Friday, February 19, 2021

Cute and Cuddly

 

GREETINGS!  from the thawing but still pretty damn chilly gulf coast.  The snow/ice has melted as of right now and there is only one more day of hard freeze temperatures to look forward to.  Of course, that doesn’t mean all the problems of the past few days are magically fixed – not yet but hopefully very soon. 

And hopefully, come election time again in Texas, people will remember who did not do their job and help get the problems fixed, who went on a sunny vacation, and who pointed fingers and played the “not me” game. 

On a different subject . . . .


This is Daryl.  He’s one of the Demon Duo.


This is Daryl doing his Innocent Kitty routine.

You may remember in an earlier post I mentioned that prior to turning off the water, I filled all sorts of containers, including the bathtub, with water to use for various necessary things.

Yesterday, I heard odd noises coming from the small bathroom wherein lies the tub and went to check.


This is Daryl IN THE BATHTUB, PLAYING IN THE WATER!

And,


This is wet Daryl sitting on my bed, drying himself off.

CUTE AND CUDDLY! 

I wanted CUTE AND CUDDLY not “how much can I get away with before mom runs screaming down the street”.


 

19 February 2021

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Is it Saturday Yet?

  

I ask this because according to The Weather Channel, it is supposed to start warming up on Saturday.  I’ll be able to turn on the water for real.  Not need to wear three shirts, socks, and heavy flannel pants and still be cold.  And, we’ll have some “normal” winter for a few days until Summer arrives.

Yesterday was Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Carneval, Saturnalia or Lupercalia, Karneval, Fastnacht or Fasching, Fastevlan, or whatever you call it, wherever you are.  I’ve been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans several times in my life both as a child and an adult.  It’s unabashed fun with just a bit of craziness. 


I’ve watched the Flambeaux carriers dance through the French Quarters.

 


Seen amazing floats.


and, people in unique costumes.

Several long years ago, in an effort to increase tourism, Galveston started celebrating Mardi Gras with parades, costumes and its own brand of crazy fun.



Today it is supposed to warm up to a balmy 35°.  However, it is also raining today.  Ugh!  My weather station seems to think it may also sleet.  Joy.

Is it Saturday yet?

No, well days like this are good for staying inside and reading or listening to a good story. 

The Iron Winter and the Raggedy Old Man.

The Russian winter of 1910 was the severest in memory. It was so cold that it was known as the ‘Iron Winter’.

 Because of its location, a prosperous and popular hotel some twenty kilometers from Moscow, suffered particular loss of business. No one had stayed there for weeks and the owner had laid off most of his staff.


One evening, he was surprised to hear a knock on his front door. Upon opening it, he was confronted by a grey bearded, raggedy old man. The old man said that he had been out in the snow for several days. He was freezing cold and starving hungry. Could the hotelier give him a meal and a bed for the night?

“I can certainly do that”, said the hotelier, “For one night’s accommodation plus a meal, the charge is three rubles. Can you pay?” The old man confessed that he had no money, but if he was sent away, he would surely die in the cold.

The hotelier felt sorry for the old man and told him to come inside. He took him to the kitchen where, bubbling away on the stove was a pot of borsch (beetroot soup). The hotelier ladled out a large portion of the borsch, added a twist of sour cream and for good measure, gave his visitor half a loaf of rye bread. The raggedy old man was obviously very hungry and soon disposed of the bread and the soup. The hotelier laughed to see a great beetroot stain along the bottom of the old man’s moustache

The raggedy old man thanked the hotelier for the food and said, “You won’t see the going of me in the morning, but although I have no money now, I will pay you the three rubles when I have it”. The hotelier said nothing but did not expect to see either the three rubles or the old man ever again.

The snow eventually cleared and business began to pick up. In fact the hotel became busier than it had ever been.

In the spring, being a devoutly religious man, the hotelier decided to go to the great cathedral in the city to give thanks to God for the hotel’s recovery and continued success.


Upon arrival in the capital, he made straight for the cathedral. Once inside, he gazed around the interior of the ancient church. His eyes fell upon the many icons that adorned the walls. He was drawn in particular to one image in a far corner.

