Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Promised pictures

As I promised, here are a few of the pictures I snapped from just around the house.
This is a begonia that I absolutely love. I got a small cutting from a dear fellow teacher about twenty years ago. She had gotten it from one of her professors in college. I gave my dad a cutting and he propagated it into several. When I moved them here to Swampland, I brought all his plants here (quite a load too). My begonias like this had all died, so I was given a second chance. I just wish they bloomed all year. It is a "fancy leaf" so the blooms are not what it is used for. The leaves form a pin wheel - if you look closely you can see how they spin around themselves.

This is the standard hawthorn in my neighbor's side yard. It also only blooms in spring. When I look out my breakfast room window (where I use this computer), this is what I see. This picture doesn't do it any justice at all. Her mother and father in law (from Australia) have moved into her house when she moved out. They had just returned to the states. David is not into horticulture - at all. They don't hire anyone either, so the hawthorn has been allowed to become leggy. The branches are from a crepe myrtle that hasn't budded yet, and will become a real problem when it grows into the roof. These are the folks that owned the tree that landed on our garage roof during Ike. Enough said. But this is pretty, and I enjoy it every spring!

Here is one of the three potted amaryllis I have. The hibiscus decided to drop all of its day only blooms just before this picture. Now the other plants are about to open, but I'll try to get the trio later and post them. Unfortunately, I didn't go out to move the waste can from their midst before taking the picture. I was on the other side of our locked gate. Just to prove we do get a little cold, you can see our wood stack in the distance. What you don't see is the pool behind the plants to the right. Only in Texas I guess!

Sorry I missed my azaleas. I don't have as many as I once did. After 35 years, they are dieing out. They are so much trouble that we are letting them go. But even the two plants I have were really pretty again this year. But them were done by the beginning of March.

The pictures I have not taken are the most breathtaking. They are along out highways. The roadsides are seas of blue (the blue bonnets), red (Indian paint brushes), and pinks and yellows. This is the time of year, especially just to our north and west, you really have to be careful driving along the roadways. There are lots of folks that park on the shoulder and put their poor unsuspecting kids in the masses of bluebonnets - with the chiggers and possible snakes get what really is a pretty picture!

Spring in Texas is really a beautiful time. I'm not as sure about the panhandle, but I think a little later they will be just as pretty as it is around here. Spring comes at differing times in this state.

So I have shared some of the sights I enjoy right around me in the spring. I hope to see you tomorrow. I wonder what this new "worm" will do!


Monday, March 30, 2009

I know, I'm late.

But I'm here - finally. I am watching a sick granddaughter - number 1 granddaughter. Bless her little heart, she has always has bowel problems. Yeah, we're letting it all hang out today. She hasn't "been" in several days, and now she has the associated problems with that. She simply doesn't feel well. So After the M*ralax, she is with me.

That wouldn't be a problem except I also had Pa home today. It's his off day, nothing unusual. We planned to go to Home D*pot. We desperately need a new back entry door. This is wooden door number 3, and all though the door has been replaced, our "contractors" never replaced the weather stripping. We don't need to hold a smoking thing to see the air coming through. You feel the gale with your hand.

So that meant that Lady Bug had to go with us. I must admit that I was a tad apprehensive about taking her after the dose of laxative she had taken this morning before she came. That trip went well. We even ate out. She was really good, but Pa isn't used to an 8 year old chatterbox. Sometimes a precocious child isn't good!

The real problem is that I won't be getting out to the grocery. I have nothing for breakfast for me. I guess I'll live through it and go tomorrow.

I finally uploaded some of our spring pictures, but since it is so late I won't be posting them today. We'll try for tomorrow again. I am being summoned by my 8 year charge.


Friday, March 27, 2009

What a waste

At least that's what so many would say. Since I have become the proud owner of four email addresses, I have spent 3 hours this morning going through messages that I have not had time to read. I have found that I have to decide which ones to read and which ones can wait.

I have a good reason for the four emails. I think I have alluded to these before, but, you know, chemo brain plus menopausal brain . . .

The order of checking is:
1. The main email. That is the one known to family and friends. All the really important news comes into that one. Important email includes those reminding me to pay certain bills.

2. The business email. That takes only a second. We have been too lazy to update the web site and our postings to sell things. Again procrastination.

3. The email for ordering on line and linking to embroidery sites. That one takes quite a while. I spent most of my time there. I read the most pressing first. But today I found I should be reading one when it comes. It sometimes has free stuff (my absolute favorite) offered with limited downloads!

