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Thursday, April 25, 2013

almost there...

luggage

It's Wednesday already. I've been packing for our Alaskan Cruise. We leave at the end of the week. Well... I leave. Norman and the boys will be here to take care of the house and the cats. Organizing what one needs for almost 2 weeks is hard... didn't used to be.  Must be an age thing. Then trying to remember and follow all the new flying regulations... what you can and can't take, what you must have 'up front' in plastic bags, etc. as well as making sure you don't have too much luggage or that it weighs over such and such... And packing light when you need heavy warm clothes doesn't help...

Oh well, basically it's done. I wanted to get it all taken care of 'early on' so I had a day to relax and think about how much we're going to enjoy this little adventure.  Everyone I've spoken to that has taken the Alaskan Cruise has loved it. The scenery is supposed to be spectacular. I'm excited about seeing Vancouver and some of the Alaskan stops; Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan..... and possibly 'whales'.  I just hope the seas are calm and the  weather is not too cold. But none-the-less, it WILL be wonderful.

I'm taking a journal, a mystery book,  and my Nikon with me.   Wanted to take some yarn, but doubt that there will be time for crocheting.  My friend has signed us up for some 'excursions'.  I don't know what they are, but they should be fun. I have heard that the train excursion in Skagway is fantastic.

That's about all the news from here. Tux will miss our daily nap together. If it gets close to time and I haven't sat down with a book... he starts to follow me around howling.


Jack on left and Tux on right



Molly's handi-work 

After reading some blogs tonight I decided to do a post similar to Perpetua's... only it isn't my birthday until July.  BTW, Happy Birthday Perpetua! And many many many more! I liked the before 60's and after 60's pictures.  Here's mine.  But since I didn't have any recent ones, I had to try to do a 'self' photo.  It didn't come out too good, but after a few attempts, I decided this one would have to do (can you see the camera in my hand in the bottom right corner? I was looking in the mirror and holding the camera down to my side so the flash wouldn't obliterate my face...  kind of looks like a deer caught in the headlights)

me at 10



me at 67
Something I haven't mentioned, but is preying on my mind a bit is that this weekend is my 50th High School Reunion in New Orleans (which I will miss). I graduated from St. Mary's Dominican High in 1963 and had plans to go to the Reunion until realizing that it was on the same weekend as the Alaskan Cruise. Since we haven't lived in New Orleans in 45 years, we don't see many class-mates.  But I keep in touch with a few (one in New Orleans and one here in Texas). They promised to take pictures and gather info for me.

Tomorrow is my last day to get my ducks in a row for the trip so I doubt that I will have time to post again for the next 2 weeks. And I don't have a laptop... did at one time -  however, it went the way of the kids and grand kids. But I will catch up when I get back (both on my reading and comments as well as posting). And hopefully I will have lots of pictures to share!  Until then, Happy Blogging!

Just a short note to add that today (Thursday) when I went to pack my Nikon, it wasn't working... worked fine yesterday. Trip is tomorrow.  Figures... yes?











  










Saturday, April 20, 2013

Flight...











I believe this is a Blue Heron... took this at the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge.

I have always been fascinated with *flight*.  I especially like to watch seagulls fly and the angles of their wings as they land.  Oh... also entranced by hawks soaring!  Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to do that?  Just glide through the air  like that? I guess the closest we come is with small planes or sky kites that are pulled behind boats or sky divers.  I have flown... in planes and without (in my dreams).  Both are wonderful! In a plane I'm nervous about the take-off and landing, but once in the air, I'm euphoric... and grateful of the opportunity to experience this magic. And in my dreams, well... it's the epitome of freedom. That's all I can say.

When I was young, I dreamed of sky-diving. But like so many youthful dreams, it got pushed to the wayside. Now I've let that dream go... (and I know that I could still do it, but am happy to do it vicariously through DJan ).  But I continue to enjoy watching the flight of birds and trying to capture it both  in photographs and in sketches. I'm not compulsive or obsessive about it (probably not compulsive or obsessive about anything or I'd be better at it).

Anyway, here are a few of my attempts...











and a few more bird photos:








These are Turkey Vultures at the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge.

















Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring flowers and "The Littlest Dragon" story...

This was my Monday morning post which didn't get posted that day after what happened in Boston. It just didn't seem right to blog about beautiful Spring flowers after such a horrific event. And someone on the radio this morning was discussing how more 'resilient' the American public has become.  I'm paraphrasing and probably not doing it well, but the gist was that although Americans are far from the resilience of those living in war torn third-world countries, we seem to be more so now than after 911.  People Tuesday were still out on the streets running in Boston and people were still watching the news of the tragedy in airports and not cancelling their flights, etc. So-oo (I thought) this means what?  I'm still not sure...