It was painted in the likeness of an old man with a grey beard and seemed vaguely familiar. As he drew closer, he noticed a dark, beetroot like stain upon the moustache. He looked at the name inscribed beneath the image. It read, “Saint Nicholas”

He reached for a candle to place in front of the icon and as he moved the loose earth into which he would fix the candle, his hand touched something small and hard. It was a coin, a ruble. Beside it were two more. He picked them up and looked again at the icon.

The beetroot stain was gone and the face was smiling.


I chose this story because it appears we are also having an "Iron Winter", not just here but all over.  So, remember this story if there's a knock on your door . . . .

 

17 February 2021

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Survive!

  

Well, yes – that sounds a bit dramatic, specially to anyone living north of Dallas (aka The Frozen Northlands).  However, this weather is just TERRIBLE, AWFUL, SCARY, AND *^&%$#()!!!! COLD.

And, I’m ready for it to go away now.


While I don’t dislike a normal winter (50’s day to low 40’s night with the occasional dip to 32°), this nonsense of highs in the 20’s and dropping into the teens is unacceptable.  Of course, if I lived someplace north of Dallas, everything (like the house, water lines, my clothes) would be better able to handle these ridiculous temperatures.  But . . . .

I have been lucky though.  Haven’t lost power and hopefully won’t lose power.  And, I did shut the water off at the meter Sunday afternoon.  Not to worry though.  I live in hurricane country and know how to prepare for no water/electricity.  Filled the bath tub and every container I have with water and can flush toilets, wash hands/face, and deal with dishes.  Found my flashlights and put them in handy places.  And, since cold could be an issue, made sure all my blankets/quilts were ready to be put into use. 


630am Monday

The Demon Duo do not know what to make of that white stuff.  They stare intently through the window at it.


Yesterday morning long about 7-ish in the morning, I decided to go outside and take pictures of the snow.  (We don’t get snow very often so everyone here tends to be a bit stupid about it).  The glass door was frozen shut.  Hmmm.  Gave it a couple of good thumps and it popped open.  Wearing sweatpants/shirt and SANDALS (I live in the south!!!!!), I stepped out onto the front porch.  It was 15°.



Turned back to the glass door and - - - couldn’t open the door.  The latch was frozen.  Many things went through my mind.  I had my phone.  Could call my sister (who would still be asleep) – no.  So, I slogged around to the back yard and the shed, found a small leather mallet, and gave the latch a good whack!  And, it opened without a problem. 

No more snow but lots of ice this morning.



I am ready for it to go away.

After this, I do not know much.  Oh – I did finish a book yesterday.


Hold Back the Dark (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit) by Kay Hooper

Madness has taken ahold in Prosperity, North Carolina. Residents are killing one another, as if in a nightmare, and waking up with no memory of the monstrous acts they've committed--or why. As the death toll climbs, the local Sheriff calls for help in the form of The Special Crimes Unit. It will take all their training, all their experience, and every extra sense they can call on to get to the bottom of things in Prosperity. And as a dark pattern begins to emerge, even the most experienced and hardened SCU agents have to wonder if this is beyond their understanding.

OK – I always think I’m going to like these books.  In truth, I seldom do.  I mean each member of the SCU is a psychic.  Some have extraordinary powers.  Just the kind of book I’d like!  However, the author gives the reader a tremendous amount of descriptive information on each power each agent has – over and over again.  Also on the relationships between agents over and over again.  The actual story – the mystery – gets lost in the agent’s interactions with their abilities and with each other.  Then, it seems, the author realizes she has used up her number of words/pages and hurriedly ends the story.  Disappointing.

And, that’s all for today.  Stay warm out there everyone!  And don’t look at the news.  It’s all frustrating, irritating, sad, and stress inducing.


16 February 2021

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Winter

  

So remember the other day when I posted two weather related pictures?  One of THEN and the other, COMING-SOON?

Then

Coming-Soon

 

Well, Coming-Soon is here.

