Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Age and other stuff


Well, I had planned for this bit of writing to go up yesterday.  By “planned” I mean, I thought about it for a day or so.  Obviously mental planning and actually putting fingers to keyboard are not the same thing.

This past weekend I drove over to San Antonio to visit with granddaughter #1.  It’s not a bad drive – about 3 hours and it was a delightful visit. 

And, while there we ran a few errands to places I don’t have access to here in small town Texas and we went to several small Farmer’s Markets.

They seem to just pop-up all around SA.  Mostly they are all the same – almost no produce and lots handmade and/or resale items.  I liked these -

Potters on the Creek

These are little windchimes.  And they're very cute.  And, I'm sorry I didn't get myself one.

And in the “you never know what you’ll see” vein . . .

Drew’s Mobile Hookah Lounge

 Alrightie then.

“The mission of Drew’s Mobile Hookah Lounge is to provide a comfortable environment, sometimes relaxing and sometimes energetic and stimulating, around which those who love hookah smoking, as well as new converts, can come together.”

According to granddaughter, the mobile lounge is parked there every weekend.  I have to say, this is something I’ve never seen before and have to think it would be a terrible, awful, eye-burning, choking, bad, unpleasant, disagreeable, horrible experience.  Of course, I’ve never smoked  - - -  but, hmmm, no – see above.

We went over to The Pearl Sunday morning. 

Back in 1883, this was the site of the J.B. Behloradsky Brewery, which later became the San Antonio Brewing Company.  The most popular beer produced was – yes – Pearl so called because the brewmaster thought the foamy bubbles in the poured beer looked like little pearls.  It was such a popular beer the brewery was renamed The Pearl Brewery.  Eventually it was bought by Pabst Brewing Company which closed in early 2000.  Nowadays, it’s a unique location filled with restaurants, cafes, shops, and apartments.  And, on weekends, they also have a large Farmer’s Market.  Like the small ones around town, not much produce this time of the year but lots of vendors with things to sell.  A part of the San Antonio River courses through the old brewery and it’s been turned into a nice, less crowded river walk.

And we saw

a little waterfall

a Yellow Crowned Night Heron (maybe)



Muscovy Red Faced Ducks

As I said at the start, it was a very nice visit and the reason for going was not only to see my granddaughter but also to celebrate

my BIRTHDAY, which was yesterday.

And, I’d like to say that the reason I didn’t get this posted up yesterday was because I was out running the streets like a wild woman . . . but no.  It rained almost all day so instead I decided to do laundry and other housey things. 

Aging is, you know, a weird thing.  I stay busy, exercise daily, garden, and generally think I can do all sorts of things that, on occasion, my body responds with – Have You Lost Your Mind???  I’m Not Doing That!  Still, I am maintaining my aunts’ attitude on getting older.

Never sit down.  Never stop.

She died at age 96.  So I’ve got at least another 20-odd years before getting old.


29 Jun 2021

Friday, June 25, 2021



Just to finish up loose ends –

 A little while back I mentioned the next “leftover” project would be a basket.  Well, I finished it.  One of the less attractive things I’ve made because it’s a Leftover Basket made with many different yarns.  There are three different strands in each stitch and colors were added when others finished.  Hard to tell the by the picture but there is gray, dark turquoise, blue, red, gold, green, brown, and a little yellow.

Still, I am pleased and it holds all the misc yarn still in my stash. 

The first of this month our garden club held its annual Tomato Fest.  In past years members brought home grown tomatoes to the meeting.  They were cut up and set out for taste testing and the best tasting tomato of Wharton County was determined by vote.  Well, with the plague and all, the taste testing was dropped and this year tomatoes were brought in to be judged based on new categories – Biggest, Smallest, Prettiest, Ugliest, Strangest.  Those participating brought in a tomato or three and determined which category it fit into and put it there to be judged.  I brought in two – a Purple Calabash and a Matts Wild Cherry.

I won second place for Ugliest!  It’s the Purple Calabash.  That was the only tomato the plant produced.  Grrrrrrr.  So, I pulled it up and threw it on the burn pile.

In early in June I noticed the yard was all a-jump with these little guys.  Every step had them hopping every which-a-way.  There are still quite a few of these Texas Toads hopping around.  Good!  They eat bugs! 

What else . . . .

Well, today is The Day of the Seafarer (honestly, sounds like an old horror film The Day of the Triffids, comes to mind).  But, no . . . .

