has passed, even in this heat.  Their color fades from bright purple/blue to slightly pink before they fall off.  They are open all day.  Blue has never been one of the colors I like in a garden, but I welcome its cool feeling reprieve in this weather.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Secret Garden


I remember these sorts of places when I was a little girl.  A cool, shady spot that no one else shared.  
Morning Glories provide a welcome wall of coolness in the mornings for James to sit and read.  He's the only one that claims this spot.  I would never dream of changing one thing about this place.  The vines have begun to grow willy-nilly onto the ground, but I think it makes his place all the more restful and hidden.  

Calvin and Hobbes are there with him to keep him company.  Perfect light reading for a perfect hideaway.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Stills

The theme for Sunday Stills this week is:
Texture 
When I think texture, I immediately think of something rough.  
Here's what the dictionary has to say about it.
The characteristic appearance of a surface having a tactile quality.

In other words, how does it feel?


Soft


Sharp


Smooth


Rough

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

Not a very original title, I know.  My brain is just tired.  Any conversation I have with stranger and friends alike, always mentions the weather.
It is shaping up to be the hottest, driest year ever in Austin, TX.  I said, EVER.  
On average, we have 11 days above 100* for the entire year.  So far, since the middle of May, we've already had 20!  We still have 3 months of summer left.  Our summer temperatures last well until the end of September.  Just last summer we had a record 50 days above 100*.  The forecast has us beating that.  If there was ever a time Texans didn't want to "win" by beating one thing over another, that time is now.

Our local lakes have dropped an astonishing 27+ feet already and there is NO rain in sight.  Not for the rest of the summer.  I'm not kidding.  Short of a hurricane in the gulf, it probably won't rain any appreciable amount until the El Nino gets moving in October in the Pacific. I sure don't want a hurricane so we can have some rain, though.  I saw on the news the other night that the lake I'm speaking of (Lake Travis) was once lower than it is now.  Sometime in the 1950's it was down 47 feet!  Still had water in it, but not much.  

If it doesn't rain, we're going to have do some major rethinking about the water supply at our house.  We are on a well.  At some point, the aquifer is going to drop lower than our pump---then what?  We have no access to 'city' water.  We don't even have fire hydrants in our area. Those folks that throw cigarette butts out car windows are not welcome in our neck of the woods.  

I wonder if weather has always been bizarre and we just didn't hear about it?  I know I have blogger friends in Maine that are so wet that their gardens are nearly a complete loss.  The immediacy of the computer age enables us to know things that we might never have heard about otherwise.  Weather is just one of those things.

So, this blog really has no ending.  No lesson learned.  Just me, posting for posterity.  Today's forecast: 98*, sunny, no rain.  WooHoo, a cold snap. :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Kiss and a Band-Aid


A kiss and a band-aid would often be all that was needed to make the hurt go away when they were little.  Sometimes, it would take the addition of a cookie or a ticklefest.  Back then, their hurts were mainly physical.  If it were emotional, it was short-lived.  A playmate might have taken a favorite toy.  
As they've grown, so have their hurts.  Physical hurts are now healed with Advil.  James still needs the occasional band-aid. Actually, James still primarily needs band-aids.  Pearl and Tom, however, have moved into the hurts that are more emotional in nature.  
They have moved into that outer circle of their lives where other people can kick them when they are down, break their hearts into a million little pieces, take advantage of their good natures, and just plain take advantage of them.  

Yesterday, one of my big kids was awake a 6am.  Lee and I knew right away that something was wrong.  While a parent of kids their age can hope for fever or vomiting, it is almost always going to be an emotional hurt.  No band-aid or cookie or hug can make heartbreak go away.  No amount of talk and "I've been there, I know exactly how you feel." can make them feel better.  Only time can make them feel better.  Yesterday, was the first time I have felt completely out of control and felt the need to get involved in the cause of the heartache.  After all, parents are supposed to fix the hurt, aren't they?  

Lee is always the voice of reason, and he encouraged me to stay out of what was hurting our kiddo.  It would either work itself out, or it wouldn't.  We would just have to remain on the sideline and let our child know that we would stand by for anything that was needed to help the hurt.  

By mid-morning I was in tears.  I knew the hurt so intimately.  I knew just exactly the feeling that my child was having.  It's that hurt where you feel like you are having a heart attack.  It must be where the term 'heartache' came from.  It's that 'can't breathe' sort of ache.  I also knew that my kid had a long road ahead of healing.  A road that's full of pot holes, and even sink holes.  A road that would threaten to swallow them whole.  