4 The last one is where the groups post. This is the newest acquisition. I was hesitant to join those groups, being the shy, retiring person I am. At ad time, there can be 40 emails in a single day.
It takes a loooong time to check.

So these are all excuses for what I was going to post today - Spring in Swampland complete with some pictures of how really pretty it can be here. I have two pictures safely residing on the card in the camera. I was going to take a couple of others, of course I have missed my azaleas blooming. They were really early this year.

I will try to get some more pictures. I need to get merchandise photos too. I will really try to get these posted on Monday.

In the mean time, as one of our TV reporters used to say (before he died) Have a great weekend, good golf, good tennis, or whatever you do!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Freudian slip or simple omission?

As I was confessing my need for a support group for my addictive nature, I "forgot" to mention my trip to M*chael's yesterday. I had a simple purpose in mind. My daughter wanted me to do scrap books for her children. I had done one for the new resident prince at the other household, and she wanted one for her three.

I was a good grandmother. I stopped at the foolish children's garbage items and bought the older three some little trinkets for Easter. I refuse to give them candy. We will be trapped in the rather smallish house at the SSB. If tradition holds true - the weather will be horrible. One Easter we had severe thunderstorms that knocked out power for 17 hours. Another Easter we had an ice storm that coated everything with ice. We were trapped.

So, since they were on sale (ah, those magic words), I piled into the car and began the trek to that Mecca. I forgot (?) where the scrap books were, so I made a round of the store. Guess what I found! Something that I had not purchased in several months. Jewelry findings. And they were on close out. They were over 50% off. I put some in my cart. Then I found the crystal that was on close out. Yes, they went into my cart.

I had found just about all I could use from those two huge bins, so I rounded the corner headed to the scrap books. What just happens to be on the way to the scrap books you say. Why more jewelry things - at 40% off. More was piled into my cart.

By that time, my knees and back were about to kill me. I had to stop - then. So I found three identical scrap books and threw them into my cart. Daughter will have to go with me to choose fabric to cover them.

You know, they will never get done. She will never go to choose fabric. They will be like the three baby blankets that I have in the craft room that she purchased in January for me to embroidery for three of her retailers. Those kids will be in college before they get those blankets!

Procrastination. Where do you suppose she got that?? (crickets chirping in the resounding silence)


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where do I find a support group?

I have decided that I must have an additictive personality. I develop passions for things, and I then spend all my time pursuing whatever it is.

For years, it was genealogy. I spent hours surfing A*cestry.com looking for my ancestors. It got to the point where I discovered that many of those on the far reaching vines and twigs could be found. So I was no longer looking for those dear departed kin, I was looking for all the offspring. Did you notice I said all? Yes. I was looking for anyone I could find. These folks would be classified as perhaps twenty-fourth cousins. Addiction.

So along came my wonderful embroidery machine and our little business branched into embroidered items from simply jewelry, candles, flip flops and purses. Looking for designs, and free ones at that, has become another passion. I sit at the computer for hours checking web sites that offer the free samples. I have quite a few bookmarked. I know which ones put out designs daily,weekly, and monthly.

Then, I discovered they had groups to whom they offered more free designs. So I joined their groups. That meant yet another email address. That brings me to about 4. I have our main one; I have my "order on line" email that I use to cut down on spam in the main one. Then I opened the "business" email so that any business interactions would not get mixed up with personal things. Now I have the group email address. I think I have joined about 8 groups. They send out several emails each day, and the groups are interrelated. That means I may get the same message three or four times. When I go to that email, it is not unusual to have at least five new messages per hour.

Now I find myself checking emails most of the day. When I'm not doing that, I am trying to organize the downloaded designs. You can bet I get at least three per day. I tried to work on them only when at the SSB, but I am so far behind.

Now I have decided the best way to manage these designs is to print them. I have one three inch binder stuffed overfull. I have started another, and I have barely made a dent.

And so it goes - on and on. I am in serious need of a support group, but I don't know when I would have time for it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I never thought I would be so exhausted after a visit to the SSB. But in reality, the time we spent there was minimal. When we were there, we were working. Gosh, I'm really glad to be home!

Of course, Friday was the 5 hour trek to get there. That is always tiring. Add the trip to Community Club to that. Travel, travel, travel. It takes a good 20 minutes to get from the SSB to the CC. Over the wonderful unpaved roads. But they had rain since our last visit, so they were able to get the road graders out there to turn the rocks over. It's just in some places it feels like they had turned the rocks the wrong way. Those roads will jar the fillings out of your teeth. The upside is that they keep motorcycles at bay.

