Friday, March 27, 2020

Quietly Busy

This week has been quiet.  And, busy.  But mostly quiet.

Once upon a time, long ago, in early married years, I was a stay-at-home mom.  We had only one car.  My husband worked and went to school so he tended to be gone all day and into the night.  I was home all day with our two little girls.  There were times in those early years that I thought I would forget how to talk/interact with adult humans because all I talked with were 2-year olds. 

I am feeling a bit like that again except instead of talking to two human 2-year olds, I talk to two cats. 

Earlier this week I had a bit of a political melt down. 

Now, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m fairly apolitical.  I usually don’t go off into rants.  That said, I do not believe any member of the current administration (both WA DC and TX) are doing even a moderately good job.

The other day, this happened -

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggests he and other seniors should be willing to die to get economy going again.  That grandparents would [should] be willing to risk their health and even lives in order for the United States to “get back to work” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Right.  Well, let’s see an example, like him and all politicians 65 and over out doing essential jobs - working in the grocery stores, food production facilities, pharmacies, health care locations, for the utility companies, shipping industry, banks, law enforcement and as emergency personnel.  I am pretty damn sure that none of their jobs are considered essential.  And, just to qualify – a couple hours here/there doesn’t count – 40-hour weeks. 

It’s summer time here in my part of Texas.  The high temperature today is 90°.  Ugh.  I really do hate it when it gets this hot this early.  It just means August will be hot enough to melt cement.  I spent the last three days mowing, weeding, moving huge giant heavy potted plants from here to there to way over there.  I don’t have a great deal of sun in my back yard (7 pecan trees) and trying to place things where they will get the maximum sun is an ongoing dance.  Of course, later in the summer (the aforementioned August) I will be moving them all to shadier places. 

And, I will say, after all my hard work, things are looking pretty good.

Still have a few plumerias to pot up and find places for.  And, last month I planted some seeds – just to see if I can get them to grow –

Orange, Lemons, and Brugmansia (aka: Angel Trumpet) 

The last couple days have been windy – 15-20 mph.  My wisteria has been beautiful – a solid mass of purple blooms on my gazebo.  Now, however with the wind, the floor of the gazebo is kind of pretty itself.

I left several patches of wild flowers in the yard –

Thought, in long past times,
when burnt to kill fleas and other insects

Pink Buttercups
You know how to tell if someone likes butter?
Just twirl a buttercup under their chin.
If their chin has yellow on it, they like butter!

My whole yard and house are covered with these annoying things

Tent Caterpillars
You can spray poison all over your
house and yard but it’s easier to
wait for them to go away in a few weeks.

Lets see – what else.  I have a baby tomato!!  Yay!

This is my newest acquisition –

Pereskia aculeata

Pereskia aculeata is a primitive cactus that has not evolved to lose its leaves.  It is a vining cactus with leaves that are pink, golden, and green.  It’s also called “Barbados Gooseberry” or “Lemon Vine”.  It flowers and produces an edible fruit.  The fruit can be eaten raw or made into jams/jellies.  And, the leaves are valued for their emollient nature and can be applied to inflammations and tumors.

I want mine to look like this, when it grows up!

Everyone stay safe.  Stay healthy.

27 Mar 2020

Monday, March 23, 2020

Miscellaneous Stuff

I’m tired of the whole self-isolating thing now.

It’s not like I am on the go every day.  Most days (under normal circumstances) I am at home BUT I have the option to go out – to run errands, pick up one thing at the grocery store, visit the shops on the square, make a trip into Rosenberg to get whatever the hell appeals to me.  Not so much right now.  Ugh

I have stayed busy with many half-finished and thought-of-doing projects.  So, mostly I’m just whining.

One of the many odd things I have is a collection of very vintage cookbooks.  I enjoy them.  I rearranged that group of very old books recently and stopped to look through a couple.  The oldest one (maybe 1880-1890) belonged to my great grandmother.  The book itself is very fragile and the name of it has worn off but it offers some interesting recipes, like Charlotte a la Parisienne . . .

Along with ones for Keeping Steel Knives from Rusting, Keeping Ivory Handles from Cracking, and Purfying a Well.  Cookbooks were a lot more interesting, back in the long ago days.

Stuck in among the cookbooks was this little gem.

It was put out in the early 1920’s by American Maid Flour which was evidently located in Houston, TX.  And, yes, it has stories

plus a few recipes

We’ve had several rainy to drizzly days lately.  It’s good, we need the rain but it means I’m truly house bound.  Today the rain finally passed on.  So, I went out and walked the neighborhood.  Didn’t see any people but I did notice cars – parked in driveways – something I don’t see during the week normally.  I also took a few pictures

This is an excellent treehouse tree.  I’d like to move it to my yard.  And this is the biggest cabbage I’ve ever seen.