“This is day for seafarers of all stripes, from Coast Guards, to Navies, to every fisherman and marine biologist and cruise ship captain. If your job involves a large quantity of salt water, then this day is dedicated to you. The first documented sea voyage was made around 3200 BCE, and was bankrolled by the Egyptian Pharaoh Snefru. Today, over 90% of global trade is done by sea, since it is still the most cost-effective way to transport goods. Marine biologists and oceanographers from every country have dedicated their lives to learning more about the ocean depths, and humans from every walk of life keep going to the sea to explore the planet.”

Sea Fever

John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Today is also Leon Day!

I had to look it up.

Today is a day, long anticipated by those who countdown to Christmas: it’s Leon Day.  Leon Day marks the exact half way mark to Christmas.  It’s all downhill from here.  Why is it called Leon Day?


Are you ready for the answer?


Really ready?


Okay - - - -


Leon is Noel spelled backwards.


And, I’m done for today!


25 Jun 2021

Tuesday, June 22, 2021



I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m a soap maker.  Well, truthfully, in the past couple years I haven’t made much.  Reason?  Well, we did have a plague plus I did have to move – a long arduous process.  And, then I have few outlets for handmade soap these days. 

A small batch can make about 3 pounds of soap or maybe 15 bars.  Really – that’s a lot.  I have one recipe that makes somewhere between 25-30 bars.  I don’t make that unless I have an outlet. 

Recently I came across a recipe for Dandelion Honey Soap.  Cold process method.  Cool!  I had a yard filled with blooming dandelions.  Okay!  I can do this!

Just a quick overview of soap making for anyone not familiar...  There’s cold process, hot process, or melt and pour.  With both cold and hot process, you have to prepare the oils, lye, and liquid, and mix them together.  Similarities end there.  With cold you then stir until the soap reaches trace (a pudding like consistency), then pour into molds.  Cover until cool.  Demold and allow it to air cure for 4-6 weeks.  With hot process, you mix it all together in a crock pot and then “cook” it for an hour.  Scoop into a mold and allow it to cool 24-36 hours, Demold and it’s ready to use.  Melt and pour is simplest.  You buy a premade soap base, melt it in a microwave oven or double boiler, add a scent, pour into molds.  It’s ready to use as soon as it’s cool enough to demold.

Be It Known
 Honey Dandelion Soap
 is a royal pain in the patootie to make !

First of all – you have to go out and pick dandelions.  And, you need a bunch of them.  Flowers, leaves, roots.  Then, you make dandelion tea (stuff a quart canning jar full, add boiling water, let sit for 24 hours) and dandelion oil (stuff a pint canning jar full, add olive oil, let sit 4 weeks). 

OK.  Well, obviously the tea was ready long before the oil so I poured the dandelion tea into ice cube trays and froze it. 

Yesterday, I got everything together to make soap.  Thawed out the dandelion tea, drained the dandelion oil.  All progressing as it should, tea and oil both being a delightful shade of yellow, which, I hoped, would make a pretty shade of yellow in the soap.  Then I mixed oils with lye water and got ready to stir.  Gave it two, three quick stirs and it traced.  No no no no.  Nope, nope this happened too soon.  But trace it was and so thick I couldn’t pour it into the mold; had to scoop it out of the bowl. 


So I scooped it into the mold, covered it well so it wouldn’t cool too quickly, and set it aside.  Then I went to the all-knowing oracle – THE INTERNET.  What??  Why??  How?? 

Well, the oracle said, it may have had too much fatty oil (like shea butter – okay I did use shea butter but not much) or oils and lye water may have been too hot when  were they mixed or it may have been an error in the oil to lye ratio or it may have been something unknown. 

Number One question – is it soap? or, is it trash?  No answers on that question.  Today, I demolded the soap (thinking positive here).  It didn’t lose its saponification (separate back to oil and liquid lye).  That’s good.  The honey, added at the trace stage, didn’t melt during the process and was just sitting there.  So, it just got wiped off.  The color isn’t bad but the pale yellow is now a darker version with brown streaks.  I cut bars and have them in the curing rack.

Any soap makers out there have any advise of the why? and more specifically, is it soap?


 2 Jun 2021


Sunday, June 20, 2021

And the beat goes on …


I am fortunate – my brother-in-law mows the property where sits my house.  I have only to trail along behind with my little electric mower and get the places the riding mower can’t squirm into.  Today I thought I’d get a little ahead of him and was out early – 8AM - to do some mowing and other outside stuff.

The other stuff included pulling weeds, watering just a bit, and moving/replacing the heavy stepping stones that form a path in the back. 