Saturday morning we had to get up and get started to the Alamo City. That is a two and a half hour trip at least. Of course, we hit road construction before we got to the exit for the funeral home. I am glad that we both grew up there and retain some vestige of how to get around. The funeral home is in an area that neither of us frequented in our youth, but we're not talking a huge city. We made it - and on time.

Sunday we were so tired. I worked on my downloaded embroidery designs. G piddled outside. We really took it rather easy. But we still traveled. We went to our second close neighbor. They are probably about two miles away, but the road is basically a cow path. It was too windy to take the Kawasaki. It would have handled the road better. We wanted to take the wedding present for their son who married on Saturday, and we had to miss it.

Monday we finally got to the "spring cleaning" which at least got the floors spic and span. I had cleaned the oven (by pushing the button - not the old fashioned way) on Sunday. So we are ready for the onslaught at Easter. Only daughter will be coming with her family, but that is FIVE!

I finally got an idea for G's birthday present. I am going to have flags made for him to fly there. He really wants his great grandfather's cattle brand on a flag. That property came from the company ranch which he owned. So I have set out to find that brand. It was in the local paper, but their archives don't have it. I have emailed his aunt there, and I am about to email the distant cousins who share that same ancestor.

I am always looking for a present for him that he will really like. This is one of the few times he has given me a good idea. I don't want to miss out on it.

But at least we are home again - where I can get some rest!


Thursday, March 19, 2009


We will leave, as planned, tomorrow morning for the SSB. It is our usual trip and Comminuty Club meeting. I wanted to take the small sewing machine, but that was vetoed at the very beginning. I was reminded that this trip is "spring cleaning."

As it turns out, we will be going to the Alamo City on Saturday for the uncle's funeral. When I read his obit today, I was amazed at the things I learned. He has a daughter who didn't do a flip for him. She apparently has always been a weird duck. He also has an older step daughter who has stepped up to the plate for him. He had a step son also. Never knew that. He has five grandchildren and a mess of great grandchildren. I bring that up because the sisters (the remaining two aunts) talked about how he said he was so lonely. That shouldn't have happened.

I KNOW how hard it is to visit the elderly in some sort of home. My dad was there. I probably didn't go as often as I should. With his dementia, it was just too much. There was never anything to talk about, and he would sometimes become inappropriate in what he said. I did slip into avoidance. But I was there at least once a week.

Did he realize how infrequently I came? I really don't know. He did associate with a lot of the women there. Always the lady's man. I think he was kept busy. He also slept a lot. That had been true even before I had to put him there.

But Krissi and I would be there - once a week with the children. Perhaps that's the answer to my question. I have lived in the glass house, and I shouldn't throw stones.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Here we go again

It seems like I do more venting here than anything else, but here I go again.

I really like using Fire*ox for my browsing the web. I feel, perhaps without real justification, safer there. I think it is harder to allow bad things to happen.

But, for some reason, there are many times that I cannot get that browser to open my homepage - or anything else for that matter. That's what has happened today.

The real problem with this is all my bookmarks are on that browser. I have very few over here. I really feel hampered. Bah.

After I returned yesterday, George's aunt called to check on me, but she had gotten a call that his last remaining uncle on that side was in really bad condition. They were getting ready to head over to the Alamo City to see him. Last night she called to say he had died. We are down now to two sisters from that family of ten.

She told me one very interesting thing. She never married along with another sister. Two of the boys never had children. But this family has produced 102 nieces, nephews (and their children and grandchildren). What a family! One of the cousins is way ahead of the rest of us. He is a great grandfather. Our grandchildren are next in age, and our oldest is 8. Amazing. It's no wonder I love searching my genealogy.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dr. Poison

Just back from my appointment. These doctors! Geesh. They have appointments scheduled for like 8:30, and they aren't even in the office! But I will get over it. In this practice, they have three or four offices. The doctors move from office to office. We, the patients, don't usually have to go all over the area, so I'll cool my heels in the room and read. I mean, what else do I have to do?

The appointment went great. The thing I most look at is the marker value. Mine is 23 and the upper limit is 38. That's good. No problems. I guess all the things that I just knew were mets were just a figment of my imagination. But you know how it is - once burned. Well, once diagnosed . . .

