Monday, December 30, 2013

making it to 2014... strange tale

Jack and one of his Christmas toys

It's Sunday afternoon and DH and I are both fighting some upper respiratory bug... we sound like croaking bullfrogs underwater.  DH took his Z-pack starting Friday (after the doctor appt) and is doing better than me.  I was trying to do without the antibiotics (you know, as my dad used to say, "stiff upper lip..." and all that).  I do believe my body knows how to heal itself, but as of this afternoon it was taking it's own sweet time (one too many nights coughing and temp of 101) , so I gave in and took the d...n things today. We'll see.  The truth is that I've been fighting *something* for the last 2 weeks, but it was never upper respiratory.  Off and on I've felt extremely tired, general malaise, and headachy since the 13th of Dec. (I remember because it was Friday the 13th when I started feeling bad).  But lots of napping and an occasional Tylenol seemed to keep this *thing* at bay.  Maybe whatever it was lessened my body's immune system to this URI. Who knows?  I just try very hard to be healthy and it makes me (what's the word? - maybe frustrated?) when things don't go as they ought.

Actually I shouldn't be too upset as it's been over 2 years since I've been to our Family Physician. They told me this when DH and I were at our appt. Friday.

Now... it is Monday morning and it was an awful night.  Don't know if it was the meds or ? but I was feeling pretty good most of the day and evening, then about 10 pm my throat (which hasn't bothered me at all previously started to feel funny - kind of thick like my epiglottis was swollen). I figured all the coughing could have done that and continued to watch a TV show (It's a wonderful world), and drank some water. Then I noticed that my heart was beating awfully fast and I felt very jumpy... ?? What was happening?  Surely it wasn't the meds as it had been 10 hours since I took them. I always thought reactions came within a few mins to an hour if there was going to be any.  So I just walked around trying to calm myself. Felt better, went to bed and still felt strange. Finally I thought to take my bp.  If it was normal, then all this must be my imagination. I did.  It was high (high for me as I'm usually a low bp person - 120 or lower).  It was 155. I thought... hm-mm, I'll just stay absolutely still and rest... and take it again in 10 mins.  It was up to 161.  Huh?  Ok, got up walked around a bit more, sat and talked with the cats by the Aga, and about 1:00 am, took it again. 131. OK!! Whatever was happening, was resolving itself. So I finally fell asleep...but jumped  awake several times during the night with nightmares... decided this has GOT  to be the meds. No more antibiotics for me.

Boring tale, yes?  But confusing for me. If anyone has any comments or ideas, I would love to hear them.

Rose finds warm spot...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

the day after...

Grandbaby Christmas afternoon at our house...

Today is December 26, 2013 - the day after Christmas.  DH and I are resting, not shopping. I'm sure there are some great sales out there, but there's nothing we want or need that bad to face those crowds.  What we do need is hot tea, a warm house, and a long nap.

Christmas day was great fun. The kids and grandkids were here and after opening gifts (grandbaby wasn't sure exactly what all the excitement was about), we had a very untraditional Christmas Brunch... in place of the traditional Christmas Dinner... hot scrambled eggs with green chili sauce with honey baked ham on rolled tortillas and a variety of pastries and danish... as well as Christmas cookies and candies galore. And everyone took home a freshly baked rum cake as well as leftover ham.

As most of you know when you have a house-full of cats, they need to be confined when the food is set out.
If not, they will most definitely *help themselves*.  So at about 10 am we started picking up cats and putting them into the master bedroom.  Well, it seems that Ghost, the one who never shows her face when other people are in the house, decided to hide.  And she is a great hider! We looked everywhere - and finally gave up.  She would come out whenever... (certainly not when the kids and grandkids arrived or while they were here).