Parenting books are full of good advice about diet, rashes, temper tantrums and things far more serious.  Still, I don't think there is a "What to Expect When You're Expecting Heartache" book.  Yesterday I just had to go with my heart and with prayer.  I did know what not to say. Some folks feel like they need to acknowledge another person's pain with things like, "it was meant to be this way, he/she must not have been right for you, you'll find someone else...". However well meaning, those words just rub salt in the wound.

Yesterday was probably my hardest parenting day ever, outside the first month of any of my kids lives.  A ticklefest, hills of hugs, a gross of band-aids, a million kisses, and a bakery full of cookies was not going to fix it.  Only my ears, my time and my sympathy would do.

What I must do, is tell how proud I am of the child I'm speaking of.  The entirety of the hurt was mostly a misunderstanding.  By days end, it was worked out.  The broken heart was mended.  I don't expect to always be this lucky.  One day, the hurt will stay.  Time will be employed to help heal the wounds.  I will be employing the help of prayer to get me through the next time.  

The one thing baby books don't tell you is this: When they are little is the easy part.  Enjoy the magic of the band-aid.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Boomerang Comes Back


 I  received an award back in June from In the Shadow of Juniper Hill  and it has come back around to me again.  I'm humbled to think that two bloggers who don't know each other (at least I don't think they do) have given me this award.  

 
This time it was given me by Penny, over at Back to Basic Living.  I've decided, just for fun, to try to come up with 10 more things most folks don't know about me.

1.) I once flew out of Houston on front end of a stage 1 hurricane (in an airplane, silly).  Our flight was delayed by a whole day and when we took off, it was not a good time.  In fact, I was sure we'd all die.  I didn't fly again for 2 years.  I had to go see a psychiatrist before I could even do that.  I read a book all about airplanes and fear of flying and was suddenly fine.  Knowledge is Power!

2.) I spent half a summer photographing a pair of black vulture chicks that my daughter found when they were still in the eggs.  They were so ugly that they were cute.  I was crushed when I discovered both of them dead.  Likely from starvation, based on their bodies.

3.) Part of the reason I went hunting with my dad, was because I had a mad crush on his best friend's grandson.  He was 4 years older than me, but that didn't matter.  I showed my undying love for him by continually being a better shot than he was. I could also gut a goose faster than him.  I never understood why he didn't think too much of me. :)

4.) I cut the back of my thigh open when I was 5.  It required 80+ stitches to close.  I did it by standing on an upended (empty) fish tank.  I wanted to get to something that was just out of reach.  I jumped up---the rest is gory history.  

5.) I broke the rules once and got just what was coming to me---Road a motorcycle, without a helmet, wearing a tube top, shorts and flip flops.  My friend and driver, laid the bike down on a gravel road.  Major road rash was my constant reminder that summer that I shouldn't have even been on the motorcycle.

6.) When I was five, I wanted to be a dolphin (in the summer) or a horse (when the pool was closed) when I grew up.  Neither one worked out for me.  

7.) I love crime dramas.  Don't call me after 9pm most weeknights because of CSI, the Mentalist, Criminal Minds, Numb3rs. 

8.) My favorite book(s) of all time are the Little House on the Prairie series.  I got the entire set for my 11th Christmas.  I've read them all, dozens of times.  Not one of my 3 kiddos was even remotely interested in reading them.  Where did I go wrong!?

9.) There are two movies, that I can come in on in the last half hour and still cry like a baby---Forrest Gump and Cast Away.  Funny, they're both with Tom Hanks.

10.) I wish I'd have seen "Saving Private Ryan" before my dad died.  It would have explained so much to me about what he went through and why he was such a mess my entire life.   I would have been far more forgiving of the him the last 5 years of his life.  World War II was NOT glamourous and honorable like the movies in the 40's and 50's made it out to be.

Global Warming is Here

Lago Vista is about 30 miles from my house, as the crow flies.  Good thing, too.  I'm not too sure my air conditioner could fight temperatures like theirs.  
I guess I could do all my cooking outside, which would save turning on my oven and heating up the house.  On the other hand, I suppose opening and closing the door to get to my baked goods would bring heat in anyway.  

Wait, it says that it feels like -460*!  I'd need to break out a parka to make cupcakes.  That would be okay, except I don't have a parka.  Cupcakes, hhmm, better rethink that idea.  Those temperatures are better suited for pizza or homemade bread.  Great, I'll get to gain weight while I'm either dealing with +460* or -460*.

With the humidity level hovering at a very dry 19%, it will feel hot (or is it cold), but it will be a dry heat.  That makes me feel better.

I better run out this morning before it gets to those temperatures again and bring in the chickens.  Don't want to have baked chicken for dinner, do we?  Hhmm, baked chicken.  Isn't chicken considered a lean meat?  I wouldn't gain weight?  
I know which chicken Lee would vote to leave outdoors.  