I told him of the pains I have in the right breast area, and I thought it was probably reconstruction surgery. He said the mammo showed some scar tissue. He also said to leave things alone there. No more surgery. Right-O!

I was going to ask for some sleeping meds, but I didn't get to it. Perhaps my body will adapt to the time change - before it changes again. I just simply cannot go to sleep at night. I can sleep easily enough in the morning, but at night I'm ready to go.

So things are right in my world -at least for another six months. They would be even better if the arthritis in my neck wasn't acting up so today. It really hurts to sit here and type. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


It's Saturday. I'm home. I am posting. These are three very unusual things.

Last night we had dinner with daughter, husband and three little ones. It was so nice because I had not seen Lady Bug in about three weeks. If we were in town, they weren't. Plus they are going out of town again this weekend. In the spirit of being positive, I won't even touch that one.

The weather is really wintry for us right now. It is cold - the temperatures are staying in the 40's, so that is really cold for us - and rainy. The last thing I wanted to do was the grocery store. I was going on Thursday, but at the time I started to go, it was pouring rain. So I thought it was going to clear yesterday - wrong. It is still bad today, but I need items for tomorrow's dinner. It is almost St. Patrick's day. That means it is time for Blarney Pot Roast. That is a delicious pot roast with leeks. It is an annual thing that holds over from the days when George thought he was Irish. I knew I was Scotch Irish, but we found that he is absolutely 0% Irish. But that's ok, the dish is still good.

Being the great trooper he is, he added the grocery store to his rounds. I really think it is time for me to the ortho guy I'm thinking about. My knees are certainly no better - in fact I think they are worse by the day. I am looking for the miracle that will take many pounds off my body before I go!

Hope your weekend is good. I will see the new grandson tomorrow when son comes to help assemble my new sewing table. I was crestfallen when I discovered that the instructions state that it takes two to assemble it. That stinks! So after about a year, I'm going to get it done.


Friday, March 13, 2009


It is definitely Friday the 13th. The alarm went off this morning. My sleepy brain told me is was Saturday. I turned the alarm OFF! I blisfully went back to sleep thinking what a wonderful time to snuggle deeper into the covers and sleep. It is "cold" - low fortys, and rainy (thank you God).

About 7ish, I heard George in the dressing area. I peeked out at the clock and wondered why George was up, but when I saw he was dressing, I was really confused. Did he have some early morning appointment I had forgotten? Nope - he was dressing for work - an hour late.

I thought spending THE time change at the SSB would help. I thought I would be more into the change. I was wrong. When we got back here on Tuesday, my body was definitely on standard time. At bedtime, I was still ready to go. I read for a while. It got later and later. I read and read. Finally i turned off the light. Then I tossed and turned. About an hour later the light was turned on again. But my eyes were smart enough to realize they should be shut, so I turned the light off again.

Wednesday night brought the same thing. Only this time I was at a really good part of the mystery I was reading. I kept turning pages rapt with the action. Then it was up early so I could get to the lab for the fasting blood work.

Last night, I did fall asleep earlier, but this morning . . . Oh, this morning. Well, I thought the two days he stayed late would cover it. Guess not. Let's say I am a little in the dog house. Move over Simone!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Making a change

Endangered animals are a special interest of mine. So I had a changing picture added over there to the right for awareness of just which animals are in special need.

A few days ago, I discovered a little boy who needs prayers - lots of prayers. I have added the "Praying for Jonah" to my blog.

This family is one of the bravest couples I know of. Their newborn is amazing in his fight for life. Click on that icon. Go read their story. More importantly, pray for the baby and the parents.

What fun!

With great trepidation, I visited the vampires again today. In other words, I went for my blood drawing before I see the oncologist next week.

This blood drawing has not always been pleasant. Once at this lab, I left with my arm bleeding. That was interesting. Not too long ago at the other lab for the cardio doc, the tech couldn't find the vein. When only one arm can be used for said sticking, I was a little distraught - to say the least.

Today was easy and almost pleasant. She was really good.

I was talking to my aunt in law this past weekend. She had ovarian cancer, and not too long ago had a scare about possible breast cancer. Thankfully, there was no breast cancer.

We were talking about how we wait for the results of the cancer factors that are measured. A spike could mean the cancer is back. We both said that interval between tests seems to go on forever. Those little numbers, and hopefully they stay little, mean we are probably cancer free.