I recently posted a recipe for making maple candy using 100% pure maple syrup.  I like maple candy so I decided to make it myself.  The only bit of advice I have to offer is – when the recipe says beat it for several minutes – it means for about two minutes.  It sets up fast.  So fast, I couldn’t get it into molds.  However, it tastes just as good broken in bits.

I set out a few decorations last Friday for Ostara.  When my children were young, I made and dyed few hard boiled eggs.  Mostly I made Cascarones (which are blown eggs, dyed and filled with confetti).  It’s good luck to have a Cascarone cracked over your head.  You can buy them these days but 50-odd years back, not so much.  And, for years I saved out a particularly pretty egg for future decorating.  These days I set them out with the Bunny Family.  For 6 or 7 years Michael would give me a new bunny.  I finally told him to stop or the Bunny Family would be completely out of control.  Then a few years ago, I sent each grandchild one of the bunny children.  I kept the original two though.

As I got out the baskets, etc, I decided to include only a few eggs.  I’m concerned the Demon Duo will decide those are for them and I will have broken eggs and confetti everywhere. 

Some of the eggs are ones my mother made – silky eggs with a cross stitched band.

And finally, I replaced all the broken part of my tea cup feeder.  Filled it with seed and hung it outside the window.

It’s hard to see but there’s a Cardinal on it in this picture and Daryl keeps a close eye on it.

23 Mar 2020

Saturday, March 21, 2020


Spring has Sprung!

Flowers are blooming!

Fruit is ripening in the trees!

Annnd, last night it got cold

Okay, maybe not that cold but the
temperatures went down into the low 50’s.

While this may sound mild to anyone north of Dallas

That blue splot is about where Wharton is located.
Dallas is nearly 300 miles away. 
In the cold places.

to us here,
it got cold. 
Shorts were put away,
long sleeved shirts and pants came back out.

However, no worries
Monday, it’s going to be back in the 80’s

Oh joy of joys
 And by Wednesday we’re going to hit 90 degrees.

Summer will be knocking on the door.

In March.

21 Mar 2020

Friday, March 20, 2020

Eostre . . .Ostara . . .Vernal Equinox

Today, Friday, March 20, is the official start of spring.  Ostara (the Spring Equinox) marks the moment when the days and nights are roughly equal in length.

The Earth tilts at an angle of 23.5 degrees on its axis relative to its plane of orbit around the sun. As the Earth orbits the sun over the course of a year, different places get sunlight for different amounts of time. An equinox occurs at the moment when the Earth’s axis doesn’t tilt toward or away from the sun. Someone standing on the equator on an equinox can observe the sun passing directly overhead. Additionally, equinoxes are the only two times a year that the sun rises due east and sets due west.

The word Ostara originates from a Spring Goddess’s name—Eostre.  And, you’re probably not surprised to know the symbols of Ostara are uncannily similar to many traditions of the Christian holiday Easter.  Why?  Well, they take place very close to one another. 

To determine Easter on the calendar – look at the first full moon following the Spring Equinox (April 8), and Easter will be on the first Sunday (April 12) following the full moon.

And, probably because it was easy to incorporate many of the pagan celebrations into newer Christian holy days – better acceptance by the regular people.

Ever wonder about an egg-laying rabbit?  This should answer that question -
Once Upon a Time - The goddess Ostara arrived late one spring and found a bird unable to fly, his wings frozen in snow. The story goes that the goddess took pity on the bird and took him in as her pet. Because he could no longer fly, she turned him into a hare that could out run any hunter. She also gave him the ability to lay colorful eggs. Unfortunately, as rabbits are very fertile creatures, Ostara became angry with the rabbit’s love affairs, and cast him into the sky where he would remain forever in the stars as the constellation Lepus under the feet of Orion, the Hunter. However, once a year the kind goddess allowed the rabbit to return to earth and give away his colored eggs to children celebrating the Ostara festivals each spring.

So, what are some of the symbols of Ostara.  Well, flowers in bloom

Eggs are another, symbolizing fertility and rebirth.

Another symbol is rabbits.  In ancient times, rabbits were associated with fertility and it was thought that eating rabbit meat could cure barren women.

 Just FYI:  Baby rabbits are called Kits 
and a bunch of rabbits are called
a colony, a nest, or a herd (depending on what you read).

This year, you might try some natural dyes for your eggs.  For instance, boiling an egg in water with paprika added will turn it pink, red beets will give you a nice lavender color, coffee grounds - a golden brown, red cabbage will give you a pretty blue, and frozen spinach will bring out a light green.  Just remember, if you plan on eating the eggs after they’re boiled, they may take on the flavor of the dyes, so you could wind up with coffee or cabbage flavored eggs.