So... sure enough about 3 pm after the Christmas presents were open, after the Brunch was eaten, after all sat around in the den by the tree and talked and played, and after everyone had gone home and DH and I were sitting on the sofa drinking coffee - a little gray head appeared.  Apparently she had been under the tree the whole time (right in the middle of all the festivities). Now we had looked under the tree... with a flashlight even! But she hid under the tree skirt - and there we hadn't looked.  We named her Ghost because she is gray and was so hard to see as a kitten on our gray slate floors - but over the years she has definitely earned her name.

old pic of Ghost under the tree

Going to close now. DH woke up this morning with a cough. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to check my right ear as it's been acting strange lately... hurt off and on a day or so ago... (and I've never had an ear-ache that I can remember), and now it seems to be popping in and out like I have a cold which I don't. Anyway, I'm going to have it checked  - but if DH is still coughing, I may see if they will let him come with me and be checked also.

AND: I got a book by Dr. Wayne Dyers for Christmas and have been reading it today ("Wishes Fulfilled").  I have to say that his concept of Spirituality is very similar to mine. In this book, he talks about the Higher Self (the God within). I had read  "There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem" some time ago and liked it. But this one seems to really be 'spot on' as the expression goes. If any of you have read it, I'd be interested to know what you think. I don't want to start any religious dialog, just curious to know what you think of the book.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

only a few more days...

We went out to eat with youngest son and his wife and baby daughter last night.  She just had her first birthday last month and is quick to copy everything she sees.  I told them they'd better be careful what they say and do as she is definitely a 'quick study'.  You can see when she watches you that she's going to try to do exactly the same thing... and usually does (to some extent). After dinner we drove around in the car looking at Christmas lights.  I thought that surely she was too young to even notice, but she was entranced... watching all the lights and 'babbling away' the whole time.

Well, with only a few days left before Christmas,  the cookies for family and friends are baked, packed, and on their way.  What few things we did order online have arrived, and  what's left is to wrap a few gifts for grandkids.  I do however need to get some Christmas wrapping paper. Think I'll do that over the weekend. Since we are only having a Christmas Brunch, there won't be much cooking to do.  My plan is to make Chocolate Almond Danish, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, and Ham and cheese scrambled egg tortillas... with lots of fresh coffee and/or eggnog  (and I'll make all but the eggs the day before - so Christmas morning will be fairly free - at least that's the plan).

Have to mention that coming home from errands today I saw a man walking with his goat (yes, goat!) And it was a handsome goat too!  I was driving down through the subdivision and I did a *double take*.  The goat was a dark cream color and his markings (beard, ears, maybe tail) were a dark brown... very handsome. The reason I'm guessing that it was the man's goat (although it's kind of strange to own a goat in a subdivision) is that although the animal was walking about 3 feet behind him, when the man turned and spoke to it, the animal quickly caught up. I wanted to stop the car and take a picture, but didn't.

Merry Christmas!
(from our house to yours)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

only 10 days left...

our tree decorated... no garland and no topper
It's December the 15th... only 10 days until Christmas. The tree is done, except for ribbon or garland... or our angel topper... which we cannot find. It's funny, but every Christmas it seems like we can't find some of our decorations. One Christmas we bought 2 large wreaths to put on the front outside windows. After Christmas we put them away...  never to be seen again.  A mystery?? (maybe... or forgetful Senior Citizens)

If you will notice all the ornaments on the lower third are not breakable.  This is because we find them scattered over the house in the mornings. Apparently the cats who behave themselves during the day have a free for all during the night.

Molly (our 20 year old)  awaiting Christmas on her blanket.

The next picture I took as I was leaving class Wednesday.  The geese were all lying together in a no parking zone.  For whatever reason, I thought this was funny and snapped a pic.

Yesterday and today were "cookie" days as I'm baking cookies now to send off to family and friends this week. So far I've made whiskey balls, teacakes, and espresso shortbread. Tomorrow I will do the chocolate espresso delights, Mexican wedding cookies, and Pecan chocolate bark. I skipped the peanut butter reindeer this year, although if I have time, I may resurrect him... but time is getting short.  