I have remarked before that six months seems like an eternity. When I was undergoing chemo, my blood was tested just before chemo so determine whether or not I was able to withstand being poisoned yet again If the RBC's were too low, I wouldn't get chemo.

I never had that problem. Things got a little low at times, but I never had to miss an appointment. In fact, I never really had a problem with the chemo.

Krissi and I went to eat a Chinese lunch after my first treatment, and I will admit that Chinese still isn't my favorite food. I seldom have a desire for it, but I was not sick on it. I really never got nauseated at all. When we would grill outside (which is a year around thing here), the smell from the grill which is just outside the door was disagreeable, but never nauseating.

Aunt Flo and I both said we really remember very little about chemo. I guess it's something like childbirth in that aspect. George wants me to be available to a lady he works with who is having a double mastectomy this week. I understand she is really worried about the chemo, and he thinks she will be going to the group practice I go to. She will just go to another of their facilities.

I will be more than willing, but once she starts, she will find the other patients undergoing chemo will be quite a support system in themselves. Aunt Flo said she really regretted that she had her chemo alone in a private room. I told her at first that was what I wanted, but soon discovered that the company was great. She only had her last treatment with others around, and it was so much better.

In a few more days I'll get the results of the blood factors. With any luck, I'll be good to go for another six months. I wonder how I will be able to handle a year!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Well . . .

I took the machine in. My sales woman was there. She put it through its paces. It "seems" ok. Of course, OK means another bobbin case to the tune of $35. This is two in about a month. I still think there is something with the machine, but then I guess we will have to see.

One problem is that for what I paid, and that was about 60% of the price, I expect this thing to print a pattern, buy the fabric, cut it out and then sew it. Me being unreasonable? Never!

But it is home. It is "fixed." What more can I ask?


Still alive

It was the usual weekend for our foray to the SSB. I forgot to give a heads up before we left. Because of scheduling conflicts, we left on Saturday to come back yesterday, Tuesday.

It was a rather busy weekend with all sorts of things scheduled. Plans were for our neighbor to come over to help George cut a path for a new deer feeder. I was going to sew.

Since we got there on Saturday, that meant the work schedule for cutting brush was pushed to Sunday morning. That meant no church. Oh, well. The problem with that was it was the first day of DST. As we were discussing the schedule, I kept asking if the appointed time was old time or new time. SO we set the alarm to get up at 6:30 A.M. - new time. It is so dark at that time! Anyway, Gene didn't show for two hours. I Was Not. Happy.

I set up the sewing machine after I got them out of the house. I got the scrap book cover done. For my first real quilting experience, it came out OK, but I would have liked it to be better. Am I going to re-do it? No.

A cut out the "church lady apron" that I had bought the pattern and fabric for at least two months ago. The one side is named "god ladies." It is such a cute pattern. The back obviously coordinates with it, but is a subdued two tone pattern. I embroidered the pockets and the front of it. I was ready to put the two together, and began with the sashes. I changed the stitch length, and then all hell broke loose. The machine did what it has been doing periodically - stitch three stitches, then kick like a mule.

I had taken the machine in for its yearly check up in January. I didn't report this behavior because I thought I was doing something wrong. When it ate up the little bobbin case, it wouldn't sew at all. I took it back and we replaced just that. It has gone through several of its little snits since then, and I again attributed it to something I was doing. I now know it is the machine. I think it has not been right since I bought it. When I would embroidery, it often would bring the bobbin thread up on top. I would take the tension down to zero, and all was right with the world.

Monday, I bent two needles trying to sew. One was just a nice little curve to the left, the other was bent at a right angle. There is a problem. So I will take it back and give its little history. I am beginning to wonder if this "top of the line" machine is as heavy duty as I assumed. This machine was not in the hundreds. It was in the thousands. I really expected more, and now that I have owned it for 15 months, I doubt that anything like this will be covered - so I get to pay . . . more.

So today, I will go to my little bitty machine that I thought was so wonderful when I bought it several years ago. It is a little work horse, but it doesn't do anything but sew. So, there won't be any embroidery - unless I pull out the really little machine I bought at WalMart several years ago.

In other news, on our way to the SSB we saw something we had heard would live in that area, but had never seen. There was a dead porcupine dead in the road. I really didn't think they were in our area, but there it was. This drought is driving the animals to find water and food. Otherwise we would have never come across that scene. It is supposed to be raining now. I have heard that about 75 miles away, they got 3/4 inch last night. I hope we did too. It was misting when we left. I just hope and pray - literally - that some of that moisture fell on the ground there. Brother in law sold off all his cattle last week. The feed bills were just too high, and we will not be doing a ground lease this year because we have no grass. We are almost desperate.