We are having summer here.

Which means it’s very, very, very hot and humid

I came in when I reached this stage.


I’m tired of summer now.

Still have few flowers to show off, but here are the ones I do have blooming now

Texas Star Hibiscus

It’s a mallow but I don’t have a name from it.  It is as big as my hand.  (Mallows and hibiscus are closely related however, a mallow is heartier and although will freeze in even our winter, it comes back from the root.)

Pereskia grandifolia (Rose Cactus)

Night Blooming Cereus

One more little thing to leave you with –

Don’t laugh – I actually saw someone wearing these at our local farmer’s market recently.  OK – go ahead and laugh  hahahahahahahahaha!


20 Jun 2021

Friday, June 18, 2021



While my daughter was here visiting, we did go to a few interesting places.  None were here in Wharton or even Wharton County. 

And just in case you ever wanted to know - Wharton County is, population-wise, small, only 42,000 in the last census.  Land-wise it’s smaller than some but mostly about average to the rest.  And, this may surprise people – it is included in the Greater Houston Combined Statistical Area (yes, that means we’re counted as part of greater Houston).  There are only 3 cities in the county with the most populous being El Campo.  There are 22 unincorporated towns and communities and, surprisingly, 11 ghost towns listed (and why those are included I have no idea because I’ve been through several and there’s really nothing to see that tells you something different/else/old was there).

So anyway, while she was here, we went to see the alligators at Brazos Bend State Park – 

yes – no molesting the alligators.

5000 acres of nature at it’s best

Sadly, this was the only reptile we saw

We also went to the Varner-Hogg Plantation.  The property was originally the home of Martin Varner, one of the Old Three Hundred and a veteran of the Texas Revolution. The original plantation property was over 4,600 acres and Varner raised corn, cattle and sugar cane.  The plantation was sold to Columbus Patton in 1834 who increased the land holdings to 13,000 acres and built a sugar mill.  There were a myriad of problems, changes, deaths, and scandals until ultimately it was bought in the early 1900’s by Governor James Hogg as a family retreat.  Then in the 1950’s, his daughter, Miss Ima Hogg donated the property to the state.  It’s a beautiful place with manicured lawns and a lovely plantation house.

One of the truly unique things to see is the governors bath tub.

It’s a spring fed “tub” that flows into a swimming hole.  And, we don’t have natural hot springs here – that water is chilly!

We also took a day and went to Galveston.  Galveston is a favorite place for us.  I grew up going there as did my children.  It’s changed significantly since I went as a child.  It’s gone from a little beach town to a major tourist end destination with all kinds of entertainment, hotels, restaurants, shops, galleries, people to see, places to go, nice beaches and the warm calm water of the Gulf of Mexico.  My daughter is still a beach baby.

You see all sort of extremes there

The 1877 Elissa


the modern Carnival Vista

docked one across from the other.  

Okay – that’s about it for today.


18 Jun 2021

Wednesday, June 16, 2021



I am a crocheter.  My aunt taught me how to crochet long years ago. 

Like most crocheters (or knitters) I accumulate leftover yarn.  Sometimes a small ball; sometimes a full skein.  But, I don’t like to throw it away – you just never know when you’ll need just a bit of yarn for something. 

Though recently, I did give my daughter a tub full of leftovers.  She also crochets and thought it would be good for practice and such.  (I kept two sort of small - ish boxes).  And, several weeks ago, I decided to make a “leftover” blanket for my bed.  It’s bright and colorful and it works for me.  It’s not too heavy and should be just what I want for spring and fall (yes, we have those seasons – sort of - sometimes)

Think the next project will be a large basket that uses up to 4 different yarns all at the same time. 

Well, off to do the math for the basket because the pattern pretty much says – make a circle and increase around until it’s as big as you want then no more increases. Continue until it’s as tall as you want.

16 Jun 2021

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Books and books


As it happens, my brother and I read the same type of book.  Actually, he buys audio books and listens.  And, he is happy to share them with me.  So, he will load as many audio books on an iPod as possible and send it to me.  Then, I have a bunch of new books to listen to as I do yard work, house work, projects, drive anywhere (other than in Wharton which takes about 5 minutes to get anywhere!), whatever. 