The kids and grandkids were over yesterday for pizza and cookies. Grandson had played with his school band in a Christmas parade earlier.  This grandma didn't have time to cook since she was making cookies all day... but luckily... they are always happy with pizza!

Monday, December 9, 2013

a freezing fog????

the view out my front door - iced trees are really pretty
It is Monday and we are basically still frozen in.  Schools are closed again today. It did get up to 32 yesterday, but slid back down during the night so anything that melted was refrozen.  We also had something the weatherman called  a "freezing fog" come in overnight.  That sounded so strange to me... like you would drive right up and bang into a solid wall of fog.... apparently that was not it.  Anyway, no classes today again.

DH checked out back by the creek this morning. He said we did lose a few trees that had iced over and broke. The one you see in the front is so heavy with ice that it hits the ground, but we hope it will bounce up again when it thaws.

It will get above freezing today, so if the sun comes out - we may be on our way back to normal - although the weatherman says that it will keep dropping down below freezing during the night for a few days which may prolong driving difficulties.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

it's that time of year... for memories

Deb at Just Cats was discussing Christmas ornaments in one of her recent posts and the memories they carry. Now I can't stop thinking about some of those memories.  One of my favorite ornaments is a tiny red bear that I picked up at a stationary shop in Wales - while on a trip with a dear friend. I'd have to check my trip journal to remember exactly which town we were in at the time, but I do remember the shop. It sold stationary as well as these little stuffed animals - about 1" in size.  I bought 3 or 4 (2 bears, a monkey, and an elephant) - gave one bear away and kept the other 3 for the tree. Every time I hang these, I remember that shop and that wonderful trip to Wales.

And here are a few more Christmasy items that help decorate our house:

Christmas cat

Christmas cottage

Christmas Birdhouse

It's been a long cold weekend for Dallas.  Those of you who are used to this type of weather are probably laughing at us. For the most part Dallas has closed down. The Arctic Blast came in late Thursday with rain, sleet, and ice.  We awoke to 18 degree temps, hazardous road conditions, and lots of power outages. Most of us have stayed inside. Our power went out the first night, but luckily came back by morning. Some in our area still don't have power. My son (who lives about 10 mins away) lost his electricity and it stayed off most of the day. When it simply got too cold in their house, they braved the icy roads and came over to our place.

The news and weather reports on accidents and people trapped in their vehicles for hours keep coming. They warn people that if they get stranded somewhere, it may be hours before someone can get to them. It was down to 17 when we awoke this morning. It's about 21 now and will probably go down to the teens again during the night. However, supposedly Sunday we will get to the early 30's... maybe not above freezing, but better. Our feral cats and kittens seem to be using the heat lamps, straw, etc. and are coping better than we imagined.

I have divided my time between decorating the tree (partially), reading by the fire (with cats on my lap), and completing some of my clay jewelry. Here is a picture of my messy workstation (and cup of tea).

Well, it's almost time to think about supper, so I'd better close for today.  I really hope this crazy weather (global warming???) works itself out.  I'm thankful that hurricane season is over... and now if we can all just get through the next few months of winter.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

lull time...

Thanksgiving is over... and there's about a week of *lull* time (you know the *lull* before the storm) - before I intend to get into the high gear for Christmas. Not that we do a lot of shopping, we don't.  Used to, but not anymore.  Since retirement, we basically just shop for the grandkids (and a little bit for the cats).

But everyone still comes over Christmas day.  Sometimes we have Christmas breakfast while opening gifts, sometimes Christmas dinner.  It's not like Thanksgiving where everything is planned, we kind of play it by ear.  Easier for all this way.  But I do do a lot of cookie baking in the weeks ahead and we do mail out holiday cards and goodies to family who don't live close.

So, during this lull time, we will decorate our tree (which we have put up... but no ornaments yet), buy our Christmas cards, and make lists. We will also do a lot of  cookie nibbling, holiday music listening, and maybe a bit more holiday decorating (we do put a live garland up on the fireplace mantle and around the front door around 10 days before Christmas... but that's about it).