Friday, March 06, 2009

A mild rant

I find it so amusing when people complain about not having enough money that they are cutting on various essentials, but splurge on non-sensical things. I am going to be a little vague because this might get to the ones about whom I am speaking, and I don't want to face their ire.

I am not by any means wealthy. Folks, I am a retired Texas teacher. Our salary schedule is public record, and we are by no means near the top of the salary scales. In fact, look closer to the bottom and you will find us. Since I retired at 29 years rather than 30, I get less in my retirement, pay more for health insurance, and generally get scre*ed with the amount of money I get. But I have enough money to be comfortable, and can afford my little splurges occasionally

With that said, I will continue. When I bought this notebook computer, I felt I had really splurged, but I had a reason for it. I do use it daily. When I bought my sewing machine, I did splurge, but I had just gotten my diagnosis. I was going to do something for myself. But I did not have to take something away from my partner to cover the expense.

There are people out there who spend wads of money on things that are not essentials - and a lot of them. I do not have a Iphone, Ipod or any of those things. I have a basic cell phone on the lowest plan and listen to the radio if I want music. If I want something else, I use the web site of that station and stream music.

These people who complain about finances have the latest phone, spend their time sending text messages, have Ipods, Kindles, and the like. Texting costs money. Why not call the person??? I just heard one person sent 800 texts in a billing period. Mercyful heavens. If you are using your **** phone anyway, use the calling option. If you want to read a book, go to the used book store and buy one at a reduced price and hold the **** thing. Books on Kindle run $30 a pop. I can buy a used paperback for a couple of bucks.

I am thinking of asking for an Ipod and a digital turntable for my birthday. The kids and husband are always asking what I want. If they divide that by 5, it's not that much money. They would probably spend that much buying something I have no use for. I want to put our vinyl records on the Ipod. Our new tv has a place for the Ipod, and our old stereo system is obsolute. It will not connect to this new system. We have hundreds of records that we cannot listen to.

Some of these people have to have the newest and fanciest electronic stuff out - be it phones, cameras, or whatever. I just don't get it. If you have to keep the temperature in your house at a very uncomfortable level, watch your grocery bill, or deny the folks you are living with, then the problem is YOURS. Stop making others pay for your indulgences.

Enough said - probably too much. Rant over.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Club Meeting

Today is our sewing machine club meeting. The project for this week is, um, embroidering, um, toilet paper. This ought to be a very interesting meeting. What you really do with embroidered toilet paper is a puzzle to me. I guess as a gag gift? On a serious note, I have heard about this. It will be good because it means I have to really get practice centering a small piece to be embroidered. When we did the fabric post cards, I thought I wouldn't like that one, but it was really neat and the post card came out really pretty.

To prepare for today, I spent yesterday upstairs in the tower working on bands for diaper cakes. I'm going to take them for "show and tell." Probably that's not a really good idea because I may end up with competition in the market place. Oh well, I'm also going to take the receiving blankets, burp cloths, and possibly the bibs.

At one point I wanted to throw that machine (that should be gilded just based on its price) right out of the window. For some reason when I changed over to regular sewing to put the ribbon on the band, it would make three good stitches and then kick like a mule. Come to find out, the three "good" stitches weren't. They weren't stitches at all.

I changed the needle. Still kicked. I cleaned the bobbin. Still kicked. I changed the bobbin thread, and yes, you guessed it - still kicked. I finally changed thread. It sewed. I still wanted to give it a pitch however!

I got that finished only to realize that I have misplaced a new pattern I wanted to try today. Great. I simply don't know where I "filed" it. I guess it's safe for now. I'll look later.

With time on my hands, I decided that I would tackle the serger that I have never used. You see, when it said to thread it by tying onto the existing threads that ran through the machine, when I did that - they came untied - at the worst moment. So I had a machine I knew nothing about with no threads running through it. I have worked periodically for months on that thing.

I decided I had nothing better so I would tackle it again. After two hours, I finally got it threaded and actually sewed a seam on it. Those little buggers are really a pain. I had bought DVDs to learn how to do it. The expensive ones thread the loopers automatically. For the others, the advice is to tie onto the existing thread and pull . . .