Tulips at the Dallas Arboretum

A butterfly on a Mountain Laurel at my daughter's house

I worked last Friday morning at the studio - partially on my chess board - getting ready to under glaze so doing some test tiles with colors (black, rust, black brown, and mahogany). But I also made a few 4x4 tiles with leaves on them to use in my hall bathroom. There's an area between the counter and the wallpaper where the paper has come away from the wall a bit. I plan to scrape that area off and add some of my own tiles. The wallpaper is very muted green/taupe with different shades of green leaves, so I thought I'd make the tiles similar.  While I was doing this, I got the idea to make some small tiles (1.5x2), put holes in the top that I can run a cord through, and then wrote saying on the tiles, like "Take Joy", "Smile", etc. I plan to use blackbird stain on these and then maybe a little clear glaze.





Next is a story  (The Littlest Dragon) that I wrote a while back about a young girl heroine and a dragon. I also sketched out the dragon so that his tiny size would be evident.  It's not an especially good sketch, but it gives you the idea...




and here are some of the children's books I did make for my grandchildren when they were small:




and a page example:



It's all great fun...  They say 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and this is very true, but I also believe that joy is hidden away in the heart and soul of each of us and is found and expressed in so many different ways.








Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Can't blog today...





Sorry. I had a post ready to put in yesterday, but with all that happened in Boston...  just couldn't do it. Don't have much to say here either.  My heart goes out to all those people who started out with such a beautiful day for their run... and ended up in tragedy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Jack, Rupert, and Reginald...


video


Good Morning! Thought I'd start your day off with a video of Jack in one of the many places he likes to check out. Believe me, there isn't a cubbyhole anywhere in this house that Jack hasn't tried to squeeze into. This time I found him sitting in my dishwasher...  I've never tried to post a video before so I'm curious to know if it comes through alright. It won't *play* on the 'preview'. So please let me know if it plays OK when you view it.  Thanks!






Beyond that I'm including some pictures of Rupert (a rat) and Reginald (a rabbit). These two had an unusual friendship which we were privileged to be a party to during the summer of 2005.  We were having some remodeling done to our kitchen when we noticed these two showing up in the backyard a lot together. At first we thought it just coincidence, then when we saw them lying side by side in the sun, we realized that these two critters had become buddies. Our remodelers noticed also and asked us if we had seen them... of course we said yes, we knew. The rat (which by that time we had named Rupert) and the rabbit (which we called Reginald) were friends.  The squirrel showed up occasionally, but not daily...








If you make the pictures larger, you can see them better...
As you can see, our backyard is a constant source of entertainment.





Thursday, April 11, 2013

some of the outside menagerie... and an update on Jack

Cold, damp, and raining again. I was taken by surprise by the temperature when I went outside this morning to go to class.  It was COLD!  And yesterday had been in the high 70's.  I knew it was suppose to rain and the temp would drop, but I didn't expect this. Had to return inside for a scarf, coat, and umbrella.

Our 'outside cats' which are mostly ferals and neighborhood strays stay close to our back porch on cold rainy days. The porch is covered and provides protection from the rain, and there are baskets with hay and chairs with blankets...  as well as food and water. On really cold days we have hanging heat lamps. And on hot summer days, there is a ceiling fan and child's plastic swimming pool.  Several generations of strays have grown up here. One of these is Bootsie.  She's a little black and white DSH that we've tried to catch and spay for a few years now. She is sweet, but smart and although she spends a lot of time around us, will not let us too close. Here's a picture of her up in a tree over the bird feeder. And the other picture is one of her with her daughter, Socks. Now Socks is a lot friendlier than Bootsie.  She may eventually let us close enough. We're trying. She will play with a toy through the kitchen door and runs to it when she sees us. but so far... no touching. However,  time will tell.






This bottom pic is of a SiameseTom that comes around a lot. We call him 'Sam'.  He doesn't stay... eats, causes havoc, then leaves until it's time to eat again. He has beautiful blue eyes (had to red-eye out them). We believe he actually lives somewhere close by... and just comes visiting because although we don't pet him, he doesn't seem to be afraid of people.

And here's a photo of our inside black and white siblings, Jack and Tux as they squeeze their fat selves into a Christmas basket.  (Tux has white face, Jack has black nose)




And news is that Jack is still not his ol' self.  He hasn't eaten in the last 2 days and is laying quietly in his box. When we pet him and bring him water, he drinks and purrs, but his gums and ears are very pale. We will probably bring him to the Vet's tomorrow if he continues this way. But... they have told us before that there is nothing they can do. His body is destroying his red blood cells and it's only a matter of time. However, he has always 'sprung back'... and hopefully, he will be able to do so again. There is another black and white sibling,  little Julie.  She is half the size of her brothers... but she is very independent.  Tux and Jack have been extremely close their whole lives and I worry how Tux will do when Jack passes.

Julie


I probably should have put all this cat info on my 'Cat, Chocolate, and Coffee' blog.  Oh well, too late. 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cat moments, a few old sketches, and a rice pudding recipe

Thibs needed his glasses to help me with some computer work.



Thibs and Molly sitting on my cluttered desk



Tux resting his head on my hand while I read




The next are some of my old sketches - mostly from books that I read and loved their watercolor illustrations.  





I'm self-taught so my attempt at watercoloring isn't so great, but I sketched this next page and then watercolored it.