At the moment we are anticipating another bout of winter weather which is supposed to arrive sometime tomorrow.  They are predicting possible ice, snow, and sleet by Friday am.  I already cancelled my doctor's appt for Friday morning. It was just an annual, so I can reschedule later. But if the weather is bad, I don't plan to drive in it.

I did however, go to pottery class today and my chess set is finally finished.  I had finished making it last semester, but hadn't finished glazing all the tiles and chess pieces.  Now I have.  Also I made a few mugs (as well as about 50 cylinders). I'm progressing in proficiency, albeit slowly.

Hope you are all having a lovely lull time...

Ghost and Julie are.  Here they are doing what cats do best... lying about...

Ghost and Julie

And I really hope everyone stays safe out there.  I know some of you are having some really bad winter weather (much worse than we ever have here in Texas)... so please take care!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

resting up... and catching up

Grandbaby enjoying her First Birthday cake!

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and First Birthday for Grand daughter!  She was a bit hesitant at first to taste her birthday cake, but once she got a taste, there was no stopping her.  She even tried to share it with her mom... as you can see in next pic.

The rest are just a few pics of the family at the table and kids and grandkids sitting on the floor in the den as Grandbaby opens her birthday gifts.

We were very lucky with the weather as although it was below freezing in the early morning, it warmed up and the day turned out sunny and beautiful.  We sent most of the left-overs home with the kids, so we will not be eating turkey for the next week or so.  We kept enough for DH and I to have some more on Friday... but that's it. 

Our cats spent part of Thursday in our bedroom to keep them out of trouble with the Thanksgiving table.  They shared some wonderful sunspots and were also given plenty of Turkey. Once they were released from the bedroom, they joined in with the rest of the family in sleeping by the fire.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

3 am...

It is 3 am Wednesday morning and I am here reading blogs and making lists.  I woke up a while back and my head was so busy with things I need to do today (not to mention class this morning) that I decided it would be best to just get up and *do* something. So now the green beans are cut, blanched, and ready to cook. I had planned to also bake the yams while up, but may wait on that till this afternoon.

Our Thanksgiving dinner is almost always the same: Smoked Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Jalapeno pecan dressing, Bourbon Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Green Bean Casserole (this year it's Caramelized Onion Green Beans with bacon and toasted walnuts). We have occasionally tried a new side dish, but almost always end up back with the basics. For dessert we're having a chocolate pudding cake with a baked cookie crust and Kentucky Derby Pie (which is pecan pie with chocolate chunks and bourbon).

And of course there will be Birthday Cake as our little grand daughter will be One on Thanksgiving Day! We've decided to break out the good china, crystal, etc. and go back to having a formal sit-down... which we abandoned for a few years when the little ones started coming as it was hard to keep them seated... so rather than having to pop up every few minutes, we went buffet-style.

The cats love to check out the formal table setting, so they will be *put up* in a safe place during meal time. But don't worry, they will get their fair share of turkey (outside ferals too!).

It is now 2:45 pm and cats are enjoying a sun spot.  Yes! It was cold this morning (28), but it's warmed up and the sun is out! I've already been to class and run some errands.  Yams and other potatoes are cooking and our desserts are made.

Now I just have to change sheets in the guest room and put some fresh towels in the bath.  Hopefully most of the cooking will be done or almost done by bedtime tonight. Our turkey will smoke overnight and I can put the finishing touches on the vegetables, set the table, etc. in the morning.  It will be nice to have everyone home together sharing a meal.  I pray that most people will have some time with their families this Thanksgiving... and I also pray for all those stuck in airports or on the road in bad weather.... that they will arrive at their destinations safe and sound.

So Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 
We have so much to be thankful for... 
and know that I am thankful
for all of you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cats and cookies...