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

From my point of view

My point of view doesn't match those ranchers around the SSB. Of course, my training happens to be in biology with heavy emphasis on wild life biology. In my skewed view, this makes me a tad more of an expert - but if I were to speak out, I would clash terribly with those ranchers there.

These people have a "society" that dedicates itself to getting rid of all the critters there. They have a bounty on all sorts of predators. They are particularly after old wily coyote. But he certainly is not alone.

In one of the weekly papers, a cousin of mine made the remark to be careful when out in the pasture. I cougar was sited with some type of prey in its mouth. Right now that country is gripped in such a drought that its hard going on all animals, and what few prey animals that are around are being forced into closed contact with humans. She was correct - you should be wary of the cougar. They can, and do, cause great harm to humans. In times like this - it very well may attack calves, kids or fawns. All those things are a threat to the ranchers in the hill country.

But in better times, these people are hell bent on ridding the area of all coyotes, foxes, bob cats, and cougars. They have "round ups" of the various body parts for the bounty. They believe this will mean that their livestock will be safe.

Then they wonder why we are over run with mice, rats, rabbits, and the like. On our place, there is specific prohibitions to shooting anything that you don't intent to eat. If you shoot it, you better plan a meal from it.

This comes to mind because out closest neighbors (the ones who are not family) have been visited by an armadillo recently. We really thought the fire ants had wiped out the armadillos. My biology friends, and others I am sure, have nick named the armadillo the Texas Speed Bump. In the past, you would travel the roads and there would be many of them dead on the road. It wasn't that people would intentionally try to hit them, it was a fatal flaw in their nervous system. When they are startled - like by a car coming at them on the road - they would jump up straignt in the air about 2 feet. That is right at bumper height. That makes the equation of car+armadillo = dead armadillo.

Skunks have also become a great problem in the places around the SSB. Again - we have no predators. All these animals will bloom if their checks are gone. The skunk is a real problem, and not just because of his odor. In Texas, you can figure that if you see a skunk, he has rabies. That makes them really scary.

Of course, a small predator in the area is fighting rabies also, and I fear for them. The foxes in the area seem to mostly be rabid. We have one family back on the ridge, and I really don't think they have rabies because they have been observed for about three years now. I won't push my luck to find out, but even though most of the foxes may be vectors for rabies, I think our little group is healthy.

Anyway, in my opinion, the bounties should be lifted. At church the other week, our insurance guy admitted that the coyotes weren't the real problem for his livestock. It was the feral pigs that have taken over the place - and so much of Texas. There is no bounty on them - yet.

In the meantime, we will have our bloom of rats, mice, rabbits, skunks, etc - IF it ever rains again.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Ah, spring

Spring, or what we here in Swampland call spring, has come. While we still have days that have a low temperature in the 30's, we are reaching into the 80's on many days. The yard people are extremely busy this time of year cleaning the dead herbaceous plants that proliferate here most of the year, but end up quite dead during the "winter" Temperatures in the low 30's and 20's certainly change the look of banana plants. They first wilt, then become brown and dry. Quess what kind of plants are prolific in our back yard. Bananas and cannas. Both becomes dry husks after winter passes.

Spring flowering plants are all blooming. When I was teaching, I tried to get our unit on flowering plants to come at this time of year. I have azaleas in my front bed. At one time there were a lot of them, and they bloomed profusely. They were wonderful flowers to have the kids dissect to learn then parts of a flower. My plans were usually not good because we too often would be mired in the study of vertebrates about now. Flowering plants were a long way off, and the azaleas wouldn't wait.

I finally have come to the conclusion that my pin wheel begonia only blooms at one time of the year, and that's right now. I have learned to love it for its foliage. Just as well because there won't be blooms again until next year.

But, the congress of the United States has done something that destroys this beautiful time of renewal. It comes in on a early Sunday morning - about 2 am. It ruins the entire season. What is this dastardly thing? It is Day Light Savings Time. I hate it, hate it, hate it.

Being retired, this time of year shouldn't bother me that much, but it does. George still is working. That meant we are on a schedule. We are effected by this blasted time change where we are getting up an hour earlier. Just when it is daylight when the drive to work comes, it is ripped away again, and the drive is in the dark again.

During this change time, I am chronically tired. My body tells me everyday for about a month that I am forcing it up an hour early. I am not a morning person - never was. Working was a terrible thing for me. When we moved to Swampland, I didn't know the schools took up at 7:30 in the morning! I grew up with schools beginning at the more civilized time of 8:30 This is an outrage. Then when DST was thrust upon us, it almost killed me.