Monday, July 6, 2009

Green Zebra



Come on, admit it.  This is the first picture that came to your mind.  Until about four months ago, it would have been mine as well.



Back in March, I planted several varieties of heirloom tomatoes with high hopes of a bumper crop that would last all summer.  
Didn't happen.  Not even close.
Out of the 8 different kinds that I planted, only 3 have produced.  I was told that heirlooms are finicky.  I thought I could overcome that problem with love and water and seaweed extract.  What I didn't count on was extreme temperatures starting in May, and a second summer that appears to be rain-free.
In May, I had ginormous plants that were not setting fruit.  I needed my garden for other things, if these weren't going to comply with my golden rule.

"Produce or Perish"

The deer very much enjoyed 'Marianna's Peace', 'Pineapple', 'Aunt Ruby's German Green', 'Cherokee Purple', 'Rose DeBerne', and 'Pruden's Purple'.


What did survive and produce fruit were the 'Black Krim', 'Taxi' and the lovely 'Green Zebra' that you see here.  The Green Zebra is bit bigger than a golf ball, and striking in fresh tomato dishes.  Darn tasty to boot.  
What does it taste like?  Well, it tastes like a tomato.  
Would I grow it again next year? Sure.  It has proved that it can withstand the horrors of Austin summer and still produce. 







Let Them Eat Cake, Part II


Back in May, I posted about making a cake for one of my best friend's daughter.  She was turning 18.  May became a crazy month with the kids, as it always does.  There is a constant barrage of projects due, awards ceremonies, standing watch to see if help is needed studying for finals, teacher gifts, making sure they get enough sleep, and on and on.  
This cake was a welcome diversion.  I'll admit, fondant is not my favorite thing to work with after two tries.  I guess I had trouble in wanting the cake to look as perfect as those on the Food Network.  I've long ago given up the need for perfection, but I couldn't kick it with the fondant cakes for some reason.  I guess like anything else in this life--practice makes perfect (or nearly perfect).  
Despite my hangups with perfection, it was a joy to make this cake for Miss D.  She chose one of my favorite TV shows as her theme, CSI.  She and her friends solved a murder mystery as their activity, thus the 'bloody' knife as a prop for the cake. Coincidently, the red food coloring for the fondant looks just like blood. 
The very best part was the lovely Thank You note she sent me just 2 days after her party.  It was well thought out and meant a lot to me.  Thank you notes go a long way with old people like me. :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

July 4 fireworks
I'm going to admit right now that this isn't my picture. My iMac had a mental breakdown yesterday after updating Adobe stuff. It now won't even turn on. Monday, it will be visiting the Apple store at the mall. You know how I love the mall, NOT.

Our plans for today are simple. Lee went to ride his bike with a man I've been acquainted with for years through Pearl's years in Girl Scouts. He lives just one neighborhood over and mountain bikes on the 366 acres behind our property. I've always wanted Lee to ride with him, as Lee's riding buddies live so very far away from us.

I need to get to the grocery store for some supplies and then I'll be chillin' until my youngest cutie, James, gets home from camp. Hooray!! We've all missed him this week. I hope he had a great time, despite a very sad boy letter I got from him just last night. Broke my heart and made me want to get in the car and drive 2 hours to get him. Tom, my oldest, says he felt the same way at camp without me the first time too. He reassured me that James had a great week despite the letter.

This afternoon, G'ma and G'pa are coming over for ribeyes, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and some grilled veggies. Angel food cake, strawberries and homemade whipped cream for dessert. They've been gone for a couple weeks trying to get their house in Arkansas ready to put back on the market. Anybody want a beautiful house on a lake in Northwest Arkansas? Just let me know!

That's all from here. A simple day to be celebrated with many thanks to all those people that have made it possible for us to have this holiday at all.

What will you be doing today?

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Future

A few weeks ago, I blogged about having to kill one of my chickens because she was ill. I was going out of town, and didn't want my family to have to worry about a sick chicken.
I was going to be a counselor for a week at our church camp. I was going to be out of my comfort zone, as the campers are in Senior High. I normally staff the elementary age camp.
I had been told that this camp was sssoooo much easier to staff, as elementary age kids need your care 24/7. Sr. High campers pretty much take care of themselves, get where they are supposed to be, and stay out of trouble for the most part.