Tux's silly face

I forgot to put this pic on the last post.  Tux is all over me when I sit by the fire (or when I knit, or read, etc.). Well, try to take a picture while he wiggles his face in front of your every move. Here is one shot that shows his antics well.  If I didn't love him so much, I would have to strangle him (but he is cute, isn't he?... and he knows it).

Really too cold today to do much.  Did some holiday cleaning, baked chocolate chip Peanut Butter cookies... sat by the fire again.

Texted with my daughter in San Antonio a little while ago. Apparently it's too cold to do much there either.  They usually spend a lot of time outside with the horses, but not today.  She said that they are sitting by the fireplace eating home-made chocolate chip walnut cookies.  What's that song?.... "teach your children well..."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

the weekend continues...

I was supposed to go to the pottery studio yesterday afternoon, but instead sat by the fireplace with DH and Tux staying warm. It was 36 degrees outside, pouring rain, and there was a cold North wind blowing.  We put the heat lamps out back for the ferals, extra straw around for warmth, and DH opened the garage a crack so the kittens could get inside should the weather get really nasty. They're forecasting more rain and cold tomorrow and possibly sleet and snow by Sunday.

This is the weekend before the kids arrive for Thanksgiving so there's lots to do... planning, cleaning, cooking, etc.  We cleaned the ceiling fans earlier today... some are quite an ordeal since the ceilings in the  den and front room are very high, but we did the best we could (and no casualties). I dusted the front room and den and washed down the kitchen counters and appliances. There's an LSU football game on this afternoon, so I won't get much more out of DH once that starts.

messy pottery jewelry area

This is my work area. Once my tiles are fired, I can work on under-glazing them at home. Then of course, I need to get them back to the studio to fire again.  It's messy, but it's fun. I've been playing around with actually putting the color on in different ways, sometimes my fingers, sometimes a brush, and sometimes a sponge... and letting one color dry and layering on a different one on top.

Friday, November 22, 2013

a little *ping*

I have to say this now while I'm thinking about it... or there's the chance that the thought will disappear from my head completely by the time I'm sitting at the computer again.

As I sit here on my bed this afternoon trying to rest up after my migraine yesterday, and trying to decide whether to nap or read  (and at the same time going over the our Thanksgiving menu in my head)...
my iPhone *pinged* (as they tend to do when you receive an email). So-oo glancing over at my phone, I saw a blog comment from Perpetua... and it made me smile.

No matter how much we complain about trying to keep up with advancing technology, I have to say that it warms my heart to get a comment all the way from Wales (or England, Washington, Canada, or Vermont, etc.) to little ol' me sitting here on my bed in Texas in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. I know that I'm probably dating myself for saying this, but how can that not be amazing?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

a few favorites...

I like poems.  But like everything else, my tastes run kind of eclectic. It could be one by Bronte, or Browning, or Dickinson, or it could just as easily be one written by a kid on the bus or a retreatant in the cafeteria.  Guess what I'm trying to say is that if it *says* something to me, then I love it.  It becomes one of those serendipitous events where the universe finally got through to me.  And believe me, I'm not the easiest person to get through to.  I'm guessing that in today's busy world, not many of us are 'receptive' to much... too much going on around us all the time. Perhaps now in our retirement years, the pace has slackened a bit... enough to take the time to 'ponder' words that mean something to us. 

Anyway, that was a long winded way of saying that this is one of my old favorites:

Growing Old

The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer'
The headstones thicken along the way
And life grows sadder, but love grows stronger
For those who walk with us day by day

The tear comes quicker, the laugh comes slower;
The courage is lesser to do and dare;
And the tide of joy in the heart falls lower, 
And seldom covers the reefs of care.

But all true things in the world seem truer,
And the better things of earth seem best,
And friends are dearer, as friends are fewer,
And love is all as our sun dips west.

Then let us clasp hands as we walk together,
And let us speak softly in low, sweet tone,
For no man knows on the morrow whether
We two pass on - or but one alone.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox


another of my favorites:


He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in!