I missed class Monday (yesterday) as I wasn't feeling 'up to par'... but doing better today. Not sure what it was, but didn't have the energy to get up and go to the studio. And usually I can't wait to get there and start working on my projects. It was probably the first class I've missed this semester. Of course I'll miss several when we leave on the cruise, but I informed the Instructor of that happening at the beginning of the Spring term. Made myself go to Yoga today and did fine. In fact, he put us into some difficult positions and I may feel the extent of those tomorrow. But still I'm glad that I went.

BTW, the rice pudding came out fine - not great - but good. DH liked it. I felt it needed *something*... like a touch of bourbon or some fresh sliced peaches, etc. But I will post the recipe. It's certainly easy enough to make.

7 oz Arborio rice
4 cups water
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 cups whole milk
6 oz cane sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in half

Combine rice, water, and salt and cook on medium heat until water boils. Boil for 2 mins (rice will get translucent on the outside).  Drain and rinse in mesh colander.

In medium pot, combine the rinsed and drained rice with milk, sugar, and vanilla bean. Cook on low to medium heat stirring occasionally until liquid slightly coats the back of a wooden spoon (this took a fairly long time, but it eventually got thick).

Remove from heat and serve warm or cool in refrig. and serve cold (it thickens quite a lot as it cools).




Monday, April 8, 2013

things that make me laugh...

You readers may think I'm a bit *off* after this post, but there are some pictures that I've come across that really make me laugh.  Here are a few of them:






























AND







I hope none of these offends anyone, but it's Monday and I really needed to laugh...


Sunday, April 7, 2013

a few cat pics...




It's Sunday morning and I've spent it drinking coffee and reading blogs. Well, not totally, I also cleaned up my computer room a little - while looking for a recipe that I had mislaid.   I've nothing much to write about today. DH is in the process of making us a batch of his wonderful Red Beans and Rice.... so the house smells wonderful.

I had come across what was promised to be a 'secret recipe for rice pudding'.  I love rice pudding, but like everything else, some recipes are better than others. So I'm going to try this one.  It calls for using arborio rice and a vanilla bean?  Sounds interesting.

This is Texas and while I was freezing on Wednesday (weather was in the 40's I think) and DH had turned off the heat in the house, today it's supposed to reach the 80's (more my speed). Sometimes I just get so-o cold that the only thing that will warm my blood back up is a very hot shower.  When I get this cold, I can touch DH on the arm and he will say, "God, you're freezing... how can you be alive?" But my daughter is the same way.  DH and the boys seem to be more hot blooded.

Well, it should be a good day to work on my hanging herb baskets. I try to keep basil, parsley, rosemary, and lavender in hanging baskets by the front door. This way the entry smells sweet and they are close by for culinary use.

A few cats pics:


 





    Tux among the towels







Jack playing...











Jack and Tux...






Waiting our turn...









Playing with bubbles...

                                                                                               






Playing with Mardi Gras beads...








Rose loves plastic bags...





Friday, April 5, 2013

Grand daughter's First Easter...




Going to extend my Grandmother's privileges... couldn't let the week go by without recording new grand daughter's First Easter.  She didn't know what was going on, but seemed to enjoy all the bright colors. At 4 months she is coo-ing and trying her best to 'talk' - comes out sounding a bit like 'dolphin sounds' but of course it's adorable to us.  Son and DIL record her efforts and send them to us via iPhone along with videos and photos. Wish we had that technology when our kids were young ( I'd love to hear their first little voices again).  I will say that she seems to have perfected 'the raspberry'...




Other grand kids were down in the hill country enjoying Easter at my daughter's.  But the cats here also had a good Easter. Jack was feeling better and even though it thundered and rained Easter morning, the sun came out by afternoon so we were able to take a walk (with the stroller) around the neighborhood. And  the outside cats, who hang about on the back covered porch when it rains, were able to get out and romp in the grass.

Now it's already Thursday and probably time to start thinking about putting away all the little bunnies and chicks that have popped up here and there this past week.  However, there's no hurry... right?

My friend gave me a new recipe that she thought I'd like... a meatball and spinach or kale pizza. I'm thinking about trying it with tiny meat balls and fresh baby spinach leaves on one side and just meatballs on the other (boys are not spinach fans, but I am). It has cheese and a white sauce (not red) so-oo it sounds interesting. Will let you know how it goes over.

I also crocheted  another 'slouchy hat'.  This one actually fits. With our Alaskan Cruise only a few weeks away, I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row. I used some old yarn that I already had at home and it seems to go well enough with my blue fleece vest...




Another post I read today mentioned encyclopedias and reminded me of our old set that I grew up with... Richards Topical Encyclopedia copyright 1933.  Took a picture to post here. I loved this old set growing up. Spent many a day perusing through it. Now... we no longer need encyclopedias for information since we have the Internet which is fast and efficient.  But when you love books, it's hard not to miss them.







and couldn't close this without a cat pic!


Little Julie (sister to Jack and Tux)