Thought I’d share a few today –

Clive Cussler in general -

Okay, I like the Clive Cussler books, well I like most of them.  I’ve read the Dirk Pitt series, the NUMA Files with Kurt Austin; the Oregon Files starring Juan Cabrillo.  I’ve read less of the Fargos and Isaac Bell because I don’t enjoy those as much.  Cussler was not only a novelist with 69 books to his credit, he was also an underwater explorer having discovered over 60 shipwreck sites.  In addition, he was the founder of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), a non-profit organization dedicated to "preserving our maritime heritage through the discovery, archaeological survey and conservation of shipwreck artifacts” (which happens to be the agency in the Pitt and Austin books).

The Oracle
by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell

In 533 A.D., the last King of the Vandals still rules in Northern Africa--but a prophecy reveals that his reign is doomed. A curse was laid upon the kingdom after certain sacred scrolls were stolen. The Vandal kingdom falls before the scrolls are ever found--leaving their location a mystery--and their discovery is the perfect challenge for Sam and Remi Fargo. However, before they can hunt for the scrolls, the Fargos must tend to problems within their charitable foundation. When they learn that a shipment of supplies intended for a school in Nigeria has been stolen, they travel into the heart of Africa to deliver new supplies themselves. However, their mission becomes infinitely more complicated when they run afoul of a rival bands of robbers. One of these groups later take Remi and a group of students hostage, and there are signs that the kidnapping is related to missing scrolls.

Wrath of Poseidon by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell

Ten years ago, a chance meeting at a Café in led Sam Fargo and Remi Longstreet on an adventure hunting the riches stolen from the Persian King Croesus in 546 B.C. But others were after the gold and were willing to kill for it. When Sam and Remi run afoul of a criminal drug-running operation, their hopes of finding the treasure are dashed. Life goes on. Sam and Remi marry--and years later return to Greece to find the one treasure that got away. They return to Greece for a final showdown--and one last chance to find that elusive treasure.

Sam and Remi Fargo are majorly wealthy treasure hunters.  The books are full of all sorts of action and improbable happenings (well – fine, so are all the other Cussler books).  The first book (Oracle) is okay, basic brain candy.  However, I found the 2nd book (Poseidon) to be just annoying.  I spent the whole book thinking and occasionally saying out loud what an idiot Remi Longstreet was.  While the Fargos weren’t my favorite characters in the Cussler line-up before, after reading the Poseidon book, they’ve moved about 5 steps back to probably won’t read another of their books.

Fast Ice
by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown.

After a former NUMA colleague disappears while researching the icebergs of Antarctica, Kurt Austin and his assistant Joe Zavala embark for the freezing edge of the world to investigate. Even as they confront perilous waters and frigid temperatures, they are also are up against a terrifying man-made weapon--a fast-growing ice that could usher in a new Ice Age.

Okay – this is Cussler (and Graham Brown) at his best.  Lots of action.  Easy, smooth, quick read.  Very enjoyable.

by Ted Bell

A direct descendant of a legendary English privateer, Lord Alexander Hawke is one of England's most decorated naval heroes. Now, in the Caribbean on a secret assignment for the American government, Hawke must disarm a ticking time bomb --- a highly experimental stealth submarine carrying forty nuclear warheads that has fallen into the hands of an unstable government just ninety miles from the US mainland. But Hawke's mission is twofold, for he has returned to the waters where modern-day pirates brutally murdered his parents when he was a boy --- after a lifetime of nightmares, will vengeance be his last?

This is the first Alexander Hawke book and the first one I've read.  And again, lots of action, lots of intrigue.  Another one I enjoyed.  Hawke is kind of a James Bond sort of guy.  Well, James Bond with out ‘M’ looking over his shoulder.  I might just have a little bitty crush on Hawke!

Harry Starke
by Blair Howard

On a bitterly cold night in midwinter a beautiful young woman throws herself off Chattanooga’s Walnut Street Bridge. Harry Starke was there, on the bridge, and he wants to know why Tabitha Willard decided to kill herself. Was it his fault? Tormented by guilt and the thought that he might have caused the girl’s death, Harry vows to find out why Tabitha killed herself and plunges headlong into an investigation that pits him against a corrupt congressman, a beautiful United States senator, a local crime boss, and a sadistic killer.

Again, another first read.  Harry Starke is a great character.  He's funny, tough, fearless, smart.  Ex cop turned PI.  Very good!  And, I'll look forward to reading next in the series.

OK, yes all these are action, adventure, murder and mayhem type books.  Well, I read for fun.  No, I probably wouldn’t read any of them again but I did enjoy each (well, maybe not the Poseidon book) but I did enjoy the others and will read the next and next and next.  

15 Jun 2021