-Edwin Markham

I started this post a day or so ago, then got interrupted by a migraine...  and then another (this was a first... one coming right on the heals of the other). But anyway, yesterday evening was miserable, but this morning things seem clear again.  I hate it when my head and eyes go wonky... (one always fears that they may never return back to normal).  But alas, they have... or almost so.  Head is always a little achy the next day, but not too bad... at least I can see and think straight again.

i was planning to talk a bit more about poems, but now have lost the thread.  Sorry.  Perhaps a cup of coffee would help.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Turtles, and horses, and puppies... oh my

This is Big Boy, an African Sulcata spurred tortoise.  My daughter and grand daughter gave him a home for about 2 years for a family that was traveling.  He loved tomatoes (as you can see) and had quite a engaging personality.  It was hard for them to give him up when the time came as they had come to love him.  For those of you who are interested in turtles and tortoises, the following is a video we took of him at their place in the Hill Country.

Over the last few years, they have had horses (a beautiful European warmblood that was abused and abandoned (long story) who now resides as what my husband calls 'a very expensive lawn ornament' and 2 very charming and ride-able quarterhorses, a few cattle (and earlier venture), dogs, cats, turtles, a bunny, a pet squirrel, alpaca (another earlier venture), fish (in ponds - which are constantly raided by herons), and chickens (the roosters alone have their own story).  (Oh, and possibly honeybees... but that is still a project 'in progress'). Then there was the time my SIL came home in the middle of the night with a truckload of 7 puppies that had been dumped on the side of the road. They eventually found homes for 6 of them and kept one.

7 puppies

The Alpaca were called Cruiser and Rambler... and as their names imply had the unfortunate habit of taking off down the road whenever they had the chance.

and then there's Goliath...

Stories abound in our lives and each of these wonderful critters play a part.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

we need a bigger rug...

From back left there's Rose, Tux, Julie, and Jack.  Then Ghost in rear and Molly up front.

As you can see, our inside cats do gather by the Aga when the weather gets chilly.  We had our first day of below freezing (I think it got to 31), and the cats were huddling by the warm Aga (all 6 of them).  We do need a bigger rag rug (DIL made this one). But it is funny to watch all 6 try to get on it. (Sorry for the quality of these shots, but I took them with my phone... and they seem a bit *foggy*)

As for the outside cats, we put up the heat lamps on the back porch and the mamas even brought their babies to lie on the wrought iron table/chairs under the lamps (they are smart mamas).

Next are just a few shots of the Christmas angels and elves that have begun taking their places around the house as the holidays get nearer.

Christmas angel in everyday cup cupboard

Christmas salt and pepper shakers

Christmas cats sitting with brown betty

Another Christmas elf having his own tea

And last our sad Grandfather clock without it's face...

That's about my news for today.  As you can see, I've started putting out a few Christmas things here and there.

At the moment I'm in the middle of cooking some Chicken and Sausage Okra Gumbo.  I watched Chef John Besh cook some seafood gumbo this morning the way my MIL used to make it... with tons of blue crab, shrimp, sausage, and oysters in it... and it made me want gumbo.  I love seafood gumbo, but unless it is made right (like at home in Louisiana), I don't order it... and have never tried to make it myself.  But we do like Chicken and Sausage Okra gumbo, so I decided to make that today.

Have a great week!  ; )

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Shelly on the move... and other things

This is a video of Shelly, one of our backyard Box Turtles. She is quite active... as you can see.  Obstacles do not bother her. She just keeps going.  Good model for us all.

Next are just a few shots of cats around the house:

Molly and Jack on sofa

Tux on chair

and the following is the Pumpkin Custard Pie I made this past weekend.

Update:  Black feral cat that stays in front yard has brought her 3 kittens over to the front porch.  They sleep in the bushes and play on the porch.  Looks like they are about 5 weeks old as they move pretty fast.  This is past the age when we can usually catch them, but apparently she had them down the street and just moved them here this past week.  The following is not a good pic since it was taken through the bay window, but you can see one kitten fairly well.