Fri 12   43°/37°

Sat 13   42°/33°

Sun 14   46°/23°

Mon 15   28°/14°
AM Wintry Mix

Tue 16   43°/35°

Wed 17   60°/32°

Thu 18   47°/28°

Fri 19   59°/39°  

Sat 20    

Spring Returns!



Please make arrangement to have it hauled back to the frozen northlands
 as soon as possible.  Thank you.

Today I started making freeze and “Wintery Mixture” plans.  Went to the other house where I turned up the heat and turned off the water.  All the topicals planted there are likely to freeze to the ground and maybe come back in the spring but not holding my breath.  At the new house, I spent several hours moving a few plants either inside or into the (now) heated shed.  Then covered all the newly planted trees and shrubs.  And finally I covered those container plants that are outside.


Said good-bye to the Pachira aquatica (or Money Tree).  It’s over 7 feet tall and too hard for me to move alone.  Pachira aquatica, is a tree that grows in the swamps of Central and South America.  I had planned to plant it in the ground eventually which would give it a better chance of surviving our usually spotty winter.  I will try to cover the container and its roots but I hold little hope for its survival. 

Today we’re supposed to have a toasty high temp of 41° though, so far (and it’s a now after 2pm) we’ve not gotten out of the 30’s.  And, I’m sure someone, somewhere is saying/thinking – “Really??? Not getting out of the 30’s – boo hoo.  Try not getting out of single digits!!” 

Yes, BUT I live in South Central Texas a mere 40 miles from the warm Gulf of Mexico. 


Whine, whine, whine.

Well, I am off to sit in my recliner with a blanket, two cats and a cut of hot tea. 

Stay warm!

11 February 2021

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Safe-ish

 

Well, this Sunday past I got my 2nd COVID shot.  Guess I’m safer - along with wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying out of crowds.

The first shot didn’t phase me even a little bit.  The second one there were some unpleasant side effects though they lasted only one day.  Monday – I slept most of the day (what my body does when it doesn’t feel 100%) and then went to bed at 830pm and slept all night.  And, today I’m back to 100%.

My knee is still a bit tender from the fall but I did go to yoga last night.  Last time I tried doing yoga, I spent much of the class sitting and meditating!  This time it was better.

I have, every year since their birth, always given/sent Valentine Day cards to my children and grandchildren.  And I got those mailed off – yep – mailed with a stamp and everything.  Doesn’t everyone enjoy getting something tangible in the mail??


Did a bit of cooking.  Several potatoes were at the point of use or toss.  So I made mashed potatoes and froze them.  Yes – they look like muffins but that’s because I freeze them in muffin tins.  Just pop into the oven and, voilĂ , yummy mashed potatoes!


Also made pasties with sausage and vegetables and beef stew – all of which went into the freezer for future dinners.  I don’t care too much for commercial frozen meals and it is hard to cook for just one person still.  So, I will cook a bunch of things and put them in the freezer, therefore having home-cooked meals.  Works for me.

The temperatures here have stayed in the 60-70’s; a bit cooler at night but not much. 

Today

 However, it appears we are due for a few days of winter after all.  By this weekend we are going to see low’s in the 30-20’s (Hey! I live in south central Texas – that’s cold here!).  Ugh.  Generally, I don’t mind the cold BUT this year I am not prepared, plant- or house-wise.  I’ll have to turn up the heat at the other house and make sure all exposed pipes are covered.  Additionally, I’ll have to cover newly planted things here and get the heaters hooked back up for the ones in the shed and Ellen’s shop. 

I even saw we have a chance of the dreaded S’ stuff.  (Snow or gods forbid, Sleet.) 

Later This Week

Nothing very exciting here.  Just day-to-day living.  Stay warm everybody!


 9 February 2021

Friday, February 5, 2021

Thoughts and Words

  

I am highly annoyed with that groundhog.  Rather that frolic in the sun, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and dove back to his burrow. 

Here in Texas, we have our own weather prognosticator.  Armadillo Bob. 


However, this year, Bob (and his handlers) decided to take COVID seriously and chose to stay safely home.  Probably a smart thing to do.