Oh My!  What special foods can I fix.  Okay – obviously –

Deviled Eggs garnished with greens or edible flowers.  Which flowers?  Well …..

The redbud is one of those trees you rarely notice until spring blossom time. Then they pop out with purple-pink flowers. Redbud flowers are usually tart and slightly sweet.

Violets, which are common in lawns and flowerbeds.  Ours here aren’t as sweet as European violets but they can be used just the same.

Dandelion flowers. The yellow petals are sweet but the green parts are a bit bitter.

What else?  How about

Ostara Mint Tea Cakes
Hearth & Home Witchery

4 C. Flour
6 Eggs, beaten
1 C. Sugar
Crumbled, dried Mint leaves or 1/8 t. Mint flavoring
1 Quart Milk
2/3 C. softened Butter
1 C. Powdered Sugar
2 T. Milk

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Cream butter and sugar together until light.  Beat eggs well and add to butter and sugar mixture.  Add mint/mint flavoring  Add milk and mix well.  Add flour and mix well.  Pour into mini-muffin tins to fill each cup to halfway. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.  Remove from muffin tin.  Leave tea cakes "upside down" and drizzle with glaze. Garnish with candied flowers.


Maple Candy
Witch in the Kitchen
 2 cups real maple syrup

Using a candy thermometer, in a sturdy saucepan with high sides, bring the maple syrup to a boil.  Turn heat to very low and allow syrup to continue boiling without stirring until the thermometer reads 233 deg F.  Be careful the syrup doesn’t boil over.  When the reduced syrup has reached 233°F, remove from heat and allow to cool without stirring until the thermometer reads 110°F.  Now it’s time to beat the reduced syrup with a wooden spoon.  Beat vigorously for several minutes.  The syrup gradually turns a pale caramel color and becomes stiff enough to hold a shape.  Place in candy molds or form into patties.  Allow to cool completely.

One last thing you can do – weather permitting, go outside and stand barefoot in the grass.  Soak up some of the power and serenity the earth offers.  Perhaps, sit or lay down in the grass for a moment, watch the sky, feel the power.  Let your mind drift for a while and just enjoy the sights and sounds of springtime at your house.

20 Mar.2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


In the not too distant past, we went on our first adventure of 2020 (and perhaps, the last one for a little while).

Now, I am a native Texan.  I’ve lived most of my 72 years in Texas in this general part of Texas, that is the Gulf Coast Plains (which means, I live close to the Gulf of Mexico).  In my life time, I’ve been to many TX beaches – Crystal, Galveston, Surfside, Freeport, Port Aransas beaches along with Rockport, South Padre and Matagorda beaches.

In all that time, I’ve never been to Sargent Beach.  And this was the destination of our adventure.

First of all – there is no direct road from here to there.  We went from one county road to another, through several small and tiny towns.

At one point we went through the tiny town of Sugar Valley.  And, when I say tiny – I’m not exaggerating - in 2000 there was a population of 35.  I mention this little place because I saw this

 a round house

Sargent, Texas is a small unincorporated community (population about 2000) and, for the most part, it’s more popular with those that fish than a hangout for the beautiful people.  To get there you have to cross a swing-bridge (one of few still left here and about to be replaced by a huge, tall, giant roadway, too bad).  A swing-bridge doesn’t lift up like a drawbridge but instead swings to one side to allow ships on the Intercoastal Canal to pass. 

The day we went it was foggy on the beach

Tides were high so there wasn’t much ‘beach’ but enough to walk along for a while.

There were lots of shells and all sorts of driftwood.

pretty wild flowers

the sun finally broke through cloudy skies


and a big cock

Choices of dining establishments were few – we stopped at one place that was a gas station, small grocery store, a plumbing store, a hardware store, a fishing store annnd a place to eat –

It was a delightful, relaxing, tension releasing, stress-free day.

I miss the ocean – every single day.

17 Mar 2020

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


You know, it is always more enjoyable to
exercise, (in my case walk a couple miles)
with a friend.

So, the other day, we were out walking
(my neighborhood this time)
looking at plants, houses, tree,
and other interesting things.

And, after walking nearly the 2 miles,
Oh look, he sez, holes in the ground.
Lets go see.

You know I don’t do well in holes.
I am just a bit (a huge lot) claustrophobic.

Come on

Okay but you go first to scare off any
bats and
rats and
el e fants
(because I’m a big baby and if I
see any of those, I’ll run
screaming out!)

Okay, okay.
not a scrunch up and walk bent over hole
not a long tunnel
there was dirt and cement and people on top of me!

Still I was brave
(following along behind the big tall person)

And, there was a
light at the end of the tunnel.

And, grass and
wildflowers on the other side.

Then we walked back to my house.

10 Mar 2020