I really don't see the reason for the change. The sun doesn't stay around an hour longer. The amount of daylight is the same. If you need sunlight for your jobs, you get up earlier. Actually, I wouldn't mind DST - IF we stayed on it all year. I think it would be helpful more in the winter. We would have more daylight in the late afternoons. More people are functioning at that time, and it gets dark so early.

But, those in power don't listen to us. I know I am not alone in detesting this time change. I have not heard anyone praise this blasted change. If that is so, why do we still do it? Statistics show there are more traffic accidents during the first couple of weeks of time change than normal - usually pedestrian/vehicle. It's just not a good thing.


Monday, March 02, 2009

I did it!

I knew the day would come. It was a given. It rolls around every year at this time, so it was inevitable. I had been waiting for it and really dreading its arrival. It came on Saturday. It was The Day. It was . . . income tax calculating day.

That in itself brings great trembling to me. In years past, there was much yelling and cursing. It was horrible. I usually found some other place to be. The kids and I would flee in terror. Recently, there has not been such wrath. I think part of it was when George worked at H&R Bloc*. Now we buy the software, and things seem to go well.

The real terror of the day was the fact that I had to clean off the computer desk. That room that was affectionately called "the study" had become "the catch all." Of course we have satellite "catch all" rooms. I simply don't have the energy to put things where they should be. I'll get one room straight, but all the junk from that room has to go someplace.

I know I should put myself on a schedule, and I have one worked out in my brain. But I am still too immature to stick to that schedule. I have watched the OCD people, and I could become one of them if I didn't watch it. They don't have any fun. They are constantly alphabetizing their pantry and medicine cabinets.

When the kids were little, I knew that they would someday be gone. I wanted to make memories with them. I wanted to go places and do things with them. I knew no one would come in and clean up. It would be here when we returned. I never said we couldn't go and do because I had to clean house. My house was clean enough to be healthy. It may have clutter, but it was basically clean.

I had a house keeper come in once a week for a while. She really tried to do things to please us. I hated for her to do the laundry because somehow she managed to wrinkle permanent press. When you would go to the closet for a clean blouse, it looked like it had been slept in - by an elephant. I can't imagine how she thought that would pass.

She also began cooking for us. She made some delicious Mexican food. It was heavenly. I learned a lot from her. But the cooking took time from the cleaning. Cooking I don't mind - cleaning was what I hated and was paying her to do. So the housework was still there. We let her go - telling her that Krissi was going to do the work for an allowance.

But back to the monster that was looming in the study. I finally slunk in there. After moving all the things George had piled in my desk chair, I sat and looked at the mountain of stuff. I made a plan. I started at the far end. I went through piece by piece. I found things I had completely forgotten about. I found tax things that I had not put in the file cabinet. Wow.

All the while, I was waiting for the computer in there to load. It had not been on in months. It always takes forever to load. I hoped it still worked. So it is sitting there, just spinning its hard drive along, loading away. I sat there going through stuff. I made piles of things. I had things to go upstairs to the craft room, things to go into the file for taxes, and a lot of junk.

After just a few minutes I was done. I asked George if he wanted me to load the software. He was a little non-commital so I knew. The answer was yes. As the computer inched its way along the loading process, I became impatient. I started hitting keys to try to hurry the process along. I ended up in a continuous loop. I had frozen the computer. So I left it alone after restarting to have lunch. After several minutes - like a couple of hours, the program was loaded and updated.

During that time, I returned to that room and picked up the rest of the junk that had accumulated in the room. One could actually get to the book case! Movement could happen. There was more than one little pathway.

I tackled the printer then. I finally got a document to load from "My Documents." I hit the print command. For a minute, the printer just sat there. Humm. Finally it spit out a sheet - with nothing on it. My cartridges were empty.

They were the ones that I had Walgr**ns fill. What. A. Mistake. Never again. They never worked properly. I then remembered why I had not printed anything in a long time. I put in new cartridges and it worked like a dream.

Later George went in. In a couple of hours he came out. I waited breathlessly for the result. He said he wasn't in a hurry to file. I knew what that meant. So I asked the pressing question: how much do we owe? It is a pittance, so that was a great relief.

It was a successful day. I cleaned the study and the den. Have two bags of paper to go out for recycling. Shredded enough papers to fill two bins. And the taxes got done. We did good! And there was no yelling if you discount me yelling at the computer for being so balky.