After what has been a very mild winter for us, it seems we are going to see some cold weather this month after all.  The huge storm hitting the frozen northlands


 (and for me, the “frozen northlands” start somewhere just north of Dallas) seems to be trickling down this way.  And, while I don’t think we’ll get any snow, it is supposed to be right chilly.  Ugh. 

Yesterday was a very fun day.  Bobby and I went adventuring – this time lost cemetery hunting. 

Now, here’s my opinion on cemeteries.  They’re for the living.  Personally, I don’t think the dead care.  Their spirit either moves onto the next adventure or hangs around.  If they chose to hang around, I believe they go to people or places that were held special. 

Anyway, Wharton is a small rural town and has been since its conception in 1838.  It is surrounded by small rural communities.  Small rural places set up small cemeteries all over the place.  There are 49 documented places in Wharton County. 

Bobby mentioned the other day that he’d seen a small cemetery out in the county between Wharton (the town) and Boling.  Yes, sez I, I know about that one.  It’s odd because it’s in a small neighborhood type place.  Nope – it’s by its self was the reply.  Off we went.  And found a small very neglected cemetery. 



This makes me very sad that this place seems to hold no importance to anyone.  I wonder, did the living “do” the “right thing”, dust off their hands and walk away to never think of it again??  Did they move far away and never think of it again??  Better to have planted a tree than a fancy granite stone.

Ok, sez I, this is not the place I’ve seen.  So, off we went again.  And, lo and behold, just up the road and around the corner, found another one.  This one is located in the middle of a small neighborhood with houses on either side and one across the street.  It’s in slightly better shape although many of the headstones have broken do to ground shift, I think.



The things people put on grave markers are sometimes amusing.  “Tom the Taxi Driver”.  Not too long ago, I saw a grave marker with a fox on it.  Now, I understand the symbols for Christianity, Judaism, Freemasonry, Woodsmen of the World, Eastern Star and others.  However, I do not know the meaning of the fox.  Some research turned up this fact:

The fox is often a symbol of cunning and intelligence. In Finnish mythology, it symbolizes the victory of intelligence over both malevolence and brute strength.

Interesting, perhaps a little odd to find it on a headstone but interesting.


And, sometimes the things the living leave make me wonder.  At the base of the marker is a ball cap - maybe a Houston Astros fan?  I once left a sea shell on the grave of a young man.  When I first met him as a child, I gave him a shell and I left another there.

Then, we did some searching for a truly forgotten and buried cemetery.  This one is also out in the county between Boling and Iago. 

We stopped in front of a narrow strip of land bordered on each side by plowed fields.

Weedy doesn’t even begin to describe this.  The growth is at least knee deep, however, adventuring and all, we plunged into the weeds and brambles.  And found this


A circle of blooming Narcissus.  Hmmmmm.  Bobby felt around and uncovered this


When I got home, I did a little research and found little Albert, his parents, and siblings (all gone now), though  Albert is remembered by the flowering plants.  I also discovered this place is called the Iago Senf Cemetery and there are a bunch of people buried there.  But they seem truly forgotten about.

Walking through a cemetery is sometimes very calming, sometimes very sad, sometimes very informative, always interesting.  But, all-in-all, I still think it’s better to plant a tree rather than a stone.

 

5 Feb 2021

Monday, February 1, 2021

February

 

It’s February and I am chock full of all sorts of quasi-useless information to share.

February is named after the ancient spring festival of washing and purification, Februa.  

Historical names for February include the Old English Solmonath (mud month) and Kalemonath (cabbage month) as well as Charlemagne's designation Hornung (which seems to mean blowing a horn – I don’t know). 

It is the only month that has fewer than 30 days and . . .

is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon (last happened in 2018; next in 2037).

is the only month of the calendar that, once every six years and twice every 11 years consecutively, has four full 7-day weeks where February 1st is a Monday and the 28th is a Sunday (this occurred in 1965, 1971, 1982, 1993, 1999, 2010 and 2021). 

The zodiac signs of February are Aquarius and Pisces. 