I am here to tell you that I'll never staff the younger camp again! The young women in my cabin were amazing. They were funny, smart, accepting, helpful, kept their stuff picked up, shared their secret stash of snacks, loving, got along, beautiful, silly......the list could go on and on.
What I loved most was seeing them become young adults. By the second day, the campers were taking over the planning of our evening worship time. They participated in very deep conversations regarding peace and justice, their vision of who God is, why bad things happen to good people, and several other theological questions.
I found out that many of them don't live sunny, perfect lives back at home. Camp is their one week of escape each year. Their one week to revive and relax. I think we provided them some of what they needed.

My oldest, Tom, was at this camp. I did what I could to stay out of his way, as I didn't want to throw off his camp experience. What was nice was that when he'd see me in the mornings at flag raising, is he'd give me a hug. He could have gone all week and completely ignored me, but didn't. Moms can survive on very little when they have to.

Two of the girls in my cabin are from my home congregation. They graduated last spring and will be moving to college this fall. Tom and 2 other boys from church will be graduating next spring. Where has the time gone? It's a happy/sad sort of feeling. I can say one thing for sure. If these young people are our future, it will be a fine future indeed.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Where the Idea Came From

Do you suppose this little Plains garter snake is where humans got the idea for checkerboards and checkered tablecloths, and plaid shirts, and brick laying? What about laying tile? What would New York City be without checkered cabs?

This little guy was a bit stunned when he got bounced by a soccer ball in the back yard. He was just probably minding his own business looking for breakfast when a soccer ball fell from the heavens and landed right on top of him. Luckily, my son, like me, likes snakes. He came in to find me and we determined that said snakey was just a bit addle-brained from his encounter and not dead.

He normally would not be so anxious to pose for paparazzi, but was glad to be out of harms way. I held him for a bit to make sure he'd be okay, as anything lying still for even a moment will be found by fire ants and quickly consumed.

When he seemed properly peeved that I was holding him, I put him in my garden. Garters are a major consumer of slugs, snails and other plant eating beasties. He's more than welcome anytime. I just hope he stays off the soccer field that is my back yard. Next time he might not be so lucky.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

People often say that Pearl looks a great deal like me.
What I see is a young woman that looks a great deal like herself, with a splash of me added in. More the resemblance is in our mutual love of animals and interest in pursuing a career in caring for them.
I wasn't able to pursue that dream, but I've made do with innumerable pets (both normal and bizarre) and volunteering as a wildlife rehabber.
Pearl spent a week at SeaWorld hanging out with all things wet and wonderful. She's finally old enough to participate in their camp where she gets to learn more about and interact with the animals. We giggle at the fact that she wants to have a career with sea mammals, but live in the mountains. Something tells me that's not gonna happen unless she opens a SeaWorld of her own.

In the pic above, she's tentatively touching one of the Orcas. The trainers were pretty antsy about it, too. I guess the Advanced Career campers were supposed to have some major hands-on time with the whales, but had to wait two days for it to happen. It seems the whales were in a bit of snit about something and they didn't want the campers near them. I guess it would be bad for public relations if a whale ate a camper.
Did you know that SeaWorld also has 'Animal Ambassadors'? Me neither. They appear in public and on TV. Pearl is snuggling a wallaby after she got be a true keeper and clean the cage.
Believe it or not, we have a picture of her at her 4th birthday that's nearly identical to this one. She's always loved snakes. We've had a snake as a pet. This big boa is named Gomez.
Katrina the alligator. She was rescued following the hurricane of her namesake. Who rescues alligators?
I have no clue what kind of lizard this is, and she can't remember. For some reason, big lizards aren't my favorite critters.
She really enjoyed the hands-on with the baby bamboo sharks and the sting rays.
Here she is with Hunter, the sea lion. Gold stars for those that can tell me the difference between sea lions and seals.
While cute and cuddly looking, this Asian Small Clawed otter can be full of spit and vinegar. On the day they were to perform in the Sea Lion show, the two otters decided that having a tiff with one another was more important.
One thing about SeaWorld to their credit---the animals are never made to perform.
One of the many chores Pearl did, was preparing buckets and buckets of fish for the animals. The dolphins were very happy they did.

Another animal ambassador--a Spoonbill.
It might have been 103* outside, but in the penguin enclosure it was 27*. She and fellow campers shoveled 10,000 lbs of 'snow'. They also got to spend a lot of time just hanging out. The penguins were mainly interested to see if anyone had a spare fish in their pocket.
The Beluga whales are what the trainers call, "The marshmallow hamsters of the sea." The are extremely docile and surprisingly squishy to the touch. The campers got a special treat by seeing two brand new babies. One of the Belugas had a calf about 2 weeks before camp. A sea lion had a calf just 2 days before they arrived.
Here's momma sea lion and her baby. Baby is enjoying a snack and momma is enjoying the sun.
I think Pearl liked the sea lions the best. Only time will tell.
I hope she follows her dreams, whatever they are.