Aquarius thinks for themself and likes to keep an open mind about things.
Aquarius has an angry side that can surprise people.
Aquarius have a bad habit of overthinking things waaaay more than they should.
Aquarius can be quite emotional but they don’t always show it to others.

Yep, I have some of those in my family.


Pisces has a BIG heart and a LOT of love to give to the world
Pisces is incredibly intuitive and they follow their instincts.
Pisces is super adaptable and able to get along with all sorts of people.
Sometimes Pisces just needs to be on their own for a while.

and, this too.

Birth flower for February is the Violet.


In Roman myth, the first violet sprung from the spilled blood of the god Attis, who killed himself for Cybele, the mother goddess.  Violets are associated with tranquility and peace. It offers protection from evil.  Carry the flowers with you to bring about luck and enhance nighttime magic.  Plus, violets are one of the many edible plants you may find in the wild or in your garden.  Violets can be candied or brewed into a water, a vinegar, or even a tea.

“Take a quantity of Blew Violets, clip off the whites and pound them well in a stone morter; then take as much fair running water as will sufficiently ainty them and mix with the Violets; strain them all; and to every halfe pint of the liquor put one pound of the best loafe sugar; set it on the fire, putting the sugar in as it melts, still stirring it; let it boyle but once or twice att the most; then take it from the fire, and keep it to your use. This is a ainty sirrup of Violets.”

Interesting to have a cookbook of ancient recipes – never know what you’ll find.


The birthstone for this month is Amethyst.  Roman matrons believed that wearing it would help to guarantee fidelity.  This calming stone allows you to quiet your mind, which can aid in sleep/meditation, so carry a small stone with you.

This is - - - -

National Bird Feeding Month  Time to dust off you bird feeder and put it out.  There are all sorts of bird food recipes but since I am seeing cardinals all over the yard, here’s one for them.


Cardinal Casserole

Raw beef suet or lard or shortening
2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup birdseed mix
1 cup green grapes
1/2 tsp. sand

Mix bread crumbs, bird seed mixture and green grapes. Set aside. Put beef suet through meat grinder and melt in a double boiler. Remove from heat, allow to cool and start to harden. Reheat and while in liquid form, pour 1-1/2 cups over dry ingredients. Add sand. Mix well. Put in a 5” x 3” x 1” small, foil loaf pan. Refrigerate until firm. Place on feeder tray.

National Goat Yoga Month  I kid you not, this is a thing - - -


What is Goat Yoga? Goat Yoga is just as it sounds… Yoga with goats. Goat Yoga is the newest fitness craze to hit the country! First off, it is so much fun! All you hear is laughter the whole time! Second, it brings every diverse community together! Goat Yoga is for EVERYONE!! Goats dont judge, Goats just Love! Third, Goat Yoga is good for yogi’s and the goats! Yoga Goats love yoga! Goats love the attention and human interaction, and likewise yogi’s love the feel of doing different and new types of yoga in a field surrounded by nature. It is healing for the mind, body, and spirit.

Hmmmmm – I have yoga tonight – wonder if Abby is going to surprise us???

Cordova Ice Worm Days.  This is another “I kid you not” thing.  There’s a festival for it in Alaska.


Believe it or not, Iceworms are real ice-dwelling creatures! They existed long before our beloved festival. In fact, they were first discovered in the 1800's by Dr. G. F. Wright on Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay. They live as far south as Washington, and can be found in Southeast and South Central Alaska. A member of the segmented worms, the annelids, iceworms are related to common earthworms and leeches. Scientists believe that iceworms feed on snow algae, pollen grains, ice and snow. In turn, iceworms are preyed upon by snow buntings and other birds. Though commonly found in the more porous snow and "solid ice", the iceworms seem to move with ease. It has been theorized that they crawl around the ice crystals that make up the glacier.

And, finally, today is

International Brownie Camera Day.


In February of 1900, the Brownie came along and made photography affordable for just about everyone!  A reliable camera could be purchased for $1 and the film, with processing included, added $0.15 to the total.  I still have mine.  I’d post up a few pictures I took (back in the mid-1950s) but the book must be in my cedar box which has a heavy chest sitting on it – maybe another day.

 


1 